Her. Part two.

She was scared. Yes, if she tried recalling it now, that was perhaps the heightened emotion at that very instant when she first missed a heartbeat as he caught her eye. Cautious, nauseated, breathing nervously, she went up to him and said, ‘Your shirt is white. I like white.’ ‘What the hell, what did I just say?’ She had started panicking as she realized how stupid she sounded standing in the middle of the cafeteria, holding his sleeve. Had there been a normal girl, with usual emotions, she would have gotten through this and brushed it aside laughing. But that was her. She had lost the ability to keep a straight posture; her eyes were watery and her lips were twitching trying to phrase an apology while he started at her blank. She heard all his mates going into hysteria laughing their wits out, calling her names, Sick, Psycho, Despo, Creep, Joker, and what not. She had just wanted to run away and never look back and just hit a car on the road and never wake up ever again. And then suddenly something happened which changed her for worse and added one more chapter to her book of misery. He hugged her. ‘Calm down. It’s not a big deal.’ ‘Let’s go, I will take you to your classroom.’ And off they went putting all on mute.

Staring at the bottom of her empty glass, listening to their chatter quietly, ‘Are they dating already?’ ‘They are just 15, relax’. ‘So what, they can be soulmates, you know.’ ‘Oh come on, he just wants to sleep around and of course she is a psycho and just got lucky with puberty.’ And the sweeping statements seemed an everyday ritual at school which everyone waited eagerly to participate in every now and then. ‘Does he love you?’ ‘Has he confessed?’ ‘Have you met his parents?’ She would hear these questions every day and still keep her mouth shut as she did not want anyone to ruin her perfect bliss. She knew love came slow but stayed long for a few, ‘I don’t care about any of that.’ But then she was a girl with overly charged emotions and subdued hopes. ‘Does he love me?’ ‘Why would he, I am just a mess.’ Well, that’s how she was. Least bit thrilled about advocating self-worth. Their high school had to finish that summer and who knew what else was going to end with that changing the course of life for many.

And everything and everyone she seemed to love or got attached to surely died or faded away or perchance her pessimism had grown deeper with age. And then one day, when she couldn’t take it any longer, she thought to ask him. ‘Hey, I was just wondering, I mean, you know, I was just thinking…’ ‘Would you speak up?’ and before she could manage to respond, he continued, struggling to keep his excitement unnoticed, said, ‘See I have got to be home early today, you know who is coming back to town?’ ‘I have been waiting for her to come back, she has been a very significant part of my life, you know, like a soul mate, we are like peas in the pod, and she is like my future and I want to give her everything and sooner…’ He was ranting and rambling and continued for quite a while after. She, on the other hand, had gotten numb in mind with every detail he shared till she couldn’t hear more and started hallucinating. She could see death everywhere, or probably human bodies maimed and dragged till their intestines came out on the street, with fresh blood oozing out of their pores. Her pupils were dilated with shock and then she could not remember anything.

Her first unrequited love ended in a nervous break-down with her in intensive care for straight two weeks. She would have stopped falling in love ever again and her self-doubt would have cost her all she had gained that far, you may presume. What if I tell you, that was just a beginning to her search for peace which she gained when she had nothing else left to lose but how, you asked.

Wait till you read more…

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Her. Part one.

Do you know how she learned patience? She escaped. It was easier that way and it worked too. Do you want to know where she went or who she ran to? Far from the life around her with gadgets, daily humdrum and never ending self-imposed and socially assigned responsibilities. She ran into the arms of the one who was not going to judge her for anything that could or did cause her all those ailments. Do you know what she suffered from? Acute and heart wrenching self-doubt. It was chronic or appeared so. What caused it, you asked? The answer is ironically amusing but read it anyway. Her constant yet failed attempts on finding what was wrong with her, what was causing her presence and absence zero effects on anyone and everyone around her. What could be that missing link in this not so convoluted story of hers, who knew or who bothered to argue. She caught self-doubt when she learned to comprehend attitudes and slightest shifts in behaviors in her closed ones. She was diagnosed with self-pity when she found herself the odd one out, a left-out and usually alone most of the times when the rest had numerous options for childhood playmates. Didn’t she have siblings to cover her up? Come on, she had 5 of them, each one better than the other, scoring medals and winning trophies while cashing affections every now and then. So what? How does that answer the previous question? She did have siblings and when so many, she shouldn’t have felt what she did in the first place. Wrong. You are jumping the gun here, my beloved reader.

