I am writing after so long that the feel of my laptop’s keys seem unfamiliar to my fingertips. I am making a lot of typos, pressing ‘t’ instead of ‘y’ and writing ‘og’ instead of ‘of’. The layout of the laptop which was ingrained into my muscle memory now feels cold and foreign to my touch.

My head is stuffed with questions and answers; answers which ignite more questions and the cycle continues to spin around and around and around until my mind feels it has been through the spin cycle of a cranky old washing machine.

The month of December 2014 was a nightmare; for me, for my family, for my friends and for my countrymen. Illness, blood, violence, loss; both loss of life and material, followed me like a perverted shadow. I went through a phase of extreme procrastination and depression. Even music, my saviour, lost its charm; King Crimson started to make me physically sick. I have already talked about my phases on my blog and those who are my loyal readers will know.

Oh, my loyal readers! Half the reason I did not start writing again was due to my shame of facing those I had forgotten about. How I had made friendships and left those sweet people hanging, never even reading or contemplating on their own words of woe. For that, I am very sorry.

Every time I return to the world of writing after an unannounced hiatus, I promise my readers I’ll continue writing regularly now. But this time, I will not make another hollow promise. I may not return to the world of WordPress for another two months, for a year, or forever; I do not know.

As the year drew to a close, the nightmare began with the martyrdom of more than 141 students and teachers whose only fault was to attend one of the most prestigious schools in the country. The sentiments of each and every Pakistani were hard to understand. We all felt guilty, angry, depressed and helpless.

It continued when all educational institutions in my country were closed down due to the looming threat of similar attacks. My own university which was founded by our Army’s welfare organization, Fauji Foundation, had received such threats. The last time I was on university premises was on Friday, the 19th of December. We have not been allowed to even step foot inside the college building since then. While us students stay at home and “enjoy”, my university is being renovated into a fortress for our protection.

I have had all the time in the world to contemplate on what was happening around me, and my thoughts dragged me down into a black hole.

While all this was going on, I fell ill and during the course of three days I had had my share of 13 intravenous and 6 muscular injections which my father administered twice a day. For more than four days I did not eat a single bite or took a single sip of water. I spent New Year’s Eve staring at the ceiling of my mother’s room which had been turned into a temporary hospital room. And at the end, it turned out all the medication was just a precaution and a result of misdiagnosis. I had only suffered a severe case of vertigo which had unsettled my stomach, while I was treated for complete intestinal obstruction!

While I was ill, my chronically ill paternal aunt’s condition also worsened. Her kidneys were failing and she was rushed to several hospitals during the course of 5 hours by my brother and cousins. My siblings and my father simultaneously took care of two severely ill loved ones, and I shall never forget their dedication.

As I recovered, my father’s health dropped. At the age of almost 7 decades he has no chronic illness except a deficiency of B-12 and the tendency to stress over things, resulting in higher blood pressure. It was my fault that he had high BP during the course of my illness and days after that. He says he is better now, but the doctor will determine that tomorrow.

I caught up with numerous semester final projects which were due in 3 days.  I slept at 3 AM and woke at 9 AM to try my best to save my 3.8/4 grade point average.

On the 10th of January, I turned 20. Two decades of my life closed among chaos.  But it was not complete chaos. As with every dark cloud, the silver lining had begun to emerge a few days before my birthday. One of my sisters got the job she always wanted while the other had a substantial pay raise which had her dancing at regular intervals during the day. They are also upgrading their car. My father’s business is booming. My aunt, after finally agreeing to dialysis, is now successfully on the road to recovery. She visited on my birthday and brought balloons and gave me cash. She looked groomed and healthy and was even talking about getting a new haircut.

My personal silver lining happens to be the existential crisis I am going through. It may seem like a conundrum to some, and yes it is terribly tiring to think so much, but introspection is something that was required. Ignorance is bliss until you get yanked out of it by a series of unfortunate events. Nonchalance never works out in the long run. Writing, what I had been calling ‘passion’ for lack of a better one, might not be after all. ‘Art’ which I had pushed away indifferently may as well be. But that too, does not make my eyes shine anymore so I am looking for something that does.

I am looking for my ‘calling’, a purpose of existing. For a dream, an aim, which will turn my humdrum existence into what we call life. I finally understand that to live and to exist are two very different things, and I am tired of simply existing like a leaf blowing in the wind.

To life; I hope it comes to me soon.

Breathe Raiha Breathe!

It’s seems as if I’m floating in some kind of dream world.

It’s perfect, exciting, adventurous.

I have new clothes. I have a new very expensive, black, bag. I have many new colorful (pink, black, red, purple) notebooks. I have a cool dark pink and black file folder. And I have a dark pink and black pencil-case full of lots of new pens and pencils.

