Your (Almost) Daughter

Dear Mother,

You have left the house with all your children but me, and this is not the first time. The lights in the house are all out and I am sitting near the door numb like I always sit when you’re gone. Numb and naked and in darkness.

Mother, I am sorry for the way I cannot show it to you but you leave me shredded sometimes. You always tell me, picking me up in your ever-warm hands, launching kisses across my face, that I am your baby too. You always make me sense this sensation that you love me almost as equally but then your abandonment says otherwise, mother. I never say it to you, but you sense it, do you not? There is an expression on your face that I think you all refer to as ‘guilt’ whenever you return home and find me on my spot. No one but you approach me and say sorry. It’s not like I mind. Do I say anything to you? No I don’t. I am mute. But you always always always read my eyes. Your children cannot, mother.

Your children are what you all refer to as ‘prejudiced’ against me. I am different, I do realize, that is why I always am on my own. But you love my blue eyes, don’t you? Their black eyes would scrutinize my charcoal hair but you love them because you would gently brush them in the evenings and whenever you’d bathe me, you would be so careful with them. During the bath, you would always keep talking to me but some of the stories you tell, I do not understand, mother. And do you understand my isolation and solitude, mother? You must because only you come and tend to me just right and know when to give me space. But there is always something missing, mother. Is it wrong of me to feel this way, I just don’t know. I have never felt this way for anyone the way I do for you. The mother in the previous house never loved nor took care of me they way you do. I want to be loved like your real children.

But it’s not like I have never tried to get included with them. I have lowered my dignity and pride but they ignore me often as if I don’t exist. They do come and fondle me and caress my neck and pat on and scratch my head and I feel so nice but they then always have to busy themselves with some work of their own which I would not have any part in. I’d keep sitting around them, mother, but they would barely notice. I am too young and they are all old; they do but you never have made me feel bad about this. When it would get too boring to watch them in front of their screens is when I would retreat back to you in the kitchen. You would understand that I need food. You know, mother, I have gotten used to you giving me food separately. Me on the floor, they on the table. I really have. The likes of me are not supposed to eat on the table.

But I am sitting on the floor right now, mother, naked and numb, thinking and thinking and over thinking all of these thoughts in my head. I feel hungry, mother. My eyes are stuck on the door you would come through – after you return from shopping or the doctor or from your relatives’ or from the movies or from a dinner out or from some funeral – so that I could pretend to be upset at you and you sense that from my dish you left filled with cat food.




You might as well grab me by the neck and shove me against the wall for all I care. I’d slam but the only protest you’d hear would be the dhuk sound from the wall. That’s it. I can’t help it when my legs would stop carrying me forward like this – when I’d be lost in some heavy daze. You’d bump and stare eerily at me. You’d nastily roar at me.

Satisfied? Took it all out? Would you now move on?

…Because my mouth won’t be freeing any hostages. No lies trembling out of these starkly painted lips. No false apology. My form says enough. Too smoky, my eyes, shielded with a lack of focus. Foreigners; all of your voices, drained out, I swear. And I’m so aware that they are.

So. Fucking. Aware.

This me would be a symbolism of disintegration, of disinterest; the contradiction of enthusiasm. I’d walk not – my legs’d take me. I’d eat not – this mechanical mouth’d tear, chew, swallow for me. There is a country-wide gap between what I’d be feeling and what I’d be expressing.

Hollowed am I. Not a gutted fish, an eviscerated fish. I wonder if fishing might just turn out to be exactly my thing? The empty hours of stretched stillness. Then the sudden jerks.

Just my thing.

In the finishing of my reports, attending of my calls, submitting of my works, there would be a robotic monotony; my voice, a distant cavity (during my day job). Still, my real one at least. And nobody makes me laugh; nobody can make me laugh.

These glorious sunsets and I would have tedious staring contests. They’d depart first, hence they’d blink first, hence they’d lose (I can sit unblinkingly for millennia. Seriously), though sometimes I’d wish they don’t…

Sometimes I’d wish the sun never goes down.

(But when it does…) And when it does… when this crossing of my life is trampled over… something is sunk behind… and something entirely else is afloat on the surface.

