winter

Fall

Old books, older bookmarks

Changing seasons

Reminiscing of the past

Setting sun, falling leaves

Town yellows, brown’s retrieved.

When sounds settle, hearts grieve,

that season my love, we’ll meet.img-20161011-wa0005

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The Dilemma of a 90’s kid and responsibility

This twenties generation of nowadays—the 90’s kids that we also like to be proudly called—is such a stuck up generation; stuck up between things that we’ve seen and lost and thus missing them, stuck up between seeing a generation that was hip and classy at the same time, that we used to idealize and a generation that is following us (read the teenagers), making us cringe, what with their music tastes and fashion sense and their cell phone apps that we’re too old to use; we are a stuck up generation because we’re perhaps too wise for our age and too young to think if can make a change—we’ve seen an entire world change before our eyes. In our short lifespan of twenty something years, we have experienced drastic temperature changes that even though we were too young to feel when we were children, we can’t nevertheless forget how cold our winters used to be, how we would actually enjoy our monsoon rains rather than worrying about an onslaught of floods every year, how we could visit the bank of Indus and boat and have picnics in summer there and eat Pallah fish without worrying about the dangerous heights of water that take away lives of little children every year these days.

We are the poster children of climate change, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve been witness to more earthquakes and hurricanes around the world in our lifespan than any of the older generation. We have been spectators to conflagrations overnight burning the entire forests in summers and deadly snowstorms in winters handicapping the entire life of metropolitan cities (in North America) all within the same climatic year. While the climate in our childhood was more predictable, pleasant summers with a heat wave in May usually (specially referring to Southern Pakistani summers here) followed by a two month monsoon season bringing consistent clouds of rain one after another, to chilly winters beginning from October and ending by the end of March with enough cushion of Spring in between to distinguish between a winter and a summer night without muddling them together unlike today. You would never see an unexpected snow in Islamabad in the middle of February and while Lahori winters have always been famous for being foggy, you would never come upon a road accident on Motorway in the beginning of March because of an intense foggy morning. These are signs—signs that climate change is here and is going to ruin this planet, not just our generation, if we don’t do something about it.

We don’t have to look at facts and figures to realize the gravity of the situation, we just have to look around us to see how our lives in general have changed. The good news is, since most of these changes have taken place while our growing up, we are the most ‘adaptable kids’ in the words of Darwin and thus can be the force of change. It’s not just our responsibility but this planet’s right to be duly given to. The bad news is, if we don’t, it will be a little bit too late.

So let’s not get stuck in the earth’s nightmare. Let’s work one step at a time, conserve our resources, not waste water, go for resources that are recyclable, reduce Carbon consumption, recycle more and consume less of everything so that it’s not just our generation that could live more, but so that our own generation is alive to tell the tale.

And in that moment, I swear I was finite

We all try to live beyond our boundaries sometimes, do weird things just to please the inner child of ours—things that are neither too adventurous nor too scary but they give us a sense of exhilaration anyway.

It had been some time since I’d done something that made me feel like a I was still in my early twenties and not an old mid-thirties hag that had nothing to do in life but follow the same old job routine and read a book every week or watch movie or meet a few old friends and discuss how boring life could be and well, you get the idea.

So this one cold night of January (as cold as it could get in Karachi) on the deserted roads of DHA Phase VIII, around mid-night, while we were riding back home in my friend’s Vigo, she suggested we go sit at the open back of the vehicle to get the feel of winter. We did. Now since the driver had to do some chores from here and there (in Defence), the total ride duration was about half an hour to forty minutes. I had no idea it could get that long. The problem was, I was not wearing anything over my thin chiffon shirt (considering the Karachi weather) and as soon as my friend suggested to 9523-traffic-in-a-foggy-night-55ef158009896sit at the back of the vehicle, I had the fleeting imagine of Emma Watson from Perks of Being a Wallflower—where she stands up at the back of her pickup in flying posture with blaring music in their ears and Charlie looks at her and everything around him and says those infamous lines, ‘and in that moment, I swear we were infinite’—and I thought maybe this could be my chance of being infinite in those empty roads and sodium lights and good company and pleasant music that blared in our ears, but well, this was real life and nothing turns out right in real life, does it? I realized I had more pressing problems at the moment, for instance that the driver had suddenly started speeding up (probably just to give us a feel of what it feels like to have hitting the bloody sea winds in your face when you’re driving parallel to the sea) and was crossing 100 conveniently; my hands were suddenly too numb to hold on the fat iron pipes and my phone at the same time while my friend was shrieking with cold; my delicate glasses which had come loose these days and would fall on the tip of my nose before me realizing they were slipping down on dangerous levels would fly miles away had I even dared to move my face teeny bit here or there rendering me almost blind on the lovely night like that. But most importantly, what spared me from standing up and doing the Emma Watson stunt was the situation of my bowels which had filled me with the pressing need to use the washroom (which I’d been delaying for hours now), what with the cold wind bellowing at me from all directions and the driver’s insistence on continuing with the current speed. Needless to say, I thought I’d pass out of all the stress of gripping the fat cylindrical iron pipe with one hand while clutching my cell phone with the other (I swear at one point I thought I might get thrown away by the wind itself), at the same time focusing on not moving my head or my glasses would fly away and resisting my bowels not to give away at this crucial time or my friend would hate me forever for ruining her brand new Vigo.

