by Sheikha A.

The non-smellers of desert sand think bent roads a norm. My nose grew up on dates blooming between heat-greened shafts of sturdy trunks, those that boasted of monarchy, feeling pines on barks and knowing false seas. Their sounds of beaches were groomed sands under practiced heels, and copper paves shimmered like gold-dust under its middle-eastern sun of plasmic consistency –- trained yet untamed. Sights of the same sun, but on different land spilling burnt shadows where honor overhauled concepts of forgiveness –- plasmic bravery: trained yet untamed –- unfamiliar smells those that moving to Karachi evoked. Roads intensified in hospitality for foreign heels laying there like overtired, over-tried, over-traipsed lengths of humility, wet on rains of disparage, chugging sacks of broken expectations on a back that had seen enough of its own non-plastic suns. Having borne fires on nights of moonless darkness, memories of hot breezes hefting on sweat-damped skins, I remember the mouths of blank walls, during power outages, singing verses of my past land: what I had left behind to jump the cliff of the unknown; the heat unchanged but different whispering, of misting paths, of the no-return, of misguided crossroads, the walk into unguarded dens. Coming to this new place, I left opened windows for a closed door. I have always associated places with how the scent of its sand filled my intuitions. But, I haven’t yet been able to train my nose to burn. The number of years one spends anywhere doesn’t warrant belonging by default. How does one train their soul to forget and re-sketch — to forge new beginnings? Sometimes, I watch my home burn without smelling the fire, of never coming out of my “now” if ever it becomes a second past.

IMAGE: Postcard of Clifton Beach (Arabian Sea), Karachi, Pakistan.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: To date, moving has been the toughest aspect of my life to express. But, I’ve tried. I wanted to. It’s something I know so well yet can’t speak about. It was no sunny day but a morbid night the morning of a missed flight and my legs telling me to turn around and go back home, but me and my family stayed at the airport and despite fate having just told us to reconsider, we found seats for a later flight, and took it. How I wish I had believed the tingling in my legs and stayed to what I knew best. Sometimes moving isn’t a good thing. It isn’t an opportunity. But, it is learning, nonetheless. And I’m still struggling with finding purpose from the disclosures I have been encountering. Since survival is the ultimate ruling, every step I take on my current land I replace in my mind with what my feet know as home. It helps ease the burning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in over 80 literary venues so far, including several anthologies by different presses. She edits poetry for eFiction India. More about her can be accessed on her blog