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The other day I was watching a documentary of BBC on History of Africa and they started with Morocco. Mentioned that the men there wear blue robes so much so their bodies are blue as they do not wear any thing else under. They cover faces and head except eyes with a blue scarf not to hide faces from strangers’ eyes as the women do, but to keep sand and sun and heat away. It is not hijab as such. They manufacture these robes from fabric that is obtained from a tree called ‘nila’ found in sub Sahara regions.
I was amazed to learn that. We in north India have the word nila for blue! (And dear Kanha is also called ‘neelkanth?) because He drank poison? and poison is blue (like nila thotha (chemically copper sulphate) is a poison and is blue. In school, when glue was not so freely available and we were taught book binding in technical class. We were boiling some white flour (maida) till it becomes sticky. mixed a little thotha for the sake of book worms dying if ever they try to eat our bound books!!!!!!.
Also in north India we used to mix a little neel (blue powder) with some maidah in water and soak in it pre washed white cotton clothes. It gave a fine very subtle blue glow that enhanced whiteness and the starch (kalaf) when dried would give a stiffness texture to the garment. 
Image result for blue robes of morocco
It will be wrong to say all Arabs wear blue robes called abaya. I have never been to Morocco and so have not seen these blue robes, but in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE, 99% men wear stark gleaming white abayas and red checkered head scarf with a black ring on the head; yes when in the desert they cover the faces and head except eyes like any desert dweller.
Image result for dubai men clothing
 Omani men wear unique abaya  generally light coloured but always a unique cap or head gear and a pair of sandals.
Image result for omani mens clothing
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


jo thak ke baith jaata ho manzil ke saamne

With thanks to


Hasrat ye us musafir-e-bekas ko roiye
jo thak ke baith jaata ho manzil ke saamne
- Sheikh Ghulam Hamdani Mas’hafi

Hasrat ye us musafir-e-bekas ko roiye

Hasrat ye us musafir-e-bekas ko roiye
jo thak ke baith jaata ho manzil ke saamne
– Sheikh Ghulam Hamdani Mas’hafi

हसरत ये उस मुसाफिर ए- बेक़स को रोइये
जो थक के बैठ जाता हो मंज़िल के सामने
– शेख़ ग़ुलाम हमदानी मुस हाफी

حسرت یہ اس مسافرِ بیکس کو روئیے
جو تھک کے بیٹھ جاتا ہو منزل کے سامنے
– شیخ غلام ہمدانی مصحافی

Meaning of:

Hasrat, हसरत, حسرت: इच्छा, Desire
Musafir-e-Bekas , मुसाफ़िर-ए-बेक़स, مسافرِ بیکس: मजबूर यात्री, Helpless traveller

Hasrat ye us musafir-e-bekas ko roiye
jo thak ke baith jaata ho manzil ke saamne
– Sheikh Ghulam Hamdani Mas’hafi

(I) Desire that you spare your tears for the plight of that helpless traveler
Who tired by the travels sits by the road at the sight of his destination.

Shaikh Ghulam Hamdani (1750-1824) is considered to be one of the masters of classical Urdu ghazal. He was born in Akbarpur in Amroha district in the year 1750. He studied in Delhi where he began his poetry but later on migrated to Lucknow in 1783 having gained the patronage of Mirza Sulaiman Shikoh. He died in Lucknow. Before his time Urdu was known as Hindu, Hindoi, Dakni or Rekhta, Mashafi was the first person to simply call this language Urdu. He migrated to Lucknow during the reign of Asaf-ud-Daula; he was a prolific writer whose ghazals are full of pathos. Source: Wikipedia


Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Uncategorized



with thanks to “All Things Pakistani”

Dr. Rauf Parekh

Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi, one of the most celebrated humorists of the Urdu language, said in an interview early in his literary career that he had decided to quit writing humour. Reason? He thought it was useless to write humour if one could not write it the way Shafeeq-ur-Rahman did. (Though, luckily enough, Yousufi Sahib later decided that he could write humour the way he himself did.)

Such was the influence of Shafeeq-ur-Rahman, a humorist who ruled the world of Urdu humour for about 60 years, and is still doing so.

