Archive for February, 2014

Part 36

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

The routine in our house was usually that after my father would come back from dawn prayer the mosque, he would be sitting in the kitchen reading the Quran. We would wake up and be asked to turn on a recitation tape or CD and then make wadooh, ritual washing of the body, before praying morning prayer. Only after we do these things are we allowed to sit down and eat breakfast. If my mother was not up, then he would wake her, but on rare occasions he would make and serve us breakfast. Any deviation from that routine usually resulted in a long lecture about our duty to our creator. How we don’t forget to eat or go to the bathroom, but forget about the one that created us. My mother would be cranky in the morning when he would push her to do her prayers and make breakfast a lot. She could not start a day right without a cup of coffee. Light and sweet with milk and never cream. She would have several cups during the course of the day too. It was a bit of an addiction for her.

During summer break before University started, my eye sight became really bad. I used to have perfect 20/20 vision, but I noticed it deteriorating during my late high school years. My father blamed it on me watching too much TV and being on the computer too much. So, I hated myself for a while for having to wear glasses just to see the board at school. That summer we also visited Egypt for the first time since we had lived there. Cousin A, Uncle M’s only son, was enrolled in the pharmacy program and his youngest sister was enrolled in the music program due to her grades being low. Cousin A always had an interest in me since the days that we were very young and used to dance on the roof top together. We were left sometimes to “get to know” each other and he basically showed off his collection of pirated Egyptian music on his computer. We would all watch censored American movies together and I brought over a Sailor Moon tape for us all to watch. Cousin AT, his younger sister, who I used to have a short sexual tryst with when we were younger, had gained almost as much weight as I had at one point. I did not understand her decline in self-esteem, but it finally dawned on me later on what happened. My mother told me many years later that she was circumcised at the age of thirteen because she was found flirting with boys from the balcony. Her father, Uncle M, had also tried to push my father to circumcise me when I was born, but my mother advised him against it. Her reasoning was that some studies showed that being circumcised usually made a girl more promiscuous instead of curbing the desire like initially thought. Their older sister, Cousin AM, was married and it looked like it was against her will sometimes. Her husband would be over and he would put on an air of being playful and try to get me to joke with him, but I would tell him off every chance I got. Most of the people in the household would take it as humor, but we both knew that I did not like him. At all. From what I saw of how he treated his wife and from what I have heard, I gathered that he was an abusive husband. Nobody did anything about it. Cousin AM was a math teacher like our grandmother was, but he ended up making her stay home and quit her job.

We also had visits from our two male cousins that lived with Uncle S’s divorced wife. He sent her money on a semi-normal basis, but the family all claimed that she was mentally ill. They also claimed that she abused them. Uncle M would sit the children down and whisper to them the stories of how their mother would not feed them and would force them to do grueling household chores. He would force them to recount them and reenact them with demonstrations. The children would look vacant and troubled and when he did that, which was an almost impossible combination to see displayed in a person at the same time. Aunt’s S’s family rarely came over anymore because of the hate and rumors that Uncle M’s family were still perpetuating since the last time that we lived there.

Uncle M’s family was well off at that time because they were reaping the benefits of the rented properties that my father owned. They were stealing some of the profits for themselves and not telling my father about it and were not found out until my mother did the math. Not only that, but my mother had to leave some family heirlooms behind and my Uncle had thrown them away without consulting with any of my parents about it. Despite all that, their collective hatred seemed to grow and spread to everyone and everything. We only stayed a week and decided to spend the rest of our vacation at our apartment in Alexandria which was where my baby brother took his first steps.

When I went out, despite being a bigger girl, I noticed a lot of the leers and suggestive behavior that I was willfully oblivious to when I was younger. Whether that was because it wasn’t as common as it was during the time that I visited or I become more experienced and aware with age, I can’t say. That wasn’t the only thing that changed over the years. Gone was the live animals being sold on the streets, you only found those at night in the big cities like Alexandria, Tanta, or Cairo. That, or in the smaller farm villages at any time of the day. Uncle M’s family, before we left to Alexandria, bought a bunch processed meat and other supplies from a small grocery store. No more killing the animals yourself. I instantly remembered the time that my father had tried to get me to kill a duck and, when I would not, he made me hold its wings so that he could do it. Or the times when I would be fascinated watching my mother kill chickens and the bemused feeling that I would get when she would try to kill a rabbit by herself and fail. There was also a lamb that was killed on our balcony in Cairo and it was flooded with blood by the time the affair was over.