See, I can scan past all these morphing faces, these lifted masks, these sick realities (and this time I’m actually interested in all of them) – eyeing me as if one flashy look is enough to read me wholly. No fam no. It works the other way around.

It is at night when you wolves come flowing out, showing your true thirst; howling wildly. And oh how much I love letting you seek pleasure in the illusion of decrypting the enigmatic ‘me’. The illusion of you using ‘me’. You’re the one above, no? No. Way down below in reality. Look at your eyes. I spot a hundred grammatical errors in them…

Whatever your nightly hedonistic labels would be for me, your mornings would have more or less the same. To put it in one word; “Meretricious”. Aww, poor you. You thought you’d have the last laugh, no? See how the filth of your forms is now moving into your tongues? your vocabulary, growing trashier like a sewer. Is this the part where you throw me out of your house? No? Uh oh, I’m laughing now. A desolate, sardonic, broken laugh because you’re a joke (what? I never said nothing can make me laugh).

Aha! So this is the part where you throw me out of your house…


Ignis Fatuus

Purple skies grumpily darkened and the moon’s mark of absence was dotted by the twinkling stars; yet again. For fifth straight night, there was no sign of moon.
Another sliver of wind cut through me, making me raise the hood of my hoodie over my head. I felt cold. My teeth clattered, almost matching the rhythm of my strides. Upon turning down the dreary lifeless alley, I felt relief settled under me. I was back on the street. Glancing sideways, I found the whooshing blurs of cars streaking my vision. I started leftward, and walked along the sidewalk framed with dust, while lampposts dutifully lit my way. I kept my head low, lost in thoughts; my long legs still striding. Like the rise and fall of a seesaw, my shifting shadows danced behind and before me as I passed each lamppost.
1… 2…  3…  4… 5… 6… 7…  8… 9… 10… 11…
It took 11 strides to mark each passing lap of those series of lampposts. And hence, I forced my focus on making sure I cross each lap in precisely 11 strides. It proved to be a surprisingly engrossing hobby for a while. But then I got bored and sighed. Steam emerging from my mouth writhed in the air then dissolved into it completely.
Across the sidewalk, a busy overhead road flowed parallelly then declined like a playground slide before merging with the flat main road. It then passed from under the overhead bridge that rooted from across the Eden crossroads ahead of me. Adjacent to the overhead road stood patches of grove.
Crisscross of the winds whistled in my ears every now and then, but the cacophony of the whooshing cars were what dominated the auditory senses. Horns blared and tyres screeched somewhere distant.
I had already failed at keeping up with my 11-stride laps when a crowd of grim-looking pedestrians streamed through, brushing past me like a cloud over moon. I missed their warmth the second they passed.
My long legs started again. Against my dark skin, the neon hands of my watch glittered. It was 7:47 thanks to the extended University session; I had better pick up my pace, I thought.
My head had lingered earthward for too long, I realized. Looking up, I noticed the skies were still clear, festooned with stars. Jetting cars to my right-
Oh, wait…
Is that…? Is that… moonlight?!
My monologue wasn’t alone in its abrupt halt, my legs stopped too. There, beside the overhead road to my right, the grove was backlit softly by a milky light. Through the constricted spaces in between the foundation pillars under the overpass, I spotted the furtive light; painted behind the benign forestry; on the sky. It was the moon.
‘It has to be the moon,’ I thought.

Neglecting now the slicing cold, I ran.

The overhead bridge across the Eden crossroad was the only platform high enough from where I could have spotted the moon. I aimed for there. Was it really the moon? After five tedious days and nights, is the sky willing to fix us a tryst finally?
It has to be the moon, I thought again.
The hood went flying behind me, hovering in the wind – slamming against my knapsack that doddered against my back. My feet engined along the pavement. I was a panther against the wind; my eyes still set on that lit segment of the sky to my right.
Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. 
Blocks of buildings blocked my view of the just apparent moonshine as I neared the bridge. Crossing the road, shimmying past the cars, I reached and climbed the metallic stairs – three steps at a time. I felt like a mad machine.
From atop the bridge, all the unhurdled horizons were apparent. I treaded towards where the source of celestial light would be visible clearly… and stilled.
They were stadium lights… of course.

