Friday, 25 August 2017


Have you heard that really great joke about women? Yes, I am talking about whichever came to your mind. Funny, aren’t they? Stand up against one, and suddenly you’re a feminist- the most loathsome thing there is to exist out there. No, I am not saying there are no jokes about men. Of course, there are, just not as many as for women. Do you know how easy is it to set a man off? Say the three magical words, “fragile male ego” and boom, you’re golden. You could, of course, use the alternate three words and say, “men are trash” – the explosion effects are pretty much the same. And now that I have established quite the reputation of a feminist, hate to break it to you- but you’re wrong.

It’s dark ages. We are at war. You’re not doing social media right if you don’t indulge in one. It’s either men are trash or feminists are trash. It’s either the fragile male ego or stupid feminist thinking. I mean, come on? Why do they ask for gender equality when they can’t treat men the same way? They can’t stand in the bus, and they want to demand equal rights? For the love of God, they can’t even open the jar lid by themselves and they want their names put in with the jobs alongside men? Such dull-witted creatures they are, women. They are better suited in the kitchen, and can’t they just stick around their gossips? Their arguments are pointless anyway.

You know who else loves to shop? Men. Go on, call me a liar. Maybe they are not as indecisive as girls; maybe they don’t melt over the things they weren’t supposed to buy, maybe they don’t buy the things they surely didn’t need- THAT FOOTBALL JERSEY WAS IMPORTANT. Do you know whose mood is unpredictable as well? Men. You can set them off by something so little, you wouldn’t understand. You think all men make sense in arguments? Whatever lies get you through the night. Do you know who else likes to gossip? Men. Of course, they are not as such tattle tales and they have the bro-code so they don’t go stabbing their fellows in the back and plotting evil strategies, but don’t tell me they don’t gossip. Who do you think has spread all these things about women? Their gossiping, shopping, mood swings and on and on? MEN. But, of course, as long as it’s the truth- it shouldn’t be rendered gossip, right?

It is cool to say you hate everyone and there is a generalized understanding that exceptions are made even in that case, but not when a gender is involved. It’s stereotypical, it’s racist, it’s sexist. There is so much hate in this world. I haven’t seen as many feminists out there as much I have seen the haters of it, the anti-feminist club.

Women should not take offence of all the jokes because they are just jokes (with the hint of truth obviously). I mean, come on, where that sense of humor at? Laugh it off, be the laughing stock. Shouldn’t hurt your feelings, because seriously, girls- you know you can’t drive, you know you’re shopaholics, you know you are dull-witted, you don’t know your way around the car’s engine, you don’t know the specs when you buy your gadgets. You do betray men with all that make up, and you do look like a man because you don’t keep yourself groomed. No, I am not body shaming you; I am just saying you’re not curvy enough for my liking. Why do you complain about your weight? Nobody’s calling you fat, (well, not out loud, at least).

Am I a feminist? Well, if all men are trash is the new definition then I most certainly am not. I don’t hate men. I honestly find women more evil than men. I do envy the bro-code and the friendships boys have and damn, I love those side hugs. I know how it sounds. But see, I am not taking any sides. I don’t believe all men are horrible- I have seen otherwise. The world is a diverse place.

Here’s the thing- there is no such thing as gender equality. Genders were not created equal; the differences were created to complement each other. I believe there was a time when feminism meant for something. There was an agenda, not hatred. It’s not about gender equality, it’s about gender equity. It’s not the similar treatment, it’s the treatment deserved by each.

Tell you what, if you’re offended by something as pointless as a statement like fragile male ego- YOUR EGO IS FRAGILE. You’re not supposed to empty your seat for a girl if you don’t want to. You don’t do it because it’s a custom, you don’t hold a door for a woman to be a man, you do it because you are one, you do that because you’re a gentleman. And if you wanna go rub it in the faces, please don’t do it. And if you wanna question why that had to be the grounds for being a gentleman, again, don’t do it.

Not all men are same. I have seen men accepting the shortcomings of their gender. I have seen men being protectors just like I have seen women accepting their mistakes and apologizing (though once in a blue moon). I find it adorable that girls have to go ask boys to open up the lid, yes, because that’s complementing the shortcomings. If the male gender is blessed with greater physical strength than the female, there is no need to boast about it.

Enough with the stereotypes of the society, when are we gonna get past those? Stop bashing each other with labels. Crying is not for the weak, a man can cry and a man shall cry when he wants to. A girl can parallel park if she’s into driving. Stop being so obsessed with your narcissistic self. Get over yourself, there are a thousand better than you. Get out of that small little box in your head, learn to think beyond it. Don’t make a girl wish she were a boy, make her feel safe. Don’t plot your evil strategies to get the guy or his money; he did not earn it for you.

