Origin Story

1 All origin stories are in fact love stories. Or lack-of-love stories. My city was the result of a woman searching for her husband. A storm claimed him & she settled where the storm had claimed him, convinced she will find him nonetheless. Faith is an awful thing. Mai Kolachi did find her husband near the delta of the Indus. I imagine the couple falling asleep under the river’s lullaby, its blue-green ebb & flow the perfect background for a new dwelling.
3 I chased open skies under your mothering. (Smothering.) What being born on the wrong side of the bridge can do to someone is what I’ll spend my entire life answering (& failing at.) Even your mountains prefix torn. (I will not speak about your men.)
5 Devi, devi, devi, devi, devi. (The only god you worship.)
6 Two years before I left, razing rain. Dazzling rain. Baba’s pants soaked knee-length rain. He walked two miles over your regolith body to reach home. Massaging his blistered feet with warm mustard oil, eyes flooding—I lost all faith.
10 Another riot. Another round of gunshots blowing from every part of your ground. Bhaiya limping back home. (So many boys limping back home.) (So many boys shot—hurried into jute sacks, thrown into the Lyari river.)
12 Two years after the limping incident, Baba sent Bhaiya to the Middle East. (To be away from you meant our boys lived longer.)
14 All origin stories abandoned you. (& me.)
15 Your river will be my resting place.

Javeria Hasnain is a Pakistani poet and writer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a Fulbright scholar in the MFA program at The New School, NY. Her poems and prose have appeared/are forthcoming in Poet Lore, GASHER, Isele, Mascara Literary Review, among others. She was a runner-up for the 2022 The Bird in Your Hands Prize and received an honorable mention in the 2022 Penrose Poetry Prize. She is an alum of the International Writing Programs Summer Institute. She tweets @peelijay.

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