Of Broken Mirrors and Scarred Hearts

A Series of 4 Poems

baya mahieddine Baya Mahieddine Femmes et oiseaux. ​1975.
Femmes et oiseaux (1975) by Baya Mahieddine

Trigger Warning: abuse, suicide, self harm
(This could be traumatising or disturbing to read.)

(Maa, are you listening?)

I wake up in the nights thrashing my limbs around, 

the blood rushing to my head

screaming and crying,

the thunder only screams, it dies to cry

voice inside my head refuses to stay quite 

rope around my neck tightens its grip

the ashes of a dead poem making 

a noose around my windpipe

akshita you’re a failure,

you’re a burden

you are a disgrace to the family name

an abomination

trying hard to see tomorrow’s sun, 

tell myself tomorrow will be better, 

tomorrow I will feel whole again – except that I don’t.

baba, no

baba don’t pull me out of school

I promise not to bleed

(a body function I cannot control)

don’t place bars on my windows

my body is convulsing

I can’t control this

 slashes across my wrist increases,

there are red marks all over

he pinned my hands while biting my lips

there is blood all over

you dug your nails

into my skin to scoop out all my light

the story behind a smudged lipstick

Nani calls me a disgrace,

 I dig my nails into my palms 

staring at a stranger in the mirror 

I hardly recognize her anymore. 

sad eyes and pretty smiles

maa said you could destroy angst with anguish, 

it’s true.

I’m named after agony.

could all this pain could save us?

silver irises and moon-like shine hiding

from the truth, the truth refusing to let go.

I have rewritten apologies on wet tissues, 

scrawled with the blood of my carnages 

oh, what a sight that would have been, 

lying on the floor with the paleness of dead lips, 

I ask maa one last time, what does love mean? 

she said, “love was the human form of a hurricane.”

(This poem first appeared in the Manmarziyaan Magazine.)


Lahore,

salaam. 

74 years have passed by since we last crossed paths and even today when the sun rises, I wonder if it casts a glow on your badshahi mosque, does Jhelum still wait for Ravi’s letter as trauma grips her lifeless roots, and does hiran minar look longingly at laal chowk, the betrayal tearing up pieces of her skin and firing love shots towards her grieving heart while she dreams of a night under the graveyard stretched like sky.

we mistook gunshots for lullabies, perhaps that is why Indus refuses to visit her children and taj mahal echoes the blood curdling screams of men who hid letters behind books in dusty old libraries while staring at sunsets in a broken city. 

Hindustan shayad khafa hai humse, issiliye milne aajkal nehi aati hai meri maa aur tumhari ammi. 

do mothers have a religion? Hindustan is my maa and your Ammi but we grew up gurgling in her lap while running around Gulmarg and tossing snowballs at Islamabad? what is different between you and me, is it the color of our bodies that now act as crematoriums burying the caskets of dead children or is it the way we smiled, as we drank our grief down like red wine? 

/ Kagaz ke parde hain

Taale hain darwazo pe

Paani mein doobe huwe

Khwab alfazon ke /

the old man on the street refuses to go back home and lies on kargil’s lap as he looks on awaiting the return of his son who never turned back 22 years ago, Arnab falls in love with Zoya as she reads the namaz and Khushi find love more in Urdu rather than Hindi but does love have a religion and do languages need to be terrorized?

laal killa lights up while I remember our friendship, we made pinky promises under the shooting star and midnight sky, perhaps that is why that never came true. 

/ Neendon mein gulistaan hai tera-mera hi hai ye aashiyana

Raaton mein taaron se yun toot kar mere tu laut aana /

namaste,

delhi.

(This poem first appeared in the Manmarziyaan Magazine)


Pablo Picassoa640
Pablo Picasso

I was born in a brothel, the result of my Ammi’s blood curdling screams and abba’s cries of anguish. 

Amma’s milk tasted like salt and honey, maybe her heart was a beehive and her blood was an ocean current.

I was born in the bazaars of sorrow that are lined up outside my house, my house is a cage made up of bricks, we are all prisoners tied up to the shackles of our past. 

perhaps, we are all itinerants loitering around streets in the search of a home and refugees seeking shelter in the name of love. 

I am the rusty old locks of the gate of our house, more often than not I reek of the perfume of yesterday’s inhabitants. 

grief is more of a common term in my house, than love could ever be, my heart is a crematorium where I have buried caskets of my illicit lovers while my body is a battlefield lathered with scars of the people I have lost. 

I visited an auction, tried to buy a heart, you see mine was left behind in Lahore while returning to Delhi. 

I wonder if pain turned this ice cold or did pain melt it to ashes?


sleep is half death and dreams? voyages to heaven. 

The night bewitches me like the first rays of sunshine falling on a blind man’s canvas.

love is like the aftermath of a heartbreak, the grief that lathers over all of my skin, wanting to be licked like honey and the agony seeping through my tears, falling on the paper lying in front of me. Broken hearts filled with longing and eyes glistening with tears, bodies that have given up long ago and a weak soul still attempting to fight, often, I have wondered if the night was not tired? 

/ I want to narrate a story, 

a story I’ll write on my lover’s palms 

as we stare at the midnight sun wondering 

if fairy tales are soft tragedies 

or tragedies are rough fairy tales? /

Was the night not tired of the anguish that ran across like a wildfire spreading through the forest filled with dried leaves? of scarred souls lying across on bathroom floors, their wrists covering with the slashes of agony blinding their sight, the silent screams echo through the hollow walls of what is to be a home. 

I think at the end of the day it is (not)surprising to see the inability of your heart to hurt, they say often when you’re caged after some time, you become the cage. 

The allure of darkness is so strong even the purest of hearts are drawn to it, I wonder how it feels to fall in love with someone who wasn’t yours? I wonder how it feels to watch kindred souls bereft of the love they deserve waiting for the impending doom, having long lost hope. 

/Is it easy to continue trudging on a thin string,

when across it lies my salvation? 

Each day feels like a repetition of the previous one, 

fighting with an individual who feeds on my soul 

and gnaws at my chest, pushing me into a black hole. /

Ammi said, love was a cure to all wounds and yet under the light of the candle flame, I see her reading the same letter she wrote 25 years ago; my abba is lying beside her. Maybe, this is the most painful kind of love, staying apart and yearning for each other is heart wrenching, it has been in history the mightiest architectures carry hollow graves.

you see these stories don’t go down in history books and nor will I ever know about how maa broke her own house to make mine. It’s finally that I understand why she whispers, her story would be called “finding home.”


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Akshita Chaudhuri

Akshita is a 16 year old high school student from Kolkata. More often than not, you’ll find her obsessing over poetry books, sufi music alongside a cup of coffee. She considers herself to be the first of her kind with revolution being her synonym. To read more of her works, find her on her instagram handle @_shaerha_

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