Sunday, December 5, 2010
Finally the day came when I wrote a letter that didn’t have your name on it.
Somewhere between reading volumes on how to save the world from itself and meeting impossible deadlines, I realised how there was a part of my life I could never really share with you, because you were too lost in your own little world where real things didn’t really exist, except as inspiration to fuel your canvas. Somewhere between the incessant morbidity of selling my soul for a degree, I saw our child materialise and he didn’t know who he was. He asked me how he was born and I didn’t know what to tell him.
He was a love child. A child born of love. And all his curious questions made me hate him because they reminded me of everything you had been and how it had all fallen apart.
Whose lips are you going to kiss?
I’d kiss you, but your lipstick is worth more than my lips.
So I had a pre-emptive abortion and left without my baggage, with the ghost of our child leaning his forehead against the window, looking outside to the world for the answers we never had.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
When did I know?
Right after I realised he had asked me for a dance and I had, unknowingly, turned him down.
It was a fairy tale moment, a moment too good to be put into words for fear of it being lost in translation. It upset me how it was always just moments with him, and not much else. But there was a quavering madness in each of them. A smoulder of hushed emotions, emotions bottled and stored and kept hidden for too long.
The way our eyes met across the room and both of us looked away instinctively, as if seared for an instant.
The way your hand slid upon mine in an overcrowded train and stayed there for the tiniest second before it disappeared.
The way I followed your shadow in the glass frame of one portrait to another.
The way your scent filled me up as I glanced at your victorious smile beneath thick lashes and an uncharacteristic blush.
The way your voice sounded in my ear right before I ran off.
None of it made any sense.
In another story, you were just another stranger on the street.
In another episode, you were the king and I was the spy.
In another lifetime, I was the landlord and you were the refugee.
None of it ever made sense.
And I lost a lot of sleep and peace of mind over it.
It was never going to work. It couldn’t.
And yet, you and I let it go on to be a force that gained so much momentum it physically hurt to stay away.
Your love was in Beirut.
Mine was in Berlin.
It didn’t make sense.
We were monsters of our own creation.
Right after a whirlwind of unsaid things and fireworks over the river, right after a walk past midnight life and a sweet, sweet voice message on my phone, you retract into oblivion and I pretend I don't care.
Right after dismissing other eager people with your arm around my waist with such careless abandon, you come to claim ownership and I smile politely and excuse myself. You pretend it never really happened.
We were monsters of our own creation
We were always just a conversation away from being in love.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
So. It's very nearly Saturday night and I'm going to spend it in the library.
Spending a night in the library already?
Just till midnight. They won't let me stay beyond that.
And what then, when you're walking to your room?
Then nothing. I have my music and the night air.
You should be holding someone's hand.
I should be?
You could be. I freak out just thinking about it.
Friday, September 10, 2010
When you paint your face in the morning, remember it is attached to the rest of your body.
It was late at night, and I was tired of being alone in your city so I stole my uncle’s car and set out to find you.
But you don’t even know where I live!
I know what sector, the rest didn’t matter.
You’ll never find me.
I drove around till I did. In just one of the streets, there were armed policemen who wouldn’t let me through.
Policemen remind you of me?
When I meet you in my dreams, it is a stranger’s face I see,
A stranger’s hands with your thumb nails..
He sits across the glass table, his legs at ease
He doesn’t speak though the darkness between us
And around us, your unnerving stare lights up his pale face,
Your unsmiling smile lurks in the corner of his eyes.
He asks the same questions, how my day has been?
Have I found someone new? Can he touch my hair?
And like with you I fold my carefully designed reasons
Into an origami crane, a paper lily, a cat in the hat,
Kiss your forehead, not his lips, and leave.
Want to know where I live?
Where in Y-block?
You’ll know where as soon as you see my balcony.
Oh come on.
When you’re tired of being alone, steal a car and drive around late one night. When you’re tired of being alone, come find me.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep..
Prelude. Nostalgia. Yanni's violin weeps like stones on riverbeds and rain on crumbling mud huts.
We can't watch movies in Ramadan?
Because God isn't into Hollywood?
Because Hollywood isn't into God.
The rain outside gets faster and faster as I sit and decide whether or not it's safe for me to tell you much I miss you. The rain outside gets suddenly angry and I think about why this has to be so hard. Why you can't be like all those other boys who want to save up to buy all the wrong presents, want stolen phone calls and more than just promises of a lifetime together. I think of what she said to me as we lay on the floor thinking about all the choices we made, some good, mostly bad. "All the mistakes I've ever made fall into a vicious pattern, like a morbid Fibonacci series. We do this to ourselves, don't we? We pick up the most jagged stones and rub our hearts against them, because easy will never be good enough for us."
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
What is marriage to you?
