Author: Moniba

Excerpt from To each his own decay

The air was heady with the stench of decay. A line of ants was crawling towards an open hut of mud. Another line of ants was crawling towards another hut opposite the first. The ants did not differentiate. Decay to them was only a feast, whatever its colour or culture might be.

People held their noses when they walked by, unfailingly amazed at the bizarre situation. The situation concerned a cow. A cow sawed in half and that too unevenly. Trails and splatters of blood could still be seen leading from one hut to another. It always looked like either a slaughter house, a sacrificial platform, or a war zone. Older people often looked at the scene and sighed that clichéd sigh with an “Oh, ‘twas once upon a time…”

The ants were now crawling in circles between the huts. Perhaps they couldn’t decide which decay was bigger and more worth their journey.


He rose to his feet and gathered himself, turning his pockets in and walked out when a knock resounded. It was a knock too familiar to his ears. The neighbour was asking about his cow. How is it doing today? Do you need some water to replenish the decay somewhat? Have the ants finished it off yet? All the questions mocking the situation, when ironically, the neighbour was part of the situation. Iqbal always asked after the neighbour’s cow as well. The two were obsessed with each other’s half of the cow. Never had the world seen two people more obsessed with a rotting cow; a decay of more than 6 decades.

The Blue Poem

I pull those petals off the blue flower
one by one
they fall
on the blue grass
of the blooming blue garden
of this blue, blue city.

The blue birds chirp gaily
a blue song which
turns my blue heart indigo
and the indigo begins to dance
to a rhythm of blue love
in this blue, blue poem.



The Refuse

Look at me
I am the misery of a hundred chained lions
The toil of a hundred caged doves
The lament of a hundred dying crickets
And all of those roars, those strangled songs, those insistent yet dying cricket notes
They live within, they live within.

Look at me
I am the raped soul of a red forsaken woman
The diseased bruise on her red scraped wrists
The tangled lock of her red torn hair
And they lie on the cobbled ground of the fort where innocence breathed its last
They live within, they live within.

Look at me
I am the nagging probe checking your heart
The ticking thought-bomb threatening your brain
The nauseous green lurking in your inverted guts
And the nagging, the ticking, my nauseating smell that makes you hate me so
They live within, they live within.

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me

I am the refuse of your consciousness.

The bloodied world map

You asked me for a world map
I showed you my bloodied knee
It is no less than a map
Of the world; not just my world
Those purple specks show you islands
The pink flesh shows the continents
The brown crusting skin, the decay of humanity
And blood. And blood. And blood.
What more do you need
For a map of the modern world.

Etch(ed) Inside

He looks up at the crying sky and
Touches his heart
He feels the tears inside and
Comforts the sky by joining it.

Train tracks, poetry, his old guitar
Free wind in his hair, free thought in his mind
He conjures up anything from
Psychotic men to mute Anettes

Look into his eyes and you will see
Secrets of the lava burning inside this earth
He knows the sky’s dreams and
He can paint them in his words

Today he might cry with the sky
But tomorrow the sky shall smile with him
That small subtle smile will play hide and seek
On the slightly upturned lips too shy of joy

Magical snowmen and transatlantic songs
Might have been your mantra
Poet’s anxiety and exhausted lines
Might be your bland present

The future might come late
It might ask some sailing, some flying
But it shall be all blazing colours and
The musk deer shall find happiness in itself.

Bricks upon Hearts and Blacks upon Greys

Bricks upon bricks upon bricks upon bricks upon bricks upon my heart. Not even rocks which I love, but man-made bricks, and again they remind me of humans. Highest and basest of beings.

I hear distant thumps and blasts but it is only I who notice them. Everyone around me seems unaware and oblivious. Perhaps the noise comes from within me but I am so sure the state is at war and those are bombs just minutes away from smashing the house to nothing.

Gullibility must not be spoken of. There is nothing as humiliating. Society must never be cursed, there is nothing as hindering and as coveted.

To the souls who lie awake at night, what will happen shall happen. It isn’t as if your open eyes can affect the wanted resolution. Perhaps I understand why you stay awake for I am one of you. Believe me, tomorrow, you shall find sleep more appealing.



Black upon black upon black upon black upon grey. Will the grey even be acknowledged? It gives way to white. To clarity. But will it be acknowledged?

to the poet

you spin with the rings of Saturn
and twirl around the stars when they combust
you catch wisps of their memories
as they die having witnessed centuries
and use them greedily as you
scribble your poems, unconscious of yourself.


