Stories about suffering

Hero versus Pakistan’s villains

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality”― Arthur Schopenhauer. This is the story of Hero, a donkey that remains in critical condition after violent abuse. Every time I think our morality and apathy has hit rock bottom, I am proven wrong by another heinous incident that brutally violates norms of human decency and shreds any form of animal welfare. The more animal welfare is highlighted and the more awareness we all raise, ...

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The room of beasts and unspeakable secrets

Mahnaz sat under an ivory sky on the ground outside the library building of her college. A light and wispy summer breeze kept turning the pages of a tattered and well-thumbed copy of Jane Eyre lying at her feet. She had just finished reading the book for the umpteenth time, which was evident from the pages that were all worn and dog-eared, the margins that crawled with hastily scribbled notes, the pastel-coloured post-its that protruded from every page, and the spine that was riven with creases. Every time she finished reading the book, she could not help but cringe ...

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How could Gul Bano’s own father ruin her life?

The day was bright, the sun blazing and a sweet smell of blossom swayed in the air. The village of Charbagh was witnessing the beginning of summer. Gul Bano’s elaborately styled reddish brown hair and her emerald green eyes glinted in the sunlight. She wore a green shalwar kameez that matched her eyes, and a white dupatta enhanced by gold and silver threads, to complete the look. Father had told her they were going to meet someone important today. She had asked over and over again who this important person was, and why she had to go meet him, but ...

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Life at the fringes of empire: Edward Eastwick in Sindh

Edward Eastwick (1814-1883) entered the service of the East India Company at the comparatively late age of 22, after arriving in Bombay in the summer of 1836. This was not Eastwick’s first trip abroad. Following the unlikely advice of a family doctor and the ‘earnest solicitations’ of his wife, Eastwick’s father Robert had taken his sickly 10-year-old son on a year-long opium-trading voyage to China in 1825. Eastwick caught the travel bug, and probably many others besides. The privations of this early voyage may have gone some way to prepare Eastwick for his first posting in India as ‘Assistant Political Agent, Upper Sindh’. After an ...

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On Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

“My dear sir,” he began almost solemnly, “Poverty is no vice – that is the truth. I know that drunkenness is also no virtue, and that is even more so. But destitution, my dear sir, destitution is a vice, sir. In poverty you may still preserve the nobility of your inborn feelings, but in destitution no one ever does.” This turned out to be my second attempt at reading Crime and Punishment; the first attempt was brought to a sudden halt by a slight turn of events. As a result, this wreaked havoc on my vintage copy of Crime and Punishment – the one translated by Richard Pevear ...

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Chernobyl Prayer: A chilling walk through nuclear disaster struck lives

On April 26, 1986, at a nuclear plant in Chernobyl, a restricted district in Ukraine, a slapdash scientific experiment ignited a fire that exploded the plant and unleashed a heavy mass, almost 50 tonnes, of radioactive element into the atmosphere. The radioactive contamination swiftly spread towards much of Western USSR and Europe. The highly excited nuclear particles infested fields, landscapes, forest, villages and cities, leaving the area highly radioactive for hundreds of years to come. The Chernobyl disaster is one of the worst and most catastrophic nuclear accidents in the history of mankind; hence, it was no surprise that ...

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To Gaza

Nothing remains but the ruins of hopes and dreams. So much sorrow, so much suffering, So long, somehow, The sacrifices it seems were made in vain. Every day is a tragedy, Everyday a massacre, There are no more tears left to cry. Or so I thought… Can you see? Instead of a house, there are remnants of a home, Like pieces of a dismantled puzzle everywhere; A puzzle that will remain such with its remains strewn far and wide, Together with the lives and existence of those who inhabited it. Can you imagine? There is a boy, And the dream of that boy to be a grown-up. His aspirations so pure, his ...

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Has Pakistan forgotten what Ramazan means?

The most awaited Islamic month, Ramazan, is here. Muslims around the globe observe this month in their own, unique way. In Pakistan, people are usually busy buying groceries, making regular trips to the tailors to get their Eid outfits stitched, setting up their houses, planning iftar parties and praying – all in that order. Ramazan in the United States is celebrated differently, however. Muslims try to change their timings and cut down their work shifts so that they stay fresh for taraweeh prayers and late night qayaam. As an American Muslim, it is a great test to stay patient while fasting and dealing with ...

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Acting superior but feeling inferior?

Sometime ago, I came across a news article on Facebook about a woman who had killed herself because she didn’t like the colour of her hair. Apparently, she made several appointments with her hairdresser but after being repeatedly disappointed with the results, she gave up and killed herself. This shocked me at first but I soon realised that that this wasn’t really anything new. Although perhaps, not as mentally disturbed as that woman, I have personally seen a number of girls around me suffering from similar problems. The way they look affects their entire attitude towards life and their hair, skin, clothes, ...

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Bombs, rape and death: Are we suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Mood and anxiety disorders are prevalent all over the world and they exist in different types and forms. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that stems from traumatic or life threatening experiences encountered by an individual. The events experienced may vary, from natural disasters and severe automobile accidents to violent personal assaults, life-threatening situations and wars. The individual initially responds with intense fear, hopelessness and horror and later develops symptoms which are visible when her or she revisits the event through perception or conversation. Patients who suffer from PTSD also have trouble sleeping. These patients have a lot of anxiety, ...

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