The Founding Chairperson’s Poetry Picks from the ZU Atlas

In this poetic review, Dr. Wajeeha Mahmood Hasan (M.B.B.S., batch XVII), one of the creative brains behind the ZU Atlas, shares with us her top 5 favourite poetry submissions. 


There are some words that stay with you and linger in your mind. They may inspire you to look deeper, they may motivate you to do better or they may become the balm to your wounds- old and new. The true power of poetry, of the woven word, is when the poet is able to make you feel like your experiences, thoughts, and desires are being read back to you. And they remain, in black and white, validated.

We get many submissions for poems, written by such talented alumni. Here, are my top 5, in no particular order.


Forever/ For ever



How long does Forever last?
For you and I, the world dictated
that it last
a month shy of three years
but in the fickleness of my heart
and foolishness of my mind
it lasted until the fire of the last
burnt out cold, and then some.
And that is what I said to you,
in a time that you and I will forget,
as our memories are devoured
by the sandstorm of time.
And as I walk through life now
a stranger, a drifter, a traveller;
I travel alone.
I feel your phantom presence at my
and I feel your slender fingers
entangled in mine. And I feel the
leave from my hand and try to warm yours
as if I could provide enough heat
to make you materialise at my side.
An apotheosis of my loneliness,
And I see the white winter skin of your face
in a white rose that I have come
As I bathe my nostrils in its perfume
memories, long forgotten, awake
from their icy prisons
in my head where I hid them.
And I remember:
Nervous and sweating, a rose
from my hand to yours
and your eyes lit up as your smile
touched them.
And so, foolishly, I said to you:
I will love you always.
And for ever.

some nights, I



some nights the wind whistles

through the old lighthouse and

in the town below the mothers

tuck in their children and close

their shutters and watch their

fires till dawn.


some nights you tell me stories

of the village graveyard with the

night watchman and the magic

stick whose tip-taps are the

measure of the night.


some nights the stars are so close

that you forget. i dream of old

souls haunting the highways of

the heartland. this late, love,

the night belongs to students

and the stars.


some nights i hear a piano; two

notes hesitant in the dark. your

name is now a stranger on my

lips. how could it come to this?

how could it come to this?





Early morning; the sun hasn’t even dawned yet,

And a mother is kissing her child, sending her heart off to school.

A father drops off his child on the way to work,

Working for the child he will never see again.
Midday, and the first bomb is blown,

The first shots fired,

There is confusion, there is fear, there is chaos.

And these innocent children are fighting for their lives.
Them, who do not know of jealousy, of evil, of malice,

They, who are nothing, but young dreamers,

They, who haven’t even seen their own country, let alone the rest of the world,

It is them, who now, are dying.
Dying, and for what?

For some measly act of revenge?

Their fathers are out there, risking their lives for all of us,

And they are the ones who pay?
The same mother, now struck with panic and shock,

Hoping against hope that her son was safe.

That same father, how back at the school,

So close to the scene yet unaware; unaware that his son lay in there, still.
His best friend, also shot, now writhing in pain,

And all he wants to do is scream;

Scream out for help, for his friend, for all of this to just end!

But all he feels is fear. And fear.
Tiny hearts, beating one second but not the next.

Tiny minds, terrified, paralyzed.

One hundred and forty-one lives, gone.

One hundred and thirty-six children, gone.
But it isn’t just the lives lost that we mourned.

It was the innocence lost. The potential.

The children who watched their friends and teachers die,

Who came closer to death than they’d ever imagined.
But it is all these children, who give us hope.

It is the survivors, who went back to school,

Braver than ever;

Now fighting back, not with arms but with their brains.
It is them, dead or alive,  for whom we stand up today;

No more lives will be lost.

It is them, who inspire us, despite all that they’ve faced,

And them, who are the real heroes of our land.


Borderline Love



You fill my hollow,

I engulf you.


We fit like lock and key,

Flower and bee.


I react to your antigens.

My antibodies attack,

You suffer, we necrose.

Is this love or pus?

What was meant to be,

Means nothing at all.

You can’t hold me while I fall.

You hardly escape before you are phagocytosed,

I wallow in my emptiness once more.

I carry my vacuum far and wide,

From myself, I can no more hide.

Little do I know,

My insides need to grow

To be whole.

You can’t heal,

The hole

In my soul.


With You



On starless nights, it is the fire in your eyes that rages and sheds light
And when the storm hits, it is your embrace that keeps me warm and blithe

In your tangible proximity, every moment feels infinite
And yet, fleeing it goes and evanesces far too soon

A mere smile on your face and I am rendered blissfully unraveled
With you, my dreams feel alive and sorrows just an illusion

When my demons escape, it is you who tempers the frenzy in me
Imprisoned in your realm, and never have I felt this free

And as the first rays of sunlight erupt across the sky
Vivid colours impregnated with hope come to life

Your melodious laughter drowns out the sweet voices of nightingales
With you by my side, it’s for a world of wonders that I set sail

With you, the nights and days ardently blend into one another
For you have been to me a bubbling bubble of merriment and joy!

WhatsApp Image 2017-06-20 at 21.32.06


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