Saturday, August 29, 2015

After Hardship, Ease - A Prose on 'Yusra'

Man has always ordered his brain to comprehend all the missing things in his life more quickly than the ones that are already present there. It’s our selfish nature that likes hoarding all that we don’t have while withholding thanks to all those things that are already present and getting neglected by us. Man is afraid of difficult times. He likes his being to be kneaded and wrung out of life all because he doesn’t want the difficulties of his life to elevate. Little does he know that to escape one hardship, he is just engrossing himself in another. And the ease, where does it get lost? Or is it just a part of the cycle?

Upon encountering difficulties while handling the ages of my life in this world, I seek refuge in the manual– The Qur’an, to get the proper instructions for living this life. This is the only book whose Author has written the deepest sentences in the simplest forms. The only book I have read over and over again. The only book that I read every day and I still come up with something new in it on a quotidian basis. There is another strong inkling that has adhered me to it. This book, more than once, has my name in it. What’s more riveting is that I was told that my name was chosen from this very same book. So whenever I see my name lying in the pages of this book, I stall the recitation and get tempted to soak in the meaning of it. I stare at it and admire it. I feel ecstatic on the mention of my name in the Holy book.  It makes me happy to know that I’m reading my name as the word of Allah. I feel exalted to know that Jibraeel carried this word from the seventh sky all the way down to this Earth and presented it to the prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wa’alihe Wasallam).

But to get the meaning of life and in the quest of ease, I ended up interrogating myself.

‘Yusra’ in its true meaning means ‘ease’. As in, easing the path or easing out a way. Come to think of it, in the long run, we all want our lives to be spent in ease. We earn money because we want to bring ease to our family. We cook food because we want to bring ease to our taste buds, our stomach, and our health. Even now I’m finding satisfaction, bringing ease to my soul while doing what I like to do; writing. We all are basically in the need to ease the hunger of our body and soul. So if my name is ease, what my Creator sitting above on His glorious throne is expecting me to make of it? He must want me to bring ease to people's lives? I'm not the tiniest bit of what this holy book is about. Not even the zillionth part of a speck. But as I see my name in between the pages of the Qur'an, it makes me want to at least integrate the standard ethical and moral requirement that I, as ‘Yusra’, am supposed to portray. I ask myself whether I’m doing justice to the name I am bestowed with. Am I the ease the Qur’an talked about? Somewhere in the back of my head something tells me that it is my moral obligation to do justice, no matter how infinitesimal, with the meaning of my name.

Ease is mostly mentioned with difficulty which makes me ponder over how we would never get to taste the beauty of ease, if we don’t swim through the ocean of difficulty to get to it. I take it as a real life example and realize how true it is. How truer the concept of ease becomes after surviving through a difficulty. But this is not what the difficulties and hardships in our lives are all about; the trial, the difficulty always brings something as a lesson to you. I just want everyone to know that we are not supposed to whine about the hardships all the time. We need to learn the lessons that these hard times bring along with them. Like they say, “you either learn or win.” I wish we all would become fortunate enough to be able to gather the knowledge and learn more through these inevitable hardships. 

Who hasn't seen hardships in their lives? Who hasn't felt like drowning into an uncertain ocean of difficulties? But then again, aren’t we all still here, surviving and living this life? We have come up to the surface after drowning inside the deepest oceans of hard times. We have learned to breathe again. We have seen the difficulties and we have encountered the ease. This life is a big, giant trial that we’ve been made a part of. It’s a trial because we are here without our consent. We are here to survive and come out chaste without letting down our defenses in front of the guilty objects lying there only to make our will to win weaker. Don’t mind the bruises that you’ll get, wear the scars with a pride. Just don’t let the cuts and bruises received by this world bleed the life out of you. All I know is every difficulty, every single incident of my life has taught me so much that I always ended up thanking my Allah for all the things I never had and for all the difficulties that locked their horns with me. I'm thankful to Allah for not easily giving me the things I yearn for because I want to earn them. Once I'll earn them, I'll take better care of them because getting something easily has never the same value as getting something you earn. And I'm thankful to Allah for all the hardships because every difficulty has just added up another slab of iron and made me stronger. All I know is, every difficulty makes you a better, a more learned and dare I say a more fortunate person. Had these strains not affected me, I would have been a different person. Every hardship opens up the lock of one of the many doors of my mind and doesn’t let my thought process to catch the rust. All I know is that you learn from practical experiences. The rest is just education mired in our brains without learning. To me, education is not akin to learning. How many educated people do you encounter in a day who, very spontaneously, use the swear words? Many of you would be surprised to see that I’ve quoted such an example. Many of you would think I’m a naïve who doesn’t know the art of living. Well, this might be a very naive example for many of you but it sure is the one that vexes me the most. I believe that using bad words is just a downgrading and disparaging act which, for the record, does not make a person 'cool' and only shows how impure a person’s thoughts are. Education alone does not chisel your character, it's the learning that needs to hold hands with education and walk along with it.