I sighed and suddenly felt my chest and throat on fire, as if replaced with the breast of a dragon. My lungs too were inflamed. I bent, rested my palms on my knees and tried to catch my breath, still looking at the nimbus of light above the opened-up skull of the sports stadium. Ignis fatuus, I thought, and chuckled with a shudder.

With my lungs relatively calmer, I stood up straight. After the sky’s inspection, it was confirmed:
“No moon…”
I fetched the pack of cigarettes from my pocket, took one out and slid it between my lips.
“Just great,” I grumbled, kindling up a flame.

Sometimes, She Becomes A Human Too

You would always find her eyes uncovered; rarely blinking. Those otherworldly orbs, on display for the world to see. Sheer blackness in them, in contrast to all the colors that actually formed her. You should be, and maybe you unknowingly would be grateful that her gaze flutters everywhere but to your eyes. No blitz of thunder at your heart to strike.

Sometimes you would find her on the streets, walking hand in hand one day in one’s company, another day in another’s. A realm of angelic grace she would be. Calmly, easily, vigilantly would she take her steps, as if time itself sought refuge under her unseen kingdom – and who knew, maybe it did… You would also find bewitched strangers, hustling and making way for her to pass on as if she were royalty. A feathery thank you would roll out on her tongue and she would walk on, hand in hand, turning a blind eye to everyone… Unaware as to how baffled had she left those faces behind.

Some miracle was she. This girl, Safa – innocent, demure. Extracting joy in even the most mundane of tasks. Like all of a sudden she would stand on her feet, would raise both her arms up, hoping to accidentally touch the ceiling, without even realizing that she had become an immediate cynosure in the room. Then would giggle shyly lowering her vision as her cheeks heated up – when would be informed that everybody was watching her. Some descended fairy Safa was.

You would find her to be the breaker of worldly trends. Not only everyone but everything loved Safa. The sky especially. On some days, in her mind, skies would turn lilac with yellow stars; the shy sun would first hesitate, then refuse to come out altogether, hence the mornings would be dominated by the crispy moon. She would picture the sky bursting in mulberry gradients at other times – though unaware what the shade mulberry actually looked like – and festooned with juicy clouds that hovered heavily. Despite Safa’s absurd imaginations, the sky would never, could never curse her, nor release showers over her. She would somehow always get a predilection for rain. Always.

The way she smiled, ah! That was real – those curves and stretches of her lips that resembled smiles of a migrated traveller returning home decades later. And Safa’s would make the winds gallop, tripping over themselves for a fleeting sight of her. The whole world and everything in it pampered her…

And yet at times, unbelievably, she would turn into a human too…

… So naturally that you wouldn’t believe your eyes. One second she would be sitting over there – waiting – staring with glazed eyes at a wall, then gradually would fall under the spell of sleep; her celestial disguise slipping, like the evanescence of a dream. Her head would be leaning against the rest, her dark mane a messy nest, her mouth ajar; a string of drool leaking from its corner. How mundane, how ordinary would Safa seem.

There would similarly be days when Safa would be found ransacking her knapsack, feeling her hands around for something she cannot find. Frustated then, she would cuss indecently under her breath. If you would be lucky enough to hear that, you would find her so earthly in that moment; so mortal. An angel fallen from grace.

… You would also realize that only she could make those words sound cute. But that acknowledgement would come second – for obvious reasons.

Lights illumined with dignity, would ballet in Safa’s vicinity. If you really possessed eyes, you could watch the lights in the room desperately writhe and burn, performing arabesques and whatnot. All of that, just to grasp her attention, and yet they would fail. She had not, eyes for the ordinary. What Safa saw, others did not; could not…

And nor could she see the things others did see. Yet she would seem so accustomed to the revolving world, navigating with such ease that you would never learn at first glance, of her destitution of sight… Her blindness Safa carried not as a burden, not as a source of pity, but as a debt of this universe to her. Its wondrous compensations she accepted heartily; blissfully.

… But that never meant she wouldn’t give anything within a blink of an eye to watch the sky just one more time.

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