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 […]
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,
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,
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,
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 Márquez, Of 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
As darkness falls
the heart yearns for something known
now gone forever.
Old memories of
old, old friends
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
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.
There are days like these
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
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 –
They put up new floodlights at Hill Park over the weekend
and there are new stars in the sky
while I shiver from the cold.
(Kazuo Ishiguro, ‘Nocturnes’)
i really missed you today
i wanted to go on an Adventure
the person i was with was being
and just perfect for
doctors should be allowed to prescribe
an ‘Adventure‘ ©
and ‘Old Friends‘ ©
and ‘Long Meandering Conversations‘ ©
side effects may include
a ‘Warm Feeling‘ ©
you thought had gone
it’d been there all along.
on that shit
no matter how unethical it is.
i’m calling the GMC
Coffee and cigarettes,
Sufis and saudade:
A moment — or two —
Just one moment — just two —
Snatched greedily from
Winter and whiskey,
Andromeda and Orion:
There are ghosts that haunt
My old, old house;
And there are ghosts that haunt
Watch the stars and sunsets.
Watch the hourglass recede.
‘May you live and love’,
‘May you live’,
‘May you love’,
And I did.