as i type eid mubarak it makes me nauseous. like throwing up. it makes my heart sink. for all those Ismaels who werent invited at the altar but straight away beheaded. for all those Ibrahims whose children never returned. not eveb for final goodbyes. for all those mothers like Ismales mother. whove been gasping at their safa and marwa and yet wait for divine intervention.
as i stare at my mehndi for long it turns into blood. blood spilled while i had my uninterrupted sleep. blood spilled while i had my morning walk. blood spilled while i devoured my evening chai. blood spilled while i backed coffee cake for my nephew. while i painted flowers to adorn my bulging walls. blood spilled in south while i went up to north to witness the beauty nature offers. while i wrote odes to those lands on my way back.
and as i sort out my chooriyan their khanak fades away somewhere. all i hear is the sobbing of my people. their freedom prayers. piercing through their prison cells. i hear the weeping of those who are left alone to fight their battles. battles that are already lost. battles that are made for them to lose. not only what they had. but who the were.
and as i continue to write eid mubarak laughter echos somewhere. as i continue to write eid mubarak i find myself only staring at the bulging wall.
my mother says, i no longer have to learn or practice compromise. that she had endured it all for her daughters. she has a secret drawer of despair. where things turn into weapons. things thrown at her. things she bled in darkness. during day she sews her life together. at night she builds armor for her daughters.
my mother says, her daughters no longer have to pluck flowers for someone elses canvas. that we should carry thorns with us. she has a secret garden of agony at her back. she waters it with the reservoir she keeps behind her pale eyes for us. she wants us to pick them and keep with ourselves to make the fingers raised against us gnaw.
my mother says, her daughters should be armed with rage. she reiterates, rage should be our dresscode. she has a secret dye shop where she dyes our wardrobe with rage. our rage, she insists, should be pigmented. bright and fiery enough to blind the accusing eye.
my mother says, her daughters should never soak their grief in. that our grief should never reside in our hearts for long. that it must take a leave once mourned. that we should pour it out to the skies above to see them shatter in pieces if needed.
my mother says, her way of strengthening her daughters is her small vengeance upon the world that left her hopeless once. she has a secret heart. a slightly broken one. she hides it from her daughters too. its almost barren. she buried it somewhere. but is very crowded. my mother says, a daughter should never worry about her mothers ailing heart as long as her daughter doesnt have one.
my mother says, a daughter should never worry about anything. as long as her mothers heart beats. or even after it stops.
my mother says, as long as a daughter lives, her mother lives with her.
for long our center of discussion remained the system of education being so weak. so weak to obstruct our progress. that it with all its frailties is unable to provide any room for free exchange of ideas. that it is incapable of producing minds of great intellect. that the system is eroded to even carry the burden of critical thinking. that academic freedom as a consequence to the system being so meek and feeble is bound to have its very existence threatened.
so what we did? we firmly believed that the depravity in educational field is what the normal condition looks likes. so the struggle against the depravity against the ailment passed for it being normal. hence we made it the scapegoat. there were a consolation in making it a scapegoat. why your country so backward? lack of education. why no progress in science? lack of education. why so poor? lack of education. why religious extremism? lack of education. why why why. lack of education. lack of education freaking lack of education. like the stone wall concept of dosteovsky. the wall that is blamed because we havent learned to question its existence at first place. because we were not made to think otherwise.
and what happens when you question the wall? it may not be able to break apart but the reasons behind its existence comes in question. and when you know the reasons you know who is responsible. you know at least who should be held accountable.
youll know at least the system is not weak but devised and designed to produce cripple minds. that it is not eroded but conditioned to wear off our creativity. that the system is not by any means incapable or unable but simply unwilling and reluctant to leave any room for academic freedom. that no system is stunted by default unless it is made for that very purpose.
ustaad chomsky calls it the indoctrination of the young. where the sole purpose and function of education is to produce obedient and conformist generation. a generation with no thought of its own. of no creativity of its own. no ideology of its own. or to put simply in more general terms to impose authority. so it is not questioned. and challenged and threatened and thrown off.
because if you let people have their independent thought theyll break away the shackles of enslavement. and subjugation. if people were given chance to question. theyll question your stupidity first. if theyre given freedom to challenge ideas. theyll challenge your conflicted ideology first. if theyre given unrestrained academic freedom theyll make the very base on which the grand power empire is built waver.
look at our own state. from distorted history sketched in curriculum and flawed teaching methodology to the terrible state of infrastructure. from arresting students for peaceful protests to forcing scholars to leave their institutes for their political views underscores the grave reality of the times we are living in. that the price for academic freedom is no less than coercion. we have seen what they did to sabeen. to mashal. to junaid hafeez. we know the people they are after. we know the reason. the pattern. that the tale of people exercising their fundamental rights ends with no happy endings. and that our sacred land is tainted by these tales.
