On days where Love is Attention



They tell me that love is attention

So this time,

When I go back home on a morning flight, 

I promise I won't fall asleep. 

Instead, I’ll look out the window, 

My gaze so strong, 

The mountains will be forced to reflect my childhood on the white snow, 

A montage of longing for a home while being home, passing nice and slow, 

I’ll trace the outline of the clouds, 

Tear it and merge it, like my nani’s recipe of sourdough 

But I will add a few step of my own. 

I will allow it the time it needs to grow. 

When the first rays of sun will hit my face, 

I won't close my eyes shut. 

It's alright, because if love is attention, I can do both without blinking till my vision blurs. 

They tell me that love is attention 

So now when I sit with my father 

I calculate the time between his sighs. 

If its less than a minute, 

I look in his weary eyes 

And give him my smile, like a prize. 

He can keep it for as long as he wants, 

But he always returns it. 

No surprise. 

I tell him I could recognize 

The sound of his footsteps outside

 My door every school morning. 

He tells me he still tiptoes when he walks by my room. 


They tell me that love is attention 

So I apologize to my mother

For looking at her and seeing only 

The motherhood in her eyes and not the wrinkles around it. 

For not hearing the clicking of her knees 

And the panting of her breathe, 

Everytime I ask her to find my keys, 

That is always in my own pocket. 

I pay attention to her humming while she does the dishes. 

Songs of her childhood drowned 

By the sound of running water. 

Does she know, 

The decibels of her voice are an inheritance to her daughter? 

Everytime I call her name, 

My voice breaks, 

I gasp for air 

And also an identity. 


They tell me that love is attention 

So I am bound to forgive them 

Because everytime I mention 

Something as simple as 

Maybe I don't feel so well 

My fathers sighs turn into an extension 

Of my mothers childhood songs 

And my mothers redemption 

Turns into a prayer 

A prayer for me to be well. 

They tell me that love is attention 

So now every time 

I see my reflection in a puddle of water 

I don't jump in it. 

I keep standing there for a bit 

To admire the curl of my eyelash 

And the patterns of my skin 

As if they are knit 

With the same care with which 

My nani made sweaters for me. 

I pay attention to my feet when 

They ask me to leave some rooms. 

I don't force my lungs to breathe air 

That I always knew were just fumes 

I stopped offering flowers to shrines 

That turned out to be just tombs. 


They tell me that love is attention 

I pray to God they are right.


My name is Kariha Javaid, I am from Kashmir and currently pursuing my undergrad from Gargi College. The poem I submitted is influenced by a scene from Lady Bird wherein they say that maybe love and attention are the same thing.

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