Incessant

I wanted to write something for the people who lost their lives in Bhawalpur and Parachinar incidents recently but I knew no words could do justice to their misery so instead there’s a piece for all those individuals who feel broken at these unfortunate incidents. It’s Chand Raat but the thought of their agony takes over my excitement for Eid everytime I think about ‘celebrating’. May the deceased souls rest in eternal peace and may their families be blessed with Sabr-e-jameel. Ameen. Don’t forget to send a prayer their way In sha Allah and Jazak Allah khayran.

To the little child who feels everything a little too much. Who sobs silently at their apathy and gets frustrated for being helpless. The one who feels sorry to be so empathetic and sympathetic at the same time and who’s still finding out the meaning and purpose of life amidst all the craziness:

O child of mine,
What they say is true,
Indeed the world never stops
Even if your muscles don’t contract anymore
Or you get one of those convulsive tetanic movements too often
And your bones stop pressing against your skin
And your nerves no longer help you
While your hormones conspire against you
And your heart becomes obsolete
The blood in your veins agglutinates
Even if your whole life does
The world goes on,
Just like it’s styled to
But hey my child,
Don’t you worry
For nothing will stop for you too
Until that one piece of flesh
Resting inside your chest
Keeps on doing it’s job;
Pumping blood to your organs
Infusing life within your lifeless body.
Your world will go on too
Just like their world goes on;
Unhindered and untwined.

Being Human

I’m tired
Tired of this world
And the people who dwell here
Cladded in embellished silk
Chattering and laughing in their lofty mansions.
I’m tired of this world
And its ugliness
No, not the one you see in slums
But the kind you only see
Behind their closed gold doors
And royal gardens
And sick mentality
And punk social sertup.
I’m tired of carrying the weight
Of merely being a human
It’s so nerve wracking
It’s so stressful
And helpess too
When I see a child
Across the road
Begging for money
A wretched sight indeed
His obnoxious presence
Makes them frown
They say his vile odour
Contaminates the air
That child I can see
Is deprived of love, food and decent clothes
His torn shoes
Give me goosebumps
But I must not go near a ‘thing’
So dirty and scarred
I must keep my distance
So the ugliness keeps its distance from me
That’s what they say
So I take their word
I hand him a 10 rupee note
As if he can buy
A whole meal with that
Shaking the thoughts I go on,
Look out the window again
Only to see
Another child
Yet another one,
More of them,
Children;
So many children
Then widows,
Diseased,
And drug addicts
And then I see myself
And Wonder
If I am really different from them
I know I’m not
I’m torn like them
The only difference is
Their brokenness is visible
Mine, I keep it hidden
I must keep it this way
So that they never know
So that no one can ever know
How convergent we all fundamentally are
Yet we fake as if
We all can never be equal
Indifferent entities
Indifferent humans
Drunk on the ideas
Of superiority and pretentiousness
A pity indeed
But also
A heart-breaking spectacle
For all I know
Afterall
I’m a human too
And I’m tired of it.

Another Sleepless Night

It’s dark and I’m alone
Alone and empty
Empty and nostalgic
Nostalgic and wide awake
Yet again
I don’t seem to know why
Sigh
Another night
Another sleepless night
Another day of faking smiles
Another lifetime of hiding scars
Perhaps
Another loved one lost
Or
Another lost love
Another shattered dream
Another tale of self loathing
Another desire unfulfilled
Another hour of regrets
Another week of hiding in
Another month of denial
Another effort to make through
Another morning waiting to rise
Another day anticipating to mock at me
Another night yearning to fill me up a glass of reminiscence
When will my life be free of these recurring anothers?
Yet another ‘another’
What is this even
A realm of anothers?
I’m stuck
How do I get out of this?
Another question
Which will only keep me up at night
Another night
Another sleepless night indeed.