My dad was making fun of me that you’re over prepared for university. That this isn’t school anymore. All you need is a pen and a notepad. But what can I say, I’m a weird mixture between nerd, class president and queen bee. I need to be prepared. I want to take notes and do that while being fashionable and color-coordinated!

I left a very prestigious university behind and opted for this relatively unknown, smaller one. The reason: finances and logistics.

I do not want my dad to give 1,19000 PKR (approximately 1135 USD and 719 GBP) for just the first semester (there are 8 semesters in total) only so I can quote a name and get Oooos and Aaaas from silly society ladies. Add in an extra 30,000 PKR per semester for transport charges, since that university is very very far. Urban campus, my foot!

That’s why I let go of ‘the name’ and chose this university instead. It’s run by the Fauji Foundation, the business/welfare section of Pakistan Army. It’s up and coming, the teachers are good, it’s nearby and it’s affordable!

I am a little sad though. That I got selected in that one but left it for this one.

And that’s why I made up for the melancholy by shopping! And preparing. And hounding my seniors in the same university to give me tips and tricks to avoid ragging etc. And researching like crazy about my course subjects and stuff.

My orientation is tomorrow, and I’m finally on cloud nine. I can’t wait to live a life of freedom and friends.

Although I do have to work very hard if I want to go abroad for my Masters degree. That is a decision still in the making! To leave and never come back? Like many other Pakistanis. Or to stay and do something good for my country? My original plan. Now my excitement is waning and I’m getting disheartened by the corruption prevalent in every single aspect of Pakistan.

Back to my university obsession; I have even revised the admission prospectus! I know the names of all the Administration people, the Rector, Director, Student Affairs Officer etc.

Now all I have to do is iron my clothes, again. Set out accessories. Clean shoes. Check my bag, again. Check accessories once more. Put a few funky badges on my bag. Iron a few more creases, again. Take a shower, condition hair. Check my nail varnish, again. In the morning I’ll take another shower. Check my bag, again. Probably iron my shirt once more. Dust my shoes, again.

God. I have OCDWGC. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder When Going to College.

I’m going to go now and check whether I’ve put post-it notes in my pencil-case. Again.

In Purgatory

My country is floating, floating in the middle of revolution or martial law. Floating in the middle of peace and war. It cannot make up its mind. It is, at this moment, useless, unchanging, in limbo.

The people are in limbo too, floating in a thick viscous fluid, which does not allow them to move. A fluid consisting of ignorance, selfishness and frustration. They cannot breathe, their lungs and hearts have stopped working, artificial machines are keeping them alive, but barely. The artificial life machines of the rich are hi-tech, providing them pure oxygen. The machines of the poor are broken and dilapidated, providing them with polluted air and nutrients, damaging their bodies. So that, if and when the rich wake up, they would be normal human beings. But when the poor will wake up, they would be mindless, heartless creatures, intent on destroying those who destroyed them.

Damage can only be controlled if the country is woken as soon as possible. If the nation stays in their fluid tanks for some more months, they will be lost forever.

A revolution is needed, but who will bring it about? The leaders? Who are too busy amassing their own fortunes. The youth? Who is too selfish and too spoilt to do something. The poor? But who would feed their families while they revolt? The educated middle-class? Who is too busy to make their own families and are abandoning Pakistan like rats from a sinking ship? The rich? But why would they change a system already in their favor?

That only leaves behind the old generation. The senior citizens, the REAL patriots. Those who served the Pakistan Army, Navy and Airforce for their country, but not for status or money. The comrades of those who gave up their lives willingly at Kargil and Siachen. Those who became teachers and professors, and doctors and engineers, not for fame and power, but simply for the betterment of their country. Who went through 3 martial laws, who survived extreme Islamization of the country. Whose parents and relatives migrated to Pakistan through bloodshed and poverty.

But what can they do? With their creaking limbs and weak backs, what can they do except advise their children and their grand-children?

Yes, their bodies are weak, their arteries have clots, but their spirits are unbroken. Their metaphoric shoulders are still strong under the weight of their country’s downfall. Although it is them who are close to falling in the eternal sleep know an death, it is us who are caught between Heaven and Hell. God does not want us because we sin, and the Devil does not want us because we still have some hidden purity in us.

Our elders, unlike us, still do as much as they can. They still try to squeeze out the little good left in the nation’s hearts and minds. They are the only ones not in purgatory.

Tears fall from their rheumy eyes and sparkle on their wrinkled cheeks.

They are the only ones who still cry for their country, who desperately try to wake their progeny to effectively deal with the chaos about to ensue.

But who listens to them? Maybe their voices cannot reach us through our fluid tanks.