Thank God, I didn’t pass out at least. But I didn’t enjoy the cold Karachi night by the sea either. It was such a bloody relief when I saw us entering the gate of our plaza and ran all the way towards the elevator up till the 13th floor straight towards the washroom.

The lesson of the story is that kids, it does not end like the movies. It never ends like the movies.

Author’s note: However, gladly, in between everything that was going on with me, I succeeded in making a small of video of us enjoying the little ride. So at least that’s a pro.   

 

Dream in a dream

I think it was a dream. But then I could not be so sure. Because one moment it felt like a dream, from someone else’s perspective and the next moment, I was there getting out of my warm car and into the cold winter night.

It was cold, almost 5 degree Celsius but there I was, walking into a fancy Halloween party. The ones that you could see from outside through windows, with shimmery lights fading into the dark. So technically, it must have been October. I strode towards the house and climbed up the front stairs.

Now that I recall, I don’t know whose house was it or who invited me for the party.

I was only wearing a plain black suit but I could see Gandalfs and Batmen and Jasmines, a Dumbledore, a Harry Potter and a fat little dwarf among others. There was Chucky with his knife—a little taller than the actual—and Annabelle, a recent addition to horror tales. For a moment I could not decide where I belonged and so I lingered in the hallway. But then I turned to a corner where I had spotted Bellitrix Lestrange in the bluish darkness. Now, in reality I hate the existence of Belitrix but the fact that I decided to move towards her and not Hermoine (in the far end of the room, also by her own) tells me that this could not be real.

Bellitrix was, Bellitrix. There is no other way to explain it. But she was gentle. Although she did not smile while we talked, she never made me feel intimidated. But she kept hidden in shadows. This concerned me. I feel stupid right now but I tried really hard to make her smile. Maybe I wanted to see whether she her soul too was Bellitrix or not. It’s very hard to understand I know, so I won’t try to explain. It was one of those moments when the lights were changing and I was trying to crack lame jokes that she laughed—a heartless Bellitrix laugh. I swear I heard my heart tremble. I wish I could see her face and not her silhouette then—see whether her laugh reached her eyes. But by the time the lights made their way back, the laugh was gone and so were her expressions—if there were any. She was back to being dry and gentle.

We had drinks soon. As I followed her down the hallway I could faintly smell her—raspberry, herbs and perhaps, burnt wood. I liked thinking of burnt wood then. The drinks were in blue and red. I had never tasted those before. She held a paper cup for me while took a sip from the other. I did not like my blood-red drink but gladly finished it because well—because I was having a drink with her!

I think she read my mind because she smiled at me for the first time without hiding herself behind the dark shadows. And I swear I saw two black teeth between her smile. I needed to know if they were fake and unreal just like her costume or was that really her—the dry-laughed, black toothed Bellitrix. I needed the answers but I couldn’t dare to ask. And so I tried to run away.

She said she would come see me off. I almost did not hear. But she followed anyway. When we came out of the house into the silence, it was snowing—in October. I must be losing myself completely.

She looked at me and then up at the sky for a few seconds before she looked at me again. ‘Amazing isn’t it? What’s been happening tonight?’ She smiled at me. Her teeth didn’t show.

I didn’t know what she had been hinting at. ‘I think I’m just tired tonight. So I’ll go. It was nice meeting you.’ I could only manage.

‘I’ll see you around I guess.’ She said and went back to the illuminated house.

