Thursday, December 27, 2012

Eff I'm nearly 22.

Isn't it weird and amazing that ...there are too many things that are weird and amazing. As a kid you don't really understand being human. You can't quite grasp the idea of just existing. And then as you grow up, you want to be someone because being just anyone is mediocre and terribly humiliating to your sense of self. As if the bottomless pit that is your lack of self-esteem isn't enough. Growing up, you need some ray of hope to make you believe you aren't just going to be lost in all of this, whatever this is.
Then one day it dawns on you that the getting lost part is a little bit inevitable. As inevitable as your 4 year old self tripping and falling flat your face because you didn't listen to your mother and ran away when she tried to tie your shoelaces. You start becoming used to the idea, even a little comfortable.
Hiding under a proverbial rock doesn't seem so bad anymore. They tell you to take charge of your own life and you realize that you're too scared to even try. Where to from here?
It's not like real life is some wonderful romantic comedy or even close to being a mildly entertaining sitcom (unless you're just observing, in which case, it's a total scream sometimes). Everyone keeps talking about this thing called "the grind" which sounds a little like a huge monster with really big molars waiting to chew any and everything to sawdust- and suddenly, real life seems even less appealing. The questions you ask yourself aren't about what your next move is going to be, but more about what you're going to settle for and whether doing what you love is going to be able to give you the life that you want. After all, if I'm going to be stuck in a rut, I might as well try to make it a pleasant one to live in, no?

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I was sitting in the balcony writing a poem, and I remember it was drizzling. At 7 am on the 1st of March 2005, Karachi looked beautiful in the surreal way it does when it's raining. That sounds pretentious, but is exactly how it was. Calm in a way that felt like a silence had descended on the otherwise loud streets around our house. I sat there with my cup of tea, the psuedo-intellectual wannabe poet at 14, trying to pen down some words that would save the day in my memory. And I won't ever forget it. Not because of the poem itself. I wrote many of those, and somehow forgot when or how or why or where I'd written them. But the time I wrote this one poem became a day that would forever stay in my life.
I didn't know what to think, because I had thought they would bring him back. He always came back. I knew he wasn't well, but I never knew how unwell he really was. So I thought it was just another day like the ones we'd been having for the past year and a half. Hospital, home, hospital, home, hospital, home. I sat there writing and thinking about what to cook for dinner, because Mama was too tired to do it after she came back from all those hours in the hospital.
She came back home for a few hours, and then returned. Her mind was somewhere else, but then again, where could it be with her husband in the hospital? She was always distracted in those days, so it wasn't out of the ordinary. She was lost more than she had been before, but I didn't see it.
At 11:30 pm S aunty called, telling me that he was asking for us. I was going to find out later that he hadn't been asking, or rather, couldn't ask anymore. But you tell a little white lie to children, because you want to spare their fragility. She came to get us, trying to make small talk awkwardly. Baita khaanay mein kya khaaya? Poora dinn kya kiya? School kaisa jaa raha hai? She seemed intent on erasing the time and the situation. Just your usual 1 am drive with a family friend four times your age, happens all the time.
I walked in and they were all there. Mama was leaning against the wall outside the CCU, crying. I didn't know what the acronym stood for, and I was too distracted watching my mother in tears. I had never seen her cry before. The moment I walked in, I saw him lying on a bed looking helpless and vulnerable; two things I had never thought Baba could or would ever be. I didn't even know the disease that was killing him. The shock of it was more for me than his imminent death. I broke down, but more out of the stress of the situation than grief. They were asking Mama to sign away his life, and I could see her battling with her heart over it. She wasn't even sure if his life was hers to give away. But they told her that it would save him pain, because he would never come back the way she knew him.
Then he was gone. The four of us stood there as they loaded him into a van. It still wouldn't hit me, not for days. Then one day it would, and I would blame myself. Mama would blame me sometimes too. I couldn't understand that she did it from a place of loss herself, because my poetry hadn't achieved the depth that had the ability to grasp those emotions yet.
I've been told there is nothing poetic about death. But the only one I knew had all the drama of death as I thought of it. The skies wept, and I couldn't muster a tear.
That night we were torn apart, and we have spent the years since trying to piece ourselves back.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Karachi, again.

