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Volume 7

Outside: Looking In - January 2011


Rabia Kazmi

Written by
Rabia Kazmi

Eighteen years old, die-hard Islamabadi, currently writing about tennis and studying for a degree which serves to get you from where you are to where you might want to be. Interests apart from writing include reading, listening to house and trance music, and immersing herself in Lost.


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Lights That Blind


I can’t seem to see them anymore.

They are here, and I feel them around me, but somehow it’s never been so easy to feel so alienated. Where once all I had was them, it now seems as if I am talking to walls, listening to silence and looking at space. It’s the emotional void that confounds me. No matter how much I try to feel something, anything for them, it withers away and comes apart, because I know that they are there. There but not here, like memories past or ripped up photographs or fallen stars.

I have spent nights explaining this to myself. I have reasoned with my logic, convinced my mind that I am wrong, doubted my intuition. No matter how much I insult myself with this delirium, I know that this is because my thoughts are now skewered and upset, turned right side wrong and inside out. I can trace this confusion, this restlessness in my mind back to the moment when things changed, and I know that it has been there since you left. It takes everything, is everything and I can’t deny it.

There is a part of me which would die to make these feelings go away; it is the part which questions what I know my heart knows, and whether any of this is even real. This absence leads to this newness, this reaching over to grab cold, solid air, this falling over that proves it. When I talk to them, it’s like talking to a dying man; words become redundant and stories feel frozen because there is an issue which is so hard to address. But if they’re still alive, still here, still with me, if they’re … real, how can I feel this way?

For you, there is despair. You left, and I felt the worst pain I thought possible, because you wouldn’t come back… because even if you did I wouldn’t have you. For you, I have saved up the smallest, most bitter chambers of my wasted heart, the corners where the lines between loneliness and schizophrenia merge and mix. Where love becomes obsession, and hollow spaces become shrines of resentment. That is my heart, and if I could I would rip it out and offer it to you, heartless as I am.

For them, there is abject overwhelming emptiness. They never left, they changed, and in some way that is a worse betrayal. I cannot say I miss you; but for them, there is an ache in the absence of laughter and the end of something that was never on eggshells. You and I were on the rocks half the time, they were forever. They were supposed to be forever – but you changed that. I am entitled to hate them a little for this, but  you, I will never forgive.

Madness takes over me. I say to myself, it is probably this delusion that distorts my vision, fetters my mind and chains my thoughts. But you wouldn’t know how that is, would you; you are not me, and you left. You know less about me now than the stranger who passes me by on the street. You were not here to see who I became, so you wouldn’t recognize that I became a divided person after you. It feels so strange to have to explain this to you; there was a time you knew everything about me, even the things you didn’t experience – so close, we were almost the same person. So yes, forgive me, I never expected to be touched this way by a person I thought recognized me, understood me, loved me.

Somehow, you, I understand. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. But somehow I accept it. You’re like a deep cut, a gash, on my body that I just can’t ignore. But them? No. It’s not so easy with them. I don’t understand what I did to merit this, and how come I’m the only one at fault? Why am I the pariah here, and can I really believe that this is all because of you?

Yes. Because the only answer I have is you. You left, we don’t talk, but you’re the ghost in our conversations, the one which sits with us and stands with us and somehow makes everything I learned before you – forgetting  and moving on and letting go – so much harder. I look into their eyes and they’re not there anymore; it’s like empty sockets, or eyelids with pupils painted on. I feel like I’ve disappeared and they talk to me out of habit, because they don’t know how not to, and now that we’re not us anymore, but me and you, they don’t know how to deal with it. Since I need to explain myself to you now, I should tell you that this is the strangest I have ever felt. There is loneliness, a deep, dancing despair – and then there is claustrophobia, like the walls are closing in on me.

So here I am, walking through the night, on oil-drenched roads and shattered glass. Because I can’t see myself in the eyes of the people who were once my mirrors. Because all that I am is becoming all that I was. Because you are the shadow that follows me now.

I’m not sure of anything anymore, except that where there was you there is now a dark, raging fire. You set me alight and you can’t change it, at least not now. Is it, then, that the haze in my mind is not imagined? It’s real, and it hurts and brings pain. It’s real. It’s all real, and so are ghosts of you, but I don’t see how you can be everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. And if I could, I would fall. I would fall and beg, forget myself and only, only want you. Over and over again.

I know I won’t ever do that, because I can’t; there’s an unspoken, universal reason. It’s the same reason that I can’t stop wanting you, no matter how much I want to. So I want you and I don’t want you, I want you, I don’t want you, I want you… and I wish I didn’t. I’m glad I had you and I wish I had never met you … so yeah, it wouldn’t be wrong to say I’m fucked up.

I might. I might forget you. I might. I might want you all my life.

I’ll stand here. In the middle of this road and I’ll wait. Maybe my last memory will be of huge white lights, like eyes. Like their eyes. Maybe. Or else, they’ll swerve past me. Or those lights will blink, stop and tell me to get the hell off the road.

If that happens, I’ll move. I’ll go on.

So… I wait. I stand here amid fog. And I wait.

I wait.



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