The Gardner

Art by Leah Gardner

He sows, He reaps – He brushes past the instances of rolling buds and autumn heaps.

The misaligned creepers are set in line with the constellations and somehow, the ephemeral space makes it hard for them to breathe.

The Judgement day arrives in a pocketful of systematic hate until the garden becomes a miserable palace of weed.

He still sows – but there is no one to reap.

There are poets, here and there but He has built a wall of thorns that renders the seekers blind. Once their eyes start to bleed, the taste of their blood halts their spirit – it engulfs the hope of reaping the garden of faith.

I’ve been standing on the edge of this palace, they say yellow makes them happy but this palace of weed suffocates me – it also clings to my lungs, and calls itself my ‘Home’.

I lunge forward to blind myself, I really do but every single time I miss by a fraction of a sentence, a yawning poem stretching between my toes.

He sows – that awakened poem, that distracting sentence, that hopeful lunge / The Gardner has a season for every name, I wonder what mine is.

Rains/ a blackened sigh/ the ephemeral space/ the broken stars/ the melting clouds/ a stutter between the sunrise and the sunset – I’m an anomaly without a name.

I see, the uprooted garden and the enormous space. I breathe for the first time because I believe what I see. I believe what I seek.

The Gardner – that made me, you and the bellowing universe amidst a poetry of Creation, a scream of magnificence.

-Nameera Anjum Khan.


This poem takes inspiration from religion, particularly the depiction of God in the movie ‘The Shack’ which provides a brilliant and an optimistic insight into what kind of entity God really is. It also sheds light on how humans sometimes become the judge of events that they truly don’t understand. We become hopeless at the immediate sight of a bad circumstance, never once trying to grasp the meaning of divinity behind things.

Night Creatures

All the night Creatures crawled up to my desk ~ & I wondered…

What Creature am I in their language? The one with the touch of Death or the God with untimely sunlight ~ as bright as a snowfall in the raging summers?

They keep coming back, I don’t think they’ve a name for me.

Sometimes, a shadow looks like my Father hiding behind the door,

At other times, it metamorphoses into an old hag that laughs at me while I read the ‘Articles’ of the ‘Constitution’ aloud…

& Even the night Creatures laugh – at a nameless horror; but I only defined ‘Democracy’, I only swallowed a slice of cake and brushed aside this noisy mosquito.

It was the only one pricking at my skin instead of laughing – when I (defi)n(ed)

D – E – M – O – C – R – A – C – Y.

– Nameera Anjum Khan

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

Privilege

The sight of a bird looking down upon the travelers lost on the road, that is what my vision can capture

The crisp white bed sheets adorning my bed are smoother than the lines upon their young faces

The sun shines in my part of the world so that my hair gets rid of the water but in their part of the world, it burns their feet and leaves them with dry throats

The only water that flows in their realm is sweat and blood, helplessness and despair

Sometimes, even nature takes a cruel shape against them

It’s been a long day under this roof, it’s been a long day under the skies

In my part of the world, I argue with facts and devour logic with each step that I take forward in a direction I know is meant for me

In their part of the world, the only direction is the endless road, the only logic is a two square meal and the only argument is the one that ends with an absence of privilege synonymous with a voiceless music

And this is poverty for someone like me who can only write about it but ‘they’ hear its voiceless music and they are its heart-wrenching lyric 

Privilege is a funny thing, it almost makes you forget where you could be and at the same time, it makes you realize how it limits you when you don’t have the proper devices to make use of it

My poetry is almost always adorned with metaphors but this time, I refuse to put any ornaments upon it

This one time, I want you to analyze your privilege and worry about things that have absolutely no inkling to your reality

Because this entire world and every being in it is your reality, we’re nothing more than an amalgam of skin and bones tied to different fates, we’re nothing more than dirt and dust encircling each other in a perpetual pool of ups and downs

It’s your past that is fighting hard to survive the war against hunger and capitalistic regimes 

It’s your future succumbing to death while you’re just an infant in the lap of your wailing mother and a father who couldn’t make it

It’s your present self urging you to do something about it, your privilege seeks a purpose, give it while you still can. 

