(Editor, EKL Review)
This is the other side ( طرفدیگر ) of the Preface that Sufia Khatoon has written for her upcoming book of Pomegranate poems. There Sufia wrote about me, the Pomegranate Tree. Here I write about myself though there is not much difference in what we write except for the voice. That Preface will have a cozy existence between the covers of a book whereas I will swim in this concoction of Kolakowski’s nihilism.I don’t mind it though.
She claims to ‘see’ me so deeply that her rebellious ‘self’ metamorphosizes into the hermaphrodite flowers, seeds, sepals, arils, calyx, roots, albedo, skin and testa of my inedible pomegranates, with the changing seasons rotting and flowering again and again.
She doesn’t know how she brings out the vulnerability inside my roots, the way she hovers around me every morning, sometimes the whole evening, just sitting there observing my moods – meditating, crying, reflecting, writing and resting under my shade.
She never leaves me alone, she expects me to heal her, love her, comfort her, talk to her and enlighten her. How can I do so much when I am still trying to settle with the idea of existing in her garden, her world?
She says that like her I am “blissfully ignorant and so remarkably content being rooted at my spot. But she does not know that it is not true. Whenever she is not looking at me I tear myself from my roots and fly into her imagination. She just has to take a sly oblique look at the spot from the corner of her eye to know when I disappear. But she will not because I know she is afraid of looking at absences.
I don’t like it when she says: This tree chooses not to be fertile but fully embrace its body without any inhibitions. So much of truth! How does she know what I think? Who gives her the right to say that “Like me, the tree chooses the right to its body”? I never revealed my choices. If I had choices then I would have gone to the publisher (shhh the name must not be revealed now) and asked to make changes to the Preface. But I know I can’t do that. I simply don’t have the choice before the author. Creation never had any choice of self-fashioning before the whims of the creator.
So Sufia will deconstruct the meticulously created contrasting mythology of fertility and death around me for centuries by the Greeks and the Persians, the Jews and the Christians. She is Hades and I am the kidnapped Persephone. See, for example, what she does to me:
The Pomegranate Tree
My pomegranates are constantly haunted by superstitions –
pour some blessed water over its conflicted roots to wash away anything tying up its fertility.
I cut a branch and glue it back together, hoping it can
find some relief from this stillness.
But the toxicity of stereotyped beliefs hover around and make it hard to love itself.
Whom to blame for this smoke rising out of its fallen crowns?
The gold laced spider often weaves the word ‘endure’ whenever it feels a sudden storm engulfing my tree.
I can’t foresee what is to come anymore? I can’t tolerate the brooding fear anymore?
Hummingbird hawk moth filled its belly with the flower’s nectar and disappeared into the evening.
Outside this garden, no one really looks at you as a living being.
They only see the wilted fruits, fallen petals and the futility of it all.
I see a pomegranate tree trying to live for a thousand years into the soil of my heart.
Am I comfortable to be ‘seen’ through her eyes by the world, to step inside her book, be stripped off my idolized identity and become an individual with dreams like her? I don’t know, I am still figuring out, I am still learning to take it all inside myself and let it all go at the same time, to belong and not belong to her and the world.
One day I too shall write her into a poem and plant her in my heart. That day the poem will write back.
Thank you, I am glad you found the pomegranate tree relatable. It’s something I am growing around with especially during the pandemic, searching for answers.