People write letters to one another out of love and in confidence. But what if letters are written out of complaints in the age and rage of growing up? This is the foundation of the ‘Dear Mama’ letters. Based on the timeless format of letter writing, these pieces are a young girl writing letters to her not-so-beloved mother in an effort to make peace with life and herself. These heart-wrenching letters are written out of love, written out of despair, and written in the loneliest of nooks for all that needs repair. By bequeathing these letters to them, I wish my readers an immersive, epistolary journey into girlhood and beyond.

-Heena Khan
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

(Date stamp: On the day I decided to not finish my milk)

Dear Mama,

I am latched outside of the house in punishment for refusing to finish my glass of milk. “The glass is too tall for my height,” I excuse myself from drinking milk. 

“Roya finish the milk,” you warn. 

“I will not.” 

“Roya finish the milk.”

Before I could repeat myself, I am careened by my arm and locked outside of the house. The door bolt shut on me. “As you please, my majesty,” I grumble to the shutting face of the door. I sit on the doorstep, next grumbling to the line of potted plants, thankful to the streetlight for shining down its white light on me, until my shadows start to form and move on their own. 

Wind is whistling past my ear. I have nowhere to go. The night is gaining shades of deep ink faster than my breath turning cold. 

I am scared my shadow will gobble me up, and I will disappear into the thin air to never return to the mortal world? My hair is beginning to rise in shiver. 

Banging at the door with all my fist, I hear my own echo: “Open the door, Mama, open the door. Mr. Ghost will eat me up. Open the door.” 

I often glance at Udi’s Home, diagonally opposite to ours, which is now swallowed in darkness. I do not know how long I stand repeating my anthem. And I do not remember what is sooner, my voice choking on its tear or the door finally swinging open, and your big shadow eating up my tiny one, much to my relief. Once inside, I lick off the glass in one breath and one final sniff, a circle of white lips forming above my original pink ones: my two smiles for your one frown. I win. 

Your pest-of-a-Little Girl.

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