A world where writing is banned

This was a prompt.


“Time: half past two in the morning. As today marks the 100 year anniversary of The Writers Ban, I, Mirza, now initiate the meeting of the (banned) Writer’s Guild, Lahore Branch.” Mirza Sahib looked around. “Please, sit, everyone. I realise it is hard to meet at this hour, but today is a special occasion!”

In the corner, the Scribe took down the words with droopy eyes. They usually met on Sundays, but the hundered year anniversary just happened to fall on a Friday. After a full day of intense work, we were all tired. But it had to be done.

“As president, I now call this meeting to order. May I remind you that should a Farangi catch wind of this, we shall all be beheaded?”

An enthusiastic round of applause.

“We are the sole body of people who not only write, but read. I passed by the Qila today. The little kid I met there didn’t even know who Aurangzeb was! We are the only people who hold the key to the past. In this regard, Bano Khatoon and Ram Sahib have uncovered and saved much valuable literature.”

I beamed.

“Without them, a lot would have been lost. Therefore, I now declare them Vice Presidents of TWG!”

Another round of applause, less enthusiastic.

We walked to the front of the room.

“Mirza Sahib, this is preposterous!” All eyes turned to Chaudhary Sahib. “A woman and a Hindu as Vice Presidents!”

“Chaudhary Sahib,” I said. “This is 1870. I’m sure we have bigger problems at hand. The heritage of an entire nation is at stake.”

Chaudhary Sahib continued to glare at me as I fixed my chadar.

“In the event of a raid,” said Mirza Sahib, “These two are our only hope. The British shall never arrest a Hindu and Bano Khatoon has— err—“

“A very pro-ban influential grandfather who would never let them touch me,” I continued. “So really, Chaudhary Sahib, would YOU like to keep the Sandooq with all our writings in it?” I couldn’t help keeping the bitterness out of my voice.

“I shall not allow my own people to argue amongst themselves, Bano Khatoon.” Mirza Sahib intervened. “Times are tough. We must cooperate. Now, let us commence. Rana Sahib, would you like to read out the twelfth chapter of your book, “The Collapse?”

Rana Shaib took centre stage. Imagining myself to be in a theatre, I glided to my usual seat and begun my weekly night job: critically analysing the best of the writers’ work, to protect the only literary heritage we had so that when we would hold the rebellion against the Farangis, we would have something. Something to denote our existence in this era. Something that would save us from oblivion.

I wrapped the pages in a silk cloth and tied them. It was time for the regular TWG session, and I was to read my piece, “Behind the Red Chadar”. I hurried out the gate, careful not to wake my Abba. He would’ve killed me if he found out. Our headquarters were situated in the basement of the Masjid at the junction of the Mall Road and the Canal Bank Road. Outside, there wasn’t a single light.

“Hello, princess,” I heard the drunken voice of an English soldier. “What might a pretty lady like you be doin’ out here.”

I wrapped my chadar tighter. The manuscript was concealed underneath.

“The people of God know no time. Shall I smite you with the power vested in me by the Masjid?” It was a long shot, but the soldier was drunk. He staggered backwards and I ran into the Masjid. I saw the flickering flame of a candle on the stairs, but there was no one rushing in or out. No hushed whispers. A shiver ran down my spine.

Slowly, I went down the stairs. My foot slipped on something. I didn’t dare look down. The big oak door was slightly open. I knew what this smell was. I opened the door with the last bit of strength I had.

I couldn’t even scream.

Three perfectly symmetrical rows. Walls painted red. With blood.

The rows were heads. Mirza Sahib and Chaudhary Sahib taking centre stage. Their lifeless eyes staring at me.

But it didn’t end here. On the floor, a folded piece of paper. As I picked it up, I recognised my grandfather’s handwriting.

“This is the fate of those who rebel against the state. Whosever conseals the Sandooq shall be caught and bestowed a worse fate.

— Commissioner of Lahore,

Bakhtiar Ali.”

And then the signature.

I realised I was the only writer in the whole of the subcontinent. The heritage of an entire nation rested on my shoulders.

And Ram Sahib.


NOTE: this is historically inaccurate. The British took over in 1857, so it hadn’t been a hundered years in 1870. And there was no writing ban either (of course) however, the British did arrest anyone who wrote against the crown.

Farangi means the British in Urdu.

Aurangzeb was a Mughal Emperor. The decline of the mughals begun after his death.

I’m not sure the Masjid ever existed.

