Old Grief (Art)


Photo: Rahraw Omarzad, Centre for Contemporary Arts

Whatever happened to old what's-her-name? You remember, the one with the long, shiny hair, black like raven's feathers, who was always wearing those really brightly coloured kameezes that were too big for her; they would billow out like a sail when the wind whipped off the plains, back and forth, colours flying. You remember, the one who would always lapse into song whenever she had to say something critical, or when she was forced to relay a message from an adult. "Mom says to come clean the dishes," she'd warble in a lilting, fake-sunny melody. "And she says to forget about catching fireflies."

I don't remember.

But you remember the fireflies, right? And how she'd come over to our house at night, sometimes even after we were supposed to be asleep, and she'd blow out the candles, put her hands on her face and then – and then, she'd suddenly be behind us, her face glowing in streaks of squashed fireflies. It was so long ago, but she lived just down the road from us, in a yellow house, with an old, gnarled persimmon tree. Do you remember?

I don't remember.

Well I remember, or parts of it I remember. I remember her singing, and I remember those billowing colours. I remember climbing the persimmon tree on hot afternoons. I remember the wind most of all, and sometimes the wind reminds me of her. Do you remember the wind?

I remember. But her name is gone.

This is part of a regular series of Himal's commentary on work by artists from around Southasia. 'Old Grief' begins a subset of artwork from the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Kabul. This work is by the Kabul-based Nabila Horakhsh.

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