- Things Our Children Will Never Know | Six Seasons Review, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2015)
- Monologue of a Paper Boat | Six Seasons Review, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2013)
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"today it is summer and the ice cream trucks are out; nobody remembers the girl who died before December inched towards us slowly, like a conquerer’s fingertips on the map of his empire. The girl whose father invaded her over and over again left her diary entries stacked in a box in someone’s basement, somewhere in a forgotten New York neighborhood. That is the only way the dead live on - in cardboard boxes and basement corners. Like December, she is a thing to be forgotten, and written away on a calendar date. It is summertime and I lie on the grass, thinking of the thousands of empires that have collapsed across my body; it’s funny mother worried so much about keeping my legs closed, but never told me how our bodies are mere war zones anyway, to be conquered over and over again."
my mother's mirror
I’d never really heard my mother talk about her mother’s death, except on the night before my sister’s wedding.
We were finishing the last bits of packing, just the two of us, putting the shining metals and clothes in Shona’s suitcase, when Ma blurted out: “Your Nani would’ve been so excited.”
I looked up at her absent-mindedly - an obligatory glance to merely acknowledge what she’d said - but it wasn’t until I saw her that the words sank in. Ma stood there, dazed, staring into a wall of nothingness, her eyes glistening. And she said, as though captivated by an invisible mirror on the wall, “It’s really been ten years since Ma left us?”
And something about the stillness in her voice and length in her gaze just made everything collapse into a silence in the room, a silence that scurried into and hid inside the folds of Shona’s clothes, the rims of her jewelry. And for a second - or few seconds - I saw the silhouette of a Ma from the past, holding, in stark contradiction, her daughter’s bridal dress for a tomorrow. She stood, wedged in between two lifetimes, carved in the shape of a memory against her mother’s mirror. And in that moment I saw just how lonely she was - had been in the past ten years - while we’d all danced and basked in a false glory of “togetherness” of our family that really was just one part of her life. I realized, suddenly, how ignorantly we had just assumed her life only ever belonged to us and that was it, and in that brief moment as she held a dress that would soon make her daughter someone else’s, I saw her as one, in a polarizing mix of the different implications of “one” - “one,” as a lone figure caught between her mother’s yesterday and daughter’s tomorrow, as well as “one,” who was so whole, so filled with all the worlds she had to take care of: worlds that never let her realize that time could put her own mother’s death at such a distance, worlds that never asked her how she slept the night her mother passed away, worlds that never asked her if, somehow, the impending detachment from her daughter in a few hours is what reminded her tonight of her detachment from her own mother and her death.
Worlds that never reflected.
Worlds that never stood as the mirror that she now saw - though invisible - on the wall ahead of her.
letters from Amsterdam Ave.
If you ask me, life is a New York subway at midnight on a Saturday. so many incomplete souls returning home trying to hold it together, holding hands or falling asleep making shoulders out of lone poles, their own reflections shining back at them. I close my eyes and miss the boy who used to hold oceans in his eyes, so that when he would weep, the entire universe collapsed inwards, making all the strangers halt just like that, hands freezing mid-air, lovers stuck mid-sentence, a note or two here n there stuck on their way to the sky. Can you imagine how many love letters never make it to the end of the ocean? Their ink running, their lines disappearing with the ripples? I close my eyes and count my breath for the boy who held oceans in his eyes, wondering how many of my words have drowned there. There are too many footsteps on cobbled stones tonight, and they rhyme with broken promises collecting on the ground like snow, and the man who paid a penny to the violinist on the platform, the man with his skin the color of charcoal that is, gets on the train only for a stranger to hurl words at him darker than charcoal, reminding him that he's but an alien, reminding him that the most he can ever be on a New York subway is an outsider. But he sits quietly, waiting for her to stop, for New York to pass by, and I fall asleep, making shoulders out of lone poles thinking, you could sum up the entire universe into a New York subway at midnight on a Saturday because where else do you see so many hopeless people coming home together?