Shafeeq-ur-Rahman began writing and established himself in the pre-independence era like his contemporaries, such as Ibrahim Jalees, K.L. Kapoor, Krishan Chandr, Shaukat Thanvi and Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqi.

His first book ‘Kirnen’ (1942) was a collection of quasi-romantic and quasi-humorous short stories. His early stories did not show any signs of a great humorist. But in his second book, ‘Shagoofe’ (1943), romanticism gave way to humour and it was his later books, ‘Lehren’ (1944) and ‘Parwaz’ (1945), which established him as a pure humorist. ‘Himaqaten’ (1947) and ‘Mazeed Himaqaten’ (1948) earned him more accolades but the flow of his books shrank to a trickle of articles and then for almost 25 years he wrote nothing.

Zameer Jafri, in one of his columns titled ‘Kuchh na likhne ki silver jubilee’, ‘commemorated’ in his peculiar style Shafeeq’s literary hibernation.

Some believe that for writers it is a must to keep on writing or run the risk of being forgotten and that the adage ‘publish or perish’ is not true of publishers alone, but of writers as well. (In my personal opinion, most of the writers of our times ‘publish and perish’.)

Strangely enough, despite having not written for such a long time, Shafeeq-ur-Rahman did not fade out and new editions of his books were published every few years. The copies of his books that I preserve like a treasure were published mostly in the early 1970s.

So, what are the factors that have kept him very much ‘in’ for such a long time? First, his humour has such a vigour and freshness that it has not wilted even today. Some of his essays in his early books are timeless. His wit and repartee put him way ahead of some of his contemporaries who, for example Shaukat Thanvi, depended more on playfulness or situational comedy.

Azeem Baig Chughtai (though hardly his contemporary, as he died in 1941), like Shaukat Thanvi, relished pranks and his humour consists largely of cheery boisterousness.

Though Shafeeq Sahib’s humour is not shy of practical jokes, he uses it sparingly and his playfulness stops just in time to save the humour from becoming tragedy, which sometimes is the case with Chughtai. Secondly, Shafeeq is the master of parody.

Hardly any humorist in Urdu can match his satire and bubbling wit when it comes to parodies. His five parodies — ‘Qissa-i-chahaar dervesh’, ‘Qissa-i-Hatim Tai bai tasweer’, ‘Qissa Professor Ali Baba ka’, ‘Tuzk-i-Nadri urf Siyahat nama-i-Hind’ and ‘Safar nama Jahazbad Sindhi ka’ — are fine satires on our history and culture.

For instance, in his ‘Tuzk-i-Nadri’, probably the most successful of all parodies in Urdu, he not only mocks the kings and their ‘tuzks’ (memoirs), but our political system is also his target when he writes (in the words of Nadir Shah) that:

‘In those days Delhi was in the grip of election fever. Ulloo Shanaas submitted that I had become so popular in Delhi that I could win election from any constituency, no matter on whose ticket I contest it…Out of my seven opponents, two withdrew when they were presented with large amounts of cash, the third was coerced into withdrawal, the fourth had to be made an ambassador to a country, two turned out to be a bit too obstinate and one of them had to be beaten black and blue and the other died in mysterious circumstances. When polling began, the entire population of the city was invited for a feast and presented with money and valuables. And if there happened to be any impudent voter who did not admit to my popularity, he was made to accept it with the help of a stick.’ (Mazeed himaqaten, p37).

Another factor that contributed a lot to Shafeeq Sahib’s public acclaim was his popularity among the adolescent. The main character in most of his humorous short stories is a young and witty college boy who is fond of cricket and movies.

Also, Shafeeq often portrays infatuations. This gives the youth a vicarious feeling. And his characters appear kind of flirtatious, too. His most famous character, Rufi alias Shaitaan, once quips:

‘Sonny! Don’t be sulky if you miss a bus or a girl, another one will be just round the corner.’ (Himaqaten, p121).

Then he often philosophises about joys and sorrows, sweeping the young readers with the bouts of optimism and pessimism, giving semi-philosophical, semi-romantic explanations to the queries that haunt the youth.

In addition, his many essays are nothing but a collection of jokes and the essay itself is only the thread that binds them together. His characters, novel and funny, such as Rufi or Shaitaan, Maqsood Ghora, Hukoomat Aapa and Buddy, make reading joyful.

