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A Grim Awakening On a Bright Blue Day

I woke up this morning. That’s it, I just woke up. There needn’t be an adjective or a clarification as to my mood, as to my situation. Waking up is enough. It means whatever eggshells have left cracks in my hands have healed. Looking at my hand is not going to summon back the pain. Or, it shouldn’t. I should be thankful for the chance to crack a new egg. Make a new omelet. And try again. Begin anew, the saying goes. We do that everyday without having to put any effort into it. Our second and third chances have long past and we’re living somewhere on the thousandth chance.

Somedays I wake up early, refreshed and ready to take on the tasks of a young adult. Mild level of responsibilities. Mild daring and reckless abandonment. Mild joy and happiness tinged with awareness that young adulthood provides. Its no longer a scenery painted with cherry blossom pink. No longer la vie on rose. And thats okay. It leaves room for a clearer perspective, a clearer view. My shoes might have dug into my feet yesterday, but today I can wear a different pair, or find a way to make it more comfortable. My hair may have been a hot mess, but with a comb and upper arm muscles, that too will be remedied.

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Remember Me

Remember me as I am, as I will be, not as I was. So many people allow the past to filter their face-to-face view. Their eyes clouded over with nostalgia, with resentment, with fear. You can’t embrace someone with your vision disturbed. Open your eyes, blink a few times and look again. You might be surprised at what you see. Sometimes we see what we want to see, what we think we see, without actually seeing. Sometimes we forget to see ourselves.

———-

“Remember me,” her body language seemed to suggest, with arms hanging limply yet outstretched. Her eyes–cold, with a hint of pleading, a hint of pain that others didn’t see. “Remember me as heartless, as mean-spirited, as cold and un-kind.” This was what we heard when she spoke. Her defiance, her calculated nature obscured her truth. So, we chose to believe her. When someone shows you who they are, believe them, right? We walked away with our hearts weighed down with anger, with hurt. And she walked away, having pushed those she loved and found they did not want to push back. She walked away empty. The grass was blowing gently, the sun was beaming down. So much beauty in the presence of so much sorrow. We blind ourselves, we delude ourselves into self-righteous indignation and never look back. She looked back, once, and then again. It only took one instance, one moment of time for us to decide she wasn’t worth turning around for. She wasn’t worth the same chances we would have given ourselves. She wasn’t worth the patience we would have wanted ourselves to receive. She wasn’t worth our love, and so we strode off, comfortable in that uncomfortable untruth. I left a piece of me behind that day.

————-

Remember me, then as willing to change. To take chances. I’m never gone, I’m just leaving room for a kinder, more hopeful me. It was that crucial ingredient that meant I had to fade away. Without hope, nothing survives. The plants always hope for sunlight, even in the drought, and they grow in whatever direction the rays kiss their leaves. Without hope nourishing my growth in a new direction, I withered away, but I’m sure the new me will remember me. The new me will be more patient with me. I had no more patience with me; I was not kind to me. How could I be that for others, then? How could I give others what they needed when I was wilting from the inside? My soul could not take it anymore, my heart could not accept it from me. So all I ask is that you remember me, even though I would not remember myself.

More Than I Can Be

More than I can be

Is what they think of me

Less than what I see

Is how they talk to me

Expectations weigh

Like a sun with no rays

Far too heavy

I choose to look away

Think of greener skies

And orange days

Light a candle, take a trip

Float into a better tomorrow

Free from endless thoughts

The mental prison I abhor

I blink under sunlight

and watch myself grow

 

 

Rose

No delicate petal floats away

forgotten

They bloom brilliantly,

competing with the vibrant sun

A stem stands silently in strength


How can poison ever love a rose

When its very scent darkens

salubrious scarlet

Its breath shatters

thorny resilience

And the leaves whither away

Poison cannot exist alongside a rose

Because its raison d’etre is to destroy

A crack in a wall does not make it fall

does not make it weak

If the cracks are there from the beginning-

There will never be a wall at all

 

Weight

“What a heavy burden,” she sighed, mildly looking out at the bright mid-morning radiance atypical for Mondays.

“So heavy.”

