Dark and light, we’re eye to eye, a blinding fortress. The winds blow – Listen to trees whispering? Stilts are tipping over. Earthquake shakes, muscle and bones. Inside out, where blood and skin meet—string me, marionette me. I’m holding steady in wrinkled skin, old and peeling. Control me.
Time seems to have frozen. There is always a permanent state of wonder. Leaves continuously fall from the tree during an endless autumn. The days become colder and darker and the piles of decaying leaves surround the doomed tree. There is no wind to carry them away. The tree, however, has to withstand the autumn. It cannot withdraw from the fate that awaits it. The winter that will follow seems like a distant tale told by wanderers who take shelter under the tree. He sat under the tree, counting the falling leaves but if you asked him how many have fallen so far; he would not know. He sat there for what seemed to be forever. The world does not wait. The day came when he finally had to get up from under the tree and continue the walk of life, pretending to never have known the tree and its fate, silently stepping on the decaying leaves on the ground around him. One step at a time, he walked towards his path. A path he had never meant to have taken and did not know where it led. He wonders if it is alright for him to come back and count the falling leaves every once in a while, to see if the autumn has finally transformed into the long-dreaded winter? Perhaps he left a part of himself under the tree. He wonders if the falling leaves will ever stop and the part he left behind will follow the path he took to find him at the end of his journey. Soon he found himself standing in the middle of a never-ending landscape. Vast flat fields over barren land. All around him, he could see nothing but the drying earth and the scorching sun high up in cloudless skies. The rest of his journey has to be through these unforgiving lands. An endless walk which was more taxing on the mind than on his limbs. A weary traveler he has become, yet he cannot turn back and the path he walks is only known and remembered by himself. There are many things one cannot hold on to for a lifetime. Regret is one of these things. But what sort of regret is warranted? I ask this question from myself often. Should you hold yourself responsible for the actions of others? Should you continue to regret and blame yourself for the unfortunate outcomes? At what point do you accept the reality and try to overcome everything that puts you in a state of constant regret? A continuing desolation consumes oneself slowly. Perhaps the most unfortunate lesson I have learned is that only those who have a clear conscience are the ones who are affected by this desolation. The latter has a plethora of justifications for their actions, most of which are illusions behind which they hide while deflecting all responsibility and blame.
The tree was once full of life until one quiet night, during which the ground was silent and there were no stars above. Just a lonely moon, behind the dark clouds peeking down. He sat quietly on the stairs of his porch, as if behind a curtain that drowned all the noise around him. He felt like he was alone, with only the silence to keep him company. It seemed as if time had stopped and everything he cared for no longer mattered. He sat there, staring into the endless night and letting every thought his mind ever carried scream inside his head, for no amount of pain could intimidate him now. In his loss, his heart had started to turn into stone. Life is always full of impediments and difficulties. For him the past year was much like a never-ending storm. A constant, relentless onslaught of difficulties. Of all these troubles, the one that took a toll on him was his failed marriage. He had been lied to, deceived, used, and threatened. But the disintegration of the abusive marriage was not what brought him down. The slandering and constant blackmailing were not what he feared either. He had endured all these storms until this very night. He gazed at the peeking moon and wondered if he will ever see his child. He could fight against everyone and everything to get that chance. But just because he could, he thought deeply and questioned, should he? In many societies and cultures, men lose so much more when a marriage ends. I’m talking about the good men, who are honest, hardworking, sincere, and who go out of their way to make things work. I’m talking about those gentle souls, who repeatedly forgive even after being hurt in every possible way. In the end – they rarely find support. They are left alone and abandoned. They lose material things as well as their mental well-being. They are seen as weak if they try to reach out. They are just expected to bear all the burdens even in death . . . Why?
