My mother boils cardamom in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. Basking in the early sunlight, I enjoy a fresh bowl of fruits sitting in the balcony surrounded by vines my mother grows and flowers that bloom around me like a home I've always wanted. I try to work but the air carries a gentle scent of spices, coconut oil and jasmines, so I loosen by hair from the bun and let the moment engulf me. I think of small pleasures and how I have found my solace in them. Years ago, always grieving heart of mine didn't always experience moments of pleasure or true happiness. As years have passed, I've let go of my belief of my narrow and misguided idea of happiness. Happiness, I've come to realise is experienced often in the expanse of suffering or grief. A true oasis, in the middle of a burning desert , maybe a mirage of how life can be without the suffering, comforting and soothing , but not always a burst of life changing event. Time passes in thoughts, I listen to a speech made by Barack Obama in 2012 about fleeting youth and how to contribute to our society, while having a honey-milk mask on my face and painting my nails, somewhere in the back of my head, this image of me makes me proud. Youth, as I understand is a gift to yourself, what you learn, and strive for in your early years makes a difference on the life you will lead. This age, and this youthfulness also comes with conflicts, mostly inner dilemmas and diasporas of a destabilised life that most of us been exposed to. I haven't been able to completely let go of my tragic sense of life but I have been able to look up and recognise light and I think in itself is powerful, to be able to see light. I took some time to feel rather than write the past couple of months and it has changed a lot of things in me and as hard and taxing as it was, I'm really glad to have made that decision.

Journal; I Dream of A Better World in My Mother's Garden by Thamanna Razak
There is a part of you that mistakes pity for love, my lover tells me one night. You love me but you do so from a throne so it doesn't really matterYou tell me you love me but you say it out of guilt because your mother taught you a good woman is a woman who loves and forgives a lesser being, out of pity, out of the enormous burden it is to birth life into this earth.
But isn't that the truest form of love, darling. Perhaps the greatest love story is a tale of endless sympathy for each other's mistakes, and boundless forgiveness and will last for a lifetime. If women didn't feel sorry for their lovers, there would be no romance at all, I tell him to spite him. He is angry for this, senseless bitterness at what my mother taught me, only for a brief time and then wants my pity. So I give him and let him sleep on my chest.

- Journal;  Truths of Love and Loving.

There have been poems and there have been not. Few are lovelorn and others are in pain. But none are comprehensible. In the lamp light, there is no poem I want to love, there is nothing I ever want to love. Love has made me a weak woman and I'm loathing its presence for stripping me of my words , and my light. Oh how often love throws me in this hell. And how often I come out of it only to be seduced again. In the lamp light, writing poetry about love, but out of pain, I only want to belong to myself.

- Journal, In The Lamp Light Love and Pain Are The Same by Thamanna Razak
I woke up at 2 am last night, feeling too warm. I put my one foot out and try  to sleep again but my head is forming a poem or series of events start to find a rhythm and they want to be written down but I refuse and hope to remember it in the morning. I'm almost confident that I will, so I go back to sleep. As predicted in the morning I don't remember what thought it was, or what clarity it may have offered. But I cannot stop wondering how many thoughts I must've lost , what truths my mind may have brought to me but I simply didn't grasp it fast enough. And that is enough for me to settle into my melancholy, fully immerse in my thoughts. I have never been able to write when I'm this deeply in touch with my own self, so I go back to few of the pages marked in books, some old poetry, and even old music. It gives me comfort and sometimes terror but most times hysteria at how truly sorrowful I was at so many fleeting things in life, things I never could have made a difference upon. In one of the entries I have quoted a friend that told me that her realities are very different from mine, that we may experience a moment together and I may remember it as a poem while she may remember only the hot burning sun on our heads. I thought of this for a long time, wondering if it was a curse or a blessing to remember moments only tinted with words, romance and poetry, that I may lose the true essence or reality of a moment because of the person I am. It's a deep confusion, something even if I found an answer to it, may not satisfy me . I have always been someone who remembered life in poetry, my only grief is to not have enough words to describe every moment, not having a language that is as masterful and deep as our feelings and thoughts, Today, I feel loss, of thoughts, of reality and most of all loss of words.
I haven't written poetry. It's not a writer's block, it's a writer's too-many-inspirations-and-no-mental-energy situation. It's the first week of Ramadan, my faith has been shaky , but in a good way as I realise my faith hasn't been really my faith for a long time. It was my mother's or my father's most times, a borrowed faith and beliefs of someone else. It's been hard to come to terms with that, and to be in the most holiest month and have a shattered belief you haven't been able to put back together as fast. I'm also learning that it is hard to be honest if I'm not hiding behind metaphors , and that is something I have been working on for a long time, to be unconditionally my raw self every where and with everyone without the need to be acceptable or pretend to be something less than what I am in order to be easily understood. It does me great damage and gives me no sense of self, to be only my true self in poetry. I have been wanting my freedom back and I know I would perhaps lose the preciousness of my poems but it's a cost I'm willing to pay.

