My mother tells me not to pick at scabs.

Turmeric smells of old clouds and ancient places and stings when slathered over an open wound. Bits of the bright yellow powder collect in flakes where torn skin meets flesh, but most congeals with the blood, turning burnt orange.

Days are slowly getting shorter. In the night, accidents are more likely to happen. I read a news article about a local Muslim student whose hijab is torn off under the flashing lights of a school dance. My mother doesn’t meet my eyes when she tells me in her brisk manner not to worry. My heart is heavy for a person I do not know, as it should be; somehow, after all of this, it is still functioning.

My best friend calls me up that night in tears. Her parents had told her that if she walks out of the house looking like that, she deserves to be raped. What they do not know is that she already has been, while wearing leggings and an old sweatshirt and fuzzy socks. I tell her she is worthy of respect no matter what covers her body, but even as I say it I know I might as well be talking at the stars, lightyears away.

I straighten my hair fastidiously, yet when it rains, I let black curls plaster themselves on my temples and frizz collect in a halo. After being called a terrorist during California’s sole storm last year, I don’t wear my hood. At home, my mother smooths my hair back. Applies turmeric to my wounds. She doesn’t open her mouth, because there is nothing for her to say.

San Jose, CA.