I walk again

I walk again, the streets of my beloved

I walk with my heart dressed in shroud

Looking around in pensive glances

I walk this city for hopes that wont bloom

There are leaves falling now

And streets are crowded with my sighs

The mornings are grey and evenings in gloom

Winds are wearing the mist tonight

Shed in silence of empty rooms

I am a prisoner disguised as dove

Blind in faith that fails me again

But i will wander here for a while

Or for a lifetime if i survive

Back In Love’s Time

Pakistan 2010
I was 18 when I got admission into a medical college. Its a very prestigious moment for every student and his parents particularly from where i belong. We dont have big needs or dreams. Just mango people who want to live life in dignity and peace. My parents shared a rural background. My father got married when he was of my age and my parents shifted to a nearby town, an hour away from our ancestral home in village.

My father was a modest educated man. He was tall and had pale skin. He looked too humble and passive. My mother was illiterate but a wise and thoughtful lady. She had fine features, slender physique and long jet black hair which i remember playing with when i was small. She doted on me. I had an elder brother and two younger sisters.

My brother was doing BA in Urdu by the time i got my admission. Everyone in my family was happy. Its seemed a perfect day. So many relatives coming over to congratulate. I felt like life had given me an opportunity to do something good. However the only concern was that my college was at a seven hour drive and initially i was too excited but later i got weary of this distance. My mother would freeze some homemade delicacies like kebabs, biryani or karela chicken and pack it for me. I would enjoy it with my friends at hostel. Yes i made friends as soon as I got into college and i never would mind sharing my things with anyone. I had place for everyone. My arms were forever open. I would thank God for making me so patient and humble like my father.
The first two years of my college seemed tough because of the subjects and the effort they demanded. Anatomy. Physiology. Biochemistry. But it passed like a dream. I was not the topper of my class neither was I ignorant. I would say i was doing well not only academically but socially too. I was never part of any trouble ever being called for. It was when i saw her and trouble was all invited.

***

Helplessly in love

She sat at a table in the corner of the canteen with a friend I didnt know. I looked at her from the corner of my eyes, sometimes an occasional glance. Whatever i would do it never seemed enough for my eyes. Her hair was woven in a plait over her right shoulder. A few loose ones fell on her face every now and then because of the fan. Her clothes were a mix of pink and white. I remember her like this.

She smiled at her friend very often and how much i wanted to be the reason of that smile or how much i envied the privilege of her friend. She was having french fries and coke. I never liked having fries for food. I could eat them with a pizza or something but not like that. I was born in a family wher meals had to be proper. Steamed rice or wheat bread with vegetables or non veg and a portion of curd and salad. Fries would never satiate me. I was born in a small town. My parents shared a rural background. To them food could never be french fries. But i liked to see her do anything. So i even liked her french fries and coke. I secretly tried having that as well.

She left in a while. Half her fries untouched and half her coke in bubbles. It made me realise i would never do that. Waste money like that. Back home if one of my siblings would leave food like that, others would eat.  We were not poor. Just an ordinary middle class family who cannot throw money at streets like that. My little sister’s face, who was barely nine came running to my mind. She would relish every bit of what i would give her off my meals. We were too simple. I was too simple for her. I always tried to keep her away from myself but I couldn’t help myself with the brooding affection within. That was the first year of my college

I didnt ask her to love me. I didnt day dream of miracles but the way her fine fingers fidgeted with fries, i wanted to hold them for once. I didnt want anything else. Infact i still dont know what i wanted from life at that time. I couldn’t ask for her because she was beyond  my reach and I couldn’t let go of her thought because i was helplessly in love…

Looking back at you

I sat in the light of a lamp and kept staring at my own shadow on the wall. I don’t understand how certain things crawl out from ashes. I saw him commencing from the corner of my eye. My heart made an unaccustomed thud of pain, disappointment and dissent. His presence was always conveyed through a similar means though contradictory. He sat opposite me in leisure. My gaze didn’t shift anywhere but the wall, until he spoke

“So how come Paris?”

