Fingernails by Ali Shambeel Jafri

Artwork by Hammad Ali ©

Your mind thrives on hallucinations that rise from the ground
up on the merest of whimpers of a pill no bigger than your fingernails.
Your soul thrives on doubt, feeds on despair and breathes in self-proclaimed
loneliness with as much passion as others eat or drink or kiss. Your heart,
it lusts for pain and embraces mistrust and caters to double edged blades
and small pills no bigger than your finger nails. In the swirling patterns that
the sky seems to bleed in front of your eyes, you see naught but what you want to.
You cannot speak: speaking is for the strong and you are so, so, terribly weak.
You cannot stand: your knees are nothing but wet sand castle towers
yearning to break with the smallest of pushes.

You’re trapped. Trapped in purgatory, that limbo between heaven and hell,
and your body’s doing the tango with gods and devils, and your tears
are now flowing down your hands, leaving behind rivulets of blood
because your tears were never your tears. They were broken dreams
and shattered hopes and cracked faith. Your tears were not a result of pain.
Nor of misfortune, no heart was stomped upon and no love went unrequited.
Your tears were caused by pills, no bigger than your fingernails.

Your entire mind, that oh so beautiful mind, so full of colors,
so rich with ideas, your mind is a plaything.
And to what?
A pill.
No bigger than your nails.


Ali Shambeel Jafri is a sophomore at the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts at the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. A spoken word artist, Ali has judged and performed at several slamming events in the city. Shambeel is always up for a round of chai or Coke and interesting conversation but might be a tad bit socially awkward until the first cup or glass. He does not like cookies. Make of that what you will.


UntitledHammad Ali graduated with a World distinction in Art at A Levels. Currently aspiring to go to an art school, Hammad’s work has appeared in local art publications such as Sublog. He has exhibited his work at Enigma, an olympiad for artists and writers in Karachi, St. Patrick’s art exhibit, The HHS Festival, as well as at the Pakistan-American Cultural Center.


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