Author Archives: Bano

About Bano

I’m trying to find a better introduction but since, I can’t? Hi! I’m Sheher Bano Zafar and I write. I write not because there lies aspiration to be a writer someday but because, it keeps me sane. I love the color silver, black and grey. I also realize that they fall under the same color tone. Whatever, I write is a result of my 3 a.m blues or insomniac depressive tendencies. I can’t write during the day. I’m addicted to caffeine and well, anything and everything (if I like it). Also, I suck at conversations. I bite my nails. Most of the time I’m clueless about the world around me. I love politics and youth activism. People tell me that art and politics don’t belong in the same mind, but I’m passionate about both. One day I might be drawing on a canvas or writing a story and the very next day I will be heading off to attend a summit on the role of youth at the United Nations. I have multiple people trapped in the same body. Each side does try to express itself, in minimal ways if not fully. I’m currently going through a rough patch in life. I guess, I’m adjusting to the world through multiple perceptions. I absolutely love talking to myself because an expert opinion is always required. Most of the time, I just play scenarios in my mind that would never happen. I’m very contradictory in my thought process and actions but it is okay, people get to be what they want to be as long as no other soul is hurt. Peace out!

The facade of Perfectionism

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My parents always told me that in order to succeed in life you have to push and push until you’re at the place where you want to be. You have to run even when you’re lungs are giving up because that is the only way you will ever succeed. Don’t you see glorious men who have carved out their name in history by exerting efforts when the world was asleep?

Child, work and work, until you know that the pain will leave a legacy. These ideals have been grinded and cupped up in a pill that they made me swallow at the age of 13 and ever since, I remember working tirelessly to get what I want. To achieve so much so that my own voice started to haunt instead of becoming an applause.

“That will never be good”

“You can do better”

So I was sleeping less and working more. I was skipping meals and biting my nails. I was smoking 2 packs a day and drinking caffeine like water. I was the best at what I was and still I felt like I had failed. I felt like I had more potential and I wasn’t pushing my limits. I was successful and still sad which made me wonder why couldn’t I be happy in life if I’m doing everything right?

Success came with milestones and I was good at achieving all of them. The pills taught me that focus, persistence and perseverance is the way forward and God, I was so ahead! I was like a robot that kept on leading life like it’s a task one after the other.

Until, it cracked. I failed not at achieving a milestone but living my life. It wouldn’t have been bothersome if I looked at death as another milestone to achieve in the long list but I didn’t. Now I’m at a crossroad trying to find meaning in the fight that I’ve put up but till now, I’m empty handed with my feet grounded waiting for it all to somehow make sense.

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When life takes a turn

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There are many paths in life a man could take
One of them is temptation
The other is resistance

Temptation is sensual; it dresses in red
She holds a cigarette in her right hand and waits for you
Promising to sway you away from the worries of life
Ignore the world that has formed concrete pavements on your chest
Temptation doesn’t promise you life but it promises you temporary relief

Resistance is fierce; it has a silver armor on
He doesn’t have anything but a will to fight
Promising that if you don’t give in then the future might be bright
The concrete world will get knocked down but with time
Resistance doesn’t promise relief but it promises you a good fight
It tells you that there are many things in this world
That would kill you in far worse ways than you can imagine
But you don’t have to be one of them

Temptation makes you a loaded gun
Resistance makes you not shoot yourself
It takes courage to be loaded six rounds straight
And not pull the trigger

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And its mostly on days
I play pretend being dead
The world is quiet
And my soul can’t find refuge in anything
So my heart looks for a place to seek shelter from the lonesome air around me
And it runs towards you
My safe place
My home
My solace
My one and only refuge
You

Untitled II

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Some people don’t need love
Or want it
They are well aware of the perfection called solitude
Now I’m not saying that love is a made up concept
Something to chase after in order to validate our existence
Like, “fuck yes! Someone loves me and wants me”
No
No
I’m glad you want love and seek it
Pursue it
Conquer it
Let it devour you
I’m just saying that for some people
Love isn’t enough
And they want more out of life
Perfect solitude
Some books
Good wine
Laughs and a handful of friends

Which I think is an alright way to spend life
An alright ride to eternity

It’s too early for rehab

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Near my house they’ve opened up a rehab center
It’s called “Panah” and the board outside reads
A solace for people trying to turn a new chapter
For addiction is a disease
And if your loved one is an addict then they need us
You know?
To rid of the disease
I see a dull brown building and some people standing outside
My guess is that they have a loved one that needs saving
Because, their loved one has slipped into a spiral of addiction
Where crawling out without help is a utopian concept

