This prose-poem and the artwork have been sourced by Taiba Abbas who curated our website during November, 2022.
The heat is bad, I hear, this time of year but my abode does not let me bear it. Yesterday, my sister said that I should connect with nature because I’m bent over various devices all the time but I’ll pass on the heat stroke, thanks. I remember a summer I used to be drenched in sweat, when I happened to teach at a facility where cool air was unheard of. I lived, as do most. A gardener who faintly bleeped on my existence’s periphery passed away yesterday, and I think I did think about it, my hands clenched in fury, yes, dear reader reading this half-sure tirade on privilege, yes. I do think I did that much—my fan whirring like clocks above me. 2 years ago, I spent my time delivering health talks on heat stroke but I didn’t really care, or did I? I did it to be with the man who was making me internally heat stroke at the time and I knew the place I was comingfrom, so I quit. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. I couldn’t look at myself when I was with him. When I communicated with the participants of the seminars—guards, gardeners, anyone really who was obligated to be outside the very buildings that made summer an option—I knew I felt something and I would do it for them, but back then I did it for another, for the heat of it. As winter benumbed the heat, I too had to depart from all of it—the season, the person, one degree at a time. Some days the degree drops would come in bundles, the sudden freedom startling in its certitude, on others the rise would beset a fever, ironically mercurial. This is not a tale of love ending, reader. He was bad for me and I’d take any Lahori summer induced vaporisation over that wicked enthalpy. I have never loved, and perhaps that is why it makes me uneasy to speak of it. I know people to whom love and all its vestiges come as surely as they do to themselves and it simmers some envy out of me, the water effervescent on the ﬂame. I have tried to understand what love is. Everyone I have met has different deﬁnitions. I am convinced I have only experienced obsessions and infatuations in my short, some 2 decade-ish life and that was taxing enough so I’d like to keep my equivalent a little hurt-proof, please. I don’t believe in the dizzying madness of a moment (which mind you, I have experienced) and I know better than to let some palpitations get the better of me. I’d like to be the master of my love. A choice. I’ll choose to revel in my mother’s
laugh as she tries on new clothes for me, in my sister’s eye-rolls when she tells me I’m the stupidest person she’s ever come across but she loves me so freaking much, in my diligence to my loyalty towards those who have it, to the ﬂame of the forest when it blooms so, so red on the Punjab University road, to my broken friends who piece themselves together everyday and sprinkle smiles despite no happiness to hook them on, to the random kindness of strangers and of the familiar, their hearts sprouting from their hands, to telling myself I’m there for me when no other love can reach down in that abyss. Most days I feel lost and entomb myself, I’m guilty of writing myself stronger on the page—some innocuous indulgence in grandiosity—but I’d like it to be.
I’d sorely like myself to be so, let me have my wordsof comfort.
I don’t know if I am meant for the love of another, or meant to love another but I shake at the possible wreckage, the demise of it.
So I learn. I learn to love instances, moments, objects of honest sentimentality, the ones who give and never take. I pray for love, a love that never makes me put myself second, that never makes a wasteland of me, never makes a stake of myself.
I am not one for the romantics of a plunder, battle-torn with my own blood on my hands.
I’m reaching out in the dark, trying to grasp the ropes of what love could mean for me and I can only hope that no one else strangles me
with the knot of what it means to them.
Hamayle Saeed is an accidental physician and deliberate poet, moonlighting as an aspiring eponymous disease in Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Papercuts, Rough Cut Press, Amethyst Review and Unstamatic, among others. You can find her at: @hamayle (instagram) and @hamyelin_ (twitter).
Ramsha Afaq is a visual artist and designer based in Karachi. A graduate of Habib University, she works at Media Matters for Democracy, and Ala Books and Authors. Instagram: @ramsha.af.