Time keeps passing. “Today, she would have been a year old,” he whispered to himself. It was past midnight and there was no light around him as he laid still on the bed. Distant sounds of the city were softly breaking the silence around him. He reached for his phone and held it close to his face, letting its bright light pierce his eyes. He stared at the screen, blinking as little as his watery eyes would allow. He kept staring at the phone without moving. There was a cool breeze outside, which was making a soft whistling sound as it passed the slightly open window and danced around his room. He had a profound smile on his face and sleep was long gone from him. He had spent the last year counting days and trying to come to terms with his fate. He spent his time preparing for the day he would see the tree again. It was growing, and soon it would be beautiful and perfect. There was anger inside him. Anger against those who deceived him and took away the tree from him. There was good in him though, for he had forgiven them. He did not seek vengeance. He was strong, but not strong enough to be kept away from the tree; and that was an everlasting torment, designed by those who failed to trap him in their webs. He blinked but his eyes were no longer moist. They were empty, just like the smile he had. He ran a finger across the screen trying to feel her. She looked a lot like him and that always gave a certain comfort to him. He began noticing the breeze and the city noise seemed louder now. “I hope you have the same heart your father has. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, it will guide you, and someday you will find your way back home.” He looked at her beautiful picture on the phone one more time and then put the phone against his chest and closed his eyes. An arduous path, fate has set before him indeed. The kind which relentlessly taxes his spirit and has begun to slowly erode the very seams of his sanity. The deafening cries inside his mind keep him awake and the deception, lies, and manipulation have made their mark on his thoughts. The decision to forgive and not seek retribution has now weakened the once willful patient man. They say that those who leave such matters to faith and goodwill eventually find peace.
Does the father, who withdraws; not because of the unending repression by the ruffians hiding behind their false agenda, but due to his deliberate choice of not separating his daughter from her mother, not deserve better? Or would it have been wiser for him to have unleashed his wrath until he could have had her in his arms? On this path, I have found that a father who withdraws for the sake of his child has a love far greater than the one who does not. I would have never forgiven myself, for letting you be used as leverage by those who sought mischief. I left you in God’s care and I hope you have the same heart as me for you will need it to climb out of the moral-less abyss. I have not been able to sleep properly yet and may never be able to. Whatever you will be told and taught; I can only imagine. You will only hear slander about your father. They will instill hatred inside your heart for him. But he passes his days knowing that there is a God above. He passes his days knowing that his blood runs in your veins.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: “it goes on”. Yes, you read it right, it goes on. No doubt, life is beautiful but it is also challenging. The challenges that we come across sometimes tell us who we are and sometimes what we should be. There will be bad days, there will be struggles, but still it goes on. No matter who you are, it teaches a lesson to everyone. You just have to be willing to learn. Difficulties test the courage, patience, preservation and the characteristic of a human being. Struggles and hardships make a person strong and ready to face all the challenges of life. Sometimes, people sit and cry over petty problems and think that this is the end, but still life goes on. These petty problems don’t mean a thing as it is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn. Life is not just a bed of roses; thorns are also a part of it and one must learn to accept the thorns too because if you don’t feel the pointed things in life, you will take the soft ones for granted. Whatever happens in life happens for good. Whatever decision God takes for us is already planned and we must learn to accept it. When God tests you or removes something in your possession, it is never to destroy you or it is not the end, it is only to test you and give you something even greater – something which you could’ve never imagined having.
I looked at the brilliant full moon, it seemed to know the entirety of my mysteries. After the mists secured the moon, a shooting star streaked above it as if it was instructed by the moon itself to make me pronounce my wish. I remained there under the huge sky and looked up with my yearning eyes. I bit my tongue on the off chance that I might say what my heart already knew. I did not need to make my wish. Maybe it’s what my heart aches for. Maybe I simply professed to move on. Maybe I never discovered my way back. Maybe I’m currently lost in the immeasurability of the sky and the depths of the night. Maybe I have made depression a norm for myself. I need to escape from the web of recollections. When I ought to be appreciative of what I have, I’m looking back at what I have lost. I’m lost in my dreams and it’s keeping me far from the real world. I’m lost. I long to escape to be discovered only for once. I need to accept the truth however; I’m drowning in wistfulness. Maybe because you made me feel something once and that feeling continuously compels me to return to you. I’m being drained but nobody sees. I can’t get up. How can I fix myself, when I don’t recognize what holds the greater part of me?
