(TYIP) Iris

I am lost in her roars,
As she devours me,
Folds me inside her darkness,
entombs me in old echos, whole

She is not an evil thing, I know
Though I am haunted in her
black, yawning belly—
abandoned, grasping

And I yearn, so much that
She weeps for me, too
I yearn for the sun to ignite
once again— my sun, to rise

I am lost in a fever dream
of hope in droplets of color mending
my brokenness
For I am still living, breathing,

My strength is mine,
failing as it could be,
And I am not hers, but
She is mine

She is my days that pass,
She is my desperation and
My laughter, and she, with
Gentleness, unfolds—

and bears witness to My
Rise
To shore.

Flower prompt: Iris— hope

Life and writing updates you don’t really need: healing, slowly

Hello hello!

I’ve dipped again, but for once, I think my excuses are valid.

It’s been a long month of having to suddenly fit myself back into the life I hadn’t seen in two years, except now I no longer find my sister waiting for me at lunch, or asking me to go grab a coffee.

Grief is as horrifying as I thought it would be, but I’m so grateful that, instead of a wall tipping and crushing me underneath, grief turned out to be a maze I have to navigate through. Slowly, I think I am making progress— even when setbacks happen, I believe that I’ll find my way out eventually. I went back to work less than a week after my sister passed, and I’ve filled my days up to the brim with pottery classes and painting sessions and working out, not because I’m trying to distract myself from grief, but because I don’t want to miss out on life.

Anyway!! Writing-wise, I’ve only been working on a hades/persephone piece lately. A lot of themes I think were explored in that and I’ll be uploading it soon (in a few hours? in a few days? Who knows). Thrilled to think that someone may be looking forward to it because the worst thought you can get as a writer is, “Is anyone even gonna read this??”

On another note, have you guys been using the Story option at all? What do you feel about it? Maybe these updates will move over to that feature instead of cluttering my dash.

As always, thanks for reading and please stay safe and happy ✨🤍

The day I lost my sister

I burned vividly the sight of the rain as it fell like a singular sheet beyond the window of the taxi I took to the hospital that last time.

My heart was settled in place, surprisingly, as I rushed through the layers of doors towards my sister’s room in the ICU. Mom had just panicked, I thought; she’d exaggerated how bad the meltdown my sister had that morning. She’ll be fine, I know my sister’s going to be fine.

It’s a strange thing what hope does to you. When I looked past the shutters I saw her unconscious, with wires all over her body. She’ll be okay, I thought again. I’d seen all of these wires before, the only new thing is a massive oxygen mask obstructing her pretty little face. I’d seen it before, the bags of platelets by the twos, never seeming to stay in her body, and the bags of blood, and the NG tube inserted far into her perfect nose to drain the pitch black liquid that gushed out of her stomach if it wasn’t pulled out with a syringe.

But then the doctors came in and asked us to follow then for a chat, and my mother kept asking them to take just me. “Take her,” she told the tall doctor who knelt at her feet. “Take Maryam, I can’t go. Maryam will tell me everything.”

But the doctor insisted, and my mother and I, hand in hand, followed a group of them past maze-like entrances into the quiet room. I knew it was bad news, quiet rooms always are, but as much as I’d thought I’d steeled myself for the possibility of my sister passing during the two years she battled leukemia, “We think we should let her go,” still made me want to yell at her doctors and call them stupid liars.

I didn’t do that. I cried, I cried so hard my body shook with it; a whole two years’ worth of tears trying to break out of my chest. I couldn’t support my mother; she supported me as she wept on my lap. I vaguely remember someone handing me a cup of water that I couldn’t really see.

So we went back to her. It was around 11 in the morning by then, and she was stable. My sweet unconscious sister was hunched in her floral pajamas, holding her new unicorn plushy. We’ll just have to make her comfortable until she goes. The meds are too much, you see? They just make her anxious and fill her lungs with even more fluids.

And so started the harrowing journey of sitting in a room with my sister and waiting for her to die.

There’s no other way to put it. For a day and some change, I stayed in a room with my mother and over-sympathetic nurses, watching the screen as my sister’s vitals dropped and increased for a little spark of hope, the leap of a heart anticipating a miracle. But there were no antibiotics nor steroids, just medicines to make sure she’s comfortable.

Her nurses from the cancer ward came to say goodbye. She’d been hospitalized for 8 consecutive months, and they all couldn’t help but consider us family. Even the cleaning lady burst into tears when she saw us packing later that day.

