Dear you,

Dear you,

As I walk past your room everyday, I see your back. Your hands folded behind your head and your eyes staring at the ceiling. Sometimes you light a cigarette and smoke. You carefully keep  your hand by your side, in a vain attempt to hide the lit stub. Sometimes you switch on the television and all day long the sound fills your room. You turn it up more until it becomes unbearable. But you do not wince, not even once.

Sometimes when you aren’t alone, I stop and look at you. Lately, watching you is all I do. Even when surrounded by people, your eyes are somewhere else. Ergo, so are you. You are with them but you aren’t. In a crowd you are that one person who looks and feels lost. The crowd thinks you are one of them but I know, that you aren’t.

When I take a walk with you I keep my eyes on you. Because I know you’ll watch for hurdles for both of us. I look at you and see you walk with a stride. To someone else you may seem like a man with purpose. But to me, and I know; you are a man who wants to put as much distance between the world and yourself as you possibly can. But now I think, in doing that, you out-distanced yourself from life.

I caught you laughing that day which you rarely do. So I stopped time and rewound it. I picked up the cause of your glee. It was a kid. I know you love them. I searched your eyes again trying to see if your heart was in it. It was, and I was taken aback. I saw life in them like flecks of cloud after a satiating rain. I was taken aback for I thought you were already dead. As dead as me.

Dear you, who was me some twenty odd years back,

I regret every moment of our life. I regret being you and I wish upon the whole universe to undo it all; who I was, to be who I really wanted to be. We spent our lives trying to be the best sons, the best brothers and the best of every relation. We led our lives exactly as it was expected of us rather than how we wanted it to be. And in the process we lost ourselves.

And what is worse than losing one’s own self? Trust me when I tell you this, that you own the world as long as you own your spirit, your hopes, your dreams and your ability to love.

With nothing to give, as I stand empty handed and invisible,


who you’ll be some twenty odd years later.

©2015. Habiba Danyal


Make something!

When someday you decide that you want to make something, this is what you can do. Take some clay; nice, sticky, doughy clay. Stretch it, twist it up and shape it like you want it to. Give it a face, a flawless figure and paint it the colour you want it to be.

There! Now you have a vessel. It can adorn your table or sit atop a shelf, behave as you want it to behave and be a pleasure to look at maybe. But the trouble with vessels is, they are dull, unresponsive and they shatter.

So here is something else you can do. Ask God to blow a soul into it. It would either be engulfed by flames, sprout wings, stretch them out and soar on. Or it would wiggle in its place, rock to and fro and grow four limbs.

If it takes a flight, it is an angel and you don’t deserve it. None of us does, these days.

If it grows limbs, then it’s a human, as you may have guessed. But the trouble with humans is, that they walk, talk, eat and interact. They cannot furnish your house or please you 24/7/365. They live, breath, evolve, have emotions like you do and probably have troubles bigger than yours. They are capable of committing social faux pas as much as you are and above all they might feel the need to walk out of your life for good.

The bright side of the picture?

Well, empathize with them, remember: NOT sympathize and see how they make life worth living. Give them space, the benefit of doubt, allow them to walk out of your life only to come back and you would have made something immensely beautiful and pristine. Even more than the vessel.

Because vessels unlike humans, are lifeless. And life itself, is extinct without life.

So the next time you have time, make something.

Make people- yours!

©2014. Habiba Danyal

White houses & Red forts.

The white house, she called it. Built on God knew how many yards it stood like a monument amongst equally large but less admirable houses. Vines of jasmine curtained its windows and the marbled floor of the verandah reflected even the slightest movement of the leaves rippled by the wind. One side of the house had a glass wall through which a chandelier could be seen. When lit, its splendour was one to be gaped at.

Ameena knew it was bad manners to peep in people’s houses but she couldn’t help stealing a glance whenever the oak-front doors were open. The garden that surrounded it was as grandiose as the house itself. Comfortable garden chairs lay in one corner speaking of the several times the dwellers may have leisurely occupied them. She let out a sigh as she noticed the fountain in the far corner for the first time.

Days passed by. Her father’s business prospered and they moved in a new house, in a new town. The white house was long forgotten now that she had her own red bricked villa that had more grace, more grandeur.

Admired by all, friends and family, it was furnished exactly the way she had dreamed how the white house must look inside. The house was a busy place where the staff always kept the kitchen warm, the pantry well-stocked, the car fuelled and the garden alive and growing.

What it never provided was…

The warmth of her mother’s hugs….

Her father’s early morning humming and concerned look over her empty plate….

Her brother’s bickering…..

The bloated feeling she used to have after eating her mother’s cooking….

In a place so big, she had lost her family somewhere. The smiles, laughter and love lay somewhere buried beneath the vast grounds or behind the countless walls thick enough to hold them captive. She remembered the white house. She heard the sigh of someone passing the street. They called it the Red Fort, she knew.

©2013. Habiba Danyal

For Trifecta Week 93.

Addicts, as they were!

A swig, a shot, a pinch or even a sniff would do… He could take it whenever or in whatever amount he liked. It was always close at hand. In his room, in his pocket or at the café down the street. Even at school……every one there was already one too. The bitch was spreading like a virus. Shifting hands from one to the other, taking hold of people by storm. Damn! Every one now a days was an addict. Who the hell needed speed or Mary Jane for euphoria? Why the hell anyone would want to damage their wiring or get HIV when just a whiff of it would do!