- Journal; Cost of Living (and Loving) by Thamanna Razak
I ripen,
in your two palms
held together warmly.
I turn,
fruitful and
Oh how the moon
must envy
for your dirt,
your impure,
your knowledge of
Oh how the universe
must envy
for your mastery
to hold someone else's
roots in your soil,
until they grow
beyond the darkness,
until gravity has learned
to let go
what it loves.
I rise
above the ground
and meet my sun
and my sky
but I will always
come back
to your two palms
held together warmly
to lay my body
back in your dirt.

- Portrait Series; Mother by Thamanna Razak

My heart,
it endures pain like slow
burning ember,
a purgatory for
every man who
had the misfortune
to have seen
your glow
behind that veil
and desired for you.
At a seaside, families
wait for dusk, grow old
in its waiting
and lull into the sand.
At another end of
the sea , a boy
waits for the dawn
and his mother to
come back
and he never grows up.
At an end of a
water tap, a woman
waits for the next drop
of water. Her whole
life, she only knows
of thirst.
And I, wait lifetimes
consumed in sorrow
like no other to
find a language that
transcends this unbearable
spread of time. I, turn
into a poet
in hopes
to touch your thoughts
on the evening you fix
your tangles. I want
my sigh to be the
reason for your
blushed cheeks.
But Rabb, in his
selfish longing to
keep your heart
and beauty alive
have stretched
the string of time
and suffering.
Oh my love, how the
entire world stands still
and suffers
for your beauty.

- The World Waits on Your Beauty (*based on Aah Ko Chahiye by Mirza Ghalib and sung by Jagjit Singh) by Thamanna Razak

*I would prefer if you could enjoy the music before/after/while reading the poem to really understand where the poem comes from. This is my father's favourite song. I have had this song/ poetry as my backdrop music almost all roadtrips or drives and on early mornings on Fridays my entire life. The image of a woman untangling her hair unaware of the love and desire men hold for her is what this song brings to me. And I think I'm only trying to find my own narration for the image, in my own personal ways of knowing love and desire. And most importantly I am trying to tell a story of longing. I only hope I have done justice.

the revolution came,
the rulers ran and
came back with tanks.
people changed
they grew different
and then indifferent
to blood
to love but I,
only remember
the war in the
reflection I saw
of myself in a
bloody water bowl
as I dressed your wounds
and then you count
the number of our
dead men on the streets
and I kiss your lips
for it to stop
and you say
habibti, your love
isn't going to stop
the war, and I say
but what if it did.

-Lovers in Mosul by Thamanna Razak
You finally feel like a woman, complete. You are 21, oh so sweet and young and tender in all the places you want to be. your 16 would be angry at you, how can you love yourself more than you love him, you wanted to die for him. You hold her hand , kiss her forehead and you tell her everything about the glorious woman you have found inside yourself. She is angrier and calls you a narcissist. You laugh because you are. You are beyond everything you ever taught your younger self, you are more romantic than you are human and you do not hide it anymore. You're screaming and yelling and spitting love on the streets , you have become a wild one, but you are not running. You stopped running now, you do not run from love anymore , not from heart wrenching romances. You are staying and seething and drowning in love, but this time you are fearless and you are in control. Men look at you and want you in their bedrooms and in their kitchen, bearing their children, but mostly they desire for you to be in their hearts , be the Queen of their lovedom and you aren't afraid anymore, you love them back, you have turned soft but you are oh so full of yourself you know not to lose yourself. You have finally learned to give all of the love you have without giving yourself.

