Saturday, January 30, 2010

Writer's Block Time!

There are a hundred ideas in my mind. I go to my laptop to vent out and feel lighter. Eyes on the screen, fingers on the keys, wait for it to strike. I scan through the many things I had thought of writing about at different times in the day. It feels like swimming in an ocean. Yet, when I come out of it I have no fish in hand, no one single idea to dwell upon. It’s like being lonely in a crowd; like being in a situation about which Taylor Coleridge said, ‘Water water everywhere nor any drop to drink’.

I think harder which makes things even worse for the harder I think, the more my thoughts get jumbled and more difficult the task becomes. The situation is quite similar to one in which one tries to remember a certain thing which is at the edge of one’s mind but the attempt at recalling pushes it away from the edge. So, knowing the causality, I try not to think and I focus on not thinking anything… don’t think… don’t think… don’t think. Something asks me what not to think and I start telling it all about the ocean of ideas thus defeating the whole purpose of not thinking.

Now, in an attempt to divert myself, I go downstairs sneakily, the time being three in the morning, and stand in front of the fridge hoping to engage in some foody delight. But the writing-ghost apparently is in love with haunting me. The bread reminds of how I could write about poor people starving and us apathetic, selfish people fulfilling our desires indefinitely, my cousin’s leftover bottle of Coke hints me to write on how stupidly we have fallen in love with these intestine-eating, calcium-draining, liver-and-kidney-destroying concoctions, the potatoes and tomatoes in the vegetable box remind me to write that list of dishes I had to compile for my mother which would help her decide what she could cook everyday, the cans of water call me to remind my couple of loyal blog readers to save fresh water reservoirs and just as my sight falls on the cookies there and before they could make me think of eating disorders, I slam the fridge’s door shut and turn to the T.V.

Flipping the channels doesn’t help either. The news channels make me want to rush a post in CAPITAL LETTERS about how they create hype about everything. Big bold letters say ‘News Alert’ making us expect something really important, and are followed by the same old mundane news of how I-don’t-even remember-what happened a minute ago. The music channels make me feel like pulling my hair out and hammering it all down on the keyboard that if one has the capability of analysing trends one might pretty much foresee porn being shown on these channels soon. Before the Indian channels could remind me of how we are totally forgetting all the reasons we call ourselves Muslims and Pakistanis for, I kill the machine and run back upstairs.

Since, my ultimate happy place is my laptop I come back to it like a faithful dog. With myself lying diagonally across the bed, my head resting on my unfolded blanket’s hill and my laptop on my thighs, I come back home to facebook but for some strange reason it doesn’t satisfy me. Yes, I then realize I won’t be at peace until I have fulfilled the writing-ghost’s desire of me writing something a little more mature than a facebook status. So, I here I am writing exactly what a poor writer goes through when going through a block, something that can happen to anyone anytime.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Accidental Life

When I was a kid, in my science class they told me how my forefathers were apes and the world had seemed to grow dark. I always thought of my past as bleak. Now as life moves on, the present seems even worse.
They tell me everything is a product of an accident. A bang echoed in the universe, the earth sprang up. Then came water and with it popped microbes. Microbes evolved into bigger and more intelligent species. The apes entered the scene. And then there came a time when apes turned into human beings one day. And yes, I am one of the grand-grand-grand-daughters of one of these apes who used to pick lice from her daughter’s hair and eat it up. No wonder I get lice in my hair too sometimes…
The thing that has driven me to pen down my feelings is the evilness of this world. Yes, this world, this accidental life that we have is wicked to its core.
Look at me for example. I am obese and mentally slow. My father left my mother when I was 10. The cherry on top of the cake; my mother now has leukaemia; I’ll practically be an orphan in a couple of years. Imagine my emotional and financial future.
Let’s look at another example. It’s this girl in my class, Hania. People think she is hot and she gets the golden academic trophy every year. She has a perfect little family which goes to Europefor vacations twice every year. The cherry on top of the cake; she is ultra rich and will head her father’s textile company pretty soon so she doesn’t have a care in the world about money.
Click on the picture to enlarge it

