1983

Art by Kim Dorland

We were at a juncture where two roads met and one fell out of land,
I thought it best to stick to the line but a boy I liked had too many wild bones:
“hold my hand and walk”.

He said,
And I looked at the river stretched in front of me – and I looked back at him;
He was too sure and I held my breath more than I could focus on his hand encircled around mine.

We closed our eyes instinctively,
His wings flashed and I watched the wild bones plop into ripples one after the other,
His breath caught the surface once, twice-
I stood on the bank, shivering like a leaf, my insides twisted as a twig.

Everyone else was already at the wooden cabin,
I arrived in the line shrouded in a towel, the prying eyes nibbling at my flesh felt like razor-sharp teeth:
I held on to my breath and everything disappeared.

“She tried to drown herself on the first day of summer camp! Get down here, it’s serious”.
The twisted mint green telephone cord reminded me of mother’s hair and mine,
I tried to see her as kind as I was: It was only a matter of time when my eye would be a purple orb, a redolent swell,
Like that one time I lied about saving a dead bird

after
killing it.

where is our son?
I save things,
“We’ve looked everywhere. They were told to stay together but he wandered off”.
I saved you;
“It’s exactly like that Richard girl back in ’83”.
The wild bones and the winged breath,
No more broken orbs and purple wounds:
“Don’t give me that bullshit and go find my son!”;
I saved you.

‘Summer Camp 1983: First Ever’
the diary entry ends.

-Nameera Anjum Khan.

Epidermis (#5)

Art by Jung-Yeon Min

Sandy shores inside my mouth

There are tides in my tongue that erase your name every time I trace it on the corners of my mouth

I create a vigour in my ribs that swirls in the tangerine buds of the laughing skies

My paper feet are cut in places that can never learn to sleep,

I eat this canvas until I’m the piece of art

But I’m deranged in places that don’t exist loud enough

I de-layer,

Bit by bit

Until the flesh is a bare secret-

It’s your story but you keep peeling it away,

Look at you now – a subsumed flame in a nest of rage, a holy prayer covered in filth and harbouring a look that says more than actions do;

You’re a ship in the sky, sailing away the gravity in hopes of falling on the ground.

You never do.

-Nameera Anjum Khan


Before this day ends, I decided to pen down a muse which was quite spontaneous, which speaks for itself I suppose :3

There was a potpourri of thoughts behind this one but the most particular one was – the description of a toxic relationship and the fear of conformity to truth. Sometimes, people lock themselves up in a cage because they fear getting hurt and in the process, they end up hurting others. It’s an interesting paradox to reflect upon but going through it is an entirely different phase.

Conclusively, I’d like to add that vulnerability is a very precious thing and if someone decides to take off their mask in front of you, you’re not under an obligation to reciprocate the same. You must take your time but through means that don’t end up hurting others.

Thank you for reading, have a nice time ahead!

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

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.

The skies are wilting leaves

Today it rains like petals falling from above

Flowers of heaven shed their eternity

The earth laughs in cyclones and hailstorms

When she claps her hands forests are laid ablaze

The fire slowly subsides when the windows are shut

And doors forget what it was like to be laid bare, naked, open

There are flowers growing inside our minds

Our bones are nature’s kiss

And this flesh is a long lost wish,

Drowning in the reality that comes with it.

Nameera.

Apprehensions Regarding Bharat.

Hey y’all!
About 2 months ago I mentioned in one of my posts that I was going to talk about my apprehensions on moving to India. So, here it goes.

1. Nostalgia.
I don’t think there’s a way to avoid this. Every minute I breathe, eat, or talk there’s going to be an inevitable wave of nostalgia making me homesick. Though I’m sure I’ll get over it with time.

2. Time.
Okay, I swear to God time flies in India! Days seem longer than nights which is really upsetting to my routine since Saudi Arabia is all about night life. It’s always a major problem during Ramadan when I’ve to fast, time never passes quickly.

3. Papa Johns.
PAPA JOHNS HAS BEEN A FAILURE IN INDIA. Enough said. (Read Here)

4. Traffic.
Drivers rarely honk here unless of course we’re stuck in traffic. I go deaf when I’m travelling by road in the city in India.

5. Al-Baik.
This is a fast food chain found only in Madinah, Makkah & Jeddah (if I’m not mistaken) that most of us have been eating since childhood. No fast food outlet can replace Al-Baik. Ever.

6. Cotton Candy.
Okay so this is prolly just a figment of my imagination. Cotton candy is my favorite ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins. The last time I tried it in India it wasn’t as sweet as it is here. I really hope it was my taste buds lol.

7. Competition.
So, growing up away from the country & studying in an Indian school we’ve been told by our teachers that students in India are way more competitive than us. We’re literally made to feel like losers.

8. Ice-rink.
Does anyone of you know of an ice-rink in India? Particularly in the North. Do let me know. Because I really haven’t seen/heard about one there.

Well, half of the points I mentioned above are irrelevant. All I can say is I’m looking forward to this drastic change even if it means that I’ll have to adapt to a new lifestyle.

And I didn’t feel the need to mention my love for the two Holy places that I’m going to regret leaving forever.

Thanks for reading!

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.

Colors

All the colors she’s living,
Black, tangerine & pink.
Is his majestic giving,
For as long as he lives.

Once death meets man,
She’s stripped of her hues.
Bangles taken off her hand,
She sings the lonely muse.

Pushing her into the fire,
They send her away to him.
Colorful bangles she admired,
Now pierce her naive skin.

With wrists covered in blood,
The fire wraps around her.
The death of a man she loved,
Becomes her ultimate curse.

-Nameera.


The practice of Sati was quite common in India till the British invasion.

Even though it was initially tolerated under the colonial rule, protesters like William Carey(Chritian missionaries) & Mohan Roy(Hindu Brahmin) led to a ban on this immoral practice where a woman, on the death of her husband would commit suicide by burning herself, whether she wanted to or not.

The red sindoor on her forehead and in the parting of her hair, one of the signs of marriage, is wiped clean. In some cases, all her jewellery is removed and her glass bangles are smashed. Other traditions, that are thankfully becoming less common, include shaving the widow’s head and giving her a ritual bath, after which she may be forbidden from wearing colourful sarees. She will only be allowed to wear white or pale colours.

_The Quint

Even though all or most of these practices are illegal now yet it’s not uncommon to hear about the prevalence of such rituals in rural areas.

Apparently with the death of a husband a woman loses all rights to live a colorful life.

-Nameera.

Gasoline Addiction.

There are so many things to be addicted to- drugs, alcohol, cigarettes & people. But guess what my addiction is? Gasoline.

I find myself sniffing the smell at a gas station every time we stop there. There’s something about the smell that makes me happy to an extent that I don’t even want to leave.

I got curious today & decided to look it up. Now, everyone knows that smells can trigger memories in our minds. Similarly, the smell of gasoline reminds some people of a happier time like their childhood which elates them.

The smell of gasoline can make some people nostalgic for their childhood, says Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and psychiatrist with an expertise in smell and taste.

Is inhaling gasoline harmful? Yes, it is, that is if you place your nostrils directly into the vat of gas as it can induce euphoric feelings.

Considering the fact that Petroleum is made of Benzene & other hydrocarbons(found in glue, paint), Benzene exposure is likely to cause blood cancer.

But there’s nothing to worry about. You’re not going to end up with cancer every time you stop by a gas station unless you decide to get a sniff up close.

You can read more about it here.