January 1, 2015


I am a 21-year old female, hailing from Karachi, Pakistan, currently in 3rd year of medical school. I adore books and can often be found among them. Books made me the writer that I am today, helping me in my grammar and spelling. While other children were running away from words and anything that even resembled books, I was being raised on them. As a result of cutting my teeth on books like Oliver Twist and Jane Eyre and even some Sidney Sheldon, I am able to stroke my creativity to aspiring heights and reproduce my imagination on paper. Being a cat person, I aspire to be a vet someday. Although I am quite proficient on the idea of opening an animal hospital, publishing my poems is an aim that I have always kept at the back of my mind. When I am not at my laptop writing, I enjoy quiet soliloquies and Need for Speed: Carbon.

Mama Stole my Eyebrow

When mama cut my hair, she stole one of my eye brows.
I started to tell her, the amount of compromise she allowed my face expressions
but she had already forgotten that she had cut my hair in the first place.

When mama went to the grocery store and purchased bananas instead of pomegranates, I forgave her.
She even forgot to take her money back for which I couldn't forgive her more.

When mama and I would have an early breakfast on a Sunday morning, she would put marmalade in my tea.
I would drink it down and no matter how disgusting it would be, I'd tell her, this is the best thing you've ever made.
I'd call it Marmatea.

Mama used to read me stories about dragons and wolves and merman's with large spearheads.
And every time she would kiss my forehead and turn to switch off the light, I would shriek,"Mama! You forgot my goodnight kiss!"
My forehead still bears the imprint of her lips where they made contact four times every night.

Mama went grey one day, her hair the colour of rising mist.
It made the walls of our house look bleak and shy. I would hold her hand and tell her,"You're beautiful."
And she would thank me, getting my name mixed up with our next door neighbour's.

Today when mama cut my hair, she stole one of my eye brows.
She looked into the mirror, gasped at the horror of what her hands had done.
Handed me the scissors and told me to cut off her eye brow.

Even now, mama laughs at our missing feature. But I don't mind.
She'll forget it soon enough.

First appeared in The Screech Owl magazine


Next Year

Next year, I'll plant the bulbs
in my garden and water them at sun rise.
Right now they are dead bodies
buried into the mud.
The roots have gone dry and I can
barely make out their presence to be existent.

Next year, I'll buy a diary
and note down the price of every book in the library.
I'll write down the names of the books I have,
books I want to read and books I cannot buy.
My bookshelf needs some criticism.

Next year, I'll mail grandma and invite her over
for dinner and coffee.
I last saw to her when I was 10 and moving away from the farm.
I remember grandma and her promise, to talk everyday.
By phone, by letters.
I hope she doesn't remember the promise.
Next year, I'll cook apple pie and offer
it to the widower downstairs.
He is lonely
I can see him sitting there among his plants,
crying for his wife.
I hope he doesn't die before I can invite him up.

Next year, I will sit at this same old desk
smelling of old apples and memories
looking out at my garden.
Next year I will still buy a notebook and
write what I'll do next year.



The Hilton's Law:

                                    "If there is an injury in any part of the body,
                         the surrounding muscles of that area will undergo a spasm."

My mother was not a drug-addict.
She merely communicated with those soft balls, or minty tablets or those big encapsulated ones with ovoid ends, the ones that somehow ended up in my fingers for hours, sometimes carrying on long conversations with those tiny pills, locked up in her room for hours.

My other was not a druggie.
In the summer of 2005, when I was a person who had lived a decade on this earth, my sister and I witnessed our mother in her room. Her door had not been locked. She was whispering something to those evil balls of strange smells, secrets into their ears. I don't know whether they had ears or not but they snickered treacherously. She took eleven of them that evening.

She was injured. We could see it. She was a fluctuating cardiac muscle, trying to pump more blood into the body of our little family but we were the constricted arteries; what could we do?
It was the next morning when I discovered the word 'bipolar'.


  1. 1.
    having or relating to two poles or extremities.
    "a sharply bipolar division of affluent and underclass"

  2. 2.
    (of psychiatric illness) characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only.

When she finally woke up, we were walking on eggshells. We could not manage the tightrope she walked on. The ends seemed to slip a bit further away. I could not let her fall.Those tiny beings actually had names. One was Lexotanil. The other Lithium. When I could gather the courage to tiptoe into her room and rummage through her medicine; sorry drug drawer. They were evil. They were eating my mother. I wanted to flush them away but found my own courage to do so, swept into the underground filth.

My mother is not a drug abuser.I am 15. My sister receives a call from our mother. She is faint and drowsy. She says,"I have taken 14 Lexotanil."
I take the phone, stare at the screen name so lovingly ingested and delete the call.

~Nabeela Altaf

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