In the end, living is defined by dying

“We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast. But when we say this, we imagine that the hour is placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun, or that death could arrive this same afternoon – this afternoon which is so certain, and which has every hour filled in advance.” – Final Destination

We all need reminders that life is precious…

Let’s flashback to my very first day of Second Grade.

I entered the classroom nervously. It also happened to be my first day at the new school. I clutched my sister’s hand tightly and eyed my would-be classmates disdainfully.

The teacher was beckoning to me to take a seat. I remember shaking my little head vigorously from side to side, swallowing the massive lump in my throat and blinking away a pool of tears.  The teacher had a very messy mop of hair which ranged from brown to golden colored. She was clad in a blindingly multicolored ‘Shalwar Kameez’ and sported huge black combat boots. I had to stretch my puny neck all the way up to meet her probing gaze. She had very bushy eyebrows, a pointy chin, and big, beady eyes. Her lips stretched in a wide smile which revealed her pale, lipstick stained teeth. Yes, not a very reassuring sight!

“Say hello to your classmates” she said in a high-pitched voice. Only she pronounced ‘hello’ as ‘hallo’, ‘your’ as ‘yar’ and ‘classmates’ as ‘class-moths’. So it sounded something like “Say hallo to yar class-moths”. Quite simply, I was astounded and at a complete loss for words. The ‘class-moths’ were staring at me fixedly. It was not a good feeling, I felt like a bug under the microscope.

“I’ll come by to see how’re you doing at recess, you’ll make friends soon enough and fit right in” my sister said hurriedly patting my head, and then she was gone.

The teacher asked me to introduce myself and then pointed to an empty seat on the right. Mustering up all my courage I walked slowly and looked at the girl I would be sharing my desk with. I took a liking to her instantly. Maybe it was the friendly way she beamed at me, or maybe it was her kind, angel-like face. Feeling somewhat better, I gave her a faint smile. Noticing my watery eyes she quickly put an arm around me and said in kind, soothing voice “Don’t cry! It’s going to be okay, we’re going to be best friends.”

And so, best friends we became. Together, she and I laughed, talked, shared secrets, played, and competed as friends are known to do. People would often stop to ask us if we were sisters or cousins, and appear ever so surprised when we said we were simply friends. As we grew older, we changed groups of friends, but remained good friends.

Fast-forward to Grade Six. I’m at McDonald’s with her and two of our mutual friends. We’re slurping shakes and working on an assignment for English Class. Someone knocks over a drink, and we’re all going to the bathroom grabbing handfuls of paper towels and dabbing them at our clothes. That’s when one of our friends knocks over the liquid soap; it sails into the air and drops comically on her head spilling down to her shoulders. I cannot help cracking up. However, instead of joining in the laughter, I see her helping our friend wash the soap off and drying her off with paper towels. My conscience pricks and my laughter immediately ebbs away. But what’s done is done. I am left feeling guilty for laughing at a friend’s expense instead of helping out.

Eight Grade(Year 2008). The country is in a perilous state. We hear about suicide bombings, terrorist attacks and drone attacks nearly every day. Innocent lives are snatched away brutally; we’ve lost count of the ever increasing death toll. Even institutions like schools, colleges, and universities are beginning to be attacked. Funnily enough we’re going about our lives the way we always have, it’s almost as if we have become immune to it. We have started having drills at school though.

3rd December 2008. The day starts like any other day. Fourth lesson, and we’re quietly doing an English Composition. Then like a cry of death, we hear the siren signifying yet another drill. Alarmingly, the siren goes on and on, and then we hear screams and shouts. Then there is thundering of footsteps. The door bangs open, “Come out! Quick! There’s a bomb in the school!” That’s all it takes. We zip out of our seats like uncivilized ruffians and become a part of the stampede outside. We are like a tidal wave, flowing down the stairs until we reach our Ground where we had been just a few hours ago for the Morning Assembly. The entire school is gathered here. There are whistles in the distance, and then we hear the unmistakable sirens of ambulances. Everywhere I look, I see the same white, terror-stricken faces. Teachers are fruitlessly doing head counts and trying to calm us down. Then our Coordinator is on the podium, her voice travels loud and clear as she issues out commands in the microphone. Someone, a student, walks to the podium and raising his hands for prayer and begins reciting. We follow suit.

