by Aftab Yusuf Shaikh
She wanted to know what was
Frustration, and I murmured
to myself, she knows not
what burden it is to feel the
heart beat and yet keep it quiet
lest it may speak out her name.
She had heard insomnia somewhere
some song some place random-where,
and my nights laughed at me which
painfully were spent poisoned
with her thoughts, with the drooping lids
of the biggest culprit of the human body,
the eyes, yes more than the heart,
which though merely is just a pump,
people attribute everything in their lives
despite knowing, it is nothing but what? A Pump.
Helplessness sounded so heavy
on the tongue, she said, and I knew
what that word meant,
because my life which flew like a river
was now a narrow gutter full of bumps
and all because of this tiny
beast of innocence,
I couldn’t say what I wanted to,
just because I was scared people would say
what they wanted.
How funny was the word embarrassed,
she said, jolly faced,
and I said of her, in my heart-
the mole on her cheek,
which she is embarrassed by,
is the centre of my universe.
The Hindi ‘one’ was so strange in English,
‘Right, sir?’ she asked me about ache,
and I thought at that not of the
arthritis I so often hear about,
not of the toothache she had two weeks back,
I merely though of the one in my heart
and how that resident was causing an ache
and how brutally my heart shall break
when she clears her exams and
comes to me with a box of sweets
making it known to me,
I was no longer of use to her.
I taught her the entire English language
and yet kept
the four-letter word out of syllabus.
Aftab Yusuf Shaikh has been writing for more than a decade in English and Urdu. His works have been featured in anthologies around the world including Before We Have Nowhere to Stand and Overplay/Underdone. His works range from haiku and micro-fiction to long serialized poems and ghazals in English.