Gulqand

Gulqand

Wrapped between the betel quid,
Sticky sweet roses fade,
Aromatic and fresh,
Yet their own colour has bled.
Lying between slaked lime
To cut a tongue into an ulcer
And the brown earth of kathaa.
Stuffed between the cheeks
Of a lecher or haseena;
Or that of a couple
From a cheap cinema.
The pure
And innocent rose petals
Immortalised and
Confined
In a cheap green tavern bed;
Trapped and tainted innocence.

Hafsa Siddiqui

 

Advertisements

The Shopping Basket

The Shopping Basket

 

Stretched before a bustling supermart;
Busy people, busy lives.
Shopping for food and supplies;
A single woman
With empty hands, cries.
With money scarce
And love scarcer.
With words abound
But emptiness abundant,
She looks at families
With tearful eyes.
Shopping carts full
Of brand new toys,
Maybe a rack of lamb
To roast for the kids.
Chips and veggies
For the family dinner.
And then she looks at
Her own single servings.
Half a kilo, at max
Of everything.
Enough to last a week.
Her eyes span, again
On the horizon cast.
Toddlers in the aisles
Picking up stuffed toys
And with tantrums hoist.
Two little tears
Make eyes moist.
Eyes look down to her
Grocery Basket,
And with her lips
Escape the sighs.
She remembers well
Her siblings’ fights
Good natured
After awhile that reconciled.
But gone are the days
She weeps alone.
No shoulders
To rest her weary crown on.
Loneliness; has finally
Found home.

 

Hafsa Siddiqui

Karachi

“Karachi”

Who travels by tram
In the old city
Of Karachi?
The ancient tracks bearing
Trash amidst
A dilapidated locality.
Wafting through
The waves of stink
The tracks
Speak a silent history
Of the old bustle of life.
Where life was valued
And things not left to ruins.
Yellow bricked buildings
Of the Victorian era
Were still cared for.
White sheets hung out to dry…
Narrow balconies in
The Saddar area,
Probably didn’t leak water
Of dubious origins;
Whether it is from the water tankee
Or used and filthy;
Cascading over urban terrains
Reaching your being
As you had to trudge along your destination.
The urban geography
Still had parks and clearings
Where children would play cricket
Without fear of breaking a window pane;
Before they disappear to escape the offence
And subsequent financial strain
Incurred by an angry neighbour.
But my city, is still breathing and alive…
It bears the scars and ruins of the splendor
Where once the octagenerians thrived.
The city of Edhi and his dedicated wife,
The city of philanthropists;
The city that houses many tribes
Foreigners and locals
From Afghanis to Bengalis
And the migrants from all tides.
Where one can sip doodhpati
At a dhabba hotel
And enjoy a crispy warqi paratha
With a thaal of malai
Either with friends
Or with family.
Shop for books
At old book stalls
Smelling in the fragrance
Simultaneously;
Of printed word
And smog.
The city I call home;
The city of lights.

—–Dr Hafsa Siddiqui

Inspired by the old railway tracks near the Tuesday Bazaar in my city and a few other things..

“Curse of the Shami Kebabs; The Rishta Aunty”

 

” Curse of the Shami Kebabs: The Rishta Aunty”

As she engulfed
The Shami Kebab,
Stuffing it deeper
Into her oral cavity…
The Rishta Aunty
Said to me conspicuously,
” Lose weight ,
And rejoin the trade,
People demand
A girl; haseen and fair.”
She looked me up
And she looked me down
Her eyebrows
Knitted into a frown.
She took another bite
Of the meaty treat,
And I started to retreat
Into self-conscious defeat.
So I stand no chance
At all , after all.
She’s going to search
The haseenas, et al.
Intelligence, or
Perseverance,
Has no importance
Of course.
They
Require a lady
Without a trace of remorse.
No emotional scars,
And especially
Not physically marred.

Then she took
To relating her tale
Of her daughter’s
Wedding laid to bare.
And I kept thinking
“Must I hear?
Should I care?”
The Rishta Aunty
Then disclosed the dread
That after her daughter’s wedding ,
She felt the empty nest.
And kept cursing her decision,
Indeed, a terrible test.
Unconsciously my eyes
Traced the path
To look at my mother’s expected wrath.
But instead,
My mind reeled a few steps back,
Realizing what a horrible , horrible mess…!

[I deliberately excluded
And cropped
What I think should
Had gone to the halt.
From my abode
Right up to Malir Halt].

I’ll have to include the gory details
Of my gori friends
All discussed
At great length.

My cousin sister’s rishta was discussed,
As I looked at the rishta aunty with disgust.

It’s me right here
It’s my house, you see…?
Can you stuff that
Pretty please?

And stuff she did
Two whole Shami Kebabs
And a couple of bites
Of biscuits with crumbs.
Drowning them down
With peach fruit punch.

So, ladies…
It’s for you to see…
Always keep a pic of
Whoever- you-know-and- please,
For when these ‘ladies’ do the rounds,
You might actually get to be the next ” rishta aunty in town”!

Dr Hafsa Siddiqui ( 2017)