Never Forget
Dec29

Never Forget

  16th December has to be one of the blackest days in Pakistan’s recent history. I remember sitting in a classroom at University the morning (around 10:00 am) of that day, chatting with some of my friends as we waited for our class to begin. My best friend was sitting next to me. He was checking out messages on his cell phone when he received the news, via sms, that terrorists had entered a branch of Army Public School in Peshawar. The look on my friend’s face changed from shock to concern as he read out the horrible news to us. The sms didn’t provide much detail of the incident. We knew, however, that this was a developing story and one we all hoped would end happily. This was not to be the case. In the afternoon, we received news that the terrorists had killed close to 30 children and a couple of people from the school staff. The army had begun its operation against the terrorists and was having some success. I had left my university around 3:30 pm and by the time I had reached home an hour or so later, the death toll had risen to over a 100. The most heartbreaking part of it was, of course, the killing of innocent children. After I had gotten home, i had turned on the TV to watch the media coverage of the incident. What I saw on the TV were scenes of chaos as concerned relatives were running around secured areas looking for their children among those who had been evacuated as soon as the terrorists had started their despicable activities. I moved on to another channel and there I saw relatives crying their eyes out over dead bodies and coffins. I clearly remember fighting back a flood of tears as I was watching this.   A scene from the media coverage of the incident. This is just one of many coffins over which parents were seen mourning.       The emotions at this time were in stark contrast to what they were when I had first heard the news. The shock and concern wasn’t as huge as it should have been, when I had first come to learn of the incident. It’s probably because we have become used to the constant flood of bad news and to scenes of injustice, cruelty and suffering, living in Pakistan. We have become desensitized to violence, especially, in cases where we aren’t directly affected by it. The suffering caused by the killing of sweet, innocent and joyful children or even the thought of it is enough, however, to cause...

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Those Green Sweaters…
Dec18

Those Green Sweaters…

I too wore those green sweaters with yellow lining once. Every morning was a hustle – the niggling race against time to catch the bus. As soon as the chacha rang the assembly bell, we all use to linearly arrange ourselves for the assembly and sang the national anthem at the top of our lungs. Keeping those ‘Bata’ shoes shiny and lustered till the end of assembly was another mighty struggle of our lives. As soon as the first class started, the wait for the recess began. The geography class never seemed to end, while the games period used to just quickly slip away. The silence of the library was lingering while the shouts in the Khokha were never enough. Ahhh! How convenient was my time, how trivial were my issues! Never once did I fight the terror of gunshots, never once did I not survive. Now let me share the tale of some different faces in those same green sweaters with yellow lining. They too left home today in the usual hustle of race against time. Bata shoes still were sparkly clean and the national anthem was still sung from the top of the lungs. But then the script changed and some coward men with big guns decided to fight these small warriors armed with bite marked pencils. The gunshots were way louder than the Khokha frenzy, whereas the lingering silence of the library was nothing compared to the haunting stillness while being crouched in horror underneath the rusty table. Time never froze like this in geography class while the blood of the wounded friend was oozing out faster than the ticking clock of games period. With only one stain of ink, I was moved out of assembly line; while they were drenched with buckets of blood, and nobody moved them away from line of fire. Today they went to school and saw another day.  Today they faced the radicals and stood stern against the terror. But today they didn’t survive. Ahh! How convenient was my time, how trivial were my issues! Dear gallant friends of today, we are proud of you! You will forever survive in the hustle of our mornings and in struggles of our days. I promise you one thing that in those green sweaters with yellow lining, we will rise and shine… Again! For you and for the pride of the anthem you sang today!...

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Pakistan Mourns…
Dec16

Pakistan Mourns…

What happens when a regular person sitting at home switches on T.V in morning? He/she comes to know that there is not a moment of certainty for a Pakistani. There are four scenarios we are well-acquainted with on Pakistan’s media 1. Talk shows with political bantering. 2. Demonstration and processions with political bantering. 3. Dramas with women crying Lately the fourth scenario i.e terrorist attack, is in the process of being controlled by Pakistan Army through operation Zarb-e-Azab. But then catastrophe struck, marking a sad end to the year 2014 for Pakistan. Army Public School, Peshawar became a militant battle ground. But wait. Battles are raged against those who are armed. They were just children. Six gunmen wearing suicide vests entered the school and gunned down 135 children as reported so far out of 200 victims. Some are still held hostages and many more are missing. This was a children massacre at mass. I switched off the T.V. It was getting unbearable. I couldn’t help knowing the stories of the survivors so i started reading about it online. The ones who survived and returned to their conscious state reported that they played dead to escape the claws of these coward scavengers. School is the time, people crave to go back to. I know I do. I miss everything about it. But these survivors are among those who wouldn’t look back to this memory. Ever. Its filled with screaming classmates and open gunshots. Although they returned alive, a big chunk of them is probably dead within. You know why terrorists are always reported to be around 18 years old or younger? Because if they were mature and had children of their own, they would not be ready to blow themselves up in a school. The fear of devastation of their own children and family would have held them back. Heartiest condolence to the families of the victimized. If only our grief could bring back the lost ones. If only it had such a strong impact that future generation could be saved. Today we mourn. Tomorrow things will be back to normal for politicians, for people sitting in front of their t.v sets, for anybody who wasn’t directly affected. Or everything would change… Maybe. If only we had caught these brutes alive and publicly executed them to warn those who were behind this. All these children have left us with, is the wish for ‘If only’ we could have saved...