Even if nothing of this makes sense or isn’t convincing enough, there is one thing that puts my heart to rest like nothing else. It’s the fact, the knowing that when Allah, the greatest of the authors, the Almighty, has said that He will bring ease to my life then I know that He will. He will because He said so. The sincerity of my Lord’s words calm the storms raging inside my heart and I am put to ease in an instant. If this works for me, I believe I have a duty to tell all of the agitated hearts and minds out there that they will find peace and that their life will witness harmony.

My curiosity and fondness for seeking the lost ‘Yusra’ made me pick up the verses from the Qur’an in which my name was mentioned, and I put their Arabic and English translations together with the references. I want to view these verses everyday and try to become what the Qur'an has wanted me to become.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Relating Life

On a mid July summer day, with an anticipation of getting welcomed by an unbearable blow of heat, as I brought myself under the summer sky, I was astonished to get welcomed by a delightful blow of cool breeze instead. I started collecting the dried clothes from the clothesline with my freshly washed hair getting hugged by the gentle wind under the July’s scorching sun. I realized that for a mid July summer afternoon, surprisingly it felt acceptable, even if for a few moments, to be in the sun. Although the big shiny round sun on a hot dry day didn't fail to show its presence by showering down its afternoon heat, the cool breeze actually made it bearable for me to continue doing my chores.

And, although for a very brief moment of time, it felt okay to stand under the sun.

I could relate the weather to my life a lot at that moment.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Love Story

“She is mine and mine only. Not sharing her with the universe.”

These words hit me when I heard them coming from a friend, who, very recently, has become a father and was talking about his little girl. Fatherhood can be overwhelming but the happiness I could witness in his voice was priceless. I couldn’t help but think how my father would have felt about his very first child. It’s amazing how fathers protect you with an unconditional love. I have always seen this beautifully uncanny relationship between fathers and daughters. It’s all because of their absolute love that the daughters love them back with a mutual feeling. But no matter how hard we try, we can never level up with the care they bestow on us. I get upset when I see the children betraying, deceiving, or using harsh words for their parents. These are the times when I want to take them back to the point when they came into this world and had the protective arms of their mothers and fathers around them. My father always says that the love between the parents and their children is a one-way traffic. He says it doesn’t take long for the children to forget everything their parents have done for them. This is a sad reality. But it never lessens the love our parents have for us. I claim to love my parents more than anything else but I know their love can never be requited by me the same way they have always loved me. But at least I can try to minimize their grievances. Unconditional love is a beautifully natural thing that I believe only parents can acquire for their children.

My friend’s one simple sentence saturated with his sincere emotions has made this love story of his one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sewn Up

The words in your heart must not be left to wander, they must not be left to go awry. They like living in the hearts, not on the lips of people. Your words are not stray entities, they have your heart to dwell in.

I've let these lips of mine speak up when they had every right to stay quiet and now I'm paying back for all those times when I opened them up to let my words flow out. What actually failed me is the fact that when I made my words flow out, I wanted them to go and stay at a better home than my heart but unfortunately, they never got invited for staying anywhere. The idea that a heart other than mine could take better care of these words is now ridiculing me, with its laugh echoing in my heart and jabbing in my mind. I never realized that I was making these words homeless. I failed to see nobody is kind enough to provide them a shelter. They always keep my words on their lips, never in their hearts, drifting them away at random directions.

