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.

Advertisements

Dentists Should Not Have Long Nails

I know you’re thinking, she’s come back after ages with promises of intellectual stuff, and throws this at us? Yes, my dear reader, exactly that. Why? Because it’s true. They should NOT.

I’ll tell you why. There’s the obvious; hygiene. But there’s another, less appreciated reason. There’s nothing more painful when your mouth is full of sharp pointy tools and you are at the mercy of the beholder of all the tools. And then at the exact moment you decide to trust in Allah and the dentist, there is this excruciating pain in your gum. Exactly at that moment, your dentist, concentrating elsewhere, subconsciously puts immense pressure on your gums through their…. nails? If you try to cry out in pain, the dentist will still be unable to see the source of pain and you will look like a yelping idiot.

Everyone says dentist appointments hurt. True; but what ACTUALLY hurts are AFTER-appointments. You know the feeling; that feeling as if all your teeth are about to fall out.  You can’t eat anything, you can only swallow. You look at food longingly, dreaming of the days you used to eat freely. And then you see something utterly despicable and entirely unacceptable: your sibling does not finish their plate of food at dinner. Those lowly peasants, so ungrateful! Finishing food being a sensitive subject with you, you unleash your ultimate weapon: The Death Stare. It is conveniently ignored.

Such acts take you back to your childhood; a space better left unvisited. Remembering dinner times reminds you of all the unresolved trauma you have deep inside you. The times when you would chew for hours on end long after everyone had left the table. You’d still be chewing when the table would be cleared and cleaned. You’d still be chewing when the dishes were being washed, dried and put away. That would be when the Punishment would be ordered: “Ab tum apna khana kitchen mein kharay ho kr finish karo gi.” (Now you will stand in the kitchen until you finish your food.)

A tear stained face (yours probably, although it’s best for you to tell others this vivid memory is rather blurred), looked up in the face of this merciless oppressor: thy mother. Whining and crying only strengthened her in her oppression. There was no other option. Chew in the uninviting, cold kitchen and hear the news in the other room as your siblings laugh and play amongst themselves happily. Your mother is probably secretly crying too about how you never seem to eat, but you don’t find that out until years later.

Years later, someone seems to make fun of the way your plate of food is polished and looks so clean it’s as if you didn’t even eat. Look thoughtfully away out of the window of the café and let that feeling of eating alone standing up in the kitchen let a shiver run down your spine. Then look towards them and smile and tell them to stop wasting their food as rudely as possible. That is the only way to not let anyone ever know of your torturous past.

Years after that, you stand in the kitchen cleaning up, and laugh about the whole thing with the merciless oppressor; thy mother. It sounds absurd (though it is still traumatizing) and you wonder what other absurd moments in life are you classifying as traumatizing at the moment? It is with this thought that you enter the dentist’s clinic, and as she begins, it clicks. You might be crying like an idiot as the pain intensifies, and the dentist scolds you for it, but deep inside, there’s only one thought: Dentists Should Not Have Long Nails.

Anxiety

It’s that time of the year again. Summer. Sweat.

And anxiety.

I went to sleep really late last night — half one, or maybe later. Seven thirty I was up again, that weird feeling in my legs back again. The feeling I call anxiety. Oh well, getting up in the mornings is quite refreshing, yes? No. I spent the entire day wasting time. Plugging in my earphones, listening to nothing, wandering from this room to that. I didn’t even clean today, which is unusual. However, I did wash my part of the dishes. But that’s pretty much it.

There’s nothing I did today which would make me proud of myself, or even satisfied. I don’t know why I’m like this. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to, I haven’t been exercising, but most importantly, I haven’t been writing. Two weeks I spent in heavenly bliss, each day so inspiring I could’ve written fourteen books, but I was too tired. And now, I’m back home, washing dishes to fill up time, and I’m not writing? If I don’t write then I will forget, if I forget it will be as if I never lived, and that will take me back to depression. Not as a relapse as in the mental disease, but the seasonal uninspired me that visits twice a year.

Anxiety. Of what? Perhaps it is time for me to face it, and I do need an audience, so hear me out. Anxiety of the future. Someone told me not to think of the rest of my life, but just set small goals like five year plans. This, although wise, has triggered off another train of anxiety. What if, after five years, I am as now, a nobody? What if I never accomplish anything in my life? What if I never achieve the one thing I want most in life — influence? As stupid as this might sound, I want to change the way things are. My country has been through a lot, and we are trying to improve the “international image” but let’s face it. Things are far from ideal. We have a long way to go.

As I write this, the ex-prime minister of my country is being arrested at Allama Iqbal international airport. Can you see my point? A thing you should know about Pakistanis — we’re always on the roads. If we’re celebrating, the roads are blocked. If we’re mourning, we are on the roads. If we’re protesting, you get me. The mobile networks have been switched off. The entire nation is glued to the T.V. screens, where no transmission of the arrest is being shown. But we’re still watching, hearing the anchors say the same things over and over again. My country is in chaos. Security personnel everywhere, trying to prevent trouble, trying to keep the peace. There are protestors still, I can see the roads on the tv as I write this, but at least it is contained.

