All I Can

It almost feels like nowadays we are encaged as well, I thought as I put the chickens inside their cage. The summer is strange this year. Normally we are packed with tourists and visitors from all over the world. There is a lot of festivity. People come to our valley, take pictures, talk to us, share their stories, listen to our stories and the whole valley rejoices. Me and my friends called them “the new people”. But this year is different. It’s just us.
When all the chickens have entered their cage, I lock the door and wonder how unlucky they are to be caged all their life. I take the pot filled with eggs and hand it to my mother. She is working in the kitchen preparing dinner for us. I sit on the shelf, stare at the fire in the stove and ask her “Are things going to be same forever, ammi?” She is carefully cutting the tomatoes. The look on her face shows she doesn’t know the answer but she is trying to make up one. “It’s nothing Hamza, people are just making it up.”
Last year, there came some new people in our village. They were dressed differently and spoke some other language. They had a certain kind of positivity on their face. They smiled a lot and listened to us like we actually existed and we had something important to tell. They used to visit our classes and teach us, as well as our teachers. They renewed our furniture and added colors to our classes as well as our life. I felt comfortable being around them and tried to learn how they walked, talked and smiled. I personally liked those drum beating classes where we could learn music from the professionals.
One day they asked us to look around, pick a thing and imagine if it was living creature. And then write what it would feel or have to say about its life. I had a juice box in my hand, so I chose the nearest one. It was wonderful to look at the juice box with whole new perspective. I was accustomed to this idea so much that I couldn’t throw it in the dustbin believing I would actually hurt its feelings. I wish we all do it for the fellow human beings as well. This world will be such a nice place with no one to fight. I liked that idea so much that I have been doing it with everything around me. It has made my world very animated and connected. The only thing that don’t connect are humans.
As mother drops the knife accidently, I come back from my rabbit hole of thought process. God knows for how long I have been staring at the stove for no particular reason. I wish the new people were here. They always had answers!
I pick up the knife and see my mother’s face. She seems to be travelling in time like me as well. But unlike me she couldn’t come back so easily. I wonder what she might be thinking about. Were there any new people in her life as well, who brought warmth, rejoice and comfort which we being so close to each other couldn’t give.
Looking at ammi makes me feel like crying. There is so much silence everywhere nowadays. It haunts me. Everybody is lost in their head but very much disconnected to everyone around them. The only thing besides silence is fighting. I don’t know but we all are angry at each other for no reason. Ammi and baba fight so much these days. They were so humble and forgiving but now they scold me for minor mistakes. I sometimes get irritated over things and misbehave with them as well. It feels like Corona virus doesn’t enter the lungs but the head.
The next day I woke up early in the morning. I remember the days I was excited to wake up and head over to school. After school we use to do so much fun in the way. Schools are closed these days. And friends are busy as well. We hardly meet now. My morning routine starts with fetching the water bottles from down the hill. I hate this job but someone has to do anyway. I wake up and head towards my destination. There are very few cars and few people on the road. Maybe it’s just the villagers. Some shops are closed since last two months and those with daily basic needs are open. There was a heavy hail storm last night, so the road is wet and weather is cloudy. A cup of tea which otherwise had no value to me seems to be a big treat. I feel the taste of mild mixture of milk, tea and sugar in my mouth as I pass the chai wala.
I bade salam to him and he like my parents ignore concentrating on his inner thoughts while he makes tea for the few local customers in his dhabba. On my way back to home, carrying loads of water, I was gazing into every rusted shop and broken road, people living the same life always and always and always. We were already pushed into the nowhere and then came this disease. Which has already pushed us out from the running world. I wonder how far people have moved ahead of us. Wish this would end soon and we may start our journey again.
I was lost in my deep thoughts to avoid the pain in my shoulders due to the weight of heavy water buckets when I heard Zarghoona calling me from far. She was running towards me and seemed so excited.
After a while she reached me and asked “What are you doing here at this time? Aren’t you late for the class?”
“What class?” I asked as I thought she might be sleepwalking.
“The new people’s class, they are trying to reach us while our own teachers cannot. Every morning they will teach us on Radio.”
“Are you telling the truth?” I asked in astonishment.
“Yes, I came to buy radio with my baba. From now onwards I will take my classes as well”
She said as she started running back. Ten after covering some distance, she stopped turned back and shouted again with her two hands on his mouth in the shape of loudspeaker, “and yes, there will be stories…lots of them”
As Zarghoona left, I felt an energy travelling in my veins. It was a beautiful moment. I couldn’t feel the weight of load on my shoulders. The village that seemed so dull, was looking jolly now. I ran through the streets, among the people, trying to make my way.
After reaching home, I placed the bottles in the corner and reach for the radio, tuned into the channel and listen to our teacher telling stories.
The sound of her telling stories added energy into my body, harmony in my soul and purpose in my life again. I no longer felt like a scared child but a child who, in the hardest of times would try to do even a little thing that would bring tiny hope in his own life and those around him. And I think that was education all about.