Opening up your lips is so easy but it takes a lot of strength to seal them and I have sealed mine for I know they have made too many of my precious words homeless. I know the current state I'm in is nothing but the curse these words have put on me for they are now bereft of a home after having the luxury of residing in a mansion once. So I've decided to take care of my words. I'll let my heart be their eternal abode from now on.

I've realized that these words have a natural habitat and it isn't the lips but the heart.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The darkest and gloomiest edges of my existence found you and shared with you my darkest, gloomiest and murkiest self. It showed you all of the contusions, all of the scars, all of the wounds of my soul and let you put the healing balm on them to watch the flowers bloom on my wounds.

But to my shock and horror, you scratched them even more by displaying them out to the ruthless world without thinking twice. You displayed myself to people, making me believe that my first and only try at trusting people was the biggest fallacy of my existence. Now I shiver with terror whenever someone wants to take a peak on these wounds because the memory of what you did to them is too thick to leave me. The distrust is an obstinate phenomenon and it won't leave me no matter how hard I try. You couldn't grow the flowers on my wounds but the lesson you taught me about the distrustful nature of human beings would remain with me forever.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dear Zara!

Thank you for having a heart of gold. That’s what I came up with while writing the first line of this note for you. Zara! You have no idea how grateful I am for having a friend like you. Unlike others, you never said what I wanted to hear but always told me what was right. I’ve never had a friend who gave me such sincere advices. Thank you for restoring my belief that real people do exist. Thank you for being real. You’ve made my spirits lift higher so many times and it makes me ever thankful for the friendship we share. Thank you, dear Zara, for making the university bearable for me. If it weren’t for you, Aysha, and the library, it would have been a 100 times harder for me to survive at that place. You are a great human being, Zara, and I’m proud to call you my friend. I can even proudly flaunt you off, telling people that you are my friend. I’m amazed that we have people like you in this world. You should know that you have a beautiful mind and it contains so many comforting and sincere words that can become a person’s savior. Two years and a few months of bonding and an everlasting sweetness and sincerity is what you gave to me, Zara! You know you are my kind of person, right? The kind of person I can actually talk to without worrying about getting to hear the things that my mind won’t accept. You should be grateful for the maturity you carry in your head to handle things.
Your parents have raised one wonderful daughter, Zara! And I am thankful to them and to Allah for presenting you to me. All of my good wishes are for you.
From the scrumptious food to the words of wisdom, thank you for everything!
And a very, very happy birthday to you!
May you enjoy many more with your loved ones beside you.

Also, did I mention that I really, really like you?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hurts Like a Sore Lip

It is not very important, or big, or major like a fractured leg or a broken rib. No. It’s just a simple dry sore skin on your lower lip. You know, the appearance of a sore patch, when the skin on your lip gets dry so that particular area becomes stiff or sore. Like when you don’t have a glass of water the whole day or when you have a walk outside in a windy weather, you feel a small stiff crack appearing that oddly feels firm on the softness of your lips. That area receives a minor throbbing pain in little packages as you move around with your work. But it is not important, you see, because if it were important, you wouldn't be walking around so comfortably. I mean, nope.. very insignificant! So, well, you let it recover as you keep yourself busy running errands, and doing your chores forgetting about the stiff layer of dryness on your lips. And while you do your work, you also see people in your vicinity. I mean, there are people around us, right? They greet us by saying hello, asking us about the weather, not really interested in the answers. You know, because it’s a busy world and people are busy and it’s not like they really care about your opinion on the pregnant clouds up in the sky waiting to rain down or the blistering hot sun forming beads of sweat on your brow. They only try to build a quick small talk just for the sake of a decent conversation, yeah? Sweetly or out of habit, they are trying to be polite. We have people like that around us. So, yeah, you receive a similar greeting by a similar person around you, and you turn around to greet them back with a smile, and then, the moment when you smile, stretching your lips, forgetting its chapped patch, opening and breaking apart the dryness on the lip so swiftly there’s no turning back. A very tiny drop of blood oozes out of the sore area and sends you a deteriorating pain for a few moments making you feel like someone has stabbed an awfully sharp splinter in your sore lip. That’s the moment when you receive a pain that turns your whole body cold for a few seconds. You might gasp silently or say a little “ouch!” under your breath, but you don’t scream, shout or cry because, well, it’s not a fractured bone or a broken rib, you see, but just a small layer of skin opening up with a carelessly stretched smile sending a chilling pain making every cell of your body responsive to it. That is the kind of pain that’s personal. You endure it, and you experience it while plastering a smile on your face for the person that’s almost turning on their heels half listening to your greeting which, they didn’t realize, came out of your mouth with a silent impediment of an opened sore patch.

