**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.

Mellifluous

By Lubna Khan:

*Click*

*Whirrrr*

And just like that, all of us would skitter out of our hidey holes and find our spots in the living room; my sister at the floor table with her drawing paper and paints, my brother with his Nintendo on the couch and I with a book on the middle of the rug. Memories are a strange affair, so many are fleeting like the flurry of feet at a busy subway but some manage to gather a strong foothold and hold on for dear sentimentality. This is one of my favourites to pluck out of the memory box and play with fondly, time and again. My love for music began in those quiet weekend afternoons. My mother’s most prized possession, a big black cassette player with a lot of intimidating dials sat in a cosy corner of the living room. She had a few cassette tapes which she played on loop while she resumed her sewing and embroidery on a single seater couch. The queen’s perch. Every afternoon after a short nap, she’d make a beeline for the music player, replace a tape in a deck and press play. Like a siren call, the whirring of the tape in a quest to find momentum, mellifluous in it’s implication, would draw us out of our rooms and we would obediently take our places around the mother and her prized black box. Jagjit Singh’s serene voice accompanied us and guided those afternoons. Little was said to one another, exchange of words was unnecessary as the ghazals smoothed over all little ruffles and trifles and we set off to our own individual rendezvous with our guests for the afternoon, a Grimm’s Fairy-tale character for me, the brisk sunset my sister was painting or the little rabbit my mum was embroidering on her latest mural. There is no end to this memory as I don’t seem to recall how these afternoons usually ended or when they stopped happening altogether. The memory is not of a single time or of a single event; it is a single memory of a number of peaceful afternoons from a time that can never be had again.


By Imran Ahmed:

Trigger Warning: mention of suicide

Like a butterfly, so full of colour and charisma
A beacon of brown hope in a world of stigmas
A true meaning of the freedom she believed in

Grounded in reasons she was secretly seeking.

The twinkle in her eyes, could light up the galaxies

She walked with a spirit that was defiant to gravity
Defined by the elegance that shone through her melanin

She kept a smile through the pain like an element of inheritance.

The wonders of her strength contained in every molecule

But deep inside she was fighting demons in solitude
She was all alone, on a journey towards home

But home is where the heart is and hers turned into stone.

On a path less trodden, she was losing herself

For every step forward, there was two on the shelf
I guess it was just meant to be, eventually

Every morning staring out the window with suicidal tendencies.

She tried to scream for help but her voice had never reached

On the surface still as beautiful as she had ever been
Now choices lied between a can of kerosene and a pair of pills

She contemplated both but the jump seemed like a fairer deal.

And so she grabbed a chair to help her onto the window sill

Stood at ease against the breeze, becoming one with her will
She took a final breath before she took the final step

Now she is just a memory hidden in my treasure chest.

Sneaking into my dreams, screaming into a void

She haunts me in my sleep with her mellifluous voice…

Like dreamers screaming into a void

I’m still haunted in my sleep by her mellifluous voice…

By Aadilah:

Not all silences are created equal.

Some silences are fragile, as easily broken as glass. Others are tough and hard to chew, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. There are shared silences, sacred for all they say that cannot otherwise be expressed. Other silences stretch over your head, hiding uncomfortable truths, sealing them in.

Not all silences are created equal.

There are silences that come in pockets of things unspoken and passions unacknowledged. Some silences are loud. Others exist within the depths of your soul.

And then there is the silence of the pre-dawn hours. At 4 or 5 a.m. depending on the time of year, the sky is still dark, alight with stars that hang low and appear much closer than they really are. The world lies still, a sleeping child. It has yet to wake up, to gain any awareness of itself, to remember how old and weary it truly is. Even Time does not flow normally in those hours; it is suspended somewhere in the space between stars, in the gaps between the leaves of a tree, in the low, deep breaths people take as they explore the liminal space between dreams and consciousness.

Not a bird sings into this silence where Time and space both are warped.

Distantly, distantly, like the sound from a memory, the odd motorcycle zooms past. A low, whirring sound drifts in from the neighbours’ air conditioner, the red lights on the mountains blink into the darkness. The ceiling fan turns and turns and never stops. But none of this is happening here or now, it is an echo from another world. Everything that is happening is a form of unreality; only my experience of this moment seems to be real. And yet I know that when I wake up again later, I will not be able to say what was corporeal and what was just the fog of imagination, the clouds of unclear, somnolent thoughts.

It is this pre-dawn silence that bewilders me. It flows in every dust particle, fills up every moment, comes and goes with every breath. It feels like a musical note almost, something mellifluous and hypnotic, something that ought to have its own name. Anything really, to help describe this phenomenon, to assign worldly values to it, to understand. But it’s a fruitless endeavour. Who ever heard of any sane thing happening at 4 a.m. anyway? The reality is stranger than any dreams you may have then.

This silence flows and flows until it doesn’t, shattered not by noise but by the first light.


