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Flash Fiction 2012 First Prize
 
 

Ode to Safia

- Uzma Falak

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uzma falak

Mother, Mother! Would you wake up?

See the ivy near the window, its growing.

When your blood is turning lifeless on the hospital bed, I can see a full picture; the pieces of which are scattered and have gathered dust with time.

You are not the other, O Mother!

The hospital bed is all decked. The lights are glaring. It’s festivity.

Old frame has married dust. Trousseau smelling of naphthalene still fresh, unworn, Mother, is safe in the trunk!

Frozen my lips are! Would you suckle me one last time! The candle flame is dying out.
Don’t worry about the slippers, Mother. I will throw them away. But once I would like to wear them and walk a few miles from where you stopped walking many years ago. If only I was as strong as you Mother!
What is growing inside you mother? Who is feeding on your memory and sucking life out of you?
Are you going to the woods?

You exist Mother! Now when you are leaving you exist.

You are not the other, O’ Mother!

Any swan songs? Nay. None, I know. You didn’t break the shackles all your life.

Twitching of the brow, fluttering of your eyelid, the furtive movement of your fingers; what are you saying Mother?

Yes! You exist. Don’t try hard. Now rest. You exist.

The red and green mittens you knitted don’t fit me now. Mother, a secret! They never did. I still have them, treasured, and kept next to the spoon you fed me. It is broken now.

Mother! The weight!

Can I return to your womb and float free?

The weight, it’s sinking me.

Mother! Do you feel at home here on these white hospital sheets?

They look as detached and stark as you would want to be.

You exist.

Before you leave, Mother, don’t forget to tie my laces or I may fall.

Now that you exist, give me some time to live a child again. Let me plant the sapling afresh and water it every day.

The fragrance of your hair, your scents, the soap water, the vaseline, flood my senses. Tonight, the moon cuts through the dark.

The kohl in your eyes has smudged to ash. Your tresses, Mother, are too tangled.

I know the mirror in your room was broken. Now I see myself in that mirror and it tells me a story of a holiday gone bad.

You room smells of the sand turrets that children make on the river banks.

The old dull emerald on your ring finger is missing! Where did you lose it?

You have turned frail. Did it just slip out? Was it a prism to your life?

On the family portrait, Mother, you smiled last. That portrait is up in the attic in cobwebs. You never swept the dust. Were you too afraid of colours?

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