Friday 28 May 2010

On the Cusp of Knowing

The whole village knows. Yesterday at our friend Victoria's summer lunch party, the impending wedding of a Tayabali son danced from lip to lip like a happy cabbage butterfly drunk on nectar and petal.
Everyone loves a good holiday chat, and who doesn't love a wedding when it isn't theirs to plan?
I danced around, much like that butterfly, in startling green shoes, green hat and a mega watt smile, chirping and twittering and offering green guacamole on toast.

When I tired, I snuck into the conservatory, and drank sweet tea under a bower of bougainvillea. Green and flowers are my battery chargers and I soon flitted out again.

I am making place cards with dried flowers. I find myself greedily eyeing Other People's flowers and rather avariciously creeping my fingers towards said flowers before my mother smacks my fingers away. I am taking England with me - bluebells and daisies, forget-me-nots, primula, sage and lovage. I wish I could take the wisteria. It has never looked lovelier, bloomier; thick with purple scent, dripping with promise, the wisteria is on the cusp of knowing.

Down by the Vicarage, the wisteria are just as beautiful. It has been the home of my father's dear friend Ralph for many years. It boasts one of the most artistic and carefully tended gardens, and there Ralph decided to end his days. The cancer came fast and hit hard, and my father misses the aimless tuneful whistling that burst out of Ralph every time he left our house. "Goodbye, Cho!" he'd say to my father. "Goodbye kid!" he'd say to my mother.

Weddings and whistlings goodbye. It is ever thus.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Where the Frangipani Blows, Only the Cobweb Knows

Feels like rain
hot and cool
swathes of muslin breeze
pour silently
into me

Until thunder comes
and my heart breaks open
great cascades tumble

where the blue skies
and I am no longer
a prisoner of pain.

19th of May. Ten days since I last wrote. My subscribers and followers are dropping like flies! Should I apologise? I am including a watercolour by my father and an oil on canvas by my mother to make amends. I have been back into hospital for the second round of monoclonals, this time without the supplementary treatment of immunoglobulins. And my body is not happy. I feel frail and fragile and temporary. I am a piece of cheese being grated by a very thorough hand. I am grains of gritty sand.

I am also the sister of a brother about to be wedded. Did I tell you? The wedding that was supposed to happen last year was derailed by my hospital adventures. And now, here it is, almost upon us. Ten days before I leave for a hot hot country. Ten days before I leave these cobwebs behind and find a frangipani me.

Sunday 9 May 2010


At the worst, the very worst
You are there
When the mirror breaks
and my heart,
You ache
and your aching
heals me.

When I can never be right
and my scars illuminate
You perceive me
perfect and whole.

No words.

There are no words.
Only time, passing,
and Love,
that ever presence,
holding us close.

- Shaista

Happy Mother's Day, beautiful, talented Perveen - the one who makes it all possible.
Without you, nothing.

With you, every day is Mother's Day :)

Thursday 6 May 2010


has many shades
It is the colour of change
Orange is what you feel
in a flirty skirt
and golden gladiator sandals.
Orange makes love
with her spirit
Has her own chakra
Turns cartwheels
on a national flag.
Can be eaten
by the dozen
in Haiti, on a hot day,
as you climb miles
of dusty track
to visit a dying child.
Orange can save your life.
Sometimes, very rarely
can be misunderstood
misused, even abused.

Whose eyes are these
that cannot see
the aura of good?
Not the ones concealed
the complementary black hood.

The list of requirements
is simple.
You have to hate.
Declare yourself an Agent
of the Enemy of the State.

Then wait
for the bombs to detonate,
while the detainees contemplate
Who hates who

Just so you know
I am thinking of you
Brothers of the Bay
in your isolated cages
in your suffocating spaces

I am trying to free you
I am trying to believe in you


Poem, copyright 2010, Shaista