This is a short story I wrote after hearing how a person ruined his life by making wrong choices and not facing the pressures of life
The class had the usual hustle and bustle. Students sat chit chatting animatedly and gossiping, the girls about the latest fashion and TV dramas while the guys about recently concluded Football league. Ahmed entered and after a general hello to the class he headed towards his usual place beside Sehar and Alina.
“Thank God it’s Sir Ali’s class first, it won’t be a bad start of the day” He said as he fell into the chair.
“You stay up most night talking on phone. Stop doing that and all mornings will be fine” Alina said.
“Sorry, I am not a morning person” Ahmed muttered
“Whatever, at least Sir Ali will keep us awake” Sehar said
“Won’t affect me as I’ll fall asleep” Ahmed said with a smirk
“Stop taking advantage of his nature. He’s easygoing, doesn’t mean you piss him off as well” Alina said exasperatedly
“No need, I’ll just take him off-track again and doze off like before”
“He tells really good stuff, you should listen to him” Sehar said
Ahmed laughed. Alina thumped his head. Both girls knew he was not going to listen. The bell rang and as the class began to settle, the door opened and Sir Ali entered. Thin and tall, wearing rectangular spectacles and tidy hair, Sir Ali seemed calm and peaceful like always as he greeted the class and put his laptop on the table and turned it on. This was perhaps the only class in the university that never required memorizing events and dates in Pakistan Studies course, making it not just easy but interesting as well. The only reason why the whole class found Wednesday mornings refreshing compared to the rest of the week.
“Everyone enjoyed our 1965 War analysis from last week? I hope you guys made the necessary notes, you’ll probably need them for the next quiz” Sir Ali said said.
“Will you be asking us specific questions? I mean like names of battalions and squadrons and all that?” Nooria asked
“I explained that earlier as well. You all need to understand the event AND recall the right names. You can cover broadly but that may not result in better analysis” Sir Ali replied
“That means we will need to remember all the names of pilots of PAF as well? And their squadron numbers too?” Sajjad asked
“Those that matter and the ones we covered. For example, who was Sarfaraz Rafique and why a base has been named after him?” Sir Ali asked Continue reading
Note: I wrote this story in two hours as an entry for LUMS Young Writers Workshop 2012 but couldn’t make it to the final 8. After refining the story a bit, I am publishing it here on my blog.
Sound of running footsteps filled the corridor as the bell started ringing. Ahmed managed to rush into the class and jumped onto his seat before the final ring. He took a sigh of relief. Finally he made it to the class before the teacher and that’s a rare achievement for him. With a toothy grin he showed double thumbs-up to the whole class, practically dancing on his seat. Some laughed, some ignored, Ayesha giggled and Fari gave him a congratulatory pat on his back.
The celebration was short lived as the sound of resounding footsteps, like a giant walking the earth, clamped their mouths shut and glued them to their seats. The door opened and the teacher entered. She was so big that if she sat upon Titans, they couldn’t to do a thing about it. Her smile was ghastly and today it was particularly smug. She lumbered to the front of the class and slammed a pile of papers on the desk, announcing with a delight that the assignments were graded. Continue reading
This article was published in the 8th issue of Lafz Magazine.
We are old pals, loadshedding and me. I don’t recall a time, at all, when I did not experience the absence of electricity. It was always there, coming and going, like it owned the country. And it continues to do so after so many years; no wonder my nephew was confused when he asked his American school friend a week after arriving in US “When does the electricity goes out?” and his reply, with equally confusing facial expressions, was “Never”.
Just take yesterday’s example when I was out playing Cricket after quite a long time. The heat was so intense that I needed water break after every couple of overs. We had placed a pedestal fan in the dressing room but behold, it worked for just an hour because of loadshedding. We also brought a watercooler with plain drinking water, hoping to buy ice from nearby shops, but they were out of ice due to loadshedding. Thanks to them, I had blacked out in the 17th over and was lying spread-eagled in the dressing room (which was nothing more than a tented cubicle with broken benches and hard-edged stones to sit on). Continue reading
(This is a short story that I wrote a while back)
The wait was unnerving. I was sitting in the cubicle for the past quarter of an hour, imagining the scenario that may unfold. I wish I had a bad habit, like nail biting or lip chewing, anything to pass the time. In times like these even habits betray you, and I had enough on my mind already. Footsteps sounded outside as someone pulled open the door moments later.