Everything is not a joke. Why is to so easy to label and bash women and joke about them? You know why women started asking for equality? LOOK AT HOW YOU TREAT YOUR WOMEN. They are not objects of your fascination. And most certainly, they aren’t your house-elves. They have desires that are often masked by the fragility of their own gender. If women had been treated the way they deserved to be treated, they wouldn’t rise up against men. They wouldn’t have to feel harassed enough to develop hatred. Joke about it when you know they have been treated the same. The whole lot of you, none of you would make it out sanely if put in their shoes. Joke about it when that little girl did not have to mask her desire because she was a female. Joke about it when that girl did not longingly wondered that she were a boy.

Monday, 14 August 2017


It was a bright winter morning, sunny yet breezy. She had worn the purple kurta shalwar, his favorite color. Early in the dawn, she had silently sneaked out of the house, dodging her sleeping stepsisters and mother. Her step-father was out already. Holding her shoes in her hand, she had tip toed to the gate. Stooping low, she stripped in the shoes- silently opening the door, stepped out.

The cool breeze blew her dupatta away. She reached for in instantly.

Behind the lake, in the fields, she ran towards the allocated spot- excitement bringing her alive. He stood, leaned to a tree, in his white kurta shalwar, his sleeves rolled up till his elbows.

He smiled. Her eyes immediately followed the dimple and the spark in his eyes. Then a look crossed his face. She knew that look.

He locked his hands behind his back, walked closer, eyes fixed on her, the dimple still visible, although he wasn’t exactly smiling now.

“I am sorry, miss, are you lost somewhere?” She tilted her head, looking at him trying to resist his charm. She always got so nervous; fully aware of her reddening cheeks- never knew what to say.

“If not then, you’re gonna have to excuse me. See, I have to meet a very beautiful lady.” Her face heated up. She was unable to control the smile.

“And I am afraid, the horror of your looks might haunt me to death before that.” The next moment she was running after him, throwing whatever came in her hand.

They had chatted for hours, siting by the lake- throwing pebbles into it.

He was about to say something to her, when there was a loud noise. Darkness took over and the noise turned into screeching. It took her a moment to realize what was going on.

The train compartment was compromised. A militant was standing over the still body of Ashraf Kamal, blood seeping through the hole in his chest, his eyes blankly staring in the air. Two militants lied still next to him. She could tell he fought a good fight.

Sadia amma had got up from her seat. She had muttered some curses as she spat on his face. The next bullet went through her head. Nehal shrieked. He had pointed the gun over Haleema now. Haleema had been frozen till now. In her panic, Nehal began searching the compartment, the train was still moving. She could not get out.

“Please.” She heard Haleema’s shrill voice.

“My child.” She was begging him. A gun, she saw lying beside a dead militant. The one standing wasn’t attentive towards her so far. She didn’t know how to use those things. What’s the worst that could happen?

The militant lowered his gun from Haleema’s head. For a moment, it seemed like he was going to let her live. Then with an evil smirk on his face, he pointed it at Haleema’s belly. Nehal ducked for the gun and the Sikh caught her and threw her over.

“I’ll finish you too, my dear.” She heard him say, her head spinning.

He turned around again and walked over to Haleema. His gun pointed at the belly, he fired three shots.

“Now you.” He clenched a handful of her hair making her look at him. Nehal struggled in his grip. It was useless. She was desperately moving her hand. It came across something, familiar.

“I am gonna enjoy killing you the most.” He smirked.

“Likewise.” She said as she spat over his face. His hungry eyes stared at her, his grip tightening over her hair. With the rising pain, she flung her arm with all her might and stuck the knife in his throat. Blood came pouring out like a hole in a pipe, splashing all over her. She had struggled to get him away from her.

For the rest of the journey, she kept lying on the floor. Every now and then, holding her breath and playing dead. She didn’t know how long had passed, how many times she had drifted into sleep, waking up with nightmares, till the train finally stopped.

“Welcome to Pakistan.” She heard voices. With the shivering legs, she dragged herself towards the light flowing in from the open door of the train. The soil in front of her eyes, one more step and she could touch it, feel it with her feet. She stepped out of her shoes, and put her feet over the heated soil. Tears blinded her eyes and she fell to the ground, her hands grasping over the soil, her tongue reciting the Kalma, over and over again.


