of independence & french fries

i grew up as independent as the roof on my head,
but i still needed the walls to float

i sometimes feel like the plants sitting
outside my window,
just observing my life
maybe this is just an astral lie
or maybe im a stray dog looking for a
shed to sleep under

im a window breaking a thousand times
just to come to terms with this strange insult that is growing
in my poems

im the eye balls rolling on the ground
and disappearing under the carpet, a
divorced paper waiting for a signature

significance,
i like big words and synonyms, i wish i
could find one for my brain
i wish i could nurse the soil that
weakens the bold cracks that are quick
to assume the joy in
every dark shade
of life

this out of control window to my soul
makes me want to fall into a sickness,
i can’t name it tonight
it’ll be a different poem tomorrow

let it fester, let it fester like the fading
smell of french fries on a wintry afternoon,
my little revenge lives every season but
in winters, it eats me

i wish it would chew me too but it eats
me whole
(greedy bitch)
in a stomach, i write about a heart
pretending to be my roof

i write about the bliss sliding under my
clothes, it’s too cold for it to come out, it
sleeps

i grew up independent, inside myself
i grew up, in as much space as i could
take and they could give,
i outgrew
i died;

in the throat of grief, as she drank sobs
to encounter cracked ceilings and
disfigured djinns coming out of their
holes in my bedroom wall

french fries in the rain,
and a cup of tea, please.

-Nameera Anjum Khan

The Scream of a Deaf Girl (Short Story)

The wind never talked to me but she used to always tickle my stomach while I’d laugh like a maniac when I was a little kid. Sure, I had never heard her but she was my best friend. I think we both understood each other way better than most people would. They never heard me and similarly she had been rushing past deaf people all her life. Sometimes, we’d just sit quietly and look at all the people raving endlessly about things that never made much sense to either of us. I still remember the way she raged against my bare back that day. She carried my screams all the way down to the basement but no one came. She raged endlessly while my confused senses called hormones started to run and hide in blazing terror. He said he could hear the wind too but he lied. I know this because he never saw her drop the wooden tool box on his head as he ripped my dress apart, he never saw her until his head was smashed open and he lay on the cold bedroom floor, looking up at her big fluorescent eyes and illuminating body; he murmured something before death carried him far, far away from me (us). I think he said my mother’s name, our mother.

-Nameera Anjum Khan.

D I V I D E

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The gap between my teeth widens
I’m six years of carelessness and a body clothed in flesh
My flesh is skin and a human anatomy I’m yet to understand
My flesh is carrot juice and French fries
My flesh is a subtraction of the numerical, perhaps the only confusion in my life
My flesh is unafraid and knows how to breathe in and out without having to give it a second thought
My flesh sees other flesh like mine and that’s where the story simply ends
Years later my headscarf has another story to tell
The bindi upon my forehead tells yet another story
And just like that, so many stories gather themselves at the periphery of my existence
My best friend dabs my cheek in pinks and greens
My best friend waits more eagerly for sewiyan than I do for Eid
Do you like horror stories? I do too
I think we all enjoy a little thrill in this mundane existence
We’re all looking for something out of the ordinary to provide forethought to
What if that horror isn’t fiction anymore?
It is as real as the red bindi across your forehead and as dark as my black Hijab
It has its horrors that transform streets into a war zone
Cities into hell
Cold winter mornings smell of gunfire that echoes through these lanes
But do you know what sounds worse than that? The silence
That is the scariest story of this divide
It isn’t secluded to bloodshed and cries for help and hunger and poverty and dirty politics and differences and awkward means of reaching out to each other and change in perspective and the birth of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ and ‘He’ and ‘She’ and a myriad other pronouns that have been put to shame
It is the silence that has followed this divide
The lack of a proper noun to voice concern
The lack of a proper noun to replace the wrong
Because black will always remain black no
Matter what shade is forced upon it.

Image Credits: Photo by Alex on Unsplash

A BANQUET WITH MY DEMONS

I saw fear huddled in the back with a hand pressed against his chin, altering the shape of his pale cheek. He looked beautiful tonight in a bow tie and formals, staring listlessly at the dancing duo, depression and insomnia going at it as though it was just the two of them in the gloomy looking hall with a high, ancient ceiling. Depression had a smile so wide that the corners of his lips were uncannily stretched whereas insomnia had her eyes shut while being swayed in exquisite motions that didn’t seem to bother her. Self-doubt was busy eating as usual; tonight the special main course served was his absolute favorite, confidence with a tinge of self-esteem. Anxiety played the morose violin that nearly put a sleeping spell over the guests. Fear had already dozed off. I slid in a chair next to him, watching, wondering, and thinking when a waiter drew beside me and offered happiness for desert. I took a bite, it tasted like my ex and cherry wine; I smiled. My friend sadness just joined the party! We sat atop the chandelier because it was my banquet and anything is possible here. She sang her mother’s lullaby while I wrote it down and together, we created poetry all night long as the demons of my mind busied themselves with celebration and laughter; fading a little as words set me free.