I have been tired.
of your ways and the
slow toll that being part of you
takes when I try my best to
settle in

I have been tired and beaten
snd weary and nearly
broken by the way you are cruel,
the way you seem not to care
because you go on and so should i,
And there is no room for those who try
to Wait and Watch.

you have moved me to poetry
and you have moved me to tears-
almost convinced me that I would
not look back again
that I could walk away from
nostalgia strewn in the lanes of
my memory

these things have an uncanny knack
of  being utterly wrong because
what doesn’t start in my gut,
a notion that will not tug at
the strings of my heart
will hardly change what is
in my blood.

these smells, these trees,
this beauty
still alien, still unknown.
you refuse to make room
and I cannot coerce you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear Mohome,

I've known the pain of losing people and love, amongst other things. But I've never been afraid of losing places. Until now. It took me a while, two years actually, to love you the way I do now. You've become home, with your very own place in my heart that I can't compare with anything else I know. Someone who encouraged me to come to you said to me once that she hated you for the first year and a half, and then when she came to love you she didn't want to leave, ever. But time was running out too fast, and before she knew it four years were up and she had to pack her things and leave. That's how I feel. I'm scared that after you there won't be any magic left in the world.
There won't be any brunches by the lake, I won't be able to text people and ask them if they want to have dinner randomly, and in the real world you can't knock on people's doors at 4 am just because you want to talk. I'll probably even miss the bad Blanchard food.
I grew up with you. I realized that there's more to people than what they seem to be, that everyone has a riveting story, that we're so much smaller than we realize, that there is never anything to be ashamed of. I owe you more than I will ever be able to repay, and every cent of my tuition has been worth the cost. I'd gladly pay back the loans that I owe you, and then some. Heck, I even found the love of my life because I came to you.
I remember being uncertain about whether I'd even get the chance to experience you. The uncertainty killed me, I hated the world for its unfairness, but I know that I will forever love my mother for what she did, the sacrifices she made. I hope she thinks its been worth every rupee she's spent, everything she's gone through, and I hope I can repay what she did for me. If I hadn't known you, I wouldn't have been who I am today, right now at this moment. You have given me so much, it's unbelievable.
I felt like I lost my words when I came to you, but that's not what it was. Life turned into a poem when I came to you, I didn't feel the need to write because I was living in a picture. You are so beautiful. Every single day when I walk out of my dorm I look at the hundreds of colors around me, and I think about how nothing could rival your ethereal beauty. Before I saw you, I thought about how I might fall for you. I had no idea what I'd be in for. You've changed me, my life and my world. I love you.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


One of the things I've discovered about myself is that I'm afraid. So is everyone, you might say. And I'm sure you'd be right, but nonetheless, I am afraid. I often find myself thinking quite enviously about the experiences people have by themselves, by just jumping into things and letting them happen. I was never one of those people. Perhaps only when it came to saying what was on my mind, but I still do that.
I've learned how to be scared, to be more careful, to think a million times before I do anything, because I believe that trouble has a way of finding me. And I hate it, because nothing in the world makes me feel older than this. This has a sense of finality, having to think about your actions, making contingency plans and thinking in circles of what ifs. I'm terrified of personal disasters because as much as I try, I don't have a plan B. I don't even have plan A and a half. So I'm scared.
I like to watch people, think about their stories and their lives, unless they make it painfully obvious that they want others to see them. I like to watch myself too. And if you asked me to use one word to describe myself, I would use hesitant. Or unsure. Or uncertain. Maybe indecisive.
But the processes in my mind are a constant back and forth, thoughts bouncing off walls and finally combusting  after I've exhausted them beyond any possible further use.
I've heard being alone isn't that bad, but loneliness scares the absolute fuck out of me. Ask me to travel alone, and I probably won't know what to do. I think I get that from my mother, she's a very cautious woman, and they tell me girls becomes more like their mothers as they grow up.

