Tag Archive: mental health issues

I remember her beret,

on that rainy day at the bus-stop, 

she said that she had grown tired of the pretences this world demanded,

we spoke of Marx and she smiled, for I was much younger then, wearing it all on my sleeve,

she smiled, and we spoke till she had to leave.

we met at that bus-stop many times more,

sharing our laughter, our pain, of the knots that cut deep into our core,

she always wore her beret and she was fierce, brave and steadfastly traversing the murky waters of being a wage-slave,

we promised each other we wouldn’t be like the rest, not even in our grave,

ah but that was many moons back, when life was starkly coloured white and black,

I wonder where she could be now, and I hope she is as she was back then,

when everything wasn’t just about love and light and being zen,

I wonder too were we to perchance meet, would she pull me close out of the grime stained street,

or would she walk on by, leaving me to my own devices,

after decades of being whittled down, after making all the right choices … … …


​on your skin, scribbling odes to love,
angry, lost, empty,

raucous, pristine, encompassing love.
on my heart, scribbled odes embossed, etched, engraved,
yearning, pining, aching,
for you … … …





alfoat on honeydew petals

mere strands


years trickling through


lost whispers

dreamed caresses


alive …


ablaze in the cauldron




of convergent wisps

sprinkling kisses

on your

honeydew lips

we shall always be many more

we who roast in your designer factories

our brows dripping salty sweat

we who forgive but shall never forget

we shall always be many more

we reek of cheap moonshine

we stagger and often stumble

our stomachs never ceasing to rumble

we shall always be many more

we polish your fine bone china

our pay gets docked if a cup gets chipped

our children to wars get shipped

we shall always be many more

we clean up after your pretty children

our kids are hungry, naked and callously swept

into bowels of desolation, as mothers’ tears are wept

we shall always be many more

we do your dirty work every day

you treat us like vermin, foul and rotten

our dignity always forgotten

we shall always be many more

we will rise up, seizing the standard of hope

reclaiming what is common for daughters and sons

always squarely in the cross-hairs of your guns

we shall always be many more

and there shall be many more of us to come

to rid you of your smug arrogance, endless greed

yes we too have children we have to feed

we shall always be many more

‘and the meek shall inherit the earth’

or something like that though we no longer care

for we shall rise up demanding our common share

we shall always be many more … … …

( with thanks to Ken Loach’s film ‘Tierra y Libertad’

breathless … …

​breathless, laboured


each breath


greedily gulping gasping

each breath


                               without you

​your fingers


sketching dreams

scribbling hopes

my fingers


holding back


knowing the path ahead

littered with thorns



the path ahead must be walked

alone at times 

but never lonely 

not with you by my side

evoking a belonging felt true and deep


these interwoven veins










this common



‘I am because you are’*

all of us


as one


you …

… uBuntu*


* – uBuntu is an isiXhosa/isiZulu concept that espouses the “belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”

imagine … … …

a beach of solace

the lapping waves

tickling our bare toes

softly powdered sand caressing our feet

a carpet of palms

waltzing in the breeze

imagine …



setting sail on distant seas




bidding adieu to the emptiness of yesterday

sharing each other

knowing that your


stays with me

within me


tomorrows we have still to see


our slice of peace








bloom in earthy hues

when thunderstorms pass

blossoming into fiery scarlet

kneading away

our hollow suburban blues …

for ’tis in your smile

that my mirth resides

imagine …

your head on my shoulder

ready to face all

oncoming tides

imagine … 

​misty tears fall on splintered parchment

history simmers

the shackles of centuries cast off

the chains of oppression shattered

embracing new horizons



trusting once again

in that unfinished dream

of less famished tomorrows

scribbling verses

on her bare back

my fingers


each flourish a caress

etching odes to hope

across the canvas

of her warm skin …

her breath





sashaying in the evening breeze

dancing free

abandoning trepidation

what do i know


fingers flutter

over undulating peaks

valleys …



as soul meets soul

she who is

half of my whole

she who remains

my perennial



straining to hear

the thud-thudding of your heart

amidst this cacophonous crowd.


i close my eyes


i see you

floating on clouds


free to just be

your wings spread proud




across sunbeams

sketching your open sky

bathed in

colours vivid








brush stroke

infused with hues


the palette of your dreams …

Parched lullabies seem jarring,

gentle persuasion an assault,
quiet understanding reeking of decay,
fatigued under this skin in which I must stay.

Dreams of moulting,
shedding the hubris of crafty words,
flushing away all famished rhymes,
ripping the fibres of an ink-stained past.


