Day Twelve : The Smell of Sunset

The grey canal empties
sluggishly into the backwaters
meandering beyond the third balcony
on the seventh floor. The wind
smells like forgotten fish
and sometimes like jasmine
My neighbour smells like that, too.

Voices carry from the parking lot. Sharp
tones cut through the general clamour of
traffic and jackdaws. My father is flirting
with the cook. She’s repulsed, but she
needs this job. We watch till we can’t.

The ocean is very close, the salt taste
lingers in my room, I can’t resist the urge
to let the ocean into my room
when I’m so close. Every evening I let it
roll onto my tongue.

The water stays murky.

The sky doesn’t care
Colours wash over my face
They smell of sunset

©️Yusra

12.04.2018

I forget sometimes, that there is no end to hate.

I don’t like that word. Hate. It implies weight. It is a burden. It is a two-edged sword that you cut yourself on, when you hold it. Like a snake that’s poisonous from the non-bitey butt end too.

Hate is important. It gives you reason. At the very blind white hot rage edges of sanity, when anger consumes you and your nerves are spitting fire trying to hold your composure, it’s Hate that sustains you, not love. Love comes later, to be sure. But in that moment, hate is very, very important.

My father was talking to a person who’d visited our house for the very first time today. By means of introducing me, he said, “This is my oldest daughter. I’m going to hire a driver for her soon, to take her to a park so that she can run. Look at how fat she is.” The man stared at the ground, embarassed and mumbling that I wasn’t all thaaat fat. I stared at my beast of a father, beyond a boiling fury and yet, completely still. In that moment, I realised that I was always find reason to hate him more. Hate. With a singularity and purity that I only have for one other thing in my life: Love.

I love me. I love this whole utterly fucked, unspeakably glorious and splendid world I live in. I love the sunsets in the third balcony on the seventh floor, even if they reflect prism-like over a brackish and smelly stream. I love my friends who forget me, I love my friends who don’t, I love my battered family units, I love that wonder who holds my heart, I love books and words and music and -me. I love me. Madly so, because they and we and he and I deserve it.

And I hate him. He deserves it.

Day Twelve of NaPoWriMo. I’ve written a Haibun for the prompt, with prose, followed by a Haiku, that briefest of forms I seem to shake hands with only every NaPoWriMo.

Did I forget to say, I love you all too?

And man, do you deserve it!

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A Confession and a Continuation: Day Eleven and Day One

The Eleventh of April, 2018.

There is no reason to start today. Therefore, I shall.

I wrote those two lines just after midnight last night, because I’d had enough of nothing. Then, almost as expected, came the ringing call with the last syllable of my name draaaaaaaaaaaaawn out, for the seventh time in twenty minutes, from the living room. My father, summoning me again, to hand him a black pen from the table four feet to his left.

The reason I stopped writing. The reason I stopped ‘stopped writing’.

Over the last year, the frequency of my posts has slowed down. The longer I am at home, the lesser time I am ‘alotted’ for myself. The nearly overwhelming feelings of uselessness, stagnation, and mental decay I struggle with, while being told how useless I am, what a failure I am, all of these words, have been taking large bites out of the words I wanted to write. The words I am kept being pushed back, and back, and further back, till they stopped trying to come out.

I stopped writing, because I couldn’t. I stopped trying to write, because I couldn’t. Even that little time of me for myself, was taken away. August became November became April. I don’t know what I have done these last few months. It was probably nothing. Because these last few months, I have felt nothing.

I have been a nothing. I think I am a nothing now. When not a complete nothing, at least a little nothing.

I turned twenty eight. I resolved my citizenship issue. I studied for exams I won’t be writing. I played surrogate housekeeper and peacemaker and resident doormat at home. I did what  I always did- take blame. Take responsibility for actions that weren’t mine. Handle the mood swings of the people supposedly my elders. I played nursemaid and resentful grateful. I played parts and roles and forgot my face when I slept at night.

This time last year, I was a doctor with no country to belong to, and no civil rights to speak of. I have to wonder, which the more nothing was. The one where I didn’t belong, and was? Or the one where I belong, but am not.

One nothing is not like the other.

One nothing was emptier.

I woke up yesterday afternoon. I was walking to the supermarket, and I stopped on the sidewalk, holding eggs and a liter of milk, and I woke up. I could feel cobwebs fluttering in my mind, regurgitating uninspired remnants of something I wish I’d written down, even if it was only some angry words of choice. Words, as it turns out, are important. I stopped speaking and that didn’t matter, but  I stopped writing, and I forgot how to breathe out. It was choking me. I woke up yesterday, and I exhaled. I sat down last night, and wrote the two lines at the top of this page. Then I was called away. Like I was called away in this moment, to call someone up, when the phone was next to him. The difference between today and every other day before this, at least in the last six months, was that I came back.

