Jeena – by Madiha Khan

by TBLM

Girl came to me in a dream and a ugly mark on her chest made me weep with beauty and look at this you see there are ways in the world where brownness of skin makes a boy (ahmed) weep because he is afraid of acknowledging his own brownness even though he listens to wiz khalifa he stands alone in the kitchen at 655pm on Wednesday evening and makes fragrant thick haleem and I think of my mom wrinkling her forehead and worrying about me and then I weep and you see how weeping becomes a circle when you weep far enough?

And I’m sorry that I can’t wait any longer it’s because there is anxiety running through my veins all the time now because I gave up inhaling cannaboids on a regular basis one month and nine days ago because it made mama weep and after that I threw up while learning how to insert catheters in males with enlarged prostates and after that I cried in the bathroom of Kidd 7 neuro after a Slavic man with a hole in his head told me about how he drank his coffee everyday across from the mountains in conneticut and his wife had beautiful silver hair and she was named vera and when she shook my hand before leaving I was suddenly overtaken by sadness of what would happen when the last rusty vessel in his brain burst open and I wished him good luck and cried at home about how much I manage to fuck up on a regular basis now that I don’t have cannaboids blunting (ha!) my brain and vessels and in their place are anxiety lined panic clogged and viscously borne bloodvessels.

You think I’m talking nonsense but everything really did happen and listen it just gets more unreal the more I fuck up and the longer I remain in real reality the longer I realize that I am not equipped to handle it because now my nerves are jangled and now when my patients look at me and I look back at them my hands shake because I don’t want to fuck them up but I am a fuck up who keeps fucking up.

And this is the thing: on the 29ofjulylastyear I was feeling much better my head was clogged and hazy and open and free at the same time and listen here friends I thought I was managing just fine I even googled I FEEL NORMAL because it was so abnormal for me to not feel abnormal and now I can’t even go few minutes without the stones and butterflies and coakroches in my stomach from crawling inside my head and I am convinced that this summer of panic will never end.

It started end of april when mama found an old biotin bottle full of indica I had grown in the back of my closet during winter: the house also almost burned down many times that winter because I was using five extension cords and ten maybeeleven lights but listen I was happy. And after that I threw all my cannaboid receptor agonists away because the way mama made me feel when she cried over me was the worst feeling I had ever felt and I was not equipped to live in a world where I made me mama feel so much over a few handfuls of a plant.

This time around I stuck to it even though I vomited every single day afterwards for a week and I couldn’t sleep without choking down handfuls of pink pills but that’s okay because I can get them from an old white pharmacist so the money can go to old white men in new blue suits and they eat eat eat off wilted people like me so they happily shoved more and more pink bottles in my shaking hands whenever I stopped by their counter.

Look: the first time I stole dilaudid from the hospital I told my instructor it was for a man who had just received a metal valve to keep his heart beating more and more but I only gave him a tylenonl and the chalky guilt that slid down my throat almost made me forget the stomach ache and the fucking up pain that I always feel these days.

Now I can’t even make the words stumble out of me when before they would pour out like the monsoon in karachi sewer system and I was aware that I would be fucked up for a while but I was not prepared to be this defeated and confused.

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The story of our jimmy:

He told me that maurine was a harpie that came in the night and stole his son garret and kept him locked away and he wanted to see garret because garret was “special different fucked up okay” and he had never got up the courage to look garret in the eyes because he had fucked up after coming back from korea and sometimes jimmy was still convinced he was in the trampy stenches and he would punch and kick and pull at his ivs and codewhitecodewhitecodewhite would scream out and haldol would stabbed into him left and right and sometimes I am convinced that the night shift just riles him up when they get tired off rummaging through the sharps container for partial methadone doses.

The story of our glennnn:

Glennnn had bipolar disorder but he had been spitting out his paxil and lith in the corner of the bathub for the last two months and his wife was lovely and tired lovely but wilted lovely but defeated after fighting the bpd for thirtyforty years and she brought him to us and when I was putting in his catheter he chattered his teeth and smiled through the tears and arthur who had been transferred from kidd 7 to the 9th floor stared at me and smiled and his blue eyes shone and I’m a fucking sucker for old white men with bright blue eyes it almost makes me forget they destroyed the world and I can’t help but smile back with my dark brown fallen eyes.

