Syeda Namayah Fatima Hussain
My head tucked in the crevice of her knees
like a creeper round its roots,
I trace the fading lines on her palm,
more wrinkles than geometry now,
Speaking volumes of two different lands
in a language River Indus only truly gets;
Fate of her life is governed by lines
akin to palmistry rules,
The predictions written by men on a map
etched deep in border ink,
So fingers intertwined I look into her eyes
one thing amidst Kohl halos lingers alone;
Dupatta on her head perches unmoving
parting the silver into a clear half,
Reminiscent of her two origins so close yet so far
Lucknow and Karachi are torn by barbs,
I witness a flower wilt right in front with no wish
but of a folklore from back home;
She sits in front displaying numerous tiny scars
not even turmeric could heal
Her pain of being torn between two countries
belonging to each,
Why, I wonder, though I feel a pining of the very same?
Was it rubbed with oil infused with jasmine in my stream?
Or was it whispered with familial secrets along the kitchen sink?
Did the cut her bangle gave me mix my blood with my foremothers’ voice?
Or did the lullabies she sing from the palang seep into my soul?
It becomes hard to choose with ethnicity still a
A past becomes present; craved.
Illustration by Dhanashree Pimputkar