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Saif

The closest I’ve been to death was when the news came on my sister’s phone. We were in school back then. His name was Saif, which means "sword" in Arabic. That was all I knew about him. But still. I remember the shock. My head spinning. My hand placing the glass of water down. My sister’s shaking voice. It dawned on us like a thick black cloud. I stalked his once-cluttered & eventually abandoned Facebook wall for weeks.


The closest I’ve been to death was the moment I realized that people eventually forget. The pain heals & the lives move on & the earth keeps rotating & nothing is ever remembered like it once was. So I leave the razor. I put the phone down. I lay on in savasana like the mat can envelope all my thoughts & make me forget. I dream in black & white & let the thoughts simmer in silence.

The closest I’ve been to death was not a suicide attempt or sobs that hung in the air between my throat & your departure. I didn’t eat for days. Skipped school like my life depended on it. Tried to choke myself into asphyxiation. Sent my mother excuses on why I couldn’t call her for two consecutive weeks. I stayed in bed like somebody died, & I guess for me, you did.


Make no mistake though - the same God who gave us the ability to feel pain put healing in the instruction leaflet. But we chucked it out with its cardboard box & rushed to unwrap life from its package instead. We thought we could handle it alone. All we were left with was a broken product & styrofoam.


The closest I’ve been to death was not when I breathed the same air my mother picked up from the hospital & came home empty-handed. My siblings speak of those days when I was 18 months old like they really happened, but my childhood was a blur. Everything is a tale for me. & that is paradoxically the most soothing yet outcasting truth about my life.


So leave. But leave once & stay gone. The same door that let you in can let you out, & if I am a mere option then I will leave it to your imagination to figure out what you are to me. I dream in color now, & think of swords & fathers & heaven & kiss the razor blades that I held the very first time I thought I was ready to join Saif. My poetry is for me & your egos are not welcome. There is no pump, no inflator here.


Only raw emotions & hope, so much hope.



Boston Common

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