Waxing (non) Poetic at Vancouver’s CO-OP Radio

coop_logo

Yesterday, i had an interesting conversation about my just-launched novel The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior with Pamela Bentley and RC Weslowski, two of my favorite poets, slam artists and radio hosts at Vancouver’s CO-OP Radio. You can listen to it if you like. There are excerpts from the first SahebaN story ‘Vital Parts’, and a couple of verses from the novel.
coopradio.org/content/wax-poetic-6

Of course, i’m more absent-minded than Pam gives me credit for, so the second time i get the chance to pitch the event at Semiahmoo library, i give the wrong date. It is DEC 3rd not 4th. And, regarding distribution, anyone can ask a bookshop or a library anywhere to get it for them.

Earlier, i had a warm and cozy first launch at VG PlayRoom with Host Virginia Gillespie, Guest Speaker Liam Paul Wallinger and many beautiful peers, friends and family. For photos and other outcomes from events, view this page:
saheban.wordpress.com/photos

Next event is Surrey Muse on Friday November 25, and on November 29 and December 3rd

the-adventures-of-saheban_cover_nov61The Adventures of SahebaN:Biography of a Relentless Warrior
A novel by Fauzia Rafique
Libros Libertad 2016
The story of a woman who was forever curious about an object called ‘pee-nuts’.
..

Checklists

checklists

I was walking to the nearest khokha convenience store a few blocks from my place while my mind was absorbed by my novel Saheban that I was in the process of sending to the publisher the next day. On a side street, there was an older woman with a cane walking toward me from the other end of the footpath. I got the feeling, she stopped when she saw me, and she had. For the rest of my walk on that street of young trees and new houses, I felt being observed at every step. It made me lose my focus on the novel, and I felt that funny feeling I get when meeting strangers, of being pushed into the booth of the Accused in Hollywood’s Victorian courtroom where cases were decided on the basis of various laws that I had, in my own experiential courtroom, pronounced unacceptable in the previous century.

The best way to not lose my focus was to not get effected by the uneasiness of it to the point of generating a series of reactions that I know actually cause the courtroom feeling in me. I quickened my step as if in a hurry, and reached the woman fast. I had seen her before, and we had exchanged wishing-well gestures. So, I did that again, a smile, joining of palms, bobbing of head. She did her part by accepting my greetings with a sweet smile and a wave of her hand. We came across each other, I passed her by. Success!

But No. She was speaking to me, saying something like ‘you live on that side?’ I turned back, said ‘Yes!’ and kept walking.
‘We used to live there too,’ she followed me matching my speed, came alongside, held my arm, stopped me, and said: ‘In the house next to yours. Do you live in the upper portion?’
‘No,’ I had no choice but to stop and to let her put me in her courtroom so that she could go through her checklists. ‘Main floor’, I said, surrendering to an examination that I knew I wouldn’t pass.
‘Oh, main floor basement.’ She said, checking off the first item. ‘I live in a basement too, in that house. We were living with our son but he moved to Amrika with his wife and kids, we stayed here because my husband works here. How many children?’
‘Three.’
‘Boys?’
‘Two girls and a boy.’
‘They live with you?’
‘No.’
‘All married?’
‘No.’
‘Girls must be married?’
‘No.’
‘Oh. You live with your husband?’
‘No.’
‘Who do you live with?’
‘No one.’
‘You live alone? So sorry…’
‘Nothing to be sorry about, it’s very relaxing to live on one’s own,’ I said, encouraging her to think on those lines.
‘I’ll go sit with my husband now,’ she said, giving me the verdict and moving along.

The verdict: under 23%, and this is how:

33% on Children question as in 66% for two boys and 99% for three;

0% on Married-Woman question since women not living with their husbands have either been ‘divorced by them’ or they are widows who are not good enough to find other husbands;

35% on Respectable-Woman question because of body-covering clothes and familiar ‘south asian’ mannerism;

0% on Motherhood question if neither my son nor daughters are willing to ‘take my burden’;

15% on Class question since I don’t own the property I live in, have no car or car-keys, clothing covers the body but does not establish any acknowledged power status;

50% on Ethnicity for being Punjabi but not Sikh or White.

Score: 133 out of 600, a mere 22.16% of the total. I had been ‘Aunteed’.

