Tag: poets

you are like the palaces in lucknow.

because you see, having dinner together was only a thing when you started smoking instead of attending your classes and making out with boys in your section instead of the girls from the hostel opposite to yours.

you are like the palaces in lucknow. 
the tapestries that hang on your walls are fingerprints of each poem i wrote about you// the disordered rugs are a sign that perhaps even the most romantic of poets can’t fix all that’s wrong with us// and the half-open windows are the hesitance you show every time i try to enter. the hesitance you turn into anger as the whistling windows get eroded by the wind// and the clock that ticks twelve hours behind is your perpetual need to sulk over the past// for it isn’t the past until you choose to let go of it. 
and the chandelier built of mirrors with hexagonal structures exists so that maybe every time you look up while praying, you see yourself instead of God           
                                                                                because damn it you’re all you’ve ever cared about.
and the door with three locks made of silver are the tests you put everyone through once in a while because trust is not a word your lying deceiving father could ever teach you// and the dining table has only one clean chair while the other five remain covered with dust, because you see having dinner together was only a thing when you started smoking instead of attending your classes and making out with boys in your section instead of the girls from the hostel opposite to yours.

and the carved markings next to the painting on the wall are the childhood you lived like a rebel, doing everything you could to prove you were different. but that painting is still untouched. immune to your fight or flight response. that painting of an enchanting landscape with mountains and a fresh river stream, perhaps a magical place that you could only ever dream of, a magical place that was your only chance of escape from the horrid palace that you call your home.
from the horrid palace that is only left with soldiers to guard its doors, 
from the horrid palace that you live in, but your heart abandoned long ago. 

i’ll sing to you, beloved kashmir.

for it is best not to be seen, my child.
it is best not to be known in the land of the forgotten.

no one remembers, love. 
she tells me. 
no one remembers my heaven on earth.
no one remembers my land of light. 
my land where angels resided,
but now God weeps every night. 
Mother jhelum is crimson now,
but its calming sounds,
seem to mask the screams of the corpses underneath.
and when my people look inside its crystal waters,
their eyes widen, 
and death winks at me. 

for it is best not to see, my child.
it is best not to know in the land of the forgotten.

i want to interrupt but i can’t. 
i’ve been silent for too long, she tells me.

this was 
no, 
is the home of my women. 
women, 
who used to walk through my fields,
singing songs of me.
songs that now only exist as echoes of the foregone,
my women who now only exist as shadows in the dawn.

for it is best not to be seen, my child.
it is best not to be known in the land of the forgotten. 

she pauses and the silence between us lingers. 
so i tell her. 

another harsh winter is coming,
another winter of frozen corpses,
and dreary boat rides in dal.
but you must stay.
you must hear me, my beloved.

where there is life, there is hope.

so let me sing to you,
and you shall overcome. 
let me sing to you like your women did,
for if you leave now, who will know how much you weeped?
let me sing to you dearest kashmir,
come out now, it is your time to be seen. 

the months of the year as descriptions of people i love

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january; the smell of cologne, long showers, grey sweatpants, cold stares, black caves, masquerades, full moon, leather jackets, playing poker, high heels, embroidered curtains, rolling your eyes, smudged lipstick.

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february; the smell of highlighters, straight lines, hand sanitizers, art museums, waffles, going home after a party, new york apartments, off white walls, long bus rides, the smell of glue. 

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march; the smell of freshly cut grass, stargazing, picnic mats, world maps, purple tulips, floral dresses, colourful clips, sunshine that blinds your eyes, holding hands, open windows, soft plushies, fruit salads, afternoon naps, wings of a butterfly, crying of happiness. 

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april; the smell of old newspapers, warm hugs at the airport, paper planes, 90s magazines, telephone directories, handmade gifts, borrowed books, bicycles, chapsticks, going on rides at a carnival, velvet tops. 

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may; the smell of shampoo, sunflowers swaying, hikes, dad shorts, diving in the pool, round glasses, unsolved mysteries, dimples, baseball caps, maple syrup, scrunchies, smiling in relief, forehead lines.

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june; the smell of wine, weddings, crowded malls, drunk girls in the bathroom, bell bottoms, dancing in pitch black rooms, hotels, late night calls, ready made cakes, sunglasses.  

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july; the smell of the ocean, wavy hair, coconuts, roller skating, bandanas, open sunroofs, home full of plants, face masks, sandcastles, pillow forts, evening walks, the summer you always remember, cotton candy. 

