Who is atop the chain of command?

There wasn’t any challenge they could not surpass, The best of the breed, at the top of their class, Who knew the importance of hard, honest toil; Didn’t waste their time, burned the midnight oil. They went on to excel as professionals, engineers, Doctors and lawyers with promising careers.   While those who were ordinary, average at best, Graduated and did well in the civil service test, To eventually become the heady bureaucrats, Who catch all the smart professionals like gnats. In a web of paper work to drive them insane, And control their existence with utmost disdain.   The clique of students who in the same class, Despite family influence just managed to ...

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Do I even belong at all?

I see the point where the sun meets the sea, Glistening in effervescent orange, Hues of orange pulp and pineapple slices take over the sky. I picture myself on a beach, Eating those fruits – I look back out, the sun has begun to sink. Relief – Almost as if my breath were holding the sun Hanging, steady, in the middle of nothing, Echoing how I feel; Suspended between my reality and my thoughts, Verisimilitude. Floating – I am a set of eyes, I see the sun drowning, Relief turns to fear; The sun is leaving. Will it come back again? Will I? I am a set of eyes, I see the encompassing blue of the sea, I long to be ...

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This was no usual pain – this was a pain of loss

Emily rose in the pale blue light of dawn, and went into the balcony. She leaned against the wall and gazed at the sky as it further lightened above her. This was her favourite time of the day, when after the dark, colours would slowly and timidly creep back into the world. But even as she stood looking at the sky, her eyes brimmed with tears and her body rippled with pain. This was no usual pain. This was a pain of loss, and nothing could assuage it. Emily’s eyes twinkled with excitement as she looked at herself in the ...

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The scent of a sinner

The fresh roses turn pinker, dwelling outside the garden of the lilies, The wrinkled skirts smelling of cheap perfume, stinking of midnight sillies, The footsteps in the empty corridors, the heel to their Achilles, The birthmark on the neck, the missing toothbrush in the can, The dust under the shoes, the unannounced dinner plans, The misplaced phone calls, the green pills on the nightstand, The children in the fields, playing until its dark, Watching them live in singularity, searching for answers like the lark, Faking a smile, the burnt cigarette leaving its mark, Wandering in the withered winds, writing a memoir, Tearing the sinned papers, watching the two from ...

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Nusrat and her dupatta

Nusrat loved to watch the sun come up in the morning, see its rising hues and its foes in the sky that wanted it to go back down – down, down, down, to the abyss of darkness, where there was no light, no hope. So, Nusrat would wake up at 5am. At 4am. At 3:30am. All to see the sun that rose so elegantly into the dewy mornings of October. But she never could. She never could stay tuned to the games of the sun, for the sun was a hopeful deity, and Nusrat’s hope was nonexistent now. So every morning, Nusrat would run with urgent ...

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Will anyone remember Lady Constable Shabaana?

She looked at her reflection in the stained, old mirror.  ‘Ammi ke jahez ka hai ye… ab bhi purana na hota tou kab hota,’ she thought to herself, eyeing her 32-year-old face in the 33-year-old mirror on the wall. (This is from mother’s dowry… it is stained because it’s very old) Smoothing out the creases in her pants, she eyed her widening figure apprehensively. Even the long duty hours were doing her no good. “Sabeen aur Nazish jo phakki bata rahi thein, wo nihaar moun khana shuru karti hun. Magar Sabeen tou ab bhi pura tank hi ha,” she chuckled recalling how her weight-conscious colleague Sabeen had ...

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All it takes is one man’s belief

Amid the cherry blossom trees,  Lies a secret so deep. Lost in time, Buried under dirt, Who could have thought lay such a wonderful feat? Eons ago, When the land was just dirt, A young man came to this land, And saw it for what it was. It was a promise for a future, So full of life and joy. He stood right there and gave his word, That this land would never lack smiles. He went on for ages – married and had kids, Unbroken was his everlasting promise. His work paid off and the trees broke through, Up sprung the cherry blossoms, The land aglow and anew.  The land once barren, Became a symbol of love. Of ...

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Yousafzai’s children weren’t children at all

Yousafzai village was a land of men. It was a land of agriculture and multiple wives. Presently, however, it was a land of marriage. Children around the village were waiting for the vehicle to arrive which was carrying the groom. Some lurked around corners, others behind shops, underneath sheds. Ah, when would the car arrive? When would they chase it? When would the groom throw the children the sweets they were denied by the main shopkeeper? It was, after all, Rashid sahib’s wedding, the only man in town who could afford more than five of the red crispy notes of hundred rupees all at ...

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Irfan Bhai and his solar eclipse

“I really need to beat Amir’s high score,” I said to myself as I played another round of Temple Run, not realising my battery had drained down to 5%. My phone got warmer and the LED light on my screen began to blink red. I turned on the battery saving mode and slid my phone in my pocket. I looked out my car window only to realise that the car had not moved an inch. I guess I’m just not used to Karachi’s traffic anymore, and a 20-day visit is not even minutely enough to adjust to it. After being thoroughly engrossed in ...

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October 15, 2017
 Fatima Raza
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That night she became Riffat Bai and everything changed

“Kokhla chapha kay jumairaat ayi hay… jaira picchay murr kay wekkhay odhi shaamat aai hay… kokhla chapha kay jumairaat ayi hay… jaira picchay mur…” their chanting went on and on. (I have hidden the dupatta behind you on Thursday and if you turn your head around, you’ll be in trouble) She dragged herself from the pile in the corner. Steadying herself against the wall, she looked around for her cane. It was in the other corner of the room. She sat back down, sliding against the wall. The paint crackled as she moved, falling down the feeble wall. Holding herself against ...

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