She never scored well in any test, nor was liked by her teachers. Her peers eyed her for her grave voice and long hair at that young age. They never liked her for being left alone anyway. Irony. So her siblings were comparatively better off since beginning. You know what she used to do then for attention? She developed a sense of humor; a silly, slapstick, goofy one. People started noticing her for her lame jokes. She did make them giggle often. So she checked one point.

  • Act silly. They laugh. They accept you.

So all should have been going fine since then, we presume. Alas! No one ever asked her how she felt when they laughed at her jokes. She was basically an introvert and a private person and these situations of projecting herself as a comic relief for others for moments of self-worth and affection were painful. You may be familiar with that feeling of a pulled muscle or a twisted nerve in your leg. The pain was not different and imagine that happening with frequency every other day. Was it worth it, she once asked herself. Then she looked around her and saw people smiling. She thought in affirmation while her heart nodded in negation nervously. Days and months went by, she kept damaging her insides with all those painful pangs and then she fell in love and the news says, it was an unrequited one.

Did she survive it? Wait till you read more.

Pause.

She touched the corners of that old rustic coffee table again, distracted, studying those scratches over the rim of her coffee cup, consciously letting her mind drift from one memory to another. It was easier that way and much less painful, too, like flipping through an open book aimlessly, not looking for anything in particular. She had always felt too much, even the slightest of heartbreaks or moments of hatred or intimacy would go right through her heart and mind; then there were these preoccupied moments, always recharged her parched self, numbly, retracing the silhouette of her tired soul, outlining it with warm white light. She would always smile at the end of these moments of solace. In human minutes, these lasted not more than 5 to 7 minutes. Yes, that’s how much she needed from life to pick it up where she had left.

Her phone rang breaking her stream of thoughts. It was him. ‘Hey, I am really sorry, honey. I don’t think I can make it.’ ‘It’s okay. I understand’, she smiled or she tried. He hung up in less than three minutes. Only if he could see how dark her face would get after every such meeting where she would wait for him and he would take a rain check. ‘It’s okay. That’s how you love when you love. You don’t charge returns. You just give’, the friend inside her tried to buck her up. She had developed all the missing relations in the outside world inside of her. She had a friend, a guide, an optimist, a rebel and a mad man, living peacefully inside of her. All were her cherished ones and each one appeared when she wanted to just give up and drown herself into the abyss of despair.

What she couldn’t give herself was a lover, so she became one. Her love was extremes and boundless and could suffice the entire suffering humanity. How could she not give it to him then? She certainly could, hence she was, despite him struggling with his priorities and not realizing that she was none of those urgencies he had been so invested in for so long now. ‘Where am I in your life?’ she once asked him, nervously, hoping he wouldn’t snap. He did. He always did when he couldn’t give nor had any satisfactory answer to her obvious questions. ‘See this is what you do. You try defining things, labeling things, and that’s how you ruin it all. That’s how you have always loused up our moments.’ He would blame it on her.

She was now outside the coffee shop, standing on the pavement, head down, eyes on the floor, on the specks of dust and dirt filling up the breaches of those unwashed tiles. She looked up, he was standing before her. She missed more than one heartbeat, ‘what… what are you doing here? How? You said, you…’ she started rambling as she always did when caught off guard. ‘Here, for you’, he smiled warmly and gave her a small neat bouquet of red roses. ‘Happy Birthday, Love.’ And that’s how she was alive again.

 

 

 

 

To Tame or Love or Both or Same?

 

There it was. I knew it would come out again searching for me like I do every morning. I look for it and then the war of stares starts. We look at each other for as long as we can. Last encounter lasted for an hour or so or that is how I presume it was.