But I also know I need to stop being so afraid, because if I don't, this will turn into immense regret. And that's even worse.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fighting. Everyday about the most mundane of things. Blame it on each other, cyclically, tirelessly, unceasingly, over and over and over again until the air carries accusatory voices. You can taste the bitterness on the tip of your tongue, try to stop it from pouring out like stinging venom, and fail. Fail and then later regret what happened. Then sheepishly try to pretend like it never did.
I see the sorrow in her eyes and wonder when she stopped recognising me. I sense her failure every time I down another shot, when I wear whatever it is that I shouldn't be wearing. But most of all, when I see it in her despair. Because what she doesn't know can't hurt her, but what she does, that kills her.
And it's all stupid and pointless. There is no eloquent way to say this, and even if there was, nothing is as effective.
I'm scared of how pathetic this is becoming. Restrict clothing, restrict appearances, restrict what comes out of my mouth. How will you restrict my thoughts? I can see how she wishes at times that thoughts and convictions were genetically inherited. But don't you see, Mama? Don't you see that this inability to inherit genetically familial beliefs, this lack of opportunity for poison to permeate through your DNA is what made you who you are now? Would you rather cut me off for seventeen years, disown me and not even show up to my husband's funeral, waltzing into my home looking like you're about to shout "Eid Mubarak!!"? Would you be absolutely impervious to my suffering because Allah did not honor me with testicles? Would you blame me repeatedly for my suffering, because I married by choice? Because my husband drank? Because he had been married before?

Would you? I know you aren't cruel like that. I know that you are bent on none of this happening to your daughters. You've fought your whole life, and it saddens me to see your disappointment. Hardly easy to see your exasperated arguments falling apart, and it can't be for you either when you think I'm a shell that resembles you but doesn't do much else. Or when the woman you call your mother means nothing to me.

She asks me almost everyday why I can't give her the satisfaction of saying my prayers regularly, of wearing a dupatta even though it dangles around my neck like a useless noose, an unspoken plea to do it for her sake if not my own, to condemn everything I dismiss as people's own business and lives. And perhaps I'd have pretended, just so she'd have the satisfaction of happiness. Except that a year and a half on, when I come back home, I don't want to have to pretend. What's the point of that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Dear Karachi,

I've been wondering these days what to write about. When I'm walking around Moho I have words swimming in my head, and sometimes I stop to take it all in. It's breathtaking, really. Especially the way it is right now, empty and serene.
Today I sat at the Thirsty Mind and looked out the window, and it was beautiful. I used to dream about this place. When I'm walking around I find it hard to believe that it's been two years, that I made it here and that I've come this far. I find it hard to recognize myself.
But this place doesn't move my soul to poetry. It doesn't tug at me the way you do. I feel affection, not all-consuming love. I've been told to stop romanticizing you, but how is that possible? How does one do that? You have been my muse for as long as I can recall, my oldest love affair. Even your worst failings I remember with a certain fondness I reserve for those I love entirely too much. Sometimes I dream about your salty air, the seaweed smell mixing faintly with the scent of camel dung, and then it escapes me when I open my eyes. One picture of you and something feels caught in my throat. I can't look for too long.
And now I don't want to look at pictures, because I'll see you soon, and breath your air, and when I wake up, it'll be under your skies. I might close my eyes a few times, blink to make sure it's all real. And then I'll sleep better than I have in months because you will surround me again.

Much love. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Today at dinner I told my friends I don't understand atheism. I don't mind it, and I don't hold it against anyone, but I do not comprehend it. For a bit someone thought I was expressing my disdain for those who don't believe in any higher power, because in this place a lack of comprehension can be translated into intolerance. We like having our politically correct lines ready, just in case we may have to jump to the defense. So I explained, told her that's not what I was implying. Not an instance of boutique multiculturalism, merely a genuine inability to understand.
Somehow even my statements seem to come out as attacks these days, and I know I should probably learn not to cause offense. Cause offense to yourself if you must, trample all over your soul and sensibilities, but never those belonging to someone else. Those aren't yours to walk on.I try to stick fastidiously by those rules, and it's easier here where others play the same game.  Easier to listen, easier to appreciate, easier to learn. The power of dialogue and the importance of words.
But there's nothing more difficult than realizing that this place that I have treated for the past two years as a distant (but dear) love, partly out of my longing for home and partly because of the inevitably temporary nature of my time here, is slowly becoming the place I'm terrified of leaving and losing. We talk more about our bubble now that the bubble has completed half its life. Somehow, once this is gone I can see nothing but a looming disappointment in my interactions with people.
The ugly politics of privilege, the false convictions of being better, their world and then mine on peripheries, choosing love or choosing principles, the growing panic that the restlessness didn't stop when I had promised myself it would, the disgust with someone's illusions of self-importance, the shocks of reality.