So, cruel accidental life happened to both of us and for some reason liked her more than me. In the end we will both die and ants will eat our bodies up. Where’s the justice? What? C’mon don’t tell me justice does happen eventually. What about those serial killers who kill hundreds and get to die only once? That’s not justice. What about the great pharaohs who lived on a ‘heaven-on-earth’ by savagely enslaving their people and using them brutally? What about me and Hania? Will I ever be compensated for what I did not have, something Hania had out of no effort of her own?
I feel so pathetic, so sorry for myself and all those to whom accidental life has been cruel. I think the couple of classmates who told me I seemed suicidal were right. I think I am going to escape this unrewarding existence today, why procrastinate? May be I can help a few others in my part of the world too before I go. Hmm… stabbing can be a mess, I don’t think strangling will be easy for me… Ya, I think a bit of chloroform and a pillow to suffocate are the best ingredients. As for me I think I’ll go for slashing of my wrists; hope the pain will cloud my hatred for this horror world as this accidental life of mine drains out of my body.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Numb Reverie

Something… something bit her inside. She couldn’t name it, yet it was there. It used to pop up at totally unexpected times.

It was when all the colours literally burned in her eyes that the sepia-toned-filter turned itself on. The people and things moving around her all turned into an insignificant haze while the tinnitus-like sound in her ear-drums grew louder and louder making the trifling noise around her sound like a hum. The fingers that technically almost froze with the cold felt dead already and the smell of the freshly baked pizzas from the restaurant she passed by did not tease her numb taste buds or her neglected stomach. There was a much more painfully engaging stimulus she was trying to deal with, which was inside her for some odd reason; her emptiness.

Her heart, which otherwise beat lightly against her ribs, turned silent and stone cold, so exceptionally cold that she felt it in spite of the indocile numbness that prevailed over all her senses. The colder it went, the number she got and the number she got, the colder it went and so on till the point that her brisk walk broke into a run. Yes, she ran; that was the only way to feed the thing inside her that fed on cold things; all cold things –cold, physically, emotionally and … she didn’t think more than that. She just knew how to identify cold things instinctively. The run instead of warming off her muscles had the opposite effect for she had deliberately left her coat at home and the ice-cold wind blew even more fiercely almost through her.

She had plenty of time to feed the emptiness; she had left her warm apartment feeling claustrophobic an hour earlier. She ran and ran; the wind blew and blew against her freezing nose, ears and lips; the thing fed on and on. She knew not where she headed towards; just that she never wanted this anaesthetic high to end. Her wish came true exponentially when a sudden downpour began soaking her through and through with ice cold water; what a rush she felt! It was like heaven, or putting it more appropriately, like a cold hell.

Lost though she was in her pathetic reverie, her unconsciousness had steered and brought her towards the doorstep of her office but it couldn’t guide her longer. It couldn’t over power the thing that was still feeding on the rain. So she stood motionless thoughtlessly outside the shed above the huge glass door; running wasn’t increasing the wind’s velocity with the dense rain anyway. Just then she felt something, something otherworldly.

The thing totally changed her perception. It made the thing go away and made her realize the real situation. The revelation sank in gradually; boots filled with rain water –like a boat in a storm – half way up to her shank, fists tightly closed denying to give in to the frost bite, muscles of the entire body stiff, shivering hysterically from head to toe, the thick rain washing her like a car in a car wash and also that the otherworldly thing that had stung her cheek was a tight slap. There, her vision adjusted, came out of the sepia-toned world and saw her friend trying to hold on to her swaying umbrella with a retired expression. ‘Oh!’ was all she managed to mumble and walked past her friend, into the glass door. What followed pushed her into a well full of realization, out of which there was no coming back.