The Living Dead

Veils before our mouths
And hands tied to the back
Our feet shackled to the ground
And throats strangled firm
Our hair pulled back
And chests pressed in
We clench our teeth
O my, we’re blind folded
And we must remain silent
You ask me the irony?
We call this life
We say we’re living
Whilst our souls only die
We let go of our dreams
And hold on to theirs
All day
Everyday
We strive unflinchingly
For what we don’t have
But can we ever have
The happiness we’re longing for?
We don’t even remember
What is it like to be happy
We haven’t even experienced
What is it like to be free
We’ve imprisoned our souls
In the quest for wealth
And fame
And comfort
And jeopardized our happiness
Only to run, run and run
Run after it all over again
But O let me ask you My love
For this is the least I can do
Why do you My love
Think you’re better off silent
And follow the suit
They’ve set before you?
Why don’t you instead
Resist the subjugation?
Why don’t you instead
Break all the chains?
And Set your soul free
And embrace yourself
Your scars
And your fears
And the irreplaceable tears?
Why do you conceal
Your soul my love?
My God, how has no one ever told you before
How beautiful you look
Not when your flesh is naked
But only when
Your celestial soul is!

I’ll choose

In my dreams and real life
In words said and thoughts unverbalized
In the dark and bright daylight
And the days when I don’t know how to be alive
Or the ones I spend around spreading smiles;
I’ll choose you,
I’ll choose you over a trillion souls.
And I want you to know
That I’ll choose you forever!

The Price of A being a Child

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” My uncle was a nice man, everyone liked him. He used to buy me chocolates and ice- cream. He used to call me his ‘guriya‘(doll). He used to show over the top sui generis affection towards me which  always sounded so fortuitous to me as on the contrary my parents , for some reason always favoured my brother Ahmad over me. Later I learned the reason and to my surprise it was because I was born a girl and he was born a boy! How unimaginably ironic! Not to forget that we come of a Muslim family yet this justification was nothing but smoke and mirrors to me since I had already come across this hadith in Islamiyat: “Your children have the right of receiving equal treatment” (Abu Daud), how come my parents missed out it in school? Nonetheless, I should not lament because after all, I was blessed with such a loving uncle.

He used to fondle me at times and he’d put his arm around my waist, caress my hair and kiss me on cheeks reminding me I really was his guriya.

He used to tell me tales of princesses and Barbies. There was one which he used to tell me very keenly of a princess from a far away land  and her generous uncle who would take her to Disneyland, teach her to fly and help her walk on the rainbows and live on the clouds. Once after he finished his story, I asked him if he would do all this for his guriya and without any delay, with a grin and an enigmatic expression on his face he said,” Yes, one day, very soon guriya

And that day arrived very soon as my ‘nice’ uncle had promised me, what a gentleman he was; he did really stick to his words. I still remember every minute detail of ‘that day’.

It was supposed to be ‘the most memorable day of my childhood’ and sure enough, it was!

That day my parents weren’t around because they had to drop off Ahmad at his boarding school leaving me with my 70 year old Grandma and my uncle came by while I was finishing up my homework. He took me to my room while my Grandma went to take a nap.

He told me I was going to have the most wonderful experience of my life. He told me he’ll take me to the fantasy world. He told me I could experience a fairy tale of my own today and I did, but somehow it turned out to be a scary one!

He molested me in my own house, in my own room, on my own bed! Alas, he molested me in my own kingdom.

I couldn’t say a word, but I cried , I cried rivers. I felt shameful, disgusted, and ignominious.  

Before he left, he told me that it should remain ‘our little secret’ and I being scared to death, agreed. He told me that even if I were to tell this to someone it would be of no use as no one is going to believe me. What a shameful thing to be thought of as a liar and my parents would rather kick me out of the house and soon I would be the most notorious child of the family.

And I thought the same, why would anyone believe me? After all who was I? Just a child. And who was he? He was an adult and the ‘nice uncle’ of our family.

So I remained silent like thousands of other children who are abused every single day. Although I didn’t stand up for myself, I didn’t seek justice. I decided I’ll go with flow. I told myself it could be a misunderstanding even though deep inside, I always knew he had done a ‘dirty thing’ to me, I didn’t even have a name for it so guilt became my middle name. I grew obnoxious of my own self.

