Befriending Anxiety. {poetry}


Dubai, a modern metropolis with diverse cultures, white sand beaches, skyscraper-filled skylines and gigantic malls welcomed us warmly in the last few months of 2021.

The bustling city made us comfortable in the most glamorous way and carved a special place in our heart. Perhaps the Universe sensed our love affair with the exotic city and forced us to extend our stay under the most unfortunate circumstances.

On the last day of our stay in Dubai, my sister and I decided to have a hearty dinner at Ronda Locatelli and explore the magnificence of Atlantis, the Palm. Few minutes into admiring the architecture of the building, my phone vibrated and a message flashed on the screen stating my sister has tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot board the flight.

Shocked, dismayed and horrified with the news, we hurried our way back to the hotel and packed our bags, not for our flight home but to an isolation center situated in the outskirts of Dubai.

A squared room with a tightly shut single window, an intercom and a television, limited interaction with paramedics, meals left outside your room and clouds of fear hovering over my head — these few words encapsulate my experience of being quarantined in a foreign land.

I used to sit across the window every evening and wait for the sun to set as it would give me hope for a new day. The world outside my room was free from all encumbrances which led to a roller-coaster of emotions in my system.

The uncertainty of future events, loneliness, homesickness and intrusive thoughts compelled me to befriend anxiety; lump in throat, palpitation and sweaty palms were my companion for two weeks.

In those challenging times where there was an intense urge to release and regulate my emotions, I decided to pen down my raw and authentic feelings, and produced this poem called Anxiety.


It started with slowly knocking on my door
Introducing herself as a savior
Gratuitously promising help and comfort
Coercing me to re-play fictitious scripts in my mind
Without sharing the climax, she secretly made her way in my body

Hypnotizing me with her presence
Making me aware of her existence
I smelled danger while staring at her in disbelief
Espied her rounding the corners
Gradually her knocks turned into bangs

Running in circles, escaping from her shackles
Down on my knees I surrender
Like a prisoner of my own mind
Restrained with leg cuffs
Heart squeezed in a cage with punches in gut
I sat there paralyzed and let her crawl all over me

Soon I was swept with her evilness
She took me back in time
I was reunited with my broken parts
Helped me find solace in addiction
Ruining newly made boundaries forever

But the more I ran, the closer she came
So I stopped.
And conversed.
Like an owner whose land is trespassed and privacy intruded
Interrogated her presence without succumbing to her demands

Reminded her — she is unbidden and uninvited
With love and affection, I held her hand
Walked her through the door
Asked her to wait
Till I conquer the world on my own.


Sarha Rasheed is a practicing lawyer in Pakistan, and an emerging writer and a poet. At the age of 9, her poetic skills were praised by the Human Rights Education Program and she was awarded a certificate for contributing her poem on peace. After years of shunning her calling underneath the needs of this survivalist world, she has finally embarked on a journey to explore writing as a spiritual practice and discover her inner voice through visceral writing. She particularly enjoys writing about sensitivity, vulnerability, love, compassion and various other emotions that form the basis of human dynamics.


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