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Showing posts from 2014

Writer’s Life

Smitten with the written word is he. But this is not entirely an innocent love that shuns all thoughts of material gains. 
Omar’s love for the written word has a smattering of worldly motives. More than a smattering in fact.
It all began when Omar decided to copy every book in the world. “I want to build my own library,” he told me.”
“Why don’t you buy them?” simpleton that I am, I always fail to decipher Omar’s deeper motives.
“I want to write my own books. And it will save money.”
“But this is not writing, this is copying somebody’s work.” I have already admitted to not being very sharp.
“I am writing. This is my handwriting.” Considering the finality in Omar’s tone, I decide not to wax eloquent on plagiarism.
A chicken-hearted simpleton. Not very flattering!
Thus a couple of stories are written. And here ends the first phase of the writer’s life.
It is with swarming thoughts and plans of getting rich and famous that the second phase starts.
Now Omar wants the world us to see what he is seein…

Getting Political

“Have you ever been to a jalsa,” Saif asks me.
“No, I am claustrophobic, crowds suffocate me.”
Saif only listens to half of my comment because he is busy chanting a PTI song.
“But you have to go to his one. There will be a huge crowd, the like of which you have never seen before,” Saif informs me.
“So, you are a PTI supporter. Why?”
“Because Imran Khan is going to change everything. Nawaz Sharif goes to America and stays in the most expensive hotels. And we don’t need metros, we need more schools and hospitals. Why should his daughter handle that project which Imran Khan says she does?” Saif is a regular listener of Imran Khan’s daily tirades
Saif and all the other Lilliputians daily watch news channels and discuss politics. They are now so into politics.
Should I accompany them to the jalsa?
I have a green shirt. And this decides for me.
As our car inches along towards the Minar-e-Pakistan, the first impression  that I register is that of people around me-immense crowds- twisting, hopping, …

Of Candle Light and Parties

Can pyromania surface as a fascination for candlelight? A kind of sublimation of the fierce urge to set fire to things and then watch them burn, and burn.
Perhaps. Who knows. And Freud is no longer here to enlighten us.
“I love watching it quiver ever so lightly, it almost seems to be smiling and nodding at something,” this is what I had told Omar once. It must have happened when I was in one of my candle-light-roof-top party moods.  Omar had looked at me askance, as he tends to do when he seems to be having second thoughts about my credentials as a learned-wise-adult.
But in spite of his doubts, my sublimated pyromania must have appealed to Omar’s equally wayward imagination.
I am not prepared, not in this hot sauna-like evening, for an invitation to a candlelight tea party.    
“Look! Thirty candles. I have brought thirty candles, and they are scented. I have bought a  colourful dinner set for our parties. You will light the candles, you will have your tea, and I will have a glass of l…

A Story that Happens at the Dining Table

It is a hot and humid night, a few stars are gazing lazily at the dwellers of this planet.

They think about the shenanigans that the inhabitants of the earth engage in, and they start yawning. The thought is boring.
“Ha! Look at the people casting stones while sitting in a glass house,” exclaims Sirius the brightest star.
“And there are piped pipers too who seem to be having delusions of grandeur” says another bored star.
They yawn. Suddenly one of them starts twinkling real fast. “Look, finally there is something interesting happening on the earth,” he sparkles with joy.
They peep inside the window of the house on one of the streets in Lahore.
They have Google street maps so it’s easier for them to find the exact place.
There is light, there’s food, there’s the laughter of children and a sense of expectancy. A perfect setting. 
The waft of something crispy, salty, tasty, settles on the dining table, it blends with the laughter, settles on the tongues of Mobby and Roshan.
Amma comes, bearing…

Of Tooth Fairies and Sparrows

“They travel at night and collect teeth. In the morning they set to work and fashion those teeth into gleaming white pearls and make necklaces. In the evening they get dressed, wear tooth pearl necklaces, and dance. And they sing, ‘we are happy, we are pretty’,” I tell Omar when he asks me about tooth fairies.
“And they give gifts to children?” he asks.
“Yes, they like to do honest business. So they barter gifts for teeth.”
Omar seems indecisive about something. But after a while, he shows me his key ring and a wallet with brand new notes. “Look, what the tooth fairy gave me last night.”
I am excited about Omar’s newfound riches and tell him so. After all, this comes as a replacement for his seven-year-old tooth. A long-held treasure.
Something is still bothering Omar. And he asks me, “Do you actually believe in tooth fairies? I think Amma put these gifts under my pillow when I was sleeping.”
Omar is facing an existential moment.
“Of course, I believe in fairies, all kinds of fairies. Why…

