By Tayiba Ahmed
Chai Chalk held the first ever Pakistani Poetry Slam at Second Cup Basement recently. For those who are unaware, poetry slam is the performance of poetry in a manner that conveys the aesthetic meaning through the deliverance of verses itself.
The turnout was impressive, filling up the whole basement within an hour. Different people performed their poems until the award-winning poets arrived. Zohab Zee Khan and Zainab Zahra Syed came up on stage with a bang; their presence surrounded the room immediately!
Zohab performed the first poem followed by Zainab in alternative turns. They talked about their experiences: about injustice and decline in humanity, bringing in their personal viewpoints as people who had suffered bullying at one point in their lives. Zohab talked about being the only Asian family in a racist Western community in a small town, being called a dirty terrorist in front of a 10-year old; he incorporated prejudice in beautiful words that wrapped the audience in an ecstatic embrace. His lines affected us too deeply and in those moments we all felt for him as much as he did for himself.
Zainab’s performance stood out in its own graceful manner. She sang poetry about the APS attack: the brutality of the attack and the struggle of mothers left behind. She talked about her friend who committed suicide. She talked about a daughter whose father was captured forever in a Guantanamo prison, not knowing whether he was alive or well. She sang about humanity, about life and cruelty and so much more with expressions that we were unable to forget.
After their performances, a few of the audience performed as well, talking about their own experiences with vivid emotions. In the end, Zainab performed one last poem and Zohab played an instrument. Both blended together in a mesmerizing farewell to an evening well spent.
It was a place where emotions ran high and people talked about everything and yet nothing. Such was the experience that Chai Chalk brought to us through this event: an event I, and many more, would like to see more of.