Dear you,


Dear you,

As I walk past your room everyday, I see your back. Your hands folded behind your head and your eyes staring at the ceiling. Sometimes you light a cigarette and smoke. You carefully keep  your hand by your side, in a vain attempt to hide the lit stub. Sometimes you switch on the television and all day long the sound fills your room. You turn it up more until it becomes unbearable. But you do not wince, not even once.

Sometimes when you aren’t alone, I stop and look at you. Lately, watching you is all I do. Even when surrounded by people, your eyes are somewhere else. Ergo, so are you. You are with them but you aren’t. In a crowd you are that one person who looks and feels lost. The crowd thinks you are one of them but I know, that you aren’t.

When I take a walk with you I keep my eyes on you. Because I know you’ll watch for hurdles for both of us. I look at you and see you walk with a stride. To someone else you may seem like a man with purpose. But to me, and I know; you are a man who wants to put as much distance between the world and yourself as you possibly can. But now I think, in doing that, you out-distanced yourself from life.

I caught you laughing that day which you rarely do. So I stopped time and rewound it. I picked up the cause of your glee. It was a kid. I know you love them. I searched your eyes again trying to see if your heart was in it. It was, and I was taken aback. I saw life in them like flecks of cloud after a satiating rain. I was taken aback for I thought you were already dead. As dead as me.

Dear you, who was me some twenty odd years back,

I regret every moment of our life. I regret being you and I wish upon the whole universe to undo it all; who I was, to be who I really wanted to be. We spent our lives trying to be the best sons, the best brothers and the best of every relation. We led our lives exactly as it was expected of us rather than how we wanted it to be. And in the process we lost ourselves.

And what is worse than losing one’s own self? Trust me when I tell you this, that you own the world as long as you own your spirit, your hopes, your dreams and your ability to love.

With nothing to give, as I stand empty handed and invisible,

Me,

who you’ll be some twenty odd years later.

©2015. Habiba Danyal

Of Old-homes and Madarsahs


From a black sparkling Toyota XLi, they pulled off a man onto a wheel-chair and took him into the shelter home; the board outside, read “Gill’s Shelter Home”. Two men in crisp white got off from the same car and shuffled hurriedly behind the man on the wheel-chair. They had some documents in their hands. I sighed.

The inhabitants of the shelter-home are always brought in this way. Their departure sometimes is very grand when their family takes them back for a nice and grand burial, ignore the sarcasm if you’ll please. While sometimes their departure is as quiet as their arrival.

All through the year, the shelter-home remains a forlorn, lonely place. Some people, who notice it, click their tongues a couple of times and pass. Some, like me pledge that they will pay a visit sometimes. Some however fail to see it altogether, their vision fogged by their own problems.

I remember the day it opened, or rather the day they put up the sign board; I was taken aback. I had heard of such places, but for the first time I saw one. The “inauguration”, of the shelter-home was a quiet one. And although I did not for a moment expect fireworks, I thought that may be the people of the area will not let cobwebs adorn the place. Days passed. I forgot; so did the people I guess.

Until the day, when in the same locality, a Madarsah opened.

There was a grand inauguration. A dars, refreshments and the inhabitants of the area were invited. Most of them went, pledged to read the word of God, and send their children. People were assigned duties so that the Madarsah never remains un-attended.

This was the day when I remembered the shelter-home again.

The Quran has been read, understood and preached around me ever since I was a kid. After 2 decades of seeing the word of God being honored and held to the hearts, I wonder, when will come the time, to practice it.

As a student of medicine, I see life at its least and highest worth in the same place all day long. I see people struggling to arrange money for one basic diagnostic test in ways un-imaginable. I see them being dragged on stretchers underneath the buildings of Civil Hospital Karachi that are under-construction and through alleys where uncovered man-holes puke all the human shit out of their bellies.

And at the end of this day when I get back home and attend a wedding because it is rude not to, I see the same people who preach, and read the Quran at the Madarsah spending millions over the food and deco.

I do not weigh and put everyone in the same scale nor am I one to mock at the Madarsahs or against Quran being read and preached. But I simply want us all to realize that it’s high time we stop making religion an excuse for our puny irrational motives and politics and live up to it, instead. The best way to reach God is through His people. That is what we need to be teaching our kids more. The best way is to make them realize what they have, that others don’t and let the love of God brew in their hearts. No amount of incorporating Insha-Allahs and Jazakillahs in our lives, can bring us closer to Him as compared to using our time and money for His people.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

P.S. Turning off the like button. Comments are deeply welcomed.

