In the Shadows of a page

Do you ever wonder what you look like in someone else’s poem? Is it some made-up version or reflects who you truly are?

If you ever want to know yourself better, read yourself through someone else’s letters and poems. It may seem as though you’re reading about a stranger but if it doesn’t, then you know that you belong there. In that moment of creation, your spirit was complete.

What you hold in your hand is a page, only momentarily. Soon it morphs into endless dreaming and hopeful possibilities.

It becomes a page that is no more that – but something that lives, it is not a thing anymore; but something that breathes you.

-Nameera Anjum Khan

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

Will You Write Yourself?

If the heaven was the eyelash that stole my wish

If it was the candle that I blew on days I lived,

Then I want to write my own goddamn History

In an abyss that reeks of an unending staircase,

I hand my sins to you, so you may decide my grave

I fall as I fly, unto the blue skies~

re-writing the tears that have forgotten how to be a poem.

-Nameera Anjum Khan

(An excerpt)

Happy Women’s Day

On this day, I want to celebrate trust, dependency and sensitivity.

It’s a blessing to be able to rely on friends and family. As a woman, I’ve seen a considerable level of criticism/unwanted suggestions coming my way because of my choices in life. However, these pricking truths are not the only facet to my life. It is also true that I’m blessed with amazing people that I can trust. And over the years, one biggest life lesson that I’ve learnt is the importance of sensitivity & vulnerability. They have their own beauty, their own poetry to convey.

People will always condition women to grow through such tough phases that independence becomes their sole aim. But I beg to differ. Independence is not JUST about handling your own finances, traveling solo, being able to take your own decisions or wearing clothes of your choice. Have you ever thought about dependency with a straight mind?
I do not mean to convey anything negative by this. What I’m trying to say is that maybe dependence doesn’t really have to be looked down upon so passionately. Maybe there’s a truth to it we aren’t taught to acknowledge. Maybe our society has upheld stupid convictions for so long, that some words just sound absurd. But this doesn’t have to stop us from defining their meanings in our own terms, right?

My mother always tells me that Allah says, it’s wrong to blame time – as in – how people say that this era (referring to time) was better than the one we live in today. So, next time if somebody says ke hamare zamane mai aisa kuch nahi hota tha, then remind them that people have always found a way to do whatever the hell they want to. Good and bad people have existed since the beginning of Creation. Things have happened exactly the way they do now, except that the means of doing them were different.

And just because today is different, it doesn’t have to be wrong. You can still trust people, if you’ve been betrayed before. Give those who are really trying their best a Chance. You can still be an independent woman, a happy woman, a vulnerable woman, an ambitious woman, a hopeful woman, and a woman who depends on her family and friends & reciprocates their love.

-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.

Life

Isn’t it strange how we don’t even notice the moon go down on her knees and the sun coming up with its golden stories that the birds chirp across trees and windows and balconies?

Isn’t it strange how some flowers bloom today and some wither away simply because it’s not their season?

Maybe this strangeness is what we call life but never really know how to define it.

-Nameera.

A Sigh of Freedom

The distance is a mist eddying upon my thighs

She plays the lyre that resembles eternity

Grapes have been growing around my wrists

My feet taste like oranges swallowed by the steps they take

The portrait of a holy tomb stares at me

I feel my shoulders turn into minarets

My stomach morphs into a call to the right side

This voice is God’s omen raining down on my face

I look up to the skies and I see blue skies free from the politics I’ve left behind

The earth behind me wails in the echoes of hopeless civilizations

I don’t rage anymore

I’m free from your shackles, I was always my own call for freedom, love and acceptance

-Nameera.

Moon & Dreams

The moon is a beautiful shade tonight, do you see it fall over that distant darkness?

It’s like she’s offering her shoulders in prayer-

A prayer that becomes our long lost wish

An admixture of paperweight dreams,

My mind and my thoughts keep me running

I’m always on my feet, looking for answers that paint my questions in different hues

I see myself becoming more thoughtful

I see my shadow morph into the sunlight

I feel my senses drowning in yours

I feel, like I never have before.

-Nameera.

Staircase to Earth



Hell.

All this time, he spoke to me in varied hues of oranges and reds. He whispered in flames that burned my head, he moved about in a curfew that swept my need for fresh air. I am a tree, with a broken heart carved on my stomach. The knots of insomnia tighten around my thighs until I bleed Eve’s sin. Unholy birds perch upon my nape, they think my darkness is a home they’ll never find again.

Heaven.

The flowers here grow even more cheery while I paint them. They look like promises of something I haven’t seen yet. They whisper poetries that make no sense. The sun shines brighter than before and I can look at it, gaze into its soul. The moonlight becomes a passage to ballroom where love dances with fate. I watch it, I admire it from afar. I’m good here but so far away. Where is it that my bones ache to be?

Earth.

Home. Love. Life. Trauma. Death. So many colors that come without our choosing. If we chose black, white unfurls at the edge of our existence. If we chose red, green finds a way to our heart. We bind prayers upon our foreheads and paint heaven and hell. Our deeds paint us in either of the two. I sleep under a blanket of warmth, I’m in love. My bones don’t ache anymore. My bones say I’m home ~ on earth.

-Nameera.

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