She had started her journey in India as a young, naïve 23 years old. The Nehal that had reached Pakistan was a completely different person, strong, determined and mature. It was an overnight transformation.

64 years later, as she sat in the lounge of her home, with her family- she still missed him.    They sat around the dining table; her son, Abdullah, who had moved to America as a smart and handsome youth thirty years ago- now old and wrinkly. She had looked at him wondering if Hadi would have looked like this when old. Abdullah had carried his father’s looks in youth. His American wife sat next to him. Next to her was seated Adeel, her grandson- who looked more like his mother.

“Adeel, how is Pakistan?” he had been curiously examining the exotic food.
“It’s good.” He answered casually.

“Would you stay here once you grow up.” she heard him snicker.

“Here? Granna- for God’s sake.”

“Why not?

“It’s not a place to spend your whole life in.”

“Why is that?”

“Because” he said, sounding annoyed. “It’s- Pakistan.” Pain rose in her chest. It wasn’t an illness that caused it. Her eyes drifted to her son, seated silently.

“You don’t plan on coming back here?” she directed the next question at him.

“No, maa. I love this country, but I can’t live here anymore. There is nothing here for me.”

Tears streamed her eyes, as she closed the door of her room. After all these years, she felt defeated for the first time. After all these years, she felt the loss for the first time. Looking out at the sky, she could only hear one voice in her head, the warmth of it still alive as it said.

“My legacy will live.”

Sunday, 13 August 2017


Time was passing slowly now. It was almost still, pointless. Every gunshot, every scream pierced through her heart. If it was 2 weeks ago, she would have chased him, run after him- told him she wanted to help. But the news changed everything. She had to be careful now, for the sake of the life growing inside her. Hadi was over the moon when he found out. He would never shut up about it. If it’s a boy, what would his cot look like? If it’s a girl, how would he choose the best guy for her? Everything was planned. Their toys, the places they’d go, what kind of games could they play. His eyes sparkled when he talked. The other day, he had bought a purple little frock. When she asked him, he said, “Well, if it’s a girl, imagine how pretty she would look in this.”

“And what if it’s a boy?”

He had thought for a second, then the dimple deepened in his cheek as he smiled mischievously and said.

“Imagine how pretty he would look in this?” they had a good laugh.

“So you want a girl?”

“I want both.” She had looked at him, he was stroking the frock. He wanted his first one to be a girl. She knew that much.

“Get a hold of yourself, sister.” It was Haleema, Najeeb’s wife. Nehal had been crying, she didn’t even realize. Haleema was 5 months pregnant yet she was composed.

“It’s going to be okay, child.” Sadia amma tried to calm her by telling her the childhood stories of her children. All of them lost to the cause.

“How long shall we wait for them?” asked Ashraf Kamal.

“As long as it takes.” She found herself almost screaming.

Haleema shushed her. “They will be coming back anytime soon.” Nehal wished she could have that kind of optimism.

Moments dragged by, yet there wasn’t any sign of them. The gunshots were sounding nearer and nearer.

“We have to leave now.”

“No.” she protested.

“If we don’t now, we are going to die.” Habib Ullah said.

“I said, no.” In the moments of dim lit surroundings; she could see the restlessness growing on Haleema’s face as well.

“Don’t be stupid child.” Sadia amma said in her usual advisory tone.
“Think about the baby.”

She looked in horror at Haleema’s face. Her eyes shone, definitely tears. She reluctantly stood up, without looking at Nehal, said:
“They are right. It’s been long enough.”

They all heard the footsteps approaching. For a moment, all of them were frozen in their steps. Fear gripped over.

A wave of excitement passed through Nehal. She let out a squeal and ran towards him. For the next few moments, she kept crying, her face buried in his shirt. He was softly caressing her hair.

“It’s okay, I am here now. I am here.”

When she got a bit hold of herself, it was then she realized he was alone.

It was time for Haleema to break down. She felt sorry for her, after all that hope. Nehal felt blessed for herself. When had life become so difficult? She imagined what peace looks like. Whether or not will they be able to even experience it?

Nehal thought Haleema would cry, she’d protest. But she did nothing like that. In fact, she did absolutely nothing. She just grew quiet, unbearably quiet. Maybe she was in shock. She had hope, and now- now she was just quiet. Maybe she had accepted the fate. Her eyes staring into the dark, she walked with them. The silence felt heavier and heavier. She was pitiable. It hurt Nehal just to look at her. Gunshots in the background were far less horrifying than the prevailed silence broken only by the heavy breaths and sighs of the walkers.


They had reached the corner of a street when the noise came from behind. They had been spotted. The panic rose in the air.

