Stories about death

Series 6 Was I a threat? Part 2 ‘Red candies’

“May I come in, Taya Abba?” Saira had somehow dragged herself to his house. Her dislike for him had turned into hatred ever since he made her quit school. She even hated staying in the same room as him. Well, at least she wasn’t going to suffer alone; she had Afzal with her. “Have you revised your lesson?” he asked, staring at her intently. “Yes.” She started to recite yesterday’s lesson. All the while Taya Abba’s eyes kept surveying her. “Come on, Apa! You know Taya Abba doesn’t like it when we’re late.” Afzal was running ahead of her. “You go ahead. I’ll catch up.” She pretended to catch her breath. As ...

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Why is our criminal justice system punishing a paranoid schizophrenic?

The mere mention of a crime engages our natural thought process into gauging a punishment for it. Some would just ask what punishment a specific crime entails, some of us would delve into arguing what purpose a particular punishment serves, while others would discuss whether a punishment is adequate or not. We all have our own thought processes and ideologies about what is acceptable as a punishment. However, what is important is to remember the basic idea behind it is. The purpose ranges from retributive to utilitarian to rehabilitative. All punishments must serve some purpose otherwise it would be a futile exercise to impose any form ...

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Series 6 Was I a threat? Part 1 “Please don’t dishonour us by going out all the time.”

Life in a small town such as Mansehra is quiet and serene. The name it has been given is justified; it truly is paradise on earth. It is the beauty of the district and the simplicity of life that always attracted tourists to visit during it their vacations. But simplicity, even though it is quite pleasing, has some boundaries attached to it. Saira, a young girl of the district, had lived in Mansehra all her life. She hadn’t been out to visit much either and all the contact she ever had had with the outer world was through television. Girls in the village ...

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Boys will be boys but Qandeel was defiant – so she must be eliminated

The first video I watched of Qandeel Baloch was shared by a friend on his Facebook wall. She was clad in a skimpy grey dress showing off her voluptuous curves. Swaying suggestively and looking straight into the camera she said, “I’m 99% sure you hate me but I’m a 100% sure not even my shoe gives a damn about it.”

In one fell swoop she not only fully asserted herself as a sexual being – a space denied to women in our society – but cocked a snook at everyone unwilling to acknowledge her agency. I instantly fell in love ...

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The newspaper boy

He threw it inside the house and as he cycled forward and heard it land softly on the doormat. Great shot, he thought. There were three streets to go. And the light around him was slowly spreading. He continued. In the street before the last, he slowed down because he was nearing the house filled with flowerpots. Previous shots had broken some pots and invited anger from the owner whose life seemed to be divided into the dozens of pots she had. This time, though, he came near the gate and slowly hooped it inside. The sound of contact with ...

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The question was never about whether Harambe should have been shot or not

The killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Friday has resulted in a total and complete social media meltdown. The incident has garnered rage, an outpouring of online-hate, as well as the sympathies of many. The severity of the incident depends on who you ask. Harambe, an endangered western lowland gorilla had just turned 17. The zoo even celebrated his birthday. But who would have thought that the primate would be shot to death the very next day? The reason this ape was killed was because a four-year-old fell into his enclosure. In the video it ...

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Sea cemetery: The height of human folly

Do you know you can smell death? Yes, you can. It smells like blood. It smells like bones. It smells like Syria. In six years, it has claimed more than 400,000 lives and alas, we are still counting! The land has literally shrunk from abundant horror of burying human flesh. For thousands, the waves of the Mediterranean have become the final resting place. These are the unfortunate citizens of this doomed country who try to scramble out and move to a land with no war. But the ferocious waters, devious boat captains and inadequate supplies toss them into the merciless ...

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It’s about time we talk about suicide

A few months ago, I received a frantic phone call from a friend. He told me his 11-year-old son tried to hang himself. This was not the first time; he had made similar attempts in the past, and also had a history of harming himself. Luckily, the parents had intervened just in time and saved him before it was too late. The father consulted me over the phone – he was broken, and was desperately in search of an answer. He wanted to devise a plan of action that could save his child from further attempts. After many possible interventions, we drafted ...

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It is better to arrive late than dead

It was over a year ago when a terrible tragedy befell a good family. While driving home at night, close to their house in DHA Phase 4 on main Khayaban-e-Badar in Karachi, a middle aged couple was blind sighted by a speeding vehicle. The fierce impact of metal gnashing on metal lasted several seconds, dragging their car sideways for what felt like an eternity. Both occupants were left hurt. The husband, a tall and kind-hearted man, usually armed with a ready smile that I automatically recall when I think of him today, suffered a head injury. Here, he performed one last ...

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Why has Pakistan forgotten about the 2.5 lakh Pakistani refugees in Bangladesh?

A few years ago, I was travelling to Birmingham from London’s Marylebone Station. I sat with an elderly Asian who happened to be a Bangladeshi. During the course of our discussion, the tirade of the Fall of Dhaka came up. He suddenly became defensive, stating that Pakistan never wanted Bangladesh to be part of it from the get go. He began to justify his stance and he went on to mention Allama Iqbal’s blunt ignorance towards Bengali Muslims, whilst defining the territorial limits of free Muslim States, claiming that they would constitute the north-western frontier parts of India. He added that in 1948 when Jinnah, the father of ...

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