On Writing

Writing for a purpose, specially one that’s for a long term, can be so difficult to provide an impetus to. I’ve been so frustrated and annoyed at myself for the past few months. I was in a similar position at the beginning of the previous year, but it was for all the different reasons.

And I honestly love writing about writing, you know?

I’m not making much sense. Also this is yet another pms-ing rant haha, in case it wasn’t obvious.

I want to write for myself, like I always have. But I also want to share myself with the people that inspire me and vice-versa. We all have some inspiration to offer to each other. It’s beautiful.

Life is beautiful, we should write it more often.

-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

Skin

Your skin tastes like mumbling blue berries trapped inside sea shells, skies falling upon your collarbones
Did you really believe that the weight of this world could shatter you?
You carry butterflies inside your stomach
You love like tomorrow is but a fable
Tell me, do you not shudder when you think of the end?
Maybe heaven really is a beginning,
A strawberry stream flowing through the crevices of the wild forest that you are

Your skin tastes like a scream splattered across the wall
It’s red and soaked in wet sheets
There’s a sickness drowning you until you can’t breathe
Mother, I see how the heaven under your feet often makes the earth beneath it slip away
The clouds shake while God’s laughter echoes in your eyes
My first poem is your name, your name

Your skin tastes like an oration pleading for hope
A lullaby that sleeps over my chest
The winds carry my whispers and I feel your smile against my lips
My breath is a wild goose flapping its wings against a chest that has only known heaviness
How do you get used to feeling this light?

Your skin is my home, the window that is always open, the curtains that will never be drawn, the door that will never be locked and the poem that only begins

Your skin tastes like heaven falling in love with herself for the first time.

-Nameera.

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

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

YOU

The metaphysics of my existence circumvent the physiology that reeks of me. My nose, my ears, my mouth and my hands are tales that hum Mozart across park benches on a windy afternoon. There is a moon that grows in the middle of my chest, it grows until writing feels like playing the piano and my fingers move across the keys that have the power to contain and redefine me. Philosophy is the muse that often makes me wonder if we are mere thoughts of the universe, each one so unique and different. What if the distant universes we never see are the worlds we create inside our heads? I’ve always been a subject of my ruminations not because the idea of my being is the only element that lives to entice me but because there is so much we leave to an outer perspective, forfeiting the vitality of looking beyond our reflection. We are mirrors learning from each other, recreating the same habits confined by normalcy but the moment we look beyond and beneath, a universe of differences unfolds like a mighty wave. That is who I am and that is who you are, a mighty wave, set aside from every reflection that you have ever come across just as others  have too. But you were always flowing with a unique rhythm, a whole different energy that defines only you and no other.

The Question Mark

I remember the
Colorful question
Mark in my old
Sketchbook from
When I was 13
A clueless rhythm
Shook me to the
Core while the
Sea failed to kiss
The shore

I stood still
My feet crushing
The sand underneath
Waiting for answers
Then in the distance
I watched the sun set
Birds flying toward it
The sky was a remant
Of its presence and
Maybe I am too
A remnant of a
Purpose hiding in
Plain sight,
Dressed in white
Like a pilgrim awaiting
God’s call
My colourful question
Mark is a rainbow turning
Prisms into miracles.

-Nameera.

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.

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.