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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Mourning this Morning

I seem to be losing a lot of people these days. People who matter, people who are important to me. In a mire of people I don’t particularly care for, former seem to be a rapidly shrinking minority. And someone left today too.

Earlier this week, my great aunt passed away. She was a good few years ahead of eighty, and she passed quietly in her sleep. The funeral was a loud and shrieky affair, as large family gatherings usually are. And in the midst of it all, I sat next to her as I had done many times, only this time her withered hand wasn’t clutching back.

I wonder how many of the noisy mourners around me knew her well. My great aunt from my father’s side was actually related, in a very roundabout way, to my mother’s side too. She grew up playing in the fort my great grandfather ruled his province of about seventeen counties from. My gradfather and his younger brother loved their little cousin like a sister. There were no little girls in my other’s side of the family, and suffice to say, my great aunt was the only one whose orders were followed without blinking. As life will have it, my grandfather’s younger brother and my great aunt transitioned into being more than childhood companions eventually. Both were similar in temperament- kind, shy, reticent, quiet and thoughtful, as opposed to my grandfather, who was the kind of bad boy that only old, old money can fuel. The fort and the reaches of the palace were lit up for miles around to see every week, when he held his parties and his gambling fests and what not, but my great aunt and his younger brother grew closer in their reticence. It almost seemed a sure thing that they would marry, till a disastrous fact came to light. Apparently when they were born, which was in the same year, the same wet nurse nursed both of them. By some derivation of culture, that made them akin to being siblings of a sort, since they were fed by the same nurse. Consequently all possibilities of a marriage disappeared. Heartbroken, my grandfather’s brother left for Oxford, and my great aunt went to live with her cousins for a year. But that year, a lot of things happened.

The Partition of India, for one. The great swath of land that stretched seamlessly under British Rule was divided into India and Pakistan. There was a lot of pressure on muslims living in the subcontinent to migrate away to the country being made for them. My gradfather was seventeen at the time. His grandmother was his guardian, both parents havig died a long time ago, and a seventeen year old prince didnt seem like the best person to challenge a rising democracy that would swallow his slce of the provinces in one bite. My great grandmother decided to move to Pakistan, where her estranged brother lived, taking the equivalent of their assets with them, leaving the lands behind for democracy to claim. One grandson in Cambridge, and one in Oxford, she made the shift of her own accord, but when she got to Pakistan, she was in for an unpleasant surprise. Her estranged brother turned out to be a commnist of the most idealistic sort imaginable, a gift of his education in Moscow. He refused to file any claims whatsoever, saying that a country that was just establishing itself did not need the burden of aristocratic leeches. My great grandmother had to content herself with living ‘just’ as an upper middle class person. Of course, my grandfather was blissfully unaware of all this. When he and his brother finished studying and takking their gap year, they were ‘informed’ of the change in address and change in financial situation. Neither of them hesitated to adjust, although from what I have heard, the transition was painful and slow.

It could have been easier, had not more tragedy struck. My grandfather and his brother found themselves adrift again as their uncle passed, followed quickly by their grandmother. She had left a tangle of relations behind as refusing to accept my grandmother into the family (a ‘mere commoner’), she had fixed his marriage with one of the scattered blue blooded descendents of royalty that had migrated too. The proud and pericingly beautiful heiress didnt take kindly to being scorned, and in the spirit of damage control and stepping out of his brother’s shadow, my grandfather’s nrother married her instead. A series of bad decisions, and the news spread fast.

When it finally filtered back down to India, my great aunt, who had been riding out the partition safely ensconced with her relatives, decided that she would get married too, since evidently my her interest had moved on. She caught the eye of a Turkish aristocrat form god knows where, got promptly hitched, and moved off to Turkey. For seven to eight years no one heard a peep form her, till the day when she landed back in India at her parents’ house, widowed and with three children in tow. Her husband’s family, it turns out, had never taken kindly to the outsider as well, and promptly showed her the door when he kicked the bucket. Painfully aware of the burden that her presence was putting on their already restricted finances, she did what any proud woman would do. She got a job. A simple, clerical job that paid a good deal more than it would do today, but being a woman educated abroad was a big deal back in the day. She helped run the entire household on that pittance of a salary, and pushed her children through whatever education she could find for them within her means.

All this, obviously, happened a long time before I existed on the planet. My earliest memories of her were of a fragile, delicate lady who always had sweets in her bag for me. When my mother married my father, she was so overjoyed at having one of her childhood companions’ daughters living near her that she became, in essence, as reliable a figure for us as grandmothers are for other people. Toys, books, clothes, birthdays, school competitions, whatever it was. She was there for as many of them as she could make it to. She was the first person who tried to teach me how to be ladylike, constantly perplexed by my stubbornly mannish posture, ramrod spine and squared shoulders. She didn’t know why I was as tomboyish as I was, she didn’t know the details of what went on in our house. By mutual agreement me and my mother had always hidden as much of dad’s psychotic side from her as we could, because mom knew that she would tell her family, and she didn’t want her parents knowing how she really lived. I’m pretty sure she suspected some stuff, even though she was too graceful to poke and prod. She did poke and prod me though, multiple times, with that damned fan of hers. She has to be the only woman I’ve ever seen who actually carried a delicate lace fan- white, as befits a widow. Steel grey hair coiffured, clothes in mild pastels, and all the affectations of royalty, only undiluted. Not diluted, like in my mom, or me. Kings without kingdoms, princesses without palaces, but the aura and the carriage persisted and passed down generations, long after the provinces disintegrated.

