BWS 10.03.21: Laila Malik

Laila Malik is a diasporic desi writer in Adobigok, traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. She has been published in various literary magazines, thrice shortlisted for creative non-fiction prizes, and is a recipient of an OAC grant for her first volume of poetry (forthcoming).

I was thinking about all the complex and disparate iterations of personhood through time, and specifically the experiential idea of “woman”, with all its actual unruliness, against multiple backdrops of prescriptive myth and fairy tale and white-centred gendering. And I was thinking about the ways we make choices with and without clarity and compromise, and how we age against them and forget contexts and remember feelings. I was thinking about happy endings and pat outcomes, and how some things simply remain unresolved, only in beautiful new formations. And I was thinking about music, how always and every time, it threads together our fragments, allows us a kind of wholeness.

The saddest songs are in D Minor

Imagine a woman.

You could imagine a witch with two cats named Prudence and Dogma, who rides a pen instead of a broomstick under a no-moon sky, or a woman who sidesaddles a crochet needle or a chopstick from a Thai take-out place, one that she washes and reuses until it is splintered and frayed and then she uses it to aerate the compacted soil in her jasmine plant.

You could imagine a keyboard that thinks slower than fingers, or a smartphone that speaks with a halting thumb.

Imagine how a woman beholds the biceps of her friend, curled around a newborn kitten, standing in a kitchen revisiting all the other babies, you could listen to the competing rumble and purr of their voices and behold how the bag of ill-fitting shards that are brain and heart tumble, re-shatter, reassemble.

Or imagine a 25 year old brittled by a failing species choking a hapless planet, astounded by the elastic country of his lover’s abdomen, saying simply “I want to have her babies.”

Or one who can no longer find his footprint, for whom might as well becomes reason enough.

Try imagining two mammals who wanted just for a moment only to be humans together, with no ulteriors or anteriors or posteriors, only flesh and spirit breathing grace, gliding two wheels apiece into a celluloid sunset.

Now imagine her again, imagine her jasmine plant is dying and her lover the poet, the one she never allowed to touch her body, is already dead, and she is weary of dampening her daughter’s pillow in the dark, imagine her just picking one of the shards and beseeching her Creator to make her steadfast. This one, God, just let this one be me.

You could imagine a woman alone in her apartment, getting high and listening to old soul on vinyl, avoiding her mother’s phone calls.

You could imagine her mother.

Laila Malik visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 starting at 6:30pm alongside Gavin JonesNatasha Ramoutarand Andrew Wilmot. Our guest speaker Jen Sookfong Lee addresses how publishing is hard to navigate for BIPOC and offers practical tips for managing the publishing process in her talk, “The Business of Publishing and Inclusion”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:30.

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