Yes, she was Rapenzel, trapped by loneliness, but there was no prince that would come to the rescue out of the sheer goodness of his heart, fighting against the bramble bushes fate had grown for her and risking his life or in this case his time to climb up the walls around her. Yes, she was Cinderella with sorrow around her but there were no fairy godmothers to depend on. Yes, she was Snow White with evil around her but without a prince with magic lips to kiss the vice away. Yes, she was Fiona, almost ugly (read: not anorexic) but there was no good hearted Shrek. Most importantly, she was she in her own unique world, that life had to go on and that there was no room for lamentation over her who she had imagined to be her prince.

Numb reveries were mocked upon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

When I was a kid, I had a dream... Now I have... reality!

As a child I used to love the tall glass buildings which used to catch fire at sunset. I loved the jet black road on which all those Fords, Corollas and Pajeros used to proudly pounce upon. The toys’ aisle in marts used to be almost heaven and all those chocolates and lollipops that turn your tongue orange could never be enough. Surprisingly, with a little more age and experience fantasies developed even more. The sleek technology of the geeks seemed so cool, clean shaved men with gelled hair, strong colognes and expensive suits represented authority and even success and modern fashionable women symbolized independence and women-empowerment. However, all these perceptions which I now call fantasies have faded away. With a geographical change of my abode changed many things – stimuli, thoughts, notions and the urges to react.

This side of the world which I now am in has taught me a lot. And I am glad I got a chance to see this other world. Had I not seen it, I would’ve kind of lived in an illusion, in a fool’s paradise. Not that I wouldn’t have learnt anything ‘real’ at all on that side but it wouldn’t have been enough to produce a worthy individual. Obviously, a ‘riper’ age played its role as well but without this right kind of exposure age alone would have been nothing.

It all started when I saw this new world for the first time. Looking at such mayhem on the street, it seemed that all the vehicles would crash into our car. But I survived. I survived to see streets that were crowded more by beggars and vendors than by vehicles; I survived to see walls whose not even inches were spared by political graffitists, to see minors who didn’t look like children of my ‘pretty’ world at all. I survived to breathe in such polluted air that made me choke and wonder if I really could survive. Hardly, did I think that I had just begun living in the truest sense of the word.

As I saw more and more of this world, I realized that it was a practical example of the universal gravitational force – a force that attracts all the beings and things of the universe – and the thought of our interconnectedness and interdependence hit me really hard. Seeing extremely diverse elements operating so closely was seeing nothing less than a wonder, yet a sad sight. Seeing how even the city’s top elites couldn’t totally prevent themselves from bearing the ugly sights of handicapped and ‘burnt’ beggars, was something very surprising for me, someone who came from a place where there weren’t any beggars at all. Yet the fact that these elites were as indifferent to these ‘other’ social elements as a crocodile would be to broccoli, make me wonder the sources of the inhuman ‘indifferent-ness’ that prevails within us today. Just a chapter from a book of economics or sociology or even just a couple of hours of meditation is enough to make us realize how badly interconnected and interdependent we are. Yet some manage to believe that others depend more on them than they do on others, that they have the rightful privilege to employ hundreds of workers and be the ‘gods’ of their families dismissing the thought that without these ‘worshippers’ there would be no perfectly tailored Prada to boast of, no skyscrapers to wonder at and not even mineral water to drink. In fact, without these ‘worshippers’ the ‘gods’ will be left by themselves. After all we are nothing but mere players in a game of relativity.

