Monday, 9 January 2017

My name is blurry face and I care what you think!

Pakistan is a land of great diversity with indefinable cultures (& subcultures), ethnicities etc. You’d think the people here would be open minded, accepting and understanding. It is quite the opposite actually.
I would like to start this article by mentioning how everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that I do not intend to offend anyone with this.
I want you to take a second and think about the following. if a friend or a family member tells you they like wearing a certain color of lipstick or if they prefer wearing sneakers instead of sandals, how will you respond?
Will you force them to wear the lipstick color you like better? Will you throw all their sneakers away and force them to put on sandals? No, you would not!
But when it comes to lifestyles, the people of this country are as narrow-minded as they come. And to be honest, all of us are guilty of having thought of our own way of living being better than the next person's. The term lifestyle might just be another nine lettered word to you but in reality, is a blanket term that includes our religions, cultural and social norms, ethnicities, sexual orientations and what not.
Blankets are supposed to keep the gray winters and the gloominess that they bring away but this blanket term has been the reason many people have choked themselves to death (in other words, killed themselves) or have been killed by this very blanket term wrapped around their mouth to stop them from breathing.
I, personally, wasn't as open minded as I am now before I had the internet. This window that took me to the world that existed outside my home and school opened my eyes. It made me realize how a world existed that deviated in every way from what was socially and statistically normal for me. And at first, this new found information was extremely overwhelming. But eventually, I realized how it was okay to deviate. I learned to accept people for what they were even if we had different thought processes.
Today, among the people that are being killed in Pakistan in the name of honor and religion are our transgender brothers and sisters. And for what reason, you might ask? To answer that, they do not have just “A” reason, but a couple. These said reasons range from “what will the society say” to “We’ve given birth to an abomination”.  And for a child to either be kicked out as soon as they’re born, left at the mercy of what people call “hijra Bastiaan”, or very rarely, if the parents decide to keep the child, grow up listening to words like abomination, disgrace, disappointment etcetera from their own family let alone others must feel how having an already decaying wound being stabbed time and time again feels.
If their right to live isn’t taken from them at their very birth and they grow up, they are looked down upon by the society itself, not allowed any education or jobs for that matter. Even in such harsh conditions, these people go out and find work. They dance at weddings and irony of the matter is, they’re kicked out of there as well by people who are supposed to provide us security and safety; our so-called “policemen”. 
But what can these poor souls expect from anyone else when their own parents treat them like garbage?
The one thing that is important among many others is that we are no one to decide if someone gets to live or not, we don’t have a say in whether someone should get an education or not. It is their right given to them by their creator himself so who the hell are we to take that away from them?
Nelson Mandela once said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”.
And today, these people are beaten to death. For what reason, you ask? For the mere fun of it. And some are left on the brink of death (quite literally), where they die a painful, heart-wrenching death because this country doesn’t have enough facilities to treat them. Transgender female Alisha who was shot eight times earlier this year by a customer succumbed to her wounds at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital a week after being shot. A post on TransAction KP’s facebook said, “Alisha died in LRH because she never received intensive medical attention.”
A female who’s been shot eight times was not even put in a decent bed/ward, let alone treated for her wounds. For what reason, you ask? Because the people in both the male and the female wards were unwilling to have an injured transgender be treated near them. Members of the TransAction Alliance (TAA) put up heart-wrenching posts and pictures of how they were belittled and ridiculed for having brought their sister to a hospital that was supposed to give her the medical attention she needed. Qamar Naseem said, “The doctors kept asking the injured Alisha if she danced only and how much she charged whereas the blood laboratory guy asked them if their blood was HIV positive or not,”.
These people are belittled and alienated to the extent that they speak of their birth as their biggest regret.
In an effort to raise awareness and make the transgender community feel accepted, Moiz Rehan (A student of Williams College) and his team worked on a project named #IftaarWithPyaar - An Iftar project for the transgender community in Islamabad/Rawalpindi.
“The project was aimed at creating more acceptance of the transgender community in the civil society and to appreciate them by hosting an Iftaar for them. We served Iftaar to over 50 members of the transgender community and it was the first time that most of the project team had ever interacted so openly with the TGs. Helping them make the iftar, talking to them, and eating with them was made us realize that they're amazing, confident, and hilarious people and are as "normal" as anyone.”, said Moiz.
These people are shunned from place to place for being who they are, they’re made out to be all about begging, money and prostitution. But in reality, we are the ones who drive them to that extent. 
There are also people like Bijli (baji) and Roshni (baji) who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity. They along with Muniba Mazari, a Pakistani artist, writer, and motivational speaker, hold a Food Drive every Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm in the F11 Markaz (opposite Gloria Jeans).
I know hoping that the LGBTQ+ people will get better living conditions straight (pun intended) away is too much to ask for. But all I want for now is that even if your opinions are different and you don’t approve of them (which, by the way, you are no one to do so) please keep them to yourself and don’t make their already hard life even harder!
-Regards, y'all! 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Bichra Kuch Iss Adaa Se K..

