All of the songs
All of the words
All of the art
All of the time
All of the dreams
You took away
All of the flaws now
What do I do
All of the songs
All of the words
All of the art
All of the time
All of the dreams
You took away
All of the flaws now
What do I do
Some humans are your safe places. You confide in them and share your night and stars.
Some other humans are the reason you crave those safe places.
What do you want love to look like? I want mine to be free of fears so it is strong in and out, and something that is calming and positive and artistically spiritual like this painting but better because that would be a gift by the Master Painter if He so wills. 💙
Bohat arsay baad aik nazm likhnay lagi thi. Balkay likhnay kia lagi thi, wo nazm hi mujhay likh rahi thi. Unwaan tha ‘be-dili’. Aur phir pehla misra tumhe be-dili se sochnay par tha. Uskay bad aik khayal ata lekin shaam ke dhal janay aur khuwab ke ban janay ka darr… agay aik lafz kam reh gaya. Jo cigarette ka sar hota hai na? Usay masalna tha. Lekin na lafz aya na baat bani. Hath jo kehtay kehtay uper utha tha phir hawa me hi reh gaya. Bhai ne dekh kar poocha, “you are in love, right?” Mai munh bana ke reh gai.
I am in love, right? Duh I’m in love. With what, I don’t know. I am so disconnected from myself, or maybe I’m just so connected with myself that I’ve lost the ability to touch on the surface of things (or thoughts?) and say this is this and that is that. I can’t say these words are true. I can’t say they are not. I don’t know.
Kuch zamana beeta hai mai araam se nazmen likh sakti thi. Araam se tou nahi khair, jahan shairi hai wahan aaraam kahan. Magar phir bhi kabhi na kabhi. Aik khaas kefiyat hoti thi. Aisay tou mai pehlay kitabain bhi bohat parh leti thi ab arsa hua.
I just cannot. I haven’t read a proper book in a proper sitting like a proper reader since ages. The last was All the light we cannot see which is now in my taaaaaall pile of unfinished ones. I did translate a huge chapter though. It was on Islam and science and reason and modernism and everything like that. A good experience – both in terms of subject and skill.
It’s gonna be sehri time here. I made a fruit-oatmeal smoothie yesterday jiska oatmeal part no one liked and smoothie they all did. Lol. I heard it was healthy like that but I guess I’ll omit the oatmeal now.
Nah, I’m not much of a kitchen person. But it’s Ramadan, so… oh, happy Ramadan to you!
He said I couldn’t tell him which color the skies were anymore, that it doesn’t bother him what I presented in class today or what my teacher commented, and it doesn’t matter at all if we never wish each other sweet – or spooky – dreams.
In fact, he said, I should talk to him as less as was possible from now on. Or don’t talk at all, if you will, please.
He stands up and leaves when he hears me bickering with my brother for not buying balloons. I turn to him and ask if he got me 21 candles and he scorns. Grow up.
Grow up? But I am growing up. And growing up, I have realized that I don’t need to say yes when I mean no. He doesn’t like it though.
When our first and only border came in between, we could not face each other for days. Because the silence in our eyes made the air sick, and our unstoppable laughter on lame-ass jokes hung behind them, hushed. It only made everything unbearably sad.
He says we cannot be friends either if we can’t be more. And I step back, back, and back. But it doesn’t seem fair that we will both disappear into a thin, black line on the horizon and never be able to see the other catching colors too. Or making them. Or breaking.
Another cobalt blue sky lit by innumerable stars. Tiny, bright pockets of fairy-light. We sit just by the river, taking in the fresh scent of dewy grass, soft wind, and the feeling of our togetherness.
My feet are crossed and my heart is full. We don’t have enemies anymore – neither Time, nor the World. We are doing fine.
I stand up and step into the blue river. Your hand is in the water and you are splashing at it gently. As my feet touch its cool, smooth surface, we hear a strange music start. It’s coming from a distance but it feels so very near, so very soothing. Or was it from our hearts? I imagine stars coming closer – those tiny pockets of fairy-light falling to dance with me, and I look at you. You are smiling too.