And then it is all over. It was a scam, somebody’s idea of a sick joke. We troop back to our classes even though we are all too keyed up to sit still. Then someone whips out a pen and paper, scribbling her ‘Will’ on it. It catches on and then we’re all jokingly declaring our wills. My friend from Second Grade and some of the other girls write their wills on their hands.

After school, I call her a few times but no one answers.

4th December 2008. She does not come to school. 9pm, and I am fast asleep. Someone is shaking me, and someone is crying. I open my eyes to see my Mom’s tear-streaked face. My blood runs cold, and my heart hammers madly against my chest as horrifying images flit across my mind. I am about to ask her what’s wrong but stop in mid-sentence when she holds me close and rocks me back and forth. I am terrified and for the first time, I do not feel completely safe in her embrace. A part of me does not want to know what is wrong. That’s when I fully understand the English proverb ‘Ignorance is bliss’. But, a larger part of me needs to know. I look at my Mom searchingly, but she only shakes her head as fresh tears slide down her face. I have never seen her like this. Her pain is my pain, her suffering is my suffering, and her overwhelming grief is my grief.

“A friend of yours called. She was crying, and wanted to speak to you. She told me to wake you up when I told her you’re asleep” my Mom starts in a shaky breath. “Oh honey…” she trails off and then she is crying even harder. My head is spinning. There is a pregnant pause and then, “It’s Fatima, she was shot and has passed away” my Mom says finally. And my mind is in free-fall, unable to grasp the possibility as dread washes over me. I cannot believe it, I will not believe it, I adamantly refuse to believe it; I am in denial.

I do not cry. All of my emotions have been replaced by anger. My anger is directed at everything, and at everyone. I still do not believe it. Grabbing the phone, I furiously text my friends. They all say the same thing; they say she was murdered, they say she passed away. A mixture of anger and frustration grips me hard and fast now. ‘Fatima, my angel-faced friend from Grade Two cannot be gone, I just saw her yesterday’ my mind lashes out over and over again like a broken record.

And then a friend, who was also Fatima’s distant relative calls me, she is sobbing. “She’s not dead” I tell her unnervingly calmly. But she too says the same. She tells me that Fatima’s father had a dispute over part of his land with some people. Today, Fatima and one of her brothers had stayed home from school since her parents and her other brother were in Lahore for the day. The doorbell rang around 11am, and those very people began firing at the house. Hearing the gun-shots, her brother rushed to his sister’s room but he was too late. She was lying down, and covered in blood. The firing stopped after a few minutes, he slung her across his back and borrowing the neighbor’s car rushed her to the nearest Hospital (Allied Hospital, Faisalabad). Their parents and brother who had been in Lahore at the time were informed, and they too reached the hospital as soon as possible. The doctors said she lost too much blood, and could not undergo surgery. They know she’s dying. Fatima, the only sister of her two older brothers, the darling and only daughter of her parents, the baby of the family; was passing away before her family’s’ eyes. She too, knew she was at death’s door. And that very day, sometime around 8pm, she passed away.

I listened to the tale in horror. Murdered and martyred at the tender age of thirteen over a petty, trivial land dispute! And then I am crying. I cry till I can cry no more. I am still hoping for it to be untrue. Memories of Fatima spin in my mind. Her face is so clear in my head, and her voice is almost real. But knowing that I will never hear her voice again, or see her sweet smile again tears and rips my insides apart.

I do not sleep the night. My Mom advises me to stay home from school but I must go. A part of me is still childishly hoping to see her at school. All my worst fears are confirmed the minute I set foot at school. Everywhere I look, people are crying, talking in hushed voices and I find myself crying again. Walking into my classroom, I see her empty desk. My classmates and I stare at it for the longest time, each of us mourning for our friend; the sweetest, kindest person we had ever known. And I know then that she really is gone, and there is no coming back.

Later that day, Mom and I go to her funeral. I cannot stop the tears streaming down my face, try as I might. It seems like the entire school is here. We offer silent prayers. It is so unreal, and yet so real. Moments later, I see her. She looks so peaceful, like she is merely asleep. She is so close, and yet so far away…

Even though you’re no longer amongst us your presence still lingers on and your memories keep reminding us of how much we treasured you and how much we gave up when we lost you Fatima Mehmood. May your soul Rest in Peace. AMEN.