“I’ll hold them back.” Hadi announced in the group.

“You guys take the ladies out. The train is nearby.” Another bombshell dropped over her head and this one was bound to explode.

“Hadi, no. please, don’t. Please.” She clenched his wrist as strongly as she could.

“No, no, don’t.” she begged him, tears rolling down her cheeks like a stream.

“I’ll come with you.” Habib Ullah said.

“Me too.” It was Ashraf Kamal. 

“You can’t. Someone has to stay with these women.” Hadi said softly, his words stabbing her in the heart.

“Then it should be you. You’re a young fellow. I have seen my fair share of life.”

They were closing in and blind firing now. Habib Ullah and Hadi exchanged a look. They both knew what it was about. Ashraf Kamal was a limp. If someone had to hold them back, it had to be someone strong and powerful. Someone like Hadi, a youth.

The street had lightened up. Someone had set fire in the next street and the flames were sky high.

It was decided.

“Hadi, no.” Nehal was still begging.

“I have to.”

“You can’t do this to me.”

“I am doing this for you. I love you.”

“No, you don’t.” she was screaming.

“We have to go.” Sadia Amma dragged her back.


“It’s okay.”

“You’ll die.” She cried.

“My legacy will live.” He gently put his hand on her belly, his goodbye to the baby before the first hello. These were the last words she had heard from him.  In the dim light she saw that smile for the last time, the dimple emerging in his cheek, the spark reaching his eyes- his last smile.

Sadia amma had dragged her, protesting, screaming. The distance between them grew more and more and then, the street twisted. He was out of sight. The rest of the journey was harmless. Even if something happened, she didn’t notice. She was hysterical.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


Was it the darkness of the night or the darkness of human souls that had blurred the vision of thousands? Who could tell? Gunshots roared in the distance as the nature screamed for human to stop this brutality. Humans always find someone to pin the blame on, for all the things they do. The cries echoed and the blood spilled, flowing down the drains as if poured out of the sky. Every fallen soul carried a story, a story that dribbled down in the form of blood as it would be written in the future. Not every story will make it to the light of the day. Some stories will fade away from the face of the Earth. But the heavens noticed, the heavens scribbled each and every story.

Behind the constant loud thumping of her pulse in her ear, was the noise sending constant chills down her spine; gunshots. Her lungs, desperately attempting to grasp the air and failing, it was like the air had been vacuumed out of the aura. Nausea took over her again. The legs protested her to stop. A hand wrapped around her belly, she fought the urge to vomit. Her eyes stung. She knew better than to stop. So she dragged the legs along but it is so long your organs choose to support you. The balance tripped and at the moment a hand reached for her rescue, wrapping around her in the same manner she had hers wrapped around her belly, for exactly the same purpose: protection. For a moment, everything became irrelevant- the gunshots in the background, the threat hanging over their heads. For a moment, the fading hope was restored. She was in the safest hands. For a moment, her dream came alive again. Everything would be fine now, everything. His gentle grip over her arm was reassuring. It was too dark for her to see his face but she could tell it was as handsome as the first time she had seen him.

“Come on now, we should rest a bit.” He said keeping his voice as low as possible yet at the same time loud enough for everyone to hear. It was a group of 8 people; 3 of them were feebly old.

“In here,” said a man named Mujeeb.

He had helped her sit down, his hand still protectively shielding her from the grave horrors surrounding them. She put her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes. His grip softened over her arm. She knew he was smiling. She imagined the dimple deepening in his left cheek. She had always loved that.

“I am gonna go look for some water.” The man named Jamal said.

“I’ll come with you.” Her heartbeat rose in objection. Her grip tightened over his hand. All the hope had faded away, making way for fear to grip her over.

“Please, don’t.” she pled.

“It’s okay. I’ll be back. I promise.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, son.” The old man, Habib Ullah, said.

“I am not, baba jee.” He said in a soft voice.


“I’ll come back for you, my queen.” He kissed her forehead.

Hadi, Mujeeb, and Jamaluddin had left for the water hunt. The night just became heavier for her to bear. It was a long night for her, longer than the one she had spent waiting for her baba jan to come home, the night before she met the love of her life.
5 years ago, Nehal had faced the life’s biggest tragedy. Her life had gone worse ever since till he came into her life.

One night, almost as dark as this one- she had sat in the room waiting for her baba jan to come home. She was reading one of his books, constantly glancing at the clock. He must have decided to stay in somewhere, she tried to tell herself. Her heart knew something was wrong.