yet the majority of our people. people who still have their conscience intact remain silent. that silence by every sense of it too is political. but since it strengthens the hands of those in power so it makes no difference to them. silence that is either borne out of fear or hopelessness would then acts as the foundation stone to the edifices of injustices towering higher than the moral grounds. and we come again to dostoeveskys stone wall. you know who to blame now.
ever met with people who when speak it feels like poems are fluttering through them? poems in colors. crimson emerald sapphire rustic poems. colors in full bloom. wholesome and hearty. an orchard of poems. scattered around.
people when they walk it feels like poetry is on stroll. on an evening walk. poetry written on exile. poems created in exile. poems wrapped in melancholy. drenched with longings. swollen in anguish. coming back to home with utmost pride. poems that cost so much anger and pain and suffering to even imagine.
people when write their prose turns to poetry. voluntarily. effortlessly. naturally. rhythms. rhymes musicality filled in spaces. spaces between words where poetry is born. spaces between words where poetry is matured. voluntarily. effortlessly. naturally. so much to envy and steal. so much to take from them. so much to emulate.
have you seen people like baldawin speak. have you seen baldawin speaking. when he spoke his eyes brightened up a little more than usual. the radiance of his eyes tend to illuminate the aura around him. fearlessness. so much conviction. when he spoke he made other listen. and think. he made people lose the eye contact with their conscience. he made people feel ashamed of their history. he made them afraid of the coming times. no matter how much troubled and messed up his world was. the harmony in his thoughts in his words in his utterances remain something to learn. to steal. to emulate. to envy.
have you read people like derwish. poets of exile. who carried with them their cities. their streets. and nourished them with the air of longing. they carried with them resistance that made them leave homes. homes they never had. homes they can never have. homes they searched for the rest of their lives. and they carried with them their history. history that was distorted yet saved by them by their memory. through their poetry. and they carried with them their people. and they carried with them torment and distress of their people. and they carried with them the tortured skies of their people. and they carried themselves and their dreams and their poetry on the road to exile. for their people.
have you read essays on freedom and resistance. on defiance. on liberty. some got killed for writing them. many by acting upon them. written centuries ago. but remain so viscerally relevant even today. word to word. a commentary on the life and history of our forefathers. a commentary on our recent past. a commentary on our present state. a commentary on the inherently brutal attributes of human race.
even though our battle is different. our reasons are different. yet the struggle for identity remains same. the homeland we are born in. our parents born in. countries we have our hands in building. the soil in which we buried our people. people whose blood spilled to nourish its soil. people who owe so much to their country so much been settled. yet they. their country in its reality with its huge spaces still remain to be filled has absolutely in any way possible not even the tiniest place for us to live on.
and who are we even. if not the offspring of oppression. if not dreams nourished in vengeance. if not rage in its entirety. if not hearts severed from body. if not identity-less beings looking for refuge. if not tales of abandonment tinted with bitterness. if not all of these.
we dont know how to remain silent. we no longer know how to make things look pretty. to keep writing poetry to adorn their skies. poetry in harmony. poetry on stroll. poetry fluttering. or how to keep us from putting you under scrutiny. to stop holding you accountable. we dont know how to make your oppression look presentable. how to filter your hate. and ugliness. we dont know how to filter our rage. our language. its not our job to make you feel comfortable. to purify and beautify your tainted history and images. our job is to read the life and works of baldawin and malcolm x and toni morrison and brecht and dostoevsky and achebe and faiz and jalib and derwish and agha shahid and manto and arundhati and their likes. thats our job. to amplify them. to magnify their struggles. our job is not to write for you. our job is to write to you. our job is not to cover up your oppression but to unveil it. our job is to make you realize of your mistakes. our job is not to let you repeat them. ever again.
i wonder why with every passing day the world seems more distant. it gets unfamiliar with every sun passing away. with every rotation the earth feels more away from its axis. unable to stand. as if losing the balance. the ground. its solid ground that kept everything so intact. and everything gradually bit by bit falling apart.
the earth now feels in a constant state of mourning. like a widow. no like a mother. who keeps losing her children. to circumstances unknown. to reasons unimagined. her healing hasnt started yet. because she hasnt stopped losing her kids yet. and theres no healing for her. theres never a healing for a mother who loses her children to circumstances unknown. to reason unimagined. theres only grief. grief that multiplies with time. grief that becomes her language then. mother language. grief of which now her house stands on. she doesnt call it home. it can never be a home. its something like a portal to suffering. a mere grief house. like her heart. and our earth. grief is her synonym now.