I said: “I love you”
And heard its echo
In every part of my being.
You were nowhere else
But in me.
Inspired by the weekly photo prompt: security.
We sat there at a distance, both missing each other. We could’ve just turned to face one another and talk. We could’ve just talked.
It’s that same place again, and that same part of nighttime where everything feels stitched to something deeper and more calm. We are sitting together: he on the log, and I on a rock. Spread wide above us are the skies, innumerable stars glistening on their soft sheets. The air is cool. I can’t describe how it smells or feels, but I know. It’s the kind of moment one wants to seize, literally freeze. It’s not when you want to think about how time is passing. Because time is not passing. It shouldn’t, now, should it?
I tell myself that you won’t leave. But I know it means nothing. And it is with this thought that the weight of our silence starts becoming torturous. It feels as though someone placed a spiky wire on my bare skin, trailing it down. As it touches my chest, I draw in a quick breath: it has a connection with the void within me. I look at you and you are staring ahead somewhere, aloof, in a world that your eyes see and I cannot reach. And then I realize how you have no idea about my world either. We are equally separated.
We: You and I, the stories yet to complete. I think we are ever-living because of what we have in us. Even though we each carry Words from contrasting entities, we are still what we are for us.
“Tell me one last time, will the sun come?”
“It will,” you say. I think I will then stay for a moment. Until the sun arrives, at least. The log is empty at your side now. I will walk to it and sit there. To feel that warmth again and not shiver. I have wrapped my shoulders around myself. Perhaps the wire will forget to hurt, too. Maybe it will turn into a spring of soothing water if it hits my heart enough times.
Voids are colorless but they are vulnerable to scars that birthed them. I can still hear your footsteps from ten minutes ago. Was it ten minutes ago that you left, or has a century passed already? Oh but the sun, yes, it will come.
Our goodbye was wordless. I think we will meet again.
“I did not want to be what I have become. But I like it now… It suits me. I feel I am where I belong. It is Real. It is Me.”I was sitting before him on the road and there was no one else around. When he said these words, I looked at him. I wanted more answers, and I was searching for them in his eyes. They are windows to your soul, after all, but somehow his soul was a locked corridor now– the key to which was unknown to even himself, I suppose. Read more
“You don’t know how it’s like to be what you are not.”
“I sure do. I have known you for so long and never uttered a word about you. That is the same thing in a way, if you see.”
He turned his head. I stood at a distance from his seat: a log placed in the middle of the road. An empty road– our secret place.
“No,” he whispered. “You cannot see the sea in me. You can only see the waves.”
“I can see the sea,” said I. Then taking his name, I continued: “And I can also sense a storm. Please confide in me now, let it crash me down if it so must. Break me because I need you.” Read more
(Like the previous two times, this had to be the way it is, too. The first time I wrote it, I was having a problem putting words properly but hoped it would make sense. It’s of course the same now.)
Here is an apology
For each tear, every cut on your heart
And everything you feel you deserve one for
But never got.
Here is that apology which couldn’t reach you before
For your lost years, or lost months, or lost weeks
Or just lost days-in-between.
For the sound your bones make when you pull up from a non-sleep
To join another meaningless chase.
For the voice that no more chokes
On hearing, or saying, the word sorry
For your uncontrollable sobs of yesteryear
The memories of which you’ve swept under your chest
To be crushed by the burden of this same meaningless chase we know nothing about.
I cannot mend what is lost
I cannot even change what got wasted but I can hope
And I do. I hope for peace to find you and provide you with just as more strength as you need
Just more strength, as always,
Until you become your hero.
Again. Only this time more truly.
We the people of the sad race.
We the people with regrets.
We the class-divided, caste-divided.
We the religion-divided.
We the people with no dreams.
We the people with hopelessness injected to us as drugs.
We the sick ones. We the mads.
We the people with apologies dribbling from our mouths.
We the people pushing our fingers to our ears to block all sounds.