‘Hold on. Not today, today we won’t just stare. We must speak. Would you care to step out of this bush may be?’ I tried sounding annoyed.

‘I cannot. I am not tamed.’

‘I am sorry? I do not want to tame you. Why would you say that? I just want to talk.’

‘But why me? Why do you want to talk to me only?’ That was now its turn to sound annoyed. ‘Do you mean to say I am the chosen one, even though there are plenty of my kind wandering this neighborhood? Why is it me you seek to tame?’

‘I do not want to tame you. What’s gotten into you? Why are you mistrusting me? What do you mean when you say tame? I was now rambling as it was getting on my nerves. I just wanted it to talk to me for a while.

‘It is the most common of acts or feelings or both or same,’ it said amusingly.  ‘To tame means to form a bond, to develop a feeling, a connection that is not shared by all.’

‘Like love?’ I could just whisper. I don’t know why I said that. Embarrassing.

‘There is nothing to be embarrassed about.’ It continued, ‘I am nothing to you and you are nothing to me but a mere human like others rummaging around these roads. We do not need each other nor do we seek to be noticed by each other, unless you tame me. I may then stand out for you amongst the crowd. I may then be the only one cherished by you, as exotic as I may seem to you after, I can never be compared then to anyone seemingly or remotely alike.’

‘You do understand despite you questioning it we are actually talking now.’ It was my turn to sound amused now.

‘Ah, well. We share a similarity, too. That fact may help you tame me even better.’ It had started strolling now in her patch of grass.

‘What? We do? What could that be?’ I giggled.

‘Our eyes…’

It stared at me. And in no time, I could sense something surreal happening. ‘You. Tamed. Me?’ I was put on mute.

She was on the pavement now, head down, and shivering while it brushed her shoulder with its whiskers and off she went.

Inspired by: The Little Prince.

Dream, Pray, Love

“The land is in pain and so is the sky above our dear homeland.

The comfort it seeks is in the discomfort it once lent

To the peace preachers, and the money-makers who meant

No harm yet smote the senses and lightened the scent

Of mutiny, fights, clashes among each crowd and clan…”

The knock on the door paused her poetic stream, “without consent, my friend!”, she smiled amusingly at her wordplay. She did love the punning she could weave within her thoughts. That was her mother asking her the 11th time to leave the room and have a morsel of food. It was one in the afternoon. She sure was late for the day.

She had yet another dream that morning, or to put it factually, the same dream had recurred for the fifth time, making her stay aloof for some time in her cozy little room. It sure was a disturbing vision and she had tried all her might to forget it after every occurrence. She could still trace each detail of it:

“It was midnight, quiet and dead silent except for the sound of an old cart moving briskly on the bumpy muddy road. She was on the cart and it was driven by a silhouette of a strong man. She couldn’t focus on the rider as the path seemed going nowhere and she had started feeling chills inside out. In less than five minutes they reached an old city covered in stench of blood. She now could see human bodies lying everywhere. She couldn’t make out the faces as the cart was moving too fast. She looked up from that disheartening scene which got gloomier with what caught her eye after. There were flags on that murky road. Different ones, everywhere. The cart slowed down on its own, enough for her to see the flags clearly. The flags were black, white, red in color, some with stripes or crowns, others with Arabic or Persian on it. And amongst those flags, torn and shredded, green and white, was the flag of her homeland. Her Pakistan.” She would wake up as soon she would see that last flag, panting heavily with teary eyes.

Who to tell, who would take that seriously as she knew humans around her or in general were growing fast in apathy and indifference. It was already alarming as none of them seemed to care the damage they were all in their own ways bringing to this planet, to their countries, to their families, to each other. She was not any philosopher nor a psychic nor any religious scholar but some of all. She just stood out in the crowd, even if she never wanted to. She was a joker who could see through delusion when all seemed enjoying the hum drums of mundanity. She knew this dream meant something graver which could not and should not have been taken lightly.