"Bichra kuch iss adaa se k rutt he badal gayi, 

Ik shakhs saarey shehr ko weeran kar gya."



(Warning:-This will be all over the place because my head’s not with me right now. Also, if you have anything against JJ, keep it to yourself please.)

2005

My only form of entertainment was a computer which I was never allowed to use. So, when baba brought back home a CD labeled Jalwa-E-Jana, I was over excited because that meant me getting to press that ‘switch on’ button on the CPU and hence, the computer.
Baba handed over the CD to me and asked me to put it in the CPU and so I did. As I sat with both my parents listening to the entire album (Jalwa E Jana) I saw both of them tearing up from time to time and then they’d wipe the tears as quickly and as sneakily as they could. The words on the album, the verses, didn’t make any sense to my seven-year-old self and neither did the fact that both my parents (people who I thought of as my rocks; people who never cried) cried listening to it.
And from then on, it sort of became a ritual. Every Friday we’d all sit together and listen to it to the point where I knew the album by heart.

2010
We visited Makkah and I remember vividly, all of us were sitting on the steps that led to the Ka’aba and Baba was reciting Ilahi Teri Chokhat Par and I wanted to understand what it was about all of it that made me feel as calm as it did.

20th Ramadan 1435H (2013)
1:10 AM

Flipping through channels because I was bored when the beautiful/soulful Qaseeda Burda Shareef being recited by Mehmud-Ul-Hasan Ashrafi (plus other naatkhuwaan), Junaid Jamshed (late) and Waseem Badami caught my attention and I paused. Reciting along with them under my breath was an experience I remember to this day. The chills that ran down my spine and the goose-bumps that are so vivid, it’s painful.
All those Shan-E-Ramzan transmissions that followed, I watched without missing as much as second. I wasn’t religious before it and I wasn’t as religious as I could have been after but something Junaid Jamshed’s words cracked some part of my shell. I tried to be as punctual as I could with my daily prayers.

2013

We visited Madinah Al Munawwarah on Eid-Ul-Azha. I was going through a particularly hard time and I finally understood the meaning behind “Sakoon E Jahan hei Nizam E Madinah”. I found myself reciting Mohammad Ka Roza every time I paid a visit to Roza E Rasool (S.A.W). “Sahara lainay ayah hun terey kaabey k aanchal mein” were the words that poured out during the duas after the nawafil I prayed at the Hateem and Riyaz Ul Jannah.

And from 2013 onwards, I didn’t miss any of the Shan-E-Ramazan transmissions that aired .The excitement I felt for those transmissions would be multiplied by a hundred every year. They made me participate in Ramadan with more spirit and enthusiasm. Whether it was prayers or the recitation of Qur’an or tasbeehaat, I participated with all my heart because Junaid Jamshed said it meant more coming from someone who didn’t have a clean slate. It meant more coming from someone who regretted and repented.
You all might think I am over exaggerating but Junaid Jamshed was an important part of my life as I grew up. He impacted my life in such a way that I wanted to change the person I was, put things away that were wrong. He was an inspiration; a perfect example of rightful transition.

8th Rabi Ul Awwal (2016)
1:10 AM

And right now as I sit writing this, tears being my constant companions, I am listening to Ummati by Junaid Jamshed. To be more specific,
“Gham k andheron ne ghaira hua hei,
Aqaa dushwaar jeena hua mera hei”

Pakistan has been hit with many tragedies this year and in the past. Each of them left voids which will never be filled. For instance, Amjad Sabri, Abdul Sattar Edhi etc. All these people were legacies and infinities of hard work, patience and what not folded into the beings that they were and their losses just as great. But JJ’s loss is a personal blow. It has left as much a void in the world as it has in my heart. I can’t even think of how he is not with us in the physical word anymore because martyrs never die. He went how he would have wanted to go.
“Chale Jo Hoge Shahadat Ka Jaam Piker Tum,
Rasool-e-pak Ne Banhoon Main Leliya Hoga,
Ali Tumhari Shuja'at Pay Jhomte Honge,
Husain Pak Ne Irshad Yeh Kya Hoga,
Tumnhe Khuda Ki Razain Salam Kehti Hain”

The fact that I won’t get to hear JJ calling out Azaan anymore or hear him saying his patent “Ajeeb” during the Shan E Ilm segment breaks my heart into a million pieces. To think there will be no enthusiastic Dil Dil Pakistan breakouts or him giving us all hope in times of great tragedies is horrific. I feel like I have lost someone who was my own; someone who was family.