Egypt had changed and it was continuing to change while I was not there to experience any of it. Just the aftermath whenever we were able to visit. Soon my first year at Rutgers University would begin whether I was ready or not.


Broken Brush

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Ink That Bleeds

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Memories that I hold dear
break the calm that so many fear.
From the inside reaching out
I have the urge to shout
but I stay calm
and allow the turbulence to grow
just beneath the surface of thin glass.
What I can’t show.

Listening to the piano keys
there is a hole in my heart
blood tainting my soul
burning it
making it red like your tears
and in the end…
my world is nothing but different shades of red

Wrong Words
Words passing through countless lips
and yet none reach you,
then how do you know them so well?

Rip out my heart and hand it to you…
one mistake and you kill me.
Running from you…

Die to live
tomorrow fades away
reborn with my tomorrow today.
My life is full of todays where I await my fading tomorrows
leaving behind a trail of yesterdays
becoming nothing but memories like tomorrow.

Looking into the rain
Lips that whisper gently in the wind
When will your words caress my skin
Falling into the sky
When they meet
Is it just a dream
Is it just a fantasy.

My wings are clipped
All I want is to see your smile
Fly with no wings
to touch you
You are happiness
You are my light
Soon the cage door will swing open
Soon the chains holding me down will shatter
Soon I will be able to look into your eyes and say “I Love You”

If I can not write my heart for you
I will color it with shades of red and grey
in this you will hold my soul
which is an unselfish art
For it has been lighted with the beauty of your heart
That of which, every time I see it upon your face.
I want to capture it with a brush that is not yet fit with such grace
I long for the day that I can let you free
For such a smile I will do anything to see
Beauty that steals the heart and sings to the soul
let the mind echo:
Life is funny and beautiful at the same time

the essence of roses, a bittersweet symphony
white roses are especially bitter
sweet purity
slowly melting into painful bitterness on the tongue
the mind flows in a garden
where the feathers of a golden phoenix
become the brightest serene light
which emits warmth only to the heart
Graceful butterflies
the metamorphosis of light
in a garden
on a mountain
where monsters are human
and the fireflies never die

Echo Chamber

Infinity Eternity
I no longer look at the borders
restrictions which are
no longer there
my version blurs their sharp details
lines that are as thin as hair
some didn’t even know they’re there and most don’t really
One color is no longer distinguishable
from the other
different shades yet the same
they all melt together
all blur together
into infinity
in my eyes for eternity

My Reflection
A feeling that comes from deep within
painful to smile
from a heart that isn’t there
pointless to think
with a mind that isn’t there.

And I find myself crying to my words
and watching you laugh
I can’t help but cry
and you can’t but laugh when I cry
let me cry for you until you can no longer smile.
Smile of a broken child.
Laughter of a cracked mind.
Mend the glass and you can no longer see yourself.

Emotions on Paper
There are many emotions that I want to seep into my pen
through my fingertips
let it bleed them onto paper.

I see black blood on the white piece of paper.
It’s as if the emotions are mold growing on it.

I want the pen to live.
I want the paper to be purified.

My words are meant to confuse you
there is no other way to put all aspects of emotions on paper.
Try to understand something even I can’t.

The pen lives
and the paper dies.

Such beauty that I see
I know that it will never be
for the cruelty that is
distorts my dreams.

I sit
feeling the gentle breeze
dreaming of what might be
such beauty that I see.
No matter how hard I wish it to be
I know that it will never become reality.
True beauty… is there such a thing?

Perception clouds my vision…
the limitations of the mind are endless
the same amount of possibilities exist
for every barrier there exists a possibility

Beauty is life.
Beauty is death.
Beauty exists everywhere
in everything
because it is always in my soul
and I will forever see it
wherever I go.