All this put together is enough to hook young readers. I don’t know exactly which way the wind is blowing these days, but in my late teens and early twenties, I had read each and every book by Shafeeq-ur-Rahman many times over.

Shafeeq-ur-Rahman was born on Nov 9, 1920, in a small town near Rohtak. He was educated at Bahawalpur, as described by Muhammad Khalid Akhter, Shafeeq’s classmate at Sadiq Dean High School and a humorist in his own right.

Shafeeq-ur-Rahman did his MBBS in 1942 from Lahore’s King Edward Medical College. Having joined the Indian Medical Service as a lieutenant, Shafeeq-ur-Rahman was posted, according to Khalid Akhter, at different war fronts during the Second World War.

He then joined Edinburgh University and London University to further his education. It certainly broadened his perspective. But both Shafeeq-ur-Rahman and Khalid Akhter were already immersed in English literature and it had definitely influenced their writings.

On Shafeeq’s style one can trace the influence of western humorists such as Stephen Leacock and Mark Twain, but he is among those writers of Urdu who are well-grounded in their own literature and culture and have a peculiar style of their own.

After independence, Shafeeq-ur-Rahman held high positions in the Pakistan Army and Navy and in December 1980 was made chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, a post he held till December 1986. His other books include ‘Madd-o-jazar’ (1946), ‘Pachhtawe’ (1948), ‘Dajla’ (1980) and ‘Dareeche’ (1989).

The irreplaceable and inimitable Shafeeq-ur-Rahman died in Rawalpindi on March 19, 2000.

Note: This article also appeared in the Daily Dawn of Tuesday, 24 Mar, 2009. Posted here with author’s permission.

Chronology of Shafiq-ur-Rehman’s Books:

1. kirnen, 1942
2. shagoofay, 1943
3. lehren, 1944
4. parwaaz, 1945
5. madd-o-jazar, 1946
6. hamaqaten, 1947
7. mazeed hamaqaten, 1948
8. pachtaawe, 1948
9. dajla, 1980
10. dareeche, 1989
11. insaani tamasha

ATP’s Other Post on Shafiq-ur-Rehman: billi – an excerpt from lehreN.

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Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Uncategorized



Use kahna ye duniya hai

yahaN har moR par ayse bahot se

log milte haiN

jo andar tak uterte haiN

abad tak saath rahne ki

ikatthe dard sahne ki

hamesha baat karte haiN

use kahna yeh duniya hai

yahaN har shakhs matlab ki

hadoN tak saath chalta hai

yuN hi mausam badalta hai

sabhi qasmeiN

sabhi wade

sabhi rasmein

achaanak toot jaate haiN

Use kahna


Tell her, this is the world

Where at every corner you will meet many people

Who manage to gain access to your inner self

Who always talk of living together till end of time

Talk of facing together all hardship

Tell her

This is the world

Here everyone walks together

Till their own need is met

Then the weather changes

All of a sudden

All the promises. All the wows

And all the traditions are broken.

Tell her.


Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


Manto’s Ghalib

This post appeared on BBC Urdu on the 145th death anniversary of Ghalib, He died on 15th February, 1869.

“from Wikipedia: Ghalib (Urdu: غاؔلب‎; Hindi: ग़ालिब) born Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan (Urdu: مرزا اسد اللہ بیگ خان; Hindi: मिर्ज़ा असदुल्लाह् बेग़ ख़ान), on 27 December 1797 – died 15 February 1869),”

I thought to bring it here on my blog and translate in English for my Urdu Lovers.

غالب منٹو کی طوائف کی روشنی میں

Ghalib in the light of Manto’s nautch girl.

by Zafar Syed, on BBC Urdu.

مرزا غالبتصویر کے کاپی رائٹGHALIB ACADEMY
Ghalib’s poetry is such that any one from any walk of life is able to find a couplet that relates to his station. The same is true for his life. So the film makers who made films on him saw themselves in his life. The idea of making a film on Ghalib occurred first to Saadat Hasan Manto. It was at a time in 1941 when he was not in films and was working in All India Radio.