Ironically, some months before her young life was snatched away mercilessly, she wrote me this short yet poignant inscription – as if she knew that she would tread the world of the unseen and become a cherished memory held in our hearts forever. Though her stay in this world was short and brief, her smile, her angelic face, and her sweet disposition had an eternal impact on everyone around her! I can never ever forget her;

“In the end, living is defined by dying. Bookended by oblivion, we are caught in the vice of terror, squeezed to bursting by the approaching end” – Bernard Beckett

Speaking the ‘unspeakables’

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Zahra Haider 

She’s got gall, gotta give her that! 🙈
Zahra Haider’s rather tumultuous rant  has sent our nation in a mass frenzy. I wonder what brought about the mock outrage more – the brutal honesty she writes with, or the matter-of-fact way she puts things? Or perhaps, the content itself because it is vile and ‘unladylike’? 😶 Referring to our entire nation as the h******* in the world was downright stupid and poorly researched coupled with being a very unkind stereotype, so I won’t be acknowledging that at all. While she’s being massacred by the mass-media for daring to pen such ‘obscenities’, there are a choice few who read between the lines of the notorious tirade; http://www.dawn.com/news/1255226 (although I highly suspect by the time you read this, DAWN will have removed it).

On a serious note though, the article could’ve been more well-written, yes, but while Zahra’s post is mostly more of a (personal?) reflection on sexual encounters+sexuality+sexual repression, and how these are received, her post does capture the essence of multiple problems plaguing our country today because they seem to share the same roots.
I don’t exactly condone the whole sleeping around jazz – I don’t judge you or anyone for sleeping with one person or twenty, but no, I don’t endorse it on the same level as Zahra perhaps because it’s always going to be something that’s largely a personal choice (and more often than not, religious). But, I do greatly scorn the paranoia and judgemental stigma that pervades our part of the world – Plastering labels on people that follow them all the way to their graves is never going be right, and it disgusts me how people have the audacity to do that while putting themselves on some higher moral ground (read: holier than thou).

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I vehemently oppose the ‘culture of silence’ here, particularly on important matters that badly need to be talked about, inter alia, child abuse, Sex-Ed, the stigma prevalent across psychological illnesses etc. I personally feel that she did somewhat encapsulate the oppressive reins that our society strangles women with. Most women not even knowing jack about dosage and ODing on contraceptives is very, very real. And the persistent stigma circulating abortion is not exactly laudable either (not going to be talking about the religion tangent here, sorry); where it’s an inadvertent happening and cons rate higher, I do believe it’s really always the girl’s choice. Because, postpartum depression is incredibly severe and has the tendency to lead to MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). A non-existent Sex-Ed policy accompanied with illiteracy leaves Pakistan grappling with multiple problems on this front – primarily, that of overpopulation and of the high suicide rate because when our underprivileged people pop out babies without any family-planning, and lack the very means to feed the growing number of mouths, their simplest solution is to off themselves. It is crucial to understand the gravity of what being tight-lipped about so many important matters can do. How much longer will we let human lives be treated like cheap commodities?

Moreover, Zahra is very right in underscoring how the standards for men and those for women are so brazenly imbalanced and twisted, it is downright unacceptable. I do not know why or how we are allowing such blatant hypocrisy to reign so free in our world; I have yet to see people more chauvinistic and misogynistic than the ordinary Pakistani man. Similarly, I have yet to hear about an honor killing of a man for the same twisted notions of ‘honour’ that follow the rampant ones of girls; for getting into pre-marital (read ‘haram’) relations. Does the simple act of mingling with the opposite sex really justify snatching away the life of your own blood for something you describe as (a vain attempt in) upholding your ‘honor’?

At a recent screening of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s latest documentary, A Girl in the River, at a University in Peshawar, shocking events unfolded as men in the audience actually had the tenacity to cheer & applaud at the part where the girl was killed (To read the story for yourself, head over to: “Honour has different meanings for different genders“). Truly deplorable, n’est–ce pas?! Never have I been more perturbed for my country and its people. Equally, if not more, outrageous is the axeing of documentaries for “negative portrayal”.

