Stories about death

My only escape

April 2018 I am an old woman, almost 75-years-old. My bones are weak, my skin is wrinkled, and my hair is a mane of silver. A pile of medicines cover the top of my bedside table. Most days, I don’t feel like eating them. Death weaves itself around me. I see it everywhere – in fallen leaves, in the rain, in the shadows, in people. My time here is almost done, but there’s a task still unfulfilled. Before I close my eyes forever, I have to tell my daughter the truth about my life, and her life. I’ve kept it hidden ...

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Khalil never drank, until he did…

If there was something everyone knew about Khalil, it was that he never drank. And if there was something one could say with even more surety, it was that he especially never drank before his night shift. But tonight he had found some refuge in a bottle; a shelter from the illness of his wife, the mounting hospital bills, and the regularly decreasing amount of money he brought home. However, the newly-wed couple who had hailed his cab for the night were ignorant to the gloss in his eyes and the slur in his speech, as they put their ...

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Hospitals, schools, malls and now amusement parks – is there any safe space for our children?

We often complain of lack of recreational activities in Karachi – a city which can easily be labelled a foodie’s paradise, but with few other entertainment outlets available. Any new addition to the leisure scene in the city is always welcomed with arms wide open – and Askari Parks’ opening was no exception to this reception. One might recall Funland in Clifton, the Sindbad franchise across Karachi, Aladdin Water Park in Gulshan, Nisar Shaheed Park in Defence and Go Aish in Gulshan. While taking rides at these parks, we race at breakneck speeds through the twists and turns or suddenly ...

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Calling Hereditary a ‘terrifying’ film would be underselling it

Talking about the state of horror movies these days is like flogging a dead horse. It’s pointless and something that has shown very little prospect of changing even though films like The Babadook and The Witch have served as promising examples of filmmakers attempting to do something new and different with the genre. So therefore, you can imagine my surprise when something like Hereditary comes around, a film that well and truly earns every hyperbole attached to it. To call it a terrifying film would be to undersell it because it is so much more and for the horror genre itself, it is nothing short ...

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A soldier, lost in translation

An endless wave of nothingness arrives: The storm, the red eye and the golden nose; The plunge of the people and the nosedives; Waving upon the wild cherry crossbows, The warm air in the engine cools me down, The colour changes; from black to nut-brown, The air foresees a mist from the western hallows; The tail of the behemoth creeps upon the shadows.   The jarring men wiry and scathing, Skin measled with scrawling screws; Itching toes rubbing against gunmetal swarf The ears bellow in the wailing sound, sucking the air from the atmosphere. The blades grumbled and crumbled against the flesh that trudged the gruntled wind, The brass that lent itself to ...

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Pixie Palace was her jail, and she was carrying a new prisoner

The white tombs that encircled the humble city of Kalazar were silent. Every single inhabitant was quiet. The leaves on the wych elms resisted the wind. And under the blue sky, a sparsely dressed ‘pixie’ wandered. She had been wandering for a long, long time; as long as her sane memory stretched. Unbeknownst to her, a little heart beat inside her womb, calling for attention. It was a faint, unwanted beat. The superior would have had her publicly shamed for renouncing the blessed beat. But how could they know? They had never wandered the white tombs, had never traded honour for ...

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Charismatic and heartwarming, ‘Cake’ is a dessert Pakistani cinema has never tried before

Admittedly, the trailer of the film Cake had a very Kapoor & Sons vibe. In the film itself, this vibe continues for the first 15 minutes or so. However, the resemblance soon fizzles out, and Cake presents itself as a dessert you have never tried before; an original recipe with perfect ingredients, making it a dish to savour. Cake is all about people fighting inner demons in the milieu of relationships, emotional dependencies, empathy, sacrifices and loss. Death, or a discussion about death, circles around the events in this deceptively intricate film, as it did in the case of Kapoor & ...

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Netflix’s ‘Altered Carbon’ transports you to the 24th century, where death is no longer the ultimate truth

If you think cyberpunk is some new bohemian movement of the current digital age – something I am guilty of doing myself – then you are as far from being correct as a hippy would be from a drug-free lifestyle. Cyberpunk is actually a subgenre of science fiction, in which the setting is futuristic and often dystopian as well.  Technological advancements in such a society are at their peak, along with the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. On the other hand, morality becomes the primary victim; the one thing close to hitting rock bottom. If Blade Runner is the ...

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Making my way through my father’s new home – the graveyard

Dear reader, you may recall my earlier piece where I detail my father’s catastrophic stroke. Dad made it home after a roller coaster of a hospital stay. He was on 24/7 nursing support for almost five weeks at home, and he needed that because half of his body was paralysed, while the other functional half tended to revolt or defy logic. For a strongly independent person to become completely dependent on home healthcare, a feeding tube and a urinary catheter, almost overnight, was understandably not easy for him. And yet, he seemed to be slowly but surely improving, and his neurologist ...

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RIP Masood Ahmad Barkati – the unsung hero of my generation, the voice of patriotism, morality and equality between all Pakistanis

It pained my heart to read that Masood Ahmed Barkati, the renowned author of children’s literature and the editor of the Urdu magazine Hamdard Naunihal, is no more among us. The last three generations of Pakistan are in a state of total grief right now. There is a strong sense of loss, a feeling as though an important piece of our childhood has been taken away, leaving us bereft. For people who loved reading books during their childhood, he was the superhero without a cape. Barkati had been the right-hand man to Hakim Muhammad Saeed, the owner of Hamdard ...

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