No, women were not granted this much liberty at that time. But since this is fiction — why not?

Abba means father in urdu.

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A Lost Key

They say there is a land. A land composed entirely of thoughts, feelings, emotions and most importantly: words. They say there is a land where words flow in the streams, words accumulate in the oceans, words pour down with the rain. They say that the words are not hateful and full of spite, nor do they contain malice. It is a land full of clear intentions, crystal clear. They say it is a land where men and women are judged and respected based on their words and words alone. They say it is a land where people write and read and write and read. They say it is a land where respect is based on the quality of words, where nobility is expression. They say it is a land where people need not worry about careers and money and materials. It is a land for the creative. A land for expression. They say it is a land where words run free…. where there are no chains or borders or limitations in vocabulary. They say…

They also say it is a land amidst beauty and purity. They say the land is guarded against anything that could be potentially harmful. They say there is a high wall, electrocuting anything that threatens to invade. They say there is only one way to enter: a gate. The gate has long, iron bars, with gold spheres on top that glow. They say it is an extension of Jannah (Heaven). They say that on that gate is a single fragile-looking lock, made of white gold. They say the lock is actually deceit, it is the strongest lock there is. They say that the only way to enter is to unlock it with a key. And, that key is lost.

That is where my heart lies.

In a lost key.


Had a hard time with this post. I just couldn’t think of anything! Oh well. Here it is now.

Check out today’s writing prompt here:

https://zoyakubra.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/october-writing-challenge/

The Journey Beyond

There are several underpasses in the Canal Bank Road. I know only nine, and for some unfathomable reason, I seem to have memorised all their names. But that is beside the point.

If you take the bus every morning, and find yourself on that road at half six, you will be forced to observe every little detail every single morning. It doesn’t matter wethar or not you want to, but the fact remains: it is impossible to sleep on that bus, hence you rely on your observations to keep you amused and, well, awake.

However, it is a completely different experience in a car. A smooth ride, noiseless, peaceful, no sudden jolts attempting to disintegrate your vertebrae. You could sleep if you want. When you pass through an underpass, there isn’t much of a spectacle. Just another bend in the road, though downwards.

On a bus, though, it is quite an event. Keep in mind, the windows of the bus are always open, unless there is a particularly difficult passenger who insists to torture all those other people who were not fortunate enough to get a window seat. Along with the not-so fresh air and dirt and toxic fumes that come in, there is, also, a whole lot of NOISE. Not just the traffic outside: motorbikes, tractors, trucks, cars, rickshaws, vans, wagons(yes in the early mornings all these vehicles are allowed too). But also the constant sound of the bus itself, its engine roaring consistently, never letting you forget you are in a bus. However, on the road, these noises are an open environment. Spreading out in all directions. Nothing specified, no collectivity.However, passing through an underpass is a quite different story. The sounds, now confined for a moment of time within the walls, reflect back and provide you with a collective impact. Bouncing back, they combine at the epicentre: that instant in which your bus passes through the centre of the underpass. For a brief second, (that is, if you are awake), you experience a strange sensation. A sensation that I could never truly justify with mere words. A combination of frequencies that were never meant to be combined. And if you overthink it like I do, you shall experience a weird sort of contentment. As if the universe revealed some of its secrets to you.You want to stop right there. Stop time itself to live an eternity in what is a split second. Perhaps because you dread the monotony of “routine”. Perhaps. But you know. You know.That you must venture into the journey beyond.


This would’ve been better suited had the prompt been “overthinking about petty things” rather than The Journey Beyond. But oh well. Heh.

Pink Persuasion

That was them, dark

Being darker still

Rolling about,

Without form.

Then there was a crack,

And there it came, the Light

Pink. Like diamonds.

Making them,

Scatter, then dance

Becoming lighter and lighter

Until the demons finally

Were no more

And all they needed

To leave my heart in peace

Was the tiniest bit of

Pink Persuasion.


Another post for the October writing prompts.

Check it here: https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2017/10/01/october-writing-prompts/

Flabbergasted Horses

Disclaimer: The following is not an intellectual peice of writing. Just ramblings of my mind.


Two horses jumped

Over the moon

And one horse ate

A metal spoon

Horse one said

He could fly

And there he was

Soaring the sky

Horse two, flabbergasted

Looked up to see

A horse, flying!

In actuality!