We the people with more ideas and less strategies.
We the restless souls on the Sahara.
We the men, the women, the not-men, the not-women.
We the unhuman.
We the secret carriers of compassion, the believers of pain.
We the chained, the roped, the bound.
We the restless.
We the givers of nonsubstance.
We the celebrants and the celebrities.
We the ill-passioned.
We the fantasizers. We the confused.
We the two-way travelers. We the mourners.
We the idle. We the tired.
We the escapists, the all-time distractionalists.
We the plastered-smile-patients-of-tears.
We the plastered-smile-patients-of-fears.
We the followers of fiction, unreality, artificiality.
We the people running in circles.
We the not-us.
“Sea waves kiss my feet. I bend to hold wet sand in my hand and close my fingers for a while to feel. It slips away when I open them again but the lines on my palm glitter with a soft silver gleam. I turn back and night shifts and I find myself in another place. There is no sea, no waves, no wind. But the inside of my hand glitters still. I lay back down and find grass beneath me. Soothing and serene. I touch some strands to gather green. It tickles, softly. Your name I write then, on my skin, and smile. The universe smiles with me.”
Written in response to writing challenge 201: “Skin”. (Write a prose poem using internal rhymes; choose whatever meaning of skin speaks most to you.)
To you, I want to give flowers–I don’t mind that being cliched–
Roses, wrapped in ribbons. Letters, soaked in perfume. Stars.
Unnecessary though it might be, I want to tell you again and so often
Love, how much I have come to love you that I’ve now begun to live you.
Your thought is my drug, your memory is heaven’s mercy,
Your presence is an air without which my lungs parch up.
Oh the Sun of my universe, the Light of my soul!
Undying is my adoration–like a forever flowing ocean.
Remember this: my gift to you is my heart. I am yours.
Some day you’ll see. That some day, we will be.
Written in response to Writing 201 challenge: write something about a gift, use a simile. Poem form: acrostic. (The first letters of each line together form a special word which is the theme here.) Hi.
You see those two people standing in the room? One a figure so delicate it looks almost breakable, her sight stretched to faraway lands as she gazes from the frosty window; beyond past, present, or to-be. The other stands by the foot of their bed and stares plaintively at the floor, or sometimes at the creased cover-sheets on the bed which they both use. His hand is in his hair.
These two people—I don’t call them a couple. I call them apologies.
You will see now that the man will walk to the window, slowly, and stop a foot away from her. Then he will put his hand on her shoulder. She will turn back immediately, but not too quickly, and they will both just stand there for a moment until she realizes that he is smiling–that his smile contains every bit of sorrow there is in the world–and then she’ll smile too. Hers will be weaker, like something one would give after accepting the uncaring atrocity of life every day, but neither of them would care.
This will be done casually every other day.
You will find that the space of nothing between them has sucked air so much that in order to breathe, you will have to struggle. You will notice that it doesn’t affect them.
You will find that their eyes are empty but their hearts aren’t. They sympathize sometimes, like they did a while ago, and silently assure one another that it is not and will not be okay, but they will see to it until the end. They won’t complain nor hate. Sometimes he would kiss her lightly on the cheek and she would smile. (A year ago she would’ve had spent hours in the bathroom scrubbing, scratching away the kiss and crying. But this doesn’t happen now.)
You will see that it’s not regret that has settled in as a mountain between them. It’s not a grudge that has separated their ways like a sea in between. It’s not the absence of effort. It’s not that. But it still is.
That is the future I see of ourselves. Pardon me for saying so but it’s true.
Nighttime’s longish plain hours.
I stare at the sky but don’t see you. Instead
it is the vastness of blue patterns with glistening silver balls:
on repeat, on repeat, on repeat.
I sit on the grass.
Life for me has been simple,
much like that of stars.
They stand at their place among millions, and shine
bright some days and not-so-bright the rest,
waiting to be wrapped
into the Eternal Blanket at last.
They don’t reach the Moon like I can’t reach You.