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august; the smell of rain, blue roses, polaroids, vast forests, vinyls, dreamcatchers, lemon iced tea, untitled poems, falling asleep in the car, singing in the balcony, grey eyes.

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september; the smell of coffee, wooden flooring, handwoven rugs, black gel pens, blunt knives, broken mirrors, alpenliebe toffees, dry leaves, playing the ukulele, cowboy hats. 

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october; the smell of old books, my grandma’s cooking, the great gatsby, bonfires, sticky notes, bullet journals, purple skies at 5 am, singing ballads during karaoke, baking cookies, treehouses, watching the sunset from a hill top. 

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november; the smell of vanilla, fuzzy socks, hot chocolate, sky lanterns, peanut butter jars, silver disco balls, milk moustaches, ice cream stalls, henna tattoos, hoola hoops, rubber bands, sleeping on someone’s shoulder, falling on your bed after a long day. 

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december; the smell of tobacco, new year’s fireworks, chandeliers, city lights, empty bathtubs, all nighters, elevators, watching fast cars pass by, helicopter rides, listening to the radio, talking to a stranger at a party, hoop earrings, champagne glasses. 

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look how beautiful you are.

*written during the COVID-19 pandemic, 
in response to the amount of hate and  xenophobia
asians have been facing all over the world*

credits: @susdraws on instagram
look how beautiful you are,
with curiosity blooming in your eyes 
as you walk around a town you’ve never lived in before.
you watch as young boys cycle together,
the blonde one utters a slur when you pass by,
you ignore him
it isn’t the first time you’ve heard it,
and oh well,
he’s just a boy.

look how beautiful you are,
as you gawk at the cute cafes on every turn,
a few heads shift to stare at you 
and a few mouths whisper,
you ignore them
after all,
you’re just another foreigner, right?
it’s natural to stare.

look how beautiful you are,
widening your eyes at the skyscrapers that behold your eye,
they’re taller than you expected
so you admire them in silence,
until a man tells you
that making your eyes look bigger won’t help you fit in,
you ignore him
everyone’s quick to assume once in a while.

look how beautiful you are,
as you rush to help the woman
who dropped her basket of oranges,
but she tells you to stop,
she tells you to go back to where you came from
and take all the people you killed with you,
you ignore her
at least you try to 
you want to say something, you want to shout
but you can’t.
you don’t know how to tell her that you mean no harm
so you stand there all alone,
trying to build a home away from home
in a country so far,
oh darling please just look,
look how beautiful you are.

A Letter To Yemen.

My dear Yemen,
I hope that you too can one day grow from every rock that you’ve been diminished to.

Dear Yemen, 

I have always known you as the only country whose name I could take if y landed on me during a game of atlas. I have always known you as the country who causes the game to end if its name has already been said. But today as I have grown and read up on who you really are, I worry about your own end. You see, when I search up your name and the only images I see are of destroyed buildings that used to be historical landmarks, malnourished children being carried away by volunteers from NGOs, tall men in kurtas carrying rifles larger than the graves of new born babies, and not even one woman outside her house, I cannot help but wonder, what really happened to you? 
And so I dive into the wonders of the internet and find every piece that can educate me about you. Everything from your history to your culture to your people,

to your forgotten war. 

And It breaks my heart to see that if I type in children along with the name of any country in this world, I see happy smiles that taste of youth, yet when the name typed in is yours, tragedies of war and epidemics take up the entire screen.
And it enrages me that you’re being termed as the nation of the forgotten war when your cries for help have been louder than the missiles that have made you their home. 

I find myself wondering if your end will be forgotten as well. 

Nevertheless, I want to understand who you were before demolished houses and fallen bridges. I want to find out how you began before I worry further about your end. And so I look up, ‘yemen before war,’ and oh my god. 
Yemen, you breathe beauty. Your mud brick architecture filled with intricate designs are a pleasure to look at, and yet,
the most beautiful of all are your people. 
In fact when I learn that in ancient times, you called yourself ‘Arabia Felix,’ Latin for happy land, I think to myself that although you appear to have lost that title, something tells me that your people never will. 
For they seem to find time to celebrate weddings between bomb raids, fix roads by hand every time they’re destroyed, and write poetry in a country which has 3 times more guns than people.

But the one thing I cannot keep my eyes away from is the divine Dar-al-hajar palace that hovers over your sleepless capital city. For it is built in a way that it looks like it’s growing from a rock. And as I admire how tall it stands, only one thought rests in my mind. 
My dear Yemen, I hope that you too can one day grow from every rock that you’ve been diminished to. 