A promise. A promise of valuing someone's safety and happiness and health above your own. It's a promise of keeping someone's deams alove and wanting to build their dreams with them.
By your standards, we're already married.
You place your head in my lap and tell me how your parents got married.
Perhaps I was wrong. Love is that promise. Marriage is the realisation of that promise, service and sacrifice in the name of it.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,
because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
I cried for hours on end on the night you died. I ushered you back. You came as a ghost, present but vacant. Like a marriage with someone you would give up the world for but who can never love you back the way you want to. I wished upon you another death. Talking to you this way is harder than not talking to you at all.
I retract conversations we've had, smell the words that were. I hear stories of guys who get jealous because their lovers take pictures with their guy friends and they hurt me. Sometimes, I nearly wish it was easier for me to deal with your disappearances and absences without cause or reason. Sometimes, I nearly wish this love was a little ordinary.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
You leave me every time you say my name like that.
Don't be coy, you never stop me.
I have faith in you.
I'm beyond the stage where I protest to that statement.
Sometimes I almost wonder as to why I leave you just to come back again. Why I drown your light out, cause you the hurt I think- almost wistfully hope- I cause you? Sometimes I think I do it to protect you from myself while you pray to be my victim every time. I protect you from things that are worse than seeing me walk away, like seeing me in defeated insanity.
You sit on your roof top a little before sun-down. Your sun is somewhere towards your back behind the water tanker and the mountains and piles of grey clouds. You know it will rain soon because of the colour of the sky, the way the air smells. Your sister sits five feet away from you and asks you what you're doing. You open a creamy pack of Davidoff lights and hold the lighter close to you. Your brother appears from between the water tanker, sun and mountains and you snub out your freshly lit cigarette. You wait for him to go, the sky breaks into a drizzle. Your sister runs for cover. You light a fresh cigarette and guard it with your hands. The sky breaks into stormy torrents, pelting the back of your neck, the hair at your nape, the skin on your back under your black oversized shirt. A red shawl lies on the cement, caught between wind and water. You inhale; hold it in for a little too long. The wind blows your exhaled smoke towards the mountains in which people die on misty mornings in unguided flights. Water dripping from you like blood, you walk to your sister and hand her your umbrella and laugh. 'It's raining,' you explain.
You're in the clouds and everyone is singing. One of them strums the bittersweet strings of a guitar. You throw stones into the distance and celebrate if yours goes the farthest.
Without you I cannot confide in anything
The hope is pale designed in light of dreams you bring..
It runs in me, your poison seething through my veins,
This skin is old and stained by late September rains…
Sometimes, their voices seem to travel through time and space and other dimensions, whirring as they pass through each, fading out in comparison, coming to you as a ghost in a moment of divine revelation. Your mind forms an image of a familiar face and then it is lost. There is a waterfall somewhere and you walk through the jungle madness to the sound of it. To the sound of a promise that it will all be over soon.
I'll take you down the only road I've been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet…
They look into your eyes as they sing a lyric full of love. It comes to you as a ghost and then it is lost. You are lost, but you smile through it. It's so much easier to pretend in the darkness.
You scream for attention, pace your room in thirst and helplessness before you return. You don't understand what happened, or how it happened, or why. In people's thoughts and conversation, you find a way to blame yourself for all the mess you see around. You read blue words full of loving and wonder if they were meant for you.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The night wind turns in the sky and sings
I can write the saddest lines tonight
I loved her, sometimes she loved me too..
We've said goodbye too many times before, so there's no reason this should be any different.
He said the first time it hurt, the second time he thought it'd kill him, the third, he thought he'd kill himself so by now he was immune to the pain she caused him. They were a both a mess of their own kind and so deserved each other. He wrote her verses in Pushto, she sang to him in French. Neither understood the other but between them flew a harmony, the kind that unites a violin and a piano. They too were synced by a stranger's language which they wrote on blank paper, him always on white, her on scented cream, both in black ink. Sometimes when the letters reached her, they had been creased by a hundred fingers. His letters smelled of his cologne.
'I love you,' he said. She was too terrified to say anything.
'I love you,' she said. 'Thank you,' said he.
He wanted to kiss her but saw the tension in her jaw. Maybe she wasn't attracted to him after all. And why would she be? She was perfect to him.
She felt his breath on her face but she knew she must hold back because in her mind, insanity was allowed to one person at a time.
Caught between the right thing and what felt right. It's a miserable place to be in.
Today, again my heart calls out in desperate longing. Today, again, I distract it like a child.
How can I ever burn your letters? And how can I ever let go till I keep them?
On nights like these, I held her in my arms
I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too
How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes..
One day he was kissing her neck, her collar bones. The other, he talked about the pride and honour of women. Did all men want virgins who acted like sluts with them? Or was that an indicator on the expected longevity of their relationship(?).