The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is some kind of sweet melancholy in this novel. There is a moment when the novel takes its turn and you start to have some kind of yearning for the past life of the character in the previous phase. We all have feelings like these in our life every now and then, where we wish we could just go back and live it all over again. Where we wish that the time with all those people and moments in it would repeat itself. I could also relate to the unappreciated genius who despite deserving better couldn’t get name and fame in the city which consumed every bit of emotion left in his existence.

Plus my favorite quote from the book: “Nothing ruins the human soul more than hidden resentment.”

View all my reviews

Perspective and Beyond

“If you wish to find yourself, you must first admit you are lost.”

― Brian Rathbone

Indeed, we as an individual as well as a nation are lost!

They say exploring the world lets you explore yourself but the truth is a little in-depth analysis is a good thing. It plays a more vital role in letting you discover other aspects of your identity besides just having a name or profession. But, what if you travel the world and seven seas and find nothing? And, what if you dive deep into yourself and still find nothing?

The question regarding who you are is the first part of the whole dilemma whose second part is why are you here? And if the former isn’t answered correctly, it can lead to a very horrible state of ignorance which, unfortunately, has victimized 90pc of the mankind who only seek the second part but never ponder over the first. The other 9pc of them get so much entangled and confused in the first part that they hardly reach the second. The problem with this population is that each and every individual paints his own canvas, never completes it and leaves the world without any contribution. The successor repeats history and meets the same destiny. Trust me! this world is full of unfinished canvases.

In my journey as an art enthusiast, I have tried to explore the reason behind these unfinished canvases. One of my mentors made a traditional remark while saying “free your thoughts from the societal, cultural or ethnic boundaries and you will be able to paint a complete and true self”. In fact, all of us often see and hear around some powerful statements like “be yourself” or “let your inner self guide you” or “let the real you come out.” Yes! They make us positive for a moment. We like them; we share them and we feel a sense of freedom of letting out everything that we have been holding on without considering the fact for once that what it was and why it remained hidden so far. And then what?

To find the answer, let’s get to the base. What exactly is this “thought” which governs us and which needs to be freed? Oxford university defines thought as: “a formation of a philosophy” whereas, it defines philosophy as: “A theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior.” So, guiding principle means direction and direction means, Perspective and what we are is what our perspective towards life is.

Therefore, Quran states: And hold firmly to the rope of Allah SWT altogether and do not become divided (03:103) which means that let the rope of Allah SWT (Quran) be the single and strong perspective of your thoughts. Such an immortal and perfect horizon, broader than all the aspects of humankind will definitely develop a mature philosophy granting us the true freedom of thought. The question is if undoubtedly Quran is the perfectionism that we must attain then why are Muslims still lost and confused?

