Alas, Syria! Iam ashamed of myself!

For I never counted having a family, food to eat and a house to sleep in blessing enough.

For I complained of the visits I never had to the new Starbucks outlet or the new Enfield my dad never bought for me unlike the rich kids down my street.

Alas, Syria! Iam ashamed of myself!

For I shouted at my mom because the food didn’t meet my standards nor satisfy my tastes,

While my little sisters and brothers coudn’t sleep of empty stomaches rumbling at night.

For I complained that I coudn’t concentrate as the A. C was too old and I felt too hot,

While my little sisters and brothers with parched lips and bleeding naked soles ran to safety under the scorching sun.

Alas, Syria! Iam ashamed of myself!

For I made a fuss in getting my lazy self out of bed to attend college, all time bikering how boring the lectures were,

While my little sisters and brothers wished they could go to school and prayed they get to live life atleast one normal day.

For I thought my life was so tough and hated it so much that I wanted to kill myself since I lost the love of my life,

While my little sisters and brothers prayed for their lives as they watched their mom, dad, sisters and brothers fall lifeless on earth in front of their eyes.

Alas, Syria! Iam ashamed of myself!

For I wasted time watching soaps and boasting of my perfect life on twitter, facebook and instagram instead of praying for you,

While my little sisters and brothers, hungry and cold became amputees, deaf, blind,orphans and corpses at a very tender age, bullets and bombings their very first sights of this wonderful world.

For I was busy following the latest sizzling news of my favourite filmstar couples getting married that I forgot to follow the news of your struggles,

While my little sisters and brothers covered in blood afraid of being clicked with camera and guns pointed at their faces.

I wonder how the photographers captured impeccable images not even a blur in their frames.

Didn’t tears well up in their eyes when the child cried innocently ; For I cannot bear it, even if my enemy cried in front of my eyes.

Alas, Syria! Iam ashamed of myself!

Oh! I feel so helpless sharing your tragedy on all social media!

For how could I even relate with the pain you are feeling or share the bullets and grenades you are bearing in your heart,

While my little sisters and brothers who should have been discussing video games and cartoons shouted out that the world has abandoned them.

I don’t understand the politics of the War but I thought the rich and mighty Arabs, Trump’s government and the Putin’s army still had a heart, I guess I was wrong.

All around me I hear people cry out as to how God could be so cruel, but instead I ask Almighty why he created humans who just kill and rape. How could they be so cruel?

Syria I weep for you with my heart and soul,

Wishing the world end right now, this very minute, to stop the cruelty of the world when humanity died.

Alas, Syria! Iam ashamed of myself!

Oh! I feel so helpless, for all I can do is pray,

And all I can ask of the humanity is to pray,

Alas, Syria! To pray for you.

Garden of Paradise

Firdouse was running around the garden chasing the rainbow butterfly, just like a hummingbird flying from flower to flower seeking nectar . She called it the rainbow butterfly as it was sprayed with all dashing colours including violet , red, orange , green and turquoise blue with black spots on its wings. It reminded her of the rainbow in the sky her teacher taught about at school and was a sight to her eyes. Playing in her Uncle’s garden, she forgot all sadness of staying away from home and her parents.

Her parents had gone to Mecca to perform Umrah(Pilgrimage). When she enquired Abba about what Umrah is ,he said ” Me and your Ammi are going to the house of Allah to seek his blessings through prayers.” She had not understood why they were not taking her with them and sadly asked with a pout ,” Why don’t Allah want to see me? Is it because he doesn’t love me?” “Oh! My child ,Offcourse Allah loves little children like you.He loves you so much that he doesn’t want to hurt your tiny feet with all the walking and praying. He wants you to grow big like Ammi and then come visit him at his home.” Abba replied with a smile .

Abba and Ammi took her to her Uncle’s when the day for their journey approached .Firdouse felt sad as she had never stayed away from her parents for such a long time .They would be gone for atleast a week. Abba wiped her tears and whispered in her ears “Firdouse ,you are the noor (light) of our eyes .We will bring you lots of dates and chocolates from Mecca when we come home.Be a good girl , listen to your Uncle and Aunty and also do your studies well and pray for us.” Firdouse nodded with a smile and waved them both goodbye.

“Firdouse ,come and drink your milk ,else you will be late for school “,her aunt called out .Firdouse stopped chasing the butterfly and rushed back into the house. Uncle and Aunt had two sons .Both of them were big and had gone off to work abroad. Firdouse did not have anyone to play with at their house and usually went with Noorah to school .Noorah was her best friend. Noorah with her big blue eyes and a wide grin showing off the gaps in her front teeth. Noorah always had wonderful tales to tell her on their way to school ,Of how the cat next door was stolen by a tramp, how her big brother had beaten a boy at school who teased him about his short height and about all the pretty dresses and dolls her cousins gave her. Firdouse was fascinated by Noorah’s tales and would listen intently. She would feel jealous as she never had any siblings or cousins to play with.