By Rasna Razak:

Uncertainty dawned upon her as she awaited her turn. Countless eyes scanned the numbers flashing vividly above the door that decided the fate of their happiness, some patiently, some with fidgety fingers and bitten lips. I looked down at my shoes forcing myself to get lost in the worn out lace, which resembled my interwined chaotic thoughts. I was awakened by the musky scent lingering on my husband’s flesh, as he took his place next to me. I closed my eyes and let myself soak in the feeling of familiarity and comfort, before my mind took a return to actuality. Was I ready to share the profound fondness I have for him? Was I ready to see him shower his deepest affection on someone else, other than me?

*token number 35*
The computerized monotonous voice nudged me back to reality.

I uncrumbled the tiny piece of paper that was now soaked in my sweat and glanced at the number again before it faded away. I eyed the women exiting the room to get a glimpse of their perceived destiny. Are they as lost as I am? Being an ardent believer of God’s will, I still struggled to accept what may lie in store for me once I walked out of the room of answers. Nevertheless, it was out of my hands.

I turned to my husband in the hopes of receiving some reassurance, but he just reciprocated with “you have to finish off that water before you get in.” Could I feel more nauseous than this? I took another gulp and tightly grasped the bottle working my fingers through the grooves on it, distracting myself from the strenous calls of nature.

Great, I murmured. Seems like my bladder has also enrolled for the pounding competition and is in a tie with my heart. Just great.

“I think you are next.”, my husband’s voice interrupted my thoughts.

I looked up frantically scanning the number glaring down at me in red. Its not my turn yet ! I’m not ready !

“Please come inside and wait ma’am.”

But…

I handed over the bottle reluctantly to my husband and strotted away, refusing to engage in any eye contact with him. Oh, how I wished it was just another lazy day at home, wrapped in his hug, frittering away time with pizzas and binge watching our favourite series.

I entered the room and sat on a chair, peeping through the gaps in the dividing curtains ahead. The sound of tapping away at the keyboard in response to the doctor’s voice, took me back to when I would exhaust myself with patient files and reassurances amidst wheelchairs, bearing people who would temporarily measure up anyone in a white coat to God. I missed the hustle and the nobleness. I need to get back at it.

What is the time? It feels like I have been waiting here ever since the Big Bang.

And then, in the midst of all the visited and unvisited tales of time my mind was brooding over, I heard it. Beyond the separations of the rustling curtains, engulfing all the void. Familiar to me, yet long forgotten. Soft with an inexplicable warmth, yet powerful enough to melt even the hardest of worries – the sign of primitive life echoing within the walls. The melliflous unifying force, bonding a mother to her unborn unseen progeny – a fetal heartbeat.

I leaned backward resting my head on the wall, eyes closed, every cell of my body soaking in the rhythmic gushes.

More tapping away. The sound of the door being shut awakened me.

“You can lie on the bed, maa’m.”

I opened my eyes, walked through the “veil of life” and lied down.

Settle down, heart.

Fighting against the urge to let out the salty consequences of my emotions dangling at the corner of my eyes, I composed myself to bear the ice cold drench of the gel. I glanced over at the screen, time and again, selectively ignoring the wails of my bladder, as the doctor guided the probe over my stomach.

I wonder what my husband is doing now. He seems better composed than I am and even reacted to the two purple smudgy lines better than me last night. Is this who I am? An ungrateful, dissatisfied being, constantly battling with the choices of time?

“Do you want to see?”

“What?”

“You can see if you want. I think it looks like you”, he smiled reassuringly.

On the screen, amidst the monochromatic hues wherein lay the answers to my doubts, was a tiny flutter of clumped cells and immeasurable clarity.
And then, just like that, I fell in love.


By ND Seno:

The word ‘mellifluous’ makes me think of that one week when I was writing a thesis, and updating the blog and learning a new language and reading a bed-time story and doing everything in one day! But whatever I did, there never seemed to be a shortage of work. It was either the thesis or reading the course books or the growing to-be-read pile! And oh the fear of missing out! I was frustrated. My friend U, on the other hand, had no work that particular week so he was poking the inventive side of his brain and trying to make a song.

He was also learning to play an instrument. U wants to learn how to play the piano, so do I, but with the distractions I give myself away to, it seems very unlikely that I ever will. Somebody I know plays the violin! My cousin plays the sitar and I don’t know if U remembers this anymore but on both the trips that we took, we heard people playing the flute.

In Lucknow, we were in Hazratganj Market, and a young man was playing the flute while we ate a chaat and ice-cream rolls. In Uttarakhand while we were trekking down from the Deoriatal Lake, a…fellow trekker? A local? A guide?…was playing the flute and U was making a video of me coming down the mountain from the back and the tunes from the flute just drifted to us while I turned to look back at U and I am so glad I turned, because we caught that on video. Believe me when I say there was music in the air…mellifluous.


By Marwah:

The calm is just at the surface.. that smirk, that laugh but at the core we all have a mellifluous inner voice. Just like the earth’s core lava-like-bright. The inner voice, meaningful, colourful, unique to each person. Sometimes it goes unheard due to outside noise. We are in tune with it, we are its first audience and first critic. Sometimes it reaches the surface, other times it doesn’t. The world is not ready for it. But nowadays maybe it is… somewhere at the corner of this would, probably on insta, you find someone in tune with your mellifluous innervoice.


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