A palace of wax


Before I ever married
my mother
used to have
nightmares.
Her fearful screams shook me
I would wake her, ask her
“What happened?”
Blank-eyed she would stare at me.
She couldn’t remember her dreams.

One day a nightmare woke her
but she did not scream
She held me tight in silent fear
I asked her
“What happened?”
She opened her eyes and thanked the heavens
“I dreamt that you were drowning”.
She said,
“And I jumped into the river to save you”.

That night she lightning
killed our buffalo and my fiance.

Then one night my mother slept
And I stayed up
Watching her open and shut her fist
She was trying to hold on to something
Failing, and willing herself to hold on again.

I woke her
But she refused to tell me her dream.

Since that day
I have not slept soundly.
I moved to the other courtyard.

Now I and my mother both scream
through our nightmares.

And if someone asks us
we just tell them
we can´t remember our dreams

(Kishwar Naheed)
Translated from the urdu by Rukhsana Ahmad

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