Purulent by Hawra’a Khalfan

A journal entry on the postpartum period:

What they don’t tell you when you’re about to be a mom is that it takes a while for that tsunami- over the moon- head inside out- intense motherly love to kick in. I remember the exact moment it kicked in with my daughter. Before that moment, I would still do everything I had to to nurture and sustain her. I clothed, bathed, nursed her. I didn’t sleep or eat properly. I fully came second and she was the most important thing in my life. But what I felt wasn’t love in the beginning. It was a need to take care of this little tiny thing I birthed. So I nursed her on demand, often meaning I barely slept. I worried about her nonstop; is it too cold? too warm? is she clean enough? full enough? healthy enough? safe enough?
This continued for two months. When she screamed I ran to her, when she cried I felt guilty and made a pact to myself that I would never let her cry for as long as I exist (she cried again 5 minutes after I made this pact). I felt like I had this fog which persisted and followed me everywhere. It was in my brain, consistently. It was like a purulent infection of the mind, consuming who I ‘was’ and oozing this layer around my brain. I was not myself anymore. I could not think straight. It was predominantly caused by lack of sleep. But there was this other side to it, where I knew I wanted things done a certain way and as the mother, I had to be the one to do those things that certain way. Continue reading

Purulent by Bader Shehab

I can feel my whole bodyweight on my 10-ounce gloves, the blood… the blood feels cold, little cherry-red drops mixed with sweat authenticate on the wrist wraps. I find my bearings and barely grab a hold of my fallen mouth piece.

“Get up… get your ass up, champ!” I turn and, as if time had slowed down, make out the blurring figures of my uncle and coach yelling and slamming their arms on the canvas.

The crowd, thousands of them, their chants and screams no longer audible in my ringing eardrum – I could barely feel my legs. The fingers in my gloves tighten into a fist and I assume a fighting pose almost instinctively. Like a wounded bull, I take a few drunken steps closer towards my defeat… Continue reading