• Neha Maqsood

Strange Horizons - things i do to remember home

Neha Maqsood describes the people, places and things which makes Pakistan 'home'

in the dry Junes of Karachi I don a white cotton shalwar

   kameez (a moonlighter), so become my afternoon &

my night & douse this blackness in viscous castor oil which

   mama’ll vigorously knead—the stickiness against a white

skull with fingers made stiff from years of rheumatoid arthritis.

   Is this the inexplicable south asian love? because in the

West I only want the scent of mamas janemaaz ka dupatta &

   I’m sorry for frantically clinging to Pakistan wherever i

go making it hard for your homes to welcome me & for you

   foreign lovers to embrace me & I’m sorry that I can’t

help friending you on Facebook just to show how great my

   life’s gotten since high school & not just the published

poems & the articles & the acting but the little things. like when

   Asiya’ll welcome my return, thousand lines criss-crossing

tanned skin & I’m 11 years old again. how is it that people who’ve

   had husbands murdered by village mobs can find happiness

in life whereas I, who’ve lived a near painless life cannot? but at least

   my evenings are marked with daddy’s Jimmy Choo’s cologne

and brylcreem which you smell before seeing him & everyone knows

   that I’ll do anything to impress my dad like even burning myself

out to the point of depression, so that’s why Allah beckons me to the

   prayer mat & I’m sorry for inconveniencing you white peeps but

just know, not all Muslims are terrorists & do you even really know Islam

   and the great solace it gives us. I know my mom would want me to

pray. this is the fifth time she’s pinged me—empty nest syndrome has hit

   hard but darling, any second now you’ll get a semblance of home,

so don’t hurt yourself just yet.

The original home for this poem can be found here at Strange Horizons -



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