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.

To Catch A Thief, You Need A Shoe 

 

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To Catch A Thief

 

To catch a thief, you need a shoe
And maybe some blueberries
Skim milk, cereal-oh wait, that’s for
Breakfast- no, get cherries

A pair of socks will do you well
A bed head is a must
An itchy toe is just the thing
A sense of self robust

Spirit, willing, determination
To go get yourself shot
At least, get 1-2 fractured knees
Work with what you’ve got

To catch a thief, you’ll need the shoe
Berries are for a distraction
The pair of socks to help you creep
Up closer, ninja action

The bed head so your silhouette will
Strike fear in the hearts of men
The itchy toe will keep you awake
Where courage fails; then

Surprise the bastard in the dark
Pelt him with fruit unseen
Let him feel the point of your shoe
Poking his neck, lean! Lean!

Put your weight into it, if
You only stretch up chest high
And keep the will to get shot handy
Thieves tend to be ready to fly

Between the milk, and the stabbing heel
You’ll have a thief ready to be caught
Good thing you saved the milk for breakfast
– look at that, didn’t even get shot.

©CM

05.10.2016

My bedroom’s the one closest to the door. So at 4 am today, when the light outside flickered on and off for a minute, being the raging insomniac I am, I bolted awake. I listened very, very closely. There seemed to be some sort of scuffling near the gate. My dogs are on the other side. After a few moments of crippling sleep paralysis, I somehow moved with leaden limbs and dread pouring through me.

There was a thief in the house. 

I got out of bed, looked for a weapon, and picked up a heel off the rack. Then I picked up the blueberry jar in front of my door and tiptoed out very, very softly- Bruce lee would have been proud. In the span of two minutes visions of my dead family were dancing in front of me. It’s a wonder I didn’t flat out run or wobble in the dark- I’m one of those people who can trip on thin air. And I knew it- the front door was open.

I crept closer to the door from the darker side, just in case the burglar was standing on the outside. Still holding the heel- in retrospect, not a bad sleepy choice – and the damned blueberries. There was a steady clack-clack-clack coming from the yard- was he trying to get into the shed? Why did he leave the door open and go into the shed? Had he run out with something?

I did a quick survey of the hall. All the bedrooms seemed peaceful enough, all the doors shut. Swapped the berry jar for a torch on the counter and sneaked out into the yard, going barefoot and slowly because ninja and all that, but I didn’t want to surprise the man and get stabbed. I went around the house- he was there, a dark shape, washing something on the outside tap??? I froze, confused as hell. Suddenly he swung around and started walking towards the house, in my general direction. Now or never!- I let out an almighty shriek like an avenging banshee and jumped out onto him.

Hopped out, more like. Dad screamed right back at me.

He’d got an emergency call at work and was leaving. All the sneaky fuss had been to make sure he didn’t wake us up- mom had already gone back to their room. He was waiting in the yard for the cab to pick him up, when he noticed the dog’s dish was lying in the grass and went to rinse it. Which is when I came charging out from the side of the house in my pajamas, holding a high heel aloft. And all the screaming woke the dogs up, who, bless them, had slept through every scrape and rustle we’d made till the surprise-surprise!

I mean, my response isn’t completely kooky. This exact thing has happened before when I was little. One of the nights when dad was away, mom got up next to me suddenly and walked straight out to the living room and chased a burglar out. She’d counted an extra head, and instead of screaming, in a fit of adrenaline fueled courage, gone after the thief before he went into our rooms. She actually did chase the man out. And he was so shocked by this charging specter out of nowhere that he ran for it. He took all the VCR and the speaker system with him though. Mom chased him into the street, and then he just ran for it. It’s weird how almost ten years later, I did exactly the same thing.

And if you think I’m making any of this up, think again. It’s now 5 am and I’m writing this down because I can’t sleep, and what the actual fuck, I nearly my stabbed my father with a shoe.

 

 

 

 

Five Parts of Her

I-

Those who have known imprisonment, know
Freedom can be found even in a flower

And you wonder why I love rain

-II-

We were not reared in shade, in gardens
This desert has bred
Wild children

-III-

I walk in dreams, where no one sees
Be still; I know where you lie
But you do not know
My lies

-IV-

They trapped her soul in the
Heart of a diamond
She sparkled like a star, and yet
They found flaws in her

-V-

This night sky stretches on like a lost ocean
It seems to me that
I am doomed to drown tonight

Five Parts of Her’
©CM
17.07.2016

An Ascent Into Madness

 

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Being up before dawn is quite something.