-Nameera.

Daylight

Daylight is the kind of hope fumbling for words simply because you don’t give her enough space to expand her lungs and search for the sun rays like an infant trying to pronounce the alphabet.

She’s waiting on the other end while darkness covers you head to toe, she calls out to you while you lay asleep, possibly. Daylight stuffs her mouth with grapes until her days are sour enough to forget you. She sleeps with her eyes wide open, she dreams about your sleep while you lose it bit by bit. Every night she calls out to you from the shadows. You see demons instead. Every night she weaves epiphanies out of the blankness but you’re too focused on all the things that slowly suck the nectar out of your peace; it’s a withering flower now, bowing low and deep, buried inside its own existence.

What do you do when your own body is a grave that engulfs you whole?

One day you wake up and realize that it’s past midnight. You notice that it’s the hour of the demons, like they say in the movies. You shrug your shoulders, smiling at the odd thought. But isn’t it odd that you’re suddenly awake? Why did sleep arrive in the first place when this was supposed to be the end, you staying awake and wondering all that you are at this moment. Then you think of all those things that happened and died out halfway through. Would it really matter if they hadn’t taken place at all? I mean, it would probably affect your self-growth. But does He have to make growth so hard and giving up so easy? Who is this He I refer to anyway? Then you remind yourself that it was this very prospect of how things usually are that made you want to stand up to them. What if giving up wasn’t easy? What if complaining all the time actually solved all the problems? Would you really be who you are today?

3 AM is not an end, it never will be. It’s the exact moment of finding, oneself, the truth, God, love, sleep – who can tell? It can be anything you want it to be. It’s not the hour of dark things that lurk in the shadows, it’s the hour to wait, to wait for daylight.

Daylight will come, she’s almost here. The grapes were never sour, they were bittersweet and so is your life. Daylight is yours, embrace her too.

Your body isn’t a grave but a precious gift of nature. Flowers grow on it, they grow deep inside you and all around you. If you close your eyes and smile, they bloom. Do you notice how your breath is a sign of so many things, it could be the soft breeze, the harsh winds, the gentle tides, the rustling leaves, buzzing of bees, the plop of a frog, a butterfly flapping its wings, a cats purr and the silent drizzle – the sigh of nature is forever looking to brighten up your day.

You’re not lost, you are home so carry yourself with love and faith.

-Nameera.

Image credits : Unsplash

The Prayer

pink-petaled flowers

There are mosquito bites all over my feet
The itch grows like climbers around my knees
My veins circle the heart
My hands run out of control
I’m spinning in this web of my creation
I’m a collector like spiders
Except that I don’t devour upon my hosts
I watch them grow out of their existence
Until they’re born anew
And I see them fly away
Like all my bad thoughts that disappear into the light
The sun swallows sins at once
Its spine is a constellation lined across the sky
I watch God take a walk in the chambers of my heart
He looks out the window and I gaze into your eyes
He looks at my happiness
I gaze a little more than usual, until he has learnt
The name of my only prayer,
You.

-Nameera.