But that day Noorah was not at the bend of the road to receive her. She had been ill with the flu for many days now.She missed Noorah just like she missed her mom and dad. How Firdouse wished Noorah was with her so that she could tell her details of her stay at her Uncle’s big house. She mentally rehearsed on what all to tell her when Noorah would recover and go to school with her. Childish thoughts brimming her mind, she did not notice how quite and deserted the street was. All the shops had been closed due to the death of the Nawab . The Nawab was an elderly person and was a gentle soul who helped many of the poor and was dear to all the residents of their locality .They had closed their shops out of respect for the Nawab.She wished her school had given a holiday too but their principal was very strict and was of the opinion that the Nawab would have liked all kids to go to school even on his death day.

Firdouse was walking with a skip in her steps when she heard someone call out her name . She turned around to see who it is and saw that it was Hakeem Uncle. Hakeem Uncle was her fathers and uncles’ friend and would often visit Abba and have tea with him with long talks on serious stuff. Hakeem uncle was very kind and would bring along chocolates to give her and would make her sit on his lap and play with her whenever he was not talking to Abba. Hakeem Uncle came walking by her stride and asked her, ” Hey little Firdouse! How are you ? You are staying with your uncle right ? Do you miss your parents ? Come I will buy you some candy .” Firdouse smiled shyly and said hesitantly ,” But Hakeem Uncle I would be late for school .” “Thats ok .A candy won’t take five minutes and besides I will walk you to your school.”

It had been sometime since they had started walking still there was no sign of any candy shop in sight . Her little legs were tiring her and she was afraid her teacher would scold her for getting late. ” Uncle I want to go to school ,my legs are paining ” ,she worried. “Don’t worry little girl .I will take you to my place.Lets sit for a while and then we will start off. I will explain to your teacher if we are late.” He smiled reassuredly. She agreed reluctantly.They neared a deserted godown which was surrounded by trees with no one in sight. Hakeem opened the godown with his keys and led Firdouse into the place and pushed the shutters down with a loud bang.

Fidouse was startled and turned around the dark room scared .Firdouse spoke softly with little gasps ,” But uncle…..this..this is not your home..” .He laughed. “Offcourse it is not. Come here .Come to Uncle Hakeem. “He crooned. Firdouse backed off a few steps. There was something wrong with uncle Hakeem . The look in his eyes was not something she knew. The kind eyes she knew now seemed to have a wolfish hunger in them. Suddenly she felt afraid,she wanted to go home to her Abba and Ammi . Sweat broke off from her face and she started crying ,”I want to go home Uncle . Please take me home .” “Shut up you stupid girl .I had layed my eyes on you since the first time I came to your house.Be quite and come here or else you will never see your mom and dad again “.He roared. She wailed loudly and started running away from him.She tried running to an escape but found none.Hakeem chased behind her catching her nearly with his burly hands .She nearly escaped as she ran to the shutters. She started banging on it and cried out loud.She begged “Please uncle…ple…please don’t hurt me “.

She ran away again as he neared her but then slipped and fell on to the ground. She picked herself up but he suddenly grabbed her from behind and covered his mouth with his hands. She felt suffocated and gasped for air.She wriggled and kicked but slowly her energy drained her. Her tears blinded her eyes and she felt dazed. The beast bit on to her lips and sucked the blood out of it. He ripped off her shirt .She again tried to break free but he tightened his hands around her chest, digged his teeth on to her flesh and pushed her onto the ground. Her head hit the ground and blood wet the floors. Slowly her conciousness abandoned her senses as a pain surged up in between her legs. All her remaining senses left her.

Her bruised eyes opened up to reveal the dawn sky. Birds were chirrupping and the Subah Aadhan(call out for prayer) from the Mosque nearby filled her ears.The smell from the garbage pit in which she lay thrived her nostrils. But it was the unbearable pain which really hit her..a pain so unknown..that wrenched her in a tight rope squeezing the life out of her . A tear broke off from her left eye as she let out a gasp and called out in an inaudible voice “Ammi …Abba” . Firdouse remembered her Ammi’s words as a blinding light approached her,” Firdouse, your name means the highest garden in paradise .When everone die they wish to go to the Firdouse for it is said to be the most beautiful garden ever created by Almighty God .It has gushing rivers,singing birds,beautiful flowers of all shapes and sizes,juicy fruits and water that is ever so sweet that it quenches your thirst forever with a sip.That is why we named you Firdouse.Because you are the most beautful child Allah gifted us with.” “Ammi,will I too get to go to the Firdouse “,she asked innocently .”Yes my dear,you will go there if you are a good girl and do good deeds and listen to what Ammi and Abba says”,Her Ammi replied kissing her forehead.

She smiled with tears in her eyes as she lay there in pain.She knew she was going to be in Firdouse soon.She knew it was the angel made of light approaching her ; coming to take her to Allah . For the image and fragrance of a thousand flowers blooming and falling down the skies filled herself as the pain escaped her and her soul passed into oblivion as she lay lifeless, leaving the cruel world unaware of the chaos in which it is engulfed .

Kintsukuroi (“Golden Mend”)

She curled up into a ball

Retreating into her cocoon

Looking forelorn and cold.

Lonely, breathless gasps

Escaped into the moonless night,

Tears stained her cheeks

With brokenness and pain

Eyes sunken and hollow

Devoid of the glint of light

A Chilling pain surged into her heart

Shattered to leave thousand cracks.

She wished he would come back

To kiss off her scars

To heal the pain that lingered

And forgot to leave

But little did she know,

That the broken bits of china

Mended and held together

Become Strong and Invincible with time

Even if slammed onto the ground.

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