I did not wait to look at her back. And I don’t remember what happened next. I had begun to imagine that it must have been a dream after all

But when I was shopping today for the weekly groceries, days after the Halloween incident, she appeared in my aisle (which was deserted except of course myself), at the far end—I cannot imagine how that might have been—and said, ‘Hi’. She was still dressed as Bellitrix, her hair was as messy as you could imagine. Only she was more cheerful.

I could make up my words together to say hi back. I was struck, dumbfounded.

‘I told you I’ll see you around, didn’t I?’ She said nonchalantly. ‘And oh, by the way, those teeth were fake.’ She smiled her brilliant smile so that all her white teeth showed in the bright light.

I have been trying to remember what happened next.

An excerpt from ‘The Night’

It had started getting darker already as we reached there. But there was hassle and excitement nevertheless. We had reached the destination where we had meant to be, even though it had caused a few punctured Jeeps, some lost bags of luggage and some cases of cold. Now that I remember, it wasn’t all gloomy, despite the sickening silence only broken by our vehicles with stupid kids singing sick Bollywood songs and the sounds of unnecessary giggling.

Some of us had landed running, trying to occupy better pieces of land to erect the camps. While the ones, laid back, had automatically taken up the duty of unloading the luggage, the only other job left to take care of.

Putting up the tents was a tough job, the land was rough and unsteady, hands were numb and there was no ounce of light. While I could look up and find perfectly shaped galaxies, they wouldn’t help me locate which of the tent was ours.

Making bonfire was even tougher. With no fuel and no lighters, some broken bark of trees and little match sticks were trying really hard to cooperate but were only adding to misery until cooking oil was used as fuel. Rich resource was depleting somewhere, I could see.

The hustle bustle had completely died down by 8 in the evening. You would think it was already mid-night. If we were in Karachi, we would have laughed till we died at ourselves for dying so early. But this was a grave situation. No one was asleep of course –though I am not entire sure saying ‘of course’- but no one was in their senses, they had been knocked by the cold. As one of my teachers has once said, ‘If you peed here, it would turn into ice’, I think the metaphor suited perfectly for this situation.

 

But somewhere there was life. Because I remember us playing cards in one of the tents- all cuddled up with a phone-torch hanging up at the ceiling of the tent, flickering its light to and fro like a lit-up pendulum, cards laid down on the mat- making little noise (as our faces too were covered), dropping the cards after every other pass as they kept slipping from woollen gloves, only trying to sound normal under the circumstances. And that was the moment –only one of those moments- when I thought ‘This is real life. This is the life when you say YOLO.’

Faith had been restored.  

 

(Oct 27, 2013)

 

Girl with a basketball

It was 2 am,

Of a December night.

One could only hear the sound of her Jordans, or the dribble of her ball, or her deep breaths that would echo in the field which whispered with the trickle of her sweat draining from her body.

Damn, she was athletic, you would say. Or some would call her hot, though she didn’t look at her that way.

Rather, if you ask her, she would tell you of a story when her coach in 2nd grade had told her, ‘You could never play basketball.’ That was the beginning.

Although that was ten years ago but the memory still lives, haunts her every time she fails to shoot straight into the hoop.

She ran, dribbled and shot and if the ball did come back once not making it to hoop after ten good dunks, she started all over again.

She was tall and slender and if you looked at her you would tell her to do ramp-modeling or ask her for cheer leading, but that was just the outlook of it. If you looked at her hands, her hands were dirty and frozen, with blood that had frozen down the cuticles. I had told you it was a cold December night at 2 am and she was wearing a basketball jersey.

And her legs had drenched in sweat for running for hours, and if you ask me, I’d tell you that she’d fall of fatigue right there and then, but the good shots made her come back in the game again, with the same level of energy with which she had started.

Her brown hair pinned tightly in a long braid, were all wet turning into a shade of black; she had wanted them cut short so as not to bother much, but she remembered her mother had told her in 4th grade to keep them long so she could touch them and recognize her. You see, her mother could not see or she would have come to all her games.

More running, more dribbling and then a slam dunk.

‘This is what I want’, she would tell herself. A Euro step, and a double pump, bam! She got it in there.

She could hear their whistles and shouts and her Mom and Dad cheering her name. She knew they were not far enough.

152 shots today.

With a bow at the bleachers, she picked up her hoodie, put it on covering her face and left the outdoor court, whistling and dribbling.

 

(Aug 20, 2013)