poetry

Greek god and wingless fairy

Yesterday I listened to a euphony of violins

that a Greek god danced to,

with a wingless fairy

who let herself go in his hands

defying gravity

in ways I did not know.

 

You rode on a horse until

the horse died and you grew up;

in between fallen autumn leaves and melting snow

and clarinets that wake you up from sleep.

I lost my eyesight; the fairy fell on the Greek god’s feet

and I kept wondering

about the principle of defying gravity.

The god lost his magic,

and you dreamed of a new horse

that flew you to the fallen fairy

but you told me he was a traitor

cause he brought you back to me.1280px-Karl_Wilhelm_Diefenbach_-_The_fairy_dance

Mother tongue

You know how your mother tongue separates you?

In answering your phone, sitting between your friends

when your brother asks when to pick you up;

in the surprising tone of your colleague who tells you how

your accent is different from those whose language you call as your own.

I carry my language in surprise of people’s faces and sometimes in my own,

when I recognize a native smile,

a nod, a curse word intended as a joke

and in the folds of long forgotten songs.

Yesterday my friends and I sang Sindhi festive songs at a superstore in low voices

while we were in the spice section and giggled

at why these songs never made sense and yet we knew them all.

Sometimes languages aren’t meant to voice opinions,

they’re intended to connect dots,

of people, maps, rivers;

draw lines of love between strangers.

I carry my mother tongue both as a burden and as a privilege,

of knowing all those sounds and words that emanate feelings and emotions

that are not known in other languages.

And yet,

sometimes words are never enough,

it’s the association of language that suffices.

Author’s note: The above piece was published in New Asian Writing (NAW) recently and can be viewed here: http://www.new-asian-writing.com/mother-tongue-by-paras-abbasi/

Music in my neighbor’s backyard

I’ve been trying to write lately but my thoughts wander. It’s been about changes in life, embracing growing up, growing old and of noticing changes that makes you realize that it’s not so scary growing old after all. There will always be people who, when you meet, talk about the same reservations that you have about this trickery of growing old, and so all of a sudden, you’re not alone. There’s always nostalgia, fatigue and the sharply advancing generation around you that makes you realize that late twenties might not be the ‘sought after’ age to be–that’s only till twenty-three. I’ve been listening to this live gig from my room at this hour from our neighbor’s backyard. It’s an intimate gathering—from the noise of it, a bunch of friends, laughter, guitar and songs. It’s almost Spring—where your rooms are cold enough at night to keep the fans turned off, but windows opened, so I can listen to the chatter and every stroke of the pick on guitar. From the looks of it, the company is my age—they have played Wo Lamhay, Tum he tou ho, Wake me up when September ends, The Fray. I don’t know why but it makes me feel connected. Millennials, the depressed generation, the pioneers of social media, generation with the highest suicide rate—somehow we find the reason to connect. The boy who sings is a little rough with his voice but he plays the instrument alright. He plays Wo Lamhay while I carry out ablution, plays Tum he tou ho, while I pray and think about a thousand things unconsciously that the song reminds me of. I’ve started reading W.B Yeats today and was planning to finish a part of the book but the music from my window asks me to write—about unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, almost-happiness, driving at night without the music on, unresolved resolutions, lists on my phone and in my notebook and about people close to my heart; in books, in pictures and in real life.

Two of the boys sing Atif’s Ye Meri Kahani and I remember the first the time I heard the song. I still think about the little optimistic girl I used to be. It’s like a reel unraveling. I wonder how it would be moments before you’re going to die. Are there going to be flashbacks? Of good moments and the worse? Or is it going to be all blank? No memories retained, nothing lost?

It has started to rain. Boys have stopped playing. Winter is over. I do not await the summer.

