Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Allah’s messenger said, ‘Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one and he who memorized them all by heart will enter paradise.’ To count something means to know it by heart - Sahi Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 93, Hadith 489

Cook her with Honey, Sweets, Glorious Sugar
Peaches and Hares, Soft Haired Stranger
smells like Tulips, Beloved Roses, Jasmines,
Violets, Blessed Lilies, Lotus Stars and Songbirds

First Born, Second Born, Eighth Born
The Oldest Daughter, Shy and Timid
My Father’s Blessings, My Mother’s Tears
Promise of God, God is My Father
One Who is Alive, a Songbird Fantasy

Person of the Night who Loves the
Beautiful Night Rain, *****,
Jezebel’s Daughter, Detesting Witch  

she is One Who Can Forsee, Prideful,
Original Sin, Woman of White Magic
Wild As a Mountain Goat
Torch of Light, Light of Mine, Light All Around

watch the Woman with Crown, a Woman of Victory
Truthful Ruler of the House, Ruler with a Spear
Fighting Filled With Wrath, Strong as a Little Bear
Battle Armor From the Land of the Broken
Protector of Sunrise and Nightfall
Fighting a Battle in Winter with
Wisdom and Justice

A Princess Who Has A Heart of Gold
Beauty, A Woman of High Manners
Noble Queen, Radiant Precious Stone
Shining Diamond, Like Smooth Dark Wood

our Possession, our Brand New Home, our Feast
A Reward Given, an Afterthought Charity, Chaste Homemaker
Wealthy Companion, Warm Fire, Compassionate Nurse
Say the Prayers with Heavy Stones

Divine Woman. Universal Woman.  
God’s Messenger,
Holiness, Living.
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Cockroaches peering between the shattered plates scattered once they heard the slap of Shanta’s footsteps up the narrow halls. 5’4 in white socks and brown sandals, she commands the room, her yellow sari, a beacon in the darkening winter days. Mrs Tagore’s radio leaks through paper-thin walls.

Pagla hawar badol diney/ Pagol amar mon jegey othey

Out the **** elevator, she glides above dull linoleum floors to her two room cardboard box. Salina’s neon pink birthday banner hangs on, cobwebs burrowed between ‘A’ and ‘L’. She put the meager groceries away, and hung the bag out the window next to of her neighbor’s drying *******, cold air a mercy from the heat of the stove. Next door, the radio blares on.

Chena shonar kon bairey; Jekhaney poth nai nai re, Shekhaney okaroney jaai chhootey

Lamb’s breath sauteed with cumin, onions, garlic and green chillis from Aladdin’s Grocery on 14th and Jasper clings to her collar like an expensive perfume. The water hisses when it’s poured over, steam rising in protest. She traps under the lid, allowing a single stream to whistle her a lonely tune.

Ghorer mukhey, aar ki re? Kono din shey jabey phirey/ Jabey na jabey na, deyal joto shob gelo tootey.

Today is Salina’s birthday, her plastic table mat is still in its place on the three legged table propped against the living room wall. Shanta puts down a chipped white ceramic plate, cuts out a slice of angel birthday cake and lights a candle, a spell casting soft gold on the old crayon drawings on the plaster walls. She sits in a plastic chair and watches the door. The song reaches its crescendo.

Brishti nesha bhora shondha bela/Kon Boloraam-er ami chaela/ Amar shopno ghirey naachey maatal jutey, joto maatal jutey.

Each echo of stilettos makes Shanta hold her breath. Perhaps this year Salina will finally come back, perhaps this year the door will open and her daughter will smile, will hug her, will laugh as her mother cries. On the table, wilted jasmines, calling cards left unused, Salina’s poems cut from magazines, the word collage blurring together. “My mother's hands/calloused/call me/ bruised mango/this is love”. Each ticking of the clock another blow, another **** collecting on the plate.