Not sleeping at all, and waiting for a semblance of a new day, quite another.
I’m sitting on the steps that lead into my backyard, lighting a cigarette for the morning, fingers still stained here and there with old blood. My hair’s still wet from the shower, and matches fizzle out, catching stray droplets. Couple of tries and I get it though. Wish I could say the same about falling asleep. Dunno if the insomnia fuels the stress or the stress perpetuates the insomnia. Probably both, and the vicious cycle has my mind turning verbal somersaults.
Not proverbial. There is no wisdom here.
The yard is damp, there’s a promise of rain. The sky’s beginning to show the faintest of gleams shooting into the sky on my right. It’s beautiful enough, I suppose. Not nearly as the tiny ember I hold in my hand. It’s closer to earth. It holds more meaning. I realize that a cigarette can bring you more calm than the promise of a new day. It’s all about perspective.
Or maybe that’s what I lack. My vision’s gotten blurry. It’s an odd sort of focus where the world kind of weaves in and out, the green of the patch of trees blending with the incongruously placed electricity poles. They’re there, and not there. My mind buzzes with a sort of frantic awakening that my lethargic body wishes it could replicate. Even the noxious tin can promising energy sitting next to me cant give me that. Nor can the rancid tasting excuse for yogurt next to it. Tastes like cow spit.
Either way.
Dawn comes rather suddenly. One minute it’s all blue and violet, and the next minute the mysteries of the darkest night are nowhere to be seen. The sky is white. It’s a blank space, a canvas crisscrossed by telephone lines- is this why it’s a new beginning? Could I do what the man said, and paint my will across in clouds? Probably not.
Would be nice to, though.
I can barely see, and yet, I see too much. I know nothing, like that idiot Jon Snow. And I know too much. I don’t want to. I don’t want to feel this vacant buzzing in my ears, of words that form rhymes in couplets and drop off stray into the unknown. I want to gather them, pour them out so that I can refill myself properly, but there’s always some more, always some more. There was an ode to a crack in the floor just now, a series of observations about the movements of ants stealing from the bin, remnants of a three hour long conversation from last night, weighing responsibilities, pressing chores, imminent deadlines. There is no possible space for silence here.
Silence. What a word.
I never did learn the ‘meaning’ of extremes. After days like yesterday, I always realize that I still don’t know how someone with so little value for their own life can revere the keeping of others’. Where did I learn these lessons? My blood on my hands is art. Even the sight of someone else’s blood, is immediately recognized as pain. My pain is fulfilment, to be felt, to be revelled in. Someone else in pain, incites the urge to heal, to help.
Odd sort of double standards, really. Most people take it the other way round, as far as I know.
So young. So full of ideals. So old. So bitter, so inured. And love. The great equalizer, binding the two, bizarrely united halves together. I have very strange dreams to live for.
At least I can see much better now, even with the ashen aftertaste in my mouth. Morning is here properly. There’s one shrub in the far corner quivering away on its own. A collective of jackdaws chockchocking away next door. Maybe I won’t have to go very far to refill my mind. There are stories here, even in this stretch of land I know as well as the map of veins in my hand. And I haven’t even begun to hear them.
But I have begun to see. Morning is here.

Are you listening, God?

The fact of the matter is, I miss God.

I sit here writing this with a cigarette dimly glowing in the ash tray, an inch from a still glass of golden whiskey, and a fresh lungful of smoke- the irony, is not lost on me. But I’ll persist. I can’t wait to talk about this anymore. It has to be now.

For months now, my sense of loss has been growing. It’s like an abrasive tack pierced inside the wall of your heart. Time and movement help the wound grow, and moral stagnation helps the infected edges fester. I’m afraid that my spirit’s grown rusted, and I know why.

This is the precise reason I didn’t want to write about it, and wanted to talk to a friend about it instead. Too much explaining to do before I can get to explaining my need to be understood, and my edges are dulled tonight. But there is a decided lack of Muslim friends who are ready to talk  reasonably about the effects of ‘promiscuity’ and alcohol and living in sin on the soul. Indeed, I could name one, and not even another, who would agree to such a conversation without resentment and judgement lacing their tone. That implacability and refusal to bend, denial of the existence of another approach to faith, was one of the prime reasons I migrated away from accepting such ramrod people as friends at all. The lack of understanding, the lack of empathy, for something as basic and essential as religion or the lack of it in a person, was completely unacceptable to me, and still is. But in leaving all the stout and rabidly vocal believers behind, I seem to have left all believers behind, and it would take some looking to point to one of those who are dearest to me and do not take the concept of God with a pinch of salt.

