‘Beyond the Border’ by Noor Bukhari

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(a poem depicting the first time I left my country and went abroad with my school to attend a prestigious conference at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York City)

 

 

I’ve known small taxis and broken houses

I’ve known a small city within a small world

I have however, never until now seen,

A land full of buildings touching the clouds

With elephantine parks and loud car horns.

 

I’ve always been the girl who’s dreamt

Dreamt of travelling half way across the big blue marble

In August last year, I was the girl

Who did just that and landed in the place of big dreams

It’s not really red and sweet and nutritious

But they call it because they do; they call it the Big Apple.

 

The air felt fresh and light

The Sun somehow was not the sun I had been under

Foreign soil, for the first time touched my shoes

I was surprised to know that until now

I hadn’t once sung, the homesick blues.

 

Bright yellow, like the disk florets of a daisy

Zoomed past us what the American tongue termed as “cabs”

The chaperone waved and whistled on the sidewalk to hail one

While we, nine youngsters stood inside the JFK airport.

 

Smoke, black and acrid smelling puffed out from a worn out one

Like a cigar being freshly lit

The driver gestured us to sit down at the back

And four of us did just what he said

The five left behind waited patiently for another cab to come along

But all that became futile because as we covered distance,

A sea of skyscrapers emerged

With grins on our faces we sat

In silence

Ready for this once in a lifetime adventure.

 

My heart raced and tears welled up in my eyes

The pictures in magazines and scenes from rom-coms

All came to life and I even today am at a loss of words.

 

The streets were wide as we approached our hotel

Shops and shops and shops lined all sides of the Avenue

With a welcome and slight tip of the hat from the concierge

We were ushered towards an elevator

That took us up 25 floors!

 

The rooms were small and cozy at once

Large windows looked over the buildings around.

 

The next few days were like a storm,

But the kind with rain that comes down softly and thunder that rumbles slowly

The kind that brings out the sweet smell of soil and not the fear of children

From a ferry ride over blue clear crystal water of the River Hudson

And pictures with the towering green lady on her island,

From going up, to the very top of the Empire state building

And spending a raging night out, around lit up screens

From eating a 99 cent delicious cheese pizza

And surveying supermarkets for American junk food

It was all a blur in the city

As lights infused into our carnival of laughter.

 

Among all these things, that my eyes witnessed

The one thing that shook my bones and rattled me into counting my lucky little stars

Was the visit to the center of world decision making

To the one building where history was conceived

Yes, indeed yes, the United Nations Head Quarters.

 

A strip of waving color stood outside the famous mirrored building

But as we all saw the white star and crescent

Flipping about in the soft breeze

A feeling of pride completely took over

And my thoughts came together to say “Pakistan, my Pakistan”

In that moment, a home sickness did, fill up inside.

 

As we entered and passed the security guards,

In all corners were a plethora of statues

Given as gifts and tokens of peace from global leaders.

 

The inside was paved in cream tiles

And the general assembly Hall was draped in warm spotlights

At the front was a green rock podium

Desks and microphones were arranged with consistency

This was the hall where Maya Angelou risked her life

And where Bhutto ripped apart the policy.

 

Everything took off quickly from there

Surrounded by philanthropists and humanitarians

My mind couldn’t cope

Shaking hands with Mother Africa

And for the first time seeing the glow of dark skin in person

Opened up a side of life that I had never ever known

I discussed issues and became a pioneer in my own right,

And just like this, the days dwindled by.

 

On the last day, New York City said Goodbye

And I, going home, felt as though I was leaving one behind.

Time spent there had been so dearly precious

The hotel, the cabs and finally the United Nations itself

Are all a million miles away

But still, even today as I formulate my experience into flowery words

My mind thinks over all the times the place of big dreams

Took me, by surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at fabbas227@hotmail.com or 03365287335 Happy reading!

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