Because not writing had been hurting me so long that I’d stopped realising the source of this particular pain. Because I am my words, and maybe that’s the only existence I have, the only trace I’ll leave behind in a world where I am told that I AM NOTHING at least twice a day, where I’m so inconsequential, that I’ve taken to feeding crows for some company. I was staring at the calendar while writing checks for my father this morning, and it dawned upon me that ten days of NaPoWriMo had passed already. This is the first year that I missed it, since I started blogging. But not in its entirety. Not just yet.

This nothing’s still got something left. I warn you that it’s old. It’s everything I’ve said multiple times before, but I will say it again, even if only to say it.

I will not stop saying it. Even if takes a calendar and a dim reminder for cement bills to be paid on the fifteenth of April to do it. Every time that I forget, I will remember.

And I will write. Even if I’m writing old nothings, I’ll write.

A Little Nothing     

I am a Nothing,
or so I’m told
A waste of space that’s
twenty eight years old

I’m a big Zero
They like to repeat
I’m worth less than
the food I eat

They call me buffalo
They don’t use my name
I don’t mind anymore, I
answer just the same

My mealtimes are totalled
in calories
I’m given a thousand more
than necessary.

But like a good girl
I clean my whole plate
Wash everyone’s dishes
but not my own face

I wear wrinkled clothes and
don’t comb my hair
So that men don’t notice
a woman’s even there

I keep my voice down
I act like I’m dead
I’m quiet and bitter
I’m words in my head

I’m a little nothing
short and stout
Here are my fingers
Here is my mouth

Hands longing to be held
Lips that no longer kiss
Rusty rhyme and stagnation
A throatful of risks

I’m a little nothing
As I’m often told
An ugly little cow
forgotten fourfold

They like to pretend
that they can’t see
Except that I know
They’re afraid of me

That I’ll walk out
That I’ll realise
My chains lie in pieces
I’m in sight of my prize

I keep my head down
I work, and I watch
One day they’ll fall careless
And I’ll be gone

And I won’t even care
If they never see
I was and always will be
Something
Something free

Yusra
11.04.2018

Day Eleven of NaPoWriMo. I won’t stop writing.

I love  you all. ❤

-Yusra

Casual Suicides

It took one crossed line

For you to point a finger at me

And for me to see

Bitter, bitter words

I left blood on the switchboard

It didn’t matter, I’d wipe it the next day

Along with the rest of the blood stains

Bleach works, they said

So I drank it. False advertising.

It burned like a bitch, gargling with acid

But it didn’t do much cleansing

The blood darkened and my tongue ate away

The slash across my face wept for you and

My lips champed

My teeth gnashed

The gash bled, the blood stayed

It wasn’t fair then

It isn’t now, not even tonight

The dawn blossoms as the blood blooms

Bony wrists caving inwards, contrite

Apologetic for too many memories

Arms wearing ropes like bangles, discreet

I healed, your fingers knew it too

And then you left your voice to probe

The weakest inches I showed you

Such bitter, bitter words

They taste good, they taste like you

I laugh for them, I’m happy

I’ve learnt to dip my nails into

whatever pain they sent me

Bleached throats and raspy words

Make for a velvety apathy

I’ll swallow it all,

Sweet or rusty, salty,

I’ve had so much worse

I really should buy something stronger

For those fucking stains on the switchboard.

Casual Suicides

©yusra

23.01.2018

.

.

.

.

.

I’m not anything. I’m just angry. It was just last night. And today. And maybe a little, tomorrow. It’s been a confusing few days.

Under These Red Sheets

Under these red sheets,

I bury my morning dreams

The clay of the sky is raw

shaped by fingers that hesitated

to smooth the creases out of

intentions, prevaricated

allowed to harden, flawed

left to permanence, endowed

with the attributes of being just wrong

these tiles are poised to fall

These doors that lead to walls

dead ends of dust and bone

Tombs to mistakes preserved

of people and pain long gone

Under these red sheeted tiles

I bury mourning memories

Baskets of forgotten scents

routines of glories deceased

In corners, green shoots still crawl

traces of persistent hope

Pathological, sometimes it seems,

that cancerous happiness grows

I cannot hope to recover

the already hardened faults

the cracks that run, closed over

by vainly slapped on gloss

Broken girls grow into broken women

And despite the damage being done

The soil of my mind is fertile and

with stubborn resilience overrun

The dead wood still speaks to me

There is escape yet in these leaves

To nourish what I know I can be

Under these tiles I bury my dreams

©yusra

06.12.2017

Winter blossoms. 🌺

I really don’t know…

Some days, I am a hundred percent sure that I won’t make it out of this hell hole. Other days, I bristle with enough rebelliousness to want to walk out right this moment, no heed to sense or money. Some days- most days- I retreat to my corner and lick my wounds.