"You cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all of the time.."
Sylvia Plath obviously knew a thing or two.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

When I was 17 I met this woman. I decide she was one of the most amazing human beings I had ever encountered in my life, and I was right because she changed my life. When I look back at it, her time here probably changed her into the person I met. And then she changed me.
It's so strange because sometimes we forget what success means, and we start defining it in terms of how much we have. But then there are people who remind us that success is the number of people whose lives we touch and change, like magic that they had never anticipated but were grateful for nonetheless. She was the one person, apart from my mother, who taught me the meaning of strength.

We forget how many people we have to thank for the blessings we have everyday.
May each and every one of you find all the happiness in the world, because all of you certainly contributed to mine.
There's a guy sitting on a bench outside the creperie. He's been playing his guitar and singing for the past hour. I can't hear him, but he's performing with a lot of passion. I'm a little envious.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Before I graduate I'm going to ask a kind stranger to drive me around the Valley, so I can take pictures of random places. Like those houses we pass on the way to the mall. Because they look surreal, especially when the sky is purpleorangeblue, and because it's easy to forget the things you see. And before I leave, I should go for a walk and maybe even get lost. I'll eventually find my way back, everyone here always does.
With a year and a half left, maybe it won't be selfish of me to live.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mera Sheher.

It's burning again. People die in Gulshan, Sohrab Goth, Patel Para, Guru Mandir. All of them die on the other side of a bridge more symbolic, more meaningful than the promises of patriotism made by the drawing room brigade. They fall into dust, others cower in houses, and no one is winning. A day of mourning is called, but what are we to mourn for? The lives lost, the blood shed, what does it all mean if in another moment of rage there will be more bullets, and men will fall once again? Is anyone repentant for what has been done to Karachi?
If it's not guns, it's bombs. Sindhis against Muhajirs against Pakhtoons, battling it out to rule over 17 million, at least half of whom either don't know or don't care.
In the putrid smell of burning tires and torched cars Karachi loses its meaning. No one is thinking of the evening breeze. No one remembers the sea coming to life and the salty ocean air offering respite to all those who ask. She welcomes you with her open arms because she has room for everyone, solace in some nook or another. And then you destroy her again.
Roshiniyon kaa Sheher. The City of Lights.
Where did they go?

Monday, March 26, 2012

To Mama.

For picking up the pieces, without knowing the entire story. Amongst other things of course. I am indebted for life and then beyond that.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Think about it rationally, practically. And with your head, always with your head. Think about what's best for you, and stop being fooled by your heart into stupidity that you will always regret."

"Then it's not love, is it?"

"Love dies. We'll end up replacing it with something else anyway. Companionship, or something like it."

"Then did you lie to me before, or are you lying to me now?"

If she was thinking with her head, she would probably walk away and never look back. But alas.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

If being broken is so easy, then why do we not treasure the hearts entrusted to us like we do the baubles in our possession?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I need to get my story straight.

Is this my battle to fight? Is it yours? Who gets to decide what's important and what isn't, or for that matter, what is entirely inconsequential? You hand me my priorities, you ask me to abide by them, and you want me to make you proud. You want a good daughter, wife, mother, sister, woman. You want me to free my thought, but only enough so I can give my unborn children a "good" upbringing, but you warn me not to go astray.
You define my rules, you tell me at the end of it all that I belong to a place and, because I have to return, I mustn't become too much of a stranger. Wisdom comes with age, they tell me every time. They tell me I don't know enough, I haven't seen enough. Here you are, they say, here is you in black and white. You will be nothing more, and nothing less, and we will love you for it.
Then there's them. They told me I could sleep with whoever I want, because it's my body. That I could parade around naked if I wanted to. That I could get fucked up and fucked and wake up in the morning and not regret it in the least. That you can discover your sexual identity if you step out of your heteronormative prisons. That we are social constructs, that nothing exists beyond our perceptions and the limits that define us. That I owe so much to this world, but not to the people who told me I had to be this or that, so I could flip them off and go on. Free giant fuck yous, and then some for the road. All the while I listened, bemused, interested, never entirely sure. Case studies, all of us to each other.
I get emails from the Feminist Collective, and wonder if I'll ever end up going, if I'll ever fight for the rights they think I should have, but probably don't.
I don't know where to begin that conversation, because I already have another set of rights, from another place and another time.

