Archive for September, 2011

New Developments on Blue Dust and poems

Update on Blue Dust

Blue Dust is now in stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata as the main ones and then in smaller cities as well. And it will be coming to Pakistan in February. I have also been invited to the Karachi Literature Festival where I will be speaking at a panel with Kamila Shamsie and H.M Naqvi next month about Pakistani writers writing contemporary fiction in English. The book has been sent to 100 reviewers in India and 30 reviewers in Pakistan. The online link to Blue Dust is given here where you can also view the blurb about it.

More links of book shops where Blue Dust can be bought

here is a brief blurb about me too:

I did my Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of East Anglia, UK. Many of my poems have been published in literary journals in the UK including Smoke and Splizz. I have also worked for the development sector in Pakistan for more than twelve years during which time I have written several technical papers in various sectors. I have been a panel organizer and panelist for two of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s panels at their annual conference on sustainable development, one of the largest in South Asia, for the last two consecutive years. The first panel was on religious minorities in Pakistan and the second on bridging the gaps between fact and fiction. My paper, Shame and Fury on the global menace of religious conflicts in terms of how religion is and has been used as a political tool by nations and its ramifications on world politics from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq to the more local
fractures that Pakistan has witnessed in the context of conflicts between religious sects and different religions was published in this year’s anthology, Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia published by Sang-e-Meel.

I am currently writing my second book, Noora, which is about a Pakistani family based in Islamabad against the backdrop of the recent “holocaust” of bombings that rocked the nation. The book’s main characters are a hijra, Ruby, Umber, her husband, Ali, their son Zain and the local rubbish collector Noora. Although they each come from entirely different worlds they are all tied together in a strange bond that threatens the fabric of their lives and yet teaches each of them not only of the frailty of the human condition but the necessary armour that each of them must carry with them to survive in a world that is breaking apart.

I continue to write poetry.

Prior to publication some writers are currently reading Blue Dust. I just received my first blurb..

“Ayesha Salman’s voice is remarkable and original… at once sensual and sublime, stark and surreal. Blue Dust is a compelling and agonising personal account – but beyond all, uplifting.” (Dave Ward- Editor- Smoke)

She picked up her mother’s limp, sleeping hand. One day insects would eat that hand and crawl into the womb that had once held her in its shell. The whole thing seemed like a cosmic mistake. How was it possible that such a beautiful creature could be mutilated in such a cruel way? The indignity of it astonished her. She defaced Zaib over and over again; it was the mental action of someone outside themselves making a reckless attempt to play the role of the onlooker. It didn’t help, instead it just made her realize how frugal nature had been in bestowing its creatures with pleasures and how generous it had been with its dreams. There was a continuous existing imbalance in everything she thought about and it caused a deathly panic in her. She looked at Zaib’s face again. There she was, her perfect mother, negated by life… almost dead, with throbbing matrix functions only, and a sleeping smile that was her only reality right now. Still, she hoped something unexpected would happen.”

Hello everyone! Have been rather caught up with things! Harold Pinter is one of my favorite writers and  his nobel prize speech is worth is just some of it..

“Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy…..”

Excerpts from Blue Dust

Excerpt 1

She dreamt of an old haveli. There is a sweet shuffle, the sitar is playing to the wind, the raj of the Mughals is at its peak, breezy music sweeps the lawns, hinged on an ancestral memory, crackling sounds echo, like a scratched LP with two hundred years of dust to prove its wisdom and worth. Dancing girls dance like birds waiting to be fed, their flat empty bellies moving back and forth to the rhythms of their nawabs’ desires. I can smell their soft, clean dupattas, fluttering in the purple wind carrying them to the edge of reason. I long to touch them even when I know they are buried somewhere where I can’t reach them. The sound of their payal jingling in my head, cutting through time.

Excerpt 2

The smell of the dripping blood sky outside: sickness overpowered her. She
wished again she could be transported somewhere else, now, before it was too
late. Her mother looked undistorted, unlike the last head she wore. The creases
on her forehead had smoothed out and she had a cold calmness about her that
was daunting. The dazed doll-like eyes of Zakar had disappeared and a strange
tranquility had set in its place. She had obviously reached a resolution. Alya’s fear

of the unknown almost choked her. The room, with its now immovable objects,
had become absurd.

Zaib smiled her test tube smile.

