Category Archives: Essays

“I am Karachi”: The Call of an Extinguished Fire

Assalamoalaikum (peace be upon you). Here is an essay that I submitted for the Karachi Literature Festival Competition held by Compassionate Karachi. My essay got selected for publication in Compassionate Karachi’s book, “Hum Qadam”.

————————————————————————————————————————-I am sitting by my window, observing the crowded street cry with impatient honks, while I try to block out the sound, coming from the television, of a newscaster reporting recent terrorist attacks in Karachi. A lot of voices flurry through my mind:

“There is nothing left in this place. I have lost all hope”

“14 have died. 56 are injured and have been transported to the nearest hospital”

“Oh! Turn off the TV, what does it matter? There’s nothing new here.”

This is my city-the hub of intolerance and insecurity, flooded with voices of dismay and hopelessness. Yet I wonder why I still can’t get myself to hate this city.  My city and my country are living symbols of downfall and disgrace, but there is something-something special about this place.

I am still sitting by my window when I hear a voice.

Hush! Hush! Can you hear it?

No, no! You have to listen more closely.

Shhh! Did you catch it? It’s throbbing somewhere within the honks and blasts, I think.

Now, I can hear it more closely, more intricately, more clearly. It’s not a hoarse or melodious voice, but a collective voice-as if a lot of people’s pleas are echoing- with urgency and awakening. It says:

“I am Karachi, the city of waning lights.

I am bruised and burnt and blasted.

I am wounded and I am dying.

I am no more a city of brightness and colour. I am but, an extinguished fire.

I am a helpless plea, a desperate call.

I am bomb blasts, and treacheries and robberies and starvations.

I am gloom and nothingness.

But wait, wait! There’s more.

There’s more to me, more to Pakistan, than unlicensed guns and sporadic bomb blasts.

There is more to me than target killings, treacheries and robberies.

There is far, far more to me than hopelessness and insecurity.

I am breathless, but I am regaining my breath. I am sick, but I am convalescing.

Oh! Have you not seen my streets? Polluted, yes. Characterized by impatience, yes. Insecure, yes. But have you not seen the victims of a road accident being carried away to a hospital by random passers-by who are complete strangers?

Have you not seen my nooks? Dirty, yes. Congested, yes. But have you not seen them brimming with hope?

Have you not seen my people? Poor, many. Confused, yes. Exasperated, yes. But have you not seen them reaching the summits of altruism and philanthropy?

I am SIUT, I am Edhi, I am Chhipa, I am the Indus Hospital, I am TCF and I am many, many more.

I am no more a fire, but that last resilient spark of an extinguished fire, ready to rekindle the moment that I am destined to.”

The voice goes silent. I am still sitting by my window, charged and untangled. I lift my head up high with pride. I have finally received my call and my answers.

I now know why I can’t get myself to hate my city and my country. It’s because that voice didn’t come from the streets. It came from within me. I could hear it along with the beating of my heart.

I am a part of my land rather; my land is a part of me.  It’s the home of my hopes, my aspirations, my dreams and my being.  It lives within me.

This country of hope and this city of lights keep me going.  You know why? It’s because, I, a fifteen year old girl, who goes to school and wears glasses, along with all the citizens who can hear this call  are Karachi- rich or poor, old or young.

We all are Karachi.

I am Karachi.

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“United We Stand”:The Hymn of the World

Assalamoalaikum (peace be upon you)! It’s been a while since I posted, last. Here is an essay that I wrote for the Commonwealth Essay Competition and Alhamdulillah, my essay made it to the list of silver awards. My name can be seen in the list of Senior Silver Awards, whose link is given at the bottom of this page: https://www.thercs.org/youth/competition/results-2014/
We were given various topics and I chose to write on the topic, “United We Stand”.
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Hidden behind the horrendous hollows of this horrible world, there is a hope. And that hope is what keeps this hideous world alive. That hope is a healing hope- a hope that heightens each day, despite the heightening scandals of the world. That hope is hope that this world, despite its horrible, hackneyed, ideas of happiness, is still, and will continue to be a unified mass of souls.
That hope, by hopeful hearts, has been named, “unity”.
In our world:

it is said that some are black.
It is said that some are white.
It is said that some are brown.
But, all these words are words of spite.
Yet, despite, the hypnotizing songs,
That these words begin to hum,
At the end of the day, all colours,
Belong to one spectrum.

And that spectrum is what we call unity. This spectrum is a home to every colour, every hue, every tint and every shade, because this spectrum is true. It can never be combatted by the worldly, manufactured and processed ideas of discrimination that have pervaded our world. It ,never, will be defeated, because this spectrum is the hope, which in its silence, shouts out to the world, to hold on to it, and the world resonates in reply (though the sound remains secretively unheard), “United we stand.