With Love,
Your well wisher.

what do people here do to look beautiful?

“well I simply have no clue,
for we may believe that beauty lies in a certain shape or size,
but perhaps,
it lies in us too.”

i once read somewhere,
that in china,
girls are taught to shrink themselves,
since birth they are taught to wear a shoe 
smaller than their actual size,
their feet are bound and choked
like the voices which long to come out of their throats,
the voices that have remained paralysed too long for them to know,
their feet are bound and choked,
until they become numb to the pain,
until they become used to a lifestyle of restrictions,
and start believing it’s sane.
i once read somewhere,
that in korea,
complexion is what helps you climb the ladder,
that being fair there,
is far more important than being free,
and beauty for them doesn’t lie in the eye of the beholder,
but rather in what cosmetic surgeons see.
i once read somewhere,
that in japan,
every girl is expected to be petite,
maybe because they fit easily into the arms of men,
or maybe because it’s easier for them to be controlled,
or maybe because a bigger body is a risky chance,
for their thoughts to be larger,
and reactions to be bold.
i once read somewhere,
that in india,
women try all sorts of things to lighten their skin,
that they put fair and lovely during the day,
and haldi at night,
that they listen to all the parminder aunties of the world,
in hopes to finally hear them say,
‘ah your skin tone is just right.’
but what i wished i had read is that,
in this world,
people are black, brown, white, red...
and they look beautiful regardless,
they are of sizes 0, 6, 8, 10..
and they look beautiful regardless. 
so that if someone asks me one day,
what do people here do to look beautiful?
i’ll be able to say,
“well i simply have no clue,
for we may believe that beauty lies in a certain shape or size,
but perhaps,
it lies in us too.”

here’s to our loved ones.

my brothers always hated seeing the trees lose colour,
and so when the leaves started falling,
as if on cue,
he left the four gray walls once and for all.

my favourite teacher resigned in march,
yet i waited for her to correct my pronunciation just one last time,
and even though she didn’t,
the things she taught me, 
the things she thought were in vain,
will always remain.
in june, my best friend moved to another continent,
and i learnt that distance does not break bonds,
it simply loosens the light ones,
and strengthens the right ones,
the ones which keep us sane
the ones which always remain.
two months later, my ex girlfriend changed jobs and the sky cried with me,
but we could never lose what we had,
nor could we grow out of the beauty of being in love,
for even if there are wrinkles on my face and she forgets my name,
in that beauty, we will always remain.
my brother always hated seeing the trees lose colour,
and so when the leaves started falling,
as if on cue,
he left the four grey walls once and for all,
and although we called once a month,
i slept in his room every other night,
because in the things they leave behind,
our memories,
be those of joy,
be those of pain
always manage to remain.
it's christmas now and no one is home,
yet love seems to be in the air,
because even if a screen,
is the closest we can be,
it’s enough for me,
so darling,
here’s to our loved ones,
wherever they may be.

dinner table conversations.

they drank till their slight touches turned into slaps,
and repeated their favourite line,
‘tu haan kar,
ya naa kar,
tu hai meri kiran.’

translation: ‘even if you say yes,
or no,
you are my kiran.’

my uncles liked having loud conversations,
they liked keeping count,
of how many people survived,
and of how many died,
they liked arguing over policies,
capitalist or communist,
conservative or socialist,
as if the leaders involved were just by passers,
diplomats in their monarchical world,
they liked to talk while chewing,
often spitting in each other's plates,
secretly staring verma aunty up and down,
her liberal mind was too much to bear,
some days were worse than others,
for they drank till their slight touches turned into slaps,
and repeated their favourite line,
'tu haan kar,
ya naa kar,
tu hai meri kiran,' 
over and over again, every single time.
my uncles liked to take names,
calling the pakistani traitors,
and the bangladeshi bastards,
sharma uncle would always say that our politicians were corrupt,
that the strikes were staged,
and the roads were never built,
for the taxes we paid were rather used,
for their luxurious spa treatments,
eyelid surgeries,
and sarees of silk,
but he never dared to speak,
of the tea stained rupee notes that he slid,
to the man with stars on his vardi,
nor of the abundant notes he gave to his son's principal,
and how he just forgot to mention they were farsi.
but the women in our family,
well they never spoke, 
they'd clear the tables,
throw away the seeds on the orange peels,
tidy up the washbasin,
while uncles smoked their pipes and went to sleep,
although they weren't literate enough to read,
and their lips remained steadily shut,
their ears always perked up,
for they longed to hear of a day,
when the headlines would talk about their win,
and the misogynists' defeat,
the day they could be the ones commenting on medha pathkar's feminist ideals,
and the outspoken female who only won one seat,
until then,
they would continue to scrub the spots of the dhotis which smelled like mrs.sharma,
and put cotton on their swollen bruises,
they would continue to nod and say 'no matter,'
and then leave to take care of chores,
for whether or not china chose to avenge itself,
whether or not the workers staged their strikes,
whether or not policemen took bribes,
they'd have to grow barley and pluck their weeds,
uncle would continue to come home at 11,
although the security guard said he left at 7,
friday evening dinners would still turn into political campaigns for the parties which paid more,
for even if the economy slows down,
glaciers melt,
and all those endangered are gone,
their world,
manages to go on.

