8 09 2015

What can I tell you about the anger…? About the way it pools in your fingertips, rushing hot up your cheeks, sitting heavy behind your teeth.

For all those injustices you were subjected to. The ridicule.  The broken promises.  The clear-cut advantage that was taken.

What can I tell you about the pain…about how you strained against the sharp end, your forced smile reflecting white against the blade. About the absolute terror right before you succumbed over and over and over again.

What can I tell you about frustration…tears scalding down the inside of your throat, a small dilution of your own overbearing insufficiency. Nails clawing, scratching “why why why?” into the edges of your palms.

What can I tell you about despair…

Be still because I can’t tell you, not without having her place an icy hand on my shoulder again.

But I will tell you. I will brave her again.  For you.

I will tell you about her desolate house and eyes and serving platter. The way she makes the night a void and the morning a slur.  You will graze your knees when you come crashing to them on her floor but she doesn’t want that.

She wants you to stay.

She wants to draw the curtains and lock the doors and she wants you to stay.

But you must leave, come morning. You must take your shackles with you and you must walk out.  Because for all her grip she cannot keep you there unless you are complicit.  Promise me that you’ll leave.

And no, you won’t find your way back to the places you recognize. By the time you get back, you would have changed too much anyway.  But for now…

For now bring your shackles. Let the clamour of your anguish make more noise than is necessary – it is the sweetest music where you’re going…

Walk to where the light is harsh and the air pierces your battle-worn lungs.

Now let the pieces fall, now let them slip through your fingers and shatter, everything you so carefully held on to. You’re at the altar of Strength and the way was long but first you make must make a sacrifice.

The anger. The pain.  The frustration.  The masks too.

And for the first time you will realise how tightly you clung onto them. It wasn’t the other way around.

It was always you.

Though your grip may tighten and though you may squeeze your eyes shut for fear of the unknown,

I ask you…unwind your fingers, look up.

The time has come to surrender to a Will other than your own.


Some, more equal than others

31 10 2012

What is a human life worth? A young man picking up a half-smoked cigarette from the gutter. A child lying dismembered and blank-eyed in a puddle of her own blood. The same blood, the same breath that thrums its beat through all of us.

The same, for the slick-haired MD hands gripping firmly the back of his chair. The same then for the manicured university student pushing her pedicured feet into name-brand sneakers.

What is a life worth? Two dimes on eyes, a vivid red slash across a wrist. Is it the softened blanket buffering a baby against the world, the silver equivalent to its shaved hair?

No. Life is worth much more than this.

It is a new car, a house with iron-clad pillars. It is a bank balance that sits heavy in your pocket giving you weight amongst your peers.

It is hair burned straight into the submission of society, a society that worships skin a lighter shade of pale. Skin that is not cracked, or bruised, or dimpled.

Skin to sheath only the diet version of your soul.

There is no room here for the undulating layers of womanhood. For freckles and frizz.

There is no place here for the Muslim. The poor. The dark-skinned.

Can you hear me?

18 05 2011

Maryam lay quietly for a bit. Yes, it hurt all over, but Ilhaam was still sleeping and Zaakir had to get ready for school. Sleepy cereal time every morning, a little pocket of time when hope still skimmed the edges of her day, a few moment of peace before reality hit.

A prayer preceeding the getting out of bed.

A prayer everyday.

Maybe today, maybe today, maybe today…

But it hadn’t happened yet. That elusive something or someone that would shatter these walls and bring light and life and comfort and happy-happy. Not yet. So Maryam knew she would keep looking out the window, at the shadow of moods passing over Yusufs’ face. Hoping for a phonecall, a letter…something else from somewhere else would make it better.

I’m broken. Broken to bits. Crushed to smithereens. I can’t put the pieces back.

Zaakir said “Mummy why do you kiss us so much?” his head popping out from under the jersey “because I love you baby”. “Does daddy love you mummy? Daddy doesn’t kiss you…”

Straighten his bag. Push his hair out of his face. Don’t answer him.

“Guess what? I put a caramel custard for you in your lunch box”

Smile, dammit, smile.

Unknot my shoulders

23 02 2011

Babies and at home fights. Stifled shivers and eyes wide open at nights.
Responsibility, inability, frailty.
I try for strength at length,
But the bruise tells the news of the pain that I gain.

Reckless Abandon

4 02 2011

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward.

And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can can change the world are the ones who do.

– Jack Kerouac

An Excerpt

3 12 2010

The girls were named. One became Ayesha and the other Atika. Atika was smuggled out of the hospital in her fathers jacket while Ayesha was left behind looking at her sterile world from the the blurry walls of her plastic mould crib. At three-days old, tears ran down her cheeks unaccompanied by crying sounds and a young nurse who knew of her tragic birth sobbed into her uniform, her still blooming heart broken into a million pieces. She needn’t have cried much, Ayesha was taken to a house of her mothers relatives a few days later. “She’ll ask questions” Maymoonah said. “Hmmm” agreed Bilal. And they both knew there would be no way to hide the childs fair skin against their cinnamon-brown, her red gold hair against their jet-black. Ayesha still held little pieces of heaven in her tiny newborn fists and slept peacefully in the Cressida that took her home.

where You are

22 11 2010

I found God in the tiny clenched fists of a newborn.
I heard him in the timbre of a workmans song.
When the suns rays stroke my cheek and when a storm lulls me to sleep, I know He is there.
He is the warmth of just baked bread, a cool breeze on a summers night.
He is the weighty silence in a place of prayer, in a waiting room, and in the leagues under the sea.
He is the sound in the hum of asking, in the laughter of giving, in the shattering of tears.
My Lord I saw You in the curved green bough of a tree, in the deeply etched lines of the old womans hand.
All the universe seems to say;
This is for You, this is for You, this is for You.