Professor Aaliyah entered, with her lips thin and frown stern, as she took her seat. She had a way to make you feel you did something wrong even when everything was right. Today, however, nothing was as it should have been and for the first time I felt her expression was justified.
“I have no idea what you want to do with your life,” she said in her crisp tone.
I stared down at my feet, unable to answer. My worst fear seems to have come true. Continue reading
Few weeks ago I had a discussion with my lawyer cousin and we traced the extremism history from the time Z. A. Bhutto banned alcohol to events until last year. The very nature of extremism is frightening enough that even thinking about a solution can give you cold feet.
After looking at problems from various angles we came to unanimous conclusion that education is our primary problem that paved the way for extremism; however, it wasn’t the lack of education but the nature of it that caused a shift in the mindset of Pakistani population. During 50s, 60s and even 70s the people of Pakistan were dynamic and took part in matters of the nation with keen interest. So much was their power that they brought down Ayub Khan’s government with sheer determination. The power continued to be displayed until Zia Ul Haq took the stage and began educational genocide of Pakistani youth. Continue reading
I know I haven’t written to you in a long while. I was sitting today on our favorite couch in the room, reading the book you hate so much. The morning was pleasant so I had the window open, cool breeze felt most pleasant and refreshing.
I looked out after every few minutes. The sky had multicolored rays of the setting sun playing on passing clouds, coloring them in the most breath taking ways. The sight was mesmerizing. In one of those moments a butterfly decided to fly into the room from the open window. You already know that man is a wild beast, and that’s what I usually am when you’re not around.
There was nothing in the room, including me, that must have smelled pleasant to this creature in order to lure this high above the ground, against a breeze and away from neighbor’s perfectly kept and maintained flower garden. Still, that poor creature flew in all the way up, fighting hard against gravity, and landed on my writing table. Continue reading
This post was included in the first e-magazine of Rationalist Society of Pakistan.
I stepped up to the open space, gazing at the sky filled with clouds. It was noon, yet it seemed late evening. The cool air ruffled my clothes and attempted to dislodge my cap. It should have known the Sufis don’t break off that easily. They adapt to the change, like water that fills up the cup or take the shape of palm in your hand. Sufism is the flow of Allah’s beauty through your mind and soul, the appreciation of His creation and feel of His divine blessings throughout your existence right to the core.
The cool air ruffled my clothes again. Maybe it was telling me about its existence, that air is also Allah’s creation and not a distraction. I let it pass from my conscious mind and felt the flow. It was moving in a pattern, a pattern of serenity, of flowing beauty and grace, of power and tranquility, of love and insanity. The air had stories, long forgotten and badly remembered, biased and accurate, peace and war, love and hate. I took it all and felt the ages and their stories, the rise of empires and their crumble to dust, the might of sword and the boom of canon, whisper of seductive lie and sound of bitter truth.
I took it all and let it flow, and in the confusion of ages and the stories … I heard him.
It was Rumi, recitation of poetry that has survived centuries and still lives in the hearts of millions world over. The air vibrated, swirling around my focus on Rumi, trying to gauge me to listen more to its stories. I ignore it and kept on listening to Rumi and the tranquility his words brought.
And then the rhythm began, slowly as Rumi words flew like a boat gliding over the silvery surface of a calm river. Energy welled up to strengthen my body as it began to flow like water, like the Dervish of the old who would move to the sound of nature and love, of peace and tranquility, of heart and soul for Islam. And like the Whirling Dervish of the old I tilted my head to right with my eyes closed, my right hand raised at sky and left facing the Earth and began the chant of life, circling, whirling, flowing like water caught in the whirlwind. I flowed in all forms and none, I embraced life and death and gathered love and despair, I was the earth and the sky, I was the bird and the ant, the leaf and the larvae. I was a thing of living and thing that never took breath. I was solid as rock and soft as flower. I was the essence of this world and bathing in the blessing of my Lord Almighty.
