Stories about time

That night she became Riffat Bai and everything changed

“Kokhla chapha kay jumairaat ayi hay… jaira picchay murr kay wekkhay odhi shaamat aai hay… kokhla chapha kay jumairaat ayi hay… jaira picchay mur…” their chanting went on and on. (I have hidden the dupatta behind you on Thursday and if you turn your head around, you’ll be in trouble) She dragged herself from the pile in the corner. Steadying herself against the wall, she looked around for her cane. It was in the other corner of the room. She sat back down, sliding against the wall. The paint crackled as she moved, falling down the feeble wall. Holding herself against ...

Read Full Post

A letter to my abuser: You took advantage of me and made me believe it was my fault

Hi, I hope this letter finds you in good health. I know I’ve been avoiding you for quite some time now. Even when we’re at the same place at the same time, I act like I don’t know you’re there. But isn’t that funny? How I’ll always greet you sincerely, but try my best to avoid you for as long as possible? I can’t look into your eyes. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Why? Because I remember everything. I remember how aggressively you asked me to look straight into your eyes as your hand went inside my shirt. I stood there, unable to move, ...

Read Full Post

Time

Her breath was already heavy last night. Her heartbeat at 45 clicks a minute. But it beat. Quietly and clearly; it pumped on. The light on the monitor was green and it would beep every now and then. The sound meant she was alive. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in here. At first I thought the walls would close in on me. It felt claustrophobic, but not anymore. I know the nurses by their first names now, and the chef at the cafeteria turned out to be an old college colleague. He always had a knack for cooking. ...

Read Full Post

Beth Jata Hon Mitti Pay Aksar: A tribute to our lonely wanderers

The outlook of the working class around the globe and Pakistan in particular has changed dramatically over the past 20-30 years. People are coming out from the comfort of their home towns and moving to bigger cities and foreign countries for jobs and education. But this comes at a cost; a large number of these people have to stay away from their families and friends for extended periods of time, and that changes a lot of things; from their personality to their lifestyle. Beth Jata Hon Mitti Pay Aksar (I Often Sit on the Soil) is a narration of such lives, something most the ...

Read Full Post

Dear Abba, I’m sorry

Dear Abba, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for crying profusely when you held me in your arms for the first time, and stopped sulking as soon as you kissed my forehead and handed me over to Ammi. I had just opened my eyes in this world, and I was unsure of your love. I was your first son, but somehow was always more connected to Ammi. I’m sorry for the time when you picked a crying me up from my cot, held me in your arms, wearing your crisp, trademark double-pocketed shalwar kameez, early in the morning ready to go to work, and I drenched you ...

Read Full Post

Jack Reacher: Never Go back (take a cue from the title and don’t ever go back to it)

During the 90’s, a sure shot way to figure out a wannabe was to ask a simple question involving the identity of their favorite Hollywood actor. The acid test usually yielded a cringe worthy Tom Cruise or a Brad Pitt. Every now and then you also get a wise-ass girl pseudo-retorting with an, ‘Apnay aap ko Tom Cruise samajhtay ho kya?’ (Do you think you’re Tom Cruise?) type of lousy comeback line. Even then I would be all ‘heck no!  I’d rather frikkin be a Bobby De Niro than the overrated Cruise’. Tom Cruise in Jack ...

Read Full Post

I am Pakistani, just like you. Except we’re not the same

Edmonton like many other metropolitan cities is an interesting blend of people of various nationalities, race, religion and creed. Walk around in the neighbourhood or enjoy the lazy summer sunshine in a park and you will be struck with a variety of people and languages you hear. The same exotic sampling of populations is present in schools, which gives children a wonderful opportunity to not only mingle or learn about various cultures but also to accept their differences and forge friendships out of their own communities at a very young age. It was a special day for the children of a small elementary school in Edmonton. They had ...

Read Full Post

I’d wear the burkini over a bikini any day

The women’s rights minister in France, Laurence Rossignol, thinks that burkinis are “profoundly archaic”. Who wouldn’t agree with me, if I said that she is no different than any rigidly religious person who criticises a woman for what she wears. It is a woman’s own choice and no one gets to make that decision for us. I am a Muslim but perhaps not the ‘best’ practising Muslim. Religion usually doesn’t play a very big role in my decisions (fellow Muslims please don’t jump to conclusion for my statement, but I would rather be honest than be a hypocrite!). So anything that I ...

Read Full Post

Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, Pakistan had bathroom walls

Long before Pakistanis vented their frustrations out on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp, there was another social networking platform where they would speak their minds; the walls of public bathrooms. You may have a brief sojourn at your favourite motorway stop, a loo in a college or one of those rare public rest-rooms that your rulers kindly allowed you to have. All you needed to do was have a look at the wall and there they were: the hopes and the fears, the laughs and the hatred, the good and the bad of a society constantly ruminating over their existential woes in the most ...

Read Full Post

Ephesus: City that rivaled Rome

Rome has existed as far back as the eighth century. The Roman Empire covered most of Europe, parts of North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During its peak, this empire rivalled existing empires. Due to the expansion the Roman Empire, new cities evolved and flourished. The city of Ephesus was one of the major commerce centres that strengthened the Roman foothold in Asia. Ephesus existed since before the Bronze Age and had lived through the Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods. But it was during the Roman period that this harbour city progressed, and ultimately became the second largest city ...

Read Full Post