It’s interesting that my Uncled score is always higher- sometimes as high as 50% because most uncles usually give me some mark on living by myself as it seems to intrigue them all. But if you think that my Aunteed score is low, wait till you see what I get when Begumed.

A South Asian Begum may choose to give me 2.5% for simply standing on North American soil instead of sitting on it, and that’ll be the end of my scorecard because nothing in me would be of use to her. On the other hand, a White Begum won’t be able to locate me sitting or standing, and if she is made to pay attention to me, her radar would go fuzzy making me appear and disappear from her vision like an incarnation of some character in a hollywood box office hit on poverty-in-another-continent that she may have watched at some point in her life. I’ll get 0% when lucky.

Unlike the difference in score when Aunteed and Uncled, my score remains consistent when Begumed and Sahibed by South Asians and when Begumed and Sahibed by White, Black, Red or Yellow people: the same 2.5 and 0%.

If you ask me, I prefer being Brownbagged more than being Aunteed, Uncled, Begumed or Sahibed because at least it’s more of a general wrap and it hides me like it hides my lunch, and for sure, it’s better than being Blackburned or Nativebrowned.

This is not a complete index of Checklists I encounter, but I need to veer off of it because it’ll be unfair to not tell you about my own system of locating others in my mind.

I seem to have Signs instead of Checklists; here are a few examples. When I see a man in a non-thriftstore suit and tie or a woman wearing designer angelina-jolie clothes there emerges in my mind a STAY AWAY sign, and in most cases I do. The RUN sign appears for people using the latest academic/literary/ideological jargon or putting up a show for the camera; STOP sign appears at people singing or smiling, dancing or laughing- at a protest rally or away from it- but this is not to be confused with the red traffic stop signs that said ‘STOP Harper’ and are now saying ‘STOP Enbridge’ because those i FOLLOW; and, a STAY sign shows up if someone invites me to have a joint.
..

‘Being Ditched’

fr-1980s

..

Being ditched, and ditching, are common experiences for all of us. During the course of each day, we process many people through our ditching filters as we get processed by theirs. Most bring decisive results at first sight or few words at best, and the top ditching ground remains to be the class.

I have been ditched for class, race, accent, un-brandnamed clothing, City of Surrey, Pakistan, godlessness, and of course for many aspects of more personal nature. Most times i know the exact cause of ditching or being ditched, sometimes i don’t. To me, in non-abusive interactions, ditching is a right that cannot be held against the ditching party, but let me tell you, the last time i got ditched was too much: imagine being ditched by a woman friend for refusing to accept her fake plastic penis?

Now, that i have your full attention, allow me to discuss another side of ditching. When we can’t find the heart to ditch someone, we try to induce it. There’s this sweet person i know for over three decades, she’s dear to me like a younger sister but what began happening when she moved closer was that she would take hours each day either over phone or in person to deliver a monologue that went somewhat like this: ‘early morning, i fell from the balcony on concrete floor’, description of calamity for 30 minutes including all the steps she or anyone in her family had taken to save her, and then ‘I thought I’ll never breathe again BUT my God saved me’; and, she would go on and on citing tens of daily miracles from being able to make tasty biryani to finding matching shoes to getting kids to school on time, and, it was all being done- against all odds- by her God. Then toward the end, the monologue would change themes, and she would share her sadness at not having an intimate partner to enjoy sexual pleasures with. One day at the end of the monologue when she stopped and looked at me for answers, i said, ‘Since God is doing everything for you why not ask him to do this too?’ Her eyes went out of focus, and then she got up and left. Needless to say it was, and continues to be, a successful ditch-inducing strategy.

Some encounters occur in less defined or more non-traditional territories, the ditchings that ensue are not as clear or expected, and they create different ripples than the usual ones; Sometimes even pleasant. Yes, it is about the fake penis. A dear friend visited after a few years, and over wine, offered her fake plastic penis to me. It was an unexpected but generous thought, and as a single het woman i did appreciate it but appreciation did not make me accept the unusual gift because i don’t like to use fake things, penis or not. But my friend had pity in her eyes at all the other-dimension fun i was missing, and i knew it had happened; i had been ditched.

Even though it isn’t recommended by any decent human, still i am tempted to reach across the traditional after-ditch boundaries to ask my friend this one vital question:
‘What color was it?’
And then:
‘Circumcised or no?’

