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Crying in the Women-only Coach and other poems by Isha Kazmi


poems by Isha Kazmi

We're speeding past against the Sun


We have visited a few dying patients together,

Mother and I.

It's now an unspoken agreement between us.

The symptoms are almost always the same

the same preoccupation with times that never existed for us

lingering on to a place these creatures have irrevocably outgrown


you see, what really happens

the fear of death jolts you one day when you're not paying attention

an uninvited guest

an old acquaintance you'd been avoiding for long


and before you know it,

you’re being handed out in numbers

parceled into facts you cannot decipher

diagnosed with insidious flowers creeping up your lungs

your life becomes a cryptic document

tossed around by well-meaning friends, neighbors,

people such as mother and I


We speed past against the sun,

against all we’ve known.

Secretly complacent with ourselves.

Aware that we are very much alive

on this warm September afternoon.



We must create a language of our own


as this one seems ill-equipped for when

my eyes just happen to meet your eyes in a room full of friendly strangers


Where all of your 'how are you's would humbly meet my 'fine'

even after stumbling between all that is worse and better


We must, must create a language of our own

for when your voice dies with a quivering "you know what I mean?"

and a word from my end reaches like a hand in the dark

I do, I do,

I understand all that you mean.



Crying in the ‘Women-only’ coach


Love is hand-delivered to me

in the heavy weight of a warm blanket

Placed lightly and unassumingly by father


And my heart aches with all the love it cannot contain


Sometimes I go a full month

with just one look of love tossed my way

Believing that the world survives on this-

crumbs of love silently handed out by embarrassed strangers



Moving into an Apartment


"I’m moving out holding tombstones in my hands."

- Vacating an Apartment, Agha Shahid Ali


I am moving in

Cradling the infantile hopes of making my time worthwhile


pacifying a 7-month-old electricity bill,

transactions of someone's passing love,

legal certificates tying down a torturous continuum between birth and death.

Most of this life is just accumulating things,

hoarding supermarket receipts you no longer need.


I look around and wonder

why we are forced to occupy so much of space

for this fleeting presence


Austen and Dickens peer from a corner,

Rising from a humble stack of dated existences

Politely begging to be accommodated somewhere


As if marking an evidence of my presence here

In this vacant apartment

In this isolated blue globe

A living proof that I'd been here,

momentarily


That I had once again treasured the receipt

for a full jar of pickles I no longer need.



3:26


The night gradually spirals down

into a sudden abyss of revelation

As we lie down, holding our breaths,

both agreeing that it's an exceedingly haunting affair,

This life.


It was only last month, the same time

When a mother next door died


How beautiful it is, how obscene,

at any given second any of us in this room could die


"But mothers aren't supposed to die, are they?

They are to be stationed at our disposal-within a hand's reach

Mothers are meant to live forever.."


The night suddenly springs out on us

Like the ghost of unrequited love

ecstasy envelopes our limbs

until we're held hostage by a paralyzing love

for our lives together


the night is prying

on our last moments of lucidity

before the routine swabs us clear off of tonight's memories

drugged up on caffeine as we would be in the morning,

running into a colleague in the corridor

and bouncing off the "how is it going?" gesture

with a death stare,

exclaiming, in spite of ourselves--

"It’s an exceedingly haunting affair, indeed.

This life".


 

Isha Kazmi is a recent English literature graduate from Miranda House and an incoming Master's student in Convergent Journalism at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia. With an unwavering passion for communication and the art of storytelling, writing—both creative and academic—fascinates her.

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