Read if you must. And pray tell, if you understand the rings in my tree.

Credits: Zeeshan Sultan

Credits: Zeeshan Sultan

What does it all mean? Every now and then, it taunts me. Pokes me. Sneers at me. Reduces me to nothing. A silent voice in my head that beckons for more; in life, from life. Telling me that I have it all, but then I don’t.

It’s not about shuffling my deck of ingratitude. Thankfulness resonates in every move of mine. But am I not allowed to question? To probe at that silent voice that sets forth an all too familiar set of actions; of sulking lips, furrowed brows and a restless heartbeat.

Is it that I don’t write enough? Or try enough to extract meaning from random symbols? Pray enough? Or deep enough to connect with every word I  speak of. Is it that I play it blind? What good is sight in a world of blind people?

Is it that I find people inconsequential? Their worries inane. Their feelings fake?Because those who have genuine problems, don’t stand naked for all to see, but clothe themselves with dignity. Because those who really feel, don’t need to prove anything.

Is it that I love making excuses? For myself and from myself. But then those who don’t, DO. And I have my excuses, so I don’t, DO. I fear anonymity. I shiver at fame. But I crave both. And work for none.

Is it that I smirk at life’s predictability? Where people die, lives go on and nothing truly matters. Where as long as our stomaches are filled with greed and thirst, everything is justified. If everyone is right then who is wrong? And I am right, but why do I feel so wrong?

Is it that I despise ego? But even more so, those with none of it? Yet I have tons of my own. Enough to make me draw meaningless conclusions and point my fingers the other way. Enough to disappoint myself. The most.

Is it that I don’t matter? Beyond what I am supposed to do, or say, or think. Because there is a lot that I am supposed to do, while a lot that I’m not. So where does that leave me? Forever in self-doubt. Forever confused.

Is it that I don’t believe in standards any more? Of beauty. Of success. Of piety. Of evil? Standards are about limits. But you can’t limit beauty. Or measure success. Or restrict virtue. Or cage sin. So why stoop to lowly levels of definition? Why not rise to infinity?

That voice hasn’t gone away yet. I don’t think it plans to any time soon. It will continue to knock on my dormant existence, making sure I don’t die without a question in my head.

And God knows. Like the rings in a tree, I have many questions.

See, that’s the thing about Plans.

That’s the thing about plans. As fickle a plan may be, like a dew drop it doesn’t die before giving you that tiny hint of hope. It doesn’t melt away before showing you the way. It doesn’t matter if it’s the right way, as long as it pokes you into action, or gives you an ”aha” moment, all is good!

I have never been a planner. I always joke about how plans and I don’t get along. Remember those clichéd quotations about not planning because then when they don’t materialize, our itsy-bitsy hearts crumple? As if an unfinished plan ever killed anyone. Well, I don’t know if that really makes sense any more. Our existence is based on a plan. As elaborate and as vague as it may be, but it’s there, written somewhere within invisible maps. That’s how we are programmed. We need some nuance of a direction to get through the day. We need some subtle hint of objectivity to feel sane in a world that’s all about uncertainty. So why not plan?

I plan to plan. I plan to write. I plan to publish a book some day. I plan to get back to my pre-baby weight (don’t we all!?). I plan to be a better mother. I plan to be a person who matters, not just to her family and loved ones, but to people who aren’t. I plan to move back home some day. I plan to stay close to my parents. I plan to give my children some of the glorious days I lived as a child. I plan to smile more again. I plan to stay more hopeful. I plan not to become cynical and grumpy, but a happy-go-lucky, adventurous old, wrinkly woman. I plan to take care of myself by looking and feeling better.  I plan to sit straight, stand tall and look within. I plan to cry when I’m happy. I plan to smile when I’m sad. I plan to scream less, speak more, and listen the most. I plan to breathe. I plan to see. I plan to touch. I plan to taste. I plan feel. I plan to treat my heart like the infinitely flexible rubber that it is; stretch, stretch, stretch. Oh, and I plan to plan.

This is where plans are different from dreams. Plans are more believable and seem to have more substance. If it’s a dream, then sadly, it may remain as such. Dreams often take the guise of magical fairies living in enchanted distant lands. You imagine them, but you can’t rummage the courage to touch them, or to go look for them. They are also different from wants. We want a lot of things, but without a practical roadmap, they just shrivel up and die, like leaves without water. But if it’s a plan, you are compelled to replace its imaginary existence with something tangible. You are required to breathe life into it in order for it to exist. A noticeable connecting dot. A tingle of light. A checklist. Day 1. Strike!

