Poison

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They say I’m filled with poison
That,
Blood never flowed through me
And instead of crimson
I bleed,
Blue and green and yellow

Remind me,
How it is I
Who spreads toxins
That make breathing
In your presence difficulty, that
Fighting for air
In a world
Submerged in water-
Not knowing how to swim

Remind me,
How my negativity
Trumped yours
Infecting one organ
And then latching onto the rest
Till the only solution
Is death
And maybe Snow White
Isn’t simply a fairytale
But the bitter truth laced
Within an apple so red
It can only be considered evil

Remind me,
How I started wars
Where losing a limb
Or two
Became second nature
And lives were protected
By eradicating and exterminating
Like rodents
They supplied
To us temptation
Wrapped in a red bow

Remind me,
When it became okay
To inject venom
In bloodstreams
Turning brother against brother
Giving a new meaning to
Blood is thicker than water

Remind me
How this poison
Became our elixir
To a life well lived
With a dial that never stopped spinning
And I swear we craved it
Like Icarus
We flew too close

So,
Maybe-
Yes, I am filled with poison
Maybe-
No, definitely we all are
Because our houses
Wave a flag
Adorned with a skull and bones
And poison may just be our reality.

Travel

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And in that moment she started tucking money
In jars containing wishes she made as a child
So that one day,
She could skip through streets of foreign lands
Swoon in ecstasy at the sight of food
Get drunk on the smell of something new
These feet were meant to wear
Under all that the world had to offer

She wanted to bathe in Cleopatra’s sins,
Mount Napoleon’s horse,
See Shakespeare in action,
And sway to Tchaikovsky

Because 80 days were clearly not adequate
When it came to truly seeing the world.

Allow my shoulders to hunch

 Allow my shoulders to hunch
For the world weighs too much
And they’ll scoff,
Try to quantify
As if worries
Can be put on a to scale
And attached to digits
Worth more than all our beings combined
Could ever hope to accomplish

She can use my shoulder
for streams
that never knew how to stop flowing
and yet, they’ll try to box them up
Follow along the bank
to the source
only to misdiagnose
Based on a truth only they believe

Still these bones will carry on
Creaking and groaning and hurting
and her head will sway like a pendulum
not knowing when or how to stop
till a hand
Can support
Based not on what he knows
Rather what he comes to understand
When eyes appear hollow
And the face alight.

How to make the perfect night sky

Drop the sun in velvet, so thick
Stir till no gold remains
The black should be inky, murky, cold
Toss in the moon
Mix in slumber, to taste
Sprinkle in dreams and wishes and hopes
To your heart’s content
Puree different lullabies, add
Slice up navigation charts and myths
And drop in
Stir counterclockwise-
Anticlockwise,
Till only a kaleidoscope remains

Pour out and serve
But don’t forget to garnish with the stars

I swear, the night tastes different to each.

Karachi

Khaula Jamil Photography
Khaula Jamil Photography

They call us “The City that Never Sleeps”, only I don’t think the name does justice. We aren’t exactly people who move with zombie-like vigor due to the lack of sleep. No, I’m afraid we’re more nocturnal, staying awake till the wee morning hours when the sun itself awakens from its slumber. That, is when the people of this city decide to listen to the calls that their bed makes beckoning them to sleep.

Karachi is for the dreamers and the doers. Eyes scour the streets and roads always searching, always looking for the next muse, the next inspiration to life. The buildings, a combination of exquisite and alluring, of something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue beckon the eyes casting a spell on the onlooker, giving the mind a piece of imagination, a look into a life that is always foreign from his own.

She is resilient and stubborn and strong. Her heart is the shore, waves lapping at the sand, tickling those who dare to wet their feet. All roads lead to the heart, every cell and every organism. There are those who visit every day, just wistfully staring at the ocean, only their minds know why the sea calls out to them in a siren song. And others hop on over on the holidays, occasionally visiting a friend that does well to lend a shoulder when life truly gets tough and all you really need is a break.

