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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Newsweek Pakistan commemorates Nigar Ahmad

Newsweek Pakistan ran a collection of tribute posts for my mother's sister in its March 11-18 issue and put a beautiful photo of her on the cover. The tribute posts, written by Shehwar Rahim, Ahmed Rashid, Kamla Bhasin and Pervez Hoodbhoy, really captured the arc of my khala's life. Grateful to Fasih Ahmed, the magazine's Editor, for giving me the opportunity to write the cover story.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

To the one who wouldn't take "no" for an answer

Friday, 24th of February 2017.

I would etch these words somewhere
Frame them between two sheets 
of glass on a black wall
Wear them on an armband and stand
in the middle of Jinnah Avenue
With an empty placard
So that when they would ask, 
"What are you protesting?"
                 I would finally know what to say.

Your death was not a surprise.
Yet the date somehow shocks me with its solidity
(Friday. February 2017. 24th.)
its weight too hard to bear, unwieldy
as this universe of silence between my ribs -
a great stillness 
that won't be revived.

February. February. Twenty plus four.
I roll the date in my mouth like a mysterious chestnut
I search for meaning in the permanent stamp of these numbers
denoting permanent fact
permanent absence
the absolute it-will-never-ever-happen-again of your voice

you, Arachne, with your cobweb lungs
your glass-sharded dancing feet
(And your midnight phone calls)
you, who laughed and spun
a tapestry out of nothing, (how did you
decide to call it a day at something so respectable as teatime?)                                                         

I am telling you now that the weight of this silk is too hard to bear
And that a tapestry without its weaver
is nothing more
than a ragged flag flapping on the breeze
its gossamer fingers crawling invisible over your face
You keep trying to brush it away,
but the feeling just won't go.

Nigar Ahmad (16th February 1945 - 24th February 2017)