Are stereotypes meant to silence?

But who on earth gives us the right to judge? Who gives us the right to make them feel as though by being themselves, they are already guilty of something? 

Today, I want to shed light on a subject which we barely question ourselves about. I figured that I cannot merely touch upon it through a poem like I usually do. For this is something we as a society really need to dig deeper into. And the magical term is;

Cultural capital. 

This refers to personal assets which provide us with social mobility. This enables us to climb the social ladder without necessarily having wealth or financial resources. It includes our skills, knowledge, interests, hobbies, etc. 
In layman terms, cultural capital is when we’re perceived on the basis of our non economic strengths. Unfortunately, this leads to class differences and social inequality 99% of the time. But one of its biggest consequences is gender inequality. 

You’re probably confused but let me explain. 

Women and particularly teenage girls hold almost zero cultural capital in our society. Their interests are quite frequently looked down upon in contrast to those of men. Things that are stereotypically marketed towards men such as sports, action films, action figures are generally considered good taste. Whereas when it comes to the stereotypical interests of women which include rom coms, make-up, and even fashion to an extent, then the self-created critics are always quick to comment. I mean ask yourself, what holds higher value in your mind?

A movie like ‘Mean Girls,’ which consists of rich spoilt school girls as the protagonists who plot plans to avenge each other or a movie like ‘Thor,’ which has a strong masculine superhero who fights other supernatural creatures as the lead character? 
If I had to take a wild guess, then based on the centuries long gender biased mindset we’ve all been victims of, I’d say the latter. 

We are naturally inclined towards downplaying the likes and dislikes of women in our daily life. 

Let’s take another example; fashion. 

Stereotypically, most females are drawn to clothing and accessories. They tend to care about the way they look more than men do. However, the fashion industry as a whole is considered highly superficial. Women who enjoy styling themselves are quickly boxed into the spoilt and stupid rich brat stereotype. Although, if a man takes care of the way he dresses and experiments with his clothing then he’s considered ‘cool,’ and ‘classy.’ He’s even termed as smart looking to an extent. 

I think it’s important we ask ourselves why. 

For this is not just present in the cinema or a few other industries. It’s present within us as well.

When I was younger, I’d never have admitted to liking Taylor Swift or One Direction. Those were two artists whose fan bases mostly consisted of female fans. Unsurprisingly, it was considered ‘basic’ to like them. If you were fond of Taylor Swift, then you were immediately labelled as the dumb girly teenager. When it came to One Direction, people were quick to assume that girls only liked them because of their attractive looks. I mean what else, right? People didn’t waste time listening to their music before calling them the band which only shallow teenage girls listened to. Young women were practically shamed for having a choice which was different from that of the men.

Sometimes, it was even worse. For quite frequently, a man and woman might have the same interest but a woman is shamed for it whereas a man isn’t. 

Let’s go back to Taylor Swift. She was and still is famous for writing most of her songs about boys who broke her heart. Now although heartbreaks are a normal part of life, she was continuously shamed for it. She was perceived as this immature unintelligent blonde who was utterly boy obsessed and was termed as someone who was forever ‘victimising’ herself.
Nevertheless, when Post Malone wrote about a girl who broke his heart, everybody was ready to drop everything and scream ‘fuck that bitch,’ with him. They began to think of him as someone who understood real pain. 

But why? 

What’s so different about a young woman writing about heartbreak compared to a young man doing the same? 

A more current life example would be the different trends which keep coming into light. Like the whole vsco girl thing. Young girls were trolled, bullied and practically forced to feel shameful of talking and behaving in a certain way which seemed to be stupid in the eyes of other people. Take a look at tiktok. There are so many videos on youtube of people reacting to tiktoks of teenage girls and just making fun of them for having ‘no talent,’ or being dense, all because they chose to put themselves out there by recording short videos. 