We are a city almost always encompassed in red. We love with red, and we hate with red. You can expect the passion to forever run its course. And yet, Karachi is as diverse as the colours painted on the buses that roam its streets. We dip into green and white every Independence Day, yellow on days of sincerity, purple when pride swells our chests out and blue in moments of jubilation. It’s not just a truck; it’s the canvas of life.

But the true essence of Karachi lies in the old. Here the streets are narrow and only seem to get thinner as vendors line themselves selling delicacies whose smells are enough to make the mouth water. The buildings might appear dilapidated but that’s where true beauty lies. It’s the trained eye that notices the carving on the stone, the exuberant colours on the doors, the old huddled in a corner playing cards, a family of five making room in an apartment for one and the cricketers that continue to find place even in the smallest of places to play the game that has the power to unite.

There is a lot to cry and complain about but the love is unconditional like a child to its mother.

#PrayForPeshawar

It’s okay if you want to cry. It’s okay if you hide in a darkened room simply staring into black. It’s okay if your thoughts won’t let you sleep. It just shows that maybe there is some hope, some hope in humanity.

All faith in humanity was lost yesterday. And as information & details & facts came forward today I couldn’t help but imagine what those children might have gone through. What were their final thoughts? Did they even realise that they were probably breathing their last breath?

Today as a nation we shiver. Not from the cold winter air but from the fear and sorrow and pain that we feel for those families and children.

The survivors put on brave faces and portray a strength that many of us would never be able to muster had we been in their shoes. It’s not right for us to expect them to stand strong. What they’ve witnessed was traumatic and nothing short of hell on earth.

White, pristine uniforms have been painted crimson. Children who longed to see what the world had to offer them are now left with a bitter aftertaste. Eyes that held a spark, a thirst are now forever closed.

16th December, 2014 will be marked as the bloodiest and darkest day in Pakistan’s history. Innocent souls murdered in cold blood through no fault of theirs. Only cowards target children.

I want you to think: what if you were in that classroom with them? What if you were in that auditorium when they walked in?

God, what has this world come to?

Of Wisdom and Teeth

It’s our imperfections that make us human and the fact that we try to perfect these imperfections that we become even more human. And nobody ever said that beauty was attained without a little bit of pain.

This was a thing that we had been putting off for some time, more so because my mother was apprehensive and needed to get multiple consultations before going through with it. But safe to say after three months of teeth that clearly didn’t know which way was up my wisdom was pulled out.

Did it decrease the level of intelligence and wisdom I had attained over the years – despite popular belief, no. However, what it did leave me with was pain. And pain demands to be felt.

Quick update: my face resembles that of a monkey or a frog, whichever way you want to look at it. Except you’ll never have a look at it. Now that is wisdom, my friend. Or maybe, more appropriate to our culture, I resemble a betel leaf chewing individual who just can’t get enough of a taste that is bitter and sweet at the same time.

Still, I’ll raise my glass of warm, salty water to the teeth sealed away in a container (which I still haven’t disposed of, mind you) for not doing their job and to the dentist that DID his job, quite marvelously I might add.

Remember

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When I wake tomorrow

I won’t remember

The way you smiled

At the sight of me

Or the sound of your laughter

When I stumbled

With two left feet

But I want to remember

The way your hands felt in mine

Perfectly entwined

Cold and warm

Fire and ice

Drawn to each other

No matter what

The smell of soap and you

Lingers with me

But

For how long?

Before I start to forget

How warm your hugs felt

Against the cool sea breeze

What about the sand between my toes?

Or the sprays of salty water on my face?

Your kiss was sweet

Like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries

Like succulent strawberries

With every bite

Juice escaped my mouth and flowed down my chin

When we danced

To our own melody

And our own moves

I never want to forget

How in synch we were

And our bodies fit perfectly

Without fault

And all I wanted was to be closer

And all you wanted to be was closer

Under the pinpricks we called dreams

That lit the night sky

We pointed out our fears

In whispers

Only for our hearts to hear

And I remember

How your breathing leveled

And I tried to match every movement

Inhale

Exhale

Inhale

Till I was sure we were breathing the same air

And as the sun peaks through the clouds

I squint

Try and shield my eyes

I don’t want to forget

What I wasn’t supposed to forget

Yet here I am alone

Wondering what I was supposed to remember