I was born and raised on the steamy, tropical Island of Ceylon, later moving to East Africa and England. Raised by my Aya on tea plantations, I hardly saw my parents, mine was an idyllic start, there was no pressure for me to attend school, no radio, TV or interference. The classics were read to me each evening and music streamed through the house. I played away my days, swimming, making flower garlands, a perfect imaginative, barefoot Indian Ocean existence. My brother arrived when I was almost three, and together we were blissfully happy. Casting my mind back to early childhood, I understand now why I constantly pick up historic- loops and weave them into my work , I was truly content back then. I experienced love and a wealth of expansive play, smells, colours all of it mashed together, an exotic and richly flavoured soup, boiling at the seams.
When I moved to England, I had no Aya, my safety net was disbanded. I was cast out into this cold , grey land where TV and traffic trudged on relentlessly and freeze-dried ‘Smashed’ potato and fish fingers took the place of exotic crab curry, life appeared dead and drab by comparison. Everything was bland and tasteless. On top of this major shock I started school. I could not read and was clearly way behind, British life was competitive and dull. In order to survive, I would lose myself in music and art and as soon as I could decipher words , poetry and books. My imagination was constantly stoked, my internal world fed by my voracious appetite, I was hungry, I wanted to know everything, feel every emotion, smell and taste it all. I was an outwardly confident child and always had heaps of friends, but I felt deeply unloved, lonely, abandoned and ship-wrecked. My parents were preoccupied by building a life in this new country. They did what they thought best at the time, but they neglected to express love and warmth to each other or us, and this ultimately led to their divorce. So, at this time I began seeking love and comfort in food, my body began expanding. I gradually became morbidly obese by the age of thirty and increasingly immobile, I was unable to live a normal life. I had trapped myself inside a body that was failing me, I was effectively killing myself. After my first child’s birth in New York, I had two extraordinary out of body experiences which completely pivoted my life and so drastic gastric-bypass surgery followed. I lost half my body weight within a year, became pregnant, narrowly missed losing my husband in the 9/11 disaster, moved back to London had another child, underwent bi-lateral knee surgery, learnt to walk again, became pregnant then had my final child having moved house about ten times in three years. I was exhausted, but for the first time ever, running towards myself, running towards my life. I have always painted, taken photographs and written but something drastically changed. The light went on in my head when I switched off my addiction to food. Writing is now a compulsion, a necessity, it’s as simple as that. Each day is like the first, there is so much to say . I have a stories inside me, poems to write, words to share and life is waiting. Lisa Azarmi
Assorted Works by Lisa
Cell Memory by Lisa Azarmi
I was told that
trauma made you forget
the constant vomiting
Memory loss was common
and with high temperatures
it was easy for you to let slip
your first handful of sumptuous hair
lying in the bottom of the bath.
They said it was natural
for you to block your pain
and wipe your bleeding gums
That you tolerated
intolerable mouth ulcers
and your lips cracked beyond repair.
It’s typical (so I’m told)
to still feel an amputated
mammary because the severed
nerve endings pulse and tingle
At night you can be heard,
the unutterable on tongues tip,
a never spoken name
for fear it will return
and solicit cellular compunction
over your rebuilt body
you turn to me and say….
‘I still feel the milk come
down in my missing breast….
memories of nursing, I guess.’
For Doris Mirando-Jelinek
© Lisa Azarmi
Different Flavoured by Lisa Azarmi
He branded her with his gaze.
She stitched through his
skin with hers seaming together
the past, present and future
sewing each patch meticulously
until his body was covered
with different textures , patterns, colours
she pierced through his flesh
and pulled out his heart with her eyes.
He devoured her with his mouth
she was different flavoured
he savoured every last drop of her, ate her up.
She made a meal of herself for him
she marinated her flesh, oiled her skin ,
seasoned and split herself open
braised herself tender and steamed
until she fell off her bones, she parted
her mouth, he sucked her dry.
He pulled her by her roots rolled her over
the edge and nailed her to the floor
she became an assassin to his grinding lust.
Her whispers and bites were love-knots and bullets
her fingers daggers, her legs a vice pulling him
into the toxicity of her sex,
her arms ropes binding him,
her tongue gaffer tape muffling his cries.
In the morning he made her coffee
she complained it was cold and weak
she couldn’t taste the roast, couldn’t feel the wetness
and couldn’t look him in the eyes.
© Lisa Azarmi