Sabah Carrim (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Sabah Carrim has authored two novels, and her shorter work has been selected in a variety of international competitions such as Bristol Short Story Prize, Not-So-Normal-Narrators Contest, Gabriele Rico Challenge for Creative Nonfiction, Afritondo Short Story Prize, and the Small Islands Anthology Contest. She has a PhD in Genocide Studies, and was awarded the W. Morgan and Lou Claire Rose Fellowship for a MFA in Creative Writing at Texas State University.

What a Camera Does
 
It redefines what’s seen
& renders more intriguing
the subject, the object & the scene
 
It gives the market new meaning
eroticised now, eroticised then
“A place,” Daddy would say,
“for when you’re older."
(no longer prey to men
& their power)
 
It makes you sift through
the noise, the fluff
in search of intersections
of the one thing that stands out
from everything you've seen
 
It makes the object ask:
"Why me? Where do you come from?"
& tell you which parts of the world
her children & grandchildren now live;
that what she sells is only organic
—pena solisyon
 
It makes you want to capture
the sudden memory of the old man
who sold syrupy coconut in dough
& recall how it was a lesson in patience
waiting for the first taste of hope
& look upon the young man selling macatia
as a representation, a trope
 
It makes people around the object
wonder, “What’s about him that—”
& he, to respond:
“There’s a museum in London
called Madame Tussauds
where you find Shah Rukh Khan
& Amitabh Bacchan & where soon
enough, I will show."
 
It makes you wonder how
objects would react
if you hadn't been this
if you hadn't been you
if you hadn’t gone away
& come to be this way
 
& as you ignore the times you’re noticed
you’re aware of the little voice in your head
remind you of the other one in the cynic’s:
“Who’s the local, the Mauritian
taking photos of people, things & scenes
she appears to have never ever seen."
***


My Philosophy Interlocutor

There’s a phone call:
 
an interlocutor on philosophy
from
the West
 
We discuss
Nietzsche and Sartre
Salgado and Buniatishvili
 
solemn and dignified
 
But I’m more focused on
what he hears:
 
clicking sounds of three geckos
fighting, mating
 
my parents reading prayer aloud
 
father screaming my name
to come and eat
 
mother barging into the room
with a plate of food
 
loud TV
 
the neighbour’s baby’s wails
the chatter of the rats outside
the car engine’s groans in the garage
the creaking of doors
water gushing out of the pump
 
so much noise
 
I hear what he hears
(thank god he doesn’t
see what I see)
 
I concoct excuses
to feel better:
africa
mauritius
islam
india
middle class
 
My parents always said
not to have complexes
about who I am.
They make
                      so much sense
 
                                                        right?
  
Next time I’ll discuss
                                      philosophy
when they’re
                      fast asleep
***


Mozart’s Café in Austin, TX

Which part of India is she from?
What is she doing here?
This top she’s wearing is interesting.
The shoes too. It all goes well together.
Although the scarf doesn’t really match.
Where did she buy it?
From India? From here?
It does look Indian.
Is she married? How old is she?
She looks my age.
What’s her story?
Does she have children?
Why is she with this boy?
He is not Indian.
Why is she hanging out with him?
Are they dating?
Why is she dating him?
Why is he wearing this hat?
Isn’t it making him feel hot?
It looks itchy.
And those leggings, why are they so colourful?
How strange, only girls wear those.
Is this how they dress in America?
My god, the things that go on in this place.
How did they meet? Where did they meet?
Maybe at university. Maybe in class.
Oh no, she noticed me looking at her.
Now the boy is also looking at me.
Oh no. Let me pretend I was looking at the person behind them.
OK, they’ve stopped looking at me.
Why is he wearing earrings?
Boys don’t wear earrings. Cheeh!
What is she typing on her laptop?
Assignments? Or something else?
What is he drawing?
Is what she is doing connected to what he is doing?
She must be a student here in UT.
Why is she looking at me?
What is there to look at me for?
How did they come here?
Do they come here every day?
Did they drive? Take an Uber?
I wish I could stop staring at them for so long.
But I can’t.
Do they live together?
I wonder if they are sleeping together.
How long are they going to be here?
It’s already 2:30. I need to pick up Arun and Rohit.
I also need to drop by at the shop and get curry leaves
And some garam masala.
***

2 comments :

  1. clicking sounds of three geckos
    fighting, mating

    my parents reading prayer aloud

    father screaming my name
    to come and eat

    mother barging into the room
    with a plate of food

    loud TV

    the neighbour’s baby’s wails
    the chatter of the rats outside

    Absolutely where the focus should be. Love it,
    Bashir

    ReplyDelete
  2. clicking sounds of three geckos
    fighting, mating

    my parents reading prayer aloud

    father screaming my name
    to come and eat

    mother barging into the room
    with a plate of food

    loud TV

    the neighbour’s baby’s wails
    the chatter of the rats outside

    Great! I love it. Anytime over Nietzsche or Sartre,

    Bashir

    ReplyDelete

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