‘Clear-eyed warrior friend. (gracias a la vida)’ by Sana Janjua

sana-2017in wilderness of solitude

people intellectualize: exile, poverty, torture. my friend doesn’t. for years on end, there is no sharing of personal stories that may have caused tears. in the piece i am posting below, she writes, “tears are irrelevant in this place”, when in her company i sob, incessantly, as afghanistan’s farkhanda is murdered, syria’s kurdi washes up on the coast, pakistan’s taseer takes the bullet. there are times when i just know i have to go to her, and she listens, often without looking at me.

cathartic writing is de facto primal, fauzia has always said to me, and crying adheres only to the beginning of the process of writing. crying, she doesn’t denounce, but sees as part of the process, seminal but not central. there are many people who cry as they write, and every word causes a downpour of the big wave. post-crying, the swarm of bees, references of personal associations with the subject, clear; clarity sets in; a poem/story takes off. i don’t understand what she means; i just respond to the emotion, and the sense of justice it is tied to.

then, here and there: a few stories appear: personal political, or political personal. through the apertures, i learn a thing or two about the exile, the torture, and the poverty. bereft of the lived experience, i contemplate what such terms we host in the often too intellectualized spaces really mean, and can’t get past the “factory-farmed” meanings. yet, there is no crying, just ongoing solidarity with those who we pathologize, and take pictures of, often without asking, to adorn our own sense of charity. surrey muse is un-funded, singularly imagined to create spaces for all kinds of people, especially those who don’t have a space to go to, and this is her vision; the rest of us founding members haven’t found another working formula to wrestle white privilege, and structural ghettoization* of writers of color, especially the ones fighting for the means to move to the end, any end: a small chapbook, self-published, with one’s name entering an imagined canon of sorts.

she writes, in 2015, an autobiographical story about her love for flowers, in telling a tale that is otherwise seeped in the history of violence against the people of color, and the treatment refugees receive in canada, which she ends with a comparison between herself, and a minority in Pakistan/a black man in the US/an Aboriginal female in Canada. yet again, she doesn’t cry for herself, or for others for that matter. here too, the stress is on the struggles of other people: a comparison that hierarchically puts her in a place of power, invisibilizing her own struggles, at once cognizant of her own privilege of what she can do and another can’t.

how can you cry when you write a poem on blasphemy?
or white supremacy? or religious extremism? or the duress which silences, shames, strips us of dignity? you just reveal your small brown frame, and say: i am here, like farkhanda, writing from the niche i created myself, standing amidst the surveillance points, thinking past the hallucinatory states, in clear-eyed solidarity.

i am so proud of my friend. i love her. and, i love the work she does. silently.

The link to her post:
Memory Wall on the Strip: a Mirror for the Officials of the City of Surrey

*(forgive me, if you are sensitive about the term, and see it in the exclusive framing of the african american people’s struggles, but this post is in solidarity with those struggles, and accept my gratitude for seeing it that way.)

From Sana’s facebook timeline, December 31st, 23:06.
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‘Being Ditched’ by Fauzia Rafique


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Being ditched, and ditching, are common experiences for all of us. During the course of each day, we process many people through our ditching filters as we get processed by theirs. Most bring decisive results at first sight or few words at best, and the top ditching ground remains to be the class.

I have been ditched for class, race, accent, un-brandnamed clothing, City of Surrey, Pakistan, godlessness, and of course for many aspects of more personal nature. Most times i know the exact cause of ditching or being ditched, sometimes i don’t. To me, in non-abusive interactions, ditching is a right that cannot be held against the ditching party, but let me tell you, the last time i got ditched was too much: imagine being ditched by a woman friend for refusing to accept her fake plastic penis?

Source: ‘Being Ditched’ by Fauzia Rafique

‘Without An Alarm’ by Helga Parekh

She awakens
Slides her arm to his side of the bed
_empty
Checks the clock, 6am
Remembers the warm embrace
The cozy stretch and falling asleep again
Silently he had left
No alarms
No lights
No sound of the exit door
He’ll be just another dark shape walking past trees and fences
and dim street lights, causing eerie shadows
The road is wet, no sign of rain drops on puddles
His umbrella is still open in the bathtub
She makes the bed
The feathers are still warm on his side.

Presented at a meeting of Surrey Muse Writers.

Helga Parekh is a writer, artist, sculptor, potter, and a performer. View more here: helga-parekh-surrey-muse/
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