Turmoil, turmoil.

31st of October, 2018. Wednesday.

It is Halloween. The western world might celebrate this, but we do not. It is simply not part of our culture. But where the rest of the world puts on scary masks and dons costumes, we have horrors of our own. They don’t wear masks, but they have beards and turbans, their shalwars always reveal their ankles, and are quick to sort out the people of hell and heaven, as if they were not the representatives of God, but God themselves.

Slogans are being chanted, cars and tyres set on fire, the roads blocked, all sorts of public transport is closed. Those who did not find out about the protest soon enough are stranded in universities and  offices. Those who are brave enough to venture home reach after hours of delay with tales of terror and violence.

I was fortunate enough to get home on time before all the roads were blocked, some of my classmates were not. One girl who came from a nearby city has no means to return home; the city has been sealed by the maulvis, she seeks refuge at a relative’s house.

The Supreme Court has acquitted am illiterate woman in a blasphemy case. The woman had been awarded a death penalty in 2015 but inconclusive evidence couldn’t hang a woman unjustly. It was a rather shady case from the start, not enough witnesses, not a very thorough investigation either. A case suspiciously hyped for no apparent reason. The Tehreek e Labaik has always been sensitive about the Prophet (S.A.W), but so has the rest of the nation.

Tehreek e Labaik demands the generals of the Armed Forces rebel against the army chief. They also demand the people rebel against the supreme court. Death to the judges, and death to the poor woman!

There is an anthem that goes viral, “Na bijli dou na paani dou, bas Aasia bibi ko phansi dou,” (don’t give us water or electricity, just hang Aasia Bibi). It sends a shiver down my spine, so many people against one illiterate poor woman! So much hate, for one innocent person! So many people suffering, because the maulvis are determined to have one person hanged to death for their beloved Prophet (saw), the man who preached PEACE and HUMANITY!

The mobile service is shut down.

1st of November, 2018. Thursday.

The next day, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan addresses the nation, telling them to stay calm in the wake of agitation, for the Supreme Court upholds only Islamic Law and the decision was made in accordance with Islamic jurisdiction. He also warns people of rebelling against the state.

At night, the petrol pump owners are worried. With all roads blocked and no way to supply their pumps, the fuel reserves are low.

Young men, armed, force the markets  to shut down. People all over are now stuck in their houses, or others’ houses, glued to the TV screen, waiting for it to all be over. However, in the ten o clock news bulletin, all negotiations with the Tehreek e Labaik, now clearly a fanatic organization misusing the name of religion, are still unsuccessful.

Schools and universities are closed again. The board of Intermediate and Secondary Education postpones all exams and practicals to be held on the 2nd and 3rd of November. Some roads are opened.

The mobile service is still not available.

2nd November, 2018. Friday.

The motorway is opened. All major roads are closed. However, the motorway is closed again. Some people are stuck on the motorway, no way of going back.

The headlines show only the protests and nothing more. Fuel reserves are running out. Already, some of the major pumps are closed. Vegetables and fruit, meat, everything has its supplies blocked. Broiler chicken jumps to 220 rupees per kg. With a shortage of food, prices go soaring as there is now no one to check the prices.

Friday is already a high-alert day, but heavier security than usual is ordered particularly around the minorities.

Images of burnt rickshaws and motorcycles go viral on social media.

The Prime Minister leaves for China on an official tour.

A major leader of the Jamiat e Ulama e Islam is stabbed to death at his residence. 82 years old, stabbed 12 times during the fifteen minutes his driver went out. The motive is unclear; Maulana Samiul Haq was a supporter of the protests so the TLP are not likely to have anything to do with it.

The government and the TLP reach an agreement: the TLP stops protests and the government puts the name of Aasia bibi on the Exit Control List, the people arrested after the 30th of October will be released, the TLP puts in a “sorry for any inconvenience” as an afterthought and gets away with it.

3rd of November, 2018. Saturday.

Things go back to normal. The roads are open, every day life returns to the usual, people start worrying about the economy again as “130.5 rupees per dollar” flashes on the screen. Khyber Pakhtun Khwa announces a day of mourning for Mualana Samiul Haq.

Aasia bibi’s lawyer, Siaf ul Mulook, boards a flight to Europe saying his life was in danger and he “needed to stay alive”.


These are my personal opinions only, and are not meant to offend anyone.

