Showing posts from 2017

Sunday Mourning

Sunday morning dawns tentatively, gently, like a mother with her fingers on the curtains around her child’s bed in the hospital.     
The market square is deserted – last night’s revelry discarded like clothes at the beach. Broken glass from friendly bottles of yesterday catches the sunrays, breaking into spots of rainbow.  The trash cans are overflowing, there are stains you don’t want to identify on the cobbled stones of alleys, dried rivers of joy that cannot be contained in a human body.  A few unashamed pigeons peck away at the remains of late night burgers, cold fries, sticky mayo, brown vomit.
The sun suddenly breaks free of the clingy, gloomy clouds and there is a break in the gray – the blue of the sky almost golden with the sun which is but a blinding smear you can only look at with your eyes closed.  It lights up the fragile leaves that stick out plainly on the branches of trees. 
That is just how Autumn is – a tragic mad brilliant artist who creates the beautiful magical hu…

The Unbearable Grandness of Being

Sometimes it is really hard to break out of your own self. 
Maybe humans are selfish by design, maybe it tickles god to see us so wrapped up in our little lives and our even littler thoughts while the great oceans flow far and wide, waves cresting and falling like the even breath of a sleeping baby, regular and peaceful, or toiling and rolling angry tumultuous dark like a heart broken by someone you loved more than perhaps you should have. 
And while we huddle in our beds, worrying about bills and wrinkles, about how staidly tiring it is to have to think about what to make for dinner every day, the world goes moving on, revolving at a tilt, careless and nonchalant, beautiful and grand and terrible... And while we drive to work every day, stuck in our personal webs and mulling over everything from the mundane worries of piling laundry to the more grave fears of our parents growing old, from the little irritations of overbearing bosses or stains on the table mat that won’t wash out to t…

Hey, Karachi

In the morning when I wake up staring at the white ceiling with its Ikea paper lamp, I think of the teal blue of my cotton curtains back home, and the sunrays giggling just behind them, like children playing hide and seek.
When I leave for work, letting the heavy door of our building close with a disgruntled thud, I look up at the English sky suffocated with sad gray clouds, I pull my jacket closer, and I think of the bright blue of the sky back home, where in late September it would only be in the early morning that the air would feel cool on my arms and face.  The trees in my street would be bright green, and I would be able see the sun, with the customary stray clouds strolling along the expanse.
I miss my office, I even miss having to wear shalwar kamees with a dupatta every day (I’ll take it over the three layers I wear everyday and the mind-boggling choice between short boots, calf-length boots and the simpler close-toed loafers with worn out soles). 
I miss the sound of people ta…

The Big Three Oh

I can feel its presence, just around the corner, always a few steps ahead of me but in the last few months, slowing down, letting me get closer, turning back every now and then to assure me that it’s there, and eventually, I’ll be right beside it.
I can see its shadow from where it stands today, just around the bend in the road.  I can feel its eyes on me – the number 30, waiting patiently, knowingly. Is it smirking? Will it greet me with a consolatory arm around the shoulder and a “it had to happen, mate” or is it going to utter a smug retort – “remember when you were 20 and in college, walking around campus like you owned it, like you owned the world, barely smothering your giggles at the older men and women who sat in close-knit circles on the grass, seemingly always singing With or Without You by U2, always playing an acoustic guitar? Remember how you thought they were just so lame?”

Yeah I remember, I’ll tell 30. I just didn’t realize then that those Masters’ students didn’t care w…

Morning Commute

The sun is bright today, 
Top right corner
Of my window. 
It's keeping pace, 
Like a competitive jogger
In bright yellow trainers

It's quiet on the bus today,
Like a museum
For adults,
Or an expensive exhibition 
For somber (but obvious)
Art lovers

Quiet - 
Except for the music notes
That escape from a young lady's
Subtle white headphones.
Would you feel a connection
If she were listening
To your second favorite song
In the world?