I, at the age of nineteen have realized pretty much that I depend on millions of humans living across the globe. The water I drink, reaches after thousands have touched it, the staple items I eat, have been worked upon by thousands again, the sweaters I wear sweat hundreds of farmers, weavers, designers, tailors, distributors and salesmen before warming me and so on. I also realize that I am connected to millions in different ways. We all breathe the same air and the same sun shines on us. Sadly, not many ‘privileged’ people would love to acknowledge that. For many, as they believe, life is all about their cosy homes, the ‘best’ institutes or clubs they attend or corporations they work for and the couple of exotic locations they go to for vacations every year. I randomly asked a twenty-year-old what he thought life was all about and got ‘Life is all about style.’ as the answer. I asked another college mate what her aim in life was. She said that she wanted to be the best at whatever she did. The point here I am trying to make is that ‘privileged’ people especially in my surroundings tend to be insular. Such is the intensity of this insularity that nothing at all is visible beyond the comfort and glamour of life. Let’s see an example. Economists, whose sole purpose is to advise the government so as to improve living standards of the humans in that particular country are already guaranteed all the money that could buy them scrumptious meals, heavenly homes and luxurious cars. Can such people empathize with the common man? It’s not their fault; it’s their choice of surroundings’. Just as I would have been one of the most insular creatures, had I lived in that pretty world forever, it’s not a wonder that elites in my society too are indifferent. The only difference between them and my old self is that these people do get to see glances of the ugly scenes around them, whereas, I had not had even the remotest idea of the existence of such things.

Talking of insularity, I must say there are two kinds of factors that lead to it; optional and unavoidable ones. I’ll take the example of a conversation with an ex-college-mate of mine to explain this. This girl used to drop me home on her way back from college. Once, we stopped at a signal and a beggar came across asking for alms. And she almost jerked the lady off by saying that instead of begging she should ‘work hard’ and rightfully earn her living. Turning back to me she said out of sheer contempt that these beggars did nothing other than feeding on what others earned. And I couldn’t agree more with her, at least till then. Today, when I reflect on these beggars and other economically less privileged people I see nothing but our own faults mocking back at us. Imagine, you are born in a family which practically lives on the street. Your father is a drug addict and your mother has five other siblings of yours along with you to take care of. And all she can do is begging on the streets because no one would allow her to work at their place if she brought all her children along. She can’t let you all out of sight either because you are just three and your younger brother’s one. So having nothing to do on the streets and nothing to eat either, you start begging, which by the way isn’t a wonderful job. Most of the time people take their frustrations out on you even before you could do something. Even worse is when they just pretend that you don’t exist. This is when you really wonder what your fault was that made you so unlike those beings sitting in those warm cars while your fingertips and nose are freezing. You desirously look at the infants who are wrapped up in quilts while your scantily dressed younger brother is sick in the biting cold. Now, had I not seen such elements in my society, my insular attitude towards them elsewhere would have been of the first kind which I earlier mentioned, that is unavoidable. However, people who regularly are exposed to such things and yet do not dwell for a moment on how they play a role in making the lives of such elements miserable are what I call insular by choice.

Many would have flipped the page, rolled their eyes over or activated their defence mechanisms by now expecting me to call them for social volunteer work. Well, actually I am not. What I am saying here is that we are humans, brought in being by the same Creator, who has assigned certain responsibilities to all of us. Unfortunately, we try to adopt an ‘escapist’ genre of life. We are so lost in our careers, parties, looks and properties that honestly, we give don’t give even a damn how we achieve these things and what the effects are on the less privileged side of the society. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favour of abandoning these gifts of Allah. It’s just that there is a way of enjoying His bounties.

The way, are you asking me what it is? Well, it’s all written in a book that we have carefully kept on the top of our bookshelves. So high a place it is kept in, out of reverence that it has vanished from our sights and thus, has been banished from our minds.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Story of Hee and Shee

This is the story of Hee and Shee or Shee and Hee (scared of feminists I am at times :P).

Well, when Hee was a kid he liked toy guns and dinky cars and dad used to bring one whole pack of dinkies so that he didn’t have to buy them over and over again after Hee disintegrated –one dinky each day –the parts to see what was inside. Also, Hee collected trash dad threw away in the garbage can to get ‘spare parts’ out of them and ‘invent’ things. Sadly even though the interior of all the dinkies was the same Hee would still disintegrate them and no matter how much ‘useful trash’ he discovered, he wanted more; it would never be enough for his fantasies.