Well, you know it hurts, right? And that’s exactly the kind of pain I’m talking about.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Dark Lights

Upon entering this world I opened my eyes and got hit by the blinding worldly lights. I curiously looked at those eccentric lights around me and cried. I cried because I knew the intent of those lights was to make me blind. They seemed like an elixir of some magical flecks that got me captivated. I looked at them for so long with the creasing edges along my watered eyes to familiarize my vision with those sadly captivating lights. The long stare at those lights made me realize that they had already submerged me into an inescapable misery of the life I was not prepared to live. While I was comprehending them, I saw people smiling at my tiny existence, holding me as if I was a water bubble waiting to pop up with one wrong movement. I heard them telling my mom and dad that I was the most beautiful newborn they had ever seen. They caressed my fresh, sleek, side parted hair, leaving gentle kisses on my head and cheeks. I saw them flashing lightning smiles at me. Lights again, I pondered. I saw lights in their superficial smiles but there was a dark murky gloom behind them. I watched them as they hopelessly tried to hide the darkness inside them with their smiles. It scared me. At that time I wanted to hush them and tell my parents not to believe a word they were saying. I tried to close my eyes to cease that insincere moment but the worldly light was so enchanting that I kept on staring at it with my eyes wide open, and started crying once again at my helplessness. Not being able to see his crying baby, my father held me and rocked me in his arms, giving me delicate kisses on my forehead while mother tenderly sang a lullaby in my ears to put my restless body at ease. That, I believe, was the very first moment when I couldn't bring them down so I stopped crying, lay down all my defenses, and let us all tread on the deceptively illuminated path. 

As I grew up, I started taking a great pleasure in sitting under the night skies. I enjoyed watching the twinkling stars spreading magic in the sky. They always looked so wonderful to my eyes but deep down I knew it's the darkness of the sky that made the stars show off their glistening lights. The sparkling skies always took me to an illuminated, enchanted journey but as the darkness behind those stars was replaced with light at the crack of dawn, the magical show of stars would disappear. At first I tried madly to find the disappeared stars in the sky but with time I realized that it is not for me but the inky black sky to bring back the magical show of those twinkling stars.

I've also found lights in eyes other than mine, capturing my attention, and daring me to venture on the scariest journeys of my life. The gleaming eyes emitting illuminated tenderness and radiance made me feel that nothing could be truer than this glow. But I was wrong. The light had deceived me once again. Light has always deceived me and even then I have always followed it. Since birth, I was aware of its inherently strange nature. It has been surrounding me for as long as I've been awake now. I've made it my pathfinder for the longest time. It has even followed me in my dreams. There's been a lot of light in my life. I have always chosen the worldly lights to guide me to a truer territory but while doing so, I have always been tricked. I have always put so much faith in these lights but, mysteriously, these lights have always led me into the dark.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pledges by the Sunsets

"Promise me, my dearest, you’ll watch a sunset by the ocean once in your life," she wrote a note pledging for the beauty of the sunsets to be witnessed.

