Tag: writing

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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the way you look tonight.

pristine,
spotless,
untouched.

i love the way you look tonight,
and i think the sky seems empty,
for you’re the only gleaming ray in sight.
and you have seen shades,
shades of life,
and phases of change,
you have known darkness,
you have known emptiness,
and yet you remain pristine,
spotless,
untouched.
you have kept your glow,
like people keep treasured moments,
close to themselves,
and always in the back of their mind,
as signs of hope for even better ones,
as signs to always be kind.
you have been the brightest star in the sky,
and the days they doubt that you aren’t,
you chase that tiny glint of silver light,
you come back again,
you build yourself up,
one by one at your own pace
not too fast,
not too soon,
adding a piece every time,
until you’re full,
A complete circle,
A moon. 

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.

Dilli; the heart of the nation.

In light of recent protests and in hopes of a good result after today’s voting, here’s a poem on the nation’s capital:)

yeh delhi hai mere yaar, bas ishq mohabbat pyaar.

Buried sultans,
Symmetrical gardens,
And the smell of garam chai,
Ramu kaka shouting ‘10 ka ek,’
And the vast crowd in chandni chowk,
Still makes me sigh.

For these handwoven intricate shawls,
The same colour as my jhumkas,
Temples and mosques,
Built in harmony,
Are memories which cease to exist,
Like rusted keys to ancient locks.

For now,
All I know are,
Everyday protests,
By the voices which go unheard,
The rebellious youth,
Spraying graffiti on the blank walls,
And my heart seems to rejoice,
As the old conservative Dilli falls.

This city of ours,
Is beginning a fresh journey,
It’s finally bidding goodbye,
To the oppressors which fill the station,
The revolution is here,
Here in Dilli,
The forgotten yet rising, 
Heart of the nation. 

nirbhaya (adj.) the fearless one.

Note: The events that happen in this poem are all real and happened on the night of December 16th, 2012 to a girl named Jyoti. Unfortunately she didn’t survive although, fought very hard to. Her death led to several protests across India and sparked various questions against every Indian woman’s safety.
Eventually, she became known as Nirbhaya, meaning; the fearless one.
Her rapists are being hung 8 years later, a few days from now.
Through this poem which was extremely painful for me to write, I hope to remind everyone that she was one of the most powerful women to exist and that her death was not in vain.

trigger warning: rape, sexual assault, violence.

11:00 PM. The film was beautiful,
He and I walk hand in hand,
There is a storm coming,
They always come by surprise,
Starting with light rain,
And then hit unexpectedly,
Always leaving a huge wound,
One that could take years to heal,
I had no idea,
That soon there would be a wound so vast,
So powerful,
It’d scar me forever. 
Yet right now,
I just wish to go home,
After a long tiring day,
That’s what we all want, right?
—-
11:15 PM.
He and I board the bus,
There are only five people,
Yet the night feels lonely,
Maybe it’s just me?
The driver looks at me,
Turns forward,
Looks at me again,
Turns forward,
Didn’t we already pay for a ticket? 
I turn to him,
He’s not the………r….e…….
—–
11:17 PM.
Their hands on me are like a storm,
Unexpected and unwelcomed,
My body is the earth,
Now filled with mud,
Mud I can never get rid of. 
I scream,
The hands only change,
Yes,
There are five of them,
I close my eyes,
Maybe not all of us get to go home after a long tiring day,
Nevertheless, 
I want to survive. 
—-
11:25 PM.
The driver changes,
And so do the hands,
My voice is gone,
And so is any worth I had left,
The men stop,
And whisper amongst each other,
What’s happening?
And then it comes,
The loudest scream this world has ever heard,
This world once filled with distant stars and lonely nights,
Now only lurks of unheard voices covered with horrendous sights,
They take turns penetrating it,
It’s silver and shiny,
Dug deep in the ground when done,
And used while making buildings,
But,
When did I become one? 
—-
11:28 PM.
It takes all in me to look behind,
I see two of them,
Beating him up,
Soon they’ll back,
For their turn with me,
I close my eyes again,
I think of all those times I heard tales of such women on the news,
I think of how they felt,
And how I thought I’d never know.
One of them looks younger than me,
He’s a boy,
I feel no mercy,
Just pity,
Something must be wrong with this country,
For him to not be learning the power of books,
But the power of rods.
—-
11:30 PM.
It’s over.
I don’t feel my body anymore,
I can’t lift an inch.
Abh kya karna hai inka, Ram bhaiya?’
‘Vo hi jo socha tha, Mukesh aur maine.’
Anger runs in my veins stronger than the blood,
With all my might,
I scream again,
Mukesh slaps me,
Picks my body up, 
Not forgetting to grab my breasts,
And then removing his hands,
Like they weren’t ripe enough for him,
Ram grabs my friend,
They throw us off the bus.
—-
11:32 PM.
I am lifeless,
Naked, 
My body isn’t mine anymore,
I don’t want it to be,
I look over at him,
And I remember how he was telling me about his dreams an hour ago,
I think of my own,
And how they seem even further away,
Than the stars in the sky,
Never will I ever get to wear a lab coat with pride again,
Become a doctor and make my parents proud,
My parents,
Memories flash through my mind,
Faster than this night seems to pass,
With the tiny amount of strength I have left,
I take the film ticket out of my pocket,
For a second I’m reminded of how delighted I was when I bought it,
I take out a pen from my other pocket,
Slowly I scribble,
As the words my mother said to me,
The day I cried in her lap when I was 15,
Repeat in my brain,
Kabhi haar mat maarna, Jyoti.
My body gives out,
And the paper lies right where they entered me,
Only four words remain on it,
I want to survive.
—-
11:35 PM.
Himmat bhi nahi haari,
Sahas bhi nahi gaya,
Nirbhaya,
Nirbhaya,
Nirbhaya.

p.s: she actually did scribble that note.