The doctors and nurses weren’t expecting her to make it through the night but she did, fearlessly, responding to our “Do you love me?” in her delirious state, and groaning the names of our other siblings who weren’t there. I love her. I love her so much and I told her a thousand times that night; and I told her that everyone else loves her too, all the siblings whose names she cried.

But her response became slower, and it was time for her to say her shahada. My mom said it again and again until she followed, and there was so much sadness in my heart I didn’t know what to do with it. “Ashadu Alla Illaha Illa Allah,” she said, slowly, deliriously, brilliantly. It meant that she knew that it was her time to go.

Then she stopped responding entirely. No more nods to our “I’m here and I love you,” and no more unconscious “thank you”s to the nurses after they give her more painkillers. The monitors continued showing her pulse and her oxygen dropping, and her heart fighting a futile battle. It was the following morning then, I hadn’t eaten or changed or even slept for twenty four hours; and my sister was still dying before me. Nurses and doctors kept coming in, and there was one thing I couldn’t stop asking, “What do people do in this situation?”

Really, it was unfathomable. I was waiting for her to go, just sitting there and waiting, shivering uncontrollably under three blankets, in my jeans and my thermals. “There’s nothing I can do to prepare you for what will happen,” a nurse told me, and she was right.

Thankfully, a consultant and a doctor were there to bid farewell, both of them women.

And then it happened.

My legs gave in, and I thought, no, no no no not yet, please, not yet. But it was time, and I saw her breathing still, a warrior in her glory, every inhale racking the entire bed it was so laborious, the distance between each and the next becoming longer. The doctors held my hands and asked me to look into their eyes; Sarah had incredibly round ones. I wanted to run away and never come back, how could this be? I wanted to run and run and cry, but I held her hand and kissed her face and told her again how much I love her, and I couldn’t believe how fast the color of the fingertips change.

Today we’re packing to leave London, and every thing I touch reminds me of her. I’ve always been the thief sister who rummages through her closets for pieces to complete my outfits, and she was the only one who could glue my falsies on. I found so many eyeshadow palettes and bronzers, new and unused, and unopened bottles of floral perfume. But I think I’m making peace with it. It was just so peaceful how she went, she took a breath and then not another one after it; and I keep going back to that memory when I think about all the makeup she wouldn’t get to wear, and all the kimchi fried rice she wouldn’t get to eat. But my heart knows that she’s got much better food where she is, and she’s got ambrosial perfume, things beyond our pathetic earthly pleasures. Oh, and good company, with Grandma and our pilot uncle, and her ugly little green bird, Dino.

Fatma, my patient, fearless sister who faced cancer and chemo and a horrible, horrible GvHD. I will always be your big sister, I will think of you every time I have any of your favorite foods, I will pray for your pure soul as long as I can. I’ll miss you, but I know that you’re in a much better place now.

I love you.

إنّا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

Thank you for four years 💞

Hello!

In April of 2017 I’d been writing for less than 6 months, then this website came along and contained all the creative chaos I had in me.

I was a messy writer, and I think I still am; and as much as I enjoy writing, I would never shut up about how difficult it is, and how much grief it gives me. But it’s the hobby I found after years of searching, and for a little humble blog to help me show it to the world is something I’m beyond grateful for.

Inkofhers wouldn’t have survived for this long if it weren’t for you, Reader, so thank you for your support however you gave it.

Sometimes I might dip and disappear, and neglect this blog for a while, but thanks to you all returning to it really feels like coming home.

Please stay safe and happy, always!

(and continue supporting this little writer 🥲)

my gentle decimation

I fell in love with my sadness

With her primordial existence inside me

With her magic, ancient and devious

and raw

and maddening

Leaving me yearning to be abandoned

in a city of quiet ghosts

in the safety she promised,

where no other soul exists

where the day’s no longer

aglow, and the night’s calm

is no more

where I am stranded in an

eternal forlorn onset of darkness

that drapes forsaken buildings, ruins

I want it, that terrifying quiet

I want the desolate pleasure of

exploring it, scrutinizing its secrets

After the world has ended

and everyone’s gone,

and waiting for me

to follow suit.

(TYIP) Hibiscus

One time I wrote a story about a woman with steadfast eyes, a surgeon whose little island saw pirate flags approaching and closed upon itself, held its breath.

My girl left her little house, though, when she was called to the ship to treat an illness that was eating away at the crew. I wrote her amputating a man’s leg because she saw no other choice, then I wrote her watching, with an enduring heart, her husband slowly dying.

