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Freedom, within me

Freedom. That was my word for 2020. At a time where it was being tested on all fronts, it became more and more imperative to re-define for myself.

I first wrote this poem “Freedom, within me” as a free write. When I went back to edit it for the Feels Zine publication, I thought: Well this is all over the place. There is no clear narrative, am I talking about myself, family, society? What is my point of view?

Then I stopped myself. And said, oh honey, freedom isn’t that simple. It’s your personal sovereignty and the systems of oppression, it's the relationships you allow in and choose to keep out, it’s all of it. So, I kept it in its raw state, in its full expression, of what freedom is, within me.

Freedom, within me

My freedom is within me
It always was
Looking for it in you
Was where I went wrong

I carry it in my thinking
And in my thoughts

I feel it in my voice
And in my words

I embody it in my stance
And in my slant
Even if you can’t understand

My freedom is within me
It always was 

The story you are telling
That you have spun
Has made me so dizzy

I somehow was made to believe that my pain was my cross to bear
That this trauma
Had a noble edge

But now I know that’s bullshit
A manipulated

I cloaked myself as martyr
As selfless
I thought this was love

Your price of admission is too steep
I’d rather be

My freedom is within me
It always was
I am the compass
not your beliefs

As long as I keep walking my path of truth
Not for your approval
But for my own god damn joy

May I know the sweet smell of azadi
Deep inside my heart
May I know its unmistakable light
Noor shine bright

My freedom is within me
It always was
My freedom comes with unconditioning
A life riddled with self betrayal
The constant shapeshifting to fit your meanings
Has left me astray

I start by breaking out of the boxes you stuffed me in
To learn to live as my whole self

My freedom is within me
It always was

Heaven forbid you were made to feel uncomfortable
For the system that helps you feast
you perpetuate all the spaces where I feel most weak

From how you incorrectly say my name
To how you fingerprint me in shame
I am made to feel so far from this world I didn’t create

Why do I keep dancing to your favourite song
When I’ve had the escape key all along

My freedom is within me
It always was


Ayla’s epistolary novel “Letter’s Unsent” is available for purchase here.


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