Well, although we call ourselves Muslims, unfortunately, we haven’t caught even glimpse of our Holy Book’s message (2:101). It is clear that sorrows, worries, insecurities, hardships, and loved ones play the same role in leading mankind astray as worldly desires and lust for money. And those who go astray are often ignorant about it themselves (2:9) and consider the righteous as fools (2:13).  Why do we forget for a second that we are custodians of our faith? Our religion is merely the trust of Allah towards us and we are continuously betraying Him by helping the culprits in robbing our religion. Indeed, we are deceiving none but ourselves (2:19) and we will be questioned for this betrayal (7:6). Is betraying a human greater sin than betraying Allah SWT? Are we afraid of humans more than Allah SWT? And is the punishment of death severer curse than having a dead soul? (2:18)

Oh, we have a specially designed argument for it i.e. “it’s impossible in today’s world”. So, what is today’s world? Definitely a mirage! In the name of globalization and technology, our thoughts have been enslaved without our consent making us think, speak, dress and react the way we are told, making most of our time and energies useless. Every day we hear about thousands of people getting killed, injured, molested and enslaved around the world. We feel sad for a moment, fulfill our responsibility by expressing our condolences with trendy hashtags and then return to our busy lives naming it a twist of fate. Wow! what freedom of expression. We have become no more than animals. We are on the verge of same ignorance which prevailed the Arab peninsula hundreds of years ago. About whom Caliph Umar Farooq R.A claimed that their heads were bowed to everything from a stone to an animal. They hadn’t any personal respect. Quran gave them dignity.” Even our Holy Prophet SAW after so much revival had prophesized this time long ago when he said: “For whoever among you lives after me will see much discord. So hold fast to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold fast to them. ” [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].

For all the said reasons, we are still in that 9pc who after a lot of struggle is unable to conclude anything or reach any destination due to baseless and countless perspectives of their own. And before the time comes that we also leave the world without any necessary contribution, we shouldn’t waste our time and energies on the things that we aren’t supposed to. Instead, we should add up ourselves in the remaining 1pc who know the truth i.e. be it the universe of inside or outside, the canvas has been made, colors have been selected and the picture has been painted. We have just been handed a simple and easy task and that is to explore and praise it. We should adopt the Quran as a single and strong perspective to see and understand ourselves and the world around us. Only then even a single individual out of a nation could bring back the same unity, grace, prosperity, and dignity to the whole civilization which prevailed 1400 years ago in the minimum time frame of 25 years.

Unity in Diversity

“And hold fast to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” (3:103) states the famous verse in the holy Quran. This verse gives the message of convergence of ideas, thoughts, belief, and efforts, etc. regardless of different perspectives and ethnicities to a focal point which Allah has clearly nominated only Himself. This verse is the best and initial concept of “Unity in Diversity” succeeded by a concept called “Whadat-ul-Wujud” by Ibn-e-Arabi, a Sufi philosopher who demonstrated it in the metaphysical concept of “Oneness of God Almighty” reflecting “Unity in Diversity and Diversity in Unity”. Later on, it has been adopted as a motto or slogan by various religious or political groups which although being diverse were working towards a common goal.

Pakistan which came into being in the name of religious identity despite having diverse cultural backgrounds has a more righteous claim on this concept. Based on its geographical position and the historical settlement of people since its formation, it is home to various multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-ethnic groups. It must be noted that culture, which is simply an expression of one’s belonging, be it intellectual or artistic or any other form can vary from much smaller fragments like a batch of a particular class or an organization to larger like province or country. Every group has its own culture and people associated with these groups tend to have a sense of individualism at smaller but collectivism at a broader level.

Recent research conducted by professors of COMSATS University compared cultural diversity with nationalism. They used different indexes to measure different behaviors and norms that varied across the country. In their study the Power Distance Index (which is the acceptance and expectation of unequal distribution), Individualism Index (the manner in which people of society look after themselves and each other) and Masculinity and Femininity Index (the way in which males and females are treated in society) although varied to greater extent from province to province but were very much similar on national level as compared to each province.

Similarly, Long term Orientation Index (showing nurtured desired towards future outcomes) varied among provinces but resembled the national level to a greater extent. Most interestingly, despite high political instability, increased inflation and various terrorist attacks, the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (which shows the level of how people get threatened by the uncertainty of future event) was very low both on cultural as well as national level probably due to an inner locus of control and greater faith in religion. Most important of all Monumentalism Index (which shows people commitment towards their heroes including religious, national, fighter, political and trend heroes) demonstrated that people not only love and praise the former four but also don’t hesitate to sacrifice their life for them. It was the strongest index of all which was not only similar on National but Provincial level.