At the end of it, there's nothing but guilt. A little bit of disgust about my strange existential crisis, which fuels another one. Cycle away dear mind, you have nothing to lose.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I find myself experiencing simultaneously two things which one wouldn't expect to feel at the same time. I lose more and more faith in humanity every single day, and I am hopelessly and shamelessly in love with a human being who I find to be nothing less than perfect.

Oh paradoxes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There used to sit outside the ladies' changing room at the Sind Club an Ayah. She was a sweet middle-aged Hindu woman who was in charge of cleaning up the changing room and making sure extra towels were always available. She would sit on a white plastic chair, smiling at the aunties, the young mothers and their toddlers, the teenage girls in their bathing suits. She knew about the distance between herself and the patrons of the Club and so did we. She referred to the women as Memsahiba (Madam), respecting them on the basis of what they had and what she did not, and nothing more than that. She would always say hello to me, and ask about my mother and sisters if they weren't there. When they were, she would smile at all of us, and call my two year old sister guriya (doll).
I wonder how she felt about the difference in her own life and the lives of Sind Club members. Only the richest, only the best families, the elite of the elite. Did she ever think about it? Outside the Club there were no women tanning by pools, no interactions between men and women of the nature she would see at the club. Her day began and ended with a bus ride back home, for which she would don a black burqa over her modest white sari, even though she wasn't even Muslim. She probably just didn't want to be teased or pinched by some man on the bus who would get a moment's cheap thrill from this contact with female flesh.
I saw her this summer when I went back home. Her hair had turned white as the locks of the memsahibas became various hues of honey, indicating that the it-shade of the season had hit Karachi. She sat there, watching quietly, still smiling at everyone. It struck me that I knew this woman from as far as my memory went into childhood, but I still didn't know her name. She knew mine though. "Sanaa baby, kaisee hain aap? Ammi theek hain?"

I thought of the Ayah when I saw the new Sana Safinaz lawn campaign. Probably a strange association to make, but nonetheless.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


That you can only tell all on the basis of fiercely protected anonymity, because God forbid if anyone knew/found out/realized, you'd be home/dead/no longer able to show your face in public. Funny how their lives seem to be one continuous party right out of the pages of Moth Smoke, but even funnier that Mohsin Hamid had a kind of anonymity lingering in the pages too- it was, after all, creation and not the self. They're self-destructive in the strange way where they know exactly where to stop short of actual annihilation.
I'm surprised when I think about it. You know it's alright, but you won't do it. You know it's absolutely one-hundred-and-fifty-percent-prohibited, and you'll jump on it faster than the time it takes to sneeze. Inspiring even. But the best part is the stories that come out of it.
I sit here in my small town and read about adventures on rickshaws, wild drunken nights, the funniest, the most heart wrenching of stories shared over plates of biryani. It's ridiculous to be jealous, but I am, a tiny bit. The world used to be a little more colorful when I was shrouded by anonymity.
This self-imposed censorship, the PG sensibility, this firangi air that makes you think so what. What's the big deal? Except that, it is. It's a huge fucking deal. You forgot because you ran away from it. And now I read their words with the curious eyes of a spectator waiting for the next scene, wondering how it's going to end. Wondering if I'd have done it differently. Or would I be part of the confirmists who turn their noses up in the air and run away with their tails between their legs, haw-haye-ing, but doing the prohibited in their own secretly anonymous way. The story-writers call them hypocrites. But look at us, we all are.
How does it all change? How do we become?


Last night I saw it flash again in my mind, like it does every year. I hope you're happy wherever you are.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"You were a wreck back then."

