Ben Seidelman CC
Sada Do Pal Da Hai Saath, Karachi
Ammi used to say read between
the lines of a book, lights of a city,
blights of the suffering, silences of the translations,
she said “Never close your eyes to or for anything,”
But I close my eyes now, Karachi.
Have you been living in them? No?
Then why are they teary?
Why do I see the reflection of your coast littered
with lovebirds, rubbish,
camel and horse rides, and more rubbish?
You are an angry, unruly, childish wish
and I try. I try to get rid of you but
even when I sleep, you’re awake in my mind.
you’re a background color, a purple bruise,
jelly tears, there is no truce.
I miss the hooting, oil slick cheese parathas in the pan,
ludo on the table, howling of the men and owls
outside my apartment. I write lies
when I say I like the crickets here,
“Oh hell no!” as Baba would say when
the bowler would miss a wicket.
I like cricket, Karachi
why can’t I like crickets?
Karachi, sometimes I feel that I carry your sea
in my arms, sprinkling your water
when I leave footprints all over towns.
But whatever shape
my hands take in reincarnations,
the water keeps falling through
with memories of you —
why is your water a wanderer, saathi?
Here’s some piping hot tea, Karachi,
you’re my fisherman and I scream:
“Fisherman, my fisherman I’ve lost my way!”
Compass gone, I can no longer navigate
these waves of misery. My mirage of hope,
won’t you save me?
Keep all your lights on Karachi,
I cannot see.
One day, I’ll find my way back
because you see, my fisherman
you can’t save me,
“You siren you,” as Bari would say,
you’re far away, oh you were never there,
only I was, with a shadow,
which stuttering people called
Translations – Transliterated Urdu to English:
Title = We have a two-moment companionship Karachi
Ammi = Mom
Baba = Dad
Bari = Literally means older or bigger (feminine), but in my poem, it’s a pet name for my older sister
Paratha = Flatbread, originated in the Indian subcontinent.
Ludo = Board game, common in South Asia.
Saathi = Companion/Partner
Note: The title is transliterated from Punjabi.
Hafsa Zulfiqar (she/her) is an international student from Pakistan at Bennington College, studying literature, psychology and teaching a master class on perpetual procrastination. She's a polyglot and speaks five languages fluently and is working on the next four. You would think that would make her a master in expressing emotions via words but she still remains an amateur sassafras. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @vibingwithabook
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