Two blasts have been recorded so far. One in Peshawar, leaving 30 dead, one in Balochistan, leaving 70 dead. I’m not particularly an Imran Khan fan, but something he said has stayed with me. Something along the lines of an increase in terrorist activities every time Nawaz Shareef is in trouble. 100 people in two (or maybe three?) days? 100 is, for us, just a number. A number so meaningless nobody is talking about it. Mubashir Luqman’s saying there’s approximately 7-8 thousand people in protest. Well, I’m glad. We prayed and prayed for this man to face the consequences of his actions. And perhaps this is it? Who’s to know.

What does the future hold? A question that might just give me a nervous breakdown at some point. I could tear my hair out, and not just metaphorically.

What does the future hold? The corrupt prime minister has been flown to Rawalpindi to jail, along with his daughter. So what now? With elections so close, I really do not know. Who can say? But please, please, dear God, make it something good, my people could use a break. Perhaps you’d like an insider view of what it is being Pakistani, in real life? I could give you one.

What does the future hold? For me, I mean. What will I do? A little girl asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I couldn’t answer. All I could think of was my dream of becoming a dictator, but could I really say that to her? I’ve tried talking about this with multiple people, but so far nobody can take me seriously. Lol. Perks of being me.

But now? What does the future hold? Will I make another mistake? Will I regret my choices (provided I get round to making them) for the rest of my life? Will this blog grow? Will people read this far? Who is to know.

Dear God, the world is messed up. My country, which is all I have, is messed up. Life is messed up. So please, please, show us all a way. Give us a miracle. A Quaid-e-Azam-Allama-Iqbal-type miracle.

If I’ve bored you, I apologise. But perhaps you will be excited to know that the Rock in the River went to the River with the Rocks? Not the river that inspired this blog, but any river is love. I’ll come back soon, I hope. But for now, send  me (and my country and the world) a prayer! We must not lose our optimism for the future!

In urdu we say, “Umeed par duniya qaim hai.” The world exists on hope.

I’m off to make some tea, before my mum takes off her chappal (I joke). Who knows, if all else fails, I might just open a dhabba! (Please we all know I make the best chai)

Contradictory Thoughts

We had lasagne today. Coincidently, the T.V. was on during dinner. And while I indulged my taste buds in such luxurious tastes, the news came on.

Images of malnourished children. Images of children dying. Around 100,000 cases of cholera in 2017. Millions in need of humanitarian aid. Millions homeless, struggling to survive. Traumatised children. The men and the women… all those people, just… dying? Dying? Left out there to die, while we… what are we doing?

Do you know how much suffering it takes to die of disease? Do you know how starved you have to be to die of hunger? Do you know how much it takes? It is an extreme. Extreme circumstances. Circumstances that leave a person dead.

Dead.

Millions dead. Dying. Millions. Come to think of it, there’s so many individuals in a million. And then that too as a plurality. If that isn’t horrifying, I don’t know what is.

And there I was, in the middle of it all, taking an extra piece. I felt horrible. It’s such a disgraceful fact — the fact that we can just continue like nothing happened. I did that. I had another piece… and another potato. I saw those images and I should’ve felt so horrible that my appetite should’ve finished.

And I look at myself. Here I am, sometimes praying, sometimes ranting, sometimes arguing with other people about how nothing’s been done. And here I am, turning a blind eye to it all?

So is it me? Am I the fault? Am I the reason multiplied by thousands of individuals who have the capability to live normally that the world is disintegrating? Am I the cause of someone’s misery? But when I look at it… what can I do? At an individual level. If I say this to anyone in real life, they’re likely to give me a fifteen minute lecture (at the very minimum) about how it’s pessimistic people like me who are responsible for the plight of man. About how individuals come together to become a force. And that force brings change.

Pretty words. That is what they are to me: pretty words, which have no consequences in real life. Right now, I have nothing to my name. Wholly dependent for my every need. But let us think of people who are not: surely they can do the “something” required to save humanity?

But no. They have responsibilities. They have duties. They have reasons. Every person is in one way or the other, bound by his own troubles. So who does the ‘something’ that will revolutionise the world?

And what is that “something”? I don’t know. That is my conclusion. As inhumane and desensitised that sounds, that is how I can conclude.

Life update.

It’s a battle keeping up with these word prompts. A battle with time. And my mind.

I have so much to study. And I want to read more, too. And I have to think about what I’m going to do with my life. Also, I’ve set unrealistic goals for the weekend (again) which shall go unfulfilled (again) and that shall leave me annoyed. It’s not my fault I only get one day off.

