In Pakistan, grey smoke stacks curl up
to sun. Skin browns on roadside
as we throw makai into each
other’s mouths. Eyes sting from rising flame,
salt, chilli powder. Uniform shirts untucked
outside schools. At seventeen we cross over.
Return with ice-lolly stained shalwars. Papers
in hand (all A’s). Untouchable. Karachi envelopes
us. Dupattas loosely draped, motorcyclists holler.
Stride on. Ride waves on French Beach
by winter bonfire. Coffeeshop goodbyes
among newspapered walls. Black ink
tattoos the ridge where my pulse beats. Camel
carries me along coastlines, tassels adorn neck.
I pluck one, hang it on a keyring. In Canada,
Manahil Bandukwala is a Pakistani born-and-raised artist and writer currently living and studying in Ottawa. Her work has appeared in In/Words, Bywords, re:asian, ottawater, Existere and where is the river, and is forthcoming in Room Magazine and the Puritan. She is currently an editor for In/Words Magazine & Press and curates the monthly reading series. You can find her work online at manahils.com, or on Instagram @manahil_art.