My Crime: A Promise

By Zehra Nigah Urdu Translation by Rukhsana Ahmad
My child, I’ve told you a story: thousands of times
Nestling in the veils of a lullaby.
Sometimes I rocked you to sleep; cuddled and cradled by my words
I touched your warm cheeks with my cold lips
I promised you’re something
That promise which is the destiny of human beings
of protection, of honor, of esteem.

My child,
The tired and exhausted girl in the story
Was not a princess, it was me
That magical place
Which burnt to a desert in an instant was my home
When only the needles in the eyes remained
Those dreams were mine
And all those who besieged me
Were not outsiders, they were my own kin.
In her story
Lies my truth

Where she looked back and turned to stone
There was my love
And thousands of fields of fire
rainfalls of blood

All that was my story
all that happened to me.
My child, in that story
that tired and exhausted girl
was not a princess, it was me.

Where the story ended
my child!
there you came in
a symbol of life and happiness
a constant dream of desires
a guarantee of companionship and truth
where there were only happy endings to every fiction
My child, that’s where you came in….
where you came in.

My eyes were weary with the wounds of a promise
Your reflection was a balm to those wounds
My hands trembled with unkept resolutions
your company was a constant comfort

I admitted
I am only dust
and your: beauty and adornment
I was aware
that I am fear itself
and you: peace and comfort

I am the past
but you glow like a future heaven
I am tribulation itself
but you, like hope, are the solution itself

My child
my feelings and admissions both stand guilty today
Head bowed, I listen to the charge against me
Instead of roses I pick thorns from
the ‘chadur’ of my desires

Do you know
what the allegation is
that promise which is the destiny of human beings
of protection, of honor, of esteem.