She was now eating her favorite porridge while skimming through daily and weekly news on her smart phone. “Qandeel Baloch murdered by her own brother”, “Eidhi passed away”, “Turkey almost had a Marshall law”, “Brexit”, “Amjad Sabri”, “800 stray dogs were gathered and poisoned by the Sindh Government as a health hazard intervention”, “An angry mob stripped, tortured and killed a person accused of petty theft, threw him in a sewage filled pond in a street”, “Pakistan ranked 6th most dangerous country for Christians”. She switched off her cell phone and rushed outside for fresh air. “This world will meet the worst of its ends if this goes on.” “My country, my homeland may be amongst the first ones to meet a painful demise by the hands of its own people.” She did not want to think so negative but she could see it happening so vividly.

“Wala Tahino, wala tahzanu – Don’t lose hope nor be sad – Quran 3: 139”, her pavement wall had this wall hanging. It was like an omen. “Yes, there has to be a solution to all this chaos, confusion, hatred, intolerance, gadget gluttony and identity/gender crisis, religious/cultural drifts. Something that each one of us is missing out on. How can there not be peace when there is so much chaos? How can any element survive without its binary opposition? There sure has to be a cure. I must think. At least I must if none can. And then what if my dream is interconnected”. All these thoughts filled her again with zest and life. Her eyes would always brighten and shine whenever her mind sorted and figured out a solution.

She started jotting her ideas down to deduce association for each thought and how all that could be interpreted as a solution. After an hour of continuous but random read, focused thinking on each random read, she connected the dots to only see a solution which had always been right before her. “The cure to all this chaos and absence of peace is nothing else but Love”. Bringing her favorite theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking in mind, “The best cure for human aggression is increased empathy that brings all of us together in a peaceful, loving state.”[1]

“He did mean the same, all that we have been fighting for and over had one simple answer, love for humans, love for humanity beyond differences. How difficult could this be?” She was enthralled that a cure did exist. That her beloved green flag of her cherished homeland could be saved with one simple solution that Edhi believed in too. That each one of us mattered the same and our lives were significant enough to cost the disruption or existence of this very planet. That each one of us shared an underlying unity, reflection of the sublime. That diversity was just a genetic, social, political make-up, there to add colors, to bring life. That dreams could come true with thoughts of love and faith, followed by actions of collective good. That there was hope and she could share this hope with all on the 69th birthday of Pakistan, the homeland of peace-lovers and future peace-makers. She had to before it was too late.

[1] See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/442105/scitech/science/humanity-s-future-depends-on-empathy-says-stephen-hawking#sthash.KMgBfztk.dpuf

 

 

 

Her Unchaste Reflection

Quiet and distant, a piano playing a forlorn tune was all she could hear in that cold haunting night; standing still before the wall-sized mirror in her small murky dorm room, numb in feet, pale in cheeks, dreary eyes were screaming the lingering thoughts freezing her brain and rusting her aching bones. “It hurts like hell.” She winced as she touched her abdomen under her grey sweat shirt. Slightly, lifting the shirt up, she peeked at those rosy cold sores appearing to be bite marks. ‘Animals, hunh? What’s an animal but a state of mind that can dawn on anyone anywhere’, she kept looking at the reflection of the brutality on her lean stomach. ‘More like shape-shifters or werewolves on the verge of snapping and losing traces of overrated humanity, they bite you, calling you slut and spitting on the floor.’ She sighed a dead desolate sigh. She was not in any brothel whining over the cruelty of her daily customers. She despised even the thought of that. ‘It hurts like hell. It hurts everywhere.’

She was more like a mature woman with a bigger bust than usual 25 year old girls around, a deeper mind that thought with logic, and a generous heart that forgave all. She had recently moved to the downtown from suburbs, all alone, with a few belongings and a lot of self-esteem. After spending all her savings in a month and trying luck at every reasonable job opening, she had settled for working at a pet store. She worked all day, 9 hours, cleaning and keeping the pets, while the other staff dealt with the customers. ‘I wanted to be a lecturer’, she once told her colleague there, who found her nothing but deranged, blabbering nonsensically.