But who on earth gives us the right to judge? Who gives us the right to make them feel as though by being themselves, they are already guilty of something? 

This right here, is the sole reason why girls grow up to silence themselves. They grow up to become women who prefer to remain quiet because when your interests and opinions aren’t valued then what’s the point of using your voice? When your likes and views are naturally considered inferior to those of others then what’s the point of arguing? What’s the point of saying anything at all, right? 

I’d like you to just imagine if teenage boys were picked on for liking superheroes or unrealistic action movies the same way young girls are made fun of for enjoying sappy romance movies and barbie dolls. But that could never happen. Because we have been programmed to think of anything that is associated with the female gender as something which is inferior to the things that are linked to the male gender.

It is way ‘cooler’ to watch Mission Impossible instead of Clueless. 

It is way ‘cooler’ to have Iron Man figurines instead of Barbie dolls.

It is way ‘cooler’ to prefer shirts over dresses. 

It is way ‘cooler’ to be a professional swimmer than a professional makeup artist. 

Our minds have been installed with a toxic mindset since birth and we don’t know why. 

When we’re two years old, we don’t know the definitions of words like pencil, chair, or even mother. We just know how to identify them with images. We just know that the woman who feeds us everyday is our mother, the object we write with is a pencil, and the piece of furniture we sit on is a chair. But when we’re two, we don’t know how to state the meanings of each word. We only know what we’ve seen and heard. 

Similarly, we as a society, including our ancestors, don’t know why the colour pink or the floral dresses forever 21 sells are associated with females. We don’t know why scary movies and sports like boxing are associated with males. We cannot do anything to change that identification established in our minds either. 

But what we can do is start believing and reminding ourselves every day that liking pink is just as okay as liking blue. 

Enjoying the Avengers; End Game is just as okay as enjoying the Titanic. 

Being a stereotypical teenage girl is just as okay as being a stereotypical teenage boy. Not being either of those is alright too. 

For our likes and dislikes make us who we are and that is something which should never ever be compared. 

padmavati; the symbol of sacrifice.

Padmavati was the Queen of Chittor in the 13th century. She was married to Ratan Singh and was known for her surreal beauty. People yearned to even catch a glimpse of her exquisite features. Alauddin Khilji was one such man. However his greed and lust caused him to declare war against Chittor. When it became clear that he would win, Queen Padmavati made a decision which would go on to impact millions. She committed Jauhar which is defined as the act of mass self-immolation by women in parts of the Indian subcontinent, to avoid capture, enslavement and rape by foreign invaders, when facing certain defeat during a war.

Although the goddess like Queen died, Indian history immortalized her.

And this is her story.

p.s: part two coming soon:)

Praises of her pulchritude,
Fill the ancient halls of Chittor,
Hira Mani tells tales of her beauty,
The rajput warrior desires to know more.

She walks in her ghagra choli,
Embellished with heavy gold beads,
Blinding mirror sequins,
Like a lotus flower amongst weeds.

He reaches the doors of Singhal,
Wins the swayamvar as his duty,
Marries the legend of folk songs,
Padmavati, the epitome of beauty.

Nights in Chittorgarh seem like bright mornings,
For her divine glow ignites the sky,
Maybe that’s why the moon hides behind the sun
The Queen’s royal glamour makes it shy.

Alauddin follows the tittle tattle,
With his desire to own every precious thing on land,
Ratan Singh mistakenly prepares to battle,
But Queen Padmini is Khilji’s only demand.

Yet looks don’t limit to her charms,
She allows a glance,
The catch? 
Seeing her reflection is his only chance.

Furious sultan deceits the trusting Ratan singh,
His lifeless body falls to the ground,
Men with armours clench their shivering swords,
“Jai bhavani,” they scream as mughals surround.

Alauddin storms inside the majestic fort,
A surprise beholds his eyes,
Sixteen thousand women in crimson red ghagras,
Dressed as newlywed brides.

They’re more than enough to take him down,
But they don’t,
Instead they fill the palace with echoes of their cries,
Chanting, “jai bhavani”
Ready to sacrifice,
As each second, a braveheart dies.

Yearning to catch a glimpse of Queen Padmavati,
Khilji sprints across the halls,
He screeches as the gates close,
And she embraces the fire,
With no tears in sight,
For they may have killed the rajputs,
But Padmavati won this fight. 



Aur yeh hi, Alauddin ki sabse badi haar thi.