Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Their Conspiracy Theories

I move around in very different parts of the society, two of which are relevant here; one in which adults and youngsters alike sit glued in front of the television, hypnotically depressed by the pessimism of conspiracy theorists who tell them how certain ‘secret groups’ consisting of the most influential individuals in the world control their lives directly or indirectly, and the other in which both adults and youngsters alike deny the very existence of these ‘secret groups’ and ridicule the extent to which the former group blames external factors for all that is going wrong in their lives.

Neither am I calling the Rothchilds, the Zionists or the Jews nor the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or any other particular group conspirers. I am only talking about the believers and the deniers here.

The believers think that their enemy has such supreme power that none is more powerful, influential and dominant than it is and that that they themselves can not do anything to save themselves from the fate their enemy has designed from them. They think that watching TV programmes about conspiracy theories and attributing their failures to different external factors is all that can be done.

On the other hand, the deniers not only disbelieve that their failures to some extent are a function of their enemies’ plans but also deny the very existences of such foes. They think that their being flawed as individual citizens and as a nation on the whole is nothing but a result of merely their own flaws.

Who are you?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Young World - My Old Love

Back in the good ol’ school days when life was saner, I had a friend which made Saturday the best day of my week –my Young World. I would wait for it week long and spring out of bed early on Saturday mornings unable to contain my excitement.

Actually back then, I was a good studious girl, meaning no TV allowed for more than half an hour, no story books for more than an hour, no drawing, painting, arts stuff except for weekends, not even helping mama at kitchen stuff!. The only thing I could do was study ( that being the first priority ) , eat or sleep. No, I am not exaggerating.

And what I was allowed to read as extra-curricular stuff everyday was Dawn’s editorial. All those letters published, except sometimes one or two, used be utterly boring to me back then. So I never read them unless my nana forced me to :( While, Young World, my handsome prince, was all yum yum! It was something I was allowed to spend time with as much as I wanted.

It had almost all the things that could cheer a teenager up with a monotonous routine.

  • The comic section –Archie, Heathcliff, Big Nate…lovely colours, what a break!

  • ‘Did-you-Know?’ boxes –wildlife, geography, architecture and what not…I would read them out to my mom.

  • The review – new movies, games, websites, storybooks… Just reading them used to be almost as good as experiencing them in real life.

  • Mailbox –kids of my age talking to the editor about random stuff…

  • Super Sis! – kids troubled with their love lives, kids troubled with their growing bodies, kids troubled with their academics…

  • Cover story & Country Hopping –got interested in it quite after sometime…

  • Pen Pals – people actually used to put their email addresses down in that section and introduce themselves a bit to make ‘pen pals’ with the readers. Later on, the section was discontinued with; you can guess why.

And there used to be so much more … beauty tips, interviews, event coverage, etc.

But I would give up all of the above for my two dearest sections: Story Time and Poets’ Corner. I would save them for the last. Once I used to be done clean-sweeping the whole issue I would go to my bed, curl up in a ball and read first the poems and then the stories to myself.

Last of all, I used to feel ecstatic when my entries used to get published! Just poems and letters to the editor… I just photographed my entries before the issues wear away. Here are some of them…

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tick Tock Tick T...

Adil studied Business Law all semester exceptionally hard. He topped both the mid terms, passed his quizzes and assignments with flying colours and was all set for an ‘A’. Today, the final exam day, he wakes up in his bed and his yawn turns into a piercing shriek. He finds out that he has overslept and missed his final exam! Imagine his state.

Hareem took her 4-year-old cousin to the shopping mall and left her with the salesman for a minute while she tried out a pair of drainpipe-jeans in the trial room. When she came back both the salesman and her cousin were nowhere to be found. She can now do nothing but sob.

Ali was crossing the road in a hurry to catch the IBA point. His cell phone rang, he lost his concentration for a split second and … *HIT*. His parents call that split second back everyday but in vain.

Time is time. Whether it is an hour, a minute or a split second, its value is immeasurable, unquantifiable, inexplicable and undeniable. They say time is money, I say it would be ridiculous to even attempt to compare something as infinitely valuable with something as limited as money. Can that split second Ali lost his life in be ever evaluated?

