leap

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remember the days when we were
so shocked and awed that something good was happening to us

that we enjoyed the thrill of the moment,
like the swift hop onto a moving cable car on its way up the mountain

and we were just thankful to have landed on our feet

~

these days we feel the ground beneath our feet all the time
yet the fear that pervades us is as though we were miles up
without a safety net

~

why has it become so easy to disregard an upswing
without it stirring up delight and amazement?

why has it become so difficult to not fear an impending downswing,
as though we are forgetting that misfortune is anything but stochastic?

~

we need to remind ourselves that
this has all been good, built on good

and may every leap we make be just like that first one,
free, unencumbered and full of hope

empty

arches architecture art baroque
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my windows are clean
and my threshold is bare

long-still feelings have been disturbed in the frantic dusting,
coming up in clouds

memories i didn’t even know i cherished
echo around the place
that is now just empty enough for me to notice them

~

it’s been a long time since i acknowledged
just how empty life has become

i don’t miss anything

but i do miss everything

~

it is so bright here

lights are being shone on places that i’ve never seen before
behind where the sofa was and such

there are no piles of soft accumulation left to provide comfort
against the incomprehensibility of reality, anymore

our lives are everything that happens to us in relation to other people
and a home is no refuge when there is nothing to seek refuge from except one’s own self

~

this place has been my home
and i know that i will never come back

the circumstances are a mask i have no choice but to wear

i do grieve for this place
but only because the part of me that lived here, is gone

~

i am leaving behind two homes

both have formed me
and neither ask for anything in return

except that i find the courage to look upon them now
in their emptiness

hooked

abstract art background brown
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i’m hooked,

these needles have pulled
at my heartstrings and
started to weave the
threads together in

a tight basket pattern
that binds me strand by strand in itself
and tugs unyieldingly
if i get too far away

it’s love

and i don’t know how it happened

ab teri mohabbat laagi, mere Saheb

it took years for feelings to grow
and now it has become clear
where i am always being pulled

shukhran lillah wal hamdulillah

the centre (2019)

ismaili centre toronto
Image sourced from TheIsmaili.org: http://www.theismaili.org/ismailicentres/toronto/architecture-toronto-0

think, if someone were to be given
a softer heart,

one that was able to feel the soul
in everything

~

we came when called just enough times
that the abode before us consented to transform our lives

a place where love literally throbs,
the heart and soul of the structure that is the centre of our lives

all of us have become so much more and less than we were, here.

~

the centre has become my centre
and has captured the centre at the centre of me

it spills over its edges into the rest of my life and
makes the rest of my life part of itself too

i am pulled here unyieldingly
as though in the arms of a vortex spinning so fast i can’t even tell
where it begins and where i end

there is nothing i feel that doesn’t get resolved
once i’ve come back to my centre;
not a single worry that isn’t smoothed, a fear that isn’t untangled
once i’ve been here at my core

~

the people here are like the sound inside a seashell,
telling stories of separate drops flowing together to their ultimate end,

each one making an impression on my heart

~

this place makes me face those things about myself that i would rather ignore,
such as my obvious unworthiness

but of course, that is exactly why i’ve come

~

brother, you might do it better than me
and you might know something i don’t

but i won’t hold it against you
since you are here to show me what i could be,
not what i am not

and thank God, thank you, for giving us this place
to come to.


This poem, written shortly after the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Ismaili Centre Toronto, is meant to capture the deep meaning that spaces of community and worship can bring to our lives over time, as well as the newfound meaning we can obtain from the seemingly familiar by engaging on many different levels. This piece is a followup to the original “the centre (2014)”, available to read here.

Jamaat

hasan-almasi-567065-unsplash

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash.

 

the sun rose for the first time for us today
the moon showed its face over the trees

for the first time,
the only time necessary for us to understand that what we love
is the only thing that can be Loved,
the only thing that can possibly Be

~

We’ve gathered to bear witness to the origin of everything;
The place of peace, where everything has been vested
Not yet manifest, but quite seemingly on the verge

~

maybe if we all sit together
on our humble knees

we might fit together like an intricate mosaic
displaying all of the colours that make up
the world in all its beauty

and maybe, You could do us the immense favour
of gazing here

~

Every country is your country
Every seat, is your seat

Every banda is your banda
Whether he knows it or not

~

we might be far from you but we want to be closer
and if you allow us, we will come together
and in coming together, feel your presence through each other, near and far

~

Every place is in congregation
Every one of us, your jamaat

 

Intezaar

tyler-van-der-hoeven-357401

Photo by Tyler van der Hoeven on Unsplash.

~

We all, are all waiting
Holding on to our hearts, unable to fully breathe

~

Some of us run, shedding layers,
while others wrap ourselves in new meaning

Some of us dissolve,

while others come together forming an intricate crystal

Some of us steep,
Some of us weep,

Some of us cocoon
and some of us unfurl

 

None can sleep

 

Our pores open
And we all brighten
And lighten
And fade
As the sum of our somes
become One.

your place (2014)

take a step back from the frontline
– it is not your place

remove yourself from the head of the table
– it is not your place

step back from the position you’ve given yourself
in the world where you give yourself such prominence

those strings you think you hold,
are an illusion

 

if we told you to build a mountain,
or if we commanded you to fly,
you could do nothing

faced with the impossible,
you would harbour no illusion
of your own inherent limits

if you were to try, you could only whisper a prayer,
knowing you would have to rely
on Someone

 

see what you’ve forgotten in your careful preparation;
see what you’ve overlooked in your careful research?

the ant does not concern itself with the possibility of an eclipse

 

remember your role; your place.

 

the friend (2014)

the signs of maturity within us say:

o dear heart, the friend will come again tomorrow

 

the friend lays beside, though he may rest elsewhere;
the friend knows you by your eye

the friend loves you more than you can know,
in dimension after dimension untold

~

look with a different eye
and you will see him holding you together from within

look with a different eye
that you may know him even after he departs forever from sight

~

o my love:

you are my footing, my keystone,
my place of rest,

my pilgrimage, my refuge, my harbour,
my nest.

 

silly grown-up (2014)

today even the sky refuses
to see that sun stands behind it;
that sun shines all around

doesn’t sky know that all he must do
is to step his Self out of sun’s way?

~

last year’s trash comes loose from street-side icebergs
i walk, careful not to get my boots wet

eyes looking down,
my Self, growing ever larger

because i refuse to see what is all around

 

behind me, someone chants,
something eerie, but something familiar

 

i listen more closely:

rain, rain, go-a-way, come-again-another-day
rain, rain, go-a-way, come-again-another-day

~

silly grown-up! have you forgotten what it was like
to be so small that surrender was no choice;
to be so small that you knew you had no control?

the little girl isn’t happy or sad,
she just is

who are you, to feel the world on your shoulders?
tell me, who are you?

the little girl isn’t worried or anxious;
she holds momma’s hand

with momma there, gloom is simply gloom
that will go away,
that may come another day

but momma will be there!

~

whose hand do you hold, silly grown-up?