A whiff and he could wander off to a place where he could hide his true self from the world. Where he could make people believe things about him…things no one would care to listen to or want to hear about, in person! He could brag about his social calls and his new car or the number of girls he had screwed or anything. Hell! Everyone else was already in a frenzy because of it. Why the hell would they bother to verify whatever he has to say…

It was ecstatic!

She knew it was the only addiction she could take on fearlessly…no one would object! Hah…..She could flaunt herself, her clothes, her bags. Her life’s dream, it was! Express her worries, and have a thousand napkins dropped at her feet. They were ready to wipe the grime off her feet. People are so courageous behind a screen!

She could gossip, poke her nose into people’s business without letting them know she was interested! She could fake a conversation to make anyone jealous or grab sympathies….. Why! Everyone should know. Have a peep in her life! They need not know the dirty bits. Behind her smile, the fake laughter, they need not know what was hidden. Hmmmm… was ecstatic with it in it!

There! What happened next? Well, He met She. They finally got married. And 50 years later sat in a restaurant, a classy one mind you, with a huge family of theirs. And every one of them down to their youngest grandson, addicts as they were, updated their statuses or tweeted: “At Port Grand, with family.” A family that met one another behind a computer screen more frequently than they met in person!

The End!

©2012. Habiba Danyal



Reminiscing the past, “Envisioning” the future!

Back in years that were more peaceful than these and festivals more full of joy and responsibilities less burdening than they are today – back then, in childhood are buried so many bitter-sweet memories!

Memories of laughter, the sheer joy of a free ice-cream scoop, gobbling peanuts in blankets careful not to leave evidence in the shape of shells, the thrill and fear of being caught after playing a prank, stealing and eating Kairis left out to dry in the summer sun for pickles, the adventure trips up the hill near my house and the park at the top of it, the silly cow-boy games influenced by a childhood I spent in the company of my rowdy cousins and festivals that brought with them immense happiness, colourful bangles, Henna and clothes smaller than those that fit me today.

The arrival of Eid ul Azha and a poem by a friend brought back a childhood memory today. I was 11 back then I suppose when with my cousins and sisters I raided the nearby henna camp (one of the many that sprout out on streets before Eid) like always! And while I debated with my cousin over which designs we will let the henna artist apply on our hands I noticed a pretty girl there. Dressed in sky blue, with cropped hair and eyes as green as emeralds, she sat on a wheelchair. It weren’t just her enigmatic green eyes, the very shade I am so fond of, or her hair cut that made me stare at her like a devotee but there was something very mesmerizing about her peaceful smile that drew me to her. Although back then, I wasn’t sure what I liked about  her more, her looks or the glow on her face, but now when I think of it, I presume it was her inner peace and the sad radiant beauty that touched me through her smile!

How I wished then, that I could drag her off the wheel chair and make her walk or ask God to make a prince fall in love with her and keep her happy for the rest of her life. I kept stealing glances making sure that I don’t look like I am rudely staring at her and I shamelessly eavesdropped on her while she was talking to her friends, curious to know something about her. She was having henna applied on both of her hands at  the same time and when it was done the henna artists asked her if she liked it. She brushed the hair off her face with the back off her hand and turned towards her friend. She stretched her hands towards her and asked “Well, how does it look? I hope it leaves a very red colour behind. You’ll have to tell me if it does, wont you.” Her friend hugged her and said, ” Your hands look the prettiest of us all!” She giggled and brought her hands close to her face and said in a small voice, “Wish I could see myself.” Her friend rubbed her shoulders and cheered her up with a quip. And they left the camp that day but stayed in my memory forever.

That day I really thanked God for everything and I still do when I reminisce that incident. I took joy in smelling henna-filled hands and appreciated the red colour more than ever that Eid-day, thankful that I could see and enjoy the beauty of it!

A huge thank you to Dr.Sraiya Nasim at the Paper Butterfly for her beautiful poem “ENVISION” that brought back a memory exactly  when I needed to recall it. And Eid Mubarak to all dear readers! Sending Peace and good vibes your way.

Where Freedom Lies!

So, you think you are free?

Look around; look within!

Caged behind the bars of ribs,

your free heart lies.

Wedged inside the vault of skull,

lies your broad-mind.

On one bank awaits the tyrant,

on the other the religion trader.

While in betwixt on a raft you float,

one seeks your heart;

the other, on your mind wagers!

With one leg chained to friends;

the other, your kith and kin.

Truth, if said strangles your throat,

theft and lies akin!

Bound by the rules of crème de la crème,

interlocked in the chain of the ton.

You are free to live as you wish;

free to live as you want!


So, you really think you are free?

Look around; look again!

Never in life will you be,

free to live as you shall.

Never in life the banquet,

Of freedom will be held!


‘Tis with death, yes!

With death comes freedom;

with death, release!

©2012.Habiba Danyal

For Write on Edge’s Red-Writing Hood Prompt – Freedom.

What ought not be upon thy tongue….

What ought not be upon thy tongue,

But deep within thy heart;

Is respect for all human kind,

Regardless of their creed or cast.

No matter what shade they are,

What colour, tinge or hue.

No matter whether white or black,

Or pink or brown or blue.

What ought not be upon thy tongue,

But deep within thy heart;

Is true love for friends and family,

Not a love note on a postal card.

Not empty words all neatly wrapped,

In the paper of pretence;

Tied up with meaningless gestures,

False promises worth two pence.

Why does our tongue claim the love,

That the heart has never felt?

Why is our heart a barren land,

A stone so hard to melt?

Why is respect restricted,

To rank, money and might?

What changed our old perspectives,

To pursuit what’s good and right?

©2012 Habiba Danyal