Poems, Stories, Thoughts

Pastiche of Fabrics

I had always thought this world was beautiful… wait, it has always been… but what kind of beautiful world it is when people act like they understand us when they actually don’t? What happens when this form of false understanding becomes the basis of our relationships with people, even the closest ones like our families? When we say, “I completely understand”, do we… really? Our experiences are personal and can only be understood by us. The articulation of our own experiences are just mere representations. The use of the language binds us to an arbitrary system of squiggles, strokes, marks and random sounds to explain our feelings of pain, happiness, sadness, anger, confusion, jealousy and anxiety. How can just a word like “anxiety” encapsulate the understanding of how anxious I am feeling? Even if you experienced anxiety, how can you understand my anxiety when I experience it completely different from yours? The reality we live in are like a pastiche of fabrics made up of these misunderstandings that we believe to be true. But no one complains, because they were never destructive to begin with. What is the reality of humans then? We humans yearn for companionship, love and connection. We are social beings. No matter how much we want to be left alone, our minds seek for conversations, like how we speak to ourselves when deciding on what to eat for dinner. Loneliness is hurting. You listening to my rant even when I know you don’t identify with my experiences is liberating. And I think this is what makes life beautiful because we humans try our best in our struggles, love, hate, differences, frustration and stress to sew humanity together. Our unity is never innate. We are stitched together by the threads of humanity that loop our lives into the social fabric that we react to everyday.

This effort is beautiful.

Humanity is beautiful.

– Parveen Maghera

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Stories

The Tea Stall

The wind howled eerily and the leaves of trees rustled vigorously outside. It sounded as though it was raining, but it wasn’t. The only window of the room lost against the strength of the wind as it crashed open, sending a jolt to the young boy who was sleeping on the hard, cold gravel flooring. Dust, sand and scraps of white paint from the ceiling above littered around him. He looked over to his younger sister who was shivering, hands cupped between her thighs. He pushed his woollen blanket towards her and tucked her in, then hugged her tightly thereafter, embracing in each other’s warmth for another fifteen minutes. “Thank you Fawad bhai[1],” his sister whispered in a mumble as she yawned back to sleep. The young boy slowly loosened his embrace and stood up to make his way to the window sill.

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Stories, Thoughts

An Effort In Vain

He entered the living room and stood at the door, feeling proud as ever.

“Mother, I am a man now,” he confidently confessed, his hands on his hips, imitating his grandfather who stood poised in style, staring down at every member of the family from above the fireplace, as though his intense gaze could penetrate and break the glass of the photo frame.

“What did you do son?” His mother questioned, with a tinge of neglect in her voice as she busied herself with her half-knit sweater. She stopped for a moment, realising she had not heard a reply from her son. She looked up and he was standing there, now staring at her, arms crossed. She turned and looked up at her father-in-law.

“Those same eyes, full of rage,” she calmly replied. “Is there anything you would like to say? I’m still waiting for you to tell me what you did my love.”

“If you could at least give me 60 seconds of your time?” Her son grumbled.

His mother sighed, kept her knitting tools into the box and pushed it under the table.

“There you go. Speak.”

“I kicked a boy, swore at him, teased a girl. I did it. I am a man!” he confessed.

His mother looked at him calmly.

“Since when did kicking a boy, swearing at him and teasing a girl made you the ‘man’ that you speak of?”

Her son frowned.

“Isn’t it that? Isn’t that what a man should be?”

“How on earth did you think of that?” His mother stood up angrily.

“I don’t understand your anger mother, nor anybody’s!” He cried. “If I wore a skirt and stole your lipstick, you slapped my face and told me to be a man! I asked you why I found myself being pulled to Jerry, you said it’s brotherly love but I know what brotherly love is and it’s not that. But you said it is. When you read in my diary that I wanted to hug and kiss Jerry, you slapped my face again and screamed I’m not being a man. And when I just did what a man does, why are you still angry with me?”

“No man does what filth you did son!”

“Then what is father? Isn’t he a man? He does that all the time! That is what a man is, isn’t it?”

His mother began to weep.

“I don’t understand this. I want to be like you mother, dress like you, sit like you, eat like you, talk like you but you force me to be like father, I don’t know what is going on, who am I? Am I even a son?”

His mother wiped a tear and looked at her child. “You will be one soon, just keep trying.” She turned and walked away.

He left the house in slow draggy steps with his head down low.

