Category Archives: Heroes

The drums

I miss you brother, even when I do get to see you I still miss you. We sit and talk like the old men we are becoming, rather than like the young angry youths we are inside. I guess that is their final joke isn’t it? That’s the one the spectators will laugh about the longest, the one they will remember after you and I have faded like they always wanted us to.

Something has changed in us hasn’t it? In all my memories you are dancing around like a fiery entity out of control, igniting everything and everyone you touched. You took my hand and I followed you to the frontline, knowing I might not walk back again but never caring. I am proud to have known you, proud to have stood by you, even when you didn’t see me. It wasn’t physical anymore.

I still hear the drums my brother. They wake me up, they jolt me when I’m sitting at my desk in the office, confused and disoriented. Sometimes I look out the window and I forget where we are, because you are not out there anymore brother. I still hear the drums, and I hear our footsteps to the drums as we crossed the river. Our fury was enough to bring down the bridge that day had we wanted to. Like ancient tribal beings of lust and hunger we fought through. They had woken the sleeping dragon that spurned us forward like armless berserkers and we would not back down. We stood together and they would fall before us.

I look so different today my friend. They have doused that fire in me when they took you from me. Now I’m old and dying, and when I see the look in your eyes I often consider taking my own life for failing you. I don’t regret one bit of it. If I should have to do it all again, I would do it all again happily over and over again, and live through this again and again, to be with you again and again my brother.

I can still hear the ringing in my ears, a hundred metal bars banging against the railing. We were a fearful visage to behold, while our hearts cowered in fear themselves. We knew we could be maimed, but never broken. We knew we could die, but we could never lose.

Today we are maimed, we are broken, we are dead and we are losing. They’ve sucked the life out of us when they smashed those pearls that we fashioned our dreams into into a thousand pieces. Look at us today brother. We are so much older, but not a bit wiser. The wrinkles on our faces are not marks of laughter anymore, but of the pain we bear. We kept lists till they were too long and our friends became numbers rather than names. But call on me brother and I will be there. I will be weak and feeble and useless, but show me that fiery dream again, and I will stand again by your side.

On that day

IMG_2390One day we’ll walk out into the sun again and we’ll stand together like we did before. It’ll be a peaceful, bright early morning. The midday sun will not burn us as we talk of love and dreams. You’ll speak like you did before, and I’ll smile like I did before, and the little kids running around will chase the bubbles of fantastic dreams that come out of your lips and giggle when they pop them and the colors splash on them.

On that day there will be no more tears. I won’t cry for you again, nor will I see those little pearls at the corner of your eyes as you close them in pain. There will be no place for pain anymore. There will only be us and we will be grand. We will never talk of hopelessness again. We will only talk about the small and simple things we will do, and no one will ever think they are grand. But to you and I, they’ll be ivory towers we climb to court the stars and befriend the comets.

We will smile at the passersby who will look at us, smile back and never recognize us. But we won’t really care if they know us or not. The only thing I’ll care about is you next to me my friend, and how we laugh as we catch broken bits of chatter from others out on the square to enjoy the sun. No one will ever turn their heads down in fear again, never again my friend. We will raise our heads and scream our thoughts out and the elements will bow down to our wills.

On that afternoon we will bring down all the walls. For the first time ever, we’ll finally see each other for what we all truly are – balls of blinding potential just waiting to unwind. We’ll all unwind and tangle and untangle and flip over into a maddening display of color as we trade bits and become something larger than the sum of us all. It would be a good day for all my friend. There will only ever be love for each other. It will guide all our actions and in it we will finally find deliverance from centuries of frustrated line drawing to mark our mental and physical territories.

We’ll dream into each other and become formless, we won’t care what we look like or how others see us anymore. We’ll be endless thoughts and float on an endless sea of creativity where we will be the gentle trickle and the raging storm. The destruction they bring will have no place among us. We will only ever build dream upon dream, never believing there will ever be a ceiling – and if there is one we will just burst through it and build on as we become limitless. We will finally be us. Just us. Not them or their thoughts or their demands. On that afternoon we’ll walk hand in hand, my friend, and we will be free. And only then will we know what it really feels like.

The setting sun will smile at us for all we are. We will finally become what we were born to be after hundreds of years of struggle to find our place. In that orange-red hue we will splash water at each other in the fountains of youth. We will share our tales with the pebbles and the dust for a fleeting moment before they go and spread them across the earth. For all will wait to hear of us my friend. And the sun will smile at the kids hopping through the grass where we once spilled our blood and be grateful to have seen us on that one day.

On that night, we will lay back under a sparkling night where the full moon will never set. We will defy time itself, for that day will not end, nor shall we wake up to what once was again. It will be eternal and so will the people with us. We’ll sit in a circle and hold hands as we make up songs of our glory on a night much darker than this one. We will sing of love, of our hope and for the ones we lost along the long winding road. We will sing in peace, we will sing and our voices will not be heavy with the burden that was forced on us.