Let’s not forget, however, that India too has had its fair share of shameless misogyny – a couple of years ago, a rape scene in a movie was met with applause by men in the audience. But Godforbid anyone should talk about all of this – it is nothing short of social-suicide in the minds of the millions of our countrymen. And here lies the crux of the problem – we are conditioned to repress and withhold our views because being opinionated is seen as something of a disease. I would like to chalk it up to the stark difference b/w the educated and the uneducated, yet even some of our most educated people are hopelessly flawed in their thinking – our people are chained by these staunch ideas and views that have been backed by generations of their families, and so to step away from the shackles of ignorance & chauvinism and exercise their own cognitive processes is fairly challenging, because even the slightest of meandering away from these long-held male supremacist ideas is quite simply chalked up to blasphemy of the highest order. So caught up are we in this current of ‘unquestionables‘ and ‘unspeakables‘, the fear of the repercussions of talking about these matters greatly outweighs all else. And so, all essence of humanity is collapsing like a house of cards as our people cling to their silence and their Orthodox beliefs. We are light years behind, because we severely lack even the bare minimum of humanity – we are allowing these horrors to continue because we are choosing to remain close-mouthed about it all; here lies our greatest undoing.

A Pakistani, and proud of it

 

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It was the year 1947 when the Muslims of the previously unbroken India thrived on hope and prosperity as they watched Pakistan triumphantly gain Independence and acquire recognition as a distinct country on the map, albeit sandwiched between two massive countries, Afghanistan and the notorious India. For the very first time, we were convinced that this marked the advent of eternal peace and success.

She, Pakistan, sprawled beautifully over the vast Arabian Sea, presenting her remarkably pronounced land area that totaled the collective land areas of France and England. Boastful of one of the highest peaks in all lands, harboring some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer, refuge to some of the oldest archaeological remains in existence, and a nation to starry-eyed enthusiastic minds; she was home to us all.

67 years and running, she now seems to be fast deteriorating. The land is distraught; the mountains appear weak as the once scenic landscape has powdered to dust owing to the endless barrage of bullets and bombings. Here it seems, human lives are increasingly devalued, and bad news is always on the rise. The country is collapsing like a house of cards, or so the mass media projects.

The crux of the problems amassing the country today is that everything Jinnah stood for has been dissolved. A Muslim state, in Jinnah’s mind, was modern, but not altogether western. Jinnah believed in clinging to our identity, our morals and our values. It was Islamic yet not fundamentalist. Iqbal and Jinnah anticipated Islam in it’s true, real essence; accepting to change and continuously evolving, progressing. The day the people of Pakistan can understand and work on their ideas, they will make their way out of their prevalent identity crisis.

In face of trying times it is difficult not to worry about the new challenges springing up every passing moment. About one in three Pakistanis are still surviving on less than 50 rupees per day. Nearly 12 million of our children do not have the privilege of being schooled. And worse still, less than 0.5% per cent of our population pays the income tax. The National Debt that we bear rolls at $60 billion, with the result that larger than 60% of Pakistan’s federal revenue goes straight to paying the debts and interest yearly.

Resilient as ever, Pakistan has squared her shoulders and embarked on the hard path of economic reform, bent on improving governance and battling dwindling energy crisis. This, is one of the many steps that the country needs to take to pave its way to glory.

Pakistan, throughout its history, has been plagued by endless democratic shortfalls, widespread exploitation and corruption, and the menace of excruciating terrorism. A country that can stand back on it’s feet after major devastations since it’s traumatic birth – from overcoming the partition of the subcontinent, the bloody breakaway from East Pakistan, the earthquake in the year 2005, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, to the horrendous floods in 2010 and to other countless horrors including the scores of rampant brutal target killings – and can give back to it’s people has great potential.

The nation continues to bask in the hope of a better tomorrow for their homeland. Our nation is radiantly diverse, vivacious and proud. Pakistan has a self-motivated and young population, an ever-growing high tech sector, and an amazingly prominent and robust civil society, exemplified by the likes of brave, exemplary individuals such as the real-life saint Abdul Sattar Edhi, the real-life hero Perween Rahman (the lady who was attempting to bring sewer and water services to the poorest of the third largest city in the world, and mercilessly murdered), Irfan Khudi (an activist who perished in a bomb blast in Quetta as he helped the victims of another bomb blast a couple of minutes earlier), and the warrior Malala Yousafzai among other heroic, brilliant individuals.

