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On the sidewalk are / heat and gum-turned-tar / and enough pigeons to slow you down.

Calling girls chiriya in Punjabi and many other South Asian languages is representative of the belief that we raise our girls with care, love and admiration, but ultimately their fate is decided for them.

The frayed threads of her blouse unravel and twist into feathers that coat her flailing arms until they become wings. Her calloused toes transform into gleaming talons that slice through her secondhand shoes.

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