I can’t move.
And the desire–only the desire fills me with so much fear I tremble like a sick man
with its fever.
I will embrace a sadder ending, I guess.
I walk on the grass and tell you in my heart how I love
the wet, tickling feel of it.
I wish you were here but I wish I would stop wishing that soon.
I need to move on, like we all do.
I never knew where I was heading to until I found myself
stranded and alone.
I have missed your presence on many occasions.
I have known the void–the unfillable void–
and I’ve tried everything in my power to help it.
Only, it just grows.
They tell us not to play with matches.
Why don’t they teach us ways of protecting and surviving instead?
If you can list me horrors of things that could bring harm,
why can’t you freaking save me? Or tell a remedy?
Fire burns, yes. But so do feelings.
Did nobody tell you: you should not incite in others what you have no intention of serving?
That breaking hearts is just as lethal, that being in someone’s tears
just as dangerous as is blissful being in prayers?
Stars disappear every day, seeing life after dark after life
You won’t care if I tell you how I do, too.
What am I without you?
A bag of bones;
A restless heart–
A cry unheard,
silently packing way
to unknown: nullity.
What am I without you?,
so see towards me.
That may last an eternity.
Before I wilt
On your Palm
Into your Skin
And be carried
Through your Veins
So that I
Painting by Freydoon Rassouli– an Iranian-born, American abstract surrealist painter.
Writing challenge day 9: “Found poetry”, enumeratio, landscape.
“Abba ki death ke baad ziada sukoon hae, nae?”
(This place looks calmer now that dad is gone, no?)
“You think so?”
“Yes.” she nodded.
They were older now. Older and distanced by a time so long and tough that it had practically torn apart every and any chances of reconciling. Standing by the giant glass window, she looked out at the world outside which had now accepted peace. The world which had decided to move on, as it always does. Where ever she looked there was peace, except in her home: her heart.
“Look here at me. You think life is better now? Show me if your eyes say that too.”
“No,” she silently whispered. She clutched the silver pane with both her hands so he won’t see they were trembling. Stupid fingers! Stupid eyes! How they reveal your weaknesses to wrong people at all the wrong times…
He stepped forward. “Aena! This is not good. You have to talk to me. I have come to take you. I am going to make things right like we want!”
“This is not what I want. Hessam, this isn’t it.” She shook her head. “I have come out of it and you should too. It’s high time we start respecting each other’s independence and just let things be.”
“What do you mean by that? I am not stealing away your freedom or anything. All I want is you come and stay with me and Rebya now. I want you to be happy!”
“Why? Why live with you when I can live with myself on my own? First I had ma, then dad, and now you want to boss me? Please, NO! I am happy the way I am and I am glad our ways are already parted. We can be free and drive our lives the way we want!” she said.
The color of his eyes changed. Was he hurt? Perhaps. But he shouldn’t have been… After all this time, he deserved nothing to be hurt about. All pains were hers.
“See, I understand your want for freedom.” He said after a while. “And I am not going to be an obstacle between that. You can come with me and do what you want, live it your way. It’s just that I feel you should be with me, and not alone over here. How will you deal with everything? We have both lost something precious Aena. It’s a hard time for both of us.” Looking at her, he said with a voice laced with sincere emotion: “I want you to know I am with you!”
“Precious, Hessam. How precious it was for you!” she laughed in her heart while resisting her urge to laugh out loud too, crazily. She wanted to laugh until her insides hurt. But she would do that once he was gone, her mind decided.
“They are both gone but we need each other, Aena. We need to gather back the moments we have lost. Sometimes I miss you so much, God, Aena, you remember when I taught you how to ride a bicycle?”
Aena looked at him surprised. Why must he bring back the memories now? Now?
“Remember when you had finally learned it you would keep nagging me to let you ride us both to school on that big grey one I owned? We both sat together and I was so proud, and a little embarrassed, but mostly proud (he laughed) and then I bought you a pink one on our birthday so we would both ride on our own bikes.”