It’d been 3 years living in that dorm room and working at the pet store with no chances of luck turning any sooner. And just like that, she had started accepting the reality and focusing on other important things in life, like, Happiness and Love. Having big dark brown eyes, freakishly tall legs and long brown hair, she was easy to be liked and admired by many around. However, she could never seem to overcome her one flaw. She was innately, irrevocably naïve. She thought she could read faces and had a sixth sense, but all she knew was what she saw. And she just saw peace, love, care and hope, people taking care of each other, with no ulterior motives whatsoever. How foolish, how simple she was. She’d loved thrice and loved mad. She survived all and yet she perished.

It was that very night when piano played a forsaken tune that she realized she had died inside. She could still see all those scenes flashing before her off sequence. She begging for life. He jolting her knee while she dragging herself away from him. She wasn’t raped in body, she was raped in heart, mind and soul in the worst possible way by her third lover. She had fled from the open door when he turned to grab the empty vodka bottle to kill her. She was crying hysterically while running her wits off on that deserted road, gasping for air, struggling her brain from passing out.

Her feet bled, her check sweats were torn from places. Her grey sweat shirt was drenched in sweat and blood oozing from her head. It was subzero and cold was sliding through her, but she did not have anything on except her usual. She kept running for life until she entered her dorm room in a huge building next to the abandoned old church. She had locked the door behind her, shaking disruptively, her insides seemed twisted and had moved inches from their places seemingly. She fell on the ice-cold floor battling for breath, and in next second, she passed out and stayed so for next two hours.

A loud knock on the door startled her back into senses. She got up next instant and fell in her feet again, she cried again and called out for her mother. The only soul who loved her back. ‘I shouldn’t have left her. I shouldn’t have left my mom. I lost the only love I had, her love. Her unconditional love.’ She sobbed heavily and kept wailing while covering her stinging self in her thin blanket. She stayed like that for another two hours, sleep-talking and crying and sighing.

During that unhinged state of sleep and awake, she heard all of them, everyone she ever loved, friends, family, and lovers, all were repeating the same words. ‘YOU ARE UNCHASTE. YOU ARE A WHORE.’ She could now see their faces, full of hatred, leaving her tearful with every word: ‘YOU ARE UNCHASTE. YOU ARE A WHORE!’ ‘NO!’ She woke up sniveling in pain. ‘I AM NOT A WHORE. NO. PLEASE. NO’. She was so hurt, she could feel her bones cracking under her flesh.

She was now before the wall-sized mirror in her room, staring at her appalling reflection with stone lifeless eyes. ‘I loved and I loved and I lost you, my chaste self.’ ‘I lost you to the love that never loved you. I lost you to the world that never cared for you. I loved and I loved and I lost you. And it hurts like hell.’ She looked at her reflection one last time and smiled before giving in to death. And she died before dawn.

The Quest Without – Part 1

‘Kun Faya Kun…Allah hu…’ she could hear loud but distant a Sufi yarn spun deliriously round and round. ‘There is something strong around this veranda that I can’t amusingly overlook,’ she breathed nervously, pacing through those meek corridors. She had lived in that murky cottage for over a year and was now on the verge of giving in to the cravings of change and her impulse. She wanted to go back to the city, as her search for the divine seemed going nowhere and ending in vain.

She, who would never concur living in isolation and that too in a town far away from her home and family, had one fine day decided to take a leap of faith and leave. She had survived harsh conditions, considering the absence of modern day conveniences of life, praying, eating simple food, and loving the divine soul. She had staunch faith He existed. She still needed to see it for her own self as seeing is believing some said. However, as the quest almost met a dead-end, she gathered her few belongings that night and waited for her neighbor who had generously agreed to pick her up and drop her off at the train station.

She was waiting in the veranda, walking about peevishly. While taking her fourth turn towards the end of the corridor, she froze in her feet, breathing heavily, with sweating palms and forehead, uttering squeaks of horror and pain. She was unable to take her eyes off of what she saw. ‘Was it really there or simply my hallucination’, she couldn’t deduce. Before her stood a true-to-life shrine with its crown touching the skyline, surrounded by dervishes swooned in passion, waking up and swirling in the ecstasy of losing self to the auburn flames of divine love.