Excuse me while I try to decode realities in my little coffee shop bubble. And not just any coffee shop, a Starbucks- doesn't get better than that. As the days draw closer to the seven years it's been, I find myself dwelling on the way things played out, with a friend's words echoing in my head. Funny I can even refer to him as a friend now, because somewhere in there I remember immense pain, and then another realization- did it matter how it felt then? Does it always matter to feel when you're young, or is there a defined line between when whatever happens in your heart becomes consequential and before that, when everything is as raw as the blacks and the whites of your existence?
What does it mean to get to a place where you look back not only at yourself and your own trainwrecks, but also those of others and think oh, but if only we'd listened, if only she'd listen and save herself the sorrow. Because the tumultuous back and forth between reality and melodrama aside, what always stands out is the immense strength of raw pain that disregards completely how much it matters or whether it even will five years down the road. What makes sense is the indignation when someone informs you that this is all deja vu, and you swear it's different.
It is, and it isn't. Neither here nor there, uncontrollable and just how it is.
So is there an answer to the happiness question? Maybe not, and strangely enough, the more you learn, the murkier it gets. But there might be a certain pride to be taken in pulling yourself together from the worst of times. I think perspective and the acquisition of it is the biggest gray area I know.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I remember when they inaugurated the activation of this very unremarkable fountain in the middle (?) of the sea. There were fireworks, and the people of Karachi had something to look forward to that weekend. The police cordoned off Seaview. If there's one thing you should know about the security forces in Karachi, it's that they're perpetually found cordoning off one area or another. We went to our khala's place and stood in her balcony on the tenth floor, obnoxious male cousin in tow, watching as the bright lights and smoke filled the air. I remember looking at the the men who were setting these gigantic fireworks off, they looked like ants from that high up. I remember being concerned for their safety and hoping they didn't get burnt. But it was gorgeous, and for those fifteen minutes I forgot all about all the sadness I felt back then.
Too much teenage angst, coupled with feeling betrayed and too saddened for my own good. Those really were the days.
A year or two went by. The fountain no longer worked, and I was probably still angry. No one seemed to remember the fireworks, and in school people cracked dirty jokes about the now inactive fountain, the nature of which shouldn't be too difficult to guess.
And now I'm here, and I remember the fountain and the fireworks, but most of all I remember the sea it was in the middle of.

Friday, February 17, 2012

scrap metal queen.

It's countdown time again, three and a half months and then I'll be in my mother's car on the forty minute drive to our house, and I'll feel the rush that comes from being exhausted and ecstatic at the same time, make the customary joke about Bilawal house and Zardari's inconvenient blocking of the main road, and settle into life at home like I never really left again.

That car, which is more like a pile of scrap metal, is one of the many mechanisms I've somehow learned to use in order to screen people and decide whether they're worth the trouble of keeping or not. One of my friends jokingly referred to my mum as the scrap metal queen once, and we both laughed. I find it hard to be offended by it still, simply by virtue of the fact that she came over one day in her fancy car, with the driver and the works, and accepted those facts of our different lives with an ease that very few people have stomach to digest. She sat on the tiny stool in the kitchen while I poured chai out for her and myself, and told her how my prospects in life were probably better than her's since I can make some damn good chai,and that's what you need to find a great husband. The irony of our shared feminism lingered in the air, a kind of camaraderie that comes from knowing you're sailing in the same boat on a level that most people can't fathom. But most of all, I'm grateful to her and to my friends for making me feel comfortable in my own skin. It's not easy to be poor amongst the rich, and it's not easy to start telling your story from square one. Besides, I never want to tell anyone who feels the need to ask. How are you worth anything if you can't wait?

I have another anecdote about that car. It breaks down nearly every day, by the way. Flat tires, dead battery, something or the other. Sometimes I like watching people's reactions when I step out of that car with my sisters. We don't look like the sort of girls who'd step out of something that dilapidated, but in this case appearances become that hilarious inside joke that makes you laugh out loud at the world repeatedly. Everything is relative, especially appearances, but I digress. That car. When I finally saw him again, it wasn't a face to face encounter, but me staring down from the balcony watching him walk across the parking lot towards my mother's pile of scrap metal (which had a flat tire), and ask her if she needed help with it. And that's when my mother accidentally met him. I suppose that's when I thought he was a keeper too. Different worlds, and he didn't miss a beat there, nor did he ask questions. I guess I can forgive him for not being a chai connoisseur. 

As for that car, I have a feeling that long after these struggles are over, my mother will keep it just for sentimental value. It's a member of the family, 15 years is a long time to have anything. She can swear it listens to her, and isn't just an inanimate object. I don't know the details of their conversations, but I hope they like talking to each other.