-Nameera.

 

Rape – An indelible blot upon society.

I feel agitated every time I watch the news. She’s disrespected in every possible way. Candles are lit once her eyes are devoid of light. In the spur of the moment the whole nation comes to know of her existence. I pray that this kind of fame befalls upon women no more.

After the deed is done myriad of posts are updated in the name of condolences & budding poets emerge. Words filled with sorrow & angst spread across cyberspace like a tsunami flooding the minds through heart-wrenching poetry.

As a writer I’ve done my bit too in order to erase chaos in my own way through words.

But times like these scare me. I can’t pin down the feeling that I’m not doing enough. No, it’s not my responsibility to save every woman from evil doers but it’s my worst nightmare. In times like these neither ink nor do candle marches suffice. While I sit here writing this under the cover of a peaceful night, darkness encompassing devious intentions engulf yet another life.

I can’t write about a prey falling victim to a ravenous predator over & over again. All the majestic names this country has bestowed upon her cease to exist as one word arises, ‘Rape’ – not just of her body but her soul, independence & spirit.

Give me hope to write & dignity to encapsulate my words. Rid me of my fear that lingers as names succeeding the phrase ‘#Justice For______” keep increasing day by day.

Before inks run out replacing blood, candles are distinguished for worse & dignity lost forever between hands that deign its worth, rekindle her stature by taking a just stand against immorality that has prevailed long enough.

Long enough.

-Nameera.

Under the Crimson Moon

“So, why do you work here?” She hung her head & stared hard at the plate, with the burger sitting still upon it. He followed her gaze & realised that she hasn’t even touched her food yet. How long have we been talking, he wondered.

“I had no other option” she broke the silence in a metallic voice. Her sudden change of voice surprised him to some degree. He fell into deep thought, as was evident through his closely knit brows.

“Would you like to order something else, sir?” He looked at the face of a smiling waitress. Her eyes were too far apart, he noticed as was his wont. The brown hair lacked texture unlike her counterpart sitting right across him at the table. “No” he shook his head, “Are you going to eat it?” His eyes focused on the woman he had been talking to for about an hour. Her lips parted as though she was going to say something but not a word escaped her throat.

“Creep” the kind, average looking waitress said aloud. “Excuse me?” His puzzled expression didn’t answer much queries since the waitress had already dashed away from the two of them, taking frantic steps & disappearing behind the counter in no time. All this happened too fast for him to take into account how uncanny things were that night.

“Wow” he rolled his eyes feeling awkward about the inexplicable little encounter. “It’s okay, she’s always like that” her kind smile burned a hole in his heart. It lingered upon her sweet face for more than a minute & then turned into something horrible. The more attention he paid, the more he felt confronted by the plastered smile across her face. She stared in his eyes listlessly. He thought he saw her pupils expand, almost devour the white space around them. The smile she wore was getting devious each minute.

It wasn’t too late to notice the change in his surroundings but he didn’t. The creamy walls of the restaurant looked dirtier than they had upon his entrance. A pall of dust & hunger hung in the atmosphere, making it too hard for him to breathe.

“I should get going” he could sense an unusual fear & the need for some fresh air stirred within him. The lights began to dim. “So soon?” she tilted her head to the right in an unnatural position, mirroring inhuman ways. “I still haven’t had dinner yet!” She displayed her white set of teeth as her smile definitely looked wider this time, stretching from one cheek to the other. Placing her clenched fists upon the table, she let out a hiss. He held his breath & froze in his chair. A concourse of all things insane & wild, thirsty for blood mingled right before his eyes.

The woman rose swiftly & cackled with her mouth wide open showcasing saliva dripping down to her chin. Her sharp fangs were an accessory to that unholy smile. To add to all this, the lights began to flicker incessantly doubling the doze of horror he was to endure.

He inched back in his chair, his best move so far. “Are you ready for dinner, Jim?” She could smell fear all over him. His whole life eddied like a dark mist around his head as his eyes closed & he slowly fell into a deep sleep.

“Jimmy, boy wake up!” Was that gravel in his mouth? He could also taste a bit of grass. “He was too heavy for me to drag” he heard a voice that sounded unusually familiar. “You just had to turn him over & drag, sweetie” He heard his father speak. “Don’t call me that, you’re not my father!” The familiar voice retorted. “Alright, go get some water” he heard footsteps stomping away in a direction he couldn’t make out. “Ghost, fangs” the words he managed to utter sounded like an apocryphal story, too insensate to believe. His father leaned over him with a pleasant smile, though it seemed quite incongruous considering the situation. “Its okay, I’m here now” were the last words he heard before retiring in his black castle of disquietude.

