absence can also make the heart bitter

wooden doors at home have swollen in the rainy season,
and shrunk back to the usual, it has been so long —
my friends’ nails must have grown many times over,
have i grown taller since we last met?
my body is now the only acceptable calendar:
hair on arms for how many weeks it has been,
those on my legs for number of months,
my brows creeping closer to each other
for how many frowns,
my pale skin for the bright sun lost on our faces.
it has been long enough,
the rhinoceros living above my home
have quieted down,
cockroaches at our home (and theirs?) have multiplied,
my father has learned how to cut a fruit.
my sister and i are now the same person,
my mother cannot differentiate between our voices anymore;
in these trying times in these trying times,
i have forgotten how to small talk,
and to care for how i look.
it has been long enough,
for me to have unlearned my politeness,
allow me to be bitter for a moment now,
i have not yet forgotten how to remember

little black poem

there’s mischief outside my window —
a little black bird is pretending to be a fish.
like a wave, she drifts through the wind,
dives straight down, and
just as quickly upwards to startle the wind.
like the weight of a breeze on my palm,
she is hardly there,
twisting mid-air to the sounds of general living.
her small wings are only
two strokes of black paint,
and from her beak which is a single dot,
emerge chirps as loud as the wind swooning by;
i am yet to see her feet,
and to wonder where’s her nest.
her flight is as fast as she is small,
to call her only a bird would be impetuous,
and so i bestow upon her the mantle
of a poem in the sky

“Khush rahiye,” my mother always says

“Khush rahiye,” my mother always says
as she ends phone calls and says goodbyes.
Be happy, she tells us,
as often as she makes tea,
folds clothes, thanks God,
and talks to her plants.
Her day begins before the sun arrives,
she lives two days in one,
and has the patience of three.
Lately, she has been braiding her hair,
and wears fancy clothes at home, and
buys me buttermilk without being asked.
My mother once said to me,
“God gave me a very strong girl
instead of a boy.” And I thought,
there’s probably something wrong here.
I can only lift more weight than she can,
birth is a wholly biological process,
not every boy is strong.
My mother has, more than once,
told my sister and me,
that marriage can be done without.
One of her favourite things,
may be to watch movies with my father.
Her motto is to expect nothing,
and to be grateful for everything.
She’s the best of Shen Te and Shui Ta.
She has so much faith in us, I could cry.
The font size on her phone,
is as big as big apples.