In my bed,
Holding my finger.
In my bed,
Holding my finger.
Sun rains down not kindly.
I plough through life as not me
‘Cause you love not me.
Authors note: A Haiku is a three-line Japanese poetry with 5,7,5 syllables. It contains a reference to nature.
Tiny tailor bird stitches leaves together.
Soon she’ll have a full house.
Jealous, I hold tiny boots close,
to heart empty as my nest.
Dipping toes in the river,
I’ll never drown, never swim, never live,
While you call me from far shore.
Your arms curl around me
I snuggle content, hoping to die before
waking to find you gone.
A Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with 5, 7, 5 syllable combination. Usually, all lines are independent with a least one reference to nature/seasons.
Author’s note: This is my first attempt at first line stories. The first line of the story was suggested by Fraggle. Thank you, FR. I hope it loves up to your expectations.
The death of the goldfish is the last straw.
My tail is twitching with agitation. I want to kill Gilly. I’ve been telling her since day one not to overfeed Goldy but she’s been constantly offering him treats for tricks when she thought I wasn’t looking. And now as I return from work, Goldy floating sideways in water, eyes closed, close to the cove roof while Gilly is looking at me sheepishly from the far corner, waiting for the sharp rebuke that is sure to come. The weight of the life lost is coming down on my shoulders making it difficult to stand.
I can’t always keep an eye on her. I’m a single mother with a job to keep. Apart from my regular job at the Shell and Pearls art shop, I work three nights a week at the Oceans One Disco to pay for Gilly’s tution. So, she’s alone after study hours. I adopted Goldy, hoping he’d give her the much needed company. I hadn’t considered if, without adult supervision, my young daughter would be able to keep him alive…
I sit down heavily on the ancient coral reef seat that once belonged to my great-grandmother. How did my mother manage to raise me and her mother before her, since none of our fathers—the stranded sailors—stayed long enough for us to grow up. They’d rather catch the first ship back home. But in those times, mermaids raised their children together in large schools so there was always someone elderly to take care of the young ones while mothers foraged for food and wannabe mothers foraged for sailors. I remember clearly the hours I had spent hanging around in open ocean with friends and elderly mermaids, learning how to sing, dance and read. I had a happy childhood.
But now, as the city of Atlantis grows to the outskirts and unfamiliar faces become a common sight, it isn’t safe to leave behind our children out in the open. So, schools are limited to a few hours a day with classes held in closed rooms, and children are sent back to empty homes to fend for themselves. Gilly has to spend uncountable hours alone and I had believed a pet would make her happy. He did too as her constant companion and friend. But now, he’s gone, and I’m not sure I’ll risk another life again.
A deep sadness settles in the pit of my stomach. Goldy wasn’t just a fish; he was family. He was my responsibility too—another one I failed at. Should I rebuke Gilly for being a careless owner? But she must also be grieving…
I look at her and am greeted with expectant eyes. I open my arms to Gilly and beckon her to me. She shouts with glee, “Didn’t I tell you, Goldy, she loves me too,” as she swims in my lap, and Goldy rushes forward to join her, leaving the play-dead act behind.
I roll my eyes to show I amn’t affected by their little drama, but my heart throbs happily, beating a steady rhythm against my chest, trying to drive away the memories of ancient pain.
In days of yore, a young lass
pretty as pretty could be,
her tresses gilted in gold,
azure eyes sparkled with glee.
At age, her parents invited
men from places far and neigh,
she slept assured true love will
find her in her reverie.
Years passed unaccounted for.
No one broke her thousand winks.
No prince ever came for her.
Parents crossed the rainbow bridge.
Their once pretty girl–with grey hair,
clouded eyes and sagging skin–
died in her sleep…
I wish she’d done something, instead.
You said “I do” but you didn’t,
Inception of love eternal lost in the forbidden,
Love unrequited wishes still
For chances endless until you return.
Qubool kar be hua nhi. Irshad kho gya zina me kahi.
Teri ashanai me hume fir bhi musalsal mukarrar ka hi irada h.
Author’s note: An English Quatrain (verse with four lines) translated into Urdu Sher (couplet)
mourning the one
who deserted ruined garden,
Jinki yaad me shazar pe gulo ne ugna chood diya,
Unhi ne hikarat se sunsaan gulistaa chhod diya.
Author’s note: A Lantern (Japanese style of poetry with 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 words) translated in an Urdu sher (couplet). Mine is “nearly a Lantern” because the last line has two words.
My feet were killing me. I had spend yesterday’s Sangeet (Music and Dance) ceremony limping around in two-inch heels. It was as if I was continuously walking downhill. The fear of slipping and falling on my face made me clench my toes and within a few minutes, my calves and feet began complaining. I was the only one at the party who wasn’t able to dance at all.
And today, in a couple of hours, I will be expected to walk to my future husband while wearing these three-inch stiletto monstrocities. My cousins specially ordered these online bacause they loved me and wanted to make my day special. I wish I could stop them but it seems like all my life choices had been taken out of my hands ever since I agreed to marry.