غالب کی شاعری ایسی ہے کہ زندگی کے تقریباً ہر شعبے سے تعلق رکھنے والا شخص اس سے اپنے مطلب کا کوئی نہ کوئی شعر نکال ہی لیتا ہے۔

دلچسپ بات یہ ہے کہ یہی بات ان کی زندگی پر بھی صادق آتی ہے، چنانچہ ان پر جو فلمیں اور ڈرامے بنے ان کے بنانے والوں نے غالب کی زندگی میں اپنا ہی رنگ دیکھا۔

غالب پر فلم بنانے کا خیال سب سے پہلے سعادت حسن منٹو کو آیا۔ یہ بات ہے 1941 کی جب وہ ان دنوں فلمی دنیا سے وابستہ نہیں ہوئے تھے بلکہ دہلی میں آل انڈیا ریڈیو میں کام کر رہے تھے۔

In a letter to Ahmad Nadim Qasmi he writes: “I am busy now a days writing a film story about Ghalib. I am reading a lot of rubbish. I have ordered all the books, not one is of any use. I do not know how these people writing biography of Ghalib write it like a joke! I have managed to save some material and still hope to save some more.”

وہ احمد ندیم قاسمی کو ایک خط میں لکھتے ہیں:

‘میں آج کل غالب پر فلمی افسانہ لکھنے کے سلسلے میں بہت مصروف ہوں۔ خدا جانے کیا کیا خرافات پڑھ رہا ہوں۔ سب کتابیں منگوا لی ہیں۔ کام کی ایک بھی نہیں۔ سمجھ میں نہیں آتا کہ ہمارے سوانح نگارسوانح لکھتے ہیں یا لطیفے۔۔۔ کچھ مواد میں نے جمع کر لیا ہے اور کچھ ابھی جمع کرنا ہے۔’

What was it that Manto searched for in the life of Ghalib but could not find it.

Manto was an experienced writer and knew that in order to have a great story one must find some conflict or aberration in the life of the subject. But what, that was the question.

Manto stumbled upon the phrase ‘sitam pesha domni’ (dancing girl that specialised in playing hard to get) while browsing through the rubbish material in the books. In street language one might surmise that this was the gem he was looking for and it was easy for him to weave the whole story around it.

وہ کون سی بات تھی جو منٹو غالب کی سوانح میں ڈھونڈنا چاہتے تھے لیکن وہ انھیں ملتی نہیں تھی؟

منٹو بڑے فن کار تھے وہ جانتے تھے کہ فکشن کسی بڑی آویزش یا کنفلکٹ کی کوکھ سے جنم لیتا ہے۔ لیکن غالب کی زندگی میں کیا آویزش دکھائی جائے؟

غالب کے بارے میں سوانح نگاروں کی ‘خرافات’ پڑھتے پڑھتے منٹو کو کہیں ‘ستم پیشہ ڈومنی’ کا فقرہ ملا۔ قیاس کہتا ہے کہ اسے پڑھ کر بمبیا زبان میں ‘منٹو کے دماغ کی بتی’ جل گئی۔ جب انھیں یہ کھونٹی مل گئی تو اس پر بقیہ فلمی سکرپٹ ٹانگنا منٹو کے بائیں ہاتھ کا کھیل تھا۔

The only mention of such a girl is found in a letter Ghalib wrote to his friend Mirza Hatim Ali Beg in order to console him on the death of his beloved, saying, “you are not alone in this, I too have gone through such an experience”. Apparently he never intended to describe his life’s story, instead he only wanted to console his friend.

غالب اور اس ڈومنی کے قصے کی حقیقت یہ ہے کہ وہ ایک خط میں اپنے دوست مرزا حاتم علی بیگ مہر کو ان کی محبوبہ کے انتقال پر تسلی دیتے ہوئے کہتے ہیں کہ تم اس غم میں اکیلے نہیں ہو، میرے ساتھ بھی ایسا ہی واقعہ پیش آ چکا ہے۔یہ واقعہ بڑا مشکوک ہے، اس خط کے علاوہ اس کی کہیں اور شہادت نہیں ملتی، اور یہاں بھی غالب کا مدعا اپنے حالاتِ زندگی بیان کرنا نہیں، محض اپنے دوست کی دلجوئی ہے۔

مرزا غالبتصویر کے کاپی رائٹJAGDEESH TALURI
Image captionمرزا غالب کا مزار دلی میں واقع ہے

Ghalib has no problem in inventing events in his life. It is possible that Ghalib mentioned this dancing girl just in a flow of writing. But for Manto this was enough.

