**Many contributions to be found on Instagram under the hashtag #bookedoutsundays. The ones below are mine (first of each) and those that have a private profile on Instagram. You can click on their names to find them on Instagram.

A Day In The Life

By Lubna Khan:

I am a night owl, somebody who sees the new day beginning just a few minutes shy of 12AM; the sleep that usually breaks up two different days for others, is, to me, merely a long rest from the fatigue of the early activities of the “new day.” I am *very aware* that the energy I use up during this time is what my body really needs to repair itself during sleep. I know it, yet here we are. Maybe, it’s also why I have morning anxiety; my body is never optimally rejuvenated for the day, or maybe I prefer to deem the night as the beginning of a new day because of this anxiety that greets me every morning? Who really knows. The blinds are open, they always are because there is no tolerance for shutting the skies out, even the black spell of the night. There is a catharsis in sitting next to the large window, a thrill to witnessing the vast emptiness above and the stillness around; a clarity looms as my mind relinquishes control under the authority of this vastness and I enjoy a few hours of reading, writing and/or plain rumination.

My day, in contrast, is chaotic whether or not it is a day packed with work, to-do runs and/or social obligations. It is a state of mind, of rejection and fear of fervent activity characteristic of the daytime, that has been my cross to bear since I was a child. Maybe that is why I fared fairly well in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis lockdown, watching the city come to a halt, for people setting aside fatuous ambitions and plans for a while and slowing down. It was a respite from years of internalised trauma of having to be in constant flux when I as a person was stagnant as a result of my fear to face up to my own ambitions and the things I’d have to compromise and confront to achieve them. But this pause can only last so long until you’re lurched into the tangles of life’s movements. I go between work and university commitments as I try to once and for all, commit to confronting the dichotomy of belonging to this world and defining myself and the desire to be free and independent. “What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost.” —Dostoevsky


By Maham Munawar Quraishi:

It was a little pungent smell that had infused over the area. A gust of wind would keep burgeoning it, reminding me of the baker down the street preparing roasted almonds and date buns. I lift myself up from the couch which has been my marra, an amigo providing me with all the leisure my weakling bones require at this age.

Age is merely a number, a game of time as we wear and tear from within, it maintains its pace of putrefying and thus all my facial crevices and these thick lines are earnestly appalled, they remind me of how much have I endured. The day moves passively, the clock dances to its tune and I the victim of time try to keep abreast with its sweet vile often precariously thinking about the lost moments which can either be cherished or
mourned now. They are bygones, gone away, leaving its imprints on the soul and heart which often makes me nostalgic.

This is how a day in time works, like a pendulum, you keep living two lives or many lives, veering into the repository of memoirs while breathing in the present.

Like a whiff of freshly brewed coffee with whipped cream, a day in time can be frightfully spiffing if savoured.


By Rasna Razak:

Where is my teddy?
Where is my Mommy?

I opened my eyes and tried to focus on the surroundings amidst the clouds of smoke and dust.
I rub my eyes. They hurt. Everything hurt.

Where is Mommy? She always takes my boo boos away.
Is she calling out for me? I can’t hear anything. What is that ringing in my ear?
Why are there clouds in my home?

Mommy draws rainbows with clouds all the time. She says it brings colour to lives.

I set out to look for a rainbow, manoeuvring my feet through things I could not make out, cautious not to trip over the heaps of debris.

Where is Mommy? Does she have my teddy? My head hurt.
I feel something trickling down the side of my face. It tickles. I spin around. Mommy!  Is that you playing with me? Are you tickling me?

Alas, where is she?
She never leaves me.
Not after Abba and my brother left me.
Mommy says the heaven keepers above needed help and Abba and Qasim have gone there.
I miss them.
Where is Mommy?

I walk over some more piles of broken toys, shattered wood and ash, careful to not mess up the glittery butterflies on my shoes.
Mommy likes my shoes clean. Where is she?

I can hear something faintly amidst the ringing in my ears. I strain harder to make out the voices but the constant rumbles from the sky makes it impossible.

Somebody is sad there, Mommy. I hear cries. Have you gone to help?
Where are you?

I walk towards the source of noise.

