We stood, swaying slightly, holding sweaty

Poles, looking up at adverts overhead.

Backpacks on the floor, people rushing past,

Coffee flask in hand, exhaustion postponed.


Tried to be mindful, breathing lightly, PING!

Another email in the inbox, so

Impersonal. A meeting over lunch,

A salad. But my tongue still yearns for steak.


Alarm bell rings; we are in a hurry.

Snapped open containers to eat last night’s

Curry, for lunch. Cereal at the desk

For breakfast. Maybe some birthday cake, too.


Deadlines and assignments and non-stop stress,

But that’s okay: we’ll have a holiday

Soon. Feel alive for seventy-two hours,

On a sun-soaked beach somewhere in Asia.


Then –

Back to the grind, reality, we go.


We scheduled some fun for Friday, holding

Onto dreams of stress being drowned in wine,

Constrictive blouses and high heels and ties,

Ditched, one day a week, for a couple of


Hours. Until midnight on a Sunday comes

Around and we wake up sad, stressed and late,

On a Monday; time never seems to slow down

And we prepare


To smile half-smiles as we embrace the mundane

And sell our souls all over again,

To that red horned man who sits in a

Swivel chair. And everything

is ablaze.

Sadia Ahmed, 2018