Editor’s note: In memory of Noor Mukadam, whose brutal murder on 20th July 2021 rocked our Islamabad community.
In memory, too, of all other victims. Saima Ali, Qurat ul Ain Buledi and the countless others, named and unnamed, who have lost their lives to gender-based violence.
— Ilona Yusuf
‘Memorygramme’ first appeared in The Aleph Review, Vol. 5 (2021). The following is an excerpt of a longer poem.
It reminds me of my Gramma’s scrunched up motiya-struck eyes as they try to regain focus
Her pupils dilating like grey sheets of rain as she tells me
“On our first anniversary, your grandfather gave me a perfect clover shaped scar on my clavicle
Oh, and a motia ka haar”
She tells me she met him in the warm dining hall of a snow blanketed train
How the cacophony of the rueful sitar
The jazz spouting from the saxophone gushed like a bubbling brook
How she instantly fell for his strawberry seed tinted irises
If only I’d noticed that his shadow sprawled like a natterjack on the walls, she mourns
If only I’d noticed the sharp sting of rotten apples in the air
If only if only if only if only if only if on—
My Gramma was once a young girl before she was a wife
She believed in jal parris and wishing wells and love locks tied to wavering bridges
Then she met my grandfather and spent her whole life starching and stiffening his shirts
So when she accuses me of ‘be-imaani’ at ludo and snakes and ladders, I don’t protest
I don’t remind her of the motiya in her eye
I don’t say a word
Because someone has to be blamed for that grief-stricken night on the snow blanketed train when a young girl made a huge mistake on the spur of the moment
Aiman Rahman is a writer based in Lahore. She is currently pursuing her BS (Honours) degree in English and comparative literature at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Her first novels were published at the age of nine and 12, upon which she was granted the title of the ‘youngest novelist of Pakistan’. Her works vary from narrative pieces to poetry and plays as well as essays. She was awarded the Educational Achievement Award in the all-Pakistan best novel category by the Awakener Welfare Trust. Aiman draws her inspiration from the works of Tennessee Williams and plans to pursue writing and teaching in the future.
About the featured artist: Muhammad Atif Khan graduated with Distinction in Fine Art from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan. An illustrious career spanning 24 years has seen a plethora of international awards, residencies and workshops. In 1998, he was awarded the ‘UNESCO-ASHBURG Bursary for Artists’, and was appointed Artist in Residence at the Darat-Al-Funun in Amman, Jordan. He received the ‘Commonwealth Arts & Crafts Award'.
Atif Khan has been Artist in Residence at the Swansea Print Workshop in Wales, London Studio in England and Glasgow Art Studio in Scotland. He has shown his work in several prestigious museums and also participated in art workshops in Bangladesh, India, Jordan and UK. He has had 19 Solo shows in Pakistan, UK, Jordan, Switzerland and India.
In 2014, the Aga Khan Museum commissioned Atif Khan to develop a large-scale site-specific sculpture for its inaugural show in Toronto, Canada. In 2015, he won the Lahore Biennale Foundation's Open Call competition titled ‘Intersections’ and developed a large-scale site-specific installation ‘City within a City' at the Chowk Istanbul in Lahore, Pakistan.
This year, Atif Khan won the ADA Award 2020-21 in the category of Digital Arts. He has also created public art installations for the 2nd Karachi Biennale in 2019, Britto Art Project in Bogra, Bangladesh and other works for various organizations in Pakistan. He has participated in Biennale Internazionale Di Opere Di Carta in Schio, Italy, 2nd Karnaphuli Folk Triennial in Chittagong, Bangladesh and the 1st Lahore Biennale (LB01) in Lahore and the 2nd Karachi Biennial (KB19) in Karachi. Alongside his independent art practice, Atif Khan teaches in the Department of Fine Arts at his alma mater, National College of Arts in Lahore. The featured artwork is hand-stamping on composite layers of acrylic sheets, inkjet print cutouts, wooden box-frame (20.5 x 25.5 inches).