Light Switch
When the lights go off
floating promises
lead me to dead ends

too many names
but only one
has lost it all
only one that ever touches my lips

did your lips
ever touch mine this way
was I kissing my reflection
was it a lie

turn the lights on and I’m faced with someone else
I don’t understand

If I cry
If I scream
Will you hear me
when I turn the lights on

Peace is a desire
forgotten by chaos
Yet only creates it anew
Forgiving and acceptance
must replace arrogance
thus the desire to learn
will rekindle and
its flame will burn the festering
emotions that give power
to laziness hate and lies

The time of rebirth has come
It has been too long
since the last time
these wings have tasted
the sweet ecstasy
of the passing breeze
Too long since the soul has
meditated in black and white

The beautiful reflection of life
The unspoken beauty
makes one practice
as if it were a religion
For sometimes
one wishes to only
go deep into themselves
violate the emptiness
and create it anew
to forget the body
To accomplish something
that the traditional practices
don’t allow but
attempt to accomplish

Then pen will bleed once more
on the virgin paper
The brush will caress it
Darker shades will stain it
Colorless stones will dance
on a floor made of
stained oak
Celebrating the beginning
of a new war

A war in which there is
no man or woman
pen or paper
existence or emptiness
chaos or order
Where there will
never be heard
the cries of humans

Black Spider
Black Spider
She tip toes above me

Silent laughter draws her near
Loud thoughts she does not fear

His pacing in-tune with the wind
His words I can not mend

Long legs grasping for a hold
Movements growing ever more bold

Hazy blur

Black Spider
Legs of fur

Her presence draws me to him
The future seems so dim

God’s message
Devil’s toy

Black Spider
Gift of joy

Offensively Human
The creak of narrow stairs
Doorway to hell partially ajar
Sounds of flesh on flesh
Panting and angry words cutting silence
Stomach churning with anger
Fear clenching throats
Comforting children in humiliation
Refusing to cower but doing nothing
Defiant in our profane purity

Hiding in plain sight ever since
Cutting away at the psyche
Bleeding grey overcompensation
Until nothing is left

I hope you die in your own shit
I hope I get to watch as life
Slowly leeches from you your humanity
Becoming the monster that you are
I hope I can watch your limbs twist and writhe
Bones cracking and muscle tearing
Your body finally matching your true nature

In its ugliness
In its primitiveness
In its vileness

But first I want to see it in your eyes
Offensively human
Despised creature and all of your ilk

Always lurking deep
There is an anger
Then there is the Other
The one that feeds

She revels in it
Anger and pain
From within and without
From those around us

My Demon is patient
My resolve is silent
I lean on Her in crises
We are impenetrable

Childhood trauma
Stifling Her over the years
She is maturity’s curved blade

Perhaps it’s loneliness
Drastic times
Giving desires a face
Perhaps it’s therapy
Our coping mechanism

Ah, slip of the tongue
I think I’m regressing

Creature made of smokeless fire
eyes of liquid jade
brooding brow
stalks the human mind
awakening decrepit souls within
heart of man aroused

enticing tongues of shayateen
lap at their feet
arresting wisps of amaar
penetrate their dreams

Creature made of mud
eyes dead as stone
fire of passion
captivates eyes of jinn
former rulers embracing
their conquerors

Iblis of iron will
we created man from sounding clay
of altered black smooth mud
and the jinn We created aforetime
from the smokeless flame of jahanam
what is your reason
for not being among the prostrators?
outcast and cursed afreet

I shall indeed adorn the path of error
for mankind on earth
and I shall mislead them all

Chance Meeting
Statue of flesh and blood
Heart of glass
Shelter for the raven

Oppressive fog denied entry
Cracks on the statue’s surface
as it ever so slightly reaches for the raven
Curious obsidian beauty
reflected in its bright half-lidded eyes
Courageous little deaths
Shuddering feathers and chipped skin

Glass heart pure
Feathers intact
Bright darkness engulfing the raven
Wisps of fog seep in
Chilling feather tips

Fog the raven must return to
Man with the heart of glass
Looking forlorn as she fades into the dark

Black door, black clothes.
Black eyes, black hair.
This depression you condemn me for.
You caused it.
Sitting here just hoping I don’t become either of you.
But I am..
I am slipping slowly but surely.
She no longer writes, no longer draws, no longer smiles.
He is the same.
The fucking same.
Good memories and bad.
How the fuck am I supposed to feel about him?
Tired of talking about the trauma.
Tired of feeling the emptiness.
Tired of running from your law.
Tired of being plagued by your voice in my mind.
So much anger that I don’t know how to express.
I love you but I fucking hate you both.
Fuck your god. Fuck your tradition. Fuck you.