But the wind wasn’t done with me. It was whispered and circled around my focus. It lied and uttered truth. It blew from Sahara and blew from Antarctica. It was the tornado and the poisonous fume. It continued to blow and swirled around me, countering the way I moved until it said what my conscious could not pass and I collapsed in a heap.
I heard the cries and wails of the devastated. I heard the anguish of the educated and misery of the illiterate. I felt the bleeding of the onlooker and bewilderment of concerned ones. I felt the hunger of the greedy and patience of hungry. I experienced the luxury of rich and discomfort of poor. I felt disinterest of powerful and hope in weak and I could not bear it anymore.
I asked the wind to tell me whose story it whispered. It blew around me in mocking; playing for it finally got my attention. I pleaded begged and wiped tears that flowed down my face. I asked the wind to tell the story it whispered for it was too new, its greed tainting, its anguish cutting, its hope burning, its despair slicing, its hate scorching and its pity insulting. It was too new to be a story of the old, too entangled to be of simple mortals, too narrow to be of progressive, too wide to be of zealots. It was tiny as pin and wide as a mountain. It was a story of sweetness of the greatest scent and bitterness of the foulest medicine. It was of valor and heroics, of cowardice and backstabbing. It had believers of Islam and liars with the hands on Quran. It had fathers seeing their daughters leave with husbands after marriage and it had brothers pimping their sisters away without an ounce of shame. It was a story of construction and destruction, of falling sky and cracking earth and it was all searing my soul away.
I asked the wind where the story happened. It blew silently around me. It didn’t say anything for a long time. I kept on waiting, it kept on blowing. Finally, it whispered…
I tell the story of love and despair, of hope and anguish, of rose and thorn, of life and death, valor and cowardice not of forgotten times but present. I tell of thieves becoming lords and lords vanishing in abyss. I tell of nameless enemies and unknown friends. I tell of legends and myths, of right and wrong, justice and injustice …
I tell you of Pakistan.
You cannot dance Sufi, you cannot dance. You dance for the joy of your Lord when Sufi shrines in Pakistan get destroyed by nameless enemies. You dance for love when woman is rendered as a commodity than a human being. You dance for the sky when fire falls from it to kill Muslims daily. You dance for freedom when countless mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters cry, wait and plead with lords of the land asking about the whereabouts of their loved ones. You dance for your Lord Almighty when followers of Islam kill each other without an ounce of remorse. You dance like flowing water when devastation of water submerged half the nation. You dance for power when Lords of the land ignored the plight of the weak, left them like vulture feed and buried their women alive like the Pagan customs before Islam.
You cannot dance Sufi, for while you dance the destruction continues and it will soon devour the whole humanity of the nation. For while there is hope, there is possibility of light in the darkest corner.
Then what should I do if not dance. How can I bear this anguish you whispered me? How can remove these poisonous clouds off my brethren?
You cannot do anything except pray, whispered the wind. They are beggars, made this way through decades. Let them find the strength in their feet, the iron in their will, the rod in their spine, the height in their spirits, the truth in their hearts and destiny in their hands. Let them find their way of which they went astray.
They have the strength of Maula Ali in their arms yet they feel not. They have the knowledge of Abbasi caliphate but they are clueless. They have poetry of Rumi in the hearts yet they find darkness in wait. They have strength of Quran in the soul yet lies and deceit guide their lives. They have Iqbal’s guidance but rolled off to opposite path. They have words of Jinnah but they heed of utters of foreign lords. They have role model of Prophet Mohammed yet they bow down to thieves. They are beggars waiting for pity and pittance. They have to rise and be what they are meant to be.
Until then, you cannot dance Sufi. You cannot dance.