I looked away to think of something else and my eyes rested on my lap, on the appalling red lehenga dress I was wearing—my mother’s choice. The equally red dupatta sat at a distance leering at me waiting for its turn to wrap me in its folds, its golden lace trimming and countless stones winking in the light.
The air of the room reeked of hair spray as the beautician tried to stick my short, spiky hair to my scalp in an attempt to hide my obvious boyishness. The large fake hair bun she had attached to the nape of my neck with a hundred pins was weighing my head down. Soon, she’d cover it with what seemed like half-the-flowershop, and paint my face with primer, concealer, foundation, face powder, face glitter, eye-shadow, kajal, eyeliner, blush, lip-liner, lipstck, an assortment of bindi…
I had a sudden urge to throw on my favourite t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, and run away—if only my feet would stop hurting…
My phone vibrated.
“How are you holding up?”
“I’m running away.”
“Take me with you. They are making me wear a brocade sherwani. I’m melting in the stifling heat.”
“At least, you won’t wear heels.”
“Can you sneak out for a minute?”
“They won’t let me leave the room until they are done painting me.”
“Well, then, I’ll have to do this formally. See you in a minute.”
What was my future husband doing outside my home a couple of hours before our marriage? Why wasn’t he home preparing for the marriage procession? He was the only silver lining in all this craziness—the only guy who didn’t flinch at my obvious boyishness and career choice as a travel guide. What did he want to talk to me about now? Did he change his mind?
A knock on the door brought me out of the reverie. One of my cousins let my groom in, giggling uncontrollably. My parents were tailing him, clearly worried by his sudden appearance two hours before the time and without his family too.
He gave me a smile of comaderie, “So, I was looking at your video from yesterday’s function. I kept waiting for you to dance because your had once said that you loved to, but you just sat there, trying to smile and failing. Then, I realised you will be required to wear something even fancier today…”
I couldn’t understand where he was going with this speech. It didn’t seem like a matter urgent enough for the unexpected visit. However, he came closer and sat down on one knee next to my chair, a shopping bag open next to him. “I decided to be your knight in the shining armour, so you could dance with me today.” He took off the fancy heels from my aching feet, and slid on a pair of sneakers.
Finally freed, I fell in love.
Ab aaye ho? Mujhe dhoondhte jana.
Ek arse se kisi ki yado me gum hu.
So, you’ve finally returned? Find me before you leave again.
For ages, I’ve been lost in someone’s memories.
Author’s note: Sher are couplets in Urdu that tell a complete story.
You told me it was in my best interest–
the yelling, the barely restrained anger.
You told me it was all my fault–
the yelling, the unrestrained anger.
You tell me I deserve it–
before all hell breaks loose
the ground but
winter reigns my
It is slightly stuffy but it is home and I love it. There is a lot of room to walk around and food hangs from the sealing everywhere. It is rather dark for the lack of sunlight, but who needs to see anyway. It is unsafe on the surface, what with all the sunlight and the monsters that roam the earth. I hardly go up except when stormwater floods the tunnels. My life is quiet but safe. It’s a lonely existence but company is overrated.
She wanted a ‘life of adventure’. I had assumed she would see the fault in her ways and return to our molehill. Afterall, who likes to eat from dustbins when they can get fresh roots? But…
Sometimes, I walk to where my tunnel runs beneath the nest she built with an uncouth rat and hear the soft pattering of little feet that are her proginy. Those are the moments when I wonder if a life of adventure wasn’t as bad.
I guess, I’d never find out.
It is a long walk down the aisle. My father holds my hand reassuringly while my mom sobs in the pew. He stands with the pastor looking perfect as ever but I can’t bring myself to smile.
Is it too late to cancel?
Is it wrong to wish for something other than perfection?
I pass by her and, for a second, her entire face lightens up but, then, the lights go out again. Her red-rimmed eyes mirror mine.
Is it too late to cancel?
I picked up the flower that had fallen from her hair. It still held her fragrance.
Ever since she moved here, I followed her around, hoping she would look at me and never look away. Often, I would walk behind her, right past her, in front of her…
But she seemed to look right through me.
Then, this guy came and held her from behind. She squealed in terror. Naturally, I attacked him. But instead of supporting her saviour, she hit me with a stick and called me a ‘stupid bird’! Worse still, she kissed him!
I’ll never love again!
Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash
Something was off.
I could feel it from the moment you walked in our room
on our honeymoon–
something amiss in your face, your eyes, your smile–
I spent the night awake, wondering what it was
and why it mattered.
Every time I thought of you,
I felt it.
Every time you were around me,
I couldn’t find it.
I wondered what was amiss,
and why it mattered enough to give me sleepless nights.
Years later, I found it
in the eyes of another man.
It was Love.
Wanton thoughts pass through mind.
Spring air kisses cheeks leaving desire warm.
Seasons mock, with you gone.
Waiting at the bus stop,
Rain drops pelting from mid night sky,
Drenching bags, veiling the tears.
Walked in with fists tight,
Shouted, cursed, blamed, cried, fell on knees,
Begged for mercy, in church, that night.
Based on the style of Classic Hindi writer, Bihari, known for writing entire story in two lines.