I don’t know why I’ve gone off into such a long winded reminiscence. Maybe it was the thought that this woman lived a life so brilliant, and died so completely unsung, or just that I’m trying to process that she died at all. We never think that about the people who are fixtures in our lives. That they might, one day, just vanish, and leave a person shaped black hole of memory there. Or it was just the roiling anger I felt at sitting there next to that tiny, bowed woman, holding her wrinkled hand, talking to her while she stared at me, recognixing my face but not able to pin a name on it, in the last few years. Her memory had gotten progressively worse, till she forgot almost everyones names and faces, you see. But she would always smile when she saw me. More than once she told me, ‘I don’t know who you are exactly, but you’re a friend, I know that’. And I wont give in to being maudlin or wailing loudly, like they were doing at her funeral. One less reason to meet the mooks again, what make up her children and grandchildren. None of them took after her, none of them learned from her, none of them really cared for her. So they did what crass people do in such situations. Sat around her and exchanged recipes and gossip, throwing in a ‘It’s really too bad’ here and there, or mouthing platitudes like ‘it was meant to be’ or ‘who can deny fate’. Or the best one- ‘We all must die some day’.

But as they did that, and as I stood behind the gouped Amazonian sizzed women whose asses were literally level with my chest ( I kid you not, they were), I didnt feel the need to cry, or make a big show of my grief, or anything. I was taught by the best. I was raised better than that.

Thanks to my great aunt. She never got to marry or live with the man she loved, but she followed him into the void just a month after he left. A real lady, a true lady, A beautiful woman, a beautiful person. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

cry, or make a big show of my grief, or anything. I was taught by the best. I was raised better than that.

Thanks to my great aunt. A real lady, a true lady, A beautiful woman, a beautiful person. They don;t make ’em like that anymore.

Animal

Animal

There’s always a certain point where I can tell, he’s not human anymore.

When he’s screaming. The word is so deficient, but that’s because his baseline volume. No, when he gets to that point where his face turns purple, and the cords stand out in his neck, and the veins are like serpents over his dripping forehead. When he’s spitting words out like a bellow but more low pitched, like a snarl, like a growl, like an animal about to rip someone’s throat out- then I know.

When his friends come over. When those friends come over and give him lectures on how to keep his family in line, and he calls us out to clean the room in front of them or makes us sit while he recites our faults to them. Then I know.

When his friends come over, and praise us. And he sits there seething, silently bubbling and frothing that someone appreciated me, or appreciated us. Each word of praise lands on his ego like a dagger, and he flinches, he flinches at the thought that people could see worth in us, or that we would see something worthy in ourselves, when he’s spent so much effort programming us to be doormats- then I know.

Although, in these situations the friends guilty know too. And if they’re bad people, they quit the praise sharpish, so as to appease him. And if they’re good people, they know. They see the animal, and they generally withdraw, and stop coming to our house at all.

When he goes into that rage. When he starts slamming things off the shelves, or dishes on the floor. When he springs out of the sofa, or his chair, teeth bared and fists ready, a practices move from his old boxing days. Fists up, threaten, jab, shuffle back- I know that dance, and I didn’t learn it from Rocky Balboa either. But I know. Then I know.

I know when he eats. It’s a common scene in my house. Lunch, dinner, and that scene. God how I know it.

Food spraying out his mouth as he eats, teeth bared. The same bellowing. But accompanying by furious ranting, jumping up and down, slamming his fist on the table, and food. Repulsive, disgusting, nauseating food coating his mouth and chin, spit dribbling, and occasionally spewing out when he forgets to chew in his rush to fight. Then I know, I know, I wish that I didn’t but I know.

Just like I know when he wears his perfectly creased tailored suits, uniforms and shined shoes, and the impeccably groomed, cheery and jovial man walks out into the world that he rules in. Then I know more than anything. My father is an animal. And I wish I didn’t, but I know it.

Death Notes?

Death Notes?

Do you hear him?
I called his name
Not in fear, rather
Like a friend, as a lover would
He stood
Just beyond my sight
In the shadows
Smiled reassuringly
But he never came

I waited
I wasn’t upset, but
It was confusing
He was there
He knew I was waiting
And he’s aware
Patience is not one of my virtues
But decidedly uncommunicative,
He only left me reason to
Believe
It wasn’t yet time
To accept the Reaper’s reprieve

I’d gotten so distracted
By the thought of dying
I’d forgotten all the living
I had to pull through
Enigmas and conflict and
Puzzles and
rhythms, hidden
Subdued

He would come
He was there
He would come, as promised
Just after I’d done everything
I had to do

©CM
19.03.2015

Is anyone ever really ready for Death?

