Prose

In your most frail gesture

BY: SHAHZEB NAJAM, M.B.B.S., BATCH XVIII I saw a patient today. He had Parkinson’s. Tremors, shuffling gait — the works. His wife was with him. She was old, too. I opened the door and helped him into the room and stood by him to steady him. And then his wife came […]

via  In your most frail gesture — The Ziauddin University Atlas Blog

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Poetry

The Moor’s Last Sigh 

When I cock my ear

I hear tunes that come from far away,

from the past,

from other times,

from hours that are no longer

and from lives that are no longer. 

Perhaps our lives

are made of music. 

On the day of resurrection,

my eyes will open again in Seville. 

Boabdil, the last king of Muslim Spain 

The Moors ruled Spain for seven hundred years 

and you ruled my heart for seven. On moonless 

nights, ghosts alight, and dream of Andalusia, 

Andalusia…

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Poetry

There Was Something There, In That

There was something there, in that, 

he said. In that night on the roof 

with the meat glistening golden as 

it turned above the great fires. And 

how we tore into the soft meat and 

sat back from the carnage; satisfied, 

spent. There was something there, in 

that, he said. In that walk, too, 

through the dusty park to the dhaba 

and the warm cups of milky tea. And 

how we took the long way home. 

Afterwards, I started up the car and 

we drove back there again. There were 

no stars that night and the dhaba was 

closed. But in the alley between, a 

man quietly fried parathas by the light 

of a little flame. And though it wasn’t 

that, there was something there, in that, 

too.

  

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Thalassa 

For Prof. Dr. M. N. Shabbir, F.R.C.S.(Ed.)

A small clinic by the sea. Fans whir

lazily against the hot Karachi summer.

Most of the fishermen are here out of

curiosity. One day, yes, they will build

me a model ship with the lights and the

little toy soldiers holding their little

green flags just as they once did for

my father. The sun sets, then, and we

close up for the day and lay down our

two red steths. We sit on the roof, yes,

with our warm cups of doodh-patti and

talk of Attar and his thirty birds. And

it is like being alive twice. Meanwhile,

yes, the old, old stars rise over the old,

old seas.

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Poetry

Magellan

They sat in silence, watching night fall over the brambles. A flock of distant animals could be heard on the horizon, and a woman’s inconsolable voice calling them by name, one by one, until it was dark.

Gabriel García MárquezOf Love and Other Demons

They say Magellan once dreamt of Maccu Picchu,

burning in the moonlight and an orphan-king who

roamed the forsaken streets with a broken crown

as his tears mingled with the lashing rain. They say

Magellan never awoke from that dream and spent

the rest of his life searching for the ruined city. On

the night before his death, they say he scribbled a

last entry into his journal. Somewhere in South

America, he wrote, an orphan-king wed an orphan-queen

and they were orphans no more. They lived in great

happiness and their rule was just and wise. But the

conquistadors came one day and took gold and took

slaves and left him with a broken crown and a broken

heart and not much else. He wandered the desolate

ruins under the strange stars until one rainy night his

sanity tripped over the edge of an endless abyss. He

ventured into the jungle, then, and the great beasts

all ran from the madness of the orphan-king. On moonless

nights, Magellan wrote, even now I can hear his footsteps

echo in that strange dream-city and my soul shall find

no rest until I wander its lonely streets. In my search for

this city I have spent the riches of a thousand kingdoms

and I would spend the riches of a thousand more. I can

not breathe, I can not eat, I am neither here nor there. I

am the yearning in your tired, tired soul on sleepless nights,

he wrote, when all your desires melt away save

one.

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Haunted

As darkness falls 

the heart yearns for something known

once

now gone forever. 

Old memories of 

old, old friends 

and 

old, old loves

now gone forever. 

And something else, too — 

they’d meet every night

the whole gang

at the haunted house at the end of lane.

They did that for five summers straight

drunk on summer wine

and the summer night

and being fifteen in that city by the sea

until one day 

someone bought the haunted house at the end of the lane.

They all just sort of stood there for a while 

watching the stars shine above the new wall and the new gate. 

He was the last one to leave.

When the others asked him

later

he did not tell them of seeing Chronos 

a-sitting on the gate

or of Thanos

wheeling in the star-studded sky. 

He only smiled and

shook his head and

put his arms about them.

They walked off towards Alamgir

and the man who sold French fries by the side of the road. 

Behind them, the lane grew dim  

and lost its magic — 

until the next time. 

  

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El Dorado

There are days like these

she says,

and there are days like that.

Days where the ink-and-paper lighthouses you’ve built

sing songs of El Dorado

and all you can do is

listen and learn

hurt and yearn.

Late into the night

our legs dangle over city-streets

watching city-lights

and the aeroplanes

always the aeroplanes.

We hear the sweet sad songs of anonymous traffic

travelling – forever travelling –

on roads that do not stop

by the little, dusty towns

but speed on – forever on –

toward tomorrow.

They put up new floodlights at Hill Park over the weekend

and there are new stars in the sky

winter’s over

they say,

while I shiver from the cold.

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(Kazuo Ishiguro, ‘Nocturnes’)

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side effects

she said
i really missed you today
she said
i wanted to go on an Adventure
But
she said
But
the person i was with was being
Boring.

tonight was
all Foggy
and Mysterious
and just perfect for
Exploring.

i think,
i said
doctors should be allowed to prescribe
an ‘Adventure‘ ©
and ‘Old Friends‘ ©
and ‘Long Meandering Conversations‘ ©
i said.

side effects may include
a ‘Warm Feeling‘ ©
you thought had gone
But
i said
But
it’d been there all along.

i’d
Self Prescribe
and Overdose
on that shit
i said
no matter how unethical it is.

i’m calling the GMC
she said.

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Poetry

Moonsmile

Coffee and cigarettes,
Sufis and saudade:
A moment — or two —
Just one moment — just two —
Snatched greedily from
The dark.

Winter and whiskey,
Andromeda and Orion:
There are ghosts that haunt
My old, old house;
And there are ghosts that haunt
My heart.

Watch the stars and sunsets.
Watch the hourglass recede.
‘May you live and love’,
Said he.
‘Mayflies!’,
Said he.

‘May you live’,
Said he.
‘May you love’,
Said he.
And I did.
I did.

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