I don’t think so now:

Listen please a little bit more I promise I’ll not take longer than I said I would and I’ll be shorter and quicker than I swore I would but that’s only because the air is getting colder and the cars are getting louder and the endofmaysunshine that is streaming down my brown thighs reminds me to oblige you with another truth: I made five diagonal slashed cuts just below my left femoral vein because I couldn’t take being the queen of anxiety anymore and I wanted to release it all just for one night after living through several similar but all distinct nightmares at the hospital and it was the first time in two years more like three and the urdu script burned over my left brachial meant nothing anymore because the words didn’t apply to me in the moment because I was googling how to kill myself in a fast but painless but also efficient and cost-effective way and I was hunting around for plastic bags with just enough space in them for my head and a little bit of wilted air and I couldn’t find any clean bags anywhere so I attached a blunt tip needle to a 10ml syringe and dragged it across my femoral 5 times until there were five equal streams of blood dribbling and piddling down my thighs. And yes I disinfected and maintained sterility throughout.

And now I feel odd twinges of pleasure whenever I sit on the toilet and see the raised sutureless self-made incisions.

I play old urdu ghazals while I make daal chawal in the kitchen where a brown boy fights off his brownness every night and he brings over white girls and arranges them in a circle around himself and he smiles and raises his eyebrows and looks up at the moon because his mind is peaceful for a minute but it is Ramadan and he looks down with a frown and covers himself with a smile quickly but I can still see it and for the first time I feel sorry for ahmed. And now not.

I try to tell him it’s okay to forget your culture as long as you are aware that one day you will have to turn back to it when the all the smiles and the toefel classes and polo shirts can’t contain the feeling – thatsomethingiswrongandi’vebeenignoringitfortoolong – that feeling. But is hard to get those words out from inside myself because fffuck it let him wrangle with himself and maybe one day he can stop pretending and why does it bother me so much still?

It’s not that bad now it’s not that bad I tell myself even though my teeth still shake and my eyes see yellows as blacks and oranges as blues and I mix up my arms with my eyes and my nose with my thighs it’s not that bad still I say as I clatter and chatter my eyes towards the moon and lift a bag of basmati rice with my feet and I play along with the sitar in my head and a little sufi dances on my chest every night and it makes it easier to breath but in the morning the tightness is there again when I walk to hospital in the morning and the air makes me think that maybe I’m just allergic to the canadian atmosphere?

I’m sick of it want to vomit every time they squint at my name tag and stumble and roll my name around in their pale mouths and spew out lazy halfheld syllables and smile at me with bright eyes like we’re all in on a joke and I’m supposed to laugh and be charmed at their micro-aggressive colonialist behaviour and instead I want to show them the fangs in my mouth because my name is not a misprint it’s not meant to be lazily chewed and regurgitated with apologetically smug smiles and harsh awkward misshapen sounds.

Ahmed left a circle of white harpies out in the backyard and I was sitting in the kitchen practicing reconstituting powdered meds in vials and he stared at the wall whenever he had to run in to get food glasses plates courage and I looked down at my papers and pretended to read them and the rice on the stove screamed out at me and when I got up I was tempted to dunk my head into the foamy mixture and suffocate to death in the fragrance of basmati rice just to escape from the constant experience of reality-sheerness but ahmed was still there so instead I had to settle for burning my fingers instead.

Jeena meants to live in urdu/hindi/brownlanguage and so I want to un-jeena myself sometimes and I think it sounds much better to say un-jeena than mention the s word because the s word makes me taste chalky bitterness in the back of throat and look for farthest exit sign .

But I still have not learned to jeena so let me tell you something: I don’t think I ever will. There’s a very large difference between being aware and existing I’m like a poor lost soulless electron because I can’t ever seem to both exist and be aware at the same I’m incapable of of of of moving on any further on this topic of discussion.

The islam of my childhood was soft and cottony like warm lemonade in karachi june and I though the calls of the mullah were songs for the birds that watched over the old city of poetry and languid language and I wish I had kept the stream of pure urdu with me but I’ve lost most of it now…now even the most childish parts of the language sound like I am dissecting them without anesthesia and there is not recovery room for my lost words.

Sometimes it pours like rain from fingertips and sometimes there are boulders behind my eyelids and I can’t make anyone see their weight even though my eyes water and I sink sink sink down even further into my mind.

He will have: beautiful crisp brown skin and swanky nightly inky black hair and he will make me weep from the honesty of his smile and I will learn to count the web of wrinkles around his mouth and we will have a son with moonlit eyes and the lilt of the urdu in his baby voice and we will have a house in the centre of missisauga where there will be enough saris and salwar kameezes to stave off the vicious bouts of homesickness and I promise you can see it too if you just look hard enough.

There are streets inside me and I sometimes I could drown in them. Look at this: a dead squirrel lying on the 401 highway as I head back to Windsor after being defeated and dragged through and through and now I cannot face myself even more than before.

And now it is that time again itis time to feel that feeling that I feel as 3am approaches that bluesywhoozst typa feeling and I must deal with it now before the clock ticks to 2:59.

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