I'll keep the people who've made me accept the way things are, and that I don't have to be ashamed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

November 7th, 2010

So you allow yourself to stand there, in the middle of all that vast endlessness, right in the center, and feel like the world's spotlight is shining down on you and you're looking up at it. You can't decide whether it makes you feel important or impossibly small, whether you want it all or none of it, and if it even makes a difference now that you're here and this is life.
it comes and goes and comes and goes and comes and goes, and i'm up and down, then down and up, until it's churning in my stomach and it becomes me, or am i it?
never invited, never announced
these monsters, they come and go.

Monday, January 16, 2012

nearly 7.

There is a while remaining. You haven't left yet, and I am half a month short of my 14th birthday. The sequence of events isn't clear in my head, and it's probably unclear in her's as well. I wouldn't want to bother her with the trivialities in my mind anyway, she has enough demons of her own. So half a month short of my 14th. I divide my time between the hospital and home. I don't really want to be there, and I don't quite understand a dying man's need to see his children. I'm strangely aloof. Not old enough to know what it means to be above it all, and even if I was, not above it anyway. Just not there. There's a garden near the conference center, around a housing unit of sorts. In that garden are swings. We play there, 13, 10 and 3. He forgets our names sometimes. You can tell by the look in his eyes, it's vacant but trying to place us, he knows but not quite. 3, she's the hardest to remember, she hasn't been there long enough. She is the most cherished, with her honey colored hair that glows red in the sun and her little teeth and infectious smile. Too young to lose that twinkle in her eyes. She's the beautiful one, I wonder if he thinks he's imagining her. I do. Sometimes I'll get bored waiting and make a few phone calls to no one important. A few months later you will be gone and after that I will be in love and suffering from a malady I will never quite be able to cure in myself. A month and a half later I'll be sitting in the balcony I often stand in alone, in the middle of the night and watch the cars going round and round and round the roundabout. Everything is a blur. But then a sudden 3 am wake up, and in the morning there's rain, and then in the night you're gone. Between today and tomorrow you cease to be.
Another hospital. I hold your dying hand. You're breathing but gone. I shed a few tears, and no more after that. Not for a while anyway.
She's asking doctors if there's any way to save you, they say no. Do you want to hook him up to life support? There is no point, 80% organ failure. There is twenty percent of you left, neatly divided. Which part of you remains?
She signs the papers that will allow the twenty to join the rest of you. Her hand is shaking, but composure hasn't been lost. There are tears, oh there are more than tears. Seventeen years gone. You gone. She holds the pen and stares at it, then sinks down against a wall.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

I've come to realize that there are two separate types of loves for me when it comes to Home. One is patriotism, but the other one, the one more dear to me (and this might perhaps be the problem many of us suffer from), which overshadows everything else is what I call Karachiism. I haven't figured out yet if I'm ashamed of it, and maybe that's why I'll admit to it. Pakistan is what I read about in the news. Pakistan is what I want to save, it's what I want to see flourishing, it's what I want to change misconceptions about. You know, the traditional way you try to change an image by thinking about it rationally and not overreacting, not letting things get under your skin?
I'll admit to faults, defend it where I have to and try to clear away misunderstandings if I'm asked.

And then there's Karachi, and that's a different story altogether.

Have you felt the sort of love that makes your heart want to burst into pieces and become part of the beloved? Love that inspires poetry and anger and desperation and grief and ecstasy?
Ask me why I want to go back to one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and I won't be able to give you a rational answer. What I will be able to do, however, is feel inexpressible anger. How dare you imply that it's not worth going back to?
But you didn't imply that at all, you were simply curious.
It is I, in my crazy, stupid, senseless love, unable to see beyond perceived attacks that may not exist at all. You see, every blow is one you deal to my heart.

How can you betray her, I want to ask those who leave. How can you betray your City that gave you so much? Did you even give her a chance? Did you try to understand?
And how was it possible to abandon that place with it's salty-sea smells, the scent of roasting bhuttas, the cobbled streets of Saddr that shout out for their former, now paan-stained, glory, those buses with the men trying to look into your car with their beady eyes for a fleck of female skin they can only fantasize about, the people at Funland you share the city with but are simultaneously scared of?

My heart is Pandora's box overflowing with strange details about a certain city in a struggling third world country.

Happy 2012.

From South Hadley, with a whole lotta love. =)