A Year Ago In Womanhood, by Thamanna Razak
I lay under the noise of a ceiling fan in a borrowed cotton kurta, staring at the timber ceiling of my father's ancestral house. Windows open to the side of me, with occasional chirping of birds, sweat tries to calm the hotness lingering behind my neck, baby hairs around my face stick to my forehead. I'm flustered and uneasy, but I lay there remembering Neruda's warm poetry, stroking my own locks, pulling strands and letting them fall through my fingers that still have a lingering scent of mangoes I opened raw with my hands earlier. And there isn't a thought that isn't about the coolness of the night, or chilled soda pop or the cold heart of my lover. I'm thirsty in the throat but the moment eludes me, time has painfully slowed down this afternoon, almost dreamy , almost embalmed in the oil and sweat of  this sweet tropical summer. Out the window, in a slow course , the sky is shifting. I can feel the weight of the storm in the distance, a wind , a slow breeze carrying its calm and I lay patiently. My body cools down in the sight of a sodden cloud , and all my longings are for the rain as I hear a distant thunder. When the storm finally arrives, it is forgiving to all. The smell of earth and wood is everywhere and it unshackles me from my own hot liquid ache . Leaves grow heavier, not out of pain but only out of the heaviness of memory. In the eye of a pouring rain, birds find temporary roofs and call it home, quiet and almost desolate, the earth takes a long deep breath in and I find time and everything in its grip coming to a still, rooted. Behind me my grandmother tells me it's the first rain of monsoon, the heat will no longer tug at you she jokes. On the brim of a season change,  I already fall into my nostalgia for summer .  I feel my entire life I only live longing for moments like these, in the desire to experience such heightened moments of raw and mostly unattainable pleasure that only comes from earth and its bringing of calm to both my melancholy and joy, sometimes both in the expanse of one moment.

journal; Two Ends of A Moment by Thamanna Razak
"On a Friday morning,
with another takbir,
he places his palms
on the ground,
and his forehead
before his God, and
his only prayers are
for you, woman.
And after, he walks
across from the masjid
onto the market street.
under the sultry sun, hot
and seducing, watermelon
of the streets lay, raw
open and glistening
and all his thirsty cravings
are only for you, woman.
He holds a pot of Kohl
and the older man
at the other end
wants to warn
him, women like her
are waiting for you
in your homes , stirring 
milk drinks for you, 
leaving traces for 
you to kiss
on their tender lips
but sinful their hips
are, hell their full breasts 
are. He walks home
with a pot of Kohl
and all his sweat beads
are in a prayer
for yours, woman.
In his kitchen, you are
brewing chamomile
In his home, you are
bathing in oils,
steaming your locks
in rose water
and you wait for him
in all your beauty slipped
into a long silk dress.
On a Friday morning,
with another takbir
he comes home to you,
pulls your seeds and nectar
apart, licks it off your neck
with the salt of your sweat
and his only thoughts
are holy holy holy."

- Holy Fridays by Thamanna Razak
"In a small sunny balcony
is the wet shadow of me
on a pale green cloth.
Outline of my body
in a deep shade of moss
and on the other side 
is you , darling
you watch me
pinning another wet cloth
on to the washline
and you want me
to make you a home
even if you are a shadow
even if home is cold and damp
you say, make me a home.
I want a mother and a lover
and I want your sweet,
swollen with water hands
I want the sweet scent of
soap, and salt of your sweat
I want you, of all.
you are my 
cool wet cloth 
on a hot 
summer afternoon"

