When grandpa came and stayed the night

Mum would boost the heating

He'd lie on the sofa, a blanket thrown over

The comforting smell of cigarettes lingering


My siblings and I would play on the floor

The red floral carpet stretching for miles

Every now and again, there'd be a rattling cough

While he snoozed away the minutes and hours


Twenty years later, I'm all grown up

With a full-time job and bills to pay

I believe in women's rights and I dislike cigarettes

…Though not as much when I think of grandpa back in the days

Mum shares a story from her late teen years

When she was newly married to dad

Grandma visited her house and was angry

Because grandpa had hit her pretty bad

When you are born


When you are born out of a mindless cultural tradition for a couple to pop as many kids as possible, you are one in eight, two years apart

When you are born because your parents were raised in a patriarchal society and your mum obediently looks to your dad to make all the decisions, you are a product of irresponsibility


When you are born out of a Bengali man's plan to siphon off the government so he can build a house in Bangladesh - his real country - you are just another cash-cow

When you are born so you can bear the burden of being a child-receptionist to non-fluent parents so they can navigate the land they have lived in for more than a decade, you are an unpaid and unappreciated intern

When you are born and you have autonomously explored and achieved something other than household chores, and your parents brag about you to friends and family, you are just a trophy

When you are born and strictly forbidden to even think of having a boyfriend, but suddenly expected to marry at the age of nineteen, your body is not your own


When you are born and you still live under your parent's crushing roof of expectations to be a wife and a mother quickly, soon, now, you are a burden

When you are born and you finally marry and have a child only to realise you elevate everyone around you but have nothing left for yourself, you are history repeating itself 

*inspired by Ethiopian poet Chris Beckett

The nineties

Sunlight streaming in through the windows

Red, floral printed carpet stretching for miles

We have the radio on, Dr Fox introducing the next indie rock

And we sit on the floor, draw, play and talk

Our lives small and confined within the four walls of this house

We know nothing of the world outside

How sadly lovely it is, our lives quite purposeless

To not think about the future

But only the minute we exist in time

The last dream

I can’t remember

It slipped through my fingers like water

If my body was a poem

If my body was a poem

It would speak of scars

Old and new

Deep and shallow

And the scars would tell stories

Of salty rivers running down cheeks

And secret sobs lost to lonely midnights

My poem would describe roads

Expanding like veins

Thick and thin

Smooth and crooked

Paint landscapes of mountains and trees

Which in sunlight, look surreal

My body is a poem

With curled, yellowing pages and blotched indigo ink

Faded led, an old bookmark slipped in

Collected from a journey long ago, far away

Now only a memory mingled with dreams

The aftertaste of nameless emotions

The last of summer on an autumn night


























Monday morning

Is it worth waking up at the break of dawn

Dragging my frozen, stiff body out of bed

Looking at my puffy eyes in the mirror, blinking

Eating my breakfast and not tasting

Getting ready in the dark and wearing the wrong socks

Stepping out into the cold, grey day, still dreaming

And thinking, today, I'll make it on time

Only to find the train is delayed by 19 minutes

National Rail apologises for the inconvenience

Before I sleep

Sometimes you are a brand new home
Endless white-walled large rooms
Ready to be filled with vivid Sesillie Girellis

And a lively family
An overgrown garden of wildflowers
A haven for the birds and the bees
Eliciting curiosity and wonder in the minds of little loved ones
Their feet pattering on the patio
An old wooden door

Submerged in crumbly bricks

Half-hidden by ivy leaves
A heavy brass knob, ready to be turned
To lead us into the wilderness

Thick with trees and brushes

A bed of leaves carpeting the floor

Swallowing echoes of conversations and cries of joy
And sometimes you are the house I occupy now
But with wider corridors
Floor to ceiling windows welcoming the sun
Bamboo sticks singing in the wind
And when I am able to let go of the bricks and mortar
You are a hot, dry village in Zambia
Dark brown children with smiles on their lips
Or a colourful, bustling town in Colombia
Welcome in the eyes of the locals
You are the warmth through greetings
And invites into homes and cafes
Introductions and shared meals with family and friends

A full life captured through my lens
You are the feeling of nakedness
The chains of lifelong rules stripped away
Finally unburdened
I am just a human exploring the earth
Life pulsing excitedly through my veins
When I lay my head on my pillow