She never understood what he meant when he said it made him want her more. Was that his sad excuse for not putting up a fight? For not telling her to keep away from all the other men who hovered by her elbow, for asking her every time who she was going out with when her answer would always be the same, for letting go each time? She respected the fact that he had a past that he could not change, and was proud, so proud of how far he had come from where they met. He talked about all these other women who had once mattered to him. It didn't matter. He said he wanted her jealous. And then one day she was.
He remembered the days of msn, the day he claimed he was his friend and she instantly took off her display picture. He remembered that as the moment he knew he was in love.
I can write the saddest lines tonight,
To think I don't have her, to feel I have lost her,
Hear the vast night, vaster without her
Lines fall on the soul, like dew on the grass
What does it matter that I could not keep her
The night is fractured and she is not with me
That is all.
I wish you could have seen me that night, after I told you to not wait and you said you wouldn't. I wish you could have seen me all those nights I said goodbye to you.
The first time a cigarette parted my lips. The first time I was up all night crying. My first visit to the shrink. My first decline into cyclical breakdown.
Do you think this is easy?
Each time, they got back, it was more heated, more intense. There was a new depth in conversation, new tenacity of grasp.
He sits and writes her a hundred letters, but he doesn't dare send them because she was the one who walked away.
She sits and writes him a hundred letters, but she doesn't send them because that wasn't curing the problems he refused to deal with. Surely true unhappiness was better than doubtful joy.
Maybe we just tell ourselves these stories to compartmentalize losses and lies. The truth, plain and simple, is they don't send those letters is because with they will dart back to each other and the cycle of boom and bust will then begin. And each successive time, it is harder to say goodbye.
Fragments of my soul live in you. Fragments of your soul live in me. And each time we walk away, fragments of us just die.
I don't love her, that's certain, but perhaps I love her,
Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long..
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
There are puddles of rain in my shoes.
I smile like my heart is aching.
If it's raining and cloudy in London, there's rain and cloud in my soul..
Little girl, little girl, why are you crying?
Adventures to random book stores.
You never did connect the dots so you never saw the monster I had become.
I think I love you.
I don't think, I think. I just do.
You sound just like me.
Possess me like a tune.
Pervade me like a musky scent.
There were songs in your soul from a past life. Songs I translated to remind you of someone else.
There's a mole on the lower right of his mouth which I must never know of.
There was a black and white girl with a huge smile on her face despite her sun burn. Little did she know. That's how stories start.
A little midnight oil, spring's first blossom, collection of water bottles with red caps. Later it's a cardboard box with a label on it.
Little girl, little girl, why are you crying?
Inside your restless soul, your heart is dying.
"I've been alone with you inside my mind
And in my dreams, I've kissed your lips a thousand times
I sometimes see you pass outside my door...
Hello.. is it me you're looking for?
I can see it in your eyes, I can see it in your smile
You're all I've ever wanted
And my arms are open wide
Because you know just what to say
And you know just what to do
And I want to tell you so much
I love you.."
When insanity became inspiration
Never before had I looked better. And never before had I felt worse.
How was it?
It sucked so much that I locked myself in my room and screamed till I thought the world would shatter and then sat by the river and smoked because I missed you.
Every expression my face is capable of right now.. the infinite sense of your most intense vibrant presence
It doesn't matter where you go, as long as you come back.
Who is that guy who walks you back?
A lot of people walk me back, who are you talking about?
A lot is not one, and one is dangerous.
Your broken Urdu broke my heart.
No rhyme, no heartbreak, no reason.
High treason, the man was a vegetable till he became a fascist.
What ghosts must haunt him in his grave.
The traces of blood follow you home
Like the mascara tears from your getaway.
It's a fire, she crooned.
It's a fire, fire, and I'm burning.
"I long to see the sunlight in your hair
And tell you time and time again how much I care
Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow
Hello, I've just got to let you know..
Because I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely
Or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart
For I haven't got a clue
But let me start by saying I love you..."
Sometimes conversations come to me like grey strangers asking for directions, sometimes a part of a song. Sometimes on sheets of Egyptian cotton, ten little monkeys jumping on the bed..
You're the only friend I have. My night dawns with you and you know it.
I borrow words.
Say it to me, again and again and again.
Little one, little one, the sky is falling.
Do you know what missing you feels like?
It's the devastation of a moth as the candle it worshiped is snubbed out the moment it was about to give itself up.
Smoke whirls like a violin's tears, but no burn is visible.
Little girl, little girl, why are you crying?
I drift across the city in the rain till I find my way back home.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Je rubab yum, te mein shehbaz yea.
Ze naghma yum, te mein saaz yea.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
You think I'm playing with you?