Laughing Backwards, Malady and the Life of Art

I am laughing backwards to swallow meaningless words, with a sense of humour. On my knees I am asking questions. I am searching for possibilities that a man has bitten an apple without renouncing paradise.


It is a common malady to see the composure of a refined soul break at the crack of a soft poem.

It is the fatal leap of a dancer who bends herself back to fly as a feather.

The poem recites through the perfect clash of instruments, and the feather buoyant, is time standing still in slow motion.

That moment is the malady, when a lady is no more a lady, but an open soul, mal-.

Then she is triumphant, like the ending of a Ghalib poem.

(In Urdu poetry, often the author addresses himself by his name to make a point of something, the closing line is often powerful. Ghalib also means triumphant)

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There is an Islamic Sufi poem written by Rumi to Shams of Tabriz. The last line beautifully reads:

I have known pigeons who fly in a nowhere,
and birds that eat grainlessness,

And a tailor who sewed beautiful clothes
by tearing them to pieces

The body, with nature in nature, – is a beautiful story. I don’t want to perish one day and later discover when God played a reel of my life that he discovered I had spent less than a millionth of my life amongst nature’s beauty. Truly I find myself torn between my wanderlust (irresponsibility, free-thinking and idleness) and my ambitious career plans and charity projects. I once contemplated being a nomad. I still do. I know how to and can live in discomfort and yet build a palace out of it.

The Life of Art [I wrote this in Afghanistan]

My teacher said once to me ‘A life in Art is always a push and pull’ and that at some point I will have to discover a harmony between the two. Ying and Yang is not so much about balance as it is about two absolute opposite forces operating simultaneously. One has to be an artist; i.e creative enough to find a possibility that allows a life of art (of passion, of aesthetics, of romance) without necessarily being an ascetic in that field. I had thought once to give up dance. A dancer has no place in Allah’s world (Afghanistan), even though the Muslim Sufi Afghan poets once danced to worship him. But it is possible to dance, to write, to work for gender solidarity, to love children and to always be in love. I ask for no more.


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