She waited for him, but she knew

Seher stood by the road, waiting for a rickshaw to appear and take her back home. A young girl stood next to her, quiet as a shadow, still as the summer air of Lahore. Seher didn’t know her but she could see the damage written all over her. She could read through her hard face and unsmiling demeanour. On the journey back home, she kept thinking about that girl.  Seher felt her head churning and the small of her back prickling with pain when she got back home. She was easily tired these days and her body ached more each day. ...

Read Full Post

The night and the child

“Can you go out to get groceries?” “Nai, nai. Don’t send him out at this time,” my mother responded. “It’s okay,” I said. “Saath hi tau hai (it’s nearby).” “Okay, at least take the cook with you.” “It’s right here. I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” “Please keep your phone on.” “I’m 24-years-old,” I sighed to myself as I got the car keys. I got into the car and drove into the night. Driving in the night gave me a high. I loved how the headlights ate up a specific amount of the night. Just above the reach of the headlights was the darkness, pressing in from ...

Read Full Post

Will she ever learn?

Her heels clicked as she briskly walked on the cemented sidewalk. It grew darker and darker as the sun drowned behind the mountains. The shadows grew taller and the evening got chillier. Her hair flowed back freely as the wind blew through it. She clutched her shawl closely to her chest, accumulating as much warmth as possible as her flimsy chiffon dress was not doing a very good job. The streets were deserted, no car or pedestrian in sight. It almost seemed like it was midnight rather than twilight. As the last line of light disappeared from the horizon, ...

Read Full Post

Hear a mother’s heart

The sky was bathed in the flaming yellow rays of the sun. It was a bright sunny morning in Lahore. Shahbaz’s rickshaw broke down again in the middle of the road. The traffic broke into wild outbursts of car horns, and angry people growled and grumbled at him for disrupting the traffic flow. Shahbaz’s rickshaw was old now and rank with problems. If it stopped working one day, he wouldn’t even make as little money as he did now. The thought made him anxious. How would he provide for his wife and son if that happened? ‘I wish I could buy a ...

Read Full Post

“A Moses without manifestation, a Christ without a cross”: Karl Marx as remembered by Wamiq Jaunpuri

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” – Karl Marx Europe in the 19th century gave birth to two thinkers who changed everything about how we see the world. One was Charles Darwin. The other was Karl Marx, who was born 201 years ago today. Darwin discovered the law of evolution of plants and animals (the law of natural selection and survival of the fittest), while Marx sought the law of evolution of human history. Darwin’s discoveries sparked a revolution in the scientific world, while Marx’s discoveries illuminated the pathways to ...

Read Full Post

From one revolutionary to another: Vladimir Lenin as remembered by Habib Jalib

The figure of Vladimir Lenin exercises a talismanic hold on revolutionaries everywhere, across time and space. The year 2017 was celebrated as the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution, leading to the establishment of the first socialist state presided over by Lenin and marking an important moment in history. Likewise, Urdu literature is also rich in writings about the Bolshevik Revolution. However, writings on Lenin, especially poems, are few and far between. Perhaps the most celebrated poem on the founder of the Russian revolutionary state was Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s Lenin, Khuda ke Huzoor Mein (Lenin in God’s presence) written soon after the revolution ...

Read Full Post

He only did it for him

“You’re an old boy now, you’ll have to work. Azeem is a good man. He’ll take care of you and you’ll learn from him.” “Fine, Abba!” Talha could feel the disobedience stirring within him. Working at a furniture shop was the last thing he wanted to do, but he acquiesced to Abba’s decision. He knew Abba wouldn’t listen to him, even if he told him that he wanted to do other things in life. Better things. Later that night, as he wandered the streets, he thought how it wasn’t Abba’s fault. He was old now and needed someone else to take care ...

Read Full Post

When khudkushi became her only freedom

The sky was a pool of black ink, dusted with stars at midnight. Arsh looked out from the window — she saw many little streets sprawled out below. She had only known these streets from inside the walls of her room. She had never walked on them. She had never been under the open sky. She looked at these streets longingly. To her, these streets and everything else of the outside world was a distant dream. Arsh was thinking about him. He came again tonight. Her caramel skin flushed bright pink as he folded her into his arms. Her heart ...

Read Full Post

Remembering Fahmida Riaz’s ballad on this International Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, one of only two days remembering and celebrating transgender people. Although transgender individuals have always been present in society, and have been mentioned in some of the oldest texts of the Muslim world such as The Arabian Nights, they have largely been the source of much mystique, ridicule and discrimination. Even in the 21st century, they have been among the last groups of people to get their rights, in legislation and otherwise. Fahmida Riaz, who passed away last November, has expressed the plight of the transgender in her masterful poem, Hijre ki Sargoshi (The eunuch’s ...

Read Full Post

In between the waves

“Please inform them in Lahore.” “Sure, Baba. Have a safe journey.” She said after tucking him into the window seat. ‘Seat #2’ it said in black. She was glad it was in the front. He won’t have to walk too much to get off. “Tell them that I’ll be there by 8:45pm.” “Sure, Baba.” She hugged him and ended up hugging part of the seat. She went to stand with her mother. The mother and daughter walked to the other side of the bus. Two eyes followed them, and as the bus made his daughter and granddaughter momentarily disappear, he brought his eyes to ...

Read Full Post