It’s the width of a grain of sand.
maybe a hair.
The place where I live.
It’s not my home -
neither borrowed nor rented.
Just a dilapidated roof built from the memories
that the grains of time have turned into
It’s not eternal, but short-lived.
This place where I seem
when I reminisce.
when I repose.
It’s here that the ashes of all that I’ve burnt
in my past,
even without winds of resurrection.
And in the alchemy of
an almost fluidic reminiscence,
they transmute into the diamonds
that not even hard pressed carbon can
A fragile melody,
maybe not even the original
but a ripped and remastered copy,
is enough -
To change the life of now
to the life
of a then
that I relieve differently each time.
These treacherous winds of recollection
rearrange slimy memories
into something I faintly remember desiring.
It’s not the thing,
but the feeling of desire
that stays with me.
Seeping in and pouring out when
I’m back into the present.
And I’m left
hunting for anything
that could feed this undead longing.
Everything that I’ve burned
with my own hands,
using the fire to forge myself -
had a soul.
It shrieks in echoes
devoid of the pain they once brought.
Rather full of the
sweet agony of respite
I doused them in.
Why is it
that in this narrow space,
made of nothing,
on a ground more real
than the reality I seem to live in,
and seek to sieve out and relive the joy,
without the pain?
I know where I stand,
the roof is almost caved in
and could fall to bury me
in an inescapable hold.
Yet I visit.
Each time the roof caves in a bit more
I linger in the longing
to stay a bit longer.
I’m searching for a stripped past
to dress up my present.
An exquisite embroidery
without a garment.
And I know,
if I stand here any longer,
my aurora will fade into darkness.
Image credits: David S's creation on memory
Goya (Urdu) means "as if", or "when". But a simple translation doesn't do justice to the true meaning of goya. The real sentiment behind Goya is: it is something beyond disbelief—a moment when the fantasy is so realistic that it becomes reality itself. Reality is long understood to be the construct of our minds, so goya is then just the reality we desire so desperately that we receive respite from just the fantasy of desire itself.
This prose explores the moment of goya—when goya is born of memories of the past. In this state, nothing is real, not even the memories, which are bent out of shape by perspectives. But the feelings that have created a home in your mind (or heart) bend reality, such that you are left with one foot in each world, trying to reconcile the difference between your two feet.
Due to the very nostalgic, deep-rooted, and exceptionally personal nature of Goya, it often exists only in the space that love and death occupy—the only two known constructs (in my perspective) that can be both eternal and yet exceedingly fleeting at the same time.
However, here's one thing about the state of Goya: stay in it too long, and reality will bend in weird ways, more often than not leading to a kind of darkness that lies at the very end of a tunnel that closes in once you choose to traverse it. You know what I'm talking about. You've traversed this tunnel far too many times and for far too long to forget it. You may even be in the tunnel right now. The only question is, do you flow through the tunnel, or does it flow through you?
Here's a piece of prose—an interpretation of a moment of goya, if you will—that explores the very winding journey of the writer through the sands of their own memories. The writer stands on a bridge, leaning towards the flowing water in a moment of reminiscence. They don't know who's going to be the one flowing. This Sunday, here's to wishing that you do.
P.S.1: Sidenote: Goya is a famous Spanish painter (Francisco Goya), best known for The Black Paintings, a series of 14 paintings from the later years of his life that represent intense themes modelled on what he saw as the true nature of man. Saturn devouring his son, Two old men, and Two old ones eating soup are my favourites from this collection.
P.S.2: The most famous use of the word goya in Urdu couplets is by the famous poet, Momin Khan Momin:
"Tum mere paas hote ho goya,
Jab koi doosra nahi hota."
"You're beside me as if/when
No one else is."
While this couplet seems like a rather simple, albeit heart-touching, dialogue, its connotations run so deep that it is said Mirza Galib himself offered Momin his entire collection of poetry in exchange for this verse.