I could smell it, I could breathe it – Pakistan was near

It was very chilly for an August night. The moon played hide and seek behind pregnant clouds of white and grey but the winds were strong and the clouds did not stay above us for too long. We had travelled nights like these before and swayed many times during the course of the journey, but it had led us here and we were close. The town we had stopped in was unknown. It once had a name but it had long been abandoned when the news of Partition circled the country. They were smart people or maybe superstitious for no one really ...

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The runaway bride

A thousand stars glittered in the charcoal black sky. They were magnificent, almost magical. Rani loved the stars, the sky and the night. Every night she would wondrously gaze up at the sky and try to count the stars as they endlessly spread into the deep velvet of the night. But tonight was even better, mostly, different. It wasn’t usual for girls to sit outside a train station in their bridal gowns and stare into the endlessly starry sky. But Rani’s life had always been different and she made a bride the same way too – a different bride, a ‘runaway’ ...

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Wait for me… till then, the heart of Lahore will keep you safe

*Breaking news flashes* Nine people killed in Lahore. *Five minutes later* Fifteen people killed in Lahore. *Five minutes later* Twenty-two people killed in Lahore. *Five minutes later* Twenty-six people killed in Lahore. Twenty-six lives. 26 innocent lives. 26 families. 26 sets of dreams. 26 sets of memories. 26 sets of wishes. All gone, just gone. Washed away with a hose, left to dry and soaked by the heart of Lahore. Lahore, the city of bright colours, hungrily feeds on the blood of the dead, fearing the precious minutes to be over before this blood becomes food for the heartless. When the domino effect starts and these 26 set of dreams just become a mere number, ...

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You should expect nothing

There are days of glee and sorrow, There are days of wonder and freight, There are days of worry, insecurity — Thoughts that you’ve been victimised. There are protruding, menacing, cutting eyes, Staring. They watch your every move. It’s not some higher power or satan or big brother, It’s just all the people who expect something from you. And the days will pass you by. You will find new shores and highways. You will look beyond the roofs of Karachi, and the markets of Lahore. You will breathe in the stink of cities, leaving the Big Apple behind. You will see the world — not really, But it will be enough. They will wonder where you’ve gone, maybe they really do ...

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Who else could have done it, if not Pakistan?

An ode to champions, led by Sarfraz, Laid rest to the ghosts of Wasim’s past. Touted as underdogs, destined to fail, Emerged as cornered tigers, which the world came to hail. Battered and bruised, against archest of rivals, They pulled off cricket’s most stunning revival. The wit of Imad, the guile of Hassan, Saw them past the opposition ranked number one. Nostalgia, followed by out-pacing Sri Lanka, Do spare a thought for unlucky Malinga. Up against England, the favourites by far, Who dared to bowl short to Fakhar Zaman. Steered by Hassan’s middle overs mayhem, The hosts were schooled, like boys against men. Three in a row, meant a place in the final, A clash against India, to complete the spiral. A pint of momentum, ...

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O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more

O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more. The men with daggers for hearts walk the blood-soaked streets free and alive, With eyes colder than the Kashmir winds and veins warmer than Thar, they thrive, And all your children can do is close their eyes as the blood seeps into the roots, and from society, they drive. The women afraid of walking into the vegetable store, of all ages, Succumbing to the prying eyes, the filth that lay within the savages, They yell and scream, yell and scream, into the newspaper pages, And all your children can do is turn it over as a mere casualty in the inevitable collateral damages, O’ ...

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She was never little miss sunshine

She sat there staring outside her balcony, watching the heavy, thunderous downpour tear its way through the dark clouds and fall to the ground, like it was the last time it was falling. She realised how it was a metaphor of her own life – a life so full of passion and rigour, but slowly dying down – phasing out into the everyday nothingness. It’s not like she suffered through depression or some mental disorder or experienced anxiety attacks every now and then. She was an average, 30-year-old struggling to get by, just like many other 30-year-olds who had started off with big hopes and dreams to fulfil and life ...

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“It’s Chand Raat. He would want to be with family”

He looked again at the big slab of ice, big no longer. It had melted here and there, there and here. There was the memory of ice spread across the table. In zig zag lines, in the air around the table. In the future that was taking a leap into the past. Sometimes he thought his business was not really selling ice but buying time. And the sun was the vendor. The greater the sun’s heat, more the customers, but also greater the probability of the ice melting. Profit, loss. Loss, profit. On the hottest days, people flocked to him and in Ramazan, he naturally became the most important person. For those few hours, at least. He could ...

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From the diary of a cup of tea

Yes. Yes, it’s me, the cup of tea you never knew could have feelings right? But my head is so full of thoughts, God! (Yes, I’m not an atheist). It’s actually steaming. Glad I found this page to spill my thoughts over. It’s Ramazan and everyone has been craving me. Luckily, I find some peace from sehri till iftar. Phew! I need no introduction per se. I’m the most widely consumed and Pakistan’s most loved beverage (for any objections, see me after sehri time please). 99% of the time when the Pakistani populace consumes a hot caffeinated beverage, it’s me (it’s a Euromonitor International statistic) and the annual ...

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The midwife of Delhi

The Quran has acknowledged the existence of djinn, but the proliferation of stories revolving around these creatures of fire often delves into the realm of horror. In 19th century Delhi, to counteract children’s perceptions of djinns as fearful creatures, city elders recounted folk tales recounting the kindness and generosity of the djinn in order to remind children that djinn, just like any of Allah’s creatures, could be good and bad. What was important were one’s own actions, good deeds were rewarded, and pleasing a creature of Allah was equivalent to pleasing Allah Himself. Long ago, back when Delhi was a quiet city with horse carriages dotting the ...

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