The nation is privy to the reports about extremism taking over the country day in and day out. The sole reason that there may be a threat of an extremist taking reins or of a breakdown of the dream that our Pakistan is, is owing largely to the silence of our people who have gone on to allow the likes of our political ‘leaders’ to rule our concerns. Our greater part of the population including the educated youth recognizes them and deems them as mindless, and devoid of any aspirations and vision. There is dire insufficiency of intellectual structure that can safeguard against the terrors and oppression of both, the Taliban fundus and the highly miscarried Westminster style parliamentary system which inadvertently serves to make dictatorship a simple resort in a country with defenseless masses, wrecked and crippled institutions and a blatant lack of transparency in dealings of governance and responsibility, rather than facilitate democracy.

Such times call for all Pakistanis to take a stand, and let nothing violate their principles of justice, equality and liberty; not simply for their countrymen, not merely for Muslims everywhere, but for all of humanity.

The strength of a country lies in it’s people, and Pakistan is proud to have it’s people epitomized by starry-eyed optimism, and combat the ongoing crisis head-on. Brilliant, young minds from across the country have been making a name for themselves the world over since time immemorial.

Pakistan’s people pay great heed to values and relationships, and are strongly bonded to one another in a way that is uncommon in other countries – it is an attribute, in fact, that other nations would do well to follow. Pakistan has all the makings of a great nation – what the country needs to better itself is for the country to have a fair government system, equality, peace and prosperity, a finer quality of life, and high-quality education for all.

Pakistan has long been home to geniuses –  from budding photographers, app developers, engineers, doctors, scientists, journalists, to teachers, writers, filmmakers, singers and whatnot. Celebrated examples include Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa, the computer prodigy who secured the youngest certified Microsoft Professional title at the age of nine, and Ali Moeen Nawazish who set the world record by passing 23 A-levels. Malala Yousafzai, peace ambassador, has become a household name and an icon for millions of people across the globe today. Another noteworthy example is a journalist and documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, winner of an Emmy for her documentary ‘Pakistan: Children of the Taliban’, and an Academy Award for ‘Saving Face’.

Even in the face of all adversity, our people are rallying against all odds, each intent on making the world a better place. I firmly believe that with a nation so resilient, Pakistan undoubtedly has phenomenal potential and will rise to to great heights.

–       A Hopeful Pakistani

PAKISTANI FLAGS WALL PAPERS (19)

My Sweet Escape

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I should really warn you about what I’m about to write, about what you’re about to read. But, here’s a tiny, little secret I’ve never told anyone; I don’t have the slightest idea what that may be either. For, I rarely ever do.

But then again, for me, writing is like breathing. As always, my fingers lie poised, and then they seem to play almost by themselves on the keyboard, to a melody only they can hear. And so, words dance around, entangling mixed emotions, forming little sentences, with memories so raw and feelings that are almost palpable once more.  The simplest and dearest of pleasures, I have come to know, is inking in these words, weaving them together, and watching them gently sprawl their way across the page.

Those who write tend to feel with emotions that most certainly would suffocate most. It is precisely this that enables the feelings to flow freely into simple, little words.

Lately, I have had quite a lot on my mind. And, I keep finding myself delving deeper and deeper into the very corners of my shell of introspection. Somedays, one may feel blue for no apparent reason. I reverted to ice-cream & chocolate therapies – Did it do any good? Not quite… unless getting bloated and ending up with about twenty zits on your face is what you were aiming for.

As we pave our way through life, the winding road twists and turns. Some of these twists good, and some not-so-good. Heck, it might even seem as life itself is working hard to thwart one’s pursuit of happiness.  For a while, we may lose our footing. Look within yourself, and find it in yourself to keep going on, just glide forward. They say all good things will come to an end. I strongly disagree. Good things will fall apart only so that better things fall together. People may come, and people may go. But, writing, it seems, will forever beckon me. ..

