Nanu holds the iPad closer to her face,

She smiles as she zooms in to the image before her,

A picture of her on my Instagram account:

She is sitting on the beach, watching the waves dance.


Nature brings my Nanu sheer delight:

She watches the Welsh news only to see the beautiful rivers in the background.

Her favourite TV show is about monkeys,

And you will never see a person smile as much as her

When she is watching documentaries about

Oversized vegetables or the Great Barrier Reef.


Nanu sips tea infused with cardamom.

She thinks I am sleeping, so she throws the blanket over me.

She places her hand on my knee

And tells me tales of her childhood-

How she wore boys’ clothes, and climbed trees, and

Didn’t do anything when her little brother hit her.

Itta farehna, goh boin.


Whenever I go to her house,

She is usually cleaning or praying

Or watching the kids play or watching TV,

But she stops whatever she is doing

Just to make me some chicken curry.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017

Pubs and Prejudice

Being a South Asian Muslim living in the UK, I have often been made to feel like a victim of prejudice. Stares, comments, tuts- you name it, I’ve received it. That being said, I must admit that I also harbour my own prejudices; labelling people is a flaw that is common among every member of our species.

Precisely a year ago, I went on a little family holiday to Blackpool. Any trip to this seaside resort is incomplete without a visit to its notorious pleasure beach. Although I despise rollercoasters and fairground rides, I decided to get onto the water ride, despite the fact that it was cold, and I was wearing summery clothes.

Inevitably, I was absolutely drenched. I walked around, shivering, looking for a public toilet where I could dry myself off a little. The only public toilets within close vicinity were situated within a pub. This was my first time ever entering a pub (as alcohol is Haram, or forbidden, in my religion). My second time entering a pub was when, earlier this summer, we went on another little trip to Ipswich, and stayed at a small inn. We had breakfast at the adjoined pub.

My initial view was that English pubs were always full of ignorant drunkards, huddling around, discussing sports and why they support UKIP. When I went to dry my skirt underneath the hand drier, I noticed a woman- drunk, white, middle-aged, with a giant tattoo on her arm- staring at me. I braced myself; I thought she would impart some sort of racial slur to me, but she didn’t.

Instead, we had a little conversation about the wretched water ride, and about how hand driers in public toilets are always so weak.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017


Give me a black room,
And a jar filled to its brim with
Sugar and salt.
I will sprinkle it all
Let it disperse like a universe
Gradually expanding.
Then I will tell you that
This is what it’s like to be me:
Little pieces, scattered everywhere
Fleeting thoughts
And parts of me
In spaces that are shapeless and nameless

and random,
And I’m afraid sometimes

I don’t know which ones are where.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017


The boy with the silky black hair
Rips the daisy out of the dirt,

With a shaking fury.

He plucks it like a stray hair and

Whispers to her that she is special- different, somehow

from the rest.

He insists that this is what love looks like:

A boy with a flower

which he turns away from the sun.
You belong to me now,
He whispers,
And crushes it in his palm so it fits
Into his back pocket.
Years later,
The daisy has died
And nobody knows that
She is still there.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017


I am not a pretty picture.


If I were a painting, I would spill

From the canvas,

Like fire that engulfs all the wood it can find.


If I were a colouring book,

My pages would be coloured in, outside of the lines,

in all the wrong colours.


Forgive me, for I don’t think I fit into this frame.

I was not made for critical eyes to interpret me-

Why I might be like this, or what it all means.


What you are doing here is futile-

Pressing new wallpaper over these uneven walls and

Vases on these tables to distract yourselves from

The disaster at the door.


Take heed of this warning.

This place becomes cold sometimes.

Vases break and wallpaper peels off.


And somewhere, not too far away from here,

there is an empty art gallery,

Vacuous and undisturbed,

With my name hanging from its arched ceiling.


But I am not a pretty picture.


And I hope that when you come to visit my gallery,

You will bask fondly in my absence,

For as long as I may live.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017


Sometimes awkward is not impossibly cute;

sometimes it feels like metal rope

is tying your body to itself.


Sometimes sadness is not just smudged makeup and hugs

that pick you up and somehow force your broken pieces back together.

Sometimes sadness is crippling.


Sometimes anxiety is more than just heavy breathing and a flurry of thoughts.

It feels like your heart is trying to drown itself in your own blood,

Like constantly closing your eyes and missing the last step on the way down.


Sometimes depression is not delicate tears falling onto dog-eared journals;

Sometimes it is your brain, perpetually rotting away at its seams.


Sometimes, in this mind of mine, sturdy bridges rust

And golden mangoes turn brown


And nobody can save me. My story is not a fairytale.

This mind is mine forever and I hope that

Someday I will make it my home.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017


The glass walls are broken,

Yet still I cannot leave.

Blood gushes from my chest,

And spills on to the floor,

Drizzling like fine honey.


I am the artist whose hands

Came together to make this.

I call it a train-wreck transparency;

Can you see it?

It is a masterpiece and a disaster.


Touching it will cut your fingers and

Scar your arms. You see, some of us

Are made of glass

And the hearts we hide are hungry

For someone else’s blood.

Sadia Ahmed, 2017