I left those other people behind a long time ago. The ones who would point a finger at me because I’m ‘ungrateful’ and ‘disobedient’ to my demented father, or would shun me because I refused to marry the man who ‘ruined’ me, because in time, he turned into a monster too and I’ve had enough fucking monsters in my life for a lifetime. It mystified them that I could love to meditate in the morning, after praying. They rejected the idea as alien, and foreign. Some of my closest friends in our community were appalled that I could sit at a Hindu puja all day, when my mother’s best friend had her annual party, and like every year, I was there after dawn to help her prepare the masses of fruit and flowers. Those who can’t accept that I could sit in a room full of ‘strange’ boys but love them like brothers, and want to nurture them that way too. Those who could not understand how I laid my immortal soul down at the feet of an atheist, and how he raised me up to understand my God more than the religious monsters before him could have fathomed.

And none of them could even begin to understand how those seemingly godless men were my blessing. How each of us bowed to a different name and some, to no one, and yet, they make my life so full of meaning that I overflow with love. My days were and are blessed- but I miss being able to give thanks, because these are not the things I’m supposed to give thanks for.

I miss waking up blessed. I miss making my ablutions for prayer, sitting down with my earmarked and well thumbed Quran and flipping to my favorite verses for a quick read before I moved on to the parts I’d planned to read. I miss hearing a few lines of the call to prayer while on my way to or from work, passing some mosque or the other, and repeating them.  I miss those moments when I would hold back from swearing or unleashing a torrent of fucks on whoever deserved or didn’t deserve it, because I knew at the back of my mind that I would have to answer for it one day. I miss looking at the sky and knowing I was sheltered, Even though, at a stage, I grew to be constantly angry and bitter, resentful of the freedom God chose to gave to those who deliberately stifled me, and in turn, resentful of God Himself.

I don’t know how to describe this basic need, this hollowness in my head and heart, this absolute emptiness. Somewhere on the path to independence and fierce self definition, I stopped walking under God’s hand. I didn’t feel comfortable to take His name with a mouth that reeked of alcohol or smoke, so I stopped praying when I drank, and eventually stopped praying at all. It didn’t make the slightest difference in the quantitative analysis f my faith- indeed, I fought, argued, and debated more vociferously for the honor of my religion than I ever had in my regularly praying life. I used to make it a point to dodge talking about Islam at all. In today’s world, my belief is an expletive, and while I was NEVER ashamed, I was non-confrontational with those who wanted to make a scene about it, even while I blessed them and walked away. And after I stopped praying, I believed and believe more strongly than ever. I just never counted on missing the peace of a prayer mat so much.

And all the while, the deficiency kept building. These days, it’s become an almost physical ache. I deflect my mother’s questions as to whether I’ve prayed. She knows that I’m going through a struggle, and she’s letting me find my way out myself. I ignore my sister’s silent accusatory looks, because I was the only one who she respected, when it came to religion and practicing it. Other friends who I’d spoken to about this before, gave me some strange answers about a girl of my intellect being duped by these archaic Abrahamic religions, after which I never turned to them. I didn’t want to answer to anyone, and I didn’t have to, did I? so I stopped. I stopped and at some point, I realized that God had stopped answering too. I had been looking away from the lack of communication so determinedly that I didn’t see that it had stopped.

I can hardly complain about being forsaken when I walked away, can I?

A heart knows, a heart always knows. I knew His presence so closely, and now I know the silence. And I know that all I need to do is repent, ask for forgiveness and He will, He will, He always does. He loves His flock to come to Him willingly, rather than from fear of pain or fear of His wrath forcing the realization. And instead of watching from behind the curtain when my mum wakes up in the middle of the night to watch the Live telecast of the Friday prayers from Mecca, and bursting into hot tears and going back to bed, telling myself that this life isn’t for me anymore, if I just directed those tears to Him, He’d listen. It’s not as if He’s not already listening. I don’t even know why I picked up the laptop and started hammering away at it, it makes no sense to me. I’m half drowned in whiskey and the ratio of oxygen to carbon monoxide in the room has shifted a long time ago. But I was still mocking myself, and I think I’ve had enough of chasing distractions and hiding behind excuses. I’ve had enough of this enforced spiritual loneliness.

It’s raining outside. Are you listening, God?