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What does ‘lived happily ever after’ mean in a lifetime

Niilofur Farrukh

The following poem first appeared in The Aleph Review, Vol. 5 (2021) and is being published on the website as part of Dr Javaria Farooqui's digital curation (July, 2022).

Should it be quantified in racing moments

or stilled in the timelessness of memory?

Birthing… parenting…

tending to bruises of body and heart

of the young ones

with a tenderness you never knew of

What does ‘lived happily ever after’ mean in a lifetime

Stepping into the unknown loneliness

of the empty nest

to find you have transitioned

back… once more a couple.

Connecting with the serenity in each other

Stepping on waves, dodging the undertow in unison.

Letting the weight of a tropical monsoon

come crashing down with abandonment.

Walking a mountain trail of seamless green

on the edge of snow.

Stargazing on a dune, afar from the city

What does ‘lived happily ever after’ mean in a lifetime

Agreeing to disagree…

anger losing its edge with caring…

understanding differences…

learning forgiveness

Finding that a red rose expresses

love and regret with the same intensity

What does ‘lived happily ever after’ mean in a lifetime

Burying parents and siblings

Knowing bewildering pain, slow healing,

the foreverness of a grieving corner in the heart.

The thought creeping in

that we will lose each other one day

What does ‘lived happily ever after’ mean in a lifetime

Your grave where I sit by you, can never be cold nor dark.

It is the place where you rest

knowing the warmth of our togetherness

the ‘lived happily ever after’ of a lifetime

Family Planning by Rabia Farooqui


Niilofur Farrukh’s poems, in contrast to her critical writings on art, come from a deeply emotional space and her recent work was triggered by grief. The poetic journey that started in the 1970s was powered by defiance and her work was a part of recitals and anthologies of that decade. After a very long hiatus, poetry just returned, like a friend that wanted to share her loss, and stayed, spurred by the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic. Niilofur has three books on issues connected to art and society to her credit and was the founding editor of NuktaArt. Currently she heads the Karachi Biennale.

About the featured artist: Rabia Farooqui is a Karachi-based visual artist. She received her BFA from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (Karachi) majoring in miniature painting, and has taken part in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally. Rabia represented Pakistan at the Green Olive Art Residency in Morocco. She participated in another art residency, Zaratan Arte Contemporanea in Lisbon, Portugal and was nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize 2020.

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