Why must there be always a prostitute in each and every story written by Manto? Manto himself answers this question. A woman who toils whole day grinding grain on stone hand mill and in the night goes to sleep cannot be my heroin in my stories. Therefore Manto tries, and succeeds, to unveil the real face of the society using prostitutes’ character as a tool.

غالب کو اپنی زندگی کے واقعات گھڑنے میں کچھ عار نہیں ہوتا۔ فارسی کے استاد ملا عبدالصمد اس کی ایک عام مثال ہیں۔ اس لیے کوئی بعید نہیں کہ غالب نے یہ واقعہ بھی خط لکھتے لکھتے تراش لیا ہو۔ لیکن منٹو کے لیے یہی دو فقرے کافی تھے۔

آخر طوائف ہی منٹو کو کیوں ‘ہانٹ’ کرتی ہے؟

وہ خود اپنے موضوعات کے بارے میں لکھتے ہیں: ‘چکی پیسنے والی عورت جو دن بھر کام کرتی ہے اور رات کو اطمینان سے سو جاتی ہے، میرے افسانوں کی ہیروئن نہیں ہو سکتی۔’

چنانچہ منٹو طوائف کے کردار کو آلۂ کار بنا کر بہت فنکاری سے دکھا کر معاشرے کے چہرے سے پردہ چاک کرنے کی کوشش کرتے ہیں، جس میں انھیں خاصی کامیابی بھی حاصل ہوئی ہے۔

میرے خیال سے منٹو انسان کی منافقت، لالچ، مکر و فریب، ریاکاری اور سب سے بڑھ کر دھوکہ دہی کے بارے میں لکھنے کے متمنی تھے اور طوائف کے کوٹھے سے بڑھ کر کون سا ایسا مقام ہو سکتا ہے جہاں یہ ساری بدروئیں آپس میں مل کر ایک نالے کی شکل اختیار کر لیتی ہیں؟

The script on Ghalib was ready in 1942 but it took 12 years before it was filmed. By then Manto had moved to Pakistan. Sohrab Modi decided to make a film on this story and hired another top Urdu writer Rajinder Singh Bedi to write the dialogues. In this film Ghalib is plyed by Bharat Bhushan but the real character around which the story revolves is not Ghalib. This central character played by Surayya was a prostitute named Moti Begum and whom Ghalib names Chaudhwin begum.

غالب پر اس ‘فلمی افسانے’ کا سکرپٹ تو سنہ 42-1941 میں مکمل ہو گیا تھا، لیکن اسے پردۂ سیمیں پر نمودار ہوتے ہوتے 12 برس بیت گئے۔

اس وقت تک منٹو پاکستان آ چکے تھے۔آخر سہراب مودی نے یہ کہانی فلمانے کا فیصلہ کیا۔ اس کے مکالمے لکھنے کے لیے انھوں نے ایک اور چوٹی کے افسانہ نگار یعنی راجندر سنگھ بیدی کی خدمات حاصل کیں۔

اس فلم میں غالب کا کردار بھارت بھوشن نے ادا کیا، تاہم منٹو کے ‘فلمی افسانے’ کا مرکزی کردار غالب نہیں بلکہ موتی بیگم نامی ایک طوائف ہے جو غالب کی شاعری کی قتیل ہے۔ فلم میں یہ کردار ثریا نے ادا کیا ہے۔ غالب اسے چودھویں بیگم کا خطاب دیتے ہیں۔

غالب کا پوسٹرتصویر کے کاپی رائٹSOHRAB MODI


The story is typical in that there comes a ‘kotwaal’ (Police inspector) as villain between Ghalib and Chaudhwin Begum who tries to destroy Ghalib at all costs. The end is the same as described by Ghalib in his letter. She dies, in the film, in his arms.

The Music director Ghulam Mohammad was able to render Ghalib’s difficult poetry in music very beautifully. To this day it remains unmatched. Generally, people remember Ghulam Mohammad by his music in the film Pakeezah, but his music in Mirza Ghalib is considered to be his best.

