Less Myself
 
By Farah Ahamed

I am less
myself when you look at Me.
And when you
photograph me I am not Myself at all.
You weren’t
supposed to take that photo. 
I’ve told you,
it is not easy for Me to be Myself. 
 
You don’t
understand.
I can’t
pretend. To smile. To pose. Not to smile. To pose. To forgive.
I can’t make
love to your camera. 
Or love my
neighbour.
 
Which part of Me? 
Show Me. 
Which part of Me
in this photo tells you this is tolerable for Me.  
Show Me!
Leave what is
left now. 
For Me. 
Leave.
 
You see only
what you want to see. 
You don’t see
Me.
You see the
part that is not Myself.
But this is not
about you. 
 
This is about Me.
So don’t look
at Me.
Don’t
photograph Me.
You’re making Me
become. 
 
Less.
Not Myself.
You’re making Me
less. 
Myself.
 
You’re taking
me. 
Taking Me from Myself. 
Again. 
You did it
before.
Taking Me.
And again. 
Taking Me.
 
So stop. 
Not this time. 
Don’t do it. 
Don’t look at Me. 
Don’t
photograph Me.
Don’t look at Me.
 
I am not as you
see Me. 
I am. 
Myself.
And more.
 

About the Poem:

I am interested in exploring the idea of a woman’s authenticity and her sense of self and what happens to her under the gaze of a photographer/viewer. I came across Pieter Hugo’s Portraits of Reconciliation, 20 years after Rwanda’s genocide, (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/06/magazine/06-pieter-hugo-rwanda-portraits.html?_r=00)  and it made me think about  ‘imposed’ forgiveness and the survivors  (http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/zunguzungu/unthinkable-tableaus/and what it must be like to be photographed beside and with those who have raped and  terrorised and murdered your loved ones. 

About the author:

Farah Ahamed’s short stories have been published by Kwani?, Bridge  House, Fey Publishing and New Lit Salon
Press. Farah’s excellent blog can be found at thiswomanswork2014.tumblr.com