Religion by Dhonkeyo Kajuru

First published in The Laadheenee Digest #02

Seven days after I was born, there was a celebration. There was sweet rice and mutton and everybody crowded around to coo over the newest addition to the family. I grew up being told to do as I’m told, that God was always watching, to recite strange words that I didn’t understand. It’ was less important that I knew what they meant, and more that I spoke them, I was told.

Slowly, my life began to be built around rules upon rules and I began to learn that I had already lost the lottery of gender when I was born a girl.

Because see, there’s so many guidelines— no, not guidelines. There’s so many rules you see. But for every two a boy gets, a girl gets three.

I slowly learned that my mere existence was a conflict. At every turn was sin. My every action was just shy of the flames of judgment that were sure to befall me some day.

“Cover up, for God’s sake”, my mother said. Metaphors about candy chimed in from every direction, the distance between me and hell marked by two inches of skin between my wrist and my sleeve.

So there I was. Learning that my skin, was sin. My voice, was sin. My hair, my eyes, my lips. Sin.

Everything a test and every glance a temptation that I mustn’t, I mustn’t, you mustn’t, because men are weak, because men can’t help themselves, because you were created as a pleasure, a blessing for the same men that you are taught to stay away from but— it’s okay. As long as you are legally bound, as long as a ceremony was performed, and remember. You must obey.

I’m depressed, I said. Pray it away, they replied. Mental illness is a modern myth that scientists have invented to lead you astray and the only medicine you require is touching your forehead to the ground five times a day. Because God loves you so have faith and you won’t die.

Pray to God, they told me. Pray for forgiveness, for understanding, pray that he may wash away these thoughts that are clouding your judgment. These doubts that you’re proclaiming, surely they’re Satan’s own whispers.

My life was beginning to feel less like a structure, and more like a cage. Haram, they cried. You mustn’t question. You mustn’t doubt. You were created in the best possible way and yet they cry infidelwhenIsayIloveagirl,theysayIam sinning, that love has to fall into a set design that some man created a thousand years ago.

Is this what I am to be? Forever trapped in the conundrum of why I was put through so much pain, so much suffering by such a loving God. Trapped in the religion of peace that condones war.

But it’s okay as long as they’re kafir, right?


Taught to constantly live in fear of the next test of the next trial, of the next sin that you may never recover from but wait! You can have salvation. Just cover your hair and accept what you are. That your word will count as a quarter of a man’s, that your entire purpose is to serve and breed and create more automatons to fear death, to fear the aftermath, to fear the next life, but it’s alright! Because the religion that tamps down on sexuality, will also promise you seventy two virgins, as long as you play theological Simon Says.

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