These words hit my heart like stones and rocks. Like a dagger being stabbed again, in the same place, cutting through the flesh of my heart but i managed to be composed.

“It just happened”

There was a pause. He expected me to say more. He thought it was an incomplete statement, he didn’t know this was how i explained things now. I didn’t have any strength to open my heart to anyone. Besides my heart devoured in its ignominious silence. 

He continued

“How has everything been? Tell me about it?”

I looked into his eyes and returned  back to the shadowed wall. After all this time he thinks i can still talk? I wished to ask what he wanted to know or how i managed to survive or whether i had planned this???

I fell vulnerable to his inquisitive gaze. I knew this feeling, it had been there before betwix us but that was love, this was heartache. So i thought about my professional garb and made out

“Medicine has a vast field, its consuming”

Homesick

When i was little i had very less affection for home and my family. I was more into school and friends. I was social, confident, people liked me. My teachers were so proud of me. I never thought school would end and i will have a college. I thought my soul was imbibed in its red bricks. My school was my identity. I didnt like spending time at home. I always fancied the idea of hostels and moving out to study. Having a new surrounding. I was too naive to know it was more fatal than fairytale.

Being in another country tears you all the time into pieces which you cant gather. Every time i come back to hostel, its a heart wrenching journey i make. I miss my home. I miss the warmth of my mother. I miss her kisses, her hugs, her random surprises. I miss the way she would ask me all the time what i wanted to eat because here neither do i have many options and nor do i find the available ones appetising. Its bad! They made me take someone as a roommate whom i dont like at all. And the friends i got here? They never stood up for me. Infact all these three years they had no gesture of care for me. I lately realised all the friends, the real ones, are back home. And i miss them too. I miss how true and loyal they were to me. Always cheering in silent tones “we are here for you”

Sometimes i am left wondering why i ever wanted to leave home for home is the only place that heals. Maybe becoming a doctor is very prestigious but this journey has been hell for me. All the honour that will ever come has already given me scars that wont heal. I cant trust people now. I mean it. When someone is nice to me i start thinking what is it that they want from me?

I dont know how many can relate to me and how many find it irrational but i am suffering here all the time!

She

one evening i was sitting in the bed. the evenings had caught some chill. my daughter too got into the bed and sat on my legs. she put her cold hands on my cheeks. it felt like soft, small ice cubes against my cheeks. i shivered and she gave a squeal of victory. she was four but had her ways to drive merry around. i held her hands in mine to warm them. i was blowing warm air into her little fragile fingers when she spoke:
“tell me a story”

“i dont know stories sweetheart. mum knows all” 

that was always a perfect excuse to get away.

“you always say that. did no one tell you stories when you were small?”

“i am too big to remember my small. maybe they did. i forgot them”

 

she knew i was not telling her stories. so she pulled her hands from mine and put them on my cheeks again. this time they were warm. i smiled at her. she laughed. then she began pulling my cheeks and upon my resentment, she only moved them in small circles over my cheeks. 
“daddy, what is the colour of your eyes?” 

” emerald green” i heard myself say that instantaneously. 

“who told you?”
i paused. 
“emerald green” there was a long pause on the other side of the line. i knew this made her nervous and equally speechless. like being swamped by reticent emotions. she couldn’t say anymore. it was only a silent explanation. 
“when did you notice?” 
“i didn’t stare at you. sometimes when i would look at you, i would find your eyes already over there” 
i knew she couldn’t just look at me. i didn’t know why. she would say it makes her nervous. however i never had noticed my eyes so much to figure out the colour. it never occurred to me. i only came to know the colour when she mentioned it. 
“no i think maybe you have been staring at me” i was only trying to make her anxious. i loved doing that to her.
“i wish i did. but i cannot”

“why not?”

“i cannot look into your eyes”

“and that is because?”