There’s a monster under my bed a wraith inside my head and blood in the tears my crimson eyes shed; for my distraught heart has bled more pitch-black than red all my feelings have faded, and into mere oblivion all the memories I had without a trace, have fled; as I await the final blow advent of the angel of death; but my functioning, yet empty, self may deceive the observers I’m perfectly fine and satisfied, no dear, I’m a walking corpse emotionally dead; and once my time arrives as I gasp for my ultimate breath I recognize it as a beginning because physical pain will succeed the mental torment I endured; then, decay will surface and my carcass may shred I will be okay, like I’m today so you shall not dread as this apparent death is my only escape.
How does it feel to be amputated emotionally? Does it leave an empty space within yourself, where you hold your old self like an infant in a cart. How does it feel to furnish your own amputation in your imagination? Surrounded by what you desire, do you feel a sense of amputation? What is left to you after that? Do you remember it? Is it simple what you remember? What to do with what you remember ? How would you decide which of scattered pieces to carry forward, what to protect , and what to leave behind? Who will help you out? You? Your surroundings? Or your imagination?
Beautiful Nonetheless by Ayesha Owais
In rhythmic movements I move around, I want to be adored, I want to be loved I want to be beautiful, I want to feel comfortable in my own skin.
When I smile I pretend it’s not mine, When I talk I pretend to sound like someone I’m not, I just want me to be someone who’s at least loved by me? Is that too much to ask for?
I dance around foolishly, Seeking for validation, I stare at myself in the mirror, The mirror is shattered just like me, Perhaps I like these broken pieces of me, I dance around a bit more, Those same rhythmic movements, Everyday, I shower myself with glitter, Perhaps it would make me more beautiful, It does not.
I stare at myself in the mirror, I smile, I finally end the dance, I keep staring at my reflection, With a smile lingering on my lips, Beautiful yet uncomfortable, But beautiful nonetheless.
Passing Years by Samman Khan
A Poem by Fatima Naveed
The ability to survive is a trait that i thrive, The inability of letting go is the hardest fight The path towards you is full of crumbled leaves, You either step on it with joy or avoid whats underneath
Those wide eyes and hollow ones, all see the same thing Its how we perceive it, makes us differ from the rest Your smile and your laughter is what defines you from the outside But the screams and the cries is what I perceive on my own
The picture you present is half of what you are The person you think you are , is half of what you are not
The Crow by Anum Akhtar
Perched upon my window sill was a crow in all its dreary might. A captivation so eerie, quite visibly held my sight. The faint frenzy in his eyes. The silence in his stance. The vigor in his flight, when it flashed through the sky and rested upon a distant tree. Now although very far, but, still in line of my sight. It seemed to be judging, almost mocking me for my miserable plight. But I took no offence As I was accustomed to feel alright. No one really cared, if this heart burnt or swelled or ached at night. Then what right this bird had to mock me for my plight? I stood there, patiently to witness its surrender, its leap into the vast skies was all that I hankered. Until it finally hit me what the bird had truly implied. A voice acutely profound called out to me, my mind, it longed for many a things most ravenous for freedom and escape. Now, I seemed to get why, the crow had for so long held my sight. It was not mockery after all but grief and courage. A hope in myself it successfully ignite. Then, as if fulfilled its purpose the bird sailed south, in all its glory left me behind, triumph over misery. With a desire so wild, prudent but folly. To be a bird for the remainder of my life. To be a crow with all its dreary might.
A distant known stranger, voice to remember. Spoken with a sweet hello, she told me a story, waiting in line, order ready. I told her she reminded me of a song that wasn’t pretty. When she asked why, I told her, I always knew You’d be the one sitting delectable. After years have passed, without a word. Years have passed, Unseen, without a nuance. Now, to see her in line – wishing for deaf ears, a silent hello.
Your inner voice confounded in the ricochet off the asphalt. Draped in steel and reinforced concrete, we eroded the synchronicity: of bone with earth, flesh with the oceans, sinew with fire, and equanimity with air. The only recourse left, to dive head first into rude awakening. Swim amongst sharks mobilised by the scent of fear, allowing their teeth to impale years of conditioning, culpable of removing you from yourself. The blood of generations oozing from your body, releasing your heart to pirouette on the precipice of its fall from grace wringing traditions outworn, for your soul to be reborn.