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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)


  1. I know how little condolences mean at this time. Yet, that is what we do. Life goes on and it is startlingly normal. That, more than anything else, is the thing that stumps me. Sending you love. It's not nearly enough, but it's something.

    1. So true. Life just sort of rolls on - so unrelentingly. One has to go along or fall off the wagon. Thank you for sending love.

  2. Who says you're not a poet !!!
    Verses simmer in sadness,
    Verses spring from sadnes,
    Then they slowly, softly wrap it,
    To keep it safe in their lasting embrace ...

    1. Ah, thank you, Arshed. I do feel that this is in part a way of marking the loss; of recognising its sacredness.

  3. Your words are so beautiful and the ending, it just takes my breath away. Hugs Afia, and much much love.. Jhilmil

    1. Love you, Jhilmil. Means a lot, coming from you x

  4. Afia, grief eludes expression, but what you've put into words is beautiful. Love and prayers for your family. Take care.

    1. Thank you, Torsa. Strange that you should say that because, to me, it seems as if expression of that grief was eluded in this poem. I kept questioning why, and then realised that it's because the poem is about not being able to fully engage with the reality of her departure. That is why nothing seems to be enough to me. Thank you for appreciating it, though xo

  5. Replies
    1. Ah, you understand because you knew her too.