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How I Met Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Dec05

How I Met Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

I never knew Nelson Mandela. Not personally though. All I knew was one, he was famous; two, he was the ex-president of South Africa; three, he worked hard for “something” and four, he was in a wheelchair due to “something”. Then last year out of the blue, Nelson Mandela died on December, 5th. I wasn’t shocked, nor saddened. How could I feel for someone I knew very less of? The social media was flooded that day with mourners across the globe, posting their condolences online, putting up covers of his pictures. I wondered how much they knew of the man. Did they talk about him often? Was he a friend? A role-model? Were they following up on his health? Were they praying in his last moments? I’d like to see one who did. So, still not knowing what to feel (and I still wonder if it’s necessary to actually feel something), I fired up my laptop and googled him. Trying to avoid the long, cumbersome text on Wikipedia, I came across his timeline just published by DAWN (thank heavens!). Year by year they stated Mandela’s activities from birth till death. Mandela turned out to be quite a man. He was a hero, known to many as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name. Nelson was the name given to him by his teacher at age 7. He had worked hard for the black community in South Africa, spoke against the Apartheid laws and had spent most of his time in jail. The longest being twenty-seven years in prison at which time his followers cried out to the government and it was a cry the authorities eventually bowed down to. Madiba was successful in all his efforts for the people and such racist laws were abolished once and for all. He was elected president in 1994, of course. I read through the whole article and all that came to my mind was as to how one man can go through so many hardships for the sake of the people. He was a hero among heroes. He had a voice and he made it his point in life to make himself heard. Throughout his imprisonment, he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release.[1] He was the right man at the right place at the right time. You might find it funny if I told you that I went about, “I could’ve worked to abolish Apartheid laws. Mandela you beat me to it.” However reality must be faced, that was a lot of jail time for me. So what happened next to him? He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He...

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Bachpan Ka December- A Review
Dec05

Bachpan Ka December- A Review

I have come to a conclusion. While English novels give a broader view into life, and (I must confess) make you an attractive nerd, the impact of lessons in Urdu novels is more deeply felt. Its like if your mom gave you a lifelong advice in English, it wouldn’t be as effective as in Urdu. Sarcasms are sharper and humor is more ridiculous. Hence everything that needs to be felt is more penetrating and decent in our native dialect. Sticking to the theme of this Blog of promoting what belongs to Pakistan, I decided to review a novel that I began reading in a hospital lounge with utter disinterest but by the time I finished it, a pile of unattended tasks awaited me. Never misconstrue seemingly odd books in a doctor’s waiting lounge. I must have read around 5 pages but they had me grasped so strongly that on my way back after the appointment, I stopped by a book store and bought it. Bachpan Ka December by Hashim Nadeem sets the story in Quetta where Decembers were thought to be very beautiful once upon a time, with conifers covered in snow and moonlight peaking through the clear frosted ice. The impersonal aspect of the book covers late 70’s through a little boys point of view and then late 80’s through a mature man’s. Its about Ebad, a kid who belongs to a mediocre background, his best friend “Raja” who was always thought to be a bad influence to him (we all have that one best friend who our parents don’t approve of) and “Wajjo” a crush bound to stay a crush forever. The writer’s choice of words is so illustrative that (if I was a painter) I could have painted down every page and If a drama is made on it, there would have been less input at recreating scenes from the book. The word-sketch is so definite and clear. Unlike most romantic novels, this one is pretty humorous. I was amazed to see how the speaker connected so well with his childhood memories and remembered every meticulous detail of his perception. There are immature sarcasms which make you laugh spontaneously over Addi’s innocence. The book talks about parental control, family politics and nosy neighbors. It then slowly evolves to the point where Addi wants to cling purposely to these irritating things, but finally its time for him to grow up and go to a cadet college. That’s where the second phase of his life starts. He shares with readers the reminiscence of this crucial chapter of his life. From the discouraging behavior of seniors to that one...

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