On that night, it will all be ok again. It will all be worthwhile and we will know it. And we will be together my friend. We will not be stories in a dusty book or pictures on a fading billboard. We will just be us, and the world will be us.

Remember when we died?

Remember when we died?
Remember how we had no notion of being heroes back then
We just pulled up like horned giants and grabbed life by its rich fabrics
And just leaped?

Remember when we went digging in the trash and found gold?
We sprinkled it in the air and everything it touched was reborn
When we talked, we roared
When we roared, the elements stood still in awe

Remember when we finally fell to the mud
It wasn’t by the stones or bullets flying at us like the reaper’s scythe
Those only stripped away our fragile lies and exposed our golden engraved will
It was by the razors of friends, thrown like whirling nightmares,
That cut us and our dreams down to size

They said there’s no dignity in death
But we didn’t care when we spat at death,
Determined to rise as we kill death
We would fly away to become fiery birds of legend
To become rains of life, of love, of peace

Remember when we finally died
It wasn’t as glorious a as we thought it to be
We were just left there bleeding on the sidewalk
Like rabid dogs they hardly looked at us anymore

Come sip with me of the grand wines of the forgotten
For as they rub off our names from their history with spit
The stars will forever tell tales of what we did
We are not of this world, my brothers and sisters

We belong to the sky and we will never be brought down
And when the sun sets on our dreams,
Very few will remember when we died

The eternal dine

They sat together to the greatest feast there ever was. Laughter rang out across the hall. Voices rose in singing, others in stories of valor. The faces around the table were familiar yet they looked very different. Young, vibrant and energetic. It was like the sun was always rising to their faces.

The stars served them, darting around in all their brightness to answer their every whim. The elements obeyed them and worshiped them. The wind darted around to hear their stories of valor while the earth sighed in satisfaction – even as it heard the tales for the millionth time.

Vastly different faces spoke with one voice. The scars were not gone, but became streams of bright light – tattoos of dignity. The rugs they once wore were adorned with elaborate designs of silk. The pain was forever gone.They spoke of their dreams and, unlike him, they laughed about it. They were, finally, happy. Did they know what he knew? Or maybe he didn’t know what they knew.

The eternal dance went on, threading like a golden needle in the fabric of black space. 

He entered the hall, humbled, and tears flew down his cheeks. At long last he was in good company again. 

Around the table

We sat down around the table. It was time for another jagged goodbye. Friends we were, comrades we became, humans we always stayed.

Sometimes, when I try really hard, I can remember when we first met. Carefree, young and reckless. We laughed loud, worked hard and learned much. It seems like a lifetime ago now – a vivid tapestry of a life that we swam in for a short while.

Then we fell through a loophole of wilderness. A lifetime of experiences every single day. Like some invisible being banging us repeatedly against an imaginary wall, breaking us, remaking us then breaking us again.

Were we the same people back then that we are now? Sometimes it’s hard to remember our faces – it’s like we are living in someone else’s body and dealing with fragments of their memories that pop up every now and then to remind us we weren’t always here.

We sat around the table but we were not loud anymore. We smiled less when someone mumbled something to try to make it funny. We told stories, tiptoed around others, and fell into silence again. I looked at the distorted faces of my heroes around the table and traced a single, thin, invisible thread weaving its way slyly amongst us all.

We were all tired. Very, very tired.

They’ve seeped that endless energy out of us. We just laid back – trying to talk when we had to, silent when we could and less eye contact whenever possible.

But yes, we may be older, yes we may be tired, and yes we may be weakened. Yet you are all that will ever matter. History will not write your names, but it is written inside of me. Weak, sad, desperate me is still proud to sit at the table with you.

You will always be heroes to me.

The walls and the sidewalk

It was the best of times, far from the worst of times.

I still walked with a limp then, an injury, a mark I bore with pride. That tingling pain in my right knee was proof that I had stood where it mattered. It was a reminder of the battle against Goliath, of the dawn that came up with a new sun – one that smiled down at us proudly while we bandaged our wounds and laughed.

I sat down to speak to the sidewalk and graffiti-covered walls of all I’d seen and all I dreamed. I could swear I saw them smile. They were a part of it as much as me – as much as any of us.

I told the sidewalk, as I fervently rubbed it clean, that I would never clean the blood spilled there. It has become part of the sidewalk – part of the legend – like little beads of pearls bursting with memories. I’m just cleaning away the dirt to honour that blood – ever precious to me.

I told the walls of the valiant stories and we laughed heartily together as we thought of all the little kids who’ll stand where I am now, and listen wide-eyed to us both tell them the stories of how we inherited a dead land and created life out of it. We would tell it over and over a thousand times – and love it just like the first time – till I fade away into song, soon to be forgotten. The kids would grow, and retell the stories a thousand times more with the walls – as passionately as when they were young.