Sure, it’s not all about the choice of words. It never is. Plans, dreams, hopes, aspirations, desires, wants. At the end of it, they are just combinations of letters we use to give meaning to our lives. Without them, what’s the point? But even with them, is there a point? There is meaning as long as you’re alive. And as long as you’re alive, there has to be a reason. And plans just might give us all that.

My mind’s just spitting up randomness that, in all honesty, might not make any sense. But I’ll always include these words in my vocabulary. I don’t think I want to flee from planning anymore. I will stumble and my toes might bump into some of life’s heavy furniture. And it may hurt as hell. But if I don’t plan to be a better than I was before, there really is no point. Period.


What do I tell my children about God, life and His creations?

How do I explain to the little inquisitive minds about man’s barbarity? And that it knows no bounds, understands no limits. Just like God’s mercy knows no bounds, and understands no limits.

How do I tell them that there is one God? And that anyone who believes in a higher power is looking at the same sky, praying to the same heavens. Whether standing, sitting, with hands folded or open, eyes open or shut. Yet in the mind of one believer, the other is always unworthy; One method of prayer is correct but the other is an abomination; One Book is light but the other is confusion; One language is enough but the other is inadequate; One skin color is perfect but the other is impure. I am right, but you are wrong.

How do I make them understand that all religions preached by Prophets from the past said the same thing, in different words, under different circumstances, but essentially sang the same tune? Yet still, everyone claws at each others throats because one doesn’t like the sound of the other.

Image credits: Sameen khan

How do I explain man’s kindness? A small number of people who make the world go around. These are life’s real heroes who restore your faith in everything that is good and blessed. These are people who make the real difference.

How do I tell them about life’s unfairness? But that there is nothing more fair than death. There are things we will never understand because we don’t have all the facts. That’s why we are the worst of judges.

How do  I explain that life is more grey than it is black and white? There is always an exception to the rule, an anomaly that stands out like a blister. Everything is as simple as we live it to be and as difficult as we think it to be.

How do I tell them that everything is disconnected  when looked from our eyes and that nothing ever really makes sense? But then that’s why we look up and within; For signs that show the connections. For dreams that tell all.

How do I tell them the importance of coincidences, flukes, luck and whims? Those are life’s miracles, our own magical moments, where God leans over and whispers.

How do I make them realize that they might spend their entire lives juggling such unanswered questions? But then maybe that’s what matters the most. As long as they ask, they will continue to look for answers. And as long as they don’t stop looking, there will always be hope.


Short-story: Playing Jenga for love.

Anna’s intense concentration stopped the habitual quiver in her fingers as she formed a tiny tower of wooden blocks. Tooth-less and teeth-filled smiles of her now,possibly decades old children gawked at Telsa from the surrounding walls of Anna’s room. Telsa nervously shifted in her seat when those infant eyes met her’s. Anna didn’t like that anyone stared at her children’s pictures for long. Telsa quickly averted her glance and checked her watch.

Herma’s usual spot across from Telsa was empty. “Telsa, let’s put baby powder in her pea puree this time,” said Anna with an air of accomplishment. Last time she had put  sugar in her lentils. Telsa never took part but just pretended to agree. Herma never noticed the changed flavours. She also never came on time.

Their favourite block-stacking-and-crashing game, Jenga, began in Anna’s stuffy nursing home room every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning like a sacred ritual; obsolete, staunch and oddly invigorating, much like Anna. Other days were reserved for bingo, exercise and Frank Sinatra sing-a-along programs. These women were wrinkly hamsters living on stolen time in their cages.

Anna punched her table as the door slid open and in limped the curly haired 80 year old Herma who secretly loved that she was the youngest in the room. “Dammit Herma! Get on with it will you!”, Anna shrieked.

Chairs were pulled up, blocks were set and ready to be pulled apart and toppled over.

Anna pulled first. She was the dominant one. It was just a game to Telsa, but she dare not say that out loud. Anna would bite off her lips with straight, ivory tinted teeth. Herma wanted to be the first one, but she was not in the mood for confrontation.