Absently tapping her fingers against her thumb, she placed her head in the palm of her other hand. Her eyes never left the sight which she focused on, growing more and more weary by the second. It had been raining for a week now, thick, wet and messy rain. The kind that seeped into the corner of her kitchen where a small, yellow bucket with daisies she painted herself collected the excess that dripped from the leaky roof. The kind that seeped into her thoughts, distorted her mood. The brightly lit kitchen, filled with lavender, teal and red touches here and there, required some of her attention, as she had yet to do the dishes. None of these, however, were what held her interest. Her gaze was pinned onto the little girl who lived next door. She was among a large family of five, and her name was Ijlal, a simultaneously odd and unique name. Every Sunday the child found her way, unbeknownst to her parents, into her garden, where she sang softly to herself and watered the roses. Ideally, Rahima should have been watering her own roses, but, like everything else in her life, gardening was just not a priority right  now. All of the tasks which she often prided herself on her ability to complete, she had fallen short of recently.

She told herself that the soft, imperfect voice of the idle child soothed her because she was bored and a little on-edge; her LSAT grades were yet to be posted, and the possibility of failure loomed ominously. In reality, she knew there was another reason why she was so fixated. Ijlal reminded her of Sakina. Both happy-go-lucky, sweet and shy little girls, who preferred to be alone with their happiness than have others ruin it. She mentally berated herself for thinking of Sakina, there was no use in scratching at old wounds, or in this case, freshly formed scabs that were still incredibly sensitive. She paused to lift up the cup of herbal green tea to her mouth, noting the tapping she had been doing and shaking her head.

“Get a  hold of yourself, Rahima,” She muttered angrily.

Light footsteps came from the hallway into the living room.

“Yeah,” came a familiar loud, teasing voice, that of her sister Najma. “Get a freaking hold of yourself big sis. Don’t you know that talking to yourself is talking to the shaytan?” She gave Rahima a shrewd look before throwing her head back and laughing.

Rahima turned to face her with a scowl, although her heart wasn’t in it. After all, this was Najma. Constantly looking for a opportunity to make a joke out of Rahima. It was both aggravating and amusing, and it hid the fact that she had probably known why Rahima was so frustrated with herself.

“If you’re here to make breakfast, go right ahead.” Rahima cooly stood up, not in the mood to be the butt of another one of Najma’s jokes. “But, if you’re here to ruin my peace, I can drink my tea in my room.” She walked over to grab another tea bag and folded her arms, frowning at Najma’s mood.

Najma’s smile only broadened, before she walked up to her sister and gave her an unwelcome pat on her head. “I love it when you threaten me. Its always so ineffective,” she sighed.

“Now, tell me whats really on your mind.” She transitioned into concerned sister mode, and pulled up a chair on the island, her eyes still twinkling with mirth. Her eyebrows,, however, seemed to have a permanent furrow in them lately, and it deepened as she peered over at Rahima, who stood in front of the sink piled up with dirty dishes.

“You know what,” she mumbled, debating whether she should start washing them to avoid opening up.

“Come on, Rahi, just have a chat with your favourite sister,” Najma joked half-heatedly, gesturing widely with her arms, “I want to hear what you have to say, and listen to it and receive it.” She gave Rahima what should have been a comforting look, but really made her snort. Najma had been into reality shows lately, digesting one after the other without ever actually pausing in between. One of the main themes she had picked up on, was that all reality shows had therapists, otherwise, they weren’t quintessentially a reality show. And all the therapists had the same calm, wide-eyed demeanor that Najma was putting on.

“Just shut up, I’ll talk to you, okay? But there’s nothing I have to say.”

Najma made the required mhmm sound, and gestured for her sister to sit, which illicited a strong eye-roll and a half-smile.
“Is this about Saki, or about Law School?” She began, taking in Rahima’s baggy shirt with the cereal stain on the right arm. Unlike a girl who was very proud of her style, and liked to always be presentable.

Rahima, who really did not want any part of this intervention, felt for Najma. Rahima was the older sister, but in many ways, her and Najma were best friends and equals. They always made decisions together, turned to each other for laughter, support and compassion. But without Sakina, Rahima felt the two year age-gap between them widening. She wanted, no she needed, to protect Najma and to be there for her. But she also needed to shield her from any pain she might experience. Without her mom and dad here, she was responsible for that.

And she kept that in mind as she responded, “Law school. I just don’t want to disappoint them, you know?” By them, she was referring to her parents, who only wanted her to succeed in whatever she wanted. And what she wanted was law school. But, she could not mention Sakina to Najma, and so she omitted that from her list of worries.

