Take the step

Whatever it takes,

Take the step. 

Whatever it takes to start fresh, Whether to dig up pieces from ancient ruins, or to bury lost maps.

Take the step.

Whatever it takes to look in the mirror, Whether to sew yourself back together, or learn to live with a millions pieces.

Take the step.

Whatever it takes to feel the Sun’s embrace, Whether to burn in its fever or fly in its warmth.

Take the step.

Whatever it takes to pull back the curtain, Whether to let light dance its way in, or to bask in dark bewilderment.

Take the step. 

Quetta bleeds, remembering tainted memories.



It’s a startling world we live in. Places, people and memories are more likely to be associated with blood-chilling incidents than peachy, frolicky wonder years of the past. Dejavu is no longer a pleasant subtle whiff of a relived moment. It’s a creepy nightmare we’ve all had over and over again. It is in-our-faces rude, unpleasant and obvious.

Bomb blast in Quetta. And not just anywhere, at a hospital. This is not a memory I want to associate this beloved land with. More than seventy defenceless souls blown to shreds. This is not a moment I want to remember when I think of Quetta.

 I want to think of its abundant fresh produce, its delectable weather, rosy colored parched cheeks of local children, mighty mountains and luscious lakes one can’t stop seeing.

I want to think of it as some of the best years of my life where I made friends for life and discovered lifelong traits.  But blood? No that is not a memory I can keep.

But it doesn’t matter what I want or what any one of us wishes. What matters is that we can’t stay distant anymore. Our aloofness is shedding itself like post-bruise crusty skin. We can’t stand watery-eyed and pouty-lipped at the outskirts anymore. We can’t shake our heads in disbelief and then get back to grocery shopping, because it’s as easy as turning off wifi. We can’t disconnect ourselves.

These tattered memories of paths we once walked on, or soft hands we once shook, or history-soaked houses we once lived in, are all on route to extinction.

The children of tomorrow will have different memories of this place we call Earth. The children of the future will smell a most repugnant odour, taste a most putrid flesh, and touch a most prickly thorn. Our children will not have it easy.

So what if you live in Paris? Or the United States? Or Germany? Or Turkey? Or Bangladesh? Or Saudi Arabia? We are not all different. Schools, hospitals, religious institutions, nothing is a safe haven, nothing is off-limits. Soon recalling moments of the most romantic city in the world, or the bluest of blue heavens in Turkey will not be possible without dodging a hard, painful lump in the throat. This disease where rabid humans tear each other to bits is spreading faster than wildfire. This plague is affecting every single nook and cranny of our bruised planet. And we are fast running out of band-aid.

I like writing about hope. I like looking at the positive side. But sometimes I need to write it like it is. Only then does that help me cherish what I still have, while I still have it. Memories are precious.

The luxury of an untainted memory safely twirling like a sleek ballerina in a jewelry box is slowly slipping away. It could happen to you. It could happen to me.

So hold on tight while you can, to the loved ones, to the opportunities that come your way, to the faith, to the hope. Most importantly to the hope. Because more than anything it will prepare our indifferent minds to the reality of death. It will help us see a world where every day mothers bear children no matter how fiercely the clouds of misery burst. It will help us retain our compassion where all that prevails is mistrust and deceit. It will help us pray with truth and love, for people who suffered in Quetta today, for the countless lives before them splattered all over the globe, and for the ones who will bleed again, cry again, die again.

God’s perfection is enough

image  image

Perfection is around us all.

In the lines, textures and crevices.

In the ripples, winds and shimmering particles.
In the fluffy skin of the creatures floating above,
In the slippery specks between our toes,
Perfection is everywhere, but not inside us, never within us.
But that’s all right. God’s perfection makes us bearable.
HIS perfection is enough.

Something smells and unfortunately, it’s us.

The Angels have descended. The blessings are ready to pour forth. Forgiveness is all set to grace the lives of many. It’s Ramadan. A holy month that is more than just keeping away from food and drink. A month where we are essentially required to sniff inside. You know, pull back the collar, lower one’s nose and find out where the smell is coming from. In most cases it’s coming from us. And of course, no surprise there. Or so, will vouch God, and countless researchers and psychologists minting money off of self-improvement methods and books.

So what are most of us reeking of? Stench of anger, impatience, jealousy, potty-mouthing, back-biting, deceit, immorality and the works.  So does the stench go away this month? Not really,at least not for most. But for some, it does  tend to fade away in the background, like it’s coming from the neighbour’s backyard. Of course this is at times also a mind game, a delusion making you think you succeeded in controlling your anger, or managed to walk out of a full gossip session 101. Until, you didn’t and fell back on your knees, grovelling at the mercy of the relapse monster. Yet, all’s never lost. For a few blessed ones, this precious month makes all the difference. People who find and safeguard the spirit and emerge as permanently upgraded humans  after the thirty days.

In Pakistan, a lot of what happens in Ramadan has to do with food. What to eat at Sehri/Sahoor time, what to gorge down at Iftar, and what to fantasize about in between. The few remaining hours are perhaps spent in quick recitations of the Holy Quran, doing Zikr on ornamental garlands (tasbihs), charity, listening to Quran lectures,and acutely believing that we are in fact the holiest of them all. And that this month is a proof of our self-serving, piety. And why not? The smell is always coming from the other person. God forbid, it should ever grace our floral scented sweat glands.

But that’s the thing. As a country, we are always smelling. The skunks never leave. No matter how much we try to hide behind our bleached cloaks of Ramadan, we won’t be able to hide the bloody stains that spill on our streets, taunting our beliefs, spitting on our righteousness. Pakistan’s much respected, humble and bear of a talented Qawwal (Sufi singer) Amjad Sabri was brutally shot yesterday . The whole country and anyone abroad who has ever heard of him is in pain, shock and unbelievable anger. The usual suspects line up. Terrorist organizations, zealots and the lot. The heart doesn’t really care who did it. Frankly it won’t make a difference. But the ‘why’ always scratches and pokes and nags! Why, oh, why, oh…

Credits: Express Tribune

We mourn. Just like we mourned our late governor Salman Taseer, who too was shot over maniacal and distorted beliefs several years ago. Yet we do nothing about the putrid, rotten, forsaken whiff of decay that our noses breath, day in and day out. It’s because our senses are shutting down on us. Nothing looks the same, or smells the same, let alone feels the same. We stand helpless, looking up, and feeling low, extremely low.

Ramadan has never been more important in our lives than it is now. But who will revive its spirit in as dead a society as ours? Who will shake us out of our psychosis of lavish Iftar and Sehri parties, all-day sleeping marathons and ‘I’m fasting because everyone is’? Surely the death of a renowned and respected individual is not enough. Surely many more will have to die.

As our nation hums Amjad Sabri’s legendary ‘Bhar de Jholi Meri Ya Muhammad….’  [Roughly translated as: Fill my barren existence Dear Muhammad (PBUH)] with melancholy and watery eyes, here’s hoping and praying that Sabri left with a full ‘Jholi’, because his people, his country, left him deathly barren.