So one needs doctors
Nurses
Lots of sedatives
Psychologists, too
And a fair amount of support from family
I can’t guarantee friends
They never stick long enough

But yes, you need isolation
So you can think about the pain you’ve caused
With your habits
You know?
Mixing vodka with amphetamines
Crossing pot with acid then whiskey
Injecting heroin then drinking then smoking pot
All that foolery one indulges in when one is an addict

So you get locked up in solitude to think
Sedated enough to not stir up trouble
But not enough to shut your mind off
Think about why your habits have caused so much pain to your loved ones
So you think and think and think
Oh, God I need a drink
But you realize if it wasn’t for your loved ones
You wouldn’t be in this shit
Not everyone needs care or love
Some people just need a drink
When they are on the brink

Kiss them drunk

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We’re conditioned to doubt ourselves. To think twice before we act and draw lines between everything. A friend can’t be a lover just as love cannot be synonym to lust. Differentiation is what marks the small space between sanity and insanity. You can’t kiss drunk. You can’t spell love and lust within the bones of the same man. It makes me anxious to see how we’re taught an appropriate behavior. In trying to chase “forever”, we find the present slipping away. Out of reach. Out of grasp. Suddenly, only a concept of what could have been.
Next time maybe, don’t over think and kiss him drunk? Because, there are no right or wrong people. They’re just people who were best for you during that time and now they aren’t anymore.

Unfitted Lover

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When we were together
I wrote poems about you on nights that I couldn’t sleep
And on those mornings you would read them
You said that you fell more in love with me
I’m more efficient in penning my love down
Heck, penning everything down
Than verbal proficiency
You liked the concept of twins
When I told you that I’m not one but two
So it’s hard to tell which part is at play
And you said you loved each part
Regardless

When we were together
You adored the inner child
The reckless brat who sought thrill
Took uncalculated risks just to land bruised
Someone who would jump when you counted to three
You liked the taste of burning skin on ice
The highs came with the lows
The ecstatic and erratic self
Countered days of being depressed without much reason
Those days
You said that you’ll be the one rowing us across this ocean
My bones won’t sink and I will make it through
I believed you

When we were together
My poems got annoying
You wanted more spoken words than poetry
I opened my chest to show you that I’m more riddles than simple sentences
You felt that I was putting you in danger
I showed you the last time I fell and ended up with a bruise on my right leg
The highs were dangerous and the lows drained you of energy
You let my bones sink on days when I couldn’t get out of bed
Nobody rowed me across the ocean and I was stranded
Floating
I swam to the shore on my own

When you left
I still searched for you on the shore
Now, I try to be more words than poetry
I write less now and try talking more
I take small steps and drive slow
I sleep more and don’t let my bones sink in on the bad days
I work and never let the gloom takeover
I’m one person not two
I try to be whole

Will this be enough to bring you back home?

Conversations with my therapist

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One time my therapist asked me, “if you know being still won’t get you anywhere, and that is what triggers your sadness, then why don’t you change or move in order to become happy?”

“It’s like ice”, I replied back then, “I’m stripped naked and splayed out on it. The ice is cold and burns. It burns my flesh and I know that if I get up the air will make it sting more. I will be more aware of the burns so I don’t get up. Because, I am afraid. I am afraid of the air pricking my skin and the unknown that awaits me. Lying on the block of ice is all i’ve known and this sadness feels like home.”

He said, “You can move. A momentary lash of air might provide relief, forever.”

“Forever is a long time and the unknown holds promises which don’t always have to be laced with sweet hope.”, I replied.

” So you don’t want to get up?” He asked

“I do. I’m waiting for the block of ice to melt.”

The traffic on the highway

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The construction on the highway
Has the traffic crawling
So I cannot normally cruise
But rather spend long hours in line
Stuck
Looking at blank faces
Men and women
Some have children in the backseats
Looking ahead
To nowhere

The rush hour has everyone
Running back to their homes
To their bored lives
Running to watch soap operas
Which shows a life of romantic grandiose
The likes they will never live but only see on the telly
Running to watch the news
Cursing the government but unable to start a revolution
Running to the end of the day
Only to start again

What we need is a revolt
Against our old systems
Rip it out from the root and burn it
Throw it in the air

But we don’t
Because, a revolt against the system would mean
A revolt against self
We’re quick to take action against others
Not ourselves

I pick a bottle of whiskey on my way
Running to no way particularly
Cheers to my own revolution
I smirk
Maybe, I’ll be a changed man
Or so I would like to think