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.