Najma nodded and listened patiently as Rahima lamented. She offered up advice that maybe Rahima should do some volunteering to distract herself, to which Rahima said she’d look around. Both sisters smiled at each other, Rahima sipping her tea. Najma looked outside to watch Ijlal, who had moved from the roses to the shrubbery at the end of their yard. Rahima watched Najma as she gazed at Ijlal.

Najma decided she’d put off talking about Sakina until Rahima was in a better mood.

 

Weight

Heavy

Burden

Light does not filter through the cracks

Sand gathers at my feet

 

Rabia Al Basri

“Die before you die,” said the Prophet
Muhammad. (saw)

Have wings that feared ever
touched the Sun?

I was born when all I once
feared – I could
love.

Rabia Al Basri


 

If man was so political, would he ever be enthralled by nature? If I thought for one second that the light of the sun, and the depth of the ocean had nothing to do with me, with my origin and telos,  I would never be happy.  The twinkle, the gleam, the glowing persistence with which the orange fireball gracefully ascends the sky is no small beauty. Photographers rise in a futile attempt to capture one hundredth, nay one- thousandth of its image. Sleepy eyes blink open to its sight, at once ephemeral and etched into their memories. Their human memories. They never stop. Generations begin and end, and the same patterns of awe at the blueness, the richness, the brightness, feelings of rapture and longing and belonging are clear.

Somehow, what is most salient to me, becomes what I take for granted. What is most beautiful, blends into the mundane of an everyday routine. And yet, while disembarking a bus, walking in between classes, or staring aimlessly out of a window, I see it again. I remember, that this beauty, and you and me, we aren’t accidents. And so I peer into the ocean, I look up at the sun, and my jubilation only increases. To live in the presence of such beauty is to live constantly reminded that we are all in the embrace of everlasting love. Alas, how could I ever forget, then?

Gratitude

Try counting the number of eyelashes crested on top of wondering eyes. Fluffy and dark, yet–invisible. How many days have they stood on guard, brushing away any deterrents to enable an unfiltered access to the world? An entire world view. Who knew? Eyelashes are the bridge to sight; to scenery and greenery. Camera lenses are the eyelashes to photography. Capturing one moment, one second, one frame in time. I have not been grateful.

Fingertips rest atop the canvas of your life. Pen clenched firmly between thumb and forefinger. Swiftly, they move across, in some frantic yet familiar pattern. Mapping out the terrain of your mind, the train of your thoughts. Connecting the dots. Conveying so much in so little. Clasped together, they are unstoppable. Nimbly open up the jar of bottled dreams, move mountains and then some. At night, weary and full, rest sleepy heads in the cradle they provide. I have not ever been grateful.

Even when I am weak, I am strong. I am restoring myself. My warriors are resting and planning. What mould shall I break tomorrow that I already haven’t? A caterpillar at once gone and stalling. I am the caterpillar, the chrysalis and the butterfly. You cannot differentiate me from me. Sometimes I walk, other times I rest. Someday I will soar.

~

Instead of wishing upon a star

I wish upon the days I have

And the ones yet to come

Because those are wishes granted

That I never asked for

~

Wash Away With The Waves

I think there’s so much more to the emotions people harbour. They didn’t choose to collect and stockpile pain, hurt, anger, sadness. It walked up the stairs, stood on the porch and waiting a nano-second before barging in.

No permission necessary.

It seems I am at once unsure and conflicted, ready to decide but unwilling to move forward. I wait on the edge of a beach, warm shores and squishy sand. Why do I hesitate? What holds me back?

At the nostalgic turn of the day, the point when every soul sits and ponders, I hesitate. Choices are easier when they are an option, and I like to play it safe. Some feelings are unwanted, and yet they burrow into a corner of your hear,overstaying their welcome and rendering your gracious kindness strained.

Its always the choices we can make that we hold back on. We survey our cards, calculate our odds. We don’t make any moves.

Wind whistles by, clouds float silkily past. Tides ebb and flow, and you have yet to let it go.

Rising

Born

from the womb of promises

I’ve only ever had hope

Fed

the mesmerizing glimmer

of searing sunny skies

Told

where to grow and what to prune

a garden of weeds and roses

Thorns

prick others yet I bleed

I taste crimson rainbows

Light

mends the cracking skin

shy and timid of glory

To-

day I am a survivor

of empty words and whispered dreams