Dimensions of a Soul - Tishba Fatima

I imagine my soul to be a translucent shadow of myself, embedded in places where my organs don’t reside. Any space that’s left between the ever inflating and deflating lungs and the bent spine. It’s a tight fit so it’s always looking for chances to get out. Sometimes it claws at my throat as my mind gives me a quick tour of my life’s grievances, and I swallow it back down. A series of gulps in rapid succession seems to do the trick. Doesn’t it remind you of those stories about “Qabr ka Aazab” in which the body shoots out lava in pain, and cries and claws its way out of the grave but to no avail? Hasn’t someone told you about the screams they heard from a graveyard?

At the other end of the spectrum, have you observed that when people die, it takes rapid inhaling in a row? Like you’re yanking the yarn stuck in their stomach and the force of it is jerking their body.

Picture Credit – Google Images

The soul is kinder than the mind because while the mind needs to review to remember, a soul does not. It keeps your memories safe in itself and only lets them out when they’re tearing through its very fabric because of their heaviness. The fabric of soul is like a silk dupatta slipping off of a lover’s shoulder; each thread - a story you’ve lived, an incident you’ve survived and as you weave memories, a section of your soul fills up. It’ll occupy that space, complimenting and shading other parts of you whether you approve or not.

At night though, nothing pulls it back down. When I was young, my Qari sahab told me that dreams are what our soul experiences after it departs from our bodies when we sleep. It wanders through whichever world it sees fit. More often than not, it takes a nightmare to return it to this uncomfortable vessel because, you see, at the end of your sleep, your soul is given the choice to either return or stay out of your body forever. I realized early on that my soul wasn’t capable of making wise decisions so I force it back in with a nightmare.

Except at what cost? It’s not like it lets me rest. It kicks and screams and drains me of my energy. It’s always restless. Always in search of home. It makes me open kitchen cabinets and look in empty jars, begs me to sit on the roof and stare at the cars passing on the motorway. Always saying ‘run, run, run’, almost as if I called it back too soon from its nightly patrol. Half of our lives, I think, we spend tending to your souls and the other half in its escape.

I’ve had to drag it back from winters in mountains and random strangers in airports. As children whenever we used to go to someplace our mother would give us this talk on behaving ourselves so that’s what I do. I tell my soul that this is short lived, to not get too immersed in how beautiful he is or how comfortable she is, to not stare for too long because its rude and not to mention, a blatant giveaway, that it’s not your home. Once we’ve gone over the rules, it swears to adhere to them, but I forget that we never cared for whatever was discussed on the journey over. That it was “our rules” the moment we set foot in the playground and the consequences be damned. So, it stares and laughs and calls them home, not paying any attention to my warning, bulging eyes in the periphery. When it’s time to go, I scrape it off like a cheap sticker and owing to its cheapness and stubbornness, it leaves some pieces stuck on the ground, in the mind, on the water. I feel like a decapitated barbie sticker, but after the initial shock of pulling away ‘too fast too soon’, we all have something to laugh about. It’s relentless, but at least it’s not mundane because I prefer my breath in short gasps rather than three intakes.


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Tishba Fatima loves meeting new people and

listening to their life stories and experiences.

She occasionally writes poetry as well.

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