The moon hung low; drooped, and surrounded by the wretched howling stars. The soil upon which you tore my heart and soul out, is fertile; like nothing ever happened. The oak trees kill the moonlight spilling on our skin.
Under this Taj Mahal I’ve built for you, we slowly dance to the beat of the future you’ve written out for me. I guess it’s inconvenient that I realise I’m alone and I have spent an entire lifetime making you something beautiful; making you something permanent. When in actual fact you died yesterday; and the day before that; and the day before; and the day before.
Sirens of verses from the holy book alerted me that it was time to leave; to leave home and to commence my pilgrimage for forgiveness. Under the white lights of Pearse Street Train Station, my skin begins to burn. I whisper prayers of contrition under my breath when the sirens start to kill me.
I spoke to God about you.
When I sneak out to inhale the smoke you exhale – a certain calmness slaps life into my cracked lips. Your scent lingers around here slyly, wickedly. I am drawn to you but you make it criminal to worship you.
So if you have anything to ask me, let’s go down to the station and do it under the fluorescent light and I promise you it will not be me who’ll be embarrassed. You can tell them that I love you. Tell them that this is the first time I’ve felt since I opened my wrists in our farmhouse bathtub; since I screamed holy verses of mercy before the imam in the same mosque I said goodbye to my first love.
“We’ve already pumped him full on morphine.”
“What’s happening to him?”
“It’s the pain, nothing’s working.”
“Can’t they do anything to help him?”
“We can put him in a medically induced coma; It’s how we help burn victims deal with the pain.”
You’re cold, even though I gave you my sweatshirt. Your invisible shivers resonate within me and I get that you have pain; I get that you’re hurt. But why can I not help you?
When will you let me tend your wounds with hydrogen peroxide and a wet cloth to soothe your ears with nothing but the tones of my motherland; the plain between the Indus and the Himalayas? The plain in which the sun causes drought but the rain provides comfort.
Come down, soft stars; the midnight twilight gets too cold on lonely nights like these where I miss the pain of keeping her around. Black oceans, deep seas; call my love from the ruins of never ever after.
Forgive me father for I’m about to sin.
Ignite the engine, close your mouth; start breathing and begin crying. Drive away and never come back. Steal your heart and crush it with your heel. Wrap your body in cloth and bathe under the yellow sun. Sink into the soil and eat cotton. Parch your mind, scream for your parents; lay under the palm trees and whither tenderly.
I wake up 25 years later. I’m in my hometown in Northern Pakistan. I see my mother locking the doors of our British-era cottage and I try to turn on the fan; the electricity is out. I look out my bedroom window and I see the glaring, boiling sun piercing the dying grass. It’s midday. Everyone is asleep.
I have fasted from dawn to dusk for the past sixty days, swallowed myself whole and pierced my eardrums with chants from the holy book. I have begged and screamed for forgiveness and cleaned my body water from a bucket.
I enter my bathroom. The walls are panelled with oak and dusty Persian rugs are spread over the floor: the blinds are closed, the lights are off. A porcelain tub laughs across from me, understanding that the time has come: He mocks me and whispers an Urdu curse into my ears.
I turn on both taps.
I let the water run and sit in the tub. The broken liquid glass pours onto my legs and soon enough cover my legs. I begin to laugh, and begin to cry; I begin to drink. Twenty five years swirling in the end of this bottle; half empty and consumed alone. Because I prefer my edges blurred when I hide in the grey area between Dream and Reality. The water reaches my chest.
I turn the taps off.
“I want us to be friends, if you’re cool with that.”
I’m sorry if I drove you away.
“Hey, gosh yeah you’re rambling but it’s okay. I understand that it can be confusing. I’ve never been drunk like that. I know we vibed pretty hard. But at the same time, we’re both a mess.”
I have found the antichrist in your words. My existence has become an endless maze and everytime I think I’ve figured out my way, I end up cradled in your words and the emotions only you make me feel.
The fingernails heat when I’m reminded of you. You shoot my brain everyday; my repressed memories are written in the sea and the sky. I drown in the state you’ve left me in. Years have passed, and I think about you almost every everyday. You cut off my limbs and no matter who I see, what I feel and what I want – I am chained to you.
Why is it that all of these thoughts and feelings still make me want to scream “I didn’t mean for anything to happen”; why is it that I see you behind me when I look in the mirror every morning. You never forgave me for the things I never did to you. You never said “I’m sorry.”
My mother told me once, bloodied and beaten, that Allah puts love into our hearts. And once you encounter love, the heart begins beating: for you, and only you.
The sun is setting, and I bring back a wheelbarrow of soil. The empty ceramic bowls, waiting for the birth of buds; the birth of spring; the birth of a new life.
I spend the night sowing seeds and filling pots.
“I planted for you 100 flowers”
You smile, and you say nothing. You walk away into the summer, and leave me in the spring.
I look forward, and I see you praying to the Lord.
I lay for sujood and your anthem echoes the halls of this empty masjid. My limbs are glued to the floor and my soul begins to levitate. My bones are softening and your skin is cracking. I begin crying; I begin screaming, water gushes in through all the windows and my body begins to drown. My black shadow soul watches my body resist, watches it fight and then watches it fall down: watches it give up.
I look forward, and there you are – you stand at on the golden altar. I scream verses of the holy Quran to fend you off, but you laugh at the fact that my eyes are inverting and deteriorating. White shadows encompass you, and soon enough, you leave.
I look forward, and I see you letting go of me.
Today; everyday: I sing for forgiveness. My knees bent and hands above my head – I call for you, and you. But they are lowering me, shrouding me in white linen and whispering the divine verses of mercy. They lower me into an earth I don’t know anymore.
An earth into where I slowly realise that I cannot press your chest into mine. But even under the earth, I stumble over your rarely recited contrition.
The call to the funeral prayer. The Maghrib boom. Afghania is engulfed in dusk; Pakhtunkhwa is falling asleep.