For me, writing is one of life’s simple pleasures – it whisks you away to a world where it’s you, just you, at peace. It’s where my thoughts rein free, my words hang unchained, and my spirits fly right into the clouds. The things that take each one of us to places vary – Lavender sunrises, the smell right after it rains, the breaking of dawn, the birth of a baby, the sounds of a bird chirping, or a game of football, a run early in the morning. Whichever yours may be will always serve as a “sweet escape”.

And for me, that’s my writing.

Write, and you shall grow to love it. And one day, it will become a part of you that no one could ever take away. So to all those who want to write, I say, please do write. For, anyone can write. If it is your purpose & your being, it will forever summon you. And in time, it becomes the very beat of our heart.  A beautiful thing, it certainly is.

..

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

Massacring the language

It’s true.I have the deplorable habit of judging people for their spellings. Some might call it snobbery, while most chalk it up to the ‘English-medium superiority complex’. For those of you unaware of this phenomenon, it is a mouthful used to describe the privileged born class of Pakistani citizens who have the audacity to pursue an education in a well established institute, usually private, cue gasp, as of-course private is synonymous with exorbitantly expensive (even if it is not), in lieu of the more sensible public schooling system which bases its entire structure of education on rote learning,murdering imagination in all its forms, a few sharp slaps (though I’ve heard that recently this has started to be discouraged but then I also heard that our energy crisis is just WAPDA’s way of playing peekaboo and it’s all just a joke really because everything is right as rain so I’m going to choose to be sceptic about this) and teachers committed to instilling fear, stamping out any love for knowledge whatsoever and starring in nightmares, bad memories and inevitably becoming the cause of deep psychological scarring that will require several years at the therapist’s office to deal with. Coming back to the phrase at hand the EMSC is attributed to individuals such as me who have decided to eschew our national language (allegedly) in favour of the English language and now consider themselves superior to those still grappling with its basic tenants and manifest this superiority by daring to correct them.

I resent that. I don’t correct to assert my superiority or my better grasp of the English language (well mostly I don’t), I correct because bad spellings like bad grammar(a whole other issue, I solemnly swear to address it later) are supremely annoying. They create an image of the dolt in a dunce cap made to sit in the corner in my mind. All my respect goes out the window when seemingly able human beings mess up spellings.There are instances where bad spellings especially cause me to go apoplectic, such as:

1.In Class:

When a professor has misspelled words in his presentation, I cannot bring myself to concentrate on the lecture, I stare at the word which is taunting me with its brazen incorrect-ness, displayed there like that for so many people to see, to copy, to reproduce, to scrawl and scribble it in their notes, to misspell it later still, to teach their children the incorrect spellings, an entire generation reproducing absolute drivel, for when a word is not spelled correctly it might as well be gibberish, but alas my limitations only allow me to correct the spellings myself, to type it out neatly, to check in my phone’s dictionary (yes moments like this even cause me to doubt myself..a little anyway) and reassure myself that atleast my future generations will be safe from making such ignorant errors as in my mind atleast there is no recovering from it.

2.In text messages:

What is with people and texting ‘da’ instead of ‘the’, ‘dere’ instead of ‘their’, ‘dat’ instead of ‘that’, ‘wid’ instead of ‘with’, ‘dix’ instead of ‘this’ etc etc. I just fail to get the idea behind this,what drives a sane person to assert their stupidity in such a manner? Do they feel like its saving them time? Missing a few words and typing like a monkey should never be used as an excuse to save time! Spellings are important people, the way you write is important, it makes all the difference between you and an imbecile . But the best is when,adhering to this annoying form of text lingo, people misspell the words without reducing the number of letters, I mean that just throws the time thing right out the window, what’s your excuse then? For example ‘anyway’ is spelled as ‘aniway’..more commonly ‘aniways’ (because apparently there were more ways going there than just one.) ‘okay’ as ‘okie’ because well that just sounds so much more cuter (in what universe?) ‘how are you’ as ‘howe r yew’ (seriously?) but what absolutely takes the cake is ‘kewl’ for ‘cool’ which in a sentence is commonly interjected as ‘dats so kewl’ , ‘yew luk kewl’ (I look what?honestly I first thought they meant some kind of fish until ofcourse I learnt better. But now I know so its ‘kewl’…not!)

