Stories about home

Moving out of a joint family isn’t as easy as it sounds

The desire to hold the rein is one thing, to actually command it is another. At most social gatherings, we often find women complaining about how miserable their lives are and how their in-laws who live with them keep putting hurdles in their way. They usually sum up their tale of woe by saying, “Apni marzi se banda mar bhi nahi sakta hai” (You can’t even die at your own will) What they don’t realise is that the much desired independence from the in-laws leads to a massive increase in responsibilities. My wife and I were enamoured with the idea of moving out to a house arranged to our ...

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Pakistan just doesn’t feel like home

“I have and always will live in Canada.” Well, that was the plan until two years ago when all my plans, my vision for life – everything changed suddenly and rapidly. Quite unexpectedly, I had to make new plans, which included living in Pakistan. My eyes still closed I enjoyed the crisp, cool weather and tried to decipher whether the heating was on or not. As I pulled the pillow over my face to block the sunlight, I decided that the heating had to be on. After all, November in Toronto was never cool; it was freezing. This thought led me to the far less ...

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When the policeman aimed his gun at us and my dad yelled ‘Shoot!’

It was Wednesday October 9, 2013 and I still remember how exhausted I was. I had just taken a test and was on my way back home from school. I just wanted to go home and sleep. On Khayaban e Ghazi, we saw two police mobiles and a bulletproof prison car. We were ahead of them, and one guard on the first police mobile gave us the signal to keep moving, so we kept going. On Gizri Boulevard, we were going down the slope leading to the Saudi house; my father was driving and had indicated that he was going ...

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Pakistan’s winning hockey team forgotten, losing cricket team adored?

There is no free lunch when it comes to coverage of sports in Pakistan. Pakistan’s hockey team has just won the second Asian Champions Trophy by beating Japan in the finals and with this victory, Pakistan has retained the title for the second time. Interestingly, while our hockey squad was on stage in Japan reveling with their gold medals, Pakistan’s cricket team was getting hammered at the hands of the South Africans in the UAE. Even more interesting was the stark contrast in the nation’s response to these two international sporting events. Even though Pakistan lost the ODI series, the audience was glued to ...

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When we were too poor to afford Blue Band margarine

I still remember the day that Blue Band margarine was introduced to Alamdar Bakery in my home-town of Quetta, Pakistan. The glossy silver packaging and the light blue printing stood out among all the other butter in the bakery’s refrigerator. However, I refrained from taking an interest in this new product since I was well aware that my parents would not be able to afford it. I continued to consume the inexpensive Liaquat Makkhan for breakfast even after the older brother of the baker recommended Blue Band with great zeal; I consoled myself by thinking that he was just trying to improve his sales. As the weeks ...

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A doctor’s worst nightmare

It had been a pretty gruelling 30 hours. Her hands shook as she poured out a cup of tea for herself and tried to relax. Four patients had been admitted with final stage liver disease, the previous night. Two of them had died during the night, despite all efforts at resuscitation. One was recovering after suffering a massive bout of vomiting blood and the fourth was in a coma, but she was hopeful he would come out of it. Half of her night had been spent explaining the dismal prognosis of de-compensated liver disease to the patients’ relatives and attendants, and ...

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This is what ‘Pakistan’ means to me

Walking or driving around the streets of my country, I can never give words to the mix of feelings and emotions that I experience. Is it the sense of belonging, which I never feel anywhere else in the world? Is it patriotism which brings tears to my eyes whenever I see a little boy running around the streets with a giant Pakistan flag? Driving by the Mazar-e-Quaid waving flags. Photo: Muhammad Noman “Why do you like Pakistan so much?” “Why would you want to live here when everyone here wants to leave?” “What is so good about Pakistan?” These are ...

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Why isn’t my father home yet?

It’s getting late; I wonder why Baba hasn’t come home yet. I ask Ami if he’s called, she says no. My brother hasn’t heard from him all day either. My mother’s face doesn’t betray any anxiety, but I see her stealing glances at the clock every five minutes. I pick up the phone, and dial his number. It rings a few times, and then the lady on the phone – that I always took to be Benazir Bhutto when I was a child – says the number I’m trying to reach isn’t answering. She asks me to please try ...

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Leaving for college but trying to fit ‘home’ into a suitcase

Every time I leave home, I have the urge to pack everything within sight. Accessories I will never use, dozens of Pakistan flags I will forget to put up, books I won’t get time to read, stray tokens of days spent at home so that I may relive them at will. However, this odd impulse isn’t nearly as exasperating as the reality that I can’t actually pack the things that matter the most, because they are intangible. My sister’s voice or the spark in her chatter; my mother’s worried frown when she thinks I’m overworked; long, honest conversations with old friends; the innate comfort ...

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Why you should pick a college away from home

Unlike the West, where living away from home is a norm, a large part of our traditional Pakistani society is new and rather averse to this notion. Most parents are overprotective by nature and are unwilling to disrupt the family dynamics. Thus, they are reluctant to even consider the possibility of sending their children away from home. Sure, attending college in one’s hometown is an experience in itself.  However, I think that the purpose of college education entails character-building, ability to deal with copious amount of pressure and exploring the person that one is or wishes to be. Dorm-life, in ...

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