Dear adult, please just stop. Love, the child

Meet me, I am a child. I have been living on this Earth since the time human beings inhabited the planet. I have inhabited all parts of the world and have been part of all cultures, all races and all nations. Yet, I am considered a different specie altogether. Who am I? I am a psychic embryo, a psychic nymph, rich with dynamic powers of intellect. Believe me, I have the power to teach myself. Have you not noticed that I grow up speaking my parents’ language when no one teaches me? I learn to walk and climb, I learn to hold and transfer from hand ...

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The tales of Karachi’s love for old books

We’ve heard stories about their utilisation plenty of times. You can see exactly where the fingerprints grazed the pages. You can deduce how long it was held by the depth of the finger stains. This is none other than a depiction of an old book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places too much importance on new books, rather than old ones. Why is it that new things are considered more valuable than old things? There might be a time in the future when books will be published for a specific audience and the physicality of reading material will become extinct. However, there ...

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The oil tanker spill didn’t expose the ‘jahalat’ of the poor, but the inhuman apathy of the ‘educated’

One wonders if there’s a special hell for those who quickly assign blame to the society’s poorest and most vulnerable members in the wake of every catastrophe. A second oil tanker has toppled in Vehari, and locals have been found attempting to pilfer its fuel. This is uncomfortably similar to the situation just a few weeks ago, when over 200 people lost their lives trying to collect fuel from an overturned tanker near Bahawalpur. The victims and their families who beggared our sympathies, got caught in a storm of hostile opinions instead. Most disconcertingly, these opinions were all aired by the society’s most affluent and privileged quarters who ...

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The shared experience of being tampered with as a child

Jack* did not have much of a childhood to write home about. That obviously did not hinder his meteoric rise, because as a young professional, he was already on top of his game. He was quite successful, with a six digit salary, vacations pre-planned for a year in advance, and stocks and bonds neatly sorted out. While he could hold onto investments with alacrity, what he couldn’t hold on to, for dear life, were relationships. Friends, men or women, would come and go from his life, with surprising frequency. To him, even his biological family, the little he had, felt like it was on borrowed time. I think the lack ...

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Society is no longer women’s worst enemy – other women are

I know that there is a plethora of worthy issues in Pakistan right now to write about, but this particular one has a special place in my heart. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that loved and nurtured me, and was able to give me everything I’ve ever asked for and more. At a fundamental level, I have nothing to complain about, and neither do most of my friends. We live in our own bubble of top of the list universities, expensive restaurants and excessive social media posts. We consider ourselves to be progressive, modern and ‘with the times’. Which is why it ...

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I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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Be it Parachinar or Quetta, when blood starts flowing like rain water down our drains, it is time to reflect

He could smell burning flesh. He looked down in horror to see deep lacerations on his legs. Ears ringing, he struggled to get up. The piercing pain in his legs made him scream and he slipped back onto the pavement. There was chaos all around him. He looked around scouting for a familiar face but the air was thick with smoke. He tried shouting for help but nothing came out. He felt something cold trickling down his side. Surprised, he looked down at his abdomen. With the warm gushes of blood, there flowed a steady stream of green chutney, leaking from the ...

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How Ibne Insha’s lyrical anti-war poems are terrifyingly relevant in the war-ravaged times of today

Ibne Insha (1927-1976) was one of our most gifted poets and humourists who died too young. The world knows him mostly as the author of melancholy ghazals such as ‘Insha ji utho ab kooch karo’ (Insha ji, get up and do something), or the biting satire that can be witnessed in his masterpiece, ‘Urdu ki akhri kitab’. However, little known is the fact that he was one of the early supporters of the Progressive Writers Movement (PWM) in colonial India and would undoubtedly have been one of its leaders had he lived long enough. He also left behind about a dozen odd intensely political poems showing an uncanny awareness ...

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When the beast awakens on Eid

Let us ask ourselves this. Eidul Fitr approaches amidst scorching heat and Panama hearings. Gulping down fancy iftars and filling sehris, what have we stored for our Eid?  I will tell you what – the Pret collection of branded clothes, quality makeup kits and tall heels. We’ve fixed appointments at salons and parlours to look our best on Eid day. There are lavish meals planned with family and friends. While festive gatherings are in consonance with the harmonious spirit of Islam, there is a question as to how much we actually recall from the holy month that is nearing its end. While these blessed days are spent in sujood (prostration) and taraveeh (obligatory prayers), how ...

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Why don’t parents speak of the developmental challenges faced by their child the same way they do of their academic achievements?

We all want comfort and happiness for our children. From the time they’re born, we want our little ones to excel in life. In Pakistan, this desire usually translates into a narrow focus on achieving academic excellence, which is typically considered the most widely esteemed cognitive ability. While some parents do realise (and often lament) the potential negative effects of this academic ‘rat race’ on their own children, one aspect they often ignore is the pressure this creates on families of children with special needs – children who may be gifted in one way or the other but may not necessarily have the ability to excel in academics. This ...

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