If time is not just money, what is it? Being humans and therefore bearing an erring nature we can not solve this mystery ourselves. Hence, we recall what our Creator has told us. He said,

“By the time, verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and in the mutual enjoining of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.”- Surah Al Asr

Hence, time for us is the only chance to save ourselves from being among the ‘men in loss’. Furthermore, we have to use it the right way. Surah Al Asr tells us that we should use our time to work upon our faith in the Creator who cares for every single cell that we are made up of instead of staying up all night long playing games, to apply Islam to our lives the Kaizen* way instead of wasting our precious hours sleeping till two in the afternoon, to spread the truth ( after having acquired it ourselves off course) instead of endlessly delving ourselves deep in frivolity that gives us neither worldly nor spiritual gain and along with these efforts to practice patience in the face of hardships instead of resorting to vailing, complaining and therefore ending up neutralising the thawaab earned earlier.

If a certain act does not fit in one of the four categories – faith, good deeds, truth and patience –then we are clearly killing time and therefore putting our whole eternity at stake. Remember, we are immortals!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Boo and Loo - The Two beggars

Boo was a 10 year old kid. He was kidnapped at the age of six, his left arm was amputated and he was forced into beggary by the biggest mafia in the city.

Every morning he is woken up early by the supervisor of his gang of fellow beggar-kids. They are given half a ‘bhusi-tukray-wali-roti’ each and driven to Pity Road’s signal where they all beg. Now, Boo’s specialty is not his arm-less-ness but his facial expressions. No, they are not fake. They are a combination of real hunger, fear and desperation. Hunger because he hasn’t had a stomach full of food since he doesn’t remember when; fear because failure to the bring back home two hundred rupees a day results in a half an hour long session of caning on his back by his supervisor; desperation because he thinks that the people in those fancy cars are so rich that a ten rupee note would be nothing for them and that they should give him one already.

Most of the time people just ignore him and move on; however, Pity Road is a good place for Boo because almost everyday he comes across a few drivers at the signal who take pity on him so much that they give him a twenty rupee note in a go. Yes, rare luck he has got. Anyway, it ends up in the pocket of the mafia’s head, Mr. Gutter.


Loo is a ten year old kid too. His father died when he was six and that was when his mother was kicked out of the house by her in-laws. They forcibly kept Loo with themselves and made him work all day long. But more than even missing his mother he felt worse about something that happened every night when he went to bed with his unmarried uncle. He had no name for it but he knew it was something very wrong; even the thought of it during the day made him sweat badly.

One night, almost a year after his father’s death, he was awoken by someone pulling his hair. It was not his uncle – he was snoring as hard as everyday –but someone else. He looked up and saw; it was a woman’s hand coming from the window directly above the bed. Soon enough he realized it; it was his mother’s hand! In a thunder he stood up on the bed to see his mother face to face. It was the best moment of his life. She was back, his mother; his loving, caring, sacrificing mother; his only friend in the entire world. She reached out to him and pulled him out of the window that opened towards the main road. Off they ran. They hid, they travelled, they did everything that could take them farther from that house. Later on, they settled at the outskirts of the city. His mother became a maasi and Loo went along with her house to house as a helping hand.

Today, three years later, his mother falls severely ill. She has a high fever. She has had it for a few days and it has kept increasing. Loo goes to the neighbourhood’s doctor, explains his mother’s condition and exchanges a hundred rupee note for a prescription. The doctor tells him that she should immediately be treated or it will be too late while the pharmacist asks him to get seven hundred rupees first to get the drugs. Seven hundred rupees! It is the last day of the month and the hundred rupees he paid the doctor with was all that was there in his mother’s gullak. He runs off to the aunties whom his mother works for but they shoo him off and scold him for not turning up for the past couple of days. He goes to his neighbours but they turnout to be almost as penniless as himself.

He feels the same emotions as Boo’s –hunger, fear and desperation –just in a different way. Hunger for something as essential as medicine for his mother; fear that failure to get the medicine might result in something he can not bare to imagine; desperation because time is running out with each breath. These emotions lead him to Damn Road’s signal, somewhere his father had once given fifty rupees to a beggar just because the beggar had told him how sick his mother was and that he needed money for her drugs.

He stands there at the signal. Each time the cars stop he begs by them. Hours and hours pass but he doesn’t come across one pitying person. Tears well up in his eyes, his mind panics and his body grows numb. The signal stops again. He goes to this really big car and tries his luck for the umpteenth time. The posh-looking man on the driver’s seat ignores him and starts talking to the lady on the passenger seat. Loo notices it’s him he is talking about. The man tells the woman how these professional beggars are controlled by mafias and that giving them alms is like a crime in itself. Loo turns back to him and tells him how he is not a professional, showing him the prescription slip. The man says the slip proves his being a professional even more.