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Rejection

I had wanted something that was, well, hard to get. Not impossible, but hard. And, well, I didn’t get it. It was a hard time for me. I had wanted this so much, so incredibly much, that when I didn’t get it, I was heartbroken. It was like all my dreams had shattered. I thought I was over it, that it seemed to matter much less to me, until now. I saw the picture of someone who did get what I had wanted, and had prayed for two (or more) years.

All the emotions came back. A million and one thoughts crisscrossed my mind, with one thing in mind: I didn’t get it. Why? I asked Allah a thousand times. Why hadn’t I been able to get it? Was it because I didn’t want it enough? Was it because I wasn’t good enough? I knew I had tried my best; but the epicentre of the pain was one big w h y.

How could this be “better” for me? My life after that was one black abyss of nothing. I had dreamed and day dreamed and hoped for this one thing so much, that now, I wasn’t sure what to do. I could try again, but who was to say this time wouldn’t be the same?

And then the familiar feeling of dread: my entire life would be one of inconsequence. I would have no place among the world and I hated this feminine body even more. But that was life, I guess. Perhaps my life would be a suffering. What force could I bring against fate?

Tick Tock

The monotony brings out the worst in you. Day after day, week after week, you see the same people, do the same things, eat the same food. It isn’t pleasant. Every time the bell rings, you wonder who it could be? And then you have to remind yourself, you know who it is. You read, you do your chores, you do everything, then what? You talk to friends who have something exciting going on. You run from the kitchen to your room (when no one’s there). You decide to chose your outfit. White stripes today, plain black tomorrow, floral the day after that. Life is one big drag, but also a question mark. Every fifteen minutes you look at the clock, only to see five minutes have past since you last checked.

Some days, you don’t even want to read your book. Or run. Or anything. You do your chores and go back to lying down, looking up at the ceiling. Sometimes thinking, other times not even that. You wonder about existing and not existing, you pick up a notebook or a laptop to write. That’s when The Fear of Blank Pages and Blinking Cursors appears out of no where, and you quit.

Perhaps months afterwards, when work or university keeps you occupied, you say to yourself: I wish I was free and had nothing to do. And the vicious cycle begins again as you apply for annual leave, or as the summer begins.

 


Inktober day 14: Clock.

The Woman Who Lived

Funny, how, for most people, scary was ghosts in the ceiling or banging pots in the kitchen late at night. Funny, how, for her, that wasn’t even scary. She had jinns in her house. She could hear them, the entire muhallah knew they were their. This wasn’t any old wives’ tale, it was true. But scary, for her, had just materialized. Scary would be her migration from this village to the new state of Pakistan, where her husband had left to go ten days ago on a bus, and where she would be going, all alone, on foot.

There were other women with her. All cursed by the same religion to leave everything behind. She had with her two kids: the elder of them was 2 years old, a boy, and the younger one just two months old. Kill the infant,that’s what everyone had said to her. Kill the boy, it will be a mercy to him! She had tried and failed. How do you kill your own flesh and blood?! How do you look into those innocent eyes and take their light, their life? But she knew, if the Sikhs got him… the thought was too hard to bear. She had seen with her own eyes as she moved between muhajir camps bodies of babies torn in half, strewn across with the bodies of the mothers nearby, in no respectable state. It sent more than shivers down her spine. When they had been raiding the village, she had taken her baby out into the field, clutched it tight against her chest to muffle the screams, almost suffocating him. And with the other boy, maybe they were right… No. She could not. God bless this other woman, the only other woman in the camp who did not have a child of her own, who helped her carry the two boys. This, this wasn’t scary. This was an actual living nightmare. She saw women in front of her jump into wells, despairing of ever reaching the Pakistani border. Perhaps…

70 years later, she would recount this experience once to her great grand children. Those of the then two-month-old. And her son would lay next to her at night, her a widow, he a widower, and would soothe her back to sleep as her nightmares would keep her awake. And she’d thank God, after seeing all her great grand kids of all eight grandchildren at Eid, that she didn’t jump into a well, too.

*based on true events. The woman in question is my Great grandmother, and the baby was my granddad.

Daily prompt: Scary

Guarded

Look at yourself. Not just in the mirror, but really really look at yourself. Look at the thousands of bonds and atoms and structures holding you up. Look, look how intricately you’ve been put together, the thousand and one complexities that make you you. You are not alone. You never have been, and you never will be. You have thousands of cells just waiting to serve you; millions more that are serving you. You wake up in the morning and all these structures jump up just to greet you!