“Our birthday,” she breathed.
They had birthdays on the same day. Because God-the-good had decided to hand them out their fates on the exact day and instructed their souls to go down then into their mother’s womb… But Hessam will go half an hour before you, Aena. Okay? Just thirty minutes.
Hessam had gone half an hour before Aena. Aena had waited thirty minutes after Hessam. He had left her earlier because it was so destined. There was joy everywhere.
He was saying something. Probably about the bicycles or the school or their birthday. She wasn’t listening until he called out her name.
“Yes, yes. I remember. You don’t need to use this against me now, it won’t change my plans, alright? Don’t try! You shouldn’t try!” her voice raised despite her trying to stay calm.
“I am not changing your plans, Aena. I am just surprised how much YOU have changed! You are so cold, so different, Aena. Don’t you hold any compassion for relations as close as blood’s anymore?”
“No.” She shook her head vehemently. “I carry no compassion whatsoever. I have a heart of stone, if asking for a right to be free makes you think of me as that. I have cared enough for everyone and now I want to be my own responsibility. Go, and let me live!” her voice was strong and came from somewhere she didn’t belong to. It was indeed different, he thought, how his sister had grown up so much and become so… brave.
“I am my own responsibility now,” she repeated– softly this time– as if trying to coax him… Hoping deep inside her heart he won’t agree. Hoping he would somehow ask her to drop the facade and end this drama so they would both cry and tell how they’ve missed each other and how it was impossible to “let go” now that they had already let go of so much. She thought of the pens and chocolates he bought for her, when they were young, and how ma would make them both parathas before school. How dad would hand them out sikkas (coins) for their daily expenditures from which they’d both buy cones.
“Yes. You are right.” he said slowly. And moving towards her he put his hand on her head. “Time has changed, my lovely twin, and it’s not your fault. You have every right now to change time as per your command.” “I am proud of you, Aena. You are one brave woman. I shouldn’t be selfish to ask you what is against your will. And I am sure you will handle your life pretty well, inshaAllah. Just know that I am always there, always a call or email away. I will come to you whenever you want, and so would Rebya. We all love you and you can come to us, too, whenever you feel like it.”
He smiled. She managed one too.
“I know that bhaiyya. Thanks.”
He kissed on her forehead, erasing for a minute whatever these years had collected between them, and whatever hardships she had bore alone.
After that he was gone. Gone forever to his land where he lived with his wife a happy life. Aena had apparently given him permission to be the man he was; the satisfaction seeking which he had come back. Now he was free of the burden he was carrying before, and gone because Aena was free and happy, and very settled in her ancestral home! She had peace, he thought, and now he would too.
Doesn’t she look happy dancing in the rain with a heart so gay and young? With a face like that of an angel, and the floating gracefulness of a goddess, her own feet unaware of where she might put them next; she could perhaps be the luckiest in the world!
Like a wild flower in full bloom, oh, how she fills the air around her with the aroma and affect of her. How the stars sparkle in her presence and the earth stops to the rhythm of her steps! And how everything, in an unseen felt way, bows down to her—in respect of her happiness!
See how she flutters her wings and holds out her arms to fill in the falling rain in the cups of her palms, and then brings it to her lips to drink from it; as if it were a divine goblet! Or an elixir, pouring which will quench her deep thirst, and free her of all that torments her soul…
But it scares me to see her so, and I can’t really explain what I find unfitting in this picture. Maybe it’s in her eyes… which are grayer than the sky above her, or her laughter which doesn’t quite seem real. There is something in her tone that hints betrayal, something about her shadow that keeps dissolving minute by minute.
‘She must be a carrier of love’ is what I thought of her before. But maybe, as I now realize, it’s an injury better than that. Maybe, as her façade weakens and reality takes over, we won’t find a trace of what we see now. And for all they will know, she would be a girl who died dancing!