It has been said, so many, worthless, times that the poor are poor-and the very word is enough to separate them from humanistic living. Yet, the hope brings souls together to demolish this weakly founded barrier of discrimination, because the hope is embedded, deep, in every human soul. It is embedded in the soul of the poor and the rich, and the innate attraction, which characterises all awakened souls, knits the threads of all souls, together, into one garment of completeness. The garment will be torn, void, if the poor are unsewn from it. This garment is what we call unity. But this garment will never be torn, because it is the hope, which in its silence shouts out to the world, to hold on to it, and the world resonates in reply (though the sound remains secretively unheard), “United we stand.”

The belief has cruelly crept into life that patriotism is a measure of harangues against nations and the people of nations, which your nation is against. Yet, all nations are constituents of the same map-of the same globe. And this globe is what we call unity. This globe can never be pressed away, because it is the hope that maps all souls onto itself. And this hope, in its silence, shouts out to the world, to hold on to it, and the world resonates in reply (though the sound remains secretively unheard), “United we stand.”

The thought that, who people refer to, as “disabled”, are piteous creatures, worth no life of their own, has blared through the gazes of so many. However, these “creatures”, too, are souls-the most beautiful souls. It is the purity of their souls that makes them beautiful. Only souls that see, and not look, can realize the beauty of their souls. And this power to see is what we call unity. This power can never be destroyed, because it is the hope, which, in its silence, shouts out to the world, to hold on to it, and the world resonates in reply (though the sound remains secretively unheard), “United we stand.”

The idea has insidiously accumulated in rusting hearts and infected minds that man is an oppressive master, and woman, a suppressed victim. Yet, in reality, a woman is an emblem of ambition. A woman is the prettiest flower and the strongest sword. This truth calls on to women and says:

“O Woman! You are you.
Isn’t that enough for pride?
O Woman! You’re such a beautiful hue.
Stay you, and beyond the seas, you shall glide.”

And this call of truth is what we call unity. It brings all souls, to the same level of dignity, respect and rights. This call will never die, because it is eternally woven into each soul that awakens. This call is the hope, which in its silence, shouts out to the world, to hold on to it, and the world resonates in reply (though the sound remains secretively unheard), “United we stand.”

Three words are enough to satiate this hope. One call of the world: “United we stand,” gives immeasurable satisfaction to the hope we call unity. There are numerous forces that fight against the prospering of unity, but it is this one cry that comes from the world as a whole, which keeps unity, perpetually, at ease. For unity is a spectrum, a garment, a globe, the power to see, and the call of truth. Unity is what keeps this world alive, and unity is the hymn that croons all evils to sleep, forever. “United we stand”, is enough to drive away the adversities of this horrendous world, and to make it glisten with the lustre of life. It is enough to acknowledge and appreciate diversity, bringing all diversities under one banner of hope. These three words are enough to transform this horrendous world, to a happy world- a world filled full of hope.

The Perpetual Recluse

We were asked to write a descriptive essay,of about 300-350 words, about a place where we feel comfortable, as a school assignment, so here’s what I wrote.

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I have a recluse, a perpetual recluse. The mesmerizing eternity of my recluse lures the thinker till it becomes absolutely irresisitible. My recluse is where doors of knowledge are open, forever. It is where every thought is equally worthy and where perceptions are given life. And still, that life is beautified with imagination. It is where solitude is so often attained and yet, is so unreachable, because every moment is shared. It is where I can be whatever I wish to and I can see whatever I wish to. I can see the buds sprout, or watch the leaves wilt. Yet, every array of thoughts is never considered erroneous.

With every moment, in my wonderland, I enter a new realm-a realm so magically true that I lose myself in it. Thoughts drift through wildernesses, remote islands, modernized settlements, poor villages and opulent palaces. Every time I enter my recluse, life is illuminated and inspirations are sparked. Every visit to my world of comfort becomes an unforgettable odyssey, far, far, from an itinerary. Unanticipated ventures and unplanned journeys cascade down to the river of memories. Riparian tears and smiles sparkle along the memories. My recluse averts melancholy to joy and hope is born ,anew.

I sit on a wooden chair, whose metal rods poke at the khaki carpet covering the floor. Many other such concentric chairs surround a large round table piled with books of all shapes, sizes, colours, hues and tints. Each of the many towering wooden shelves of sandy brown wood showcase books aligned atop the labels on the edges of the shelves-each label representing a different genre,a different world. As I sit on the chair nearest to the shelves, I see the tiny door embellished with inspiring quotations facing me. Beside it, is a small desk, barely fit for a person to use. It is stacked with books, pencils, registration cards and the remains of what seems to be a dismantled pen-holder. I gaze at the shelves; each, a whorl of primroses, daffodils, daisies and every flower I can dream of. My perpetual recluse, is the library on street 20, where words survive, even when people do not.