Things like this beg no title

There’s this gullak in my brother’s room. It’s made of rough brown clay, unvarnished, pink and blue flowers painted on it. The slit in it is hardly wide enough to slide a coin in. I wonder who made it. Who was the potter? Was it an old, withered man with permanently muddy fingernails and a family to support? Or was it a young amateur boy looking to earn some roti for his orphaned siblings? It could be an old potter’s little boy, continuing the family profession and carrying on the legacy. The gullak has an imperfectly embossed bottom half. Whoever made it, is he still alive? Or maybe it was a she. Maybe it was a woman with soft, unaccustomed hands trying to shape the gullak, her first gullak, because she needed the money to buy rice she could boil for her baby who needed to start on chewy food. I wish we had the power to touch an object and be able to see who sweated to create it. It would make us so much more grateful.


There’s almost always an empty mug on my side table. I drink tea twice or thrice a day and then forget to pick up the mug. And it’s always a mug. I can’t drink in cups. They’re too small. And the tea can never have too much sugar. It makes my head spin. The mug is usually blue. Blue happens to be my favourite colour- along with dark green, bright yellow, and orange. I don’t really believe in favourites. I like all colours in different shades and contexts. When I was young, I hated pink and everything girly. I scorned at every girlish activity which people expected me to take part in. I rebelled against almost everything my elder sister liked. Now, pink fills up at least quarter of my wardrobe. I find I’m interested in jewellery, pretty clothes, bangles, knitting, cosmetics, and even cooking to an extent. But I’m most interested in writing and reading and the question of identity. A friend asked me a few days back, why are you so obsessed with identity? (The question of identity in Pakistani novels happens to be my research topic this semester, and I have a related topic in mind for my dissertation too, hence the question) So I found myself telling her about my imagination games in my childhood. My cousin and I used to talk for hours on the phone, sharing our “imaginations”. We had whole imaginary worlds made up in which such interesting things used to happen. They were more exciting and more fulfilling and perhaps more distressing than our real lives. I suppose everyone has these imaginary worlds with imaginary friends and even foes. Mine had a huge all-encompassing organization which used to authorize and facilitate numerous identities for one person. The bathroom mirrors were the operational screens for this organization. It was a whole complicated world. I had many different identities. And then in that imaginary world, it eventually got too difficult to manage all identities. So I killed off one, gave retirement to another, imprisoned another eternally, and had one married off and away. A few just vanished on their own as my interest in them dissipated. Perhaps that is the root of my obsession. Perhaps it goes deeper.


They say decentralization is one of the key themes of the postmodern world. We have no centre anymore since denouncing God has become a popular trend. Everything else that tries to be the centre fails. There’s a problem in everything. I’d say having so many problems with every problem too is a key theme of postmodernism. It’s a strange thing, this postmodern era. Everything is fragmented and disconnected. The means to find connection too are disconnected to no end. We float, our ideas float, our problems and their solutions float, all looking to find a centre when the centre never vanished.

Death dictates

It blows its frosty breath
and holds its silver sceptre
the knob glows with its latest kill.

(Soft departure is only soft to the onlookers.)

Death dictates
its purple toes twitch
in line with frozen blood.

(Cold storage is cold to everyone.)

It uses full stops as its only punctuation
and knows no hyphens
definitely no semi-colons.

(It’s probably selfish of me to cry when she’s out of pain at least.)

The black guest was treated
with pained sighs and resigned murmurs
which no-one should write about.

(For we don’t know how to feel; grateful for her release from pain, or plain morose at losing a beloved.)

Is it selfish, tell me death,
to grieve a loss significant
or should we celebrate?

(I wonder if death knows bereavement.)

The angel of death was sad about his duties
and God told him He would create excuses
for people to blame, instead of the angel.

(I am not blaming either the angel or the excuse. I am merely mourning.)

Pray for my nano, everyone.

Void: filled with emptiness

If you feel a void inside you, He can fill it. And only He can fill it. Some of us go through our entire lives trying to fill that void. The world tried to replace God with nationalism back in the 17th century. It has been a void in itself since. 

The dictionary defines a void in several ways. The most fitting being “a completely empty space”. How does a void feel? It feels like a million holes drilled into your being, your soul and heart and mind and organs (and for me, especially my eyes and feet). It feels like this filling heaviness which makes you drowsy and keeps jolting you awake too. It feels like those holes are overflowing with black substance ( I feel we’re unfair to poor black, it never did any harm but always has negative connotations). It feels like… depression, perhaps? But not the clinical depression. And it always leaves you wanting more of everything. Perhaps not in a materialistic way ( personally, I always want more food, more stationary, more time, more contact, more words, more books, more leaves and more stones).

This void… How is it so completely empty and full a the same time? It’s full of emptiness. But the moment you prostrate, the moment your forehead touches the ground, the moment your soul turns back, trust me, you’ll find the void gratified. For that moment, it ceases to exist. It’s like Mrs. Ramsay’s moment of clarity and certainty. But better. And it doesn’t have to be fleeting.

If you feel a void inside you, touch your forehead to the ground and talk to Him. He’ll respond no matter how long it’s been.