Where is the door? What happened to the room?

A sharp ache pierces her eyes and forces four year old Humaira, to cup her hands and peep out to make sense of the chaos. Mommy always shuts the curtains. It is always dark and gloomy. She says that is how we play hide and seek with the outside world.
Why is it so bright today?
She looked up to see the dangling remnants of what was once, not long ago, the roof of her home.

Why is the sun here? It is so bright. My eyes hurt.

Mommy had hung pretty fairy lights up all across the ceiling to distract me, so the noice of toy helicopters at night wouldn’t take away my sleep. Mommy called them drones.

Who took away my fairy lights? Where is my Mommy?

I hear them again. The noise above. The buzz and the blasts nearing steadily.
I run and trip over some more mess but manage to crawl into a space behind the sofa.

Mommy had taught me to hide here if big men with guns ever came and knocked down our door.
But where was our door? Where is Mommy?

I peep out from behind the sofa and scan around the room for my teddy. Mr. Teddy keeps me company when Mommy misses Abba and Qasim too much some days. She says she has to do a lot of pee pee sometimes and sits in the bathroom for longer than usual when she misses them, but I know she falls asleep there because when she comes out, her eyes are always red from rubbing her sleepy eyes.

I miss Mommy, Abba and Qasim.
Where is Mommy?

I lie down in the confined dusty space between the sofa and the million cracks on the wall, and look up. The sun hurt my eyes. It hurt everywhere.
I’m dozing away. I struggle to keep my eyes open to get a glimpse of my Mommy but I’m too exhausted.
And then I hear the next explosion. I sleep.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Someone is tugging at my arms. It feels like they are pulling apart my limbs. It hurts too much to think. I open my eyes bleakly and I see the face of the man hurriedly handing over my numb body to someone else. He looks distressed. But his eyes look hollow, with no soul. Like someone who has seen too much in this life.
They place me on a bed in the middle of what used to be a road, ready to roll me up into a van with lots of machines connected to tubes and wires. I’m confused.
I look around.
I see someone being placed inside a black big bag. I hear the words ‘body-bag’, but I don’t know what that means. I shall ask Mommy.

WHERE IS MOMMY?

My clothes are red. Everything hurts. I’m hungry. Where are they taking me?

I look around everywhere, bravely ignoring the shooting pain in my neck with every movement I make. I see people running around, screaming, pointing up at the sky. Toy helicopters whirl around us. I gleefully forget the pain and lose myself in the parade they are showcasing in the smoky sky.

Why was Mommy so scared of this? They are just flying toys.

And then I see it. Seconds before they place what they are now referring to as merely a “body”, into the big black bag, I see it. Hanging down from the other side of the bed with wheels, was a piece of familiarity. A woven sense of belonging. It was what my Mommy wore to cover her hair from strangers.
It is too dirty, too red, too worn out, but those pink flowers on Mommy’s headscarf will forever be imprinted on my mind. Why is it there? It is how she taught me the colour pink, it is how she taught me what a flower is. Why are they taking Mommy’s headscarf away? I want it. It always smelled like love and comfort. Something my young mind doesn’t realize, I never will feel again. I want Mommy.

I hear flashes everywhere. Many people holding cameras are rushing towards me to get a glimpse of what is left of my existence. I look around, oblivious to the fact that my face and my story are going to be plastered on the news and in the papers, in the days to come. My story. But who knows what it is. I don’t.

This is me, Humaira, and this is a day in the life of us unfortunate souls whose wake up calls aren’t soothing voices of our mothers and fathers, or melodious lullabies attempted by technology; but deafening blasts from airstrikes and frightened shrieks. This is me, and you give me voice through your words, for I am left with none of my own to give.