Always knowing,

that honey-soaked kisses, seem destined,
never to last

Embers fade,

disappearing into the hushed night …

Petals wither,
falling on the soft grass …

Words pale,
obscured by the anguish within …

Faces blur,
dimmed by the galloping years …

Kisses lose,
the urgency of those bygone depths …

Feelings recede,
lying dormant in shielded vaults …

Love loses,
fatigued after numberless skirmishes …

Pain flees,
seeking new wounds to inflict …

Scars remain,
sentinels against,

the dilution of memory … … …

Why him, they ask her …

​why, they ask her,

why him?

she always says the

day we met

and spoke

and laughed

she felt

all she needed to be was herself

William Dalrymple, author of ‘City of Djinns’ inscribed my copy.

Inscription reads “from an adopted Dilliwaala to Afzal, a real one”



Love, Mania, and Verse

The pendulum swings,
while the mania in my head,
strips me bare and yanks me,
into the cauldron of love.

Once again,
never divining the tea leaves,
knowing, always knowing,
the gnawing knots of unease,
that curl into a fist.

My isolation is a shield,
a suit of armour,
tightly clad around my self,
once worn,
then discarded,
taking its place,
on my barren shelf.

Love, mania and verse,
coalesce, beseeching me,
with timeous forewarning,
not to tread into the quicksand,
that slippery bog of promise.

in times past,
in moments present,
tis’ that very promise,
that I cling to.

At times I lose,
myself in the crowd,
revelling in the solitude found there,

at times I claw,
my way back to the now,
aching for the pain that stings,

the buried voice that sings,
dirges to forgotten emotions,

scribbled verse that flings,
the toys out of my cot,

while I wait,
for the mania to stop,

always knowing,
that it shall be,

merely a matter of time,
before the other shoe,
must, as always, 

my starved eyes, aching for a glimpse of your smile, ready to beguile, their thirst quenched, seeking simple joys, not million dollar toys, finally, coaxed the ocean of your eyes, to reveal the kernel of truth beneath the veneer of lies, so love me now, today, where fractured dreams are made whole by the sea spray, plunging deeper into the ocean shimmering in your eyes, hoping we may breathe, like the terror of time, high on up into blue skies, where love roams unshackled, in that ocean so deep,

in your beautiful eyes … … …

tattoo … … …

An imprint of you remains,

mingled in the blood racing through my veins,

hewn into my flesh you stay,

a chiselled tattoo from our long-lost yesterday,

deeply branded by your entire being,

rooted to a memory incapable of fleeing,

torn, and twisting inside my skin,

the pain screeches like jangling cans of tin,

a desolate nightmare this agony feels,

with a phantom whiff of your sweet breath my soul reels,

now that you are gone, lost within a labyrinth of illusions,

your voice swarms inside my desperate delusions,

scratching, clawing layers of past moments spent with you,

you are a part of me, an unfaded, vivid tattoo,

and as my dreams of you frantically race,

I am unable to erase,

the blazing picture of your exquisite face,

so let me be, and leave me to burn in this furnace of my hell,

I should have known better,

but all that matters little,

because it was for you, that I fell

A Child of War

as she lies bleeding,

the girl who skipped, hopped to school,

all of nine and a half years old,

with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was her father’s pride.

as she lies bleeding,

shrapnel lodged in her torn stomach,

she stares at her skipping rope,

as her blood soaks it the colour of cherries her mummy buys.

as she lies bleeding,

she sees people all around thick black smoke,

blurred visions of scattering feet, shoes left behind,

hearing nothing but the pinging in her smashed eardrums.

as she lies bleeding,

she slips away and then she is dead,

a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl,

whose laugh was her father’s pride.

as she lies bleeding,

for even in death she bleeds some more,

shrapnel wedged in her torn stomach,

stealing the light from her bright little eyes.

as she lies bleeding …
in jallianwala bagh in ‘19,

leningrad in ‘42,

freetown in ‘98,

soweto in ‘76,

jenin in ‘02,

hanoi in ‘68,

beirut in ‘85,
raqqa now,

aleppo still,

gaza too.

as she lies bleeding,

a little nine and a half year old girl,

whose laugh was her parent’s pride,

we know she’ll bleed more,
tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn,
with shrapnel in her stomach,

ripped open and torn.
as she lies bleeding … …


​they said she was opinionated, they said that she was loud,

they said she was too feisty, less prone to being a ‘normal’ woman, to listen and to keep her views to herself, they said she was too independent, less ladylike, far too manly.

I loved her because she was opinionated, loud,

I loved her for being feisty, less prone to being a ‘normal’ woman, to speak her mind and to shout her views to the world, I loved her for her independence, for who she was.

she was fierce, not macho, strong not manly,

I loved her for all of that and more … … …

%d bloggers like this: