Stories about silence

I got dreams, dreams to remember

“I got dreams, dreams to remember.” I repeated this for hours on the soft prayer mat that cushioned my knees. My hands were cupped close to my chest, a tear falling occasionally on the lines of my palms. I got dreams, dreams to remember. There was a quiet drizzle outside my window. The wind picked up and the branches brushed across the glass. The tapping of the water on the window pane was the only noise I could hear, apart from my own breathing and that of Zamzam’s. I opened my eyes into darkness. I felt as if the blur from my tears hindered ...

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#MeToo: I was 8 when he taught me that a woman’s body is everyone else’s but her own

“Dekh ke aahangar ki dukaan mein Tund hai shu’le, surkh hai aahan.” (See how in the blacksmith’s forge, Flames leap high and steel glows red) I was 15-years-old when I wrote a letter to my father. I was struggling at school, getting into trouble in the neighbourhood and fighting with my siblings at home. You know the usual teenage angst. I wrote, “Dad, I know what S* uncle did. I remember everything. I need help.” The week after, my father insisted that I attend a family friend’s wedding with him. At the wedding, he asked me to step outside the hall for five minutes. ...

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Because how can the GOAT Ronaldo ever rape a woman, despite her saying ‘no’ and ‘stop’?

Cristiano Ronaldo is so many things; father, son, partner, friend, mentor, hero, celebrity, athlete, and now an alleged rapist. Fans all over the world are offended; how is it that the hero they have put on a pedestal is accused of such a heinous crime? Is this a conspiracy by Lionel Messi fan boys to drag down Ronaldo’s good name? His admirers have come together to show their loyalties and back their forever favourite. In the midst of all this, I, a former Ronaldo fan, choose not to give him the benefit of the doubt. In cases of sexual ...

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The scars of her henna

Zarah Hussain, a 17-year-old girl from Lahore Grammar School International, won an essay competition organised by the British Royal Commonwealth Society. This is a proud moment for Pakistan and highlights how much talent we have in this country. We hope she continues her love for words and wish her all the best for the future. The following is the short story that won her the accolade: Red. Gold. Adorned in jewels, henna lacing her fingers with intricate, never ending flowers. And hidden in the henna somewhere would be written the name of her most beloved. A dream she’d dreamt since she’d seen the ring ...

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Has Nawaz Sharif been silenced or is it the calm before the storm?

For an outside observer, September 19th in Islamabad could easily have been mistaken for Eid – thousands gathered and cheerfully embraced each other with exuberance, and sweets were handed out to all in sight. The entrance of the Islamabad High Court was buzzing with excitement, in the aftermath of the decision to suspend the sentences handed down by the accountability court to Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Muhammad Safdar Awan. Amidst it all, the cause of celebration – former Prime Minister Nawaz – was relatively mute. Of course, the sombreness is in many ways understandable, Nawaz’s wife and former First ...

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The silence that kills us

Perhaps it isn’t the discomfort of the narrow streets which makes liberty unbearable for us, It isn’t the sharp scents of sweat which disgust us, It isn’t the crowd which suffocates us, In fact, it isn’t the noise, the crowd or the obvious lack of quality in products, It’s the silence.   The unsaid hush when I turn to speak up to the unwanted hands up my clothes, The constant background whistles of frustrated middle-aged men, It’s the toxic masculinity which suffocates us, The vulnerability when your body turns into a canvas, Painted by obnoxious stares, Held by unholy hands.   It’s the desensitisation, the normalisation, the silence, The echoes of shameless name ...

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Today is Eid, and I want to be home, not abroad

For every other day of the year, deciding what to wear early morning would be a task in itself, but not today. A kurta is hanging in the corner of my wardrobe. The entire year, I pretended it wasn’t there, but not today. Today is Eid in New York. It begins by embracing a traditional outfit to feel somewhat closer to home. A shower early morning and as usual a rush to the mosque is the norm. While trying to beat traffic to catch Eid prayer, a call back home to my parents is my favourite part. Each year, my mom asks my ...

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It was time for Laila to go home

The autumnal sky was reddened by the setting sun. Laila gazed at it in admiration. In just a few hours, the sky would turn dark and it’ll be night. And Laila would finally escape her wretched, tormenting, miserable life. She felt all her fear and trepidation melt into thin air as the world around her slowly dyed into a deeper shade of scarlet. ‘A few more hours, and I’ll be gone from here, forever.’ A cool blue dawn broke over the village of Saleh Brohi. From her window, Laila saw the streets of Saleh Brohi sprawling out below. This place was where ...

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With its suffocating silence, ‘A Quiet Place’ is one of the best thrillers to come along in a while

It’s the 89th day of a monster invasion that has ravaged the world. Fierce armoured beasts that hunt by sound have decimated the human population on the planet and are now picking off the remaining survivors. Anyone who makes the slightest sound is immediately snatched by a lethal monster. You have to stay silent to stay alive. That is the premise of A Quiet Place, a little horror thriller that has unexpectedly become the most talked about film of the moment. The story follows the Abbot family – father Lee (John Krasinski, who also directed and co-wrote the movie), mother Evelyn (Krasinski’s real ...

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Why is a Pakistani man’s masculinity so fragile that he can’t handle rejection and resorts to murder?

The scariest possibility of simply expressing your lack of interest in a man may result in – wait for it – your death. Yes, you read that right! This is not even an exaggeration. For many though, this won’t come as a surprise considering the fact that in Pakistan, people reside with extremely conservative mindsets, not to mention the deeply rooted patriarchal cultural that exists here. The misogynistic norms are heavily supported, defended and backed up by this very patriarchal culture. They are contrasted in such a way that gives leverage and power to men to entirely silence (read: ...

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