“Watch and learn!” Anna announced right before she grappled the loose block from the tower, akin to a cautious dentist at work.

“How I hate that bastard! Did I tell you two about my ex-husband?” Anna suddenly began her best-loved topic of conversation.

“Hmmm.” Telsa was sympathetic for the hundredth time, possibly even more.  Herma was busy burping.

“The platypus left me for that slutty duck! I am glad I never met her or I’d have been in jail now.” Anna continued.

“Well you certainly ain’t in no Palace right now Anna!” Herma couldn’t help herself.

Anna spat at Herma. Quite literally. The wide honey oak table in between saved the other two from the salivic shower. “You’re in my room, so my rules. Shut the hell up!”

It was Telsa’s turn. She braced herself as the wobbly tile tilted below the block she had just removed.

“I gift-wrapped my soul for him you know. ” Anna’s harsh tone mellowed and she took a pink napkin with white doves. There were no tears. But she wiped her eyes as if rehearsing for the real deal. The smeared crusted maroon lipstick made her look morbid. “I am beautiful aren’t I?” Telsa nodded.  Herma controlled her laughter.

“Then why?” This time her tears gushed. Telsa’s green eyes watered up, as if in a compulsion to join the teary river that gushed in the room. She had eternally damned herself to cry for others.

“I am sure he always loved you, and no other,” came Telsa’s over-rehearsed reply.

“What do you know?!” A raucous crow just replaced the mellow squeak in Anna’s throat. “You’re as wretched of a woman as I am.” Telsa bit her tongue. She could taste the bloody saliva.  The tower gracefully dismembered itself as an army of wooden soldiers rose on each side.

“Why you gotta talk like dat to her?” Herma defended Telsa.

Anna ignored Herma and continued. “He took my children and my dignity. Neither came back.” Telsa leaned forward to console but Anna screamed with blood in her eyes, “Why can’t you just do your turn?”  The game was almost over.

Anna suddenly sprang up as if the chair had developed canines. Her trembling legs dragged her to a wrought-iron night stand. A golden velvet pouch peeked through her pale hands as she took out an envelope, and from it a letter.

“His last words before sucking down those pills.” She stared at her only two friends. “He apologised, you know. Damn well regretted leaving me!” She smiled with hurt and contentment all rolled up in a bitter-sweet strudel. She took a minute to read the letter under her breath and carefully folded it back in its rightful creases.

Knock. Knock.

Someone was at the  half-opened door. Herma quickly called out, “Come on in, nothing to hide here!” It was  the new Nurse Wilma. She had joined just a week ago. A woman in her mid 50’s, with a surly air about her, like someone who’d been rudely stripped off her royalty and could kill for the lost title.

Anna had missed her morning medication for dementia. “Hello ladies,” said Nurse Wilma, uninterested in what was going on in the room. She handed the pills to Anna and waited for her to squeeze them down. Nurse Wilma turned to leave, but paused for a minute to look at the pictures on the wall. Telsa noticed and was about to comment when Nurse Wilma rushed out without another word.

Anna was trapped in a daze. “He gave my grandmother’s precious ruby bracelet to that wretch, you know. He never admitted but I know. That cut me real bad. Real bad.” She was scratching her left hand without looking up.

It was down to the last few moves. Herma complained about being hungry. Telsa scooped her arm over for her turn. Her hands wobbled and the patchy tower finally gave away.

“HA! You gals can never win from me!” Anna was back to her competitive self. She stood up to celebrate with some coffee.

“Anybody got anything to eat around here?” Herma spoke looking at the ceiling. She then leaned across and whispered to Telsa, “Why you gotta take her shit every day? See she never talks to me this way. I know how to set her straight. Why don’t we hide one of those kids’ pictures?!”


Nurse Wilma stepped out for a quick smoke. Those children on the wall. She knew those eyes. She’d know them anywhere.

“But how could it be?! He told me that his wife had died in an accident. Who was Anna then? Why did she have those children’s pictures?!” She started to sweat under her wool coat.

She rolled up her sleeves to cool down.Glistening red stones peaked from her wrist.


National Blog Posting Month - November 2014

I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of In their own words:

“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”

I will write every day of November. This is my fourth post.

#NaBloPoMo – Day 4