No More

I stand by the main door and wait. Roseee has this habit of hiding behind flower pots and sneaking inside whenever someone opens the door. I open the door, wait in the foyer, look around. Of course, Roseee cannot come inside, she is no more. 
Roseee died a few days ago, and I am still waiting for something to tell me there is no need to look behind the flowerpots.
“What if she hasn’t died, but only fainted and will come back someday!” Omar is wishful.
“I can’t even believe she is dead. She was nicer than most human beings, so gentle and loving,” Zainab is wistful.  
“We once gave her a bath, remember?” Saif says.
We reminisce.
It seems yesterday, but it also seems long ago when we befriended Roseee. A stray cat that walked into her home and stole our heart away. She was so unlike a stray cat and behaved as if she had always known us. She was so trusting and loved being touched and held.
Zainab is right. Roseee was kinder than most humans. We remember how she would sit back and look at the …

An Unending Story

“The story starts almost like another story: The Sleeping Beauty. However, it is about a seed. There was once a little black seed. It slept peacefully inside the earth for many months while the water kept caressing it. So one day it woke up. 
The seed opened its green eyes and looked at the world around it. It looked at the Ashoka tree that stood tall at some distance and was looking affectionately at the budding seed. The seed smiled and nodded to the tree. Little did it know that one day the tree would become its best friend.
As the sunlight gently touched the bud it started growing, and it grew fast. It was curious and wanted to explore the world, so it kept spreading in all directions. The water and the sunlight, seeing the seed’s thirst for knowledge, kept helping it travel far and wide.
It became a vine.
One day the vine looked at the starry skies, they seemed to beckon it. Now it wanted to travel upwards and meet the stars, so unquenchable was its curiosity.  As it pined for the s…

Of Banana Twins and Twin souls

“Look!” Omar’s voice reverberates in the kitchen and, most probably, is heard within the radius of thirty miles. 
He has experienced a eureka moment:Two bananas that sleep cozily inside a single peel.
“They are twins. They are born together,” I tell Omar, and then decide to create a visual experience. 
And if you are standing in a kitchen, there is no dearth of possibilities to stoke your creativity. My sculpting skills need just two black peppers for those deep dark eyes, a clove for a roman nose, and a bit of tomato peel for those rosy lips.
I am happy with my artwork. I feel so creative; and Omar is impressed.
“Aren’t they cute” I ask Omar.
“Yes, let’s keep them for ever,” he enthuses. 
“We can’t, they will rot. Everything in this world is transitory, even banana twins.”
After all these years, Omar has learned to ignore my meaningless digressions. And he focuses on what matters: twins
“Do I have a twin too?” he asks.
“No, you don’t. But in all probability you have a twin soul, but twin so…

Under the Starry Skies

“You said we would camp on the rooftop and watch the starts…you have been saying this for at least a year now,” Saif reminds me of our long overdue ‘expedition rooftop.’
Zainab and Omar join Saif’s refrain. I decide not to let the posterity remember me as someone-who-never-kept-her-promises.
“Tonight is the night. Pack your things. We will dwell among the stars,” I announce amid a thunder of applause. My reputation is secure.
“Saif and Zainab pack their bags. “I have also made a first aid box,” Saif tells me. Aren’t they well versed in the art of camping!
Omar’s bag contains eatables, biscuits and chips. He also has a dictionary in his bag. “What’s that for?” I ask.
“If we spot a constellation we can’t name, we can check it in the dictionary,” Omar educates me.
I take along (borrowed) binoculars, and my camera.
We light a few candles, set up a camp on the rooftop, and start charting the constellations. A naughty monkey comes from somewhere and climbs on our tent.
We spot Ursa Major. Zainab t…