Day 23: Fugue State: A Wind of Change?

Can you be nostalgic for a time that you never lived?

Now, I understand completely how gauche it is to use a link and reference of this level of recognition for a pigdin little piece, but bear with me. I’d been meaning to write for this song for a while now, and the prompt for today gave me the push I needed.

It’s a curious bit of happenstance, really. I was on my way to the library, in a vaguely unsettled frame of mind, and Wind of Change by the Scorpions was the first song on my playlist. I ended up listening to it on repeat, because it was making me feel mournful but hopeful, which is a good thing to take away from a bad morning. After having listened to it eight times times, plus one time right outside,  I walked into the library to finish my book.

I was three chapters into Erben der Erinnerung by Philip Meinhold, which was the only perspective book on the Holocaust I’d found in our German library. It’s a singularly stark and stirring description from a man examining three generations’ worth of emotional inheritance. The lack of delicate handling of the theme and his prose create an almost tangible atmosphere around the reader, and I’m bad at separating myself from words to begin with. I kept reading and would have taken too much away from it, had the last chapter not included a sudden mention of Wind of Change by the Scorpions, and the importance of remembering your own place, too.

Naturally, I was floored. It’s a decently sized coincidence that I spend all morning binge-listening to a song, and it happens to show up again a few hours later, at the back of a book that would have left me disturbed. I was sitting there, staring at the book like a foreign entity, when a loud CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! alarm went off, and we were herded out for a fire drill. I walked out into the garden clutching the book, for all purposes yanked rudely out of a fugue state. Everyone was chattering excitedly as we waited in the wintry sunlight for the all clear, and I leaned against the embankment, watching the girl next to me gesticulate wildly, with a mini-extinguisher tucked under her elbow. It woke me up for five minutes, and ten minutes later the effect of the book receded somewhat more…..  but why should it have had that effect at all?

Can we be nostalgic for a time we didn’t know? Millenials who are moved to tears by Toto’s Africa, or every Rock lover in his teens who swears by the unchallenged greatness of AC/DC- what are they nostalgic for? “They don’t make music like this anymore”. You’ll read the same refrain under every music video on YouTube from ten to fifty years old. But what do  you want? How do you plead allegiance and understanding to a world even your parents didn’t exist in?

And yet, I’d be loathe to call it pretentiousness, because it isn’t. We want to feel understood. We want to feel belonging, in a place or time where it feels as though what we are feeling reverberates with everyone. That wanting fuels this nostalgia, this ache and unsettledness,  sense of unhappiness, that had I been born in this time, or had these places/people/events existed as they do in this bit of recording, we would have been happy. And while that is testament to how much music can evoke, I’ll blame our own unreality a little, too.

Or at least, mine. Being enthralled is one thing. Being adrift, another. After a point, it’s not the burden of creativity but the sheer inability to cut the umbilical to a world that doesn’t exist anymore. We are in the here and now. And it’s often ugly and unbearable, but this is where we exist. There isn’t any refuge in an imaginary world. But there is respite, and I’m grateful for it.

It’s hard to walk away completely unfeeling, when you read descriptions of such horrors. Of pain that has saturated generations, of children born angry for an injustice their parents haven’t known. A world away from all this, even dipping your toes leaves you walking stained for a little while.

But walk away. We cannot look to a future when we inflict the past upon ourselves repeatedly. And there’s still hope. There’s a wind of change coming yet.

Fugue States

This road does not exist

The houses long burnt down

Someone wrote of the cracked bones

Embedded in the ground

Trees have grown over the paths

Rain took the remains

Yet I stand and stare at what was

And come away stained

What lives here has already endured

a hundred years, will live a thousand more

There are traces of words in every inch

Handprints on the walls and floors

My fingers know the stories here

Hieroglyphs, stick figures, seeds,

Unfathomable as an alien landscape

Unblinkingly there, like a wound that bleeds

Again, and again

I hum to the refrain

I don’t know this language

Of a world that is ashes

But I’ll cry for them, because

we all speak pain.

We all speak pain.

©️Yusra

23.04.2018

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Day Twenty : New?

Strip away every known.

Every tendency

every fallacy

Clean off the bone

Past the skin but

leave the poetry

wash the words away

Dull the clarity

Take the lessons

-spare the sins

They have no meaning.

Dissect understanding.

Amputate

that knife edge balance

of what I have and

what it takes

Snip, snip, all the habits

Every face

Remove the wings

Bind the fingers

Stitch the lips into closing,

eyes frozen

I take every bit of I from me

and I

still remain

But who am I then?

New?

©️Yusra

19.04.2018

Day Sixteen : Hey- Hey!

Hey- Hey!

Chalk white on grass green
Stains on socks, ankle deep
Slick, wet, slip and fall
Feint if you’ve been touched at all
False move, halfback
pay your due
Center forward’s rushing you
Set up, Stopper, wingers in
Charge, set up the ball again
and fail
and crash
Three naught and rack
Slip down the table
Season’s done
Home field advantage
And overrun

But still the wave, still the hands
Roaring voices from the stands
Loyalties to strangers’ blood and
Waving flags from No Man’s Lands

Allegiance is a choice
Like few others, like end lines
Once you cross it, you don’t switch
Scorch or scorn, clear or collide

Some fealties are wrought in stone
Like this one: You’ll Never Walk Alone

c. Yusra

16.04.2018

For Day Sixteen of NaMPoWriMo, I decided to take the easy route and write an unabashed love letter to Liverpool FC. And why not, too. Once upon a time, a little girl started watching football because of them, and never switched teams, or favorite sports. ❤

YNWA!

-C ❤️

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!

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

Day 30- Learning Selfishness 

And finally, day 30! Last poem for NaPoWriMo! We’re here! 🙂
So, I promised to end on a happy note- I think this one’s a happy ending. 🙂
I’m going to spend the next few days catching up on all the NaPoWriMo goodies I missed! If you have a special poem stashed away, please do tag me! I’d love to read it! 🙂
Thirty days of poems! This year, my fourth, was an absolute blast! Here’s three cheers for everyone who stayed with me all month! You’re awesome! 
Hip hip HURRAH! 
Hugs and kitten-bucketful mugs,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Cookie Monster

(Or, you know, just yusra) ❤️