Far off places.

“But we can call him, can’t we?” Hope lightened his eyes.

“No, we can’t.” I stroked his hair with affection.

“Didn’t he take his phone?”

“No, he couldn’t.” I replied.

“Why?” Hope gave way to confusion.

Because death wouldn’t allow it, honey.


In the heart of a Valley

It had been a long day, I had traveled miles in the last three hours. And there I was, standing in a corner drinking in my surroundings. I was so determined to take in each and every moment and engrave it upon my memory wall. My brain hammering each detail deeper, carving away the edges, chiseling the curves smoother. Rain water pattered the tin roof above my head, blurring my view. But then I thought that even this blurriness was a detail that I should remember. I tried seeing through it and was glad when I realized that I could. It was a curtain that I could choose to draw, I don’t like veils unless they hide things that I have seen or know of.

Spread before me was a valley. In fact, I stood in the heart of it. A river split its heart in two. The rain and the river were the two maestros that night, competing, striking chords. One did the vocals while the other mesmerized the hearer with its symphony. I stood there, beneath the tin roof only, remembering the notes. My fingers moved to the music and then I spread them out stretched them before me and was generously granted the rain’s attention. So now I had it saved in my skin and my brain, the two organs that stay loyal to familiarity. Needless to say I didn’t try the river. The river was possessive. It owned the flesh that once touched its surface.

Far behind the river stood the mountains, that had started to blacken out with the dimming light. The sun was hiding somewhere behind them, sinking God knows where. The sea was way down, where I had come from. The valley was way above in the clouds. Earlier the mountains had looked like mounds of pudding with chunks missing from them. As if someone had recklessly spooned their favorite parts. The locals said, they had been that way since the earthquake six years back. Strange, isn’t it? The mountains remembered and refused to heal. The humans got over it and re-inhabited the valley.

With the sun gone, the mountains became one with the sky. The lights from some houses atop them looked like stars. And all of a sudden the magnanimity of the universe weighed down upon me, wetting my eyes. What were we humans, compared to the sky that resisted falling down and bore the weight of the sun or the mountains with wounds so large that took ages to heal. Still we have egos so tall that threaten the mountains with their height. We have prides so huge that even the sky must wonder, who was the God? The one above it or the ones underneath.

My brain, skin and my eyes. The rain was in my eyes next.

©2014. Habiba Danyal




And for Ghazala, because she’ll understand.


Reek of flesh, burnt

by chemical weapons


the scent of sprouting dandelions

species evolve, nations riot

billions born

and billions dead

thousand illusions cast

a thousand political master plans laid

all nullified by

twenty-two men chasing a ball,

made in Pakistan.

©2014. Habiba Danyal


42 words for Gargleblaster#169. This week’s question is:

What does it all add up to? 



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


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

Why does the caged bird sing?

He was leaning against the wall curtained with grime; his own and some, of the earlier inmates’. He picked up the filthy bowl and banged it against the wall. “Stop it, sucker!”

He smiled and banged it for ten minutes, like always.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

For Gargleblaster 164. In the hopes of keeping my sanity during exams.

There are a million reasons a caged bird might sing, both literally and figuratively. Maya Angelou gave us one in her beloved poem. That leaves at least 999,999 for everyone else to explore. Tell us:

Why does the caged bird sing?


Last things first…

She carefully tucked her hair in the helmet, jumped on the bike and kick started it. Dressed in an ill-fitted sweat shirt and faded jeans it was hard to tell it was a girl who was riding the bike. She rolled the throttle a couple of times and raced through the traffic, dodging cars. On the highway, she checked the speedometer; she didn’t want any police cars tailing her. She could feel the corners of her eyes being pulled back by the forceful wind she was cutting through. Normally her lips would be stretched in a smile as well but today was different.

The barrage was in sight now. She pulled the handle bars and slowed down the bike, bringing it to a halt under a tree. Some strands of hair had come lose during the ride and were tickling the nape of her neck as they swayed with the light breeze. She went over to the bridge above the barrage and leaned against the side wall. The gates were closed and a few local boys were having their everyday diving ritual. The youngest among them who was around fourteen was quick to notice a spectator. He rushed up the stairs and chose the highest spot on the wall which was built in a staircase fashion, gradually descending into the water. Pulling his shalwar up to his chest he launched himself in a somersault dive. There was a huge splash as he dropped into the water from a height of about 20 feet.

She often wondered what it was like to drop into the water and plunge deep in its depth shutting out the world above. She did that a thousand times at home but her pool was eerily quiet, or rather her house was. Rivers must be different, she thought, because they had their stories to tell. Centuries old stories that hid way down in their beds.

She shook her thoughts away. She wasn’t here today for the usual. Today was different. She freed her hair from the dusty helmet she never bothered wearing. Today she was here to end her life.

She felt there was nothing more that life could bring her. At 24, Laila had had a college degree, several distinctions, boyfriends she couldn’t count, a bike and a car she didn’t drive much. She had a closet full of clothes she never wore, had taken drugs, visited the goal for drunken charge which was more scandalous because she was a girl, and her father’s daughter. So there wasn’t anything left for her to do. It would be so easy. She had planned it all out.

She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice the police vans. They headed down to the bank of the river and started talking to the locals. A couple of men wearing safety jackets along with the local boys dove into the water. After half an hour of searching, two of them came up with a moldy log which was tied to a rope. The log was brought back to the bank and it was then that she noticed it was a dead body.

“Poor girl! They say she used to work for some Big Sahib. She was raped and murdered by him. The police have been on this case for long now,” said a woman who was standing next to her. Laila hadn’t noticed when she had come.

“Who did she work for?” Laila asked.

“She worked for Meeran Shah, the business tycoon,” she replied.

It wasn’t a shock for her. She had just found another reason to hate him. She hadn’t raised enough hell in the life of the man who happened to be her father. To bring justice to the girl who was unlikely to get it the right way; Laila Shah decided she was staying alive.

©2014. Habiba Danyal