I was caught in the realm of unanswered questions. How could I let such a thing happen to me? I blamed myself for it. Had I lost my honor, my dignity? How would I be able to get it back? What would my parents think of me when they come to know about this. Are they ever going to forgive me? Would I ever be able to forgive them for leaving me with my 70 year old grandma? Would I ever be able to confront my nice uncle? Would I ever be courageous enough to tell my parents not to leave a child alone with an old grandma or tell my Grandma not to leave any other child of our family alone with any uncle however nice he seems to be? Will I ever be ever to forget this.

To my horror, I didn’t forget it but fortunately I did move on.”

 

This isn’t just the story of a girl, it is the story of more than 40 million children abused every year worldwide.

 

What is it exactly which makes such a heinous crime “shameful” for its victim rather than the molester? Is it merely because the abusers cause victims to feel stigmatized, deviant and responsible for the molestation or  the  cultural, social and religious barriers?

With sex still being considered a taboo in Pakistan and the unwillingness to discuss it making easier for abuse to happen? Or is this some Western propaganda as Maulvi Abdul Haq, a prayer leader at a local mosque in Lahore claims.

 

Whatever the reasons be, I know one thing for sure that Child abuse exists! Denying child sexual abuse is the acme of apathy. It exists in this very world we live in. It exists in Pakistan and if someone was to say that it exists in one’s neighborhood or in one’s family, I’d definitely believe that.

 

Child abusers come in all shapes, sizes, forms and not to neglect the fact that in all genders. Child sexual abuse is an epidemic, don’t treat it as an issue; it is a disease and that too, a well prevalent one!  Every disease has a cause and most of the times, a cure too.

Why is our society so vulnerable to child abuse? Is it because of the joint family system but it hasn’t spared the western world.

The truth is that the pedophils know no geographical limits as I mentioned before.

 

So what can you do? Well first,we as a society, as a country and as humans need to accept the reality that every child is prone to sexual abuse and that it’s not the child’s fault if he or she is abused. It’s your fault that you let that happen. I’m not saying to be overprotective of your children, give them their space, let them grow on their own but since you’re a parent keep a watch on who is interacting with them and HOW. There is a fine line in being overprotective and being protective. Your child deserves your protection,attention and affection so treat them accordingly. Don’t make your children vulnerable to fell prey to those ogres by not treating them equally. Since you’re an adult now, you should be able to differentiate between the kinds of affection one shows towards a child. Listen to your instincts, don’t ignore the red flags, observe how the ‘chacha’ who works at your home or drives your car or some relative from your family shows intimacy towards your younger siblings. The ‘maali’ who keeps your garden all fresh and green can turn your vibrant child into an impoverished field where only insecurities dwell as weeds. Don’t let that happen, your child, every child,  deserves a better life.

 

If you have been abused or are currently a victim of abuse and have not yet spoken out, I urge you to reach out to someone who’d trust you. Speak your heart out. Don’t hide your story, it doesn’t make you any shameful rather it makes you a warrior. You too are strong and courageous and deserve to live an abuse free life. Don’t be discouraged if the first person doesn’t support you, look around, keep on searching you’ll find the one who deserves to be taken into confidence.  

Stand with me, no longer as a victim but as a survivor; as a warrior! Speak out, let the world know so that people believe it exists, so that they take measures to prevent the future generations to become the victim of this horrendous crime, so that no more children have to go through the agony of being sexually abused.

We can and we must play our part to eradicate this disease. Today, right now, make a vow to protect the children around you from any such monsters who might disguise as fairy Godmother. Each and everyone of us can be a superhero and trust me we don’t even need capes because courage and determination is all what it takes!

who are you?

A typical pose for a  cultural and  youth Ambassador!
A typical pose for a cultural and youth Ambassador!

“Who are you?”

Someone asked me in a ear-piercing, shrilling, intrusive voice. But I wasn’t bedazzled by the question at all, for I was highly accustomed to it. It was a routine, meeting new meeting, making friends and everyday repeating the same story of who I really am. 

