The time it takes.

The storm you sent,

my way, retreated;

gracefully swirled round,

back your way.

I tamed it with

an ounce of wisdom,


a whiff of smiles.

While the weeds,

you let grow, pull you down;

your storm brews,

I its new Master.

©2014. Habiba Danyal


This poetry answers the question:

What time is it?

in 42 words.



They don’t let go…

He struggled hard to breath. His lungs were full of smoke and the stench that surrounded him.  The thought of what his feet had touched made his stomach lurch and his guts emptied the burden of what he had seen out of his system. His heart remained heavy though. No outlet for the poor thing…

“Will you make me a promise Sheheryar?” 

“Yes maa.”

“Promise that you’ll be a good…”

“… good man and I’ll prove that I was raised by a queen.” Sheheryar finished her words.

She laughed, her head fell back and her lips stretched into a smile he adored. She kissed his fore-head in that moment of mirth and held his face in her hands. She loved it when he improvised it that way and called her a queen.

Sheheryar Sikander felt dampness on his cheeks. He rubbed his fingers on his face and brought them before his eyes. Dirt and tears. She had taught him never to hide his tears.

“Boys do cry Sheheryar. It’s okay.”

“But everyone else says they don’t.” He pulled his face straight and refused to give in to tears.

She smiled that saintly smile of hers and held his hand between her two. “What’s more important is, that boys don’t make others cry.”

He met her eyes and let her words sink in. They found an easy passage all the way to his heart. Tears came and then some more. He buried his face in her and cried like a child.

“Does this mean that I am weak?” He asked.

“This means, son, that you have a strong and kind heart.” She pulled him back into her embrace and cried with him until they both felt better.

He had left his boots back near the cinders; where he carelessly threw them off to distance himself from the woman. But he could feel something. It was the hand, he had stepped on in his haste to pull off his boots. He wished he had kept them on. The fire would have been better than the feel of her flesh. He stood up and rubbed his feet on the leaves that covered the forest floor. He rubbed them against the bark of trees to get her hands off them. His feet bled and hurt. They were back on fire. He fell to the floor, feeling better. He welcomed the fire.

He lay there for hours or may be just a few, he didn’t know. When he woke up, he found himself in the village hospital. The first thing he was aware of was not the strong smell of the place or the bright light that came in through the window and pierced his eyes. It was the hands that clung to his feet beneath the bandages.

He pulled off the bandages like a maniac, howling with pain and frightening the other patients. There was nothing there, but the feeling wouldn’t go. It clung to him like a leech. He raked his fingers through his hair and held his head in his hands, banging his feet on the small cot.

For years Sheheryar Sikander couldn’t shake off the hands that clung to his feet. He was often seen in public without shoes. He gave a thousand pointless excuses for not putting them on. He kept his socks on though. So that no one could see the bruises. He had hurt himself countless times and welcomed the pain.

He knew there was only one way to shake them off. He had to do justice to the woman who was burned alive in the forest.

©2014. Habiba Danyal   600 words for:   This week’s question is:

“Why are your boots off?”

Returning love.

“I’ll go for a Pixie-cut,” said Sandra, eyeing her hair.

Ming carefully placed the brunette’s chopped pony-tail in a Ziploc bag.

“First time, here?” asked Ming.

“Nope. Used to come here for the wig. Just giving back some love, darling,” Sandra replied.

©2014. Habiba Danyal



This week’s question is:

Is this your first time?


The Elder, carefully tucked the corners of the sheet around her and looked at his companion for approval. The companion gave a quick nod.

“Shall we go then?” The companion asked.

The Elder kept staring at her, the one they were leaving behind.

“She is in good hands,” said the companion.

“I know, I’ve delivered four of her kind here before. But every time I fear, their fate,” said the Elder with a sigh.

“Why should you fear for them? The man has always been a good father, hasn’t he?” Asked the companion.

“Undoubtedly he has. But circumstances change; and so does man. They are unpredictable, these human beings. They mourn what should be celebrated and run after mediocre things. So every time I deliver a girl, I wait and watch their reaction. Its my way of keeping, let’s say… a check on the human race or rather, a check on humanity,” said the Elder.

The companion gave a sad smile and waited along with the Elder.

“Here he comes,” said the Elder, more to himself than his companion. He held his breath as the man took the girl in his arms. He had aged since the last time he saw him.

The man looked at her and said to his wife, “They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair.”

