The Gift of Time

Wollaton Park must be beautiful right now - trees bursting in a kaleidoscope of greens, wildflowers carpeting the track that goes around the lake, willowy branches casting dancing shadows on the walking trails and the beautiful mansion standing regal on the hill top, framing the blue summer sky.

Wouldn't it be nice to go for a picnic, pack some sandwiches and crisps, pick up coffee afterwards from the cafe, lay out a blanket on the grassy slope along with scores of other people, with their dogs and babies and footballs and talking parrots (it happened once!). 

But of course, the 'New Normal' has rendered the above scene pretty impossible (for now).

On the other hand, I have seen my tiny backyard become more enchanting this summer than ever before. The neighbour's tree leans over the fence, it's branches casting a perfect shade on our side. It has leaves of an indescribable colour, each a rainbow in itself with shades of green and rust and maroon and brown and yell…

Parenting Secrets

I think all parents in the world are in on a secret that they keep hidden in the deep dark silken pockets of their minds - giving birth is no walk in the park but the actual trek up the mountain starts the day you bring baby home.
The first month is a whirlwind, especially the first two weeks where you lie in anxiety ridden sleep deprivation, wondering if you will ever be able to read a book and have a cup of tea again, and will life ever be the same?
Two months from then, I can safely say yes to the first question and no to the second one. But then nobody plans to have a child with the intention of keeping their lives the same - even the most inexperienced of us have a solid inkling that life is going to change significantly once we have a tiny tot in the crib.
After my initial conviction (despite friends and families' assurances to the contrary) that I am the one odd lady who just won't be able to handle parenthood, I think I have, for now, cautiously disembarked the rol…

A Quiet Armageddon

Who knew armageddon would look like this? 
Playful clouds skipping in the sky, so bright and blue. Rays of sunlight spilling over, marking out a yellow brick road along the asphalt. 
Signs of spring are sprouting everywhere, cheeky daffodils and white blossoms and tightly curled green buds just waiting to surprise you. The birds seem happy, twittering and hopping between still bare branches of trees.  I see a cat lounging in the neighbour's driveway.
Where is the smoke, the burnt down warehouses, the broken cars, the parched streets and eerie wafting fog of post apocalyptic worlds we see in movies and video games? Instead of furtive survivers ransacking forlorn stores we have lone walkers and cyclists exchanging slightly abashed smiles as they step further away from one another to maintain the recommended 2 metre distance.

The streets are quiet but the houses are full, people in their kitchens, children in backyards, painted rainbows sending messages of love and hope.

It has bee…

Baby and I

Even if they hold your head firmly and gaze deep into your eyes to say, words cannot describe the initial days of becoming a parent, and then repeat it a million times, at the end of the day, words cannot describe that feeling of becoming a parent.

When you are finally home with a baby in the car seat that you bought months ago, not realising that life was going to soon explain what it really means to not have enough time in the day.

The first night home when your  body is battered still and your mind at 1/100th of its capacity. The utter overwhelming love overpowered by a thick gray fog of fear and heart-stopping anxiety-  what is going on and how am I going to do this?

Nobody can explain that it is not just the sleepless nights that are suddenly so long, cut into hazy portions by two hourly feeds, it isn't the sleeplessness but the cresting waves of anxiety that rise higher and higher and then when you finally lie down and close your eyes, they come crashing over you in slow m…

The Best Laid Plans

“What’s up with them?” Fahad says, looking at a couple of Asian students rush out of the train.
“Must have gotten on the wrong train,” I reply, settling down, relieved that we had found empty seats.[Our train journey to Grantham had been spent standing because the train was so busy. I made my way down the aisle and stood right next to the priority seating, my jacket open, sneaking sulky looks at the oblivious young people sitting there.‘I thought English people are supposed to be polite,’ I muttered darkly to myself.There’s that lack of confidence in foreign countries, the penalty of leaving home where you can demand your rights a bit more hotly.]
Anyways, it hasn’t been a minute and the train has just picked up speed when Fahad says, is this train going to Norwich? The next stop is Peterborough.
The tiniest spark of anxiety puffs up, and I look at the blue screen confirming what Fahad said.We are most definitely not supposed to be going to Norwich.Norwich is not Nottingham and we live …

Spoiled for Choice

It’s tough being a moderately well-off Pakistani millennial. Little do you know that if you’re seemingly fortunate enough to go to one of the top universities in the country – like LUMS or IBA (inserting IBA after LUMS with a benevolent smile on my obnoxious face, because if I genuinely believed both institutes to be equal, would I even be a real Luminite?) then you’re actually setting yourself up for a lifetime of excruciating decision making.Life becomes really hard – choices open up like randomly labelled doors in front of us with little indication about what any of them will lead to: Behind Door No. 1 is FURTHER EDUCATION, and behind Door No. 2 is a JOB YOU MAY BE HALF QUALIFIED FOR ...
Come to think of it, life after college pretty much involves a dilemma after every 1-2 years.Do I still like this job? Am I being paid enough? Why am I still in Pakistan when half my friends and cousins are already in Dubai – or, even better, in the Western World paradises of America and Canada? The…

The Scent of Rain

The thunder woke us up.The sky outside glowed blue, purple, white and the light and thunder poured in from our bedroom windows and the open door across, shadows jumping all the way from the adjacent room windows, across the short corridor, toppling onto the carpet into our room.
Our pale curtains billowed out and then sunk back into the window alcoves, a giant practicing deep breathing – we could hear the rain falling in waves, the drunken trees dancing without abandon and see the lightning glow in the distance, rapid, short lapses in between, just long enough to let the clouds clang their response.
The thunderstorm (the very first I’ve seen in England since we moved here almost three years ago) took me back home – the sheer life of the rain was just like the storms we have in Pakistan.The rain in England, as I have droned on many times, is terribly mundane routine wet boring.The rain in Pakistan – much like the country – is chaos and madness with roads flooding and people wading in the…