Stories about childhood

My niece is the apple of my eye, but I fear for her

I was reading the paper while having toasted bread with a cup of coffee, and my eyes fell upon a story that sent shivers down my spine – two brothers had raped a 14-year-old girl. I placed the cup back on the table since my hands were trembling and all of a sudden, I was a broken little girl again. I was transported back into the past, the same past that had affected not only my childhood, but my soul – a past where I was loved and was the apple of someone’s eye. But sometimes, love isn’t enough because I still remember. ...

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Eid lunch – For the love of family and food

Eid will always remind me of my childhood and growing up in Pakistan. I have a clear sensory memory of awakening to aromas of cloves and cardamom wafting from the kitchen into my bedroom. This is a day that revolves around family togetherness and a celebration of food, after a month of abstinence and contemplation. Though a global Muslim festival, Eid is celebrated differently in each country, highlighting the fact that this is not just a religious day, but a time to celebrate our culture and identity. But, the one unifying similarity is that Eid is a celebration of food, authentic flavours ...

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We lack the wisdom to raise our sons the way we raise our daughters

Before our son Kareem was born, my wife Priya, my daughter Madina and I were on a flight and we ended up sitting next to a woman who was expecting her first child. I sat in the middle seat between Priya and the expecting woman while the two of them discussed things only an expecting mother could discuss with another mother. At one point we asked if she knew the gender of her baby and she said, “A boy thankfully. I am so relieved.” As she went on to explain why she’s relieved, she said having a girl would be a lot more ...

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Evolving traditions: Online bakra shopping and a ruined childhood

During Eidul Azha, Muslims venerate Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) utter submission to God, in his willingness to sacrifice his son, Hazrat Ismail (AS), when he was commanded to do so.  The “Festival of Sacrifice” is, indeed, a celebration of Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) steadfastness in his faith, as well as, an occasion for Muslims to renew their resolve to follow his tradition. Thus, Muslims sacrifice an animal on Eidul Azha. The sacrifice is commemorated by sharing one-third of the meat with the poor, while the rest of it goes to the holiday feast. That’s what the adults are concerned with. Children have always ...

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Maryam knew she was born poor and meant to be treated harshly

Three months ago, an 11-year-old Maryam sat in my friend’s drawing room, weeping incessantly. My friend and I asked her if there was anything we could do for her, we inquired if she wanted to talk to her mother. All we got in return were confused, big black eyes staring right back at us. Maryam curled herself into a tiny ball and continued sobbing. I felt immensely grieved because the little girl had made a long arduous journey from her village to this new house alone. My friend’s mother had asked a former driver to look for a female domestic helper; one ...

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Dear Ahmed, like you, I was also viewed as the ‘enemy’

You may have heard the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Dallas student who was arrested after bringing a home-made clock in to show his teacher. They believed it was a bomb, likely because Ahmed Mohamed is a Muslim. Since I don’t know how to reach this young man directly, I thought I’d post a letter to him here. Dear Ahmed, I’ve never met you, and it’s quite possible you’ve never heard of me, but my name is George Takei. I am many decades older than you, but your story and your experience – when you were arrested at your school simply because you brought ...

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The ‘Bara Bhai syndrome’ – taking one family at a time

Recently, an international journal of psychiatry published a report about a new disease – the ‘Bara Bhai Syndrome’. It was discovered during research workshops held in Pakistan and India. The hallmark of this disease has been described as an extreme preoccupation with the duty of providing care to the family, heightened sense of sacrifice and responsibility, feeling of guilt and premature ageing. While the disease has been found to be more rampant in South-East Asia, thousands of immigrants in developed countries have also tested positive for it. The disease typically affects the first-born male child. However, comparable symptoms can also be exhibited by the only ...

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Balochistan: Self-inflicted misery?

My fondest childhood memories are of rolling down the landscaped gardens of the rest-house located beside the Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat. The undulating open space spotted with the frosted looking juniper trees provided an ideal environment for the equally inviting wooden dens; and the fresh dew on the grass under the clear blue sky was then so tempting for us to feel. Visiting these dream homes used to be the highlight of our summer vacations. The short picnics to Hanna Lake, Ziarat and Wali Tangi were enriching and peaceful to say the least. Quetta, I should say, was one of the most ...

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What I learnt from Robin Williams

Robin Williams- when I hear that name I think of my childhood. Watching Robin portray amazing characters like in the film Jack, a young soul trapped in an old man’s body or being stuck in a board game in the movie Jumanji. When you watched him on the screen, it did not feel like you were watching a comedy legend, it felt like you were watching a kid, just like yourself, going through these extraordinary obstacles. He was never an old man trying to act young in a family comedy film, like most of the actors you see nowadays. He owned every ...

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Carcass on display

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. She was backstage, about to start her show depicting her ideas to the audience. To benefit millions of listeners, the director had claimed whilst widening his hands, fitting the million in a pocket of air. Suddenly, the assistant event manager ran to her with a tension that was coming out of its disguise. “Please enter exactly after five seconds.” “Okay.” She looked at her watch and time looked back, scanning her without moving. She began to sweat, waiting for it to budge. Just as a small smile climbed down time’s lips, ...

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