And when Shee was a kid, she loved kitchen sets, empty cosmetic kits, and dolls and mom used to bring one doll on each of her birthdays and on special occasions. She kept them in a special shelf and collected all the cloth left over after mom’s sewing to make dresses for her dolls. She also loved collecting things labelled trash by mom to make temporary homes for her dolls for her play sessions. Sadly, no matter how many dolls, left over cloth and trash would be there in her shelf, she’d still collect more and more; it would never be enough for her fantasies.

When Hee grew up he got popular with his buddies and they loved going out at night playing night matches, falling asleep somewhere in their cars for a few hours and then getting up early to watch the sun rise by the seaside enjoying the blissfully silent company of each other. Hee also liked taking short trips to his virtual fantasy land – stuff like GTA and CounterStrike seemed so cool with those shiny cars and shiny guns and yeah off course shiny plastic girls too.

And when Shee grew up she got popular with her ‘fairy-club’-friends and they loved sleeping over at each others places. Shee and her friends would stay up late cosily cuddled in their blankets and go on about things such as how to make the tastiest pizza with the least carbs. Shee also liked reading the Twilight Saga and watching Pride and Prejudice (1995) over and over again hoping to miraculously run into a Darcy or Edward in real life.

Then there came a time when two fat aunties who met each other at a painting exhibition decided to get their kids married to each other. Yeah, you guessed it right they were Shee’s and Hee’s moms.

So Shee and Hee were made to see and meet each other. And apparently they found themselves in luuurve with each other after the very first. They thought they had found exactly what they had been searching for.

After a couple of years, they were like strangers. They had been wronged –by their own selves. They had married the wrong person –some one not at all according to their ‘dreams’.

Actually Hee was nothing like the heroes that Shee had dreamed of; he couldn’t be caring, loving, romantic or even tidy enough (the benchmark being Edward!). In fact, he wasn’t even an average husband, let alone a lover. (PS. Husbands are exponential times boring versions of lovers; so she thought)

On the other hand Hee found out marriage something wasn’t he wanted to commit himself in the first place, let alone the fact that his wife was no where near the ‘hot-babes’ he saw while playing his adrenaline-rush-inducing games such as Tomb Raider and Duke Nukem:Planet of the babes.

They lived not really happily ever after just as many husbands and wives had done in the past fantasizing about two worlds which were poles apart from each other. In fact they never believed that an ever after was even something they were looking forward too.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Bubble

The world is a bubble with millions of bubbles within it – a small portion of which is visible, the rest all virtual. But I don’t plan to write about the bigger bubbles now but the one small one to which I have kind of confined myself to –my bubble.

Heuristically thinking, I always found myself a ‘good’ person who thought well, who wanted to do something for the kids forced into beggary by mafias, women abused by their in-laws, kids rotting in juvenile jails for the slightest of crimes, uneducated masses in our country, etc. I always had a strong self-esteem which made me like myself by telling me that I am an educated, informed and mentally healthy individual, hence a responsible citizen as well who contributed positively to the society. But it seems that I should be getting my assumption rechecked –the assumption that being educated, informed and healthy made me a responsible citizen who contributed positively to the society.

Now, trying to think of things objectively rather than heuristically, I shall very honestly write about what I do on a typical day, which indeed is an embarrassing thing to do, yet I shall. Better out than in.

Wake up in the morning or rather fifteen minutes from the time I should be leaving for college at, fail to get ready in those fifteen minutes and leave ten minutes late, get ten minutes late to class everyday (all the teachers for the first period this semester are lenient), spend the class hours listening well mostly, crave for the bell to ring, leave as soon as it does, get home at 1.30 , get to the laptop, give it some time, - some meaning a couple of hours, say zuhr, get back to the laptop, eat food at five watching something the laptop shows, say asr and then maghrib closely, get back to the lappy, eat dinner, say isha, sleep with my best friend –my lappy. These were the typical days. Things I do other than usual are playing with my cousin’s kids on Fridays till 8 after coming from IBA, doing assignments early in the morning, the day they are to be submitted, writing my diary, acting on impulses –such as cooking a new weird dish, taking a shot of something boringly ordinary for others with my camera and then transforming it to something worth looking at (not always successfully though), doing a Dars for kids at Sundays, doing Iqra work, visiting my mom for the day eventually doing nothing at all, all the while I am there, sketching and I don’t think I should mention things I do once or twice a year like cleaning my cupboard or serving the guests.

