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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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/

 

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✨

Coffin Candy

She wanted candy. I still remember; her tiny hands outstretched, please? Had anyone ever been able to refuse that please? Didn’t I make you an apple? Funny, how I’ve still got that drawing, a bunch of scribbled lines, this is an apple. Weird, the things you remember. The details you never paid any attention to. Okay, but after dinner.

Can I just put it in my pocket? But there’s a wocket in your pocket! And a rocket, headed towards you, my darling.

In all your innocence, it’s headed towards you, to snatch you from my arms, to stain those beautiful dark curls an ugly red, to make those tiny hands limp, lifeless, gone. How was I to know that last laugh at my joke was truly your last? That I would never feel the sounds of those giggles in my ears again, even when I’d be begging, aching for them, years afterwards?

And when they took you away, out of all the rubble, I’d brush your hair with my hands and beg you to wake up, to live. I’d still be trying that when they’d put you in the coffin, with your hair washed and your wounds — oh those fatal wounds! — closed up.

And that candy, that’d be all I had left of you. I’d slip it into your closed hands, the final snack for the final journey.

Candy for the coffin.

 

 


 

I know Michelle had a Halloween theme, but this is how this prompted me! A little gruesome, but let’s not forget the thousands of children snatched away this way in this cruel world. It doesn’t make the headlines a lot, but it still happens, it’s still there.

October Writing Prompts

(^in case you want to try out her awesome prompts too!)

Drowning

A memory seeps in. Try as you might, it will seep in. Perhaps the cranium isn’t as impermeable as solid metal or stone? Perhaps that’s why memories seep in with as much ease as they seep out.

However, now is not the time to dwell on the past. Now is the time to seek the future. Ah, the future. Bleak, uncertain, unknown. So unknown.

But it persists. The memory. Now you’ve done it. Tried suppressing it, and now there’s a flood? Ha! You wish to be a judge of human minds, you cannot even judge your own. A memory. Memory.

A playground, a funeral. Late night sessions in the kitchen. Putting a baby to sleep. Being put yourself to sleep by a warm, maternal presence. The backyard with girls and laughter. Ice-lollies with a distinct childhood taste, not had in years but still the taste lingers.

Perhaps check the time? The night has progressed. The wee hours will be gone soon. Amd with them your chance to lay the mind at rest.

What an idea! Lay the mind at rest. Rest? That is a notion for the ones who control their minds. You? Your mind controls you. And society controls your mind. You seek rest? Go to an isolated piece of land. A land at rest, devoid of humans. Stay until your mind is cleared. Stay, and you shall see: the clarity of mind got. What a feeling!

But for now; these memories! What to do with them? Unorganised. So many eras, so many feelings. So many thoughts unthought! Leave them be, my dear. Leave them be. Now is not the time.

Oh, do you feel that? No, no, try! Try to resurface once more, try to gain the higher ground. This is your mind, you cannot drown within! The memories keep coming. Store them, sort them. Now is not the time! Dear me, what is wrong with you? Why will you not respond?

Oh dear, these recesses in you… oh, dear! Where do they lead? A road? A road branching off from consciousness? These memories might be the end of you. Hmm, I wonder where they’ve disappeared off too. Wait, let me come! Wait! I was saying…

Fin.

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.