Crimson Lamp’s Play by Tracy Tez:

Every dawn is a crimson lamp’s play
Soaking my dwelling in a spring of joy
‘Dhuk dhuk’, my brother would barge in
Accompanied by cushy tchotchkes

Wobbling through the walkway
And plopping into my  mom’s arms
Fill my mornings, still soaked in the crimson lamp’s play
Amma’s darts across the hearth for my brother
Would get me streaks of savours I heart
It’s all  splendaciously cooked
Though my senses deprive me of its chroma

Be it grunts, growls, sighs or chuckles
That recite my dad’s return from the world outside
He never fails to throw me into the soaring highs
As the cuckoo narrates her trance
And violet skies smile at me through its darkness

As the dusk nears, everyone prepares for dreamy nights and starry skies
While I plunge into dream another utopia
In my perpetuated darkness
The utopia where my dad seeks valour
Filled with moving wheels, tall trees and bland smiles from across the street
So inextricably twined under the sky
But what I could get a glimpse of
Is only the crimson lamp’s play
That would greet me the next day 🦋


By Georgia Carroll:

Skipping about from roof tiles to bricks,

Gathering stray feathers and moss and sticks.

How would it feel,

A day in the life,

Of a busy little Sparrow in endless flight.


By Anood Ahmed:

A day in the life of a woman giving birth waiting for her baby to be born. Thirty hours in labour is not a joke, waiting to see the love she held in her womb for 9 months, waiting to be called a mother… I’ll wait more hours when I’ve waited 40 weeks she thinks. As the baby is born, giving enormous pain to the mother, the mother still smiles as she sees her baby cry, the  little life she carried in her womb for nine months. The immense joy makes her forget all the pain she went through; just seconds back she was crying and now she is all smiles. That’s the love of a mother, a woman who even though after giving birth longs again for the bump. The baby she had inside her is now out in the world away from her womb…. The hormones have crashed, the world does not seem okay. Its not the same… the mother holds her baby in her arms when one moment she was happy the other moment she thinks is this really mine? A new mother takes time to swallow the fact if its really her baby or just a bunch of responsibilities pushed her way. Why isn’t anybody pampering her anymore? Why doesn’t anyone realise her pain anymore? Was all the attention only for the baby? The baby who just wants to suck her life away… Why is everyone so ignorant? Why does her caring husband also feel so wrong? Why is my utmost caring mother trying to steal my baby away by taking care of the baby all the time? Why does everything right seem so wrong; her favourite pizza has some flaws ..and what about the dessert she ate all the time, why has it lost taste? The world seems to be crashing on her.. Babies were her obsession but why does her own baby she has longed for so long seem so wrong, why does he cry, why does he squeal, it makes her want to rush to the sea. Maybe the sound of waves will calm her down, maybe playing in the cold sand will help her relax but there is no sea in proximity ..is this how bad it can be?

Why is she exaggerating? Why does she want to break everything off and be set free…but what does she want to run away from she wonders. The baby she has longed and wished for all her life or the relationships who care for her beyond belief? Her body is crying and cramping wanting the baby back in ..so she doesn’t have to care about the tiger marks made on her skin… the flabby skin and darkened body.  Is it really me, she thinks, where is all the pregnancy glow and all that plush thick long hair gone? Why is everyone judging her? Is this what people boast about being a mother? Dirty clothes, vomit stink with no energy to get ready again. What if I hurt my scar, will I tear it open she thinks. So weak and so feeble is this something to be proud of she thinks… The misery just keeps seeping in, the beauty of being a mother just keeps fading away. Who is this baby she thinks? Is it a part of her? Then why is she not responsive to the baby’s pain?! Is it just me going through this? Where did all the post birth happiness go, why is life so low? Where are all the plans she had for the baby in her mind, is it all lost or have I lost my mind she thinks. As crazy as this might sound but this is the raw representation of a  new mother going through post partum depression. Yes, it is real.


By Imran Ahmed:

Trouble trouble, toil and trouble
Straight from the land where the oilers hustle
Bring the heat to your door
Life as it comes

High beams before the rise of the sun

Desert metropolis;

Melting the pot with opulence
And a lot of blue collar sweat to draw the mix
Nine to five, then five to the traffic

A couple rear ends; exciting the savage

Freedom captured in illusions,

Or in the menial eyes staring out the window of a bus with no cooling
Live it or go back to the streets

Wrapped in, beneath an absence of hope

And the fried bread and chai on a debt check,

Call it a proletariat’s continental breakfast
The high rises can’t hide the sweat spots on the curb but
This is just a day in the life of a migrant worker.

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