Stories published in November, 2014

Our honour was saved

I am a woman, But you could give me any name.   I am Bhavna; They named me desire. How ironic! Small desires I had, Sipping some wine and Seeing a beach. My love became my bane My rebellion, my curse. I challenged their honour So, something had to be done. They strangled my wishes And cremated my dreams.   I am Farzana; I carved a life And fought for it. They pelted my choice, They battered my soul, Their honour survived But my baby died.   I am the letter peeping through brackets; Reported often in the news, Shrouded in sheen, meem, kaaf, My story ensues.   I am the nanhi kali violated; They talk about in the news, My name is hushed, My identity draped, But we must thank our lucky stars, Our honour is ...

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Govinda giving us a ‘Happy Ending’

Saif Ali Khan’s re-entry was a success back in the early 2000s. The hero who had fallen flat in the 90s was seen in a completely new light in movies like Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, Dil Chahta Hai, Hum Tum, Salam Namaste, Kal Ho Na Ho, Race and Love Aaj Kal etcetera. And in movies like Omkara and the likes, he overshadowed anyone else who may have been in the film with him.  Unfortunately, nowadays I feel Saif Ali Khan’s performance is a bleak reminder of the hero he was in the 90s – none of the movies he is doing have any nostalgic value or cinematic value nor ...

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The Nawaz Sharif and Model Town Lahore that I remember

The past is another country and my almost dementia-inflicted mind often fails me when faced with challenges of recalling timelines. I think it was back in the late 80s when my family and I moved to Model Town, a Lahore suburb and a remnant of the British Raj. Model Town was a classic, green and well-planned community that took pride in being a self-sustained and resident-funded operation. At the time we moved to Lahore, we were not too familiar with Punjab, its politics or even our surroundings. Across from our house was a nicely paved, lush green, linear patch, informally ...

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Racism, Islamophobia and… steno-typists?

We’ve all read reports of the Belgian police (mis)identifying a Pakistani man as a terrorist. They thought his cricket bat (wrapped in a t-shirt to protect it from rain) was a rifle. The news was followed by reports that the Pakistani embassy in Belgium has sacked the young man’s father for damaging Pakistan’s reputation. The foreign office issued a prompt denial: “Muhammad Tufail Abbasi, steno typist in the commercial section in the Embassy of Pakistan, Brussels, has been transferred back to the headquarters by the Ministry of Commerce on completion of his four year tenure.” Ridiculous, right? Now let’s talk about something even more ridiculous about ...

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Living in the era of Lionel Messi

It seems almost superlative now to add to the tally of articles and tributes that have rained down on the diminutive Argentinian since last Saturday. However, acknowledging the unlikelihood that any of us will witness the level of skill, precision and magic that he has brought to us in our generation again, I suppose ‘enough’ could never be said. In a week dominated by headlines that Lionel Messi, despite his contract tying him to Barcelona till 2019, was “unhappy” with the club, he went back to doing what he does best against an excellent Sevilla outfit. He scored a hatrick; displaying each of the attributes previously ...

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The colours of Kashmir

The harud (autumn) is when the hustle and bustle in Kashmir villages begin with the season of harvest. The green turns to gold and then to russet and red; leaves fall to melodious cracking sounds under the feet of passers-by beneath the shades of the Chinar (maple) trees. Autumn, the indication of a long winter season in Kashmir, is marked by a crimson yellow on the Chinar trees. In Kashmir, the season in September, October and November can be dry, wet or windy. With the decrease in temperature, it’s the season when the maple trees turn into bonfires and leaves start falling from them. [caption id="" align="alignnone" ...

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A lethal weapon or a regular red leather ball?

Cricket, the gentleman’s game, has seen so many changes since its inception, from coloured kits to batting power-plays, from mongoose bats to LED stumps, but one thing that has remained unchanged over these years is the hard, solid, weighing 5 3/4 ounce red cherry – the cricket leather ball. And once again, the hard round ball has delivered a fatal blow which has plunged the cricketing fraternity into darkness and has also raised a question on the safety of the cricket ball. Once again it has been proved that it will hit harder than the stroke of any bat – the ...

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Confessions of a comment moderator at The Express Tribune’s blogs page

The first time I moderated comments, for the blogs section of The Express Tribune, I learnt a sad truth; people have unabashed hatred for one another. I couldn’t believe until I saw it myself. Perhaps I was living in a bubble, I thought we had come a long way from partition and that Pakistanis and Indians had learnt to coexist. I didn’t think that Muslims and Hindus cringed at the very mention of the other. It wasn’t long before, I started moderating comments flooding in from around the world and, my idealistic bubble burst. Our blog readers belong to the educated class. ...

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The ‘missing’ person in Balochistan – A Chief Minister who is willing to step up

After the general elections of May 2013, there were high expectations from Balochistan’s first middle-income group chief minister, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. It was perceived that he would take serious and effective steps to address the frustration and deprivation felt by the Baloch people in their insurgency-marred province. But nothing has been done so far. The climate of enforced disappearances and discoveries of bullet-riddled bodies still continue with a great deal of impunity. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a human rights group seeking the recovery of missing persons in Balochistan, reports that the number of missing persons is higher than 18,000 ...

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Will Islam be judged if Aasia Bibi is executed?

Aasia Bibi, mother of five, sits in prison hoping one last appeal will save her from death row. If she is executed, as with the lynching of Shahzad and Shama Masih and the assassination of Salman Taseer, Islam will be judged. In such cases involving religion, to believe that ‘all of’ or ‘none of’ Islam supports blasphemy laws or the ideology of the Taliban, Daesh, Boko Haram, etcetera, suggests intellectual laziness at best and bigotry at worst. But it’s reasonable to examine some of Islam. The questions become those of quantification – how many Muslims subscribe to blasphemy laws, honour killings, suicide bombings, and ...

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