So find a silent space where you can hear nothing but the sound of water. Detach yourself from the people around you for a little while and look at the wide sea in front of you. Watch the sun dipping down in the water bringing different colours to the sky. Watch the sky getting filled with different colours and spreading beautiful shades as the dazzling sun sets in the mighty sea. Find a twig and write in the sand. Write down all the beautiful words you’ve ever heard of. Write down a secret and see it get washed away by a wave. Write as many secrets as you want and watch the waves moping them all away into the womb of the ocean. The ocean will always keep your secrets to itself, never giving them away. Put a beautiful message in the bottle and let it ride on a wave of water, away from you. Watch the sunset fading away the brightness making silhouettes of the objects around you. Stand against the waves with your arms wide open and breathe in the scent of salty water. Watch the water crashing at your feet. Watch how the foamy water gives you pecks on your feet and goes away savouring them, until the next encounter. Watch how the foamy liquid melts at your steps and moves you along with it. See the mightiness of the sea as the waves soar high and crash on the ground, breaking down into various sized droplets only to unite again with the ocean. Let your feet know how the sand feels on the skin of your bare feet. Feel the specks of sand sitting there in humility getting crushed under your feet, getting drowned in the flowing water. Look for the naturally carved beautiful seashells in the sand. Let the wind ruffle you hair as you let it strike your face. Imagine yourself running on the water. Imagine all the beautiful things by letting your senses get responsive to the nature wrapping itself around you. Walk along the shoreline accompanying yourself with every beautiful thought possible. Stay there, stay till the sun sets down and the darkness overcomes. Stay there and, not just watch, but feel the beauty of nature.

She thought all that as she scratched out some lines on the note and rewrote it.
"Promise me, my dearest, you’ll feel the sunset by the ocean once in your life."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Letter to the Martyrs of APS Attack

Dear 142 beautiful souls,

Need I ask how you all are? For I know that you all are in a world so beautiful, earthlings cannot even imagine. Before you get confused about who this letter is from, let me introduce myself. I am an unfortunate, disgraced human being who is living on the earth where you all once used to live. I’m that one distressed human being who remained alive on December 16th 2014 and saw you all die. I’m someone who has no idea how is it like living in the eternal paradise you all are dwelling in at the moment. I’m writing you this letter because I think I owe all of you something. I think I owe you something so grand I fear I won’t be able to do justice to give it to you, ever.  Let me gather the courage to tell you all how sorry I am for all of you. Not, of course, because you are living in a much much better place than any earthling could ever find on this planet but because of all the beautiful relations you had to leave behind while heading toward your eternal abode. All of you are beautiful, brave, courageous souls.

Every time I replay the whole scenario in my mind, that dark, bloody, episode of December 16th2014, every little fiber of my existence sends a shiver down my spine. There’s not a single word I can think of which can describe how wonderfully brave I think you all are. My senses cripple at the thought of such inhumane behavior. I assure you the day you all were killed cold-bloodedly was the day when humanity detached itself from us; it stopped talking to us and went to a corner to cry its heart out. The day you all were killed was the day when the humanity was disappointed in us. I don’t know how callous a human can be but I know a human cannot be as callous as he appeared on that wretched day. I know that aggregate of insensitivity downgrades such species, outright, from being called a human being. I don’t know whose mother it was, but I remember her saying that there was only a single pen stuck in your front pocket when those brutes carrying their guns came for you. When those anger laden faces pointed the angry mouth of their cursed guns on your chest, I’m certain that your pen would have screamed for mercy. But do you know why did he still shoot you without hearing you and your pen screaming at him? Because he was deaf. Your voice was too beautiful for his ears to comprehend. I’m sorry that you had to bear the pain when the bullet found its way inside your body. I’m sorry that your blood was running on the floor when it’s your veins where it should have been running. I cannot even imagine what you all must have gone through, and I’m sorry for every single moment of that brutal episode of your life. I’m sorry, my little fellows, I’m very very sorry for all of those dreadful moments of terror. I’m sorry for all the wounds inflicted on your body before your soul departed to the place where there is no pain. I detest guns, and the sound of guns shakes my heart. I cannot fathom the sight of anyone holding a gun pointing toward me. I cannot fathom hearing the piercing sounds of gunshots killing my friends. I’m sorry for you had to hear those intolerable sounds. I’m sorry that you witnessed the summit of brutality at the place where all the beautiful minds learn to devise plans for bringing harmony.