3.While social networking:

Navigating through facebook posts and updates of our generation requires a handbook in itself. Most of the time I give up reading halfway because I just don’t get what they are trying to say. Forget spellings, wave goodbye to grammar and just watch the massacre helplessly while Shakespeare rolls in his grave. I have no idea who proposed this idea of cutting down words, inventing new spellings as a way of sounding ‘kewl’ but all I can try to do is convince people that its far from ‘kewl’, the fish or otherwise. It’s a sacrilege to the English language. It’s preposterous. It’s downright disturbing and it reflects upon us Pakistanis more badly than our alleged terrorist cells though I suppose a terrorist with the status update ‘bIG dAY 2dAy,gOinG To BlOwuP new targeTx,takE KaRE best WISHex fOr me and My brOthERs!’ would be the most damaging reflection to date.

4.Billboards,signs and other public displays:

   

Need I say more? 😉

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

After three long years of waiting, Mark finally headed home. The war had come to an end, and so had Mark’s service in the army. Mark stared out of the window, trying to contemplate all that had happened in the last few years. He had been waiting for this day for so long, to escape the horrors of war – the revolting sight and smell of blood and burning flesh, the raging hunger, months of freezing nights, days of lying spread-eagled under thorny bushes, months of agonizing thoughts after so many brutal killings, and the constant feeling of impending doom.

They say that wars can make men become wild savages who are nothing like who they had been before, but Mark was not among those who took pleasure in killing. He hadn’t been able to fit in with the rest of them, those who relished every kill. As time went by, Mark had gotten quieter – a prisoner of guilt and repulsion. He was careful not to let the others see how he felt, and so he had mastered the art of bottling up his emotions. Loneliness, repulsive nightmares and an insatiable yearning for his family had often kept him up at night. To be away from his family was the utmost test, Mark would try to picture his family but the images kept getting blurry and the memories vague as time wore on. They say that time heals all, but apparently, this could not have been more wrong. He had left at a time when his son Rick was starting school, and Dolores, his wife, had another baby on the way. There were times when Mark despised himself for missing out on his family’s lives, but he knew that it had never been in his control.

So much had changed now. He thought about Melissa, his daughter, whom he had not even seen. ‘I am a stranger to my own children’ he thought dejectedly. The letters from home had been few, and he had read every one of them over and over again, tracing his fingers tenderly along the lines.

Coming out of his reverie, Mark realized that the plane had just landed. Twenty minutes later, he was in a cab and going back home for the first time in three years. A strange sensation assailed Mark – he was happier than he had been in a long, long time, but at the same time, he felt somewhat apprehensive. ‘Will I be greeted with open arms, or do they hate me for not being there for them?’ he wondered.

Soon, Mark stood outside his doorstep and stared at his house for the longest time. How he had missed home! He paused, took a deep breath, plastered an awkward smile on his face, attempted to ease his face in what he hoped was a relaxed expression and rang the doorbell. He heard hurried footsteps, laughter and then the door opened. For a moment, he stared at his family, and they at him. For the first time in years, Mark’s face stretched in a genuine smile and in that moment, he rediscovered happiness – being reunited with the ones his heart had been aching for so very long. “Funny how you can’t seem to smile the way you used to, long suffering, huh? I see a permanent frown” Dolores joked, her eyes water – Mark’s misgivings fell away. The family stayed up late, catching up on each other’s lives, drinking in each other’s words and thanking the heavens for being together once more.

The next morning, before dropping the kids off at school, Dolores made Mark pose for a picture with Rick and Melissa. The three bore an uncanny resemblance – the same scrunched up foreheads, and the same faltering and conscious smiles.

Mark, with Rick and Melissa

 

The Guide

There are some things(or some people) that tend to irk me(and all other sane people) beyond measure. So, I’ve made a list, a guide, for all such people. If you do any of these things, this is a REALLY good time to stop. Trust me, you’ll thank me later! 🙂

1.  If I’m singing, you do not just start singing along. I hate to break this to you, but this just isn’t ‘GLEE‘ or ‘High School Musical‘. This, my friend, is real life. It isn’t cute or endearing. It’s plain irritating.

