Stories about words

The graffiti promised a cure for my son’s disease, it was all a lie!

“Man-Pasand shaddi…” (Marriage of your choice) “Kia aap be-aulaad hain?” (Are you childless?) “Kamzor jism ko mota banaein…” (Beat weakness and get healthy) Photo: Sana Urooj I am sure every single person in Karachi is immune to all these appealing statements painted on walls catching our eyes almost daily. The system is usually blamed for such cheap marketing tactics but it is in fact, Karachiites’ signature trend – purposely created. Graffiti, defined as wordings or images scribbled on a wall, actually originates from ancient Romans and Egyptians in the form of cave paintings and was used as a manner of self-expression. It has transformed ever since in ...

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What would you do if your brother was abducted?

In the words of Imam Baksh Nasikh, “Teri ankhein tuo sukhan go hain magar kaun sune, Kyun kar awaaz karein mardam-e-beemar buland?” (“Your eyes tell us everything, but who will listen, Why would a weak nation raise its voice?”) Picture provided by the author. Source: AP This image of Farzana Majeed is iconic – a young woman in a blue shawl and red cap, standing with a portrait of her missing brother after walking 2,000 kilometres to find him. Farzana holds a double Masters and is the general secretary of the Voice for Baloch Missing Person’s March, members of which walked across Pakistan to ...

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Aao bacho sair karain tumko Pakistan ki: Not an ordinary nursery rhyme…

There is a very famous poem, by a very famous poet, written in a more hopeful and exuberant time. It has been set to wonderful, cheerful music and is taught to children everywhere. And in the video below, a child sings something that sounds very much like it. But listen carefully. The music has the same happy lilt, but the words are horribly different. So different, in fact, that a few people I showed this video to were seriously offended at what they consider to be a serious perversion of a great piece of art. The original poem and its English translation ...

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MohenjoDaro may not be the same after the Sindh Festival gets done with it!

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Sometimes, those words carry a sense of agony and irony.  Such was the case when I came across a picture depicting the historic mound of MohenjoDaro, surrounded by wooden scaffolding and construction crews. My first reaction was to do a double take. I thought I surely had been mistaken for why would anyone allow such an archaeological wonder to go under the proverbial knife and in such a daring fashion? Upon reading the associated article, I was informed that preparations were afoot to hold the opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival at this heritage site. The festival ...

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Ali Azmat, you crossed the line

Comic book writer and filmmaker Kevin Smith once said the following words and they are perhaps some of the most profound I have ever read, probably because they resonate on a personal level: “Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favourite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.” As a child I loved to draw and for a ten-year-old I ...

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Remembrance Day: Will Muslims go to hell for wearing poppies?

“Muslims who sell poppies today will burn in hellfire tomorrow.” These were the words of the radical British religious fundamentalist Anjem Choudary, as news was out regarding the ever increasing British Muslim support for Remembrance Day. Statistics show that over a million Muslims residing in Britain will be sporting a poppy on Sunday, honouring the departed soldiers during the two World Wars, who fought for the crown. Now here is the dilemma: Should the Pakistani British community participate in this remembrance or not? Especially in times like these when Pakistan’s relations with the Western world are tainted to a great extent. We accuse their media of ...

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Living with terrorism and the five stages of grief

The most dreaded words ever to be uttered by a physician are perhaps, “You have cancer.” These three words often mean the death sentence for many; the beginning of the end. Although every physician tries to make this announcement in the most compassionate way, it is also important not to confuse the patient by giving them false hope. This is because the initial step towards the long and arduous road to recovery is first recognizing the severity and nature of the disease. Only after that can possible treatment options be discussed including their risks, benefits and approximate rates of cure. Although it ...

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My mother’s last words to me

I wrote this a few days after my mother passed away today on October 2, 1989. I have carried it with me since not knowing if what I wrote was meant only for me.  As the memories of that night flood me again, I feel that the heaviness of carrying it for so long has made me weak. I also don’t know when I might join her (and my dad), and this true story will go down with me. I suppose by sharing this with you I can tell you what a fine woman she was and how all she ...

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“Democracy is the best revenge,” President Zardari’s legacy

I can say with some confidence that President Zardari’s legacy will be written in golden words. I don’t say this as his son, or patron-and-chief of the Pakistan People’s Party – but as a student of history. I would compare his presidency to that of America’s Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ). He too was an accidental president. He came to power following the assassination of the popular and charismatic John F Kennedy. Much like Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, JFK was assassinated before he could implement much of his agenda and vision for the country. LBJ used the political capital he gained following ...

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Yorkshire: Where trays are ‘chrays’ and water is ‘wa-er’

One day, on our way home from school, my son asked me why English boys pronounce jacket potato as ‘jakei po-A-o.’ I didn’t have an appropriate, grammatical explanation for this very rational question. However, what I do know now is that north east England is famous for its English accent and is commonly referred to as the “drop T area”. Locals here conveniently forget to pronounce the alphabet ‘T’ while conversing. So, words such as ‘bottle’ become ‘bo—el’ and water become ‘wa—er’. Albeit, this might sound entertaining and funny, it can be a real nuisance for immigrants like myself. When I ...

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