They don’t let go…


He struggled hard to breath. His lungs were full of smoke and the stench that surrounded him.  The thought of what his feet had touched made his stomach lurch and his guts emptied the burden of what he had seen out of his system. His heart remained heavy though. No outlet for the poor thing…

“Will you make me a promise Sheheryar?” 

“Yes maa.”

“Promise that you’ll be a good…”

“… good man and I’ll prove that I was raised by a queen.” Sheheryar finished her words.

She laughed, her head fell back and her lips stretched into a smile he adored. She kissed his fore-head in that moment of mirth and held his face in her hands. She loved it when he improvised it that way and called her a queen.

Sheheryar Sikander felt dampness on his cheeks. He rubbed his fingers on his face and brought them before his eyes. Dirt and tears. She had taught him never to hide his tears.

“Boys do cry Sheheryar. It’s okay.”

“But everyone else says they don’t.” He pulled his face straight and refused to give in to tears.

She smiled that saintly smile of hers and held his hand between her two. “What’s more important is, that boys don’t make others cry.”

He met her eyes and let her words sink in. They found an easy passage all the way to his heart. Tears came and then some more. He buried his face in her and cried like a child.

“Does this mean that I am weak?” He asked.

“This means, son, that you have a strong and kind heart.” She pulled him back into her embrace and cried with him until they both felt better.

He had left his boots back near the cinders; where he carelessly threw them off to distance himself from the woman. But he could feel something. It was the hand, he had stepped on in his haste to pull off his boots. He wished he had kept them on. The fire would have been better than the feel of her flesh. He stood up and rubbed his feet on the leaves that covered the forest floor. He rubbed them against the bark of trees to get her hands off them. His feet bled and hurt. They were back on fire. He fell to the floor, feeling better. He welcomed the fire.

He lay there for hours or may be just a few, he didn’t know. When he woke up, he found himself in the village hospital. The first thing he was aware of was not the strong smell of the place or the bright light that came in through the window and pierced his eyes. It was the hands that clung to his feet beneath the bandages.

He pulled off the bandages like a maniac, howling with pain and frightening the other patients. There was nothing there, but the feeling wouldn’t go. It clung to him like a leech. He raked his fingers through his hair and held his head in his hands, banging his feet on the small cot.

For years Sheheryar Sikander couldn’t shake off the hands that clung to his feet. He was often seen in public without shoes. He gave a thousand pointless excuses for not putting them on. He kept his socks on though. So that no one could see the bruises. He had hurt himself countless times and welcomed the pain.

He knew there was only one way to shake them off. He had to do justice to the woman who was burned alive in the forest.

©2014. Habiba Danyal   600 words for:   This week’s question is:

“Why are your boots off?”

Eden


The Elder, carefully tucked the corners of the sheet around her and looked at his companion for approval. The companion gave a quick nod.

“Shall we go then?” The companion asked.

The Elder kept staring at her, the one they were leaving behind.

“She is in good hands,” said the companion.

“I know, I’ve delivered four of her kind here before. But every time I fear, their fate,” said the Elder with a sigh.

“Why should you fear for them? The man has always been a good father, hasn’t he?” Asked the companion.

“Undoubtedly he has. But circumstances change; and so does man. They are unpredictable, these human beings. They mourn what should be celebrated and run after mediocre things. So every time I deliver a girl, I wait and watch their reaction. Its my way of keeping, let’s say… a check on the human race or rather, a check on humanity,” said the Elder.

The companion gave a sad smile and waited along with the Elder.

“Here he comes,” said the Elder, more to himself than his companion. He held his breath as the man took the girl in his arms. He had aged since the last time he saw him.

The man looked at her and said to his wife, “They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair.”

The Elder sighed with relief and said to his companion,”Time to go good friend. We have more baby girls to deliver. The boys, I’ll do alone.”

The companion looked at him with confusion and asked, “But wasn’t that a weird thing to say? They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair!

“Weirder than, Take this thing out of my sight and birth a son next time or you’ll be dead, eh?” Replied the Elder with a chuckle. He soared up, towards the heaven with a light heart. They weren’t given one, but still he felt that he had one, sometimes.