کہانی روایتی سی ہے۔ غالب اور چودھویں بیگم کے بیچ میں ایک کوتوال آ جاتا ہے، جو ہر قیمت پر غالب کو مغلوب کرنا چاہتا ہے۔ جہاں تک انجام کا سوال ہے تو وہی ہوا جو غالب نے خط میں لکھا تھا کہ وہ اس ستم پیشہ ڈومنی کو مار کر ہی دم لیتے ہیں اور چودھویں بیگم فلم کے آخر میں ان کی بانھوں میں دم توڑ دیتی ہے۔

البتہ موسیقار غلام محمد نے اس فلم میں غالب کی مشکل شاعری کو جس سہولت اور نغمگی سے فلمی موسیقی کے روپ میں ڈھالا ہے، اس کی نظیر آج تک نہیں ملتی۔ لوگ غلام محمد کو ‘پاکیزہ’ کے نغموں سے زیادہ جانتے ہیں لیکن مرزا غالب ان کی بہترین فلم سمجھی جاتی ہے۔

I don’t have the script of Manto before me and therefore it is impossible to ascertain as to how much the film is on his lines, but it can be said that the film remains chained to the typical Bollywood film formula.

It was not a great success on box office but claimed accolade from critics. It earned Fil Fare award of the year.

In Pakistan also in 1961 a film called Mirza Ghalib was made in which Noor Jahan played Chaudhwin Begum and Lala Sudheer played Ghalib. It was a disaster at the box office and proved to be the last film of Noor Jahan as heroin.

However, this film does give us a gem in the form of a ghazal sung by Noorjahan, and which will continue “illuminating the world by the flash of the wine glass” (This is a part of a line of the ghazal)

Listen to this superb ghazal sung superbly by Noor Jahan.

میرے سامنے منٹو کا اصل سکرپٹ نہیں ہے، اس لیے یہ نہیں کہا جا سکتا کہ منٹو کے سکرپٹ کو سکرین تک پہنچتے پہنچتے کن کن پلوں کے نیچے سے گزرنا پڑا لیکن جو فلم اپنی حتمی شکل میں سامنے آتی ہے، اسے دیکھتے ہوئے کہا جا سکتا ہے کہ یہ تجربہ بالی وڈ کی عام فارمولا فلموں سے کچھ زیادہ اوپر اٹھنے میں کامیاب نہیں ہو سکا۔

فلم باکس آفس پر بھی اوسط کارکردگی کا مظاہرہ ہی کر سکی، البتہ اسے ناقدین نے خوب سراہا اور یہ اُس سال کا فلم فیئر ایوارڈ حاصل کرنے میں بھی کامیاب ہو گئی۔

اس فلم کی فنی کامیابی کو دیکھتے ہوئے 1961 میں پاکستان میں بھی مرزا غالب ہی کے نام سے ایک فلم بنائی گئی۔ اس فلم میں لالہ سدھیر نے غالب کا، جب کہ نور جہاں نے چودھویں بیگم کا کردار ادا کیا۔ یہ فلم اتنی بری طرح سے پِٹ گئی کہ نور جہاں کے بطور ہیروئن کریئر کے تابوت میں آخری کیل ثابت ہوئی۔

البتہ اس فلم کی ایک سوغات آج بھی زندہ ہے، تصدیق حسین کی موسیقی میں نور جہاں نے ایک غزل ایسی گا دی جو جوشِ قدح سے بزم کو ہمیشہ چراغاں کرتی رہے گی۔


Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Uncategorized





Posted by on December 11, 2016 in Uncategorized


Edge of Nothing

I am nothing you are nothing every thing is nothing.


at the edge of nothing and beyond nothing
i found even more nothing
it is this nothing that holds the stars in their places
the same nothing that is between each cell in my body

that space where nothing exists where nothing is extinguished
that space of uncreating creation that space of indestructibility

the nothing that is in the span between sound and silence
that which is in the pause between the answer and another question

the space slightly above my skin
and that slightly below my skin
filled with the power of zero
expanding in opposite directions
to two different worlds
voids that feel familiar

the space between each eyelash
where dreams are trapped
and they mingle with tears
and it is in that space within the teardrop that i am
each time i cried that you made me feel like nothing
i now thank you immensely
from the…

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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Uncategorized