So, that’s about it. It took me twenty years on this planet to realize that just being an ‘educated’ citizen doesn’t make me a responsible individual –it only stops me from doing bad which I am not supposed to do in the first place. Responsible people, I think, are people who go out of their way to contribute to the society and lend the needy a helping hand. Yes, there are famous people like Abdul Sattaar Edhi and Dr. Adeeb Rizvi who have devoted their entire lives for a cause, yet there are others, not so famous ones, who lack the same capacity, power or motivation to do so and yet they donate parts of their lives – a couple of days, hours, at times only a few minutes for others because they believe they CAN bring about a change, irrespective of the magnitude of their contribution.

Our country is deep in crisis today –crisis of mind, body, soul and almost everything. May be the crisis is real or may be just an illusion but it is affecting us in a way we certainly do not want it to. And I know only one thing, when such a misbalance in a society exists, apathy hurts more than anything else and that the left scale that has so badly gone down can only come up if apathetic young minds, such as mine, wake up and at least try checking out how stepping into the right scale feels like.


Once when I was 10, I went to this hospital where the lights were pretty dim and nana wouldn’t let me read the Sherlock Holmes book I had brought with me. I was pretty bored and the book was exciting, so I just peeped in every now and then. And how blissful it felt, just to forget everything around you and just be in the world of the author. To forget the bully at your school, the friend who you just found out to be your backstabber, the parents who fight every other day and make your home hell, the teacher who beats you just to let her frustration out because her husband dislikes her because of the big mole on her lips.

Today, I am 20, I don’t carry my books with me and I don’t care about the lights being dim either. I have a magic thing in my pocket, actually in my hand most of the time. It’s smaller and lighter than my Sherlock Holmes book and even more magical… or so I have begun to think. It’s what people call a cell phone… or a mobile. I love my mobile more than any other of my possessions not because it’s cute or expensive but because of what it gives me 24/7 –it never lets me be alone. Hold on! oO... *Realization strikes*

Yes, it never lets me be alone in all senses possible. Everybody in the entire world has every right in the universe to inform me about things I wouldn’t wish to know about at that particular moment. Such as a teacher who upon getting an academic rush upon his clock striking 12 at night passes it down to the CR who delights us with the news of a quiz the very next day… hellO!

Second, it makes me an utterly irresponsible person in people’s sight if I don’t reply to their messages within an hour or so –‘wow, that was a quick reply’ is the sarcasm-filled response I get from people I reply to an hour later just because I fell asleep replying to their last message which inflicted me with utter boredom by its lameness. And man, I think I have much better things to do than to clutch that small black box like a kid who holds on to his teddy bear at moments of insecurity.

Third, it nullifies the whole purpose of a time-out kind of thing. E.g. I go get locked in my room to ‘get some fresh air’, after a while someone knocks, I ignore, pretending to be asleep, after a minute my cell rings –wth! What did u say; I should have turned it off before? Err, I don’t think I can use the same excuse of the battery running out or the phone being on silent every time!

Off course, the littler the little black box gets, the cooler it seems however, I think the cooler we think the box to be, the less cooler our lives become for various reasons, a tiny number of which I just mentioned above.

Indeed, it turns out to be a super saviour at many a needy times –I bet you can remember a dozen of them right now –when the little black box comes to the rescue but I think we need to rescue ourselves from depending a little too much upon its-little-black-boxness.