Two Poems

By Sumayya Firdous


Glass Houses

“Nikita is again on a date tonight,” he types into WhatsApp
from his lonely South Delhi bachelor pad
on a thin-veiled moonlit spring night in Kashmir
where loneliness is an inebriation
almost an invitation
to Resistance,
because what is Resistance
if not the thyme and the garlic
of every conversation
seasoning of seasons.
When in Kashmir, do as the Kashmiris do:
salt your tea.

But when in Delhi,
that megalo-monstro-city of smog-noise:
“I have had a crush on Nikita for quite some time now and she’s going on a date tonight,”
all one can do is buy a counterfeit currency of freedom

In Freedom’s hometown, Kashmir,
the counterfeit and the genuine embrace
Multiple languages of loss
in a Tower of Babel
wedding songs,
pre-dawn prayers,
“Youth workshops”,
chants of azadi,
dissolves into the memoried void of silence

Another notification:
“Prof Siras: How can you millennials reduce an analog feeling like love to a digital yes/no question?
Millennial: Semiconductors.”
It’s not rocket science, love
Throw a stone at it
if it breaks, it’s a heart
if it explodes, it’s an Occupation.


Khāneh ba-doush

If home were a paisleyed heirloom pashmina, you couldn’t return:
not in my arms anyway.
Not around my shoulders, not even
in a camphored tin-trunk in my mother’s moth-darkened attic

Not that I wouldn’t welcome you; I would!
I’d beckon, I’d seduce you
to a moment-thin layer of eternity,
a few gossamer kisses
from what may or may not have been lips.
a tremor
you’ll never be sure you felt

A phantom fever
only your mother can nurse

a dream of dreams
from Dhaka’s fabled mousselines,
a relationship too delicate
for a ring to hold.

But home – elaborate theatre of what color the curtains ought to be –
is always unravelling over my shoulder
from a heritage rag
wispy as breath.


*Khāneh ba-doush: (Persian) literally, someone who carries their home on their shoulders. The expression often appears as a translation of the English words nomad, vagabond, wanderer.

Sumayya Firdous identifies as an abeyant sociologist with unfinished credentials. For now she subsists on Urdu ghazal, cute shoes, and generalized misandry. Her livelihood is clerical. She lives in Kashmir.