Her mother had gone to bed but Nehal couldn’t bring herself to sleep. The world was too horrible to let her sleep. She had prayed silently again, for his safety. It was a long night for her. Baba jan hadn’t come home.

The next morning, the worst of the worst happened. The thing she had dreaded the most. Baba jan was a Scholar and an activist. He had been involved in movements of Tehreek-e-Pakistan. That put his life in grave danger. She never understood why he had to be involved.

In the morning when the bell rang, she had run- barefooted, bareheaded.

“Baba jan.” She had been repeating under her breath, her heart uneven with excitement.

Baba jan wasn’t standing on the opposite side of the door. There was a disciple of him. He had introduced himself, a name that at that time she was unable to hear. She just wanted to know where her baba jan was.

He held a torn kurta in his hands, his eyes moist with grief.

“Baba jan?” her pleading eyes searched for a clue on his face, something that stated otherwise than what she was thinking. She wanted him to deny, to tell her she was wrong. He wasn’t denying. She was struck with horror. The color of her skin faded, her throat dried up like a barren land.

She did not know what happened next. Who came, who went, who controlled her. The only thing she heard was screams- not knowing whose. Her baba jan was gone, just like that.

A firing incident, they had said. Lots of homes were uprooted. She finally understood why baba jan had to be a part of such movement. The home wasn’t the sanctuary anymore. They had to move to a safe haven. Pakistan was the safe haven. Pakistan had to be made.

(to be continued) 

Sunday, 6 August 2017


When you enroll yourself in university, chances are, you’ll be enchanted. And do you know whatever happens to the enchanted? He becomes a fool. Yes, university life throws a lot of lemons at you. But you know what else happens? You find these heavenly angels, that walk the Earth, to help you through. Save your laugh, I am getting there.

So when you first meet your friends, it takes you a while to be comfortable around them. Tell you what, if at the end of the first week they tell you things like they miss you, or if they have no shame, love you? Fella, RUN. Run the other way as fast as you can because those cheesy friends will melt over anyone. And do you know what cheese does when it melts? IT STICKS. So in case if you were wondering, you are not that special. Go sit in a corner.

Warnings aside. Let’s say, you have been careful. You have waited your turn. You have done your homework. Threw them in the lake, they swam ashore. What I mean is that, they won your trust. And at time you wonder you have found the perfect friends. The perfect squad. The perfect triad or whatever whatever. That’s the point where you wonder, maybe everything will turn out to be alright. Despite all those warnings you think, why, we can be an exception. It surely doesn't happen to everyone. And even if you are extremely realistic or even pessimistic, you'd still think they are perfect. What could possibly go wrong? And just like that, you have found your perfect friends.

Friendship- what a beautiful relation.

And so having found those perfect earthly angels, you make a fair share of memories. You laugh together, you pull of the craziest of the stuff, you may even hear about the backstabbing ex friends of your friends and you hate those goons. Why, Of course, they are the unreasonable ones.

I won't take you to the end of the story just yet. I will walk you through the journey though, a passage way of it. Here's a rule of life, nothing is perfect. And when you stumble upon something that's almost perfect, it's then when the life unveils the flaws. So just when you figure you have found your perfect friends, it's when life slaps your shoulder and says. Damn kid, did you really think I was being serious? This is where you trip over the first trap of your "friendship". This is where you discover the flaws of your perfect friends.

I am going to clarify myself here, I don't mean the natural flaws. I mean the flaws in the personalities. The flaws that flash you the ugly side of them. And it's always the perspective. It's always where you stand and look through. This is the where you realize they are not so perfect. They never were. It's when you wonder if their ex friends were indeed even wrong? And that's when the possibility strikes back. Not everything is meant to last forever.

You could go through this step and maybe recover. Maybe you accept it, maybe denial suits you better. Maybe you skip through the stage.

So why now? Even when you were sure your investigation had come through. How did you miss it? Why did you miss it? I’ll tell you why. Because you wanted to believe. It's okay that you were fooled for a while. It's okay that you thought it could work. Because you can't know people. You can't. Time unveils the secrets. Time buries them behind. Time changes people; it's not always the pain.

Now that you have your glass shattered, It's up to you what you want to do about the flaws. How damaging are those? Because it's okay to cut a branch that wounds. And it's okay to overlook the flaw that offers no harm.

Because at the end of the day, we are all humans. We are all flawed. So the goal isn't to find the perfect friends. It's to find the perfectly flawed ones. The ones that manage your flaws and the ones whose flaws you manage.


In the sky rose the screams, The shrill wails roared, A drop landed on the soil, Another, And another, A blotch appeared, As if...