That story sits abandoned in my drafts, an old, dusty thing— descriptions of island plants and thatched roofs, of an unlikely affinity growing between a criminal and a doctor. I went back to it when I meant to write about hibiscus flowers and what they signify, and found that I’d written my doctor as the embodiment of that flower with no inhibitions. I wrote delicate beauty literally; deft hands and a tender appearance, but a roaring heart in her still. It sounds as though it will shatter, that beauty, but I see it as a fleeting thing, something hopelessly alluring but unafraid to leave; and even if it weakens and withers and dies, it remains tethered to you, like a single gentle breeze on a sweltering day.

Anyway, it’s a waste to leave it unread forever, so here’s a relevant little piece of it:

“Nothing about the affair was effortless, but he could see it, the efficiency of a doctor, comparable to the best naval surgeon he’d seen, mapping the joint and finding the last of the broils, and the first motion and the blood, and other than his first mate tying the limb tight and holding its owner up, she had no hands to assist, none to wipe the sweat beading on her brow.”

(Really, will I ever stop writing about women being so fierce, so fearless? I don’t think so.)

Flower prompt: Hibiscus— delicate beauty, glory, immortality.

(don’t) Live

Run

What from? I would

Ask my dread

But instead it pried open

my ribs, crushed this heart

and, run

it planted into it

Run from what?

Run

until your lungs can carry air no longer

That was then,

be still

Now it tells,

very still

But why?

rest your back upon earth

let her claim you again

But how?

let her vegetate and grow her

life upon you, crush you

with fear, and the weight of your sins

I see,

be still

be earth

I see,

until your lungs carry air no longer

Women of iron (excerpt)

Here’s a part from the WIP project I talked about in my last post:


 

“And truly, she is made of iron. I saw her sail, saw her wrench the authority from Captain during a storm, and command from the stern men twice her size. From the day she planted her sea legs on the deck of that ship we’d recognised her a formidable opponent, then a certain leader, honed and chiseled into discipline by years she’d spent in suffering. She then became either too unafraid to die, or too confident of her plans to overtake Captain, who later gave her his heart and his fortune, and made her his wife.

Lady Eboshi didn’t shy away– took the love and gold he granted, and his heart. I saw her standing over his body that night, when his hometown was burning to the ground. Her dagger had sliced open his jugular, and like the wild creatures she’s always condemned, she carried the stench of blood in her very being.”

Return of the life updates you don’t really need: fierce women, dreamy boys, more magic

Hello hello!

(Yes, I’ve abandoned this blog. I have. I’m gonna punch myself in the mouth for it.)

How are you guys? How’s quarantine treating you? I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.

Due to the fact that there practically are cobwebs growing all over this blog, I’ve decided to challenge myself into writing and posting something every single day. I’m thinking starting small, only a week, and seeing where that takes me. The initial purpose of inkofhers was to encourage me to write and post everyday, but I don’t think less than 50 posts in 3 years qualifies as success. (Edit from the future: Something about forcing myself to write just to post destroys the ‘quality’ of my writing. I didn’t want to post pieces I’m not happy with, so I’ll quietly quit the hell out of this. I promise I’m writing a lot more than usual, though!)

Remember how, in my last post, I described a strange need to delve into magic? I did; I watched Ghibli movies, read fantasy (unlike myself) and some more mythology (A LOT like myself), and listened to retellings of fairy tales on podcasts to put me to sleep. A writing project that I ended up prying out of that is a back story/character study of Lady Eboshi’s character (what can I say, I’m just too weak against women being kings). I’m trying to make it so that even people who haven’t watched the movie can enjoy it. It’s turning out much more extensive than I’d thought, so I really hope you guys will give it a shot if when I post it.

On reading: I’ve pushed myself into finishing 2 books in less than a week and discovered that I have, in fact, not lost my ability to read. I just need to relearn how to focus on things that are longer than a single damn tweet. Throughout, I’ve also been savouring the book “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones, the masterpiece behind my favourite movie by the same name. I’ve been enjoying the book tremendously; the characters are so different from the movie it’s just amusing. Movie Howl, the gentle prince of my heart, is a far cry from the insufferable, overdramatic moron in the book (who, in all honesty, still managed to snatch my heart and run with it). Sophie’s steadfastness is the same, and she’s a lovely character. Book Sophie unapologetically slides snarky comments to Howl all the time, and there’s so much bickering it’s had me laughing out loud several times (and I really never laugh while reading).

I’m going to wrap up this babble-turned-book review mess now. Thank you so much for reading if you’re still here. Please stay healthy and safe during these crazy times!