“because i fear maybe i wont be able to look away then. it feels like something grabs hold of my heart. i don’t feel my own self”  
she again paused. and i smiled. 

                      ***

my daughter was waiting for my answer.

“ofcourse my dad did” i felt the coldness of my own lie touching my lips. 

her mother came in and thank God she did for i was not present to answer any of her more questions. she asked her why she didn’t have the colour of my eyes. because she had taken after her mother who had black eyes. i pretended to sleep and somewhere past midnight i really did fell asleep.

                        *end*

The idea of isolation

Being a medical school student I always found it hard to maintain a balance between my school and people in my life. I have been a warm and welcoming personality whole my life. My friends and family is what i keep close to my heart and I invest time and emotions in all these relations. My school is away from my home, to be precise i study in another country so i am a hosteler. Beginnings are hard for me. It took me a while to settle and make friends. I found one in my roommate. We grew close and it quite helpled me embrace the difficulties my school would come up with and battle them for my own good. After a year or so we started having issues and something called “miscommunication”. I didnt try to solve it neither did she. I just wanted to change my room or the roommate.  But it was mid term and where i study these things cant be solved midst the year. It has to be done when classes begin for a session. So i had to drag myself for the rest half of the year with all the feelings burried inside me. I began to appreciate the idea of isolation and wanted to stay alone. I would jot the pros and cons in my mind and i must admit i had more of pros. For this part of the year i mostly would study alone, eat alone and spend most of my time outside the room. I didnt like my roommate. I thought i was the one in control because my grades improved. But it was the contrary. These were the symptoms of a disease no one wants in their life.

The following months hit my family with a tragedy of recurrent heart attacks my father suffered. Just after my annual exams my father was admitted for bypass surgery. I didnt really go home, all the holidays our family was in another city for his treatment. I came to school straight from that city and the room allotments was 3 months away. So i was again stuck with the same person but the idea of isolation still filled my mind. So i would again spend most of my time in library or somewhere else just not in my room. After a few weeks i noticed i was getting irritable. I didnt have people to talk to because hostel is a place where people are busy in their own life. No one will come over to comfort you or even the friendships , they come with a price tag. Or i should say they come with favour banks. So no one bothered to check on me. Even my studies seemed to bother me so I texted my uncle who is a psychiatrist. After listening to everything i had to say he said i was suffering from depression and much of it had to do with my roommate. He suggested i should get my room changed or the roommate changed. He even sent me a letter addressed to the principal of my school to help me with the room issue. And this was the time i realised people really dont care what someone suffers unless it concerns their own family.

When i showed the letter to my principal with all the tests that had been run to prove my health had been deteriorating and there was no pathology related but it was depression, he didnt even read it. He asked me to tell him verbally. He chuckled and signed the application attached to my documents and told me to show this to the warden on the allotment day. Which now i understand was just to shoo me away. He even told me that he would not reveal what his sign meant which now i know meant “deal it however you feel”.  On the allotment day the warden too didnt bother to look into my documents. I told her i have health issues and i remember what she said “your parents better buy you a house here”. When i heard this i couldnt decipher what she meant. A classmate of mine who was with me all throughout the allotment explained it was a sarcastic comment.  I dont like when someone gets my parents into any argument so it hit me hard. Whole day i ate nothing, said nothing just sobbed quietly.

Next day the warden gave me a deadline : get some girl preferably from your country or else i wont allot you any room, you will be the last one to be alloted a room and i will put you anywhere i like. By tomorrow and thats it.

I had tried to convince them i cannot take room with any random person. I would do better if they allot me a single room. My depression was only induced by my roommate issues. They didnt listen. So i had to choose one girl from my class whom i didnt know at all because all the rest people i knew had already paired up. She alloted me a room with this girl. And i was so depressed that i wanted to run home. I wanted to quit. My parents told me to come for a week or two and i left.

This new girl was all so mean to me from the very first day she came to the room. She still is.