Our hibiscus rights are under attack!

Disclaimer: No white women were harmed in the making of this piece. By ANYA DOAN and MISBAH ANSARI.

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Disclaimer: No white women were harmed in the making of this piece. However, the characters are not fictional. They are living, breathing, interrupting you, fighting for LIBERATION, gaslighting you about your concerns, and crying about their oppression. We hear you and we love you.

Frantically glaring at the lurid computer screen. Surry Hills Delta Babe puts the finishing touches on her ‘Race and Environment’ unit essay. Nibbling on the last chunk of a banh mi from Marrickville Pork Roll, her phone lock screen (Dua Lipa’s butt) lights up. A notification appears.

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“brunch after the protest ?? vv hungry”

“oooo yes ! what r u wearing ?”

“my patriarchy stomping docs😈  hehe”

“ literally STEP ON ME rad-lefty marxist babe, invented fashion!”

“i know we have met only once, but love u ! hehe”

Surry Hills Delta Babe is the post Delta variant lockdown bestie of the Newtown Alt girl who she met volunteering at a  Covid-19 RSPCA Animal Shelter. Community care, besties!

It is a scorching morning at Town Hall. People pour out of the train station entrance and gather around the fountain. It is the day of the Make hibiscus free for our chais! protest.

At the top of the escalator, Newtown Alt Girl waits for Surry Hills Delta Babe. They both knew, from their first fated meeting, that they were destined to be friends. Of course, their relationship runs deeper than mere friendship. Theirs is a far more profound connection borne of their fathers’ careers in real estate and a shared love of recreational amphetamines. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ah, there she is. They greet each other with a hug as they giggle in their shrill, aperol spritz-infused voices, “Remember that Audre Lorde facebook post talking  about the beauty of female friendship? So true!! Ugh, qween.”

The protest begins, chants ring through the square. SDB joins the crowd and the fire in her eyes follows. In awe, NAG watches her in awe, marveling at how their matching leopard satin skirts are a ground-breaking metaphor for how they have to run from the hunting shackles of the patriarchy which deprives animal lovers of their plant-based hibiscus merchandise. God she’s SO good, NAG muses.

Meanwhile, SDB peers over at Bondi Alpha Darling who is taking film photos of the protest. She is an absolute vision––in her white, mid-calf taj mahal linen dress from Tree of Life and a fuzzy Depop bucket hat. Her stacked Eastern Flair rings gleam in the late-Spring sun. Her tote bag, emblazoned with a Toni Morrison quote from a book she has definitely read, looks to be digging uncomfortably into her shoulder. Fuck, that’s a fire fit, SDB mumbles to herself.

Next to BAD, stands Sylvia, the first-year babe who just moved from Pakistan. She is wearing a chikankari skirt with a cute white tee, banger jhumkas, and an absolute bewilderment at the words BAD is spurring, as she pleads the protestors for more donations for their hibiscus love ☮︎  movement. “What a politically fired up babe BAD is, supporting POC sisters everyday”, SDB and NAG tell themselves.

Hellooooo, gorgeous! You sexy activist! Was at Bondi last week and thought of you, qween.” serenades SDB in a long, ugly and high-pitched voice.

“Ah, that’s so sweet of you. Sorry if I missed your call, just been so busy crying about the hiked prices of hibiscus milk, you know. So it was just my poodle and I creating flyers,” replies BAD.

“Aww, you poor baby. Keen to hang out in Newtown and totes shake a leg at the Marly,” NAG avoids Sylvia’s gaze as she distributes BAD’s flyers to the Millers Point Lorna Jane wearing babes who stopped by the protest after their morning run.

“Thanks, babe. Love your work. OMG also, meet Shabana, my new bestie! She just moved and we are in a South Asian Studies unit, such a feisty babe,” BAD proclaims.

“Um, hi. It’s actually Sylvia, by the way. I just moved here and don’t know many people but I was keen for the protest.”

“OMG, I’m so sorry sweetheart. I just love Muslim names, but I am just going through so much, you know,” BAD responds.

“Anyway, Sabna, so like, where are you from in Pakistan exactly?” asks SDB.

“Oh, I am from Pashtunistan, the northern part bordering Afghanistan.”

“OMG that’s, like, beautiful. Isn’t that where Malala is from? So powerful… oh my god, she made me a feminist! Did you guys, like, hangout or something?” asks NAG.

“Um, not really. I actually spent most of my time in Islamabad.”

“OMG, you should totally come to our fish justice meetings. We could do with some WoC indigenous regional international student perspective, you know,” BAD proposes.

“Oh and your city has the name ‘islam’ in it!!! Inshallah!!! Hehe!” SDB adds.

A silence falls amongst the girls, impenetrable by the din of the protest.

“Anyway, babes, see you all soon! NAG and I are headed to try some matcha lemon carob milkshakes with coconut elixir from that place in Paddington. Sick!”

Sylvia’s phone rings as the crowd wanes. It’s the Kombucha Vitae ticket group for <student publication> – a message from SDB:

Babes! Sylvia, it was nice to meet you today! Loved your indie spirit with that outfit, we should totes talk over a vegan lassi at that place in Enmore. Would love to have you because we want to bring your marginalised Muslim identity to the forefront. Let us know, sweetie. Always here for you, bestie. Mwah.

Anya Doan and Misbah Ansari are Sydney-based writers.

This article was first published in Honi Soit, you can read it here

READ ALSO: Ask Auntyji: Cross border love match

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