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.



First published on 23rd December 2013. Reverted to draft as it was sent to Express Tribune Blogs sometime in early January. Re-published on 24th February 2014 after being kindly rejected for ‘not being the type of posts published in ETB’ and the writer ‘should write something on another topic and send it again…’

Change – the slogan of many political campaigns of the world. They all say they will bring change, but can anyone, ever, bring change? Is change a glass of water, of what you can just say that bring me a glass of water? If I tell a politician, bring me change, will he pour it into a crystal glass and present it to me on a silver platter?

If that is what change is, then why have we not changed?

Why are we still the same as always?

Why are our minds still narrow, our eyes still closed and our hearts still black?

Why, still, do we sneer at Shias, laugh at Christians and scorn the Ahmadis?

Why, still, do we beat our women, ridicule our sons and shun our daughters?

Why, still, do we not love our country, cherish our country and idolize our country?

Why do we still look at America and England with envious eyes, why do we still worship Indian actors, why do we still prefer Chinese products?

Why is that we want our children to be raised in the western countries?

Why is it that to better our children’s future, we move to England?

Is this change? Can a single man bring change? Can a single man fix billions of hearts? Can a single man change the mind of a whole nation.

Although Mr. Imran Khan, a person I hold in high regard, said he can and he will, he never did.

People say they will, but they never do. That is a paramount cause of where we are now.

I am also guilty if this social evil. I say I will, but I never do.

I have to remedy this soon.

I must change myself, because I believe that change starts from within, radiates out and ultimately changes the people we are surrounded with.

A single man cannot change a nation, but a nation can change a single man.

In the words of a Pakistani rock band, Noori:

“Tum Badlo

Badlain Dil

Badlain Log”

You must change, hearts will change, people will change.

Crossing Borders And Resolving Prejudices

October 27th, 2013.

An ordinary Sunday.

I wake up late and in my hazy, bleary-eyed state, I’m aware of my father handing me a newspaper and saying something about application forms.

After waking up a little more, I look at the page and an advertisement glares back at me. It’s from the United States Educational Foundation In Pakistan (USEFP) about their Global UGrad Program 2014, urging participants to apply before the 28th of November.

In simpler words, I might just be a cultural exchange student somewhere in America next year.

My ordinary Sunday turns extraordinary. My father and I discuss the technicalities and print out the forms. I am told to keep the news to myself for now to avoid any negative energies from seeping into my wonderful plan. We briefly discuss my portfolio and I finally decide to tell my father about my elusive blog to detemine whether or not it’ll help me in the selection process.

I email him a link and after getting some amazing feedback, I realize my usually sullen Sunday has suddenly become one heck of a day.

The next day, a friend who is a YES (Youth Exchange and Study) alumni, hurries to tell me about the UGrad program and that I absolutely must apply for it. I assure her I will. She sets up a meeting with a UGrad alumni who’s a senior at my university.

For two days I research and think about it.

And I become indecisive.

A number of cons attack me like a buzzing cloud of angry bees. For a moment I am in danger of being swallowed up by those bees and then spat out like a doubtful, useless mess of flesh and bones.

Fortunately, I have enough strength, determination and parental support to swat those bees away and spray them with poison for good measure.

After emerging unscathed from my heap of dead bees and dusting myself off, I go to my father and assure him that I will apply for the program.

I then sit down and think about where this program will take me. I think of what I’ve done with my life up till now, which is, regretfully, not much. I then think of what I can do with my life. I realize that this program will elevate me to the point of reaching one of my life’s goals. A goal that is also a driving force behind this blog.

I want to build a bridge between the Pakistanis and the Westerners, specifically the Americans. I want to quietly slide aside the opaque curtain of negativity and disdain most Americans see us through, and show them who we actually are.

My blog, which started as a diary, turned into something else just after two or three posts. When I saw how many Westerners read and appreciated it, I thought why not show them that us Pakistani are also humans. Us Pakistani teenagers also have high school dramas. Us Pakistanis also fight for our rights. Us Pakistanis also condemn terrorism.

Now, I’m putting all my efforts into getting selected for the program. I have chosen my field of study to be journalism. I have started visualizing already what I will and won’t do while in America. My six-months worth of efforts in America may only effect a handful of people, but at least I’ll be starting somewhere.

To all my American readers and ‘followers’, if all goes well, then this time of next year, I will be on your side of the pond!