See how the sun positions itself to let its rays warm you? See how the moon reflects you to show you beauty? See how the trees have outstretched leaves, inviting you to spend time with them? See how the grass bends over so you walk only on the softest bits? See how the flowers smile when they see you?

You’re not alone. You’ve been guarded. Against loneliness. There’s a galaxy within you should the outside ever push you into isolation. Iblis said, “I will come at them–from their front and their back, from their right and their left — and You will find that most of them are ungrateful.” (Al-Araf:18) The reason he can’t get to you from above is because the help of the Almighty is above, guarding you. For you.

Look; your shoulders feel light because there are two angels helping you carry your burden. Look, just look at how you’ve been guarded against your loneliness… the loneliness that is a figment of your imagination.

And even then, should you feel lonely, look inside. What does He say?

“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” (50:16)

Closer to you than your own thoughts. The Rabb. The centre of the Galaxy.


Inktober Day 13: guarded.

Rainy

Slipped again. There was no time! Slipped, crawled, stopped for a chew. Stop getting distracted! What if you die! Rolled from the green to the dirt below, it was time to go underground.

The little girl held the watering can in her hand. Funny, she thought, how the water sends the worms and caterpillars scrambling to get underground. Her hands poked the dirt. They panicked even more. She chuckled to herself.

for https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/your-daily-word-prompt-rainy-October-12-2018/

 

An Update You Didn’t Ask For

Quiet mornings. That’s all I ask for. Quiet in the morning, if you don’t want me to be grumpy all day. Sometimes I don’t eat toast for breakfast and just have water and milk because the crunch becomes unbearable.  So today, after I had read for an hour, it was quite natural for me to stay in bed when I heard the tv on full volume.

At first, there was an Islamic lecture. Then came on these overly patriotic songs that were really not what I needed. I had to eventually wake up, of course. But the songs were put back on at night; really not my cup of tea.

You see, these songs are all very similar,  some will move you to tears, others just make you all warm. But they don’t really mean anything. They are a passing feeling. You’ll see scores of people waving flags and singing along at national days. But those same people will also be the ones who litter, cross a red light, complain and do nothing, consume, and elect corrupt leaders who will make them poorer.

And it’s not even just them. In a sense, Pakistan was never really came into being. A piece of land does not make a nation. As Qudrat Allah Shahab says, Pakistan needed the people’s votes to come into being, but votes alone cannot run a country. Qudrat Allah Shahab was a member of the Indian Civil Service, and afterwards shifted to Pakistan Civil Service in 1947. But even then, although he had come to this country with high hopes and a passion for his people, it was not replicated in the other officials. Even after the creation of Pakistan, it became a status symbol for people to write “Former ICS” with their names. You see, small evidences like this indicate the “slave mindset” was never actually broken. And if it wasn’t broken, it must continue today. I could quote a million and one examples of this mindset, so when I hear songs of superficial patriotism, it doesn’t fool me. It annoys me. Because everyone can sing and memorize these songs, anyone can wave a flag, but few people can actually stand for what this piece of land stands for. Perhaps it is because I have heard accounts of horrifying stories of Partition first hand, or it is because my great-grandfather was also a member of the ICS (and then PCS), perhaps because I just don’t believe in fluid plans, I am not particularly amazed by these songs.

The Pakistani rupee has been devalued once again, the prime minister has made humongous promises that seem too good to be true, inflation everywhere, and the national debt increases further. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? We really cannot know.

As for a more personal update, I’m free till the end of October, which means I have to sit at home for another two weeks, and I am tired. I am in dire need of good company and this blog seems to be my social circle at the moment, as my actual social circle seems too busy for me. I have been reading (although not as much as I should have), I’m still an awful cook. I have two left feet and two left hands (if that makes sense to you), I have not written anything of substance. And the weather is changing (which is big news for us because weather is not just small talk for us, it is a huge part of every conversation between any two people here).

The highlight of my day is sitting with a mug of green tea at night outside where the air has a slight chill, and it is quite refreshing. If you’re still reading, I  apologize, this “rant” was targeted at breaking my writer’s block completely. IF you’re still reading, please send out a little prayer for every soul in distress, for all the people affected by these natural disasters, for my country which I don’t seem to belong to, for my writing skills, for people in third world countries (like mine) who do not live, only survive, and for yourself. May we keep growing.