The mind has been whispering. Doubts, fears.

The mind is uneasy. Everyday is another battle. To keep that balance between thinking and not think.

I want to exercise. Mind, soul and body. I want to get up earlier and be productive. But that is not possible.

I want a change of routine. I want this endless road to bend. I want something that would excite me, something that would inspire. My words have been kind to me. Never do they leave the mind. I have been neglecting them, I know. They have been starting to get quite difficult of late. They, too, want a change of expression. Rebellious, ungrateful. They never even realise how much I do for them. However, I in turn must not be ungrateful. They are a blessing, they could be taken away any time. I must cherish them.

I can’t wait for the fog. Glorious, vague vapours encompassing everything and anything, without discrimination.

It is another battle to see the same people every day, to disagree on the same things, to put up with the same ignorance and backwardness and still be nice. Apart from family, and that too only the most direct relations, how much sooner one tires of human company than of anything else. Cats, independent, detached creatures, infinitely cleverer than us (Though only metaphorically).

It is also a battle to be good. Evil tempts you. No matter how much one tries to purify one’s heart, it will always remain contaminated. No matter how much you try, you have been too infected. It is a battle to be kind. Especially those who don’t deserve it. But God knows you’re a monster inside, and if you start classifying and judging people, He could call you out on it.

It’s a battle to be.

How sweet would it be to not be?


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

P.S. Do you think my blog has become a little too dull and dark lately? Do you even enjoy? I’d love to know!

To do

Another day. She got up (eventually). As she looked in the mirror, she picked up the list Society had put there. Her to do list.

Get up

Don’t think

Eat well

Communicate

Tolerate

Be indifferent

Be cool

Fit in

Change

Loose creativity

Quantity and quality

Adapt

Loose emotions

Receive

Do not give

Harden heart

Just another day. She put the list in her heart. Another day trying.


Writing prompt here:

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

Also make sure you check out her post for today. Absolutely amazing!

https://zoyakubra.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/heer-saleti-recreated/

Of Traveling and Thoughts.

Entering Lahore after a long journey, Lahore welcomes you on the Mall Road with a big "Welcome to Lahore" sign, right next to the University of Vetenary Sciences, the first major landmark on the Mall. This is also the saddest part of the journey out of Lahore, as after that the Lahore City ends. However, when we left Lahore this time, we didn't take the Mall Road. We were on it, and we saw the High Court, the GPO, GC university, the town hall to name a few of the classic buildings. But then we went on another road, so I never saw the "Goodbye" sign opposite the Vet University. If we had, we would then have found ourselves in Shahdara, which although is not part of the Lahore city, but part of the District Lahore. After that comes the river Ravi, or what is left of it anyway. The Ravi is a rather historic river but is now dried up. In fact, in an old mazmoon I had read, the writer had declared the Punjab (Punj meaning five and aab meaning water i.e. Land of The Five Waters or Rivers) as having only four and a half rivers, meaning the Ravi was only half a river. If he had been alive now, he would have declared Ravi to be a canal instead of a river. (Or a collection of puddles)
Nevertheless, that is not why I had decided to write. As you may have guessed, I am travelling. And leaving Lahore is so hard! No matter where I may live, my heart shall forever be here, in this city. I have been reading a book on Lahore which is a little boring to read, but it is full of information and has only increased my love for the city.
However, our journey does not end at Lahore. We are going North, so hopefully the weather will be nice! I need a break from this heat and humidity!
Traveling is not an issue for me. But all those hours in a car, with my little brother!! I had had a nice breakfast in the morning just so I wouldn't have to eat during the journey, because that makes me feel sick. And just as we left Lahore, the brother decided to have some crisps. And the packet was opened. The smell filled the air. Already, I had been trying to not think about the air in the car and how everyone was breathing in this limited space. But then the smell!! Every breath I took seemed to take the smell inside, all the way into my gut where my breakfast lay ready to come out via anti peristaltic movements. However, I survived. Then came the chewing. Endless chewing with an open mouth: the one thing I cannot stand. I tried to tell him once but he ignored me. Never mind, I told myself. Think of something else. And now he put the packet away and started biting his nails!! The other thing I absolutely cannot stand! However, I could not loose my cool. If I did, the journey would be ruined, and I didn't want that to happen.
At this point I decided to check where exactly was Chitral Gol National Park because that is also a place I would like to visit someday. However, my mobile internet was not working. Perfect! This network never failed to disappoint me. At this point I decided to update my dear readers (that's you) with my current situation. And that's about it.
Another thing I don't like about trips like these is the inevitability of the need of the bathroom by the human body. Anyways. I might do a "Hey There! Pt. 2" while I'm in the car. Or I might not. The Motorway is the most boring road in this country!
Wish me luck. Remember me in your duas.
Until next time,
Rab Rakhan.