If you look hard enough
And squint your eyes
Just a bit
And let your mind
Breathe -
You can see the thoughts
In people's heads (mostly blond
But some brunettes) 

"Was it a mistake
To not iron my shirt 
Tommy actually ate his breakfast
Thank god
Just one more day 
Of work
Of family, of love
Unmade beds and dirty dishes
Maybe he will wash them
Without me asking

Funny Things

Sometimes I think of god as a being with a pretty decent sense of humor, someone who can laugh at others and at himself, the kind of being who waits behind a door for five minutes to pounce out at a friend and yell BOO and then finds true delight when the friend jumps a foot off the ground, someone who wouldn’t be afraid to splash some water at a colleague on a work trip to the lake … you know, someone who doesn’t want you to take life too seriously, at least not all the time.
That’s the explanation that comes to mind when I’m walking out on a beautiful sunny day with the breeze dancing around, perhaps like a semi-talented ballerina, whipping small yellow leaves off the trees and swirling them around in an animated piece of art – and for a minute I feel like I’m in the middle of a sweet romantic drama – and then suddenly a large dry leaf strikes me in the face.  Like a blooper.  The director calls CUT! And I look up and imagine god suppressing a giggle.
Or when I look out from my windo…

A Treatise on Grief

Is it like the ocean with its never-ending gray, blue waves, stretching as far as the eye can see, cresting and falling, persistent, enough to cover most of the globe?
Or does it run out, like water in a tap that’s been running for too long? Like puddles of rain drying up under the scorching summer sun?
Does one person have enough grief inside to mourn the loss of 3 people? What about the lives of 30? 3,000?  What about 5 lives every day of every month in a year? (That’s how many people died in terrorist-incidents in Pakistan in 2016 – see source at the end.)
Can grief peter out, like a stream in a drought-stricken village?
Or can we be more generous and dole it out as, when and where it’s needed? Does anyone really need your grief? Can you offer it like a tissue to wipe someone’s tears? Maybe cancel out a small part of their grief by showing them yours, like same signs in an equation?
When people point out that a tragedy somewhere is equally tragic as those occurring in other parts of t…

Thank you, Pakistan!

It’s hard for other people to understand what a victory in cricket means to us.  Why there will be hundreds of thousands of people out in the streets of our cities and in the dirt lanes of our villages, dancing, celebrating, causing traffic jams and shouting their hearts out, why fans across the world glued to their 52 inch TVs or their cracked 14 inch laptops vacillated between high pitched screaming and cheering, and crying (tears of joy, of course) – I mean, great match and all, you might say, but aren’t these Pakistanis kind of going a bit overboard?
And I’ll tell you, after I’ve wiped my red sniffling nose on my sleeve, that no, we are not.  This victory (in the ICC Champions Trophy FINAL, against INDIA who we never beat in finals, INDIA a team much better and more experienced than our fledgling one ranked the lowest at the start of the tournament) is not just about cricket. 
Don’t get me wrong.  Pakistanis love cricket.  There are many things that divide our nation – religion, po…

Ramazan, Ramadan, but more importantly, mubarak!

Some people have excellent memories – like my younger sister who claims to remember details from family holidays when she would be 2 years old, bringing to mind the concept of fake and made-up memories, however, too often her words are corroborated by someone else, someone who wasn’t 2 back then, or maybe a photograph or something harder to ridicule than a younger sister...
My mind, on the other hand, is like a sieve, and while most slips through the small holes and disappears into the fading black of my unconscious, some memories remain, sloshing about silently till a random stimulus from the present dives in, hook, line and sinker, and slowly swivels it up into the bright light of now.  These memories exist like snapshots rather than film, like a 2-second clip you’ve accidentally trimmed and then, even worse, deleted the rest of the video, so I won’t remember what happened before or after, but I’ll remember that precise moment.
One of these Polaroids from the past is of curly-haired l…