Tag Archives: love

The snake and Nano’s Alzheimer’s

“I had Hindu friends.” My Nano (grandma) who has Alzheimer’s says, wiping away a tear that rolls down her cheek. She looks at me and smiles. “A few of them we’re Sikh and Christian too, and we would sit on the roof, on wooden cots and talk until the sun sunk behind the horizon, or until my father came home and shooed us all away. After the partition, we all just separated.”

I hold onto Nano’s hand and sit by her knees. She doesn’t remember me, but she knows I look like someone she’s supposed to know. She gets frustrated when she doesn’t remember so I play around with her, telling her I’m the cleaning lady or a neighbor or someone who is here to steal the metal plates that Abu (grandpa) bought for her.

It’s her glassy eyes that make me feel guilty. Her lips wobble and her eyebrows knit together so I spit out the truth. And as soon as I do that she smiles and kisses me on the cheek. She tells me how much she missed me, and I want to say the same thing to her, but I’ll end up crying. So, instead, I ask her to tell me about her time when the British were here.

“They were nice. Very just…” she says, and I see pride forming in her eyes. She remembers certain things like they happened yesterday, but she’s forgotten everything else including me.

“This one time, after the British left and when your mother was a child…” Nano giggles. She tells me her tales, again and again, each one having the same people, but new plots. “It was late at night and I had to use the bathroom. During those days we didn’t have toilets, so we had to go out in the fields to relieve ourselves. At night all of us women would gather together at a meeting point, and we would walk towards the fields. Now the fields were empty, and they were scary. The fields were far away from the village, so it was usually a long walk. The wind would make these weird noises that would make our hearts crawl. So like any other day, holding our oil lanterns, we walked to the fields. The grass was as long as my knees, and it was hard to walk, but we managed to get deep where no one would see us. We separated and took our spots. Now as soon as we all settled down, this girl, my friend started screaming, and we all jumped in fear grabbing our trousers with one hand and the oil lanterns with the other. ‘Snake’ I heard someone shout. We were all so scared that we… we… we.” Nano pauses and looks at me with confusion contouring her features. The wrinkles forming on her forehead deepen and she asks, “Who are you?”

“Nano!” I try not to sound frustrated, but anger coats the softness in my voice.

“I’m your granddaughter,” I tell her for the umpteenth time. Nano’s not paying attention to me anymore, she’s too focused on my cousin who’s slamming the door because my youngest aunt refused to give him money.

I slowly slip away and go to Mama. I tell her Nano’s story and she laughs confirming that it’s true. “I have my own story to tell, but yes… all the women ran away, and a man came and hunted the snake and killed it.”

“No….” My aunt says frowning. “That’s not what happened. The snake was a female who had taken the form of a snake. Her husband was killed by Chacha Akhtar, so she came back, and she bit him while he was sleeping. Remember…” She says to mama as she holds back her laugh.

“Yeah and Abu (father) used that stone to suck out the poison” Mama is wheezing so hard that water leaks through her lashes.

“The stone is probably in the old house. Remind me to go get it later.” Auntie’s still laughing.

I blankly stare at them, not knowing what childhood story they’re talking about, but it makes me smile knowing that I’ve reminded them of a memory they both had forgotten.

“Alchemy… Herbs…” Mama says trying to explain the whole concept of the snake-stone-story to me. “Chemistry” she finally breathes in disappointment, as if Alchemy is something we’re taught in school. I ask her about the stone but that requires a story of its own.

Nano has Alzheimer’s, Mama’s story seems too boring, so I go with auntie’s version.

Photo by Burak K from Pexels

Bargaining with loved ones

If I am ever broken
and I am unable to walk
will you carry me in your arms
and tell me I am strong?

If I am ever broken
and I am unable to fly
will you raise the ground
or will you bring down the sky?

If I am ever broken
and I am unable to see
will you be my image
or will you leave me to be?

If I am ever broken
and the world is laughing at my despair
will you be my wings
and take me away from here?

If I am ever broken
and people are toying with my heart
will you be my glue
and stop me from tearing apart?

If I am ever broken
and I am unable to speak
will you be my lips
and help me heal?

What if I’m not broken
but I need you by my side
will you walk with me
or will you leave me behind?

What if I am okay
but I still need your hand
will you give me courage
or will you leave me as I am?

What if I just need you
without any reason
but I’m scared to admit
will you walk away
or
will you stay for a bit?

Cover picture from Pixel

Poem from ‘Curing My Venom

I’m drowning

Sometimes I get scared
and I don’t know why
but I want you to embrace me
and tell me it’s alright.

Because I trust you
more than I believe in myself
maybe because you become an anchor
when I’m crying for help.

Just don’t ever let me go
or the pieces joining me will shatter
tell me I am important
because I feel like I don’t matter.

I need you to praise me
and tell me what I am worth
because my mind is in chaos
and I feel like a curse.

Please don’t say anything
that will bring me down
because in this cruel sea
you’re the reason I haven’t yet drowned.

I’m not drowning. I think?

Poetry book: Curing My Venom
Read it for free on booksprout (limited time)

Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels

Please don’t be Muslim!

Another shooting …

‘Please don’t be Muslim’
the thought echoes in my mind
the man was white
but Muslims in a mosque have died.
For a moment there’s relief
at least people won’t blame hijabs and beards
at least when I walk down the street
I won’t be feared.

But as the thought sinks in
and I go through the news
the shooter wasn’t a terrorist
but an angelic soul who was lost
and didn’t know what to do.
He had a troubled past
and more excuses will be thrown
Muslims are an issue
let’s finish this problem
by using guns and drones.

I hate myself for thanking God
that the shooter wasn’t someone of my kind
but why should it matter who killed
because at the end innocent people have died.

As a Muslim, I’m not only a danger
but now I’m in danger as well
why fear the universe
when the world has become a living hell?

Because of a few
we all have to pay a price
if I could take off my skin and my ethnicity
I promise I wouldn’t think twice.

Maybe if I was a few shades lighter
or maybe if I altered the way I dress
the world would be accepting
and I wouldn’t be oppressed.

At first, I was scared of walking down the street
because I was afraid people would blame me for the bloodshed
now I’m terrified someone would come
and shoot me because of this thing I’m wearing on my head

We’ve closed our borders
our hearts and now our eyes
we’re offended by brand names
by celebrities
but not when someone dies.

Those people in that mosque
in that school
in that church
in that club
in that train
in that state
they all died because of someone else’s hate.

I’m not disappointed
none of us are
we’ve become immune to all this fuss
in a few days
we’ll forget everything that’s happening around us.

We’ll morn for a few days
and we’ll walk and crowd the streets
Then after a few months
we’ll watch this vicious cycle repeat.

But why should it matter if someone is
Hindu,
Sikh,
Christian,
Buddhist,
Muslim
or Jew
why can’t we just exist
without dividing the world
between me and you

‘We need stricter gun laws
regulations
marches
and prayers to solve this issue.
but maybe….
a little Humanity would do the job too.

Why you and why not me?

Why you and why not me?
Why?

Because you have Eden
flowing from the tips of your fingers
and I have nothing but despair.

You have the stars lightening your way
in a galaxy breeding with night
and I have nothing but darkness.

You have flowers blooming
from all your wounds
and I have nothing but bundles of pain.

You have showers of love
dripping on you from above
and I am aching for a salve.

You have a beautiful journey
with roads sprinkled in roses
and I have pathways littered with thorns.

You have everything
and I have nothing

Why?
Why you and why not me?

Picture from Pexels

Poetry book out ‘Curing my Venom