2. Typing like your keyboard is having a seizure(for e.g: typing “Hi there, what’s up? How have you been?’ as “HiiEE dre wtz Up? Hw hV yEW  Bn?”) does not make you seem cool. It really doesn’t.  It does, however, make you seem deranged. Note: The same goes for incorrect Grammar/Spellings.

3. There are those of us who tend to start ohmygosh-ing at everything. Yes, at even the most mundane things. I fail to understand why! This needs to stop. It’s creepy, and beyond lame. Enough said! 

4. Faking a British/American accent does not make you an ‘Angraiz’, however hard you may try. It’s nauseating – Please stop trying so freaking hard. This leaves me looking like this:

5. Speaking ‘Urdu’ as if it’s ‘Arabic’ does not make a better Muslim, contrary to what you may think.

 Normal Guy speaking urdu: Assalamo-Aleikum! Kya hal hai aap ka?

Guy who speaks Urdu like Arabic: Usss-salamm-oh-aleih-hukumh! Key-yah Hal-ah hai-ah aap-ah kah?

See what I mean? It’s plain weird!

6. Posting pictures and video of Twilight/Bieber/One Direction and polluting everyone’s Facebook/Twitter homepage is terrible. It’s evil. They’re over-rated. Get over them.

7. Writing the word ‘Breathe’ as ‘Breath’, and vice versa. This needs to stop. “Breathe” is defined as “to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.”  “Breath” is defined as “the air inhaled and exhaled in respiration.” See the difference now? It isn’t rocket science. Mistaking these two for each other is downright disturbing. Please stop doing this. Now.

8. Tagging a dozen people in your profile picture and/or cover photo when the photo is of you alone is lame. I don’t know why you do this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you do it to get more likes/comments. Yes. Now, you see how utterly pathetic it truly is?! This too, needs to stop. Please.

9. Tweets/Status Updates about the weather. Now, really? No, I mean, like, really?! We’re not living in rabbit holes, trust me, we do know what it’s like outside. And no, we have no desire whatsoever to read about how you’re sweating buckets or shivering like a goddamn dog. You like the rain? Fine, but keep it to yourself, darls!

10. Swearing unnecessarily is not cool. It will not make you cool. It never was cool. It’s highly unbecoming.

11. Changing your relashionship status every week is not cool either. Frankly, no one really gives two shits about you going from ‘in a relashionship’ to ‘it’s complicated’ to ‘single’ to back to ‘in a relashionship‘. It just litters out homepage.

                

12.Uploading Emo pictures/Albums is pathetic. We know you’re creepy, do you really want to prove it now?

13. Keep your  unhealthy ‘Anime’ obsession (Naruto/Bleach/Death Note) to yourself. Yes, that means an end to anime-based status updates, tweets, display pictures, cover photos, quotes, wall-posts etc etc. Note: The same goes for all similar obsessions!

14. Nail art/ Nail Paint Freaks. Kindly refrain from uploading photos of your hands and feet with creepy nail paint/art/desings or whatever you want to call them. It’s not cute. No, not even a teensy bit.

      

15. Checking in at every single place on the planet  is unnecessary. You go a mile away from home and I see you checking in at some place. Exaple: ‘Sarah is at Club Road‘.

16. So you watched a movie. What’s the big deal? Do you really have to post a gazillion statuses and wall-posts about it in every possible way?! Do you really have to tell us that you loved it or hated it in about fifty different ways? We really do not care. Nope, we just don’t. I’m saying it again incase you missed it; We just do not care.

17. So, you want to tell us how your day went. Okay, fine. But posting about thirty lines about your stupid day with all the stupid details is just not normal. I said it before, and I’ll say it again; We do not care. And tagging half of your friend-list just makes it worse! It’s almost like you’re showing off, but that’d be absurd since clearly, your day wasn’t as great as you’re attempting to imply.

  

I guess that’s enough for now. Ofcourse, there are more things I could add, but I’m afraid I won’t ever stop and since I’ve got exams coming that may not be such a great idea! So, this is The Guide – learn it, love it, and live it because this is going to save you from embarassing and humilating yourself!It’s never too late, starting now, you can finally appear to be sane/normal. Isn’t that awesome? 😀 I know you will thank me someday 😉 Au revoir!