“ye kon sir se kafan lapaitey chala hei ulfat k raastay par,
farishtey hairat se tak rahey  hein ye kon zi ihtiram aya”

Who will inspire me to do better every year? Who will smile, raise his hands and say, “Chalo saarey kaho ya Allah, maaf kardein!” and then, “Aaj sarey maaf kardiye gaye.”
I wasn't perfect before and neither will I ever be but his loss, as unbelievable and painful as it is, should be motivation for me and for all of us to strive for betterment. He left behind a legacy packed in all those naats, hamds and interviews that we should all make a vow to follow till our last breath; carry his legacy forward.
I know all of this all over the place but my heart is in literal pain and I doubt that will ever stop (Subside, it might but stop? Never!). My headache hasn’t gone away ever since  I heard the news around 6:15. I don’t even know what to say anymore.
I know most of you have dealt with the loss of family and friends who were closer than family so you know how this feels. You never get used to this sort of thing. It hits just as hard as the first time every time. I lost family today. I lost someone I looked up to today. I didn’t know waking up today would lead to this. I can’t even.
“kahan se laun taqat dil ki sachi tarjumani ki,
khudaya rehm meri is zaban e bezubani par.”

Friday, 22 January 2016

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!


“Float like a butterfly,sting like a bee.”




“Impossible is just a big word thrown around my small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Muhammad Ali, perhaps one of the most august boxers in the history of the game, was proud and resplendent. His career was filled with impeccability and several big wins.


What was his driving force, his inspiration, you ask?


It was his incomparable determination, his belief that he could attain anything he set his mind to, contrary to the criticism surrounding him. He went by his own words, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.” He would often call Sonny Liston, world heavyweight champion of the time, a “big, ugly bear” before their matches right in front of him without the slightest hesitation or a touch of fear. Kudos to his confidence for he once told Liston, "If you even dream of beating me up, you better wake up and apologize."
Ali spoke his mind and stood for things he believed in. One such example (most prominent one at that), is his refusal to be press-ganged in the US Army for service during the Vietnam War.  


All in all, Dear Readers, Ali was a man of great honor who shook the world and left us all reeling in his wake. I would love to leave you all with one of his quotes that inspires me the most, “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, then they can sure make something out of you.”

Why a blog related to Ali Clay?
Yes, yes, I know this is outta the blue and all but. I was supposed to write a blog for school related to Ali and once I got done writing I was told to cut it down to a 100 words which, I believe, would in no world do justice to someone as great as Muhammad Ali.  
So I decided to put up ALL THE ORIGINAL CONTENT on MY OWN BLOG.

Over and out, peeps! See you all soon. x




Thursday, 17 December 2015

Markaz E Yaqeen, Shaad Baad.

“Markaz E Yaqeen, Shaad Baad.”
I have waited all day long, I have tried. I have tried so hard to put all my thoughts on paper and yet I can’t verbalize the pain that I feel, the pain that I and many others like myself feel. And truth of the situation is, you can’t. You can’t muster up enough courage to write, you can’t formulate your sentences when your mind is clouded with greyness of the grief that your heart feels. I’ve been staring at my laptop screen for past twenty four hours and my fingers shake as they make contact with the keys on the keyboard. I do not know where to begin. There’s so much that I have to say and yet I feel like I have lost my ability to form coherent sentences. My brain wages its own war as it screams at me to shout, to let it all out. And I will try to do just that.

“Ammi, aaj mera school janey ka dil nai kar raha. Please, soney dein aj (I don’t feel like going to school today, mum. Please, let me sleep in.)”
“No, beta (son), you have to go to school. Warna barey admi kese bano gey? (Otherwise how will you become successful?). Chalo, uth jao (Come on,get up!)!”