You said that I write to mock you.
No, but now I do..and this one is just for you.
Tell me what’s more important?
Saving face or saving a daughter from darkness?
Keeping with tradition or trying to be a better person?
Being a victim or a survivor?

And To think that guilt almost made me become a slave to you.

The Dessert
Sand dunes roam my mind
hawks screech their presence
goosebumps goosebumps
goosebumps from the sky
sand caught in my eyes
lost lost
lost in my mind
from the haze, an oasis
deep within murky waters
my eyes stare back up at me
not me but of me

embrace embrace
embrace this creature and ride the waves
time flows like a river
but is shaped like a double helix
sore so sore
torn so torn
but where are we in the end

death god death
life gods life
lies lies lies lies lies lies lies
written in the sand
covering the scared earth beneath
being the wind is such a curse

angel of jin
oppression of history
pigeon caught in clotheslines
lamb blood flooding the balcony
duck pinned down by its wings

moral moral
moral delimma as I kill to live
fear fear
fear of looking beneath the sand
the victim finally accepting their role
tumbling, fumbling and crashing along the way

..but then I awake from deep slumber
heart pounding, jin’s presence still lingering
wondering who I am and where I am
languidly traveling along the helix
disappointed in what I remember

“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!”

Born an underdog
with a collar of
Choiboys nailed tight
against that tiny
little throat

Eyes dilated wide
as the full moon
the scream silent
and beautiful
Sweet and bitter

Like the mist I feel your presence
only at dawn
The mystery of the Nile is only
matched by the accents of your voice
Your smile is the strumming of bass strings
in my thoughts
Carrying me through life’s

Part 35

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The fact that I did not care about what people thought confused my parents and it was the subject of many of our fights. They believed that appearances meant everything and it was odd how my mother became more that way over time. Their control over my every day routine got worse and one day I got scolded for being fifteen minutes late. Their excuse was, “who’s going to do the dishes if you’re late?” Most people had beepers, even in school, but we could not afford that and my parents saw no point in it. So, they were left without any mode of communication with me and it made them worry often. My seclusion got deeper and so did my obsession with the Kabuki comic book series. We had a graphic arts class that I opted for as an elective and I found my chance to create a custom made Kabuki notebook and notepads. My teacher brought me to the side one day to talk about my notepad watermark which said “for the fallen, who believe in miracles.” He said that only people going through a midlife crisis write about stuff like that and wanted to know what the deal was. I brushed it off at the time and told him that it was just something from a comic and, even then, he insisted that it wasn’t something that a normal person would be fascinated with. When he saw that he would get nothing out of me, he dismissed me. Our teacher/student relationship was as decent as they came, but it nosedived because of an incident with Melissa, a classmate that was also in Upward Bound with me. I had volunteered to work on the Upward Bound class year book with her and we made a date to meet together during lunch to create in the graphics arts classroom. I showed up at the appointed day to do it and she never showed up so I designed one myself and even bought special paper for it. Two days later, the teacher confronts me about not being around when Melissa was to work on the yearbook. She had came in the day before and he told me that she scrambled to get it done. I just looked at him and shrugged since nobody told me that wasn’t going to show up the first or that she was going to show up the next day.

It was also in that class that I learned about an old classmate from elementary school who had died from alcohol poisoning at a frat party. He was an odd one who liked to wear black nail polish and loss fitting pants, a self-proclaimed goth, which was rare in that area. He would go around collecting people’s hair for what he claimed to be voodoo spells. There were a string of notable deaths in school and one of the most notable was a car crash that killed 6 students. It was nearby and the students were all Indian and Pakistani, who made up a good part of the student body. The school excused students who went to the funeral service being held nearby and, one day, someone that I did not know decided to talk to me about their feelings regarding the event. I was on my way to class and we were alone in the morning since we both had special passes from teachers to be let in early. It was an invaluable thing to have since we had a new vice principle that had the school on lockdown. Students were not allowed entry without student IDs and everyone had the same schedule so the crowding was significantly larger. Doors and gates were locked when class was in session at all times and there was a countdown before each bell rang for class. Lateness was considering as being an amendment to the seven deadly sins.