Ja na chaayibar tai aaj chaayi go, Ja na paayibar tai kotha pai go? Pabo na pabo no

Mrs. Tagore’s song ends. The candle wax melts on the cake, the cake is thrown away, the room grows dark. Shanta collapses next to the stove. She undoes her yellow sari, loosens her blouse. When she strokes herself, when she comes, she bleeds, she is coming home.
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Hello, thank you for using Bangladesh Free. please input the number you are trying to dial.

yesterday i bought a long distance calling card to talk to myself
there, not here, my body straddles two nations
yesterday i rubbed my fading purple stretch marks
i don’t know which language I dream in any more  
yesterday i sat in cold bathwater scrubbing until the purpura bleed
my mothers’ mothers’ mother died in a red river
my mothers mother’s mother birthed a nation
between her bleeding legs
most days I am still, her water’s edge, algae between teakwood toes
yesterday i bought a long distance calling card to tell myself

We’re sorry your minutes have run out. Please deposit ten dollars to continue.
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Wee black-eyed daughter Sakina was the first to notice it. The guava that had the hairs on it, prickly like a stray alleycat’s. We didn’t know what to do with it so we left it by Nana’s backyard swing next to the pond. When we came back the next day, the hairs had grown longer, this time like crooked peacock’s feathers slim, indolent Saleem’s father used for his broken down rickshaw. “Wow!” bushy eyed Hidra, “should we eat it?” Our piqued response thereafter was that Hidra should be excluded.

All throughout the monsoon season, we trekked back to Nana’s backyard, our hungry, empty Ramadan bellies growling in loud protest but we slathered on, bulwarks against chaos. Each day, the guava became more human, on Monday the smallest hint of tooth, by Tuesday three limbs, and after Jummah prayers on Friday a whole mouth! We poked it, bruised it, no regard for ****** integrity, evince the monsters we hid underneath. It was a sensation that haunts us today. Demure Dafne was the first one to clothe it, placing a ragged sun-bonnet over the eyes. A soft smile emerged then, a genteel kindness. Imbued with flimsy protection, she slipped into the pond.
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Girl you want some lotion? Here I got you
some cocoa, coconut, shea butter, vanilla bean
We’ll have you smelling like fresh dewdrops
From the morning rain, fresh bread, blessings,

Here let me hold that for you, here give it to me,
Here, can I help you? I got you some soup, some
Chocolate, tampons, gum, hair ties, smiles, hugs,
These are how we keep each other alive.

Girl, you gotta listen to this, it’s gonna change you
Your whole life today, go in a dark room and close your
Eyes and listen, mouth each word until its fits yours

you’re looking fine today, you’re holy, you’re whole.
you’re a whole world. here I am, right here, here
standing here, right here beside you.
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Gather your books, your notebooks, your pages and pages
Barely legible Catholic school cursive, oil crusted papers
Coffee stains, cheese danish crumbs, ink marks on your thighs

Use your mother’s brain, your father’s tireless oxen energy
Your sister’s bravery, your grandmother’s mix of mango & tajin,
Your grandfather’s home grown guavas from the rooftop gardens
You come from a legacy, a star doesn’t explode in isolation

At my funeral play Jamila, play Nitty, NoName,
Rihanna, SZA, Mahlia, Kamaiyah, MIA, Nina,
Light a votive in the shape of Beyonce and baby Blue
Sing your blues, the chorus never sounded this good
Nuha Fariha Jun 2019
Dear Angela,
When was the last time the wind blew threw your hair or did it go through your body too? I didn’t know the last time we saw each other, the cat would stain on the wall with its **** and then you would miss your date. Your hair looked like a crown in the sun. Did you ever get the energy to come out of bed?

Dear Angela,
Soot collects in the hollows your cheekbones, the eyeliner you have rubbed off in your sleep. The last time I saw you, you were cleaning the cat’s **** from the walls and missed your date and we laughed it off and had pizza instead. Angela, I know you are exhausted from simply opening your eyes. Angela, do you still hold your body at night like it is something holy?

Dear Angela,
Do you remember when we had tea in the August heat in clear plastic cups with our pinkies up and your mother showed us her corrugated cucumbers? Angela do you remember when you were swimming in the Y with the ladies whose bodies could hold your body and mine and still have room for more.

Dear Angela,
Do you remember when we walked out of class during your first panic attack and how I told you to lay down on the plastic benches that littered the hallway and you said you suddenly felt calm again? Angela do you still lie down on your side sometimes and think about going back to your prime days? Did you know then?

Dear Angela,  
I can tell you to stay strong but I don’t know what that means either. I can tell you that it is winter now and it is cold and campus is a dead white man’s tomb but there are still flowers that stay in the winter time. They call it a winter garden. Angela, maybe you are a winter garden, maybe you are the softest footprint in the snow.
Next page