woh mehmaan tha
humare sunsan ghar main ayaa tha,
humnein ussay apna manliya
lekin uski manzil hum nahin thy,
toh woh chalaa gaya aur
jaathey jaathey sawal aur dard chohrgaya
humare iss sunsan ghar main

he was a guest
coming inside of my empty home
I thought he was meant to stay
but his destination wasn’t me,
so he left and
left me questioning and hurting
once again, in my empty home.

—  Nimrah Khalid • home was my heart

In my culture, becoming a woman is a process. You don’t just magically go from being a girl to a woman on your 18th birthday.

The thing is, the English language has no word to describe girls like me, who are still transitioning. The wisdom of an average 18 year old is akin to that of the wisdom of a 17 year old, not the wisdom of a 40 year old. After all, they were 17 only a couple of months ago.

In my language, there are three words that describe girls and women: bachi, which means “little girl” (age 2-16), aurat, which literally means “woman” and then larki, which is used to describe a girl who is transitioning from childhood to adulthood. There is no fixed age for either one of them. You can have a 16 year old bachi who is still immature and naive or you can have a 16 year old larki who is mature for her age. Similarly, you can have a 24 year old larki who is a late bloomer or you can have a 23 year old aurat who is wise beyond her years.

Honestly, I prefer that because it feels weird when people refer to me as a woman because I don’t think I am that wise yet…but I am also not too fond of the word “girl” which is also used to describe 12 year olds…

I am a not a bachi…or an aurat.

I am a larki.