I’m an exchange student from Pakistan aka an ordinary girl with extraordinary courage; the kind of courage which is beyond the potential of an ordinary 17 years old. I’m a girl from a small city of Pakistan with big ambitions and dreams. I’m a girl with sky-high hopes and a passion anyone could hardly challenge.My enthusiasm makes me unstoppable and my confidence, unbreakable!

But the story was completely different a year back. As I reflect back, I see myself as a shy, introverted girl who didn’t even know how to carry out a social conversation but I had always believed in miracles and sure enough, I was gifted with one.

January 16th, 2014 I received the letter from iEARN Pakistan confirming my scholarship for YES(Youth Exchange and Study program) year 2014-2015. It was indeed one of the happiest days of my life for being among 108 students who were shortlisted out of 3000+ applicants all across Pakistan was undoubtedly exhilarating. But at that time, I had no idea what I was shooting for.

September 7th, 2014 I was standing at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad preparing to say Good bye and with that I opened up my arms to embrace a new country, a culture I hardly knew and the soil I had never stepped upon.

Being a Pakistani girl, I never thought I could be this much confident. Everyday when I walk down the street alone, without being dependent on a man to defend me, that’s when I feel the desired courage within myself. That’s when I feel myself grooming, getting exposed to all kinds of situations and gaining confidence. And that’s when I thank God for being an exchange student in U.S.
Its difficult to explain in words how different I’m from the Mubashra who lived in Pakistan, who was a nerd, had a very narrow vision and who was unable to see things from different perspectives. She was a girl who could never speak for herself. A girl who saw everything but couldn’t address the horrendous ogres reigning her society. And a girl who didn’t know the importance of one voice. She was like a precious pearl captured in the shell waiting for the first drop of rain to pour upon her ,to release her so that she could show the world what her worth is. And guess what, the exchange year was the first drop of rain for her!

It has been more than 7 months in U.S and it feels like yesterday when I first met my host Mom and Dad. Time flies, it surely does! But somewhere in between it stops! It stops for a while. And that’s when you realize the cost of being an exchange student, thousands of miles away from your family; seven seas apart.

You know when it stops? It stops when you miss your family but whenever someone asks you about how you are, you fake a smile and say,”very well!”.

But it also stops when you can see the true love for you in people’s eyes who aren’t even your blood relatives. It stops when someone gives you a genuine hug when you most need it. It stops when you realize your heart is filled with the love for your host family and vice versa. It stops when tears roll down your cheeks thinking about  departing, because you’ll have to leave the lifetime relations you made in your host country forever. It stops when you see yourself in the mirror and analyze yourself being mature, independent and groomed. It stops when you think about the thousand of things you’ve learned so far. It stops when you suddenly realize you don’t need a chaperone to take you to wherever you want to be. It stops when you know you’re complete within yourself. It surely does!

It also stops when people say,”If Pakistan is full of people like you, no wonder it is a Paradise on Earth”. It stops when people say, “Your parents, your family and your country must be very proud of you.” It stops when people call you the best representative of Pakistan they have ever come across. It stops when people say how you have changed their perspective about Pakistanis. It stops when they are startled after seeing the pictures of Pakistan and when they express their desire to see Pakistan with their own eyes.

It stops when you realize that with every passing moment, you’re planting seeds of cultural harmony. It stops when you suddenly see how you’ve learned to celebrate differences. It stops when you’re proud of what you’re as an ambassador.

Exchange students, I believe take a huge responsibility upon their shoulders of promoting peace in this small world of ours. Through their immersion, I would argue, they try to instill the spirit of empathy; the ability to see the world as others see it and to allow for the possibility that others might see something we’ve failed to see. They’re to enable people to see this small world as a global village and all humans as one single family and also to realize that we all may belong to different cultures, different countries and different races but in the end we all breathe the same air; we all live under the same sky.

As you would have probably figured out by now, I’m a peace promoter, I’m a youth ambassador and not to forget I’m an exchange student from Pakistan aka an ordinary girl with extraordinary courage.