Friday, March 23, 2018

To My Baby Cousin

And in the face of new worlds, each more bewildering than the last, we hold on to each other. Cling, even. We survive. We create. We live.

That's all there is to this story, and all there ever will be.

Of course there is death and destruction, and it will come, but first there is the living. The breathing. Your tiny chest falling and rising against mine, not at all in tandem. The smiling in your sleep. And god, the learning! It's been just five months and you already know that the sound 'Azrah' has something to do with you; head lifted, eyes curious, you turn towards your mom, your sister, the horde of delighted cousins calling out to you again and again, just to watch you perk up.

That Azrah is your name, and that it wields the power to shape much of your life, you will learn later. For now, all that matters is you know those sounds, the ah and the za and the ra, woven and unwoven and rewoven, somehow belong to you. You will settle your being into their crevices and spurt through the many cracks, and you will make the name your own someday, navigating the warp and weft of it as you do with the world you find yourselves in.

Sometimes none of it will make sense to you, this beautiful name, your terrible world, this lovely world, your horrible name. It is astounding, your survival, a  lump of tissue and fluid and wildly beating heart, in a world where the sky never ends, the earth runs deep, and loneliness rings the edges of the known universe.

You will be born into new worlds as old ones burn down, freeze over, crumble around your feet, or merely fade away like a season. From the ash and dust and memory of each world, a new one will rise, as you once did, caked in blood and hope. Fragile, fierce.

And in the face of these new worlds, each more promising than the last, we hold on to each other. Cling, even. We survive. We create. We learn. We love, in an unconditional that cannot pretend to be anything else, in conditionals that think themselves unconditional.

We live. Fierce, but fragile, we live.

That's all there is to this story, all there might be.

Right here, right now, in the quiet of a house on the threshold of a shared dream, that is all there is.

I rarely write prose these days, save for the very sporadic journal entries which will never see the light of day if I can help it. What prose that I do put out in public are mostly captions that sometimes end up as long-form-ish pieces. This one was written for a photo that my sister clicked a few months back, of my baby cousin asleep on my chest. I decided I'd share it here because it remains very close to my heart.

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