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Below is a selection of writings from Shahidah, Including Poetry, Prose and Shorts.  These pieces will all be included in Vol 1 of her Poetry and Shorts collection Dimensions.



The roti maker squats beside her earth oven.  Bebeji has asked me to take our rotis to her, so that she can cook them in time for our dinner.  I have no idea of the time.  I only know it is late in the day, and the others will be arriving soon from their work in the fields. We will all sit around the fire in the mahdaan, and eat together.



Earlier in the day I had carried the matka down to the stream, to fill it with water for Bebeji.  While I was at the stream I met Zohra and Aisha, who were washing their clothes.  They were banging them; bashing them on the rocks, to get the dirt out.  Their actions had a rhythm.  Swing the clothes up in the air, high above the head, then bring them crashing down onto the rocks.  Down, up, crash.  Down, up, crash.  Clothes and bodies swaying, as they sang to the rhythm of the latest hits of Lata Mangeshkar.  Their voices like mountain flutes.

I watched and listened, for I don’t know how long.  Lost in those moments.  Lost in that rhythm; in the sound of the voices; in the flow of the water.  Humming the tunes; making my own refrains.

The roti maker is deeper voiced, from years of smoking her hooka.  She is singing the old songs, lilting, haunting, so sad.  Her rhythm is slower.  She peels an uncooked roti from the top of the pile.  Swings it gently towards the oven, down into it, and slaps the roti on to the side.  She peels off the cooked roti.  Throws it in the air, and it lands with a slap on a pile of cooked rotis.  She gently covers them with her brilliant white cloth.  Up, forward, down, slap, up, down, rest.  Up, forward, down, slap, up, down, rest.  The roti maker is Zubeida with the grey eyes.  She has a few yellow teeth.  Her skin is like the earth before the monsoon comes.  Her smile is the red ribbon around my heart.  She is beautiful.


This is my home.



roti - flat bread

bebeji - grandmother

mahdaan - courtyard

matka - round pot

hooka - large pipe for smoking tobacco

Playful Panthers are Perfect


If panthers can be perceptive, poor

Pakistani, and positively potty.

Then I could be one.

If panthers can be confident, colourful

Considerate and confused.

Then maybe I am one.

If panthers can be artistic, analytical

Active and angry.

I quite possibly am one.

If panthers are brave and black,

Then, all modesty aside,

We’re a perfect match.





Freedom is everywhere

And we're living happily ever after

This is not science fiction – it is now.

The Russians got into the Free Market

And Gregori's labour is worth 50 times less

Than under that nasty communism

He's a dead red

Just give him another 5 years

and his body will have freed his soul.


10 and 13 year old girls

Are skipping along the streets of Kings Cross

Not free exactly but inexpensive

£20 a fuck in a back seat or side street

Not a bad deal - riding on the backs of

6 year old girls in Thailand

Free from HIV - that is what

Civilised white western gentlemen say

Who practice safe sex with children.


When you live up in the sky

On the enth floor of a concrete block

You should think you own the world

Instead of being the ungrateful bitch

Who cries in the park

When she feels the grass under her feet

Hears bird song and whispering trees

Since she became a freebird, skylark.


Nobody marches for freedom now

They walk to celebrate

Performing non-traditional tricks

Like being transgendered

Fancy names for men pretending - they're not

And body sculpting women who used to

Slash - but they're body beautiful now

Freed of the pain of memory.


Before freedom you made a decision

Now you take it

Pluck it out of the air

And pretend it doesn't belong to you

You freewheel across the internet

Being Al Capone or Molly Malone

Advertising your children to the paedophile brotherhood

No one knows the real you

That's assuming you do.


Communications technology puts you in touch

With Everyone - 30, white and male

Given a few exceptions

Notably not the women of the Mekong delta

The Indus valley or the Zambezi river

Or Phillipina maids in Saudi

Who've got freed into new age slavery.


While Chipka women hug their trees

You happily eat BSE as a

Statement against bygone Nazi's

Because you're free

Because you're free

Because you're free, because you're free.

Trace of silver


She was a homeopath.

There is no lasting herstory

Of her powers of healing.

She saved my arm

From a life of limp uselessness,

When the experts had long given up.


How could she have borne

Bearing eleven children.

His abandonment, her incestuous sons.

A daughter of fourteen married

Into sexual slavery to the raja

With stuck together eyes,

From too much drinking


Six daughters, three homes,

She moves between them,

Leaving a trace of silver in each.

Leaving the scent of lavender,

Leaving hearts and bodies

Made whole again.

By the touches beyond tenderness.

By the voice like bird song.

She comforts me, still


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