• Masuma Sultana

Commoner

Different because I’m yellow-skinned and this glorious shade of brown. Or, am I different because I can’t afford luxuries or privileges or comforts – the ones that come with being born white, middle and upper class? I see, listen, write, but I’m forced to read things I’m forbidden to say or emulate – can I call this hypocrisy?


Hi, I’m a university student (funded by crippling student loans – how else could I ever study?).


I dunk my head under the bath water again, beneath gentle ripples, hands still trying to grab me by the throat – never knowing what comes tomorrow. Dreading routine and those people who stare at my headscarf on the bus to Zone 1. Maybe if I stay here long enough…


Hi, I work with kids and want to be a teacher (I'll have no worth in this society otherwise). Will I be emailed the outcome of this interview?


I walk on the cracked road by my East London council estate. I’m comfortable enough here in daylight – thefts are less common on the main roads, but I know to be wary of speeding motorcyclists skirting too close to pavements. Some of my earliest memories were, surprisingly, not unhappy. I remember the light rain in the small playground of a blue nursery and playing in the sweltering yellow heat of my mother's village home. Now, my day is filled with a silver-grey city, slivers of pity, and again I walk the same streets, uncomfortably comfortable with repetition and routine – congestion, cars, and faces I don't know.


Hi, I’m new here! Can someone tell me where the bathrooms are? I’ve gotten lost twice now. This place is just such a maze!


I’m instantly uncomfortable in Central London, if I’m alone. I realise how alone I really am, until I rush home. In our small brown brick flat, I live mostly in peace. My home is with my family.


Hi, I’m home. The bus ride back was packed again today. What’s new?


By Masuma Sultana