Tuesday 9 October 2018


That is a proud name,’ he said.

I am proud of my name.

It is the Rajput name for warriors.
It is the Persian name for poets. 

Am I not then Shaista, the warrior-poet?

I am standing on the battleground,
listing a little,
sword and pen at the ready,
blood and words aplenty.

But I long for sakura,
snow pink petals of my cherry tree.

Oh brief, beautiful one,
wrap yourself around me,

so I can be Shaista, the free.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2018

What does my name mean? My mother always told me it meant courteous and graceful, mostly because she wanted me to be unfailingly polite! But in Pashto, the language of the Afghans, my name means beautiful. An ex-soldier from Afghanistan once commented on my name as we both waited in line at the Apple genius bar! Then my poet friend Kenza assured me it was so... and last week a Pakistani taxi driver, who proceeded to quote couplets by Ghalib (in Pashto) at me.
When I was a child and our class was studying the period of the Mughal empire, and the wars between the Mughals and the Marathas in Indian history, we came across Shaista Khan, the fierce Mughal warrior. So of course my classmates wondered why I had been named after a man!
My own grandfather, though, had never heard of the name; he decided to call me Shy Star after I was born, so he could not fail to  remember the name of his first granddaughter. I use his mnemonic to help people even now, when they struggle to wrap their unfamiliar tongues around my name. 

The illustrations above of Sufi warriors, Sufi dancers, are my own... I've been including them in copies of my poetry collection for friends... I titled the book 'Something Beautiful Travels Far' which I suppose could also read 'Shaista Travels Far'! 

(for 'Poetics: What's in a Name?' a dverse poems prompt) 


dorianna ric said...

Very nice...warrior-poet. Nice name, lovely poem

Amaya said...

That's an awesome name for the 'pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword' poet. I enjoyed the backstory behind it too, all the different people and snippets of life that illuminate who you are. Oh and the minimalist whirling dervishes are great. You must be a blessing to your friends.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful name, and poem. Having a unique name suits you well.

Mish said...

I love the idea of a "warrior-poet".

Kim M. Russell said...

A beautiful name and poem, Shaista, and I rejoice that you are a proud warrior-poet! I love the juxtaposition of sword and pen, blood and words, and sakura.

Brendan said...

This is gorgeous, gossamer, glissading, free. You have your work cut out for you!

Gina said...

a really beautiful name, when I say it, it's so melodic and now knowing the history behind it, it is even more beautiful to me. a warrior poet indeed, and you have the gentleness of understanding too.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love the story of your name and, especially "Shy Star". You are a warrior-poet, with blossoms, walking the shining path.

Frank Hubeny said...

Nice lines: "sword and pen at the ready,
blood and words aplenty."

brudberg said...

I love the poet and the warrior... somehow that combination makes me think of Samurai poets

Katie Mia Frederick said...

THere Are No Sufi Dancers
wHere i Live.. REvolving
iN Ascending
No Name...
True.. verily it wasn't
That easy doing it on
my own iN 10,000 Miles for
5 Years In Public So Free to Be
iN Deep Red State Lands of
Gulf Coasts with Hurricane
Names like Michael As Sadly
True Still now not many folks
Truly it
to Be A
Human with no Name But All
When one Dances A Milky Way For Real..:)

Dwight L. Roth said...

Warrior-Poet Now that is a great name. You are a warrior in many ways. Keep writing. There is healing in the words your pen.

Lona Gynt said...

Deep Red doesn’t
How it needs
Dervishes spinning
Mystic joy
Rather than ideology
Smiling at knowing
A tilted meaning
Of Being
oH sO bLue.

Lona Gynt said...

This is so beautiful and powerful, I love the lovely contradistinction of the warrior and the peace-monger found in the longing of

Oh brief, beautiful one,
wrap yourself around me,

Click to leave a comment