Loo comes back home empty handed to find his life too has gone empty forever.

I wish there was a tool I could use to recognize Boos and Loos at the signals I stop at.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


The golden sand dunes are all around me, hills and hills of them, as far as my sight can reach. I can see it, smell it and even feel it. It’s in my shoes, my hair and even a bit between my teeth. Wondering specifically what it is that makes me feel like getting lost in the grandeur of the desert, I walk on and on and completely lose track of time. With each step, my feet sink into the sand leaving their deep marks behind. Up and down, many a hill I cross.

After I don’t know how many hours when I do wake up, I fail to find the mighty gold sun on my head and the pale cloudless sky above the hills. Instead I see the sky a deep indigo at the eastern end of the horizon and peach-pink at the western one where the reddish-orange sun is about to completely set. The hot humid air that beat cruelly against my skin at noon is at peace with the desert now. As it grows darker, a few tiny specs of light come to life at some distance.

I move in the direction of the light. As I move on more, the handful of specs grows into a huge pool; a whole city is out there. I can now see it because the hills have flattened out into a sandy plain and ceased to be an obstacle in the view. I grow nearer to it and the air starts smelling of baked bread; there is life in a desert too.

- Part 1.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Fell Ill & Felt Awesome!

Though it is hurting a little typing with a cannula stuck in a vein in my left hand, I think it is worth recording the awesome-ness I have been through in these two days of sickness before it fades away. No, I am not being sarcastic.

It all began on 30th of January with the daawat at our place. I spent the following night expecting the discomfort, a little bit of rumbling in my stomach, to go away on its own but my expectations crashed the next morning. Whether it was the sheermaal, the cake or the baklaawaa that caused it, I don’t know; but what followed was clearly identifiable.

I was sick, terribly sick with food poisoning. All the minerals had drained out of my body and I was alone upstairs in my bed, too meek even to call my nani or masi downstairs. So, dear cell phone came to the rescue, as it had countless other times. I called my mom instead ( I have been living with my nani for over a year and my mom lives a three-minute-walk away ) because it’s easier to explain her things especially when you don’t have much energy to spare. Then, she called up my nani and I was sent breakfast upstairs. Too weak to wake up and brush up my teeth and too disgusted to eat the breakfast without doing so, I fell asleep again trying to get myself out of the bed.

The next time I woke up, the clock told me it was six in the evening. I saw my breakfast, marie biscuits and a glass of ORS, still lying there. I seriously needed help. Coincidentally, my nani, who was out of the house all the while, came to check on me that very instant. The next thing I knew; I was being taken to the hospital. Dearest nana, who is over eighty, drove me to a nearby clinic. I got a drip for a couple of hours on the clinic’s bed with my mother and nani taking turns being with me.

Objectively speaking, they weren’t actually doing anything to me to make me feel better but their presence… that’s something I can’t explain. Just then, I remembered a friend whose mother had passed away when she was 14 and imagined how I would have felt if I didn’t have a mother who could be with me when I was sick, who would comfort me when the nurse injected the drip in my vein, who could engage me in random talk to distract me from pain. More than I was feeling sick, I felt depressed at the thought. Right now too, it pains me to imagine how my friend must feel at such times.

I came back home, my mother helped me go to the restroom, with the cannula still stuck in my vein for future drips. She made me khichdi and laid my bed in the drawing room so that my nani could check on me every now and then. She sorted out the many pills the doctor had prescribed and wrote the directions for me to follow. She even watched a part of the show at DawnNews which I badly wanted to see and then left for her home just before midnight.

The next day, a Monday, a working day, was even more awesome because I even got to miss IBA and that too without using an absence! My mother brought me a nurse at home to fix me a drip from the railing of my curtains. She gave me khichdi again and set off for her job. Three hours later she left the kids at her tuition centre and brought another nurse to remove the drip. Yes, my mom’s a super mom. Then I watched The Addam’s Family and Facebooked a lot. For some strange reason, I felt like a second grader who had skipped school after pretending to be sick and was enjoying the day with Cartoon Network.

The day turned out to be even more awesome when I found out that all my classmates had ended up doing nothing at university because the campus portal wasn’t working and that disabled them from doing what they were supposed to do; registering themselves in courses of their choices for the current semester. Lucky I had got to be in bed with my supermom’s lovely love, tasty khichdi and later at night a burger, The Addam’s Family and hours of Facebooking and intermittent sleeping.

Few in this world have been blessed so much.