Excerpt 3

She needs air. Whispers, whispers. She pushes through herself and ammi outside and pulls in air. Quickly. Green sky, lop sided mouth grins. It yops at her. Hurts her pulsating head not to remember where the blue flower is. The one she picked with ammi when she was little. The one ammi loved and kept for years. Her fingers warming silverspine trees. Bloodyants on the wall, again! Always there. It hurt not to remember, not to remember at all, not for any time at all, if someone had ever told her how long things that were around her had been there before she could remember. Mostly remembering small truths like those tended to confirm her existence. But she has not been told; nobody would tell her and that meant she was stuck on a firm point of non-gratification and non-reversal, in a small place of immovable inequities. Me and me and me, only me. She wanted to wipe herself out somehow so that all that racket in her head would stop. Once and for all.  Sky space slips from her mind and is rapidly replaced by mama’s fixed dolls, hanging porcelain-unchanging, crudely. This is fragmenting. Me. My bits stuck here and everywhere. Unlaced porcelain children, glass eyes searing, sucking the life from her, rocking her upside down. They swallow into her; she touches her face. She is nine again – in terror with frills and red marble clothes, cold – cutting herself. Still she is worried about ammi. Where is she? Is she safe? … Pins scrape my head of weeds as I look right and left, left and right, plastic head stuck to me, not mine, such strange inertia in my pulse and the bad bad smell excludes me so I am me and alone and I am me with me.

Excerpt 4

She recalled walking in to the house and hearing Zaib’s giggles sliding up the
sides of the walls. The corners whispered ghosts littering the streets of her
memory with the familiar path of her chequered youth. She saw herself run into
a room and disappear into the walls, she looked eight or nine and unlike herself.
Devi told me thirty years later that it was the most desolate house she had ever
seen, with just a nuance of its former days, its grandeur lost in some casual talk
on the outside about the family inside fading fast. There was no sound except
the faint footsteps of children, unwilling to yield to the end of time. She called
out to the cook, who was the one solitary figure in that creaking mansion she
once called home; he was always present, always affirming the existence of a
home that he was an intrinsic part of, protecting its sanctity from foreigners and
those wanting to harm the integrity of the family within.

Excerpt 5

While cooking he looked out at the sea from his kitchen window. Only his Zaib was more beautiful. He missed the cadence of her body, the sound of blood through her veins. Without her, he came home to an emptiness that locked him inside it. Initially Zaib’s absence was a small blessing. The unique peace that comes with solitude is welcomed; for a time.  Barely two months had passed and he started looking for her in every street corner, behind all the shops that she may have liked for one reason or another. He looked in the fish markets she had nightmares about and the church gardens that would have enchanted her. In the evenings when he came back from work he noticed the absence of a voice that told him he was the most loved man in the world.  His throat would go dry thinking about how far away his lovely wife was. His actions in the last few months sickened him, when he thought about how he had abandoned Zaib he lost the will to wake up the next day, but when he did, and on a brighter day, he realized the sad flamboyance of dreams and memories. He was no artist but he knew that the collapse of reality in the face of a single longing was the greatest failure of the human mind, and that’s when he remembered Zaib as a mere mortal.


Excerpts from book 3

Excerpt one from The Burial

Zara? Curled inside singing in round rhythms that punctured silence waves sweeping her up….black shroud wrapped- and Apple Mummy’s heart beat- tick tick tick ticking blood bursts in her head. Asghar?

She sinks into lapping up pain hums in angular loops sizing up her options from time shadows away. He must bleed into himself and know why. Her lipstick smile rises up up above her (bzzzzzzzzzz, bees buzz in flight. Their eyes slide into her head socket) – a red balloon, bursting into bits and falls in strips- just like mummy’s baby ribbon strips boxing her in- the sweat drips fatly and covers her fingers. Ha ha ha winner, winner, winner she chuckles, winner I am.
The King and Queen of Hearts enter. The crowd shares blistering laughs.  They crawled into themselves with fear, the rest of them. Ha! A single groan loops through the crowd.

Change was going to clean things up!

Asghar was hungry, crawling back to her. Not alone.

Excerpt 2 from Apple Mummy  
Apple Mummy bits were dust baked now, slinking into corners like rats or smeets, impulsive, careless creatures. She protruded into the brooding pinnacled room. Repeated thoughts of Small White Shoes apple mummy bought me plague shot me in the knees. I wanted to eat them with joy when I was a child and now! The White plastic dazzling delight impish light in rainbow games. I hid them in my cupboard for times and times and times (so mummy wouldn’t throw them away). I stitched them to myself so that they stayed fixed to my “old house of cats”, purring in corners and crevices of skinned walls, while mummy packed the shoes one night and threw them away to half dead things.