i dont know but death of a literary giant always hit differently. so close yet distant. what do we do with this feeling. that we cant put in words. words that have their own demise then. a funeral of words. stories. poetry. books. a funeral of literature. where the only word left alive to mourn is grief. it is bound to hit different and deep.
i dreamt of a gathering. so heavenly so divine. poets eveyrwhere. poets i read growing up. poets i studied growing up. omer rumi hafez khusro fareed waris bhulleh shah and their likes. exchanging wisdom. exchanging words with wisdom. faiz nasir sahir keats shelley derwish naguib agha shahid and their likes writing back to their lands. ode to their respective homes. yes homes they never had. there was rabia emily sylvia eliot maya christina amrita weaving words with emotions.
it was so sublime. them all together. there were so many words lingering. but what remained so prominent was the aura they had. they all had. something beyond languages they had command on. beyond the nationalities they were born with. beyond any confinement of physical world.
what was there that kept them so united. i believe it was their grief. grief. that was their common language. grief. their nationality. grief. their home. their abode. grief they so heartily wore over their hearts. grief they wrote so eloquently. grief they walk down their streets with. grief they drank down the tea houses. grief their eyes were so accustomed to.
the world was slightly better a place with them. because they shared its grief. they were holding its weight. its burden. with them gone turning to stars. the earth has lost its balance. its grief has piled up so much that it made it lose its balance. every time a poet dies the earth dies a little more. it moves further way from the axis. it leaves the world off balance. breaks its harmony. its peace. its silence. every time a poet dies a language dies along. leaving the words hanging in the middle never to be read again. every time a poet dies the earth dies a little more.
you all care so much right. so much that it legit shows. rage i see everywhere. so many debates. discussions. endless. so much worry. so many experts. bashans. everywhere. analysis. putting things through into perspectives. until they seem understandable. statuses updated. talks about kindness. be kind. yar. you know. world needs it. kindness. be kind. someone has died. be kind to your family. be kind to your friends. be kind. be kind. be kind. shut the hell up. i swear shut the hell up. enough of it. enough of your ignorance. enough of your edgy tweets. your ‘im so devastated” ‘so shocked’ statuses. enough.
a life is lost. one less human. to walk on your mighty earth. to chase your dying sun. your starry nights. your starless skies. a human being. a human made realize how unworthy his life is. so unworthy to be taken away. just like that.
mental health is real. you needed someone to die for you to realize mental health is real. thats the least you could do. to stay silent if have nothing but mental health is real to say. do you not feel a bit idk how to say it appropriately for you but shame. do you not feel shame. to say it right after someone takes away their right to live. im gonna ask you again. do you not feel ashamed while typing it. mental health is real. do people really have to kill themselves to make you believe its real. or do you really have to announce it right after someone commits suicide. and you still have the audacity to complete your sentence with be kind. to hell with your be kind that serves the opposite purpose.
so done with ‘if you feel like talking, im here for you’ ‘ reach out’ ‘ a phone call away’. get out of your little bubbles. thats not how things work. you cant talk it away which is being nurtured and spreading so heartily within. Which has overcome all your senses. its like drowning. and you keep drowning until you give up. and you eventually give up. unless and until someone jumps in for you. pulls you back. drags you out. makes you stand on your feet again.
and o so supremely pious lot. the utter disgust to your respective religion. haraam. a thing so forbidden. nah. dont you even dare to mourn and what not. what else is haram in your religion? being human? or being considerate to others? or being kind? or being gentle? what else is haraam. give me your freaking forbidden list. reduce your religion to a forbidden list only. thats the real practice and purpose.
respect his freaking decision for yoir own sake yar. to take his own life. enough of your labels. he ended it all. for himself. for us. his life. his death is not a freaking recommended paper for your own thesis. his life is not a ground to explore the definition and explanation to lifes reality. his suicide is not a lab to test your hypotheses. his suicide was a murder. and you know who to blame. just stand before a mirror. youll get your answer.
At dawn they come Preying on our dreams And take away Our starry nights
At noon They snatch the pen we hold And paper we write our poems on
When the sun fades They come again Rubbing the poetry From prison walls
At dusk They come searching the cell What keeps us all So free in cage And find nothing But our poems In the end Hesitant a bit They ask for them But we read them aloud So loud to haunt their chains Until they leave Unable to stand Our freedom prayer And we keep our poems Under the pillow Until the starry night Brings us back our fettered dream