The Elder sighed with relief and said to his companion,”Time to go good friend. We have more baby girls to deliver. The boys, I’ll do alone.”

The companion looked at him with confusion and asked, “But wasn’t that a weird thing to say? They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair!

“Weirder than, Take this thing out of my sight and birth a son next time or you’ll be dead, eh?” Replied the Elder with a chuckle. He soared up, towards the heaven with a light heart. They weren’t given one, but still he felt that he had one, sometimes.

A couple of years later, the Elder and his companion were on duty, together. They had left a house where the father had refused to accept the girl as his own. The companion was desolate. The Elder, seeing his state said,”Come I’ll show you something.” He took him to the house where they had earlier delivered the fifth daughter.

The companion saw the man sitting with his legs outstretched, surrounded by his daughters. All of them were engaged in some work while the fifth one was climbing up his shoulders. She climbed down his chest and slid down the man’s legs, gurgling with laughter. The man sat smiling at her and stretched his legs a little more, joining them once more for her next ride.

The companion smiled at the Elder and said, “Really, they are all the same for him, aren’t they? “

The Elder smiled and nodded. He had a vision then.

He saw that man next to Mohammad in a garden of Eden. To the vision he said, “Amen.”

©2014. Habiba Danyal



Last things first…

She carefully tucked her hair in the helmet, jumped on the bike and kick started it. Dressed in an ill-fitted sweat shirt and faded jeans it was hard to tell it was a girl who was riding the bike. She rolled the throttle a couple of times and raced through the traffic, dodging cars. On the highway, she checked the speedometer; she didn’t want any police cars tailing her. She could feel the corners of her eyes being pulled back by the forceful wind she was cutting through. Normally her lips would be stretched in a smile as well but today was different.

The barrage was in sight now. She pulled the handle bars and slowed down the bike, bringing it to a halt under a tree. Some strands of hair had come lose during the ride and were tickling the nape of her neck as they swayed with the light breeze. She went over to the bridge above the barrage and leaned against the side wall. The gates were closed and a few local boys were having their everyday diving ritual. The youngest among them who was around fourteen was quick to notice a spectator. He rushed up the stairs and chose the highest spot on the wall which was built in a staircase fashion, gradually descending into the water. Pulling his shalwar up to his chest he launched himself in a somersault dive. There was a huge splash as he dropped into the water from a height of about 20 feet.

She often wondered what it was like to drop into the water and plunge deep in its depth shutting out the world above. She did that a thousand times at home but her pool was eerily quiet, or rather her house was. Rivers must be different, she thought, because they had their stories to tell. Centuries old stories that hid way down in their beds.

She shook her thoughts away. She wasn’t here today for the usual. Today was different. She freed her hair from the dusty helmet she never bothered wearing. Today she was here to end her life.

She felt there was nothing more that life could bring her. At 24, Laila had had a college degree, several distinctions, boyfriends she couldn’t count, a bike and a car she didn’t drive much. She had a closet full of clothes she never wore, had taken drugs, visited the goal for drunken charge which was more scandalous because she was a girl, and her father’s daughter. So there wasn’t anything left for her to do. It would be so easy. She had planned it all out.

She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice the police vans. They headed down to the bank of the river and started talking to the locals. A couple of men wearing safety jackets along with the local boys dove into the water. After half an hour of searching, two of them came up with a moldy log which was tied to a rope. The log was brought back to the bank and it was then that she noticed it was a dead body.

“Poor girl! They say she used to work for some Big Sahib. She was raped and murdered by him. The police have been on this case for long now,” said a woman who was standing next to her. Laila hadn’t noticed when she had come.

“Who did she work for?” Laila asked.

“She worked for Meeran Shah, the business tycoon,” she replied.

It wasn’t a shock for her. She had just found another reason to hate him. She hadn’t raised enough hell in the life of the man who happened to be her father. To bring justice to the girl who was unlikely to get it the right way; Laila Shah decided she was staying alive.

©2014. Habiba Danyal


Withered I was by the norms of your world,

oppressed, battered and beguiled,

marred by sati my body was, massacred by rape, my soul

anguish, if you say you have experienced?

nay sir, how naïve you have been.

Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.

– Dalai Lama

Happy International Women’s Day to all those women lucky enough to read this and curtsy to those who weren’t ignorant enough to notice that it is an acrostic poem.

©2014. Habiba Danyal