Sana S. Khan
Thank you to Taiba Abbas for sourcing this piece for the website.
My unfulfilled self. you ask? I daresay, what an odd question. Come with me, dear visitor, let us take a stroll through my personal graveyard. I keep it pristine, you see, perhaps a tribute to those unfulfilled parts we don’t really speak of.
Ah, here we are, the first grave. See what is says on the tomb stone? What does it mean, you ask? Well, if you have a minute, I’ll regale you with a brief tale.
The Seer of Souls
She is neither tall nor short. Neither slim nor plump. Neither beautiful nor ugly. If you see her walk down the street, you would notice neither her form nor her sway. But if, perchance, you see into her eyes, you will fall and crumble to the ground. For her eyes are your mirrors—and you will witness all the pain and anguish which you have hidden in crevices forgotten.
Spend time conversing with her, and her voice, like tendrils of soft smoke, will curl around you, causing you to spill words from your lips, unbidden. And she will treat your words like pearls, like gems from your soul. Your heart will race, your breath will catch, and your tears will come forth because your body will know that it will be honoured, it will be received and it will be seen. She gives you room, almost infinite like the skies, so you may purge yourself and embark upon a journey within.
And if you are lost, fret not, because her words are like stars in the desert skies. They will shine for you, guide you, and show you the way. Her questions are like arrows, they strike you in your darkest spaces, bringing forth an amalgamation of wonderings, realizations...
Shall we move on to the next grave? It’s just here, oh, be mindful of your step. Ah, here were are.
The Seeker of Truths
She scans the ballroom for her quarry. A scant description was communicated to her, completely unhelpful.
She was dressed as per occasion. A charity ball with the most prominent figures of the city. But she was in search of one amongst them. The Bomb Maker. With an unclear motive, he was responsible for the tragic loss of thousands of innocent lives. Her agency had been searching for him in vain for the past year. Every lead was a dead end, and this one would possibly be as well. But it was always worth looking into.
This was the most exhausting part of the mission. The rest fell into place intuitively. Her eyes rested on one face after the other, but nothing clicked. Her instincts seemed to be slumbering as well. The whole affair began to look dull and pointless.
She considered calling her handler to tell her to abort the entire mission, when the hairs on her neck stood on end. Something in the room had changed.
Cautiously she eyed the guests, finding nothing amiss. Her instincts were seldom wrong. She walked amongst the revelers, men in fine suits, women in glamorous gowns. Expensive perfume tickled her nose, and snippets of conversation fell upon her ears. But she had to focus on the element which caused her body to react. Her heart dipped. She swirled around, eyes darting. He is here. She could sense it.
She turned, carefully heading to the bar, awaiting clues from her alerted body. Her heart quickened slightly. She was close.
A woman in a gold dress caught her eye. Nothing.
One after the other she eyed the people in the vicinity. And then her heart froze. Her skin broke out into tiny ripples.
At the edge of the bar, he sat, drink in one hand, phone in the other. White curls fell to his shoulders, slender fingers flicked the phone.
He didn’t exactly match the description given to her, but she felt it in her bones that this was him.
She slipped onto the stool beside him and ordered herself a drink. Her heart thrummed, like a magnet next to iron fillings.
He didn’t notice her, or if he did, he didn't show it.
She took a delicate sip from her Bloody Mary.
“I hope you don't mind my sitting here?” she flashed him a coy smile.
Cold eyes met hers and appreciatively traveled down her length and back. The corner of his lips curled: “The pleasure is all mine.”
Slowly, deliberately, she lifted the glass to her lips, keeping her eyes trained on his.
Here, here, you may have a seat here—there’s an unused stool, where I sit sometimes and ponder. There’s one more grave left—are you up for it? No, there aren’t any more graves after this.
The Seeker of Love
I lay on the earth, connected to it, taking its vitality into my being. The glades of grass tickle my legs. The warmth of the sun kisses my skin, and envelops me in its luminosity. The breeze sighs in my ears, taking my gentle breath with it. My eyes remain closed, as I rest my head in your lap, smelling your scent.
Birds sing in the tree your back rests against. But all I hear is your voice. Its deep baritone sinking into my heart, thrumming through the wisps of my soul. It clouds around me, cacooning me in its placid embrace. The effect on my person is almost intoxicxcating and I helplessly lose myself in the words you utter.
Oblivious to my predicament, you continue to read and I continue to be woven into your spell.
You take a pause, to catch your breath perhaps, your eyes roam to my face, and you take a second to take in the soft serenity of my expression.
A slight frown mars my brow as I wait for you to continue. Your chest rumbles with gentle amusement, sending soft tendrils of joy into me.
And then you continue to read to me, your words a balm, your voice a salve.
Silently, I pray for this moment to never end. I memorize every iota of its existence, entombing it in my heart, branding it on my soul.
That is the last grave, my dear visitor, I do hope I havent bored you half to tears. Why do I carry a shovel, you ask? Word has it I may need to prepare another grave, hence I always stay ready. Hmm, thats a tough questionx—I have an inkling that the next one may be called The Weaver of Words, but I’ll just have to wait and see.
An amalgam of confusion, ponderings, disillusionments, and doubts, Sana S. Khan is ever persistent about the journey of the soul. In a world that is too loud, too distracting, and heartbreakingly selfish, Sana tries to find solace in the written word. Her pieces normally revolve around the self and the journey within. Sana has a penchant for dutifully avoidings chores, and either finds herself with a book accompanied by tea and cake, or on the PlayStation, also, with tea and cake. You can find her on Instagram: @unmended
Sara Shakeel is a contemporary Pakistani artist known for using glitter and Swarovski crystals to create both digital and physical collages on photography and three-dimensional objects. The artwork has been sourced from a private collection.