Stories about dream

The road not taken: Going to Cambridge or getting married

In Pakistan, and in my native language Urdu, woman translates into aurat, which comes from the Persian awrah, meaning “parts to be protected”. Literally, too, in my present Muslim, closed-knit, patriarchal society, women like me are guided — by their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons — to be protected from threats against their body and family honour. While these men encourage “western” trends to an extent — like education at reputable schools, recreational sports, or even temporary employment — cultural traditions halt these prospects after marriage. You are born, our men tell us, to marry fast, and vouchsafe both yourselves and your future daughters ...

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Travelling the world amongst the roaring sea: Memories of a Pakistani sailor

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Aspiring for a career and finally achieving employment is a blessing for anyone. When I was young, my dream, like many other kids, was to roam around the world, to see far off places and to experience different cultures. One practical way to achieve my goal was to join the Merchant Marine. At a young age of 17, when one is full of hope and ambition, I finally had the selection letter tucked gleefully in my pocket after a gruelling selection process. It was a pleasant February afternoon in 1974 when I joined the ...

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The woman with hands of gold

I always gushed about how my Mother’s hands were beautiful; though, all wonder had ceased as I realised… Her hands tenderly held my vulnerable self as I opened my eyes in this big-bad world; her face comforted me, there was an angel in this world Allah had sent me down to, I was in safe hands. Her hands determinedly raised me to my tiny feet, every time I fell to the ground in the attempt to walk; her will to support me still gives me strength from then till today. Her hands would swiftly push my swing as she pointed towards the ...

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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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Familiar handcuffs

He could hardly hear him – his words did not even brush his shoulders as they hurried past. His eyes were feeling extremely heavy, not because of sleep or weariness, but because of its on-going conversation with another’s gaze. He was at the bus stop. As his friend sat across, speaking without realising how little was being absorbed, a stranger, who stood silently in the corner, stared directly at him, perhaps even within him. The owner of the gaze appeared to be an old woman, and she wore a long overcoat, but it wasn’t long or big enough to hide ...

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Girls don’t tell, boys don’t cry

His hands were hard, His voice was soft, His eyes were red, His teeth had rot, I tried to run, But he wouldn’t let me go, I tried again, But he just said no.   Then he smiled the most ugly smile, Don’t you know, you silly child? Girls don’t tell, And boys don’t cry.   Another push, another blow, He had me trapped, I could not go, One fine day, I’ll let you leave, Until that day you shall grieve, But what will you tell them, when you’re free?   He watched me as he made me lie, Girls don’t tell, And boys don’t cry.   He’s not here now, But he has me still, I dream his face, His ghastly grin, How his teeth had rot, How ...

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Yes, Senator Rehman Malik, you deserved to be booted off that plane!

There are times when something you dream of actually happens, like Senator Rehman Malik getting booted off that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight. Had anyone else been booted off this way it might not have had the same impact, but with Rehman Malik… it’s like being presented with a large, a very large, box of chocolates, a complete set of Harry Potter books (which are amazingly yet to be read), and a tonne of ice cream all at one go! Oh joy! My salams to the gentleman who took that stand. May you live long in a genuinely better Pakistan, with my prayers for ...

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All is not well, Papa

Dear Papa, I am told I was born to the call of the azaan, on the most blessed of nights. It was much celebrated, my birth, I am told. I was welcomed as the manifestation of a dream, the fruit of relentless toil, and the sweat and blood of millions of orchard farmers. I was God’s answer to man’s desperate cries for help, I am told. For years, I stood firm, draped in hope and dressed in faith. I was still in infancy but I was strong, and strong beyond that word. Kids in the neighbourhood never thought I would make it. I ...

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Is it a burden to have four daughters in a Pakistani society?

“Four daughters?” the woman asked, her eyes wide with a mix of horror, pity and fascination. Then, “Mashallah!” A sympathetic smile, followed by, “They are beautiful. May Allah (SWT) bless them with good kismet (fortune)” I can’t count how many times I have heard these sentences being said to my mother. Different women, same words, same connotations each time. For most of my life it did not bother me. I took it in stride. After all, it is a burden to have four daughters in a Pakistani society. To find an educated husband for them, to painstakingly accumulate their dowry, to train them in the art of keeping house; above all to ensure their ...

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Pakistani women, cricket and their dilemma

To stand in the sunlight, over the lush green grass of a cricket ground, surrounded by hordes of people cheering you on while you aim to annihilate the stumps with that ball in your hand is no longer just a man’s dream. Today, women too aspire to have a career in cricket and recent events have shown that they are very much capable of becoming great cricketers. The Pakistan women’s cricket team made it to the limelight when the national squad won medals in the 2010 Asian Games and brought glory to their nation. This was a major milestone, not just for the ...

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