The new world order related to the death of my Spanish 2 teacher who died only two days into the semester. We had a ridiculous amount of substitute teachers and the spot was never really filled full-time. We had a rash of bomb threats made to the school daily, a lot of them during my Spanish 2 class. The new management were on a witch hunt to find the culprits. Weekly, and even daily, locker checks became more frequent and things like beepers and CD players were confiscated indefinitely. They resorted to recruiting snitches in the student body by offering a reward and promising that all personal information would remain anonymous. Eventually, they caught the person doing and it turned out to be a guy in my Spanish 2 that flirted a lot with a Lebanese girl who seemed much more experienced in many things that I was. One of those things being gambling with cards. Several other students and teachers died during my time there, which was bound to happen given how large the school was. Years of alcohol abuse and cancer seemed to strike the teachers down. Gang violence and drug abuse is what usually killed the students.

The events of 9/11 created did not stop school from happening, but it did slow things down for a time that day. People were watching it happen from their classroom windows and one teacher was old enough to say, “I watched them being built and now I watch them being destroyed.” My father had picked back up with the wholesale business in New York despite it being only half as lucrative as it was in the eighties and early nineties. He was in New York during this time and I remember vaguely worrying about how we were going to survive if something happened to him. School was let out early because many students had family that lived and worked in New York. Some were standing distraught in the hallways and one girl told me about her brothers and father who were in the region. The months that followed had bad repercussions on the local Muslim community. Many families were broken up due to mass deportations, green card or not, and secret arrests with no explanations given to anyone about them. There were also families grieving for the loss of their loved ones from the incident. One day when I was walking home from school, I spotted two younger children being attacked by some boys from my school who were throwing stones at them. I recognized them because I knew their family from my days at the mosque and I helped them escape. It wasn’t hard to do since the boys ran away when I got to the scene. My mother got cornered one day at Journal Square by two boys who told her to go back to her country. She stood up to them and told them that this was her country and from them to go back to theirs. It was a public place and she looked like she was about to fight back, so they backed off. My father used the incident as another opportunity to spread his Jew hate and conspiracy theories. Clearly, the Jews had orchestrated the entire event and the proof was the supposed fact that none of their people were killed during the attacks. The entire Muslim community and Arabic TV channels were whispering about this. They claimed that all the footage of Osama Bin Laden was doctored up and was a product of Western propaganda. If you did not believe any of these things as a Muslim, you were considered a traitor of your brothers and sisters in Islam in a less fortunate position than you.

Out of the one thousands students that were in my freshman class, only four hundred and eighty of them graduated with me. Everyone was excited about the prom and the drama that came with, from the famous lesbian couple to the usually quiet South Asians, it was a big deal. Some could not go either due to being poor or being denied participation by their parents. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to participate in any of it since my mother disproved of the sex that she knew went on at those events. A date would also be necessary and that was out of the question. Brother A and I joked that he would be my date to our imaginary prom. Graduation day required an ironed gown I had told my father about it days beforehand. My parents were having one of their bad fights during this time and he went off on her when he saw her ironing my gown. He took it and threw it on the floor because she wasn’t doing what he had wanted her to do. I told him to stop and that it was for my graduation which was in a few hours, but he told me to shut up and stalked off. My mother and I decided leave for my graduation after he left the house. I didn’t get any special mentions or awards due to my lack of involvement in any extracurricular activities, but I was thankful that I did not have to wait for all the Patels to be called to get my diploma. We left as soon as I got my diploma and got something to eat as a way to stall our eventual return home. My mother seemed to be disappointed at how things happened, but I reassured her by saying that none of it mattered. I hadn’t even bothered dressing up for it. Neither of us did. It was all very last minute. My yearbook did not have my picture because I would not go take one for it. My name was listed, but there was no other mention of me in there. Despite that, I had some people that I thought mattered a little bit, due to past friendships and a brief shared history, sign the back of it when the books were handed out in the cafeteria.

High school seemed to end as quickly as it had begun. SATs were taken and I scored average, but good enough to get into Rutgers University of Newark. My father and I had an endless feud about the issue of majoring in pharmacy. It came down to him telling me that I could do research that would prove pharmacy was not as profitable as he thought and that something else of my choosing would be. The problem was that I did not know what I personally wanted to study. I wanted to go into liberal arts to discover what my strengths were, but he wasn’t having any of that. None of my research disproved his assertion that pharmacy was best, so that’s what I had to put down as my major. Somehow, I had gotten into the school’s special pharmacy program where students spent their first two years in Newark then were automatically transferred to the pharmacy department in New Brunswick.

But that fight was not over by a long shot.