I want to let you all know that you all are precious. I want all of you to know that the space you all left is the space too huge and too deep to get filled, ever. You all are unforgettable. I know that a tear trickles down the corner of your mother’s eye every time she sees your favorite food on the table. Your sister longingly looks at your picture. Your face is nailed to your father’s heart and every beat of his heart sends a pain of your memory to him. Nobody can forget you. Ever since you all have gone, I can’t laugh at a joke without remembering all of you somewhere in the back of my head. Every gun that was pointed toward you and every bullet that pierced your body is feeling contrite. My heart cries when I see the weary eyes of your mother desperate to find her son. I’m sorry that I find myself loss at words whenever I try to comfort your mother with my condolences. I’m sorry that you had to leave before your mother saw you growing into a young man. I’m sorry you had to leave with dreams of future in your eyes. I’m sorry you didn’t have enough time. I’m sorry the time ran short on you.
I know that you all are living in a place where there are no guns, no pain and no cries. I know that you are at peace now. I know that you are surrounded by the magical sounds of beautiful birds singing for you. But the bangs of guns in those few hours of extreme savagery still echoes in my mind and takes me back to the time when your helpless bodies were groaning in pain and you were rubbing your feet on the floor. If all the tears shed for all of you all over the world could take back the pain your family is going through, I’d plead this world to never stop crying for you. I wish I could do more than writing a letter filled with apology to you. I wish I could do more to bring justice in the world.

You all are wonderful, wonderful people. I feel so small looking at how big you all are. You all have cornered a permanent place in my heart. I shall never forget you and if the ongoing terrorism would let me live long enough that I'll get creases on my face and my hair will turn all gray, I’ll tell the story of your bravery to little children. I’ll tell them how 142 beautiful people similar to them lost their lives decades ago and their memory is still magnificent in my head. I’ll tell them to never forget you and I’ll bequeath them to keep forwarding this message of bravery to forthcoming generations. I’ll ask them to never forget you and never let you all be forgotten, ever.

Keep smiling in heaven, little angels. You belong there. Earth is and never would be a place for angels.

Apologetically yours,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tooti Hui Ladi - ٹوٹی ہوئی لڑی

Mein jitni martaba toot kar bikhri hoon, utni hee martaba khud ko samaita hai. Toot kar bikharna asaan nahi hota. Apni zaat ki tooti hui kirchion ko samait’tay samiat’tay jitney zakham lagtay hai, un zakhmoon kay dard ko sehna padta hai. Mujhe in zakhmon ki itni parwah nahi hoti jitni is baat aur iss yaqeen ki hoti hai jo kisi berehm saaye kay jese mere hoslon par pehra daalay hue hai kay mujhe phir tootna hai aur phir bikharna hai. Mujhe dar lagta hai kisi din agar mein toot gae aur apnay aap ko samait na saki, us din kia hoga? 

 میں جتنی مرتبہ ٹوٹ کر بکھری ہوں اتنی ہی مرتبہ خود کو سمیٹا ہے- ٹوٹ کر بکھرنا  آسان نہیں ہوتا- اپنی ذات کی  ٹوٹی ہوئی کرچیوں کو سمیٹتے سمیٹتے  جتنے زخم لگتے ہیں ان زخموں کے درد کو سہنا پڑتا ہے- مجھے ان زخموں کی اتنی پرواہ نہیں ہوتی جتنی اس بات اوراس یقین کی ہوتی ہے جو کسی بےرحم ساےکہ جیسے میرے  حوصلوں پر پہرا ڈالے ہوئے ہےکہ مجھے پھر ٹوٹنا ہے اور پھر بکھرنا ہے -. مجھے ڈر لگتا  ہے کسی دن اگر میں  ٹوٹ گی  اور اپنے آپ کو سمیٹ نہ سکی اس دن کیا ہوگا؟  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Two Zero One Five.

Here’s to holding on to the hopes and here's to the dust gathering on our hopes. Here's to every tear that escaped our eyes and the tears that dried inside our eyes. Here's to the shattered glasses. Here's to the frayed threads. Here’s to the loss, the helplessness, the muted shouts, and inaudible screams. Here’s to seeing so much and nothing. Here’s to the numbness. Here’s to cluelessness.

Here’s to every tree that’s been cut down and every flower that's been plucked. Here’s to the starless nights. Here’s to the time when the moon couldn’t shine. Here’s to all the sunsets that I couldn’t watch. Here's to stealing the right to live.

My spirit turned a hundred years old last year. An old withering flower has adorned the corpse of my young soul. Each tick of this clock sounds tired, just like my heartbeat. The air I breathe in is stale and the scars are old from the wounds that I've dragged along with me over the years.

What's new in 2015?

Even my thoughts are corroded.

Here's to new numbers.