We had a party yesterday. Twenty five people came over for lunch, two of whom I know at all. Just more people to show off for. My aunt brought the entire troop of her in-laws with her, each woman wearing at least four gold chains per flabby neck, and four fat gold rings per stubby fingered hand. And I truly hold them no grudge. It’s not like they showed up, we invited them formally. They were nice enough and simple enough, in fact some of them were downright sweet. The husbands, who I spoke to while serving the food and seating everyone around, were so normal that it threw me for a loop. I’ve literally forgotten how normal people can be, how normal families can be together. They kept insisting that we join them for lunch too, instead of scurrying around and serving. Because they don’t know the ground rules of our existence in this shithole. We serve. We clean. We usually dress up and keep the paper thin illusions alive. Usually.

Except facades tend to tear, as they are wont to. Two girls, one of whom isn’t twenty yet, can only fake so much after they’ve been forced to get up at 5.30 am to go for driving lessons (because if not at 5.30, then you don’t have enough dedication to drive a car, and so don’t need to learn anyway). After that you have to come home and pretend that the lessons were life-changing and/or you had the time of your life, because otherwise you too ungrateful to take them again, or study anything else, really. And if it’s just one or two things every day, you still manage. But things, in this godforsaken house, they tend to keep coming.

We wanted to shower and get presentable enough before the guests came, because between the house cleaning and helping the maids with the cooking, we’d gotten pretty dishevelled and food streaked. Obviously, we’d have to take turns, because we share one bathroom. We got our clothes ready and were putting the last touches to the living room, when the Decree came. Go to the Supermarket and buy soda. Okay, fine. That’d take half an hour but okay. Since Dad is always ‘busy’ on Facebook and Skype, we’d obviously have to. He can’t have us getting ready for a party now, can he. So we took the car and went.

Except ten minutes in, at the Supermarket, I turned a corner walked into my father. He’d followed us to the supermarket and spent the entire time eavesdropping on what we were talking about (specifically, whether or not we’d been talking about him). He jumped when I spotted him- clearly, he’d not thought that we’d spot him so soon. He babbled some nonsense about having forgotten to tell us to get chips, threw literally the first bag in front of him into my cart, and walked out again. When we came back home, mom told me that he was concerned we might be discussing him being unfair or something, and decided to go watch us.

And since guests had already shown up, there was no time to get dressed. In fact one of the grandma types even told us to go freshen up, but dad quickly interjected with a ‘my girls like to stay simple’. Or bedraggled, I suppose. We didn’t have a moment of peace till the guests left, the extra food was all packed and frozen for him just in case he has to leave soon, and the house scrubbed down to remove all traces of a party. Even then, even though I was dog tired and ready to pass out the minute I lay down, I couldn’t sleep.

I cannot tell you how disturbed I’ve been since yesterday afternoon. I keep replaying the exact moment I spotted him over and over again. It is just so viscerally disturbing, so bizarre. Even with the absolutely fucked up household I live in, it’s still way off the radar. When will this fucking nightmare end? I already double bolt the doors to my room before I sleep. I don’t shower or change when he’s in the house because I just can’t be sure. How am I supposed to spend every moment even away from home looking over my shoulder, to see if he’s come to spy again? Because now that he’s done this once, he will do it again, for sure. This man has a pattern. Once he loses his inhibition for something, it becomes open season on that front. And for the life of me, I cannot imagine more rules and restrictions that I already live by.

I barely have time for Facebook anymore, or for writing. I’m working the whole goddamn day doing nothing of consequence and everything of obsequience. I’m working like a slave, rinsing out bowls that are ‘still damp’ turning sofas upside down because my dad suspected ‘there might be some food under the cushions’. The three meals we sit down to eat are piles of food that would do a restaurant proud, but we can barely swallow down, because we have to ‘serve’ him while we eat and listen to him criticise everything from our faces to our personalities, the rest of the time. As if none of this were enough, he keeps clamping down tighter and tighter because he’s so sure, we’re trying to rebel on some front.

I.. don’t know. I’m twenty seven years old. I’m a doctor, and have an IQ that sits in the genius spectrum. I have love and friends and family but more than anything, I cannot breathe here anymore, and I’m afraid.