Stories published in December, 2012

Miscarriage: Who I tried to forgive, what I tried to forget

I slip the white satin sheet off me; the light from the sun encases me in a newer, warmer sheet. Curtains are drawn and the window beams at me, 12pm signalling a wakeup call. Late mornings have been the norm for nine odd months. But neither I, nor the sun, complain we are happy to rise at a later time. He has woken up already. He has left for work already. The maid has been let in; she is dusting the sofas in the next room. My feet touch the marble and I sit up. Like a reflex, my hand comes to ...

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Of tattoos and ‘foreign hands’

We frequently lend ears to a clichéd line by government representatives every few days – it starts with ‘we condemn the incident’ and ends with ‘a foreign hand’. In a recent incident that killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 46 in Peshawar, it seemed that the only object of interest was the ‘un-Islamic’ tattoo of the Uzbek suicide bomber. A tattoo that was alien to ‘Muslim’ identity. While every newspaper showed pictures of the attacker’s dead body bearing the Boris Vallejo sorcery character image, the government seemed strangely relieved. It was perhaps satisfied that for once it won’t ...

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Lahore’s Dar-ul-Sukun, now an institute of torture and abuse

If one begins to think about welfare institutions in Pakistan, Dar-ul-Sukun definitely comes to mind. It is located within the premises of the Punjab Welfare Society, Lahore. It houses psychiatric patients, both male and female, in separate wards. Most of the residents living there have been forsaken by their families. In some cases, monetary support is the only sign of love that the families exhibit; in other cases, brief visits are made to quell the guilt-inducing inner voice. The residents of Dar-ul-Sukun live their lives haunted by the memories of their past, which are both bitter and sweet. Their present is different though. It ...

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So, which tablet should you buy?

Back in April, 2010 when Apple launched the iPad, no one had a clue what to do with it! Today more than 140 million people around the world are using these tablets for a number of things. The tablet category is growing faster than laptops and desktops and is expected to surpass laptop shipments by 2016. It is evident that tablets are the growth engine for computer manufacturers for the next few years until the next innovation comes along. While Apple and Google enjoy a duopoly on the software front, the competition on the hardware front is intensifying and opening ...

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I envy Indian cricket – they had Tendulkar!

The man has retired. The 49-centuries hero has finally bid adieu to an illustrious 23-year-old career that changed the very definition of Indian batting. Words fail when you attempt to glorify this cricketing legend. You turn to numbers instead. If 18,426 runs at an incredible average of 44:83 in 463 matches with a record 49 centuries and 96 staggering 50s don’t tell you the story, nothing ever will. Sachin Tendulkar was indeed in a league of his own. Thank you, little master. Thank you for the memories. Spoken enough from the mind; here’s what the heart thinks: Sachin was a great batsman. I ...

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Tahirul Qadri’s increasing popularity

It’s amazing how quickly a leader or an ideology can win over the country’s youth. As I headed to office one fine day, I confronted an excited youth from our neighbourhood who said, “I am going to Lahore to attend a jalsa on December 23!” I was startled. Knowing that the young man had exams coming up, I asked him how he’ll manage the trip. His reply was, “I’ll skip exams. This public gathering by Dr Tahirul Qadri is so much more important.” I drowned into thought. The young man’s enthusiasm reflected that of thousands of people across the country. Several young people ...

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Chronicles of a misfit Pakistani in Tashkent

October 17, 2012 The journey started from Karachi en route to Lahore. Flights to Tashkent run only on Uzbek Airways and originate from Lahore (Islamabad has recently been added); why not Karachi is a mystery to me? Maybe people from Punjab are more inclined towards history and hedonistic tendencies? Karachi was balmy. Lahore was cool, and we were anticipating cold weather in Tashkent. Why not? It is situated right in between Siberia and Pakistan, and who cannot forget those chilly winds in Quetta and Karachi, courtesy of mother Russia. The latest forecast showed temperatures ranging between 2C-14C, and I prepared accordingly; mufflers, caps, wool coats… hardly ...

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Christmas dessert: Red velvet cake is served!

It’s the season to be jolly! What’s better than a beautiful, moist red velvet cake? It fits perfectly with the theme of Christmas and it’s sure to be a hit no matter when you serve it. This cake goes back to my grandmother’s kitchen; I spent every holiday as a child with my American family in Washington, DC. Come Christmas and the tree, decorations and stockings would be pulled out. The one thing that fixated in my memory was Thetah’s (Thetah is grandmother in Arabic) red velvet cake. Here’s how to prepare this cake. Please remember to be patient with this ...

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A tale of eras: Christmas in Pakistan and Bethlehem

Pakistan, 21st December, 6pm: Rodney and his friends drive into their apartment complex in a truck, in which lay 10 meter long dried bamboo shoots, the kind used to put up wedding tents. Watching from the balcony of an apartment upstairs, Rodney’s cousins run down with machetes and knives to start stripping the bamboo into long yet tough strips. Kids are playing in the compound, cycling on their little 3-wheelers or playing among the cars, innocence abounding from them. 7:30pm: They now have ten strips of bamboo ready to be used. Time to go have some tea and talk about what comes next. As they ...

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So who exactly was Jinnah?

We sat in the proverbial 22nd row of a small theatre room in Badar Commercial. My eyes were moist with emotion, when Talat Hussain turned around and said “Quaid-e-Azam zindabad!” It was the end of the movie, Jinnah, and we were at its re-launch. How does one explain such feelings for one who is more important than all other humans, barring a handful? Yet he died a decade before I was born. Moreover, our understanding of Jinnah, the man, comes down to us as various personalities, depending upon the times, the government and the filters of the individuals describing him. Across ...

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