Image credits: Unsplash

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

MY FIRST HEART BREAK

A burglary happened on your lips while you had your eyes closed. Maybe that’s why kisses are stolen these days, not planted. You say heart breakers are bullies who will never be happy again, tell me, what do you truly know about being one? We can be poets for all you know, making you cry out to your pillow with metaphors that confuse you because you just don’t want to face the truth. Confusion is the antonym for courage, the courage you lack because what will they say upon finding out that you’ve broken hearts before? It all started when I was thirteen, broken and in search of true friendship. Every person I liked already had someone else, being second choice was a dagger I had been carrying in my heart forever. This was my heart and it went right through it resulting in cracks that resembled a thunderbolt; a mute thunderbolt, one that inhaled and exhaled pretending life was a yoga exercise where some days you ace it or you don’t. It was all about the chance we took and the one we lost. I saw people finding a best friend, I caught myself staring in the mirror, telling a lonely reflection that all she ever needed was herself. People blamed me for being full of myself but I ask them now, where were you when I needed you most? When I, instead of hiding my true feelings and confusing you; told you how much a friend would mean to me, where were you when I wore vulnerabilities upon my sleeve? You were busy finding creative ways to judge me so I left because I was mean, arrogant and evil. You were shy, kind and hopeful but I wasn’t so I packed my luggage – emotions I mean and left without a dagger in my heart because by now, you had broken it in two.

When I was thirteen, a girl in my class broke my heart and today I liberate her from the tangled mess of my thoughts. She’s free to go, and I’m free to use the lessons she taught me. Thank you for being my first heart break, I hope yours would skip a beat right now so you can know that once upon a time; you were one of the reasons why I wanted to stop mine.

Heart breaks can come from friends as well, it doesn’t always take a boy to do it.

COLLECTING CAGES

My hands are stories you never read
Long, slender and painted red
An estuary within me connects to you
Not the whole ocean inside of me
Pandora’s Box lies safely in my stash
I lick the dust upon it to get a taste
They way you slid your fingers under
My sleeve
Made me swallow the suns for I
Believed
When your fingers were intertwined
In mine
I thought we would talk of irrevocable
Love
Yet you forced your way deep in
My skin
Digging a grave out of my elbows
And mounted upon my palms,
You broke the seal
Freeing the secrets within the box
This time
A man led to the ultimate demise
A man who has turned into my
Irrevocable disease
Memories of him is the trauma
I collect
Looking in the mirror, I forget
To reflect
My existence has become a
Prisoner to you
Wherever I see, whatever I touch
Morphs into a remnant of you

Love is the closest thing to magic
You never know when the rabbit
Disappears from the hat forever
Replacing ‘trick’ with ‘tragic’.

-Nameera.

 

My Umbrella

It was one fine morning until signs of downpour marked the vast expanse called sky. Mr. X decided to take his umbrella along with him. To tell you the truth it doesn’t really matter if it’s raining or not, Mr. X always carries his umbrella whenever he goes out into the world. Firstly, it keeps him from getting sun burnt & secondly, it obviously protects him from rain drops. That’s just the way he likes his life; protected & safe. Every time he sees someone passing by without an umbrella over his head, he rushes over to the person & starts telling him the benefits & uses of walking under an umbrella, particularly the one he carries; a red one. Now to the strangers dismay, he doesn’t bother to find out whether he asked for his opinion or not. What if the stranger just wants to enjoy a little drizzle?
One day Mr. X, the man with the red umbrella stumbles upon Mr. Y, the guy with the green one. Both of them start arguing furiously about how their choice of what prevents raindrops from making them sick is righteous compared to the other. Amidst their ferocious attempts to bring down one another, the sky darkens & black rain drops fall on the face of earth. Each drop caters to a black ocean that consists of tides arising every now and then as umbrellas of various colors strengthen it. But this black ocean shouldn’t surprise you, right?

The colorful umbrellas I’m talking about are various religions we are born into. Some people like Mr. X & Mr. Y make the process of co-existing a tiresome one. Advices are offered to those who don’t share their beliefs or follow different paths. The black ocean of hate is the result of not letting our differences subside.


My inspiration for this post comes from a blogger who decided to share some of his personal experiences in one of the posts. Make sure you check it out & the blog, of course.

Even most people from my religion are biased towards others. I wonder why we can never put that aside and coexist. Interested people will join themselves, what’s the need to convert?

If there’s a message to be spread, it’ll spread by itself as people are observant.

We’re all human.

Let’s start believing in ourselves first.

Peace.

Bharath Upendra.