ON WATER & GRIEF: A ZUIHITSU

I touch my ears at least an infinite number of times every day.

The swimming instructor asks me to untangle a new knot in my body

every day.


Tangled beyond repair—Ghachar Ghochar. That’s how one of Vivek Shanbhag’s characters describes the situation she is in.

My mamu and khalu died nine months apart from each other. Now when somebody asks me, what has a heart & takes nine months to grow? I say death.


I have taken up swimming to release my body’s grief.


To be totally honest, I didn’t know my body was grieving before I began

swimming.


I have long had a fear of water. To know anything so transparent could summon death?

Guns, I understand. A shiny dagger, a pity but fathomable. Grief—opaque, obtrusive.


A day after my khalu died, my tweet about grief went viral:



Mary Oliver said, “That time / I thought I could not / go any closer to grief / without dying // I went closer, / and I did not die.”


Every poem / is a body / of water. // It ferries / you across / your / fear grief.


You come back to it two weeks later, with renewed fear.


Whenever I’m drowning, my instructor says: let go. My friends say: let go. The water says: come.



About the Author


This poem is an excerpt from (hopefully) a longer Zuihitsu by Javeria Hasnain, a Pakistani poet and an incoming MFA student at The New School on a Fulbright scholarship. She is recently inspired by this wonderful Japanese form that can contain multitudes and aptly reflects the kind of world we are living in: fragmented and interconnected. Her other poems can be found in AAWW's The Margins, Gutter magazine, Superstition Review, Anti-heroin Chic! and elsewhere.