THAT’S ME, A ROHINGYA

by MAYYU ALI


When I was born,
I was not a baby like you are.
Without a birth certificate,
Just like death.

When I was one,
I was not a child like you are.
Without a nation,
Just like a pet.

When I was at school,
I wasn’t a student like you are.
Without a Burmese face,
Just like the bleakness of the future.
 
When I was in another village,
I wasn’t a student like you are.
Seeking approval overnight,
Just like a crazed detainee.
 
When I pass through my town,
I’m not a citizen like you are.
Holding Form-4 authorisation,
Just like a nomad.
 
When I go to university,
I’m not a fresher like you are.
Denied professionalism, a major,
Just illegitimate.
 
When I approach people,
I’m not acceptable like you are.
Suffering apartheid and chauvinism,
Just like quarantine.
 
When I want to marry,
I’m not a fiancé like you are.
Approved for marriage,
Just like an alien.
 
When I want to repair my hut,
I’m not allowed to like you are.
Facing palpable denial,
Just like an invader.
 
When I arrange a little trade,
I’m not a vendor like you are.
Ongoing, restricted, confiscated,
Just like a pauper.
 
When I apply for the civil service,
I’m not a candidate like you are.
Receiving the motive or rejection,
Just like someone segregated.
 
When hospitalised in the state-run clinic,
I’m not the favourite patient like you are.
Marginalised, discriminated,
Just like an outsider.
 
When I choose religion,
I’m not faithful like you are.
Restricted worship in a demolished mosque,
Just inhuman.
 
When I’m in the orchestrated riot,
I’m not a survivor like you are.
No assurances of safety,
Just like a rape victim.
 
When the New Year turns,
I’m not a civilian like you are.
Under decades-long operations,
Just like an inventory item.
 
Even when I live In the country where I was born,
I can’t call it mine like you do.
Without identity,
Just like an immigrant.
 
Even when I breathe the sky’s air,
I’m not a human like you are.
Without a reliable undertaker,
Just like a loner.
 
Even when I watch the sunrise,
I’m not living like you are.
Without the fertility of hope I live, 
Just like a sandcastle.
 
Despite living on the apex of inhumanity
And the direness of immorality,
I’m quite surrounded.
My skin trembles
Just to feel once the full meaning of freedom,
My heart wishes
Just to walk once in my own world.
 
Nowadays, no one is like me.
Only myself.
Just a Rohingya!

Poem from the book “I am a Rohingya” – Poetry from the Camps and Beyond