The ceiling was unlike any he had seen. It wasn’t his bedroom, he knew that for sure. So, where was he?


I never imagined myself writing a Vampire fan fiction yet here I am shaterring all my previous notions. For some reason, I’ve always disliked fan fictions. I don’t even like reading them. But I suppose Carmilla & Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde along with one of my favorite horror movie ‘Crimson Peak’ was all it took to get down to writing this piece of fiction wholly inspired by some exceptional characters.

Thanks for reading!

Impulse

I often wonder if crazy,
Happens only to few.
A reality so damn hazy,
And the aftermath; anew.

As long as the strings,
Of sanity are attached.
The thoughts that bring,
Darkness wouldn’t hatch.

Yet I constantly imagine,
Letting sanity slip away.
And giving in to a legion,
Of underlying craze; if I may.

I could create a door,
And set insanity free.
Satiate it forevermore,
What a beautiful, distorted reality it would be.

-Nameera.

The Dark Side

I succumb to the walls,
Retiring all my beliefs.
My fears standing tall,
Dance upon my relief.

The ceiling is tainted,
As shadows pirouette.
Their tunes are painted,
Along hues of contempt.

This conjunction joining,
Two different parts of me.
Is a neat & willful catering,
To a darker side you never see.

-Nameera.

The Skeleton in my room

It was one of those days when I decided to let sleep get the better of me. Around that time I also started getting lucid nightmares but the night had passed peacefully & it was almost evening.
Suddenly I woke up, not physically but mentally. My mind was wide awake but I couldn’t move my body. I tried to open my eyes but the lids simply wouldn’t budge. I thought I knew what was coming next. Little did I realize that there was something else in store for me this time.

For quite some time I struggled to muster enough strength to open my eyes and in the end, my view was crystal clear. What followed next was the strangest occurrence of my life.

I lay motionless in my bed for about a nanosecond. You see, what was in front of me was mind-blowing. It stared at me with its burning hollow eyes.

The skull it had for a head was on fire & it wore a black cloak. Its bony hand was placed on my chest, restricting my movements.

What would have been your first thought on seeing something like that?

Well, the top three things on my mind were:

1. Can this be really happening? I mean, could it be that the Ghost Rider is really real? Wow, hey Nicholas Cage, Sup!?

2. Okay wait it could also be a dementor from Hogwarts.

3. No wait, what if he’s Malak-al-maut (Angel of Death) & he has finally come to take my soul?

When the third possibility hit my mind I began praying in my heart though I couldn’t move my lips.

I also made sure to notice my surroundings so that when this is over I can make out whether it was just a dream or something real.

The first thing I noticed was my purple curtains. There was faint sunlight pouring in my room filling it with orange light. I could even see the finer particles that appear due to Tyndall effect mostly near the window pane which was quite close to my bed.

It must have lingered for about 5 seconds or so and then there was a sudden sensation of someone letting go of my chest. I sat upright in bed with a clear picture of what just happened.

My room was almost orange & I could see Tyndall effect making itself evident near the window.

The very next night I saw the bony hand again while I was half-asleep. But after that everything stopped (I had had other experiences too, besides the one with the skull).

I don’t know if this was just a nightmare or a real incident but I was never afraid of these occurrences. Honestly speaking my courage comes from experiences of this sort, not on my own.

I always had(have) a hard time believing in ghost stories. Even the skull, apparition or whatever it was didn’t scare me as I would normally be, imagining about it.

I’d like to add the fact that I wasn’t depressed when these things started. I was around 14 & was having the time of my life. All this began out of the blue which ultimately led to my disturbed mental condition(particularly related to sleep). This in turn became the sole reason for my lucid nightmares.

Favorite Space Movies.

Movies depicting adventures in space have always fascinated me. Though I don’t remember how I came to love this genre, I can very well list out a few of my favorite movies.

1. Interstellar.

I hope you’re not surprised why I put this on number one! I was hell-bent on watching this movie as soon as the trailer was out. My experience was simply fantastic. At the end of the day, this piece of art left me amazed & with tons of questions about the universe.

2. Apollo 13.

I’ve talked about this movie in a previous post of mine. The fact that it’s based on real-life makes it all the more interesting. The details with which this movie was put together is commendable.

3. Event Horizon.

This 1997 Science Fiction Horror was a perfect blend of my favorite genres. In the year 2047, the crew of Lewis & Clark find themselves investigating a starship that disappeared 7 years ago. A series of paranormal events unfold, inflicting the crew members. They find a video log where Event Horizon’s captain gauges out his own eyes & holding them up to the camera says, “liberate tutement ex inferis (Save yourself from hell)”.

4. The Martian.

This is another blockbuster that simply amazed millions around the globe based on a book by Andy Weir of the same name. The movie showcases true essence of loneliness & how the astronaut deals with it tactfully. I enjoyed every bit of this masterpiece. The survival instincts embedded in the character simply moved me.