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.

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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.

Inktober Day 12

“What is beauty?” they ask. For some, it is the way water slips past the body of a #whale, as it glides gracefully in the ocean. For others, it is the steam that rises up from a cup of tea on a particularly cold morning.

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For some, it is a tiny hand grasping a larger finger for the first time. For others, it is the way the sand sticks on wet feet at the beach.

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For some, it is an autumn leaf falling to its grave. For others, it is ruined architecture reeking of the plight of the kings of the world.

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For some, it is the fajr azaan answering the prayers of a tear-stained tahajjud guzar. For others, it is the smile on a wrinkled face gleaming with the glory of the past.

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But for me, it is you. It always was, and it always will be, because beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And I’ve always used your eyes to see the beauty of the world. Without you, I’ve been blind. I’ve been depressed over hideous situations and ugly people. But with you, the world is beautiful. Every moment is precious, every second a painting, a work of art seldom recognized.


Here’s my piece for day 12 although I haven’t done any other inktober challenges! Also, I think it’s supposed to be drawn and that’s what the prompts are for but I’ll just use them as writing prompts for much needed inspiration rn! Happy Jummah✨

Forgetting

She looked out the window and tried to imagine herself in a movie. It was cold, and Lahore was supposed to be smothered in fog. Her head was spinning. She wished she had had some sleep the night before. But all this traveling, it made her anxious. And then she hadn’t been in Lahore in so long. Well, people in movies don’t have headaches like mine, she thought. She sighed out loud.

The family sitting in her compartment had been… well, entertaining for sure. Two old obese women travelling with six children, the oldest of which must’ve been an 15 year old boy (who wouldn’t stop staring at her) and the youngest just a baby, barely five months old, crying continuously. One of the women loved paan, and punctuated her chewing with periodical spits in one corner. The other tried to feed all the kids, taking out cold parathas with achar that filled the entire compartment with a weird smell.

The kids were bored, mischievous and entirely misbehaved, she thought. It hadn’t been easy, the entire journey from Karachi to Lahore. She would’ve never come if it hadn’t been her sister.

She was still anxious when she got off on the platform. She didn’t have any change so she didn’t get a quli (porter). Stumbling, she tugged her luggage as she went out of the station to look for a rickshaw. She knew this station very well. It was associated with warm memories of going away to the village to spend her holidays as a child. She thought of her grandma now: widowed and broke, she had to sell off most of her cattle and property to come live with her son in the city. The land she had left now was only a fraction of her inheritance and dowry combined. Still, it brought enough income for one old lady to shop her heart out, when her health allowed her to do so, that is.

Lost in thought, she had barely noticed the young man standing next to her. He cleared his throat to get her attention. Startled, she took a step back. It was not proper for this young man to stand so close to her, she didn’t even know him! There was something odd about him; he was young and in good health, not particularly muscular, and still appeasing to the senses. He was smiling like he knew her, but clearly she didn’t. But it was changing now, his face… a sort of rapid metamorphosis. He was still young, still a man, but different entirely.

“Would you like to come?” He asked, beckoning to a rickshaw behind him. Inside, there was a young woman, dressed in a plain shalwar kameez and wrapped in a dupatta, but still very beautiful. She seemed vaguely familiar. Unthinkingly, she started walking towards the rickshaw. The fog had covered everything else except for that one rickshaw. She climbed into it as the young man took her bags. The young man got in and rode it into the station, onto the railroad.

As the rickshaw zoomed away from the station, away from the city, all she could do was watch while the young man put on a Nur Jahan song and the girl hummed along. She looked around at the green fields, at the passing villages, at everything.

She saw a train coming right at them. Perhaps two feet away, now one feet away….


Perhaps the prologue toRemembering . Tell me what you think!