16th December 2014. The day many refer to as Black Day.
The dawn of the sixteenth of December 2014 dawned with an unusual chill to it. The air felt different almost as if it knew of the impending doom. Students all around Pakistan were shaken awake by their cheerful mothers. Their mothers then fed and dressed them and sent them off to school. Little did the mothers in Peshawar know that they were feeding and dressing their babies for the last time. Little did they know that the morning tantrums they heard that day will be the last ones they’ll ever hear. Little did they know that the flowers in their gardens will be crushed before even getting the chance to blossom to their fullest.  Little did they know that the purposes of their lives will be shot dead that very day. Little did they know that the brightness of their days will be stolen forever that very day. Little did they know.
Those students that walked into their beloved school that day, their hearts filled with passion and their minds set on the achievement of a bright future. Embedded in their hearts were hopes and dreams. When they walked in, chattering happily with their friends, they hadn’t the idea that merely two hours later they’ll be no more. They hadn’t the slightest of ideas that they’ll be robbed of their futures, dreams and plans and most importantly, their right to live. They didn’t know.
No one knew. But when the clocks around Pakistan struck ten thirty am, news channels began showing red alerts and that’s how it started. That was the beginning of the horrendous cowardice shown by the people who call themselves Muslims. They call themselves Muslims and yet they picked fights with school going kids, who they knew, couldn’t fight back as they were unarmed. Those sick bastards shot child after child ruthlessly. They shot dreams after dreams. They shot the future of Pakistan. They murdered the future of Pakistan. They took away from Pakistan its very basis. What had once been a place that illuminated young minds, that gave young butterflies the wings to fly was drenched in blood by two pm that horrific day. Calling it horrific would be an understatement. It was hell. It was HELL. It was as if the final day had come.
Every second that slowly trickled by that day felt like an eternity, an eternity filled with hopelessness and despair and blood. An eternity filled with burnt remains of innocent promises, stupid pranks, friendships and memories.
I am not one of those people that show a lot of emotions. I tend to suppress them but I remember sitting in front of the television that day and not being able to hold back the tears. I remember how each time they read out the number of casualties and then the number of students and teachers still stuck inside the school building, my heart would sink. I felt helpless. Being in another country does that to you at times like 16th December. I wanted to fly to Pakistan and console every student that survived that day. I wanted to hold them and let them know that it would all be okay. I wanted to take their pain away. I wanted to hug the mothers and tell them that they haven’t lost their boys. I wanted to tell them what they were hearing and seeing on tv wasn’t real. I wanted nothing more than to wipe away their tears. Most of you know how painful it is to see your own mother cry. Multiply that pain with the pain you’ll feel watching a gazillion mothers cry. You know how fathers are supposed to be our rocks and how they are supposed to be strong and all? The fathers that day lost their right arms. The fathers that day lost all the hard work they had put into bringing up such masterpieces. The fathers that day lost everything. I remember not being able to sleep for days on end.
150 souls found their place up in the heavens that day. 150 brutally murdered souls. We salute them for the sacrifice they made for this country. I promise that I’ll avenge their blood. Not by brutality, however, because then I would be no different than those sick bastards, but by the power of words.
“Salaam uss pe jo is zameen pe mita hei” 
But what of those students that survived, huh?  We pay our respects to the martyrs and send our condolences to their families but what of those students that relive that hell every day?  Let’s honestly ask ourselves, have we paid any attention to the survivors? The answer is “no.”
If we were to walk a mile in their shoes only then we’d realize the pain they have to endure to merely get through to the other side of the day every day! Imagine having to relive the screams, the cries, the pain and the bloodshed every day. Imagine having to get out of bed every morning with the weight of the demons on your shoulders heavier than the previous night’s. Imagine having to go back to the same school and study in the same classrooms that only days ago were painted red with the blood of your friends. Imagine lying in bed late at night trying to block out the voices that echoed that day, imagine trying to block out the ear piercing sounds of bombs and gunfire.  Imagine waking up in the middle of the night because of a nightmare which you know wasn’t just a nightmare but a flashback of how your world was taken away from you. IMAGINE turning around to tell something to your best friend and not having them there only to realize that they’re no more. IMAGINE HAVING TO LIVE WITH THAT. This is what post-traumatic stress disorder does to people. It rips their insides to shreds and it makes life impossible to live. Breathing in and out becomes a task as difficult as becoming a doctor.
We can’t possibly know what those students feel. And then our sick excuse of a society has the nerve to tell these people to ‘Move on already because you are fine! You survived!” Tell me how you have the audacity to say that to someone who has been to hell and back in the course of past twelve months.
Truth is, the massacre has left a mark so painful on these students that they may never get over it. You can’t forget something of this sort that easily. How will you ever get over the fact that your hands were drenched in blood and not just blood but the blood of your best friend? How will you ever move on from the fact that you had to lower your best friend, your better half into his grave? How will you ever muster up enough courage to look past THAT? One can’t be that strong. These students, these survivors, these ghazis have the right to grieve for as long as they want because they lived it. What this society can do, however, is console them. Console them in every way possible.
Let’s vow today that we will not let history ever repeat itself as it did this time. Let’s vow today to avenge the bloodshed from 16TH December 1971, The Fall Of Dhaka to 16th December 2014, Attack On APS with the power of pen. Let’s vow to bring justice to our motherland and to make it a better place.
Let’s vow!
“Tumhara khoon hun na is liye  acha laraa hun mein
Bata aaya hun dushman ko k uss se tou bara hun mein”


-To Aakif Azeem and my unsung heroes from APS