Here Am I.

“The only way to get over a death is by seeing it as a life completed, instead of a life interrupted.”

~anonymous

From the shimmering stars in the vast sky,
To the hazy people just passing by,
Somewhere between the chaos,
You gaze in the far distance,
Utter my name in the softest cry,
So darling, 
Here am I. 

From the maddening screeches of the crow,
To the soothing waves of the boat you row,
Somewhere between these sounds,
You miss someone you once knew,
And sigh,
So darling,
Here am I. 

From the ecstatic laughs of childhood in the street,
To the table of two with one empty seat,
Somewhere between these memories,
You look up to the sky,
Asking Him why,
So darling,
Here am I. 

From the hairdresser’s uneven hair locks,
To the cheeky kid’s mismatched socks,
Somewhere between these imperfections,
You show your toothy smile,
Proud that she’s taught the world to be a little less shy,
And though she’s gone now,
You hear her in every mark she left,
For the world isn’t black or white,
You don’t live or die,
So darling,
Here am I. 

Kaagaz Nahi The.

happy new year everyone:)

i was going to write a sappy poem about how great 2019 was but i figured i should be somewhat real and talk about how our country is doing right now as the world’s largest *coughs* ‘democracy.’

Here,
Just one shop sells dhokla,
rasgulla,
and halwa,
Just one whatsapp group sends eid mubarak,
merry christmas,
and happy holi,
Just one street has had ram mandir,
and babri masjid,
And when that one foreigner asks me about India,
The first thing that comes to mind is,
Unity in diversity,
Ekta mai hi shakti.
Lekin abh nahi.

For now,
When I visit that one shop,
I see that it’s once so welcoming doors,
Are now shut,
I ask kishore bhaiya why,
He tells me, 
‘Ahmed ke paas kaagaz nahi the.’ 
When I check that one whatsapp group,
I see that the ‘same to you,’
Has been replaced by,
blue ticks,
For sometimes,
Silence speaks louder than words.

And now,
When I walk past that street again,
Instead of groups of pilgrims,
with devotion in their eyes,
And faith in their hearts,
I still see groups,
But of people trying to scream loud enough.
For their voices to be heard,
Of people who haven’t gone home in 134 days,
Of people who seem to have lost the spark,
Who seem to have lost hope.

Hope that one day, 
They’ll see Ahmed again,
That one day their father in law,
will see past the clothes on their body,
And the name they chant,
And when that foreigner asks them about India again, 
One day,
Unity in Diversity,
Will be the first thing they’ll say.

When We Meet.

But when it comes to you,
You and I both know that’s not true.

I keep imagining, 
That when we coincidentally collide,
And my eyes get a glimpse of your familiar face,
All those memories filled with a mix of pain and hatred,
Would rush through my veins,
And I would put on a cold outside,
Murmur the most harsh, ‘Nice seeing you,’
And force my pierced feet,
To walk away.

But when it comes to you,
You and I both know that’s not true.

For darling,
It takes everything in me,
To not melt into your wide arms when I see you,
Because with your vanilla scented hoodie,
And stupidly charming aura,
I can just be. 

And when the world stops moving,
And the tik-toks pause,
Is when you and I will meet,
And I’d ask you how you’ve been,
‘Just fine,’ would form on your lips,
And I’d think how having long eyelashes,
With dark brown eyes should be a sin. 

And no matter how much I try to hide,
You’d read me so easily,
For my face would scream come back please,
And you’d know in a second,
The kind of power,
You so effortlessly,
Still keep. 

597th night.

For even seeing your ever so alluring face,
Would cause my petite hands to quiver,
And pale legs to shake.

And this is the 597th night I gift to you,
Trying to make up,
For all the sleep you lost because of me,
And all the love in your dark brown eyes,
That I could not,
oh for the death of me,
see,

And this is the 597th night I gift to you,
Trying to make up,
For those 4 birthdays I wished you giftless,
And the aching pain in your heart,
You chose not to express,

And this is the 597th night I gift to you,
Trying to make up,
For all those times I didn’t notice,
how that deeply soothing voice of yours,
Almost as rough as that ten year old couch in your house,
But as homely as it made it your room feel,
Called out for me,
When I was too immersed in creating expectations,
not a single soul,
Could ever meet,

And this is the 597th night I gift to you,
With a blue bow like an icing on the cake,
And for the comforting closure we never had,
For even seeing your ever so alluring face,
Would cause my petite hands to quiver,
And pale legs to shake, 

And this is the 597th night I gift to you,
Trying to make up,
For all those times I never looked you in the eye,
Didn’t appreciate the things you said,
Or the teddy bear in my sack,
The taste of oreo silk in my mouth,
And your swift arms wrapped around my back,

And this is the 597th night I gift to you,
Trying to make up,
For every night we could have spent staring at the distant,
Yet,
Ethereal stars,
Hoping that one day your head will rest on my shoulder again,
I’ll trace your hair,
And this gifted night would finally become,
Ours.