1. Your absence will be the death of me.
because it was eid yesterday
and you called.
and hearing your voice was no less seducing
than Mozart’s fortieth symphony.
there’s a plot in forming to kill my kind
and i myself am fading out fast.
we need to meet.
did you know if you stay hungry long enough,
your brain cells start to cannibalize themselves?
just like how the longer I stay away from you,
the more my skin sheds itself.
*bati naye dureer choun zarayi baal maraeyo
kya kar thotham zar zarayi baal maraeyo
and it was eid yesterday
because you called.
and listening to your voice was no less
sweeter than my mother’s sheer khorma.
because it’s been forty days since you left
and your absence has not yet left me.
i could have saved us, I tried
but isn’t it easier to break than carry
the whole grief-stricken universe on your spine?
don’t millions of stars, in millions of galaxies,
carrying clouds of melancholy on their
surface, carrying howls of millions of
creatures, break too? don’t people make
wishes on their plight? isn’t that easier?
i’ll tell you something.
doesn’t need to be written.
it has no purpose, no message,
no call for revolution.
it makes no promises for a better
future. it lacks firmness, maybe even
structure. and the world right now
needs ones that do.
we need them too.
that’s what i sat down to write at first too
because it’s been forty days and that is
the allowed time to mourn a loss
but then you called yesterday
and read to me
Rasul Mir’s ghazals
and i rolled back into the comfort of my
shady, cowardly cocoon.
your absence will be the death of me.
2. I'll keep them still
your ribs are too shaky to hold on to your heart.
you carry it on your palms instead.
you give it to the boy you liked in 9th standard
and never ask it back, now
there’s a heart-shaped hole in your chest
that keeps on growing
until you’re hollow inside,
your bones devoid of marrow.
you’re thus ready to take flight among the blackbirds
in the sky.
only that the wings that ruptured out of your spine
are too heavy with all the hurt
that your body couldn’t contain.
your love is contagious. it grows on me
like vines of jasmine on a fence - beautiful on the outside,
therapeutic on the inside. but so is your sadness.
it flows from your hands to my hands
(can hands carry sadness?)
as easily as light passes through cracks, or
electricity lights up a bulb. it corrodes me from inside,
cracking my ribs, hollowing my bones,
filling up the wings. and yet i don’t stop it.
i don’t stop it because matters of the heart
are not so easily restrained. and besides what am i without it?
i’d cease to exist the moment i could no longer carry it
inside my veins.
my ribs are too shaky to hold on to my heart.
i give it to you instead and never ask it back.
now there’s a heart-shaped hole in my chest
that keeps on growing until i’m hollow inside,
my bones devoid of marrow.
i’m thus ready to take flight alongside you in the sky.
only that your wings are too heavy.
and there’s no sky to fly to without you.
3. I write poems that I know you won’t read
i see oceans in your eyes, their tides
blinding your vision and i see stars;
those huge spheroids of plasma, leaking
hydrogen and helium out of your pupils and
i see pain sneaking up to them and holes,
darker than the pits beneath your eyelids,
running up towards them, ready to suck out
all the seven
(or seven thousand)
at the back
of your retina.
i want to hold you.
you, who opened suns in my heart,
i want to hold you together.
i want to show you all that is good
out there. the window of your room
is a liar. there are not just static houses
and silent neighborhoods and strangers
driving cars. there are
little oysters holding hands, the only form
of love they know. and kittens scratching
and screaming at their owners all day, only
to come running back to their laps in the evening.
and there are seas, vast oceans that do not
blind. that kiss your feet once, twice and until
you stop counting and until you see all the frowns
on your forehead drowning in their waters.
there are stars that do not leak and just twinkle
in the sky for millions of people to look at them
and explore universes within and without.
there are also holes that send white rabbits
in search of little girls and bring them to
i want to show you all of this but the clock
is ticking and darkness is approaching and
i am moving towards oblivion like
the milky way towards andromeda and
i am degrading.
my brain forgets to sync the hypothalamus
with memories and the hypothalamus, in
revenge, forgets to produce dozens of
hormones emptying me of feelings. serotonin, endorphins, dopamine,
pain, anger, happiness, love.
and so instead, i write.
i write poems that i know you won’t
read and i expect both of us to heal and
i know neither of us does.
but again, when i see those oceans
in your eyes, i long for this night to end
and bring a day when i get to read these to you
while you keep a count on the number
of times the waves kiss your feet.
Mahlaqa Batool is a 21-years-old poet from Srinagar who navigates the loneliness of young adulthood by reading poems and novels and writings words her mouth can never speak.
*bati naye dureer choun zarayi is a poem by Rasool Mir
* Photograph Courtesy: Anderson Rodriguez