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Stories

Let It Go – Chapter Five

Here’s chapter five of Let It Go! Read chapter one, two, three and four if you haven’t!

FIVE

WINTER 1996

 The knock on the door jolted her out of her seat.

“Lady!” Dan bellowed.

She jumped, and hid her books and the letter under the mattress.

“What are you doing in there?” He snapped. “I know you are in there. Don’t hide.”

She quickly pulled her sweatshirt over her tank top and moved forward to open the door.

He stood there tall, towering over while she dipped her head low, clenching her fists behind her. He shifted his weight to the right while he rested his right arm on the doorframe. Bending closer to her, he whispered in her ear.

“I missed you.”

She shut her eyes real tight, and stammered. “P..ple.please leave me alone. Please.”

He pushed her into the room with his body and locked the door behind him.

***

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Stories

He Was Martyred

He told me he’d come home early and cook dinner for us. He was very excited just the night before. Humaira burst out into a laughing fit at dinner table, “You cannot cook bhai jaan!”

He smiled and replied, “I’ll show you tomorrow. I’ll be better than you!”

He made a list of ingredients right after dinner, which he forbade me from taking a look, let alone peek.

“No ahmi jaan! It’s a surprise!” He kept on saying as he hugged his notepad to his chest and tapped the pencil on his study table.

I continued to observe him.

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Stories

Two Red Balloons

The little boy walks up to his grandmother.

“Grandma, may I have two pennies please?”

Grandma frowns and snaps at him, “What do you need them for?”

The boy takes a step back and bites his lips. He looks down to the floor.

“I want to buy two red balloons,” he says softly.

“For whom?” Grandma questions sternly.

“For you,” he says.

Grandma turns her body towards him and frowns harder.

“And what would an eighty-year-old woman do with two red balloons?”

The boy looks up and smiles.

“You forgot again Grandma.”

“What did I forget?”

“Eighty-one, Grandma. Not eighty.”

Grandma’s frown disappears. She stares at her grandson whose eyes were gleaming in delight. He steps forward and grabs his grandmother’s hand, and whispers, “————….

She suddenly jolts awake. She looks around the bedroom. The glistening sun bathes the room, casting a hard shadow of her wooden chair on the floor. But the shadow looks different. She frowns and rings the bell.

“Rise and shine Mrs Hudson,” the nurse greets as she enters the bedroom. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

Mrs Hudson slowly lifts her arm and points her frail fingers towards the shadow on the floor, and asks in a faint voice, “What’s that on my chair?”

The nurse smiles and walks over. She holds her hand.

“He was here this morning but he didn’t let me wake you.”

Mrs Hudson looks at the nurse, confused.

“Hold on a second,” the nurse says.

She carries the chair and places it in front of the bed. Mrs Hudson’s eyes widen and a slight grin appears across her face, but her smile got wider each second.

“My little boy was here!” She exclaims.

“Oh no no Mrs Hudson. He’s a handsome teenager now.”

Mrs Hudson gives a hearty laughter.

“No you silly girl! He’ll remain my little boy forever, even when he gets his own little boy.”

“Well well, alright,” the nurse crosses her arms. “I’ll get you some tea.”

“Wait!” Mrs Hudson calls out. “There is a card. Pass it over.”

The nurse slips the card into Mrs Hudson’s hands and leaves to prepare tea. Mrs Hudson slowly opens the envelope and takes out a piece of paper.

Happy birthday Grandma. I hope you remember it’s your birthday today. You’re 95 years old. Five more years to make a century, ey? By the way, you owe me two pennies for those two red balloons on your chair. I’ll be there tonight. Do get ready! 

Love,

Your little boy ❤

 

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Stories

Let It Go – Chapter Four

Here’s chapter four of Let It Go! Read chapter onetwo and three if you haven’t.

FOUR

AUTUMN 1996

It’s my birthday today. And I haven’t received a single wish in two years. Well, who else knew about my birthday apart from my parents? Maybe they are secretly wishing me, from wherever they are but the truth is, it’s not the same at all.

I yearn for someone to talk to. I yearn for love. But all I get is hatred. Disgust. Loathe. Lust. I’ve just turned 15. And I’m writing this letter to rid my pain, physically and mentally. It’s very dark here, in the cellar. I can hear footsteps above me. It’s very cold. My legs are shivering. The candle is still lit, but only enough to give me light to write this.

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