What beauty looks like: Alicia

Alicia Virani is a queer, Indian, Ismaili Muslim, whose parents and grandparents were born in East Africa.


I just don’t know how to tell you

I just don’t know how to tell you

This is what beauty looks like

It started off grey

and you

and you and you

and you

Were there

In presence

In spirit

In my heart

The sun broke out

from behind the light cover

of mist

to bestow us with a

yellow streak

that happily smiled over

There was enough love there that day

to last me for the rest of my


To fill in the raggedy holes

that had been punched out over time

Let’s rewind

2 years ago

on a so bright it hurt

kinda day

my dad threw his love for me


We all joke about how

as South Asians

we must get disowned at least


or else we’re not legit

But this was a hurt like

a heart tearing in two

from screaming with pain

bursting out of chest

and then swallowing

fiery tears back down

to say

It’s cool

I’m over it

The love lost

settled in my stomach

and lodged itself so preciously


A constant

uncomfortable reminder

that I would always need my dad’s


How could he

take it away from me

I had no words for a long time

of how to tell you

how to share with you my recent joy


my dad had to face

who I am

His love for me

over the past 2 years

came back

slightly weaker than before

but it was replenished

by his extraordinary ability to

Neglect the


At my law school graduation

my dad

met my girlfriend

Their meeting

went over with a brief


and a smile

Amongst the crowd of black

caps and



Years of anxiety


an exhilarated feeling

of pride

That I could be so brave

as to introduce these two



Once hidden in a corner

feeling ugly and wrong all over

and throughout

Afraid of what my honesty

would bring

And the next day

after graduation

A rented beach cottage

A post-law school graduation barbecue

For one shining day

I put all judgments aside

and lingered in awe and


at the world of love and strength

I created for myself

The baked feel

of sun-stained deck

on my

bare feet

Skewers of mishkaki

Magic marinade

touched by the expert

opinion of




Kaleidoscope of friends’

laughter swirling around me

Holding me safe


the weight of this day

and then

Dad meets girlfriend’s parents

Heart catches in throat

side-eying the


Dad and girlfriend’s parents

talk all night long

We never talk about it again

But it happened

it’s here in a photo

A happy memory fixed

between corners

And although it is slowly

slipping away

And the doubts and


aching to creep back in

I now have that piece

of a beautiful moment in time

When I felt like I was exactly

where I was meant to be

and would never want

To be anyone else

but me