A couple of years later, the Elder and his companion were on duty, together. They had left a house where the father had refused to accept the girl as his own. The companion was desolate. The Elder, seeing his state said,”Come I’ll show you something.” He took him to the house where they had earlier delivered the fifth daughter.

The companion saw the man sitting with his legs outstretched, surrounded by his daughters. All of them were engaged in some work while the fifth one was climbing up his shoulders. She climbed down his chest and slid down the man’s legs, gurgling with laughter. The man sat smiling at her and stretched his legs a little more, joining them once more for her next ride.

The companion smiled at the Elder and said, “Really, they are all the same for him, aren’t they? “

The Elder smiled and nodded. He had a vision then.

He saw that man next to Mohammad in a garden of Eden. To the vision he said, “Amen.”

©2014. Habiba Danyal

 

For:

Make something!


When someday you decide that you want to make something, this is what you can do. Take some clay; nice, sticky, doughy clay. Stretch it, twist it up and shape it like you want it to. Give it a face, a flawless figure and paint it the colour you want it to be.

There! Now you have a vessel. It can adorn your table or sit atop a shelf, behave as you want it to behave and be a pleasure to look at maybe. But the trouble with vessels is, they are dull, unresponsive and they shatter.

So here is something else you can do. Ask God to blow a soul into it. It would either be engulfed by flames, sprout wings, stretch them out and soar on. Or it would wiggle in its place, rock to and fro and grow four limbs.

If it takes a flight, it is an angel and you don’t deserve it. None of us does, these days.

If it grows limbs, then it’s a human, as you may have guessed. But the trouble with humans is, that they walk, talk, eat and interact. They cannot furnish your house or please you 24/7/365. They live, breath, evolve, have emotions like you do and probably have troubles bigger than yours. They are capable of committing social faux pas as much as you are and above all they might feel the need to walk out of your life for good.

The bright side of the picture?

Well, empathize with them, remember: NOT sympathize and see how they make life worth living. Give them space, the benefit of doubt, allow them to walk out of your life only to come back and you would have made something immensely beautiful and pristine. Even more than the vessel.

Because vessels unlike humans, are lifeless. And life itself, is extinct without life.

So the next time you have time, make something.

Make people- yours!

©2014. Habiba Danyal

Silence.


I’ll be back before you know.

Come back soon.

I will. Love you!

What was that you said?

He blew her a kiss.

Oh that. Love you too.

She stared at the crowd separating them. They needed so many words to talk.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

Exactly 42 words for Gargleblaster #166.

This week’s question is:

What’s that sound?

 

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” 
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

The Rainbow children.


In a jubilant mood they dispersed throughout the green meadow. The other kids ran while she chased, they hid, she sought. Until her legs hurt; until her laughter turned into heaves. She bent with her hands on her knees and took deep breaths. Her vision had started to give way, so had her heart. She was afraid, she was five. She had to get back to the others but someone was trying to pull her back. Something was sucking her into a hole.

There were voices and pain where they were pulling her. There was peace in her meadow.

“Oh my God…….beat her up real bad….maintain IV…..arrange blood…….vaginal tears, perineal…..raped by some son-of-a-bitch”

There were four. She felt blood drumming in her ears, the heat was unbearable. It was so cool in the meadow.

They did shameful things to her, she should never tell anyone; she won’t speak. Shrieks of their laughter had rung the meadow and even the birds had joined them.

Someone pricked the back of her hand but it didn’t hurt that bad. Her legs were on fire and what was between them. They had hurt her, the hardest there. She doubted even her mother could rock her to comfort. Pain like nothing she had ever felt before.

“Stay with us dear! …all a bad dream.”

No! It was real. More than her whole existence, more than any horror movie her brother watched where the monster crawled up your face from the neck of your shirt. So real, that the monster was within her and would eat her insides if she stayed. She liked the meadow better.

She felt herself relax. Her body hurt no more, her heart lightened. She scanned the meadow. The kids emerged from their hiding places. They smiled and beckoned her, glad for her and for the choice she had made. They all linked hands and set out to search for the rainbow, at the foot of which lay their robbed childhood, their greatest treasure.

©2013. Habiba Danyal

For Trifecta Week 95

& for all the youthful giggles that were silenced by monsters, anywhere in the world.