The result of these indexes clearly shows that no matter what our cultural differences might be, we accept and celebrate our differences which bring us closer together. This is the reason that even the strongest ethnopolitical movements in history like separatist rebellion in Balochistan, sectarianism, inter-provincial disparity (although valid up-to much extent) couldn’t tear us apart and Pakistan stands stable and firm as always in the name of religion that unites us together and teaches the same lesson.

The Pride of Appearance

Ever got struck by a meteor called “Judgement”.

How does it feel?

An extra-terrestrial body enters your comfort zone, hits the very deepest part of you and leaves you broken.

Do you have the gut to hit back? But, how can you hit an entity which was so strong a moment ago and has vanished after resonating your whole existence?

After a lot of struggle when you re-arrange yourself, it is not the real you. Your genuine self was lost in the process.  You do not accept this new face; you do not owe the new identity that came out as a reaction to what you went through. Therefore, you think people will not accept it either. You mask it with a more acceptable version of yourself. The one that could please your viewers and act as a shield against all these attacks.

The problem arises when you forget that the definition of pleasure is not the same for everyone. Therefore, you start modifying your mask according to their pleasure, and it tends to get heavier and complex, every time you meet a new viewer. To avoid this, you stop meeting people and isolate ourselves behind this mask.

However, the story behind the mask is much miserable than the front of it. Many beasts of your own judgment eat the flesh of your face every day only due to your denial about your identity.

All for the sake of…  All for the sake of “Pride of appearance”

A Different World

In this world, different people go through different times, different situations and different experiences as a result of choices they make in their life. These choices may be governed by their past, their family, their society, their political influence or culture, hence anything. But for some people, it is different. It is like another unknown part of themselves caged inside, communicating with them with a voice, a whisper, a tune that keeps on playing, no matter what choice they make. It pulls them towards itself, changes their circumstances to follow it and makes them leave everything behind. Nothing else can govern their life but this little whisper. Neither they can suppress, deny or avoid it nor can they understand it themselves or describe it to other people. It’s an abstract idea, a thought or an emotion that they never understand but chase all the way long.

All they have to do is to accept its existence. And as soon as they accept it, they uncover THE ARTIST within themselves.

The Light

Deprived of the opportunity,
There lives a child,
She is way too far from,
Discovering her true potential and her MIGHT.

So much deprivation around her,
That she might lose her future,
For ages, her community has quested
In pursuit of their basic RIGHT

It’s only a matter of ups and downs
It’s a cycle which never ends,
For some its mere darkness,
And for some, their days’ shine BRIGHT.

She needs concern,
She needs direction,
Before she loses her courage,
Her passion and a will to FIGHT.

Yes, she is afraid, she is insecure,
But she never complains,
She only needs an opportunity to discover herself,
And gain such wisdom that,
For others, she becomes a LIGHT.


I often join her in her struggle to escape out of herself.

Its complete darkness there.

“My world is very dark. I didn’t know it myself until I jumped inside this endless misery and got lost” she says as she wanders in the myriad darkness not being able to see anything. “I am tired of finding my way, I am tired of fighting with myself, loosing one part to win the other. Life is nothing but a useless fight with no conclusion. You mourn over the little defeats and celebrate the little victories but it doesn’t end. Every other day brings with it a new challenge.”

Suddenly, she see’s a spark. Rushes to grasp it. I suggest her to keep it safe in her heart to lit her way forward. She refuses and lits the nearby wood she has recently sensed with her hands.

The wood catches fire and she sighs with relief…….

After a moment the fire starts spreading and the sky turns red as the ashes rise high.

She has burnt the bridge, that could lead her way out.

She falls on the ground and silently watches the sky, which ultimately turns dark. I fall out of her eye and diminish in the ground.

All I wanted was to help her, and I can’t until she does herself.

My name is “Hope” and with every passing momemt I am dying inside her.