Horse one then realised

He was floating

But pretended control

Forced smile, gloating

Horse two, desperate

To prove his worth

Started galloping

Across the Earth

Horse one panicked

And kicked the air

But went up and upper

A nasty scare

Horse two saw

The state of horse one

And smiled smugly

He had won.

Horse one, flabbergasted

Saw that all he could see

Going upper still

Was the top of a tree


So here I am trying to kill two birds with one stone. The two prompts were:

Flabbergasted (by Michelle)

and

Horses (by Zoya Kubra)

Hunger

There was a crack in the rock. Not a very big one, but it was there nonetheless. Ever since the Earth had spurted him out, he had been cracked. At first he had been made fun of, but then severe warnings from the elders had been issued, and then finally he had been cast out of the community. According to the Grey Rules of Stone and Rock of the community, any rock with a crack must be excommunicated. No rock must ever be known to have some sort of dealings with him, or else they, too, would have to face circumstances.

Naturally, our rock was upset. He had been shunned by society over something he had no control over. Something that wasn’t his fault. In him was born a strong hunger to fill himself. To somehow complete what was after all, in nature, already complete. Little did he know.

His hate for the Earth intensified as he realised that it was, infact, the Earth’s fault he had been cracked! The Earth must have preordained it to be so. The Earth was, in fact, his truest enemy, trying it’s best to ruin chances of all survival! In his flustered little mind, this was all he could think. Little did he know.

Having now established an enmity for Earth and soil, to fill himself and relieve himself of hunger, he turned to the waters. Here were the waters: as yet innocent and pure (in the eyes of the rock), this was it. Here was something that would fill his crack, here it was at last! Looking upon its surface, not considering the hundreds of rocks it had devoured before, which lay in its not-so-innocent depths. This, this was not an enemy. This had done nothing to deform him. This was, on the contrary, something that would help rectify his abnormality! In his flustered little mind, this was all he could think. Little did he know.

The water gushed forth and welcomed it. And our rock, our innocent victimised rock, went forth to conquer society. What did he know, he could never have the upper hand there. Nevertheless, he was there and all he wanted was to drink in his victory, and drink he did. But not his victory.

There is a thing about rocks that if they are cracked (and rejected), their own sense of hunger fails them. They have been hungry for so long they no longer know how to not be hungry. That was the case with our rock too: he was hasty, he drank, he drank to satisfy his hunger. Eventually there came a time when he was full, but how would he know?! He was a rock! A cracked rock! He drank, more and more, until the cracks filled, and overfilled, and finally, began to pull the rock apart. He, in his somewhat deluded ecstasy, would still not stop. And eventually, it was the end. Our rock was split into a thousand fragments, to be no more, rejected by the same water he thought was his saviour, absorbed into the same Earth he so despised.


Yet another writing prompt heh. This one was because of Accidentally Inked who pushed me to write! Fenks, inky!

This writing prompt can be found here:

https://zoyakubra.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/october-writing-challenge/

What can I do? I see a writing prompt, I get excited. Thank you Zoya for these prompts! Ha here I am nominating myself lol. Never mind, bear with me.

Have a great day! Don’t let the Grey Rules of Stone and Rock get to you. You’re perfectly complete as is.

Said the Caterpillar.

If only they knew how jealous I was. If only they could see me through a time less traveled. I was a mere caterpillar; they magnificent butterflies. Soaring up high, exploring the skies, seeking things unsought. While I, ugly, fat and indecently crawling. Destined to stay rooted with the Earth, degraded to a mere being of disgust. They: flying, flying, merrily, from this flower to that, traversing this air current to there, imbibing sweet nectar, nectar which my preliminary digestive system couldn’t even digest. I was reduced to eat and chew tasteless green leaves, forever chewing, chewing, rolling each piece down. They: metamorphosis complete, creatures of beauty, creatures sought by every soul. I: denied my chance to even wrap my cocoon, and every time I did manage to do so, it was sabotaged. Sometimes, a mere rip, like a mild attack at a self esteem, quick to heal, forever scarred. Other times: the cocoon destroyed completely, like a shattered self of shards of glass, almost never healing, a self that does not believe in itself anymore. It always occurred to me: I call these people my friends, I stood by them in their metamorphosis, and they? Am I to dry out as a caterpillar? Am I not to fulfill my destiny? Or is this my destiny, and I should resign to it? Have I been fated to never reach the epitome of desire, and inner beauty? Would I die as is, and they be the embodiment of every ounce of my desires?


*this piece of writing claims no scientific accuracy.

Image is subject to copyright.