Apparently fixed on the ceiling, those stone-like eyes kept staring into nothingness and the worlds beyond it. The fan whirred slowly, like the clock ticked short taps, and the heart pumped liquid in and out. Everything moved in its own circle of existence, performing the allotted functions steadily and uncomplainingly. But even then, it felt like the world had somehow turned upside-down, and the fan whirred only to mock in its own given voice, the time moved to show how invaluable every other being before it was, and the muscle pulsated to define how the gods-on-earth were only too frail and fragile; not being able to keep anything from working or breaking—even their hearts.
Once unleashed, the mind traveled speedily into the fields of green and gold where the spark in one another’s eyes had signed smilingly the invisible yet undeniably substantial contracts of always staying together. It wandered farther to the streams of crystal blue waters where hands were held and oaths were repeated before angels of the world, and names were carved on rocks as well as on every atom of each other’s being. Tracing back the swift walks made across sand lanes and muddy roads, it came to rest only as the image of stars dancing as they were that night appeared on the retinas, and the sharp smell of white roses made their way through nostrils to the insides, causing currents to run down one’s spine.
How does it happen that a seemingly small wave envelops an entire universe in itself? How does Destiny fail Desire every time, and dreams turn to dust before reaching the realms of fulfillment? Why do the once saintly carriers of love blaspheme the very sanctity of it – leaving souls insecure and shattered forever?
Soft rain began to pelt against the room’s window bringing back the detested realizations of reality, and with a single tear that rolled down mournfully, all wounds were washed away until next time…
always will be.”
His eyes were red. They emitted fire. His hair was all messed up. Like his life. He would pull his hair, kick his bed, his door, and cry. Tears wouldn’t stop for even a minute – nor would he make any effort of that kind. He was too weak, so helpless, that any effort to push back the inevitable seemed useless.
He kept pacing around the small room with a mind too full or blank. I am not sure he knew what he was doing or what he could, because he didn’t seem to show that in his ways.
Between his wails a name unknowingly escaped his lips. Her name. His secret. He sat down suddenly on the floor and began staring his palms. Her name was his object, and how he worshiped it. It was his everything. She was his everything!
But nothing was same anymore. His secret was the talk of the town then. Everybody was curious about her; how she had died. How she had been killed. How anyone like her— so young, pretty, free—could be killed?!
She was free, as they knew, but there are always things which you think you know though you don’t, no? She was enslaved too. He was her master. Like she was his mistress, his diva.
He got up weakly and went towards the small table on his bedside. A crumpled ball of yellow sheet laid there on the floor; rejected, thrown. He picked it up and unfolded the creases carefully to not bring any more damage. It was his last hope. He began reading…
always will be.”
It were just those four lines, those few words that brought him to tears again. He started to scream violently, repeating her name again and again as if it were his medicine. As if she would return if he would call her now. But some things just don’t return to normal once you hurt them, do they?
He had killed her. He was his master, and his murderer. And he thought he loved her…
Startled by a bell, he looked at the door. A man in uniform stood there. He asked him a few unnecessary questions, stole a quick inspective glance at his room, and patted his shoulder. Told him he understood his pain, his own wife had died not too long ago. Asked him to please hold on, to not give up. To God we belong and to Him shall we return.
He sat down on his bed, alone again, and rubbed his eyes. A sudden throbbing pain in his head started all of a sudden, forcing him to shriek. He clenched his fist and hit his forehead multiple times— the pain didn’t leave, of course.
“Yours – I was”
yes, she was his.
Since ever. She had always lived for him. He was her first prayer. Her first and only sawaal, minnat, dua. And last.
“Yours – I still am”
“Are you? Are you still?” he asked. “Come back! Will you come back?” he cried. The memories of her falling on his feet flashed back that instant, and he could see again how he had done it. How he had killed a begging diva...
Shouts. Cries. Clarifications. Slowly his mind began to lose its power to comprehend each voice and with each next note added a different melody. He touched her side of the bed rather helplessly as tears rolled down his eyes when he shut them close. It was then that a silver figure walked gracefully to his side and placed her hand gently on his head, to put him to sleep.
Yours I always will be, she whispered.