Apple mummy in fury stands erect and hooded in dark smothering intentions.

More poems…..


The clock digests time

Between soft blue words

As I watch the great moth fade

I smile beneath my sheets

Blood tulip of your deafening womb

Nourishes despair

I breathe the remains

of your dust baked hair

A moment renewed

with the sound of your voice

A sermon told

Through a rose washed breeze

More painful than a butterfly

unready to die.



Water Weight of the Abyss

Head sick splattered
I am unused ink
searching the blue crow
yet to feast on half dead things
that square into me, fixing me in my place

Waxy faced crow arrives
Blowing a pink kiss to the sky
Where the wind will chop it up
Dizzily drinking up my words with it
Consuming the decay

Water weight of this growing abyss
Fills me with wit
For a world I weave again
Then falter
And wait for the night
when the womb of sleep will fold me in



You pour in me deliciously
Soothing my mind
Settling me
Steady in your faith
Aching for a promise
left unsaid

A green breeze sweeps us up,
In slow mornings of dazzling jasmine,
While the pendulum ticks on
Waking us- to red grass sliding beneath our feet

We live in the shade,
you and i
the cold white light between us.


Moon prisms crawl the pink sand

Yet he is hidden from them.

Hidden inside white folds.

Water Flowers.

Blue flowers

Pictures pour into him, greedily

Black shadows unready to fade

He is hidden

Water Flowers.

Blue Flowers

Inertia in his pulse.

He sinks.

Bleached sky above

The salt breeze washing his lips

pictures follow him

Sliding through the hours

Sinking into him

He looks up

On his skin, silver requiem sheets,

(like fish stung by their last wave)

lick the beach with their effulgent crust.

Your smile

That red smile

That red smile lipstick you always wore as if it defined you in all your living glory

Big balloons floating around you as if you had them with you in the womb, as if you owned happiness all by yourself

Did you project that great big smile onto us, like pouring water in a bowl of sugar

Subsuming all that is left within us, spilling it out to the rest as if re-inventing joy again and again

Do you recall the sunlight jingle of a child’s tip toes on a quiet winter morning just before you killed her?

With a smile on your face.

The Word

The Word

An explosion –

The eruption of words.

Lurking behind me

Ready to pounce.

Rising whirlpools,

White vacuum of thought

Living beyond me

Unlike what I meant.

Under my pillow

Shredding the night.

Ripe as an onion.

Closer than hell.

Forcing intention.

Bleeding my mind.

Word of glass meaning

Stripped to the bone.

A crack in time.

John’s coffin is green

Green like trees splitting the wind.

His head sprouts roses

Fresh as the dew soaked through

his hands.

He’s dead like a star

Piercing my belly

Spreading his cancer

Louder than death.

I mourn John

Mourn him in bed

Mourn him in pity.

Blood tears on my tongue

Blued Daffodils crushed in bed

Desperate eyes bite through days

A fleeting touch grips the head.

John’s pillow’s a meadow

Calmer than memory.

Brave remnant of love.

His hair on my breasts.

Tender shifts in time

Crouched in my blood

He’s still as the heat

He lives in the corners

Waiting to speak.

I am a writer and poet. I grew up in the UK and the Middle East and now live and work in Pakistan. I am a graduate in Philosophy from the University of East Anglia in the UK. I am currently working  in Pakistan at a research institute as an Editor and have worked in the development sector as an editor and writer for more than ten years now.

I started to write creative pieces and poetry at the age of thirteen. I am particularly interested in experimental literature and I challenge “formal” structural and contextual literary constraints. The tension between language and meaning, and its impact on our everyday lives in terms of interactions with the external world are a major concern in my work.

Some of my poems have been published in literary magazines, such as Smoke and Splizz in the UK. My first
novel Blue Dust is being published by Roli Books India and will be launched in December 2011 in Pakistan. I am currently working on my second novel, Noora.

My blog will mirror my work and my favorite artists and writers and I hope that my readers will share this journey with me. I have been with the pixies but I have also been with the gnomes. Both are agony and both ecstasy. We can choose our hell and we can choose our heaven. Let’s take the first step.