- Portrait Series; Balcony Boy by Thamanna Razak
It's a very old story, the most ancient of all. The letting go, the inevitable break up of what two people thought they built, a relationship, a child of their love and affection for each other. At the end of it you hope to shake hands, or not, or perhaps you shake each other and dirt falls off from all your pockets and none of you look the same. It's a careful separation, thought out and deliberate even if the truck came out of nowhere, even if the truck carried flowers and only wanted to give them to you. It hurts, it still is part of your skin even if it's peeling off of someone else's body.
On a particularly cold night, you see it, how it doesn't add up anymore, how you think of love and you want to pull it out of your teeth and flush it down your drain because what's the fucking point of it if he isn't with you in the depths of it, in its dark, dirty and cruel bottom of it. He asks you what is this 'it' anyway , and you say fuck off because you are angry that love is easy for him, you are angry because he doesn't know a bottom exists and you want him to, you want him to boil in this, burn his skin in this, drown in the hell of what it means to love another person. So you refuse to explain, refuse to hold his hands, turn your face from him and stay angry. On another morning you are seething love from your skin and it's all over the floor and he isn't there to clean it up, and you wonder what that means, I did it for him I did it for him you sob while you clean the mess with a cotton cloth. And then you squeeze whatever love is left out on the cloth into a glass, a jar, not too much , not too less, just enough for him to understand, neatly packed and labelled, 'I love you'. You hit send and spend the rest of the evening hiding the traces of spills and leaks.
By this time I didn't like looking in the mirror, I looked like a lesser person of myself, reminded me of days spent cleaning the mess from the floor of what we called "our love" before you came home. By this time I'm frantically going through all my journals, trying to find the summer I fell in love, find a line of poetry that will help me remember what it felt like to love without the chaos but every line sounds like infatuation, and lust, perhaps just a child holding someone else's affection in her palms and calling it love , there is no hint of depth, or the madness that was about to come. But slowly, in between walking alone to lectures on cold winter mornings, and watching my mother sob, and listening to my baby sister talk about a boy. I realised we have been loving each other across a wall, our hells, on different sides . I realised only and only by luck can two people find themselves in the same hell, cleaning the same floor of love , sitting next to each other. I realised while you were in your bottom of hell I was in mine, and neither of us knew. And that was the truth. There's a certain relief in it, to say it, after years of hoping and even pretending that we were on same side of the wall when we weren't even in the same hell of love.

- journal; Till Hell Do Us Apart by Thamanna Razak

Days are getting warmer where I live but dry, without wetness or scent of flowers. I write poems about indian monsoons and its dripping moisture like it's my long distance lover. So I lit a candle or two, sometimes moringa , but if I'm feeling especially blue, lavender. I've started creating my own atmospheres, safe places, arrange a place to grieve and let my heart be what it wants to be, broken. A white fluffed pillow with lemon yellow embroidery for borders, lingering smell of rose oil from my face pressed against it at night, a book I've loved and have worn out beside me. Do not know if it's called meditation but I close my eyes and cry for long period of time. And it's okay, I'm not lonely, just suffering. I come out of it as a different person every time, sometimes a streak of sunlight , sometimes the shadow it casts. On afternoons my father is home early, I put ice on my puffy eyes, tie my hair up in a bun , put some colour back on my cheeks and prepare some black tea for both of us. It's awfully quiet in our home, he sits at the dining table looking at that day's news paper, sometimes he plays his favourite ghazals softly. The window right above the stove has the most beautiful light coming at that time of the day and sometimes I wonder if I can ever get the golden honey colour of his tea right if it wasn't for the light, like a secret ingredient I'm always grateful for its wisdom, for its warmth when I stand there in the kitchen while the water boils. I ask him if he'd like me to add some milk, he always says no but I ask anyway , sometimes I drop an elaichi into the brew , and he looks up from his paper and gives me a smile for the difference in flavour. We sip our teas quietly, sitting across each other, munching on biscuits. He sometimes hums a melody, loses it somewhere between politics and tea and other times a call from work, he gets up and walks into the living room, his tea turns cold and the moment is gone with him.

- journal ; Meditation and Other Things That Don't Work by Thamanna Razak
"she is every good dream you have
cerulean skies and sunny seaside towns
you both sit at a little outdoor cafe
sparkling iced tea and a bit of gossip
you can see your reflection in
her sunglasses, you look happy
beaming , you might be 
even laughing, tummy aching 
every good dream, she is.
she walks on cobble-stoned streets 
few steps ahead of you, turns around 
and takes pictures of you, surprisingly 
you are smiling in it. 
In the afternoon light, is when you 
really stop to look at her, she is 
every good dream you have.
and like in every good dream
you cannot touch her, or look
for her, she doesn't have a shadow
and that is how she wants it
so you play along and pretend 
she is just that, a dream 
you wake up and do not remember her."

- Portrait Series; DreamGirl by Thamanna Razak

"On the morning of 
my funeral, your despair 
would be the 
loudest, I know that. 
Your cries, the most 
heart wrenching.
Everyone at the table
would turn and ask who 
you are to my 
mother, "she's a friend"
she would answer
but they all will 
still wonder
and it will wreck 
your heart 
to realise the only 
person who 
could understand your 
heavy sobs have 
ceased to exist."

- Portrait Series; My Loudest Voice by Thamanna Razak