August – weddings

It’s halfway through 2019. But you left your heart somewhere in late 90s, early 2000s, when you didn’t know how things worked.
Standing in the middle of a segregated wedding where women laugh a second too openly, and walk around a bit too comfortably, there are things you love and things you hate. Things that have long become contradictions. Old wedding songs that you’ve seen your cousins dance to all your life are playing again. You smile, because it has so much baggage–of cousin weddings, of accidentally plopping one of your feet in the mud in a dark street full of strangers, of little children you became friends with until they left one day and of forgotten memories that rush through when old Bollywood wedding songs play in the background.
You’re back in the city where your heart has always been, even though they don’t take care of it anymore. You hate it for the streets that have become narrower, the winds that have calmed down; but as you drive around the empty roads past midnight when even the farthest places in the city fall 5 minutes away like you’ve always known them to be, your heart comes back to its place.

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You’re back in the city with all your old friends and memories and you don’t want to admit it but it’s painful. Painful that you have to grow up, painful that you have to leave one day, painful that everything eventually comes back to leaving people and places and songs and happiness that you grew up with. So when you look at your friend, donned in red and gold, her parents both happy and sad in the midst of dancing women and fireworks and confetti and songs in your mother-tongue that make you want to dance and laugh, even though you don’t know all the lyrics; you want the time to stop ticking. Because it’s been too much; you’ve grown too old and too scared. ‘Scattered’ is the word that now scares you. Scattered homes, scattered friends, scattered places where you left pieces of your heart. So you try to collect all the memories of things you have loved about this city. It’s not the same city that you once grew up in, but it has the footprints of everything you’ve been through.
(Picture courtesy: OMG moods)

Letters to her (1)

“You are the dreams you chase, the things that keep you awake.

You are the mountains you have climbed and the waters you have dived.

You are the playlists that you listen to, always skipping some songs, while putting others on repeat.

You are the wild car rides, speeding tickets and narrow escapes, those that brought you closer to life and close to end.

You are the karaoke nights and clumsy slumber parties and singing at the top of your voices on the radio with your friends; you are ugly gifts and pranks and arguments and later amends.

You are the stars in the sky that make you think of falling in love and seas and clouds and unicorns all at the same time; you are texts and chats and phone calls after rough patches telling them you’d be fine.

You are the tears of happiness and sighs of pain, you my dear are the first dance of monsoon rains.

You are all the books, the songs, the movies you own, you are the nostalgia of your sweet childhood gone.

You are your first love, the pure glee that it brought, the nervousness, and later the courage that it taught.
You are the shine in your eyes, the curves of your lips, the crooked collarbone of yours that you secretly adore; you are all the beautiful nights chasing after the moon and so much more.
So dont you dare believe them when they tell you they want better, for you my love know what they are missing on later.”

Hopeless patterns

There was a pattern,

always a pattern

In the books read, recent playlists played,

Colors of weather and unwritten letters,

Badly scribbled notes under the mattress of the bed.

There was a pattern in the first said words of that broken conversation—if only you knew

Those tucked away pictures hidden from the world,

And tickets that were never used to fly 7000 miles away.

There was a shameless pattern in all the words unsaid, all the endeavors to make you break away

In the first days when seasons changed—the leaves falling off or turning green,

There were patterns in the first fall of snow and my perfect summer dream,

There were patterns in the waves of the ocean that connected lands in between.

There were perfect patterns in the winds that blew; signs if only you knew.

But oh well, never mind

Why did it matter?

When our minds were always a mess, a hopeless clatter.

 

Microsecond

 

You know that part of the second, when a sight of long lost someone reminds you of a memory buried deep in the past, a glimpse from the future, a lovely combination of things said and done, of things that might have been said but thought better of them—all those feelings in one part of the second. The feeling of loving and being loved, the feeling of being needed and needing someone and the force of attraction that stretches that one part of the second—slows it down, repeats those conversations, makes you smile and cry and hates you for feeling so much. That one part of a second—when it becomes more than a lifetime of living.

 

Oh Chicago

Oh Chicago, do you see?
You hold my heart
And it kills me.
For when birds fly, you give them the sanctuary
For the ones who’ve lost love, you give them the heart to flee.
But for me, there’s a special grudge,
For how much I await you, you turn away,
you shelter your breed.
The more I miss my love
The more you attract them to thee.
You call them, you kiss them, you engulf them in glee.
And and I, a person of shattered spirits, have nothing to offer, nowhere to retreat.
Oh Chicago, do you see?
How my love is lost in your city?