Stories about poetry

How I jumped off the porch and wrote a book at the age of 21

When I was seven-years-old, I wrote a poem about a cat too afraid to jump off a three-foot porch. The cat’s name was Tom, and he was afraid of heights and thought he’d die if he made the jump. At the end of the two stanza poem, Tom makes the jump and realises he’s a fairly good jumper – as all cats are. From that day on, Tom isn’t afraid to jump off the porch. From that day on, Tom is brave. When I was 16-years-old, I fell in love with an amazing girl who would go on and break ...

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We all know what divides India and Pakistan, but do you know what unites them?

When it comes to India and Pakistan, one comes across an array of academicians and scholars in western campuses with piles of research on the Kashmir problem, Siachen and Sir Creek. But one hardly comes across any serious initiative to explore what unites India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan are inheritors of a common civilisation and hence we have an ocean of shared heritage in literature, philosophy, music, food, and mysticism. These days, it seems we have completely forgotten the days when we regaled ourselves over the melodies of Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali and Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi. Even the days ...

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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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Waking up on Eid as a broken and crippled orphan

I could hear the noise saying the moon was sighted, Joy all around, the festival was tomorrow but I wasn’t excited. I stared at the moon, they all found it jubilant and bright, It was quiet, too dark and for me, it felt like any other night. Was it something I did or was it something I said? That I don’t know of happiness with you now, it all feels so gloomy and dead. I imagine celebrating with you, I picture how it could be, And someday when we meet, I’ll ask you, mother – did you ever think of me? Should I learn to live these times completely on my ...

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Take with you all that is yours

“What is it like migrating to another country for work?” I asked a middle-aged, growing old, worn out man. There appeared deep wrinkles on his forehead, deep like incurable scars. His eyes blinked, as if trying to capture the escaping moments, and he heaved a cold sigh. “What can I say?” He whispered in anguish. “I came here to earn just enough money, to run a home with dignity. A home with my parents, brothers, sisters, my wife, and our children, But I’ve increasingly fallen short of making that home, Let alone running it. Having spent some 15 years here, In this foreign land, Which is still foreign to me. I would say– If there’s no other ...

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You should expect nothing

There are days of glee and sorrow, There are days of wonder and freight, There are days of worry, insecurity — Thoughts that you’ve been victimised. There are protruding, menacing, cutting eyes, Staring. They watch your every move. It’s not some higher power or satan or big brother, It’s just all the people who expect something from you. And the days will pass you by. You will find new shores and highways. You will look beyond the roofs of Karachi, and the markets of Lahore. You will breathe in the stink of cities, leaving the Big Apple behind. You will see the world — not really, But it will be enough. They will wonder where you’ve gone, maybe they really do ...

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O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more

O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more. The men with daggers for hearts walk the blood-soaked streets free and alive, With eyes colder than the Kashmir winds and veins warmer than Thar, they thrive, And all your children can do is close their eyes as the blood seeps into the roots, and from society, they drive. The women afraid of walking into the vegetable store, of all ages, Succumbing to the prying eyes, the filth that lay within the savages, They yell and scream, yell and scream, into the newspaper pages, And all your children can do is turn it over as a mere casualty in the inevitable collateral damages, O’ ...

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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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Her smile, was it real or illusive?

Was she an empress, whose command was ultimate? That echoed through the outstretched lands? Or was she an ordinary being but not a commoner? Was she soul thirsty, bewitched, and engrossed in depths? One who could correlate to the enormity of the oceans? Nevertheless, she wasn’t incapable of being envied. Her eyes were buried with deep secrets of time Her smile, a mystery, was it real or illusive? Was her forehead overshadowed by a gloomy darkness? Whoever beheld her sight tried to unfold these truths. In light, her expressions easily changed, Thus, one could misperceive into it anything It all depended on the one who entered her soul, As though it was ...

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Who should we write about?

Are the people we write about, The only ones that exist? These days, They say, It’s impossible to be alive, Without a voice, A presence. You’ve stopped asking why, But still they say, It’s important the world remembers, Remembers that you exist. But there are those, Who exist (and have existed), Without a word, Who think and act, And prefer not to write. Who live, And stand comfortably next to death, Unafraid, Unprotesting. These people, Hold on to their thoughts, Peeking at them at nights, And pushing them deep inside long overcoats during the day. They derive pleasure in the most insignificant things, And belittle the most significant ones, Who are these people? Who leave without a trace, Without fanfare, Or memorials, Or movies that display their pictures, Nor can people trace the length of their smiles, Nor are children named after them. And not even the bench has their imprints anymore. But maybe, we should call back our eyes, And search, now, in other places. Which ...

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