31 October 2016


“I can’t shake your hand because my thumb was in my mouth and there’s gasoline on my fingers” is something I believed no one would ever say to me in my lifetime, but I was wrong.

25 October 2016


“You’ll never find a husband in the sky.”

I am eight years old the first time Ammi tells me this. Eight! My attention, such as it is at the time, is on a flock of dark birds – migrating, probably – which fills the street loudly. The birds land on power lines together. Immediately dart back off the power lines together. Change direction. Once. Twice. Together.

I assure you, it is far more remarkable than anything happening on the ground.

At eight years old, I am not looking for a husband. I dismiss my mother’s words as nonsense, perhaps a weak translation of some saying that made more sense when her mother said it to her.

But now I am twenty-four and she says it again and it’s still just as stupid a saying as it was when I was eight.

There’s a lot going on up there in the sky and it should be seen. 

Groundling husbands be damned!

21 October 2016

Civic duty

Two weeks until elections and the anger is all around me. It clings to everything, everywhere. Globs of it.

I see red-faced people screaming on the tv. Families who unfriend each other on facebook. I hear talk of Armageddon.

The anger fills our days now. It is gelatinous and it is semi-translucent. Children and dogs and an old lady in the Heights have drowned in it.

That’s just this week.

So far.

Workers with shovels come trying to remove the anger. To cart it away. The workers are tiny. They wear overalls intended for babies, probably. The workers scoop the anger into red wheelbarrows. Into dump trucks and oaken barrels. Tupperware bowls. A cracked CD case for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors. A hollow plastic model of the expanding universe. An old VCR and your mother’s cupped hands.

I wonder where they take it all to.

Someday, many years from now, I suppose, my grandchildren will peer up at me and say, “Zeze” – for that is what they will call me, inexplicably – “what did you do to stop the bad things from happening back in 2016?”

And I will be compelled to admit to them that I, in my great negligence, failed to do anything, to say anything. Perhaps it is not so great after all, my negligence.

In the face of anger and screaming, I could have at least found the courage to post my thoughts on what’s happening instead of writing about chokers and broken keys… 

16 October 2016

The boy in the sequined mask

To the boy in the sequined mask:

I am looking for you. Everyone knows it. You are the pomegranates guy. The one who stood me up on the day of my sister-in-law’s mehndi when I sat all night at the swing with the lilac glow but you never showed.

I’d like to ask you why you did that. Just so I know, you know?

After that? Maybe love or maybe revenge. One or the other, I should think. Definitely. Or there might exist other alternatives, and reasonable, too, though I have never been one to discount the possibility of the unreasonable.

I do not have much to go on in my search. A private investigator told me that. His name was Harry and he called himself a tracker, presumably because he lacked the proper licenses to call himself anything else.

Still I believe Harry the Tracker was correct.

The pertinent facts, as we have reconstructed them, are as follows:
1.   You (the boy in the sequined mask) were present at a certain named Desi event hall at 2 pm on Saturday, August 20th;
2.   You had eyes changed by something you’d seen. A burning bush, perhaps, or a four-headed angel with a flaming sword. Something along those lines;
3.   Your accent was soaked in Islamabad, though you worked hard to hide it; and finally,
4.    You wore a silver sequined mask. 
This is not a lot to go on. Yet it is more to go on than many dreams have at their start.

I have a plan. 


10 October 2016


Of my obsessions, what can be said? They flow through my life like water, filling every nook and cranny they can fill.

I can pick up something casually – something entirely new – say on a Thursday afternoon, just to see if it holds an interest. Then I look up at the clock and it is 4 a.m. and I have not eaten dinner, prayed, or gone to bed and I come home at lunch time to get in fifteen more minutes where I can.

My current obsession involves making chokers. It does not just involve making chokers, the obsession is the actual making of chokers, you see, but this in itself involves a ceaseless search for beads and threads and clasps and fabrics.

It’s a problem.

This very blog has suffered for this obsession.

Yet I’m heading in the general direction of getting good at them, I believe. 

06 October 2016

Reasons to wear a headscarf, part 783

I came upon a hummingbird.

He was lying on the ground and appeared as though dead.

He was not dead, for if he had been, I would not be writing this blog post about him. Believe me: I know of no good stories to be told involving dead hummingbirds. Perhaps this just shows some lack of imagination on my part.

This hummingbird in question – this one about whom I do have a story – looked dead but felt alive. When the sunlight reflected on his tiny chest, it twinkled like oil on water, how one color instantly becomes another and you cannot take your eyes off it.

I cradled him in my hands and my hands looked huge at last.

I suppose he was in shock but upon reaching my office, he came unshocked and darted straight up and into the fluorescent lights in the ceiling. It is not an easy thing, catching an unshocked hummingbird who slams himself against ceiling lights.  

Like a madman, I leapt upon my desk and climbed atop a teetering cabinet. My thin pink headscarf I used as a makeshift net with which to capture and retain the hummingbird. We made the trek back outside for his happy release.

I was happy, at any rate. It seems he, for his part, should have been more satisfied with his lot in life than when I’d found him there on the ground. I have no real understanding of hummingbird emotions, I admit.

I opened my hands, unfolded my headscarf, and the hummingbird shot up and out, over the people, over the cars, and over the buildings of downtown Houston.

The chances of our meeting again were negligible.