It has been a thousand years since that day. I’m a much much older man, still trapped in a young man’s body. I smile less often, am harder to amuse and don’t find much in life I’m proud of. But I still remember that day. I still remember the walls and the sidewalk – and wish with a dusty heart they remember me.

I went back to where it all started. I’m not limping  anymore. Time may often heal some wounds of the body, hardly ever of the soul. There’s no tingling pain in my right knee, but my bandaged heavy heart is falling apart.

I sit down and talk to the sidewalk. I ask about those precious pearls weaved inside its very existence. But all there is is dirt, and piss and a thousand smashed dreams. I wipe at the dirt with my bare hand, but all I find is more dirt and more piss.

I lean on the wall and ask her to tell me the stories again. I beg her to remind me of the names, of Karim, Khalid, Mina, Emad, Bilal, Ahmed and all the others. She stands silent. My tears wet the graffiti but it doesn’t laugh. I look around but there are no little kids waiting to hear the legends. I trace my fingers across the cracks in the wall as I map the cracks in my heart.

I crawl up between the sidewalk and the walls and scream at their silence. I scream like a mad clown till my voice is hoarse and don’t stop. Nor do they stop their silence. I roll up in the dirt and piss, under the wet graffiti, till I fade away like the stories.

There shall be no more.

“It’s worth it”

His tears were defiant, his smile humbling. “It’s worth it,” he said. “It’ll all be worth it in the end.”

We lay in fear as the sky rained down rocks, each one seeking to kill or maim. I was scared my friend, I cannot deny it. I felt ashamed of my weakness when I saw your strength. You’re a far better man then I can ever hope to be, and I’m glad I was there with you.

Everything stood still, speechless at the strength that was you. The wind bowed to you, bouncing the harsh rocks away like an invisible hug. Every rock sighed in relief as it hit the ground away from you, happy to bring you no harm. One rock lay hated, despised, for it had failed all the other rocks like a malicious arrow.

I looked at it, reddened with your crystals, and hated it. I wished it never existed. I’m scared my brother, scared to see you gone. How can I live with this? I am not like that rock, this would break me. I don’t know you but I need you. I need to know I did something.

I touch your forehead as the blood gushes between my fingers. Make it stop my friend, make it stop. I was scared because I couldn’t stop it. All I needed to do was take it away. All I cared about was to see it dry. The blood touches the sidewalk and it cried in pain. The sidewalk wanted it to stop. The dust on the street drank it up hoping by doing so it would stop.

But it did not stop. It cut its way through little canals of crimson dreams that glittered under the kind sun. The canals moved on, bringing a sad song to everything they touched as they came down the sidewalk lazily. Everything they touched was honored yet miserable, holy yet bland. It is too precious my friend. I’d rather see me fade then see it spilled like that.

My tears were not defiant, they were weak. My smile was not humble, it was broken. “It’s worth it,” he said. “It’ll all be worth it in the end.”

Farewell my one minute friend. I wish I can believe like you. 

Time of heroes

Egyptian heroSit by me and tell me a story. Find a way to cleanse me up and put something naive inside.

Tell me of good times, of dreamy heroes clad in bright armors of rugs. Tell me of faith, of honor and grace. Draw me a picture of letters and curves to rule my mind. Talk to me of how valiant they were, a band of misfits with a dream of love.

Tell me stories to ease the pain – a pain I never grew numb to. Like a knife left inside, they twist it every once in a while and smile. I hold it together when strong, I scream when I give up and die when I can.

Tell me stories of love. Remind me of the faces of the silhouettes who rule my mind. Purify me. Take away the filth they leave inside and remind me of the dreamers, the lovers and the fighters. Remind me of my fear and tell me of my courage. Show me the shore but don’t take me there, leave me to swim with the gods for a while longer. You know how I yearn for them.

Tell me of the day I stood shoulder to shoulder with the giants. So small but significant, so scared but far from weak. Tell me of how the scum rose up to be knights that day. Send the songs thundering again, let them amaze the world again, let them shake the throne of oppression again, let them strike fear in the heart of the tyrant again.

Pick up the fading colours and paint the battlefield of dreams. Draw the lies of the trickster, spreading vile vines through the hearts and minds. Paint death looming over us, sending bloodied fingers down to reap the field. Paint the downtrodden, proud and unyielding, staring up at it in defiance under a glorious sunrise. Through it all draw hope – oh never forget hope – and paint it with the colours of the rainbow breaking through dawn.

Etch in marble the names of those who gave their lives that the rest of us may dream on. Let us all turn to dust while their names are worshipped. Let the world fade away into a wasteland while their names stand an eternal testimony, defying the worthlessness of time. Read them everyday, that the sacrifice may never be forgotten. Tell them I never forgot.

Sit by me, take my hand and lead me to salvation in the stories. They are all they left for me after tainting the dream. Tell me life is better, lie to me and I will believe you. Take me to the heroes again, let me sing again with those I love. Let me lay to rest amongst them, that we may sing to the heavens for the rest of time till we become legend again.