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Ghazal for the Diaspora

Hassaan Mirza

First published in The Aleph Review, Vol. 2 (2018); curated for the website by Digital Guest Editor, Alainah Amir.

These winter days, Urdu dies in my throat

Gul- loses its aab, red dries in my throat

Sobriety dulls in the cup of your eye, Saqi!

What could pouring wine now pry in my throat?

Mihrab’s bearings forgotten in your shrine,

God lives where love burns sighs in my throat

Would I mind dying if I had to die but once?

Every night’s parting is lye in my throat

(ghazals your grandmother taught you

come caught on your tongue, mocking

your new vigils, these foreign tongues,

they cry a plaintive song before dawn)

Now burn the gulistan, shatter the jaam,

the dying bulbul, sans takhalus, cries in my throat

Artwork by Sara Bokhari


Hassaan Mirza studied literature at Bowdoin College, where his honours thesis culminated in a collection of short stories exploring the globalized, urban ‘burger’ class of Lahore. A two-time recipient of Bowdoin College’s Hawthorne Short Story Prize, winner of the Nathalie Walker Llewellyn Poetry Prize and the David Sewell Premium, Mirza has served as a Surdna Foundation Summer Fellow doing research on contemporary Pakistani fiction. In 2015, he was invited to attend the 29th Annual Summer Program at the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute in 2015.

Sara Bokhari is a miniature artist based in Lahore. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the National College of Arts in 2016. Though trained as a miniature artist, Sara’s practice includes variety of mediums including digital painting, printmaking and video art. Currently Sara works as an art instructor and a freelancer while also exhibiting her work in various galleries.

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