What about the people who wait for him?

Do they fare better?

You know how there’s this standard sort of scene, in tv shows and movies, where the protagonist- and otherwise happy go lucky sort of girl or boy, sitting day dreaming in class- gets pulled out by the Principle or the police to inform them that there father was killed in an accident. Or found dead. Or, I don’t know, killed himself. Jumped off a bridge or lay on the tracks, something of that sort. That kid.

I always wanted to be that kid.

And my day dreams would often extend into how people would find my reaction bizarre, because I wasn’t going to crumple onto the floor, my world ripped apart by tragedy. Heck no. I’d probably give two warrior whoops and strip naked and do the conga in the school hall. Okay, maybe not strip naked, but I’d definitely do the conga. Nothing’s as celebratory as the boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-POP!

But obviously, that’s unreal. It’s the kind of daydream that’s on par with winning the Lotto or stumbling across a hidden treasure while drunkenly crab walking on the beach. Not at all plausible. So I switched to dreaming about me dying instead. Not by hand, mind you. I was too young to even understand the concept of suicide. It was just a scary thing that condemned you to the deepest pits of Hell instantly. Ohhh no, no, no. Even at eleven I was a smartypants. Something convenient and relatively painless, like a car hitting me or an earthquake or a heart attack while I slept- something that would do the job, end my misery, and Hello! Pearly gates! There was always the possibility that one day dad would just kill us all, but I didn’t want to give him that satisfaction.

All that childish (and adolescent, and early twenties) day dreaming aside, nothing prepared me for my sister suddenly coming out of her reverie while watching tv earlier today, and going, “I always wanted to be that girl. The one whose father dies.” And she proceeded to describe how she thought people would think she’s lost it, because of the trauma, because she’d definitely start laughing. And, well. Pretty much the same things I grew up wishing for.

It’s simultaneously horribly painful to hear your sister talk about her death so nonchalantly, and kind of darkly funny too. I mean, it’s almost the exact same words I used, that I used to think. Death just seems like the easiest way out.
To what end, neither of us know. No one does. But a way out.

It’s just that it took me a while to realize that.. Dying is inevitable. Living is painful and dying is inevitable. We might as well make the most of what we’ve been given. It’s not like I’ve learnt all the lessons… but definitely some. Love. Patience. Short but important (unimaginably important) bursts of feeling complete. Hope. Fulfillment. Pain. More patience. And more Love. I hope she learns more of them than I do. And I kinda hope I’m around to see her after she’s learned them.

Because, you know. I’m not waiting for Death, but he just might decide to drop by.

Love and light to you all

Cookie ❤

Father Figure

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Father Figure

 

 

You were meant to be a man
The sheltering canopy, shade,
Keep the bitter sun away, and
Meant to hold me, when scared

He who clasps my tiny hand
Pats my head, or tweaks my nose,
Meant to be, a father figure,
Watch over me as time goes

And instead you crushed the rose
Snipped the bud and snapped the stem,
Barred the gates for laughs to flow,
Broke the star of Bethlehem

Made the world a bleaker place
Painted, doused in grays and black
And if a hint of light showed,
Bolted the barred curtain back.

And I saw me through your eyes
Twisted, ugly and malformed
Let you demolish my being
And in that inferno, I formed

It was you who sowed the seed
That grew thorns, but all for you
In the furling, blooming years,
Threw the buds and kept it cruel

So you sowed and so you reap,
I am built of brambles, pain,
I run through with poison, hate,
All your loss is what you gained

All for you, my father figure,
Undeserved of eulogy
From you was my black current
That will be your elegy

I bury you in the shadow
In the lost, never began
Write you in a dead language,
Scripted in forgotten hands..

All the sneers, the mocking spite
All the torture that befell
I will watch it pull you down
Through the accursed gates of Hell.

And for that, my tale to tell,
Ends in hope, of coming peace
Kept trapped in a hollow shell,
I will fly to blessed release.

©CM
08.01.2013

 

 

 

To everyone who’s still in an abusive situation, you will get out. To everyone who’s made it to the other side.. You’re a survivor. There is no one stronger than you.

Domestic abuse is yet another form of bullying. Except that this time, it doesn’t come from a random stranger who stuffs you in your locker for your lunch money. Or that girl who makes you do her homework. No, when it happens at home, it hurts just that much more.. Because these are the people who are supposed to love you, aren’t they?

And yet this happens. People incapable of loving themselves don’t find it in them to raise their children with love. And the cycle perpetuates.

It doesn’t have to, though. There’s only so long that someone can subdue or oppress you. Either you or someone who loves you, will find the escape route… While the culprit remains trapped in the empty rooms of their mind, where they find that the person they hated and wanted to drive away, was really themselves. And if you hang on with tenacity born of survival, you’ll find that way. Keep fighting. Fight for yourself. For your heart, for your sanity, for you own life and you.

Because you will get out. You will make it to the other side. You’ll live and laugh and love. No matter what happens. You’ll be free.

And you will survive.

 

 

Love and light,

Cookie ❤

 

 

 

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