To welcome into this world my second novel, The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior (Libros Libertad, Nov 2016), stories of a heroic woman who was forever curious about a similar object called ‘Pee-nuts’.

Fauzia Rafique
..

‘Familial Promises – The ‘Honour’ Killer’s Code’

qandeel

.

If ever you
set foot
outside this house
Smack you, I will

.

If ever you
cook anything
I don’t like
Bash you, I will

.

If ever you
give birth to
a female child
Rap you, I will

.

If ever you
marry a man
of your choice
Smash you, I will

.

If ever you
ask for your
property rights
Whack you, I will

Fauzia Rafique
..

Photo from Aljazeera
Poem from Fauzia’s chapbook ‘Holier Than Life’.

..

‘Candle Light Vigiler’

photobyroshnichanda-1

I’m a Candle
Light Vigiler
vigiling over
murders of masses
of people burning
dollar store candles
every other week
in a safe little corner
of an unsafe city

sometimes i use look-alike blinking fake little candles, still, the tears are real like the blood that is spilled of the innocent unarmed civilians childrens

but my vigils
get slurped by the party politicos
solidaritos seeming progressivos
who speak without questioning authoritos
without threatening ideologeos
of the very systemos
that breed the demandos
and create the supplyos
for the (designated) MURDERERS
and the (appointed) KILLERS
of the (compulsive) COLONIZERS

a gimmick named ISIS, for example, is a US-NATO toy created to achieve certain corporate goals for the war pharmaceutical religion construction finance industry

candle light vigiling
has made me a hostage to
the onslaught of
violence carried out to
make more profit for
a few bankers officers
and priests
a hostage to
the sorrow of
innocent deaths
a prisoner to the powers
that need to feed
the oceans of
their greed
with the rivers of fresh
red- warm
blood

‘pray for baghdad’-‘islam is a violent religion’-‘all muslims are not terrorists’-‘good morning’-‘brexit the refugees’-‘kill colored migrants’- ‘Black Lives Matter, No?’ -‘send more weapons to middle east’-‘eid mubarik’- but i never auditioned for this role and i never invested in your goal

The hostage the prisoner
the sorrowful individual
must break
her cage before
the oceans of greed
usurp all blood before
vigiling extinguishes
all dollar store candles
in a safe little corner
of an unsafe city

Fauzia Rafique
.

Photo from Roshni Chanda
..

An ‘Ought To Be Taught’ Poem

It was a delightful experience for me to have one of my poems chosen as an ‘ought to be taught’ poem.

More so, because it was picked by a young person for her school. She was working on an end-of-the-year class project for English Lit program.
I was scrolling through the web and I stumbled across your beautifully written poem “It was life”. I was wondering if…

The original poem was written in Urdu, and here’s the ‘chosen’ English version.

It was Life
(To estranged and un-estranged women friends)

It was life
i lived back then
not a story
that was told

You were there, hiding my injured body
in a colourful shawl
i was stumbling
falling
you too helped me up
the truth of the moments
spent with you, in the strength
of the glow
of our togetherness
over years I applied the balm
of my spirit to make it work on me
and now the wounds have healed
without leaving a single ugly scar
on my person
don’t take it to mean
there was
no attack

I lit candles of tears
with the blood of my heart
to enlighten the inside of my body
don’t take it to mean
the darkness
was never
here

Lightening sight in the eye
glow of life
jumps out of me
whirling into a wild celebrative dance in the yard
don’t take it to mean
that the age of sorrow
did never
arrive

It was life
i lived back then
not a story
that was told

If you take it to mean
there was no
attack, darkeness did not
descend, that
the age of sorrow
was never here,
there will remain a pinch in my heart
because my story
is yours also
the truth will become jumb
-led with the lie
and at some point
when you are about
to tell your story
the truth all jumbled up with the lie
it may be hard to see
the attacker, to tell
if it’s darkness
or light
because my story
is yours also

You have sustained
attacks here as well, dodged
lethal hits, in offerings
to the times of sorrow you also have
drank tears an eyeful
at a time, you know
all shades of your darkness, recognize
the face of grief
or say it
yes say it
your story
is not my story

It was life
i lived back then
not a story
that was told

View original in Urdu

First published at this blog in July 2012
..