To Dada (Grandfather)

Dear Dada,

It’s been four years since you left us and I have never been able to thank you for everything that you’ve done for me, from delivering the adhaan (call to prayer) in my ear to teaching me the Quran. And perhaps, no note of gratitude will be enough for that. However, I will still try; because that is the least that I can do.

Thank you Dada for teaching me the most valuable of lessons; not through preachy sermons, but through your living example. Although I often forget to use them, they are precious lessons, nonetheless.

Thank you Dada; for teaching me that belittling others should not be a source of pride; that bravery does not exist in shouting and cursing-rather, it is found in being patient and steadfast.

Thank you for being a role model for me-not only through your outstanding academic and professional achievements, but through your proverbial humbleness; which taught me that nobody should consider themselves superior to others, no matter what.

Thank you for showing me that there is nothing wrong with using a walking stick for moving around. But you never asked us to slow down for you, or to do the smallest of things for you like bringing you a glass of water, although doing any of that would have been a source of happiness for us. You showed me that what truly matters is the brave struggle to keep standing on your feet, and the effort to keep moving ahead, with dignity and self-reliance.

Thank you Dada, for showing me that hard work pays off; that one shouldn’t waste time; that it is wonderful to be funny and witty; that one should be forgiving and kind; and how essential it is to bear troubles with patience, hope and unflinching faith in Allah as you did.

May Allah bless you with the highest of places in Jannah (paradise).

The Man with Magic, Spells and Superpowers

Many know that he is honest and respectful,

In what he has to do or say,

And I would absolutely love to

Be like him some day.

 

So whenever he begins to speak,

I listen very intently,

Because my father’s more extraordinary,

Than many people see.

 

They think that his talks are intelligent words

With an effect that lasts,

But I know they are something greater,

They are the spells that he casts.

 

There’s magic in how he finds

Happiness in seeing me smile,

And for that, he’s  always ready

To run the extra mile.

 

He is so courageous and

Unwavering in the face of fear,

My father is a hero,

With powers that are rare.

 

I hope to follow his footsteps,

To wherever he will go,

Because my father has more magic,

Than many people know.

With Books and a Pen

Armed with nothing,

But books and a pen,

What harm will we

cause you then?

We live In a country where

you call learning a crime,

Where hope is continually,

Stained with time,

Where at school,

Our very presence,

Is a lingering threat,

To our existence.

Yet there is light,

Entering through narrow crevices,

Yet we will fight,

Beyond your preset premises,

For our revolution begins not,

With guns and blood and hate,

It begins with the first step taken,

Across the school gate.

We combat hate with love,

                     fall with rise,

                     murder with life,

                     failure with tries.

This war that you’ve started,

 with such ease,

We will end it,

And bring peace.

Armed with nothing,

But books and a pen

This harm will we

cause you then.

The Unseen Vision

I wrote this poem a year ago, for each and everyone of you whose worth has been underestimated.

—————————————————————————————————————————

You have been reduced to mere puppetry,

You’ve been told that you’re a subordinate,

That your life is sheer flattery,

For the superiors who decide your fate.

 

You’ve been told that you’re a burden,

That you are a desire-fulfilling machine,

That people will always shun

you; because that’s what you’ve always been.

 

You’re told that you’ve been worthless,

And so, you’ll always be,

You’re told that you’re utterly useless,

So you begin to see how they see.

 

They tell you: “You’re a servant,”

You agree and suppress yourself,

They tell you: “You’re impertinent

if you dare express yourself.”

 

You’re told: you are too weak and too mild.

In this world you’re either human,

Or a creature worthless and wild,

Which you’re told, the world calls ‘woman’.

But, O Woman!

You are higher than the highest tower,

You’re a slave to none but your Lord!

You are the prettiest flower,

And you are the strongest sword.

 

O Woman! You are so much more.

O Woman! You are ambition.

The skies are where you soar.

Your dreams will reach fruition.

 

Just hold on and believe.

Your cover is your weapon and shield,

And through your wounds you will retrieve,

Your position in the battlefield.

 

You are not an object to be used,

Or a toy for amusement and play.

Yes, you are hurt and bruised,

But heal yourself and say,

 

Say that you aspire.

Tel them, deep in your heart,

There’s been a sparking, flaming fire,

That will burn the dark apart.

 

O Woman! Speak up! Tell them!

That you don’t need to be a man,

To become the change that YOU can helm.

Show them that you can!

 

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.

“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.