X, Y, Z, and L

X came to power and imposed taxes on salaried / middle class to increase the revenue base of the state.

X was thrown out and then came Y. Y tightened the screws even further, making X an angel.

Then came Z. Z imposed further taxes on the same middle class to take out as much for the state so that the elite capture can be captured further strongly.

Now, X was selected again with the assumption that he will start from where Z left. And he is doing exactly that.

All of them didn’t impose taxes on real estate, retail sector, or other markets. They showed intent for the sake of news and drama. They even imposed some minor taxes too to make a point. But then, only middle / salaried class was taken to the gallows.

After all these dramatics, they have subsidies worth over $17 billion. That’s around Rs.5,000 billion. That’s what they take through cabinet approvals. Billions and billions, lands and lands. They throw out the farmers, but they do care for the sugar mafia. Remember?

Why do you take sides then?

Some of you raise slogans of X. Some for Y. And some are ready to die for Z. This division is even more suitable for the real powers. Let’s call them L. L actually rules. This land. These pawns. These judges. This entire system.

Yet, you are too focused on X, Y, and Z that you don’t feel L who is standing right behind you. Harassingly close. Yet, you don’t even feel harassed. In fact, you get goosebumps with pride. At times. And that’s where this whole comedy turns real dark.

Old Man Prays

He believed he was old enough to suffer anything more. He was too old for any new pain. His legs couldn’t bear his weight, how could he bear a new pain?

He was sure about God letting him go now because he prayed for the release too hard.

But things don’t happen that way. Neither God is free enough nor does He indulge Himself in human affairs that much.

Sometimes, God goes on a leave from earth for centuries. The last time He was here was when 2nd World War ended after millions of deaths, rapes, and murders.

The old man faced more pains. He suffered for years in pain. Both spiritual and physical. And then he died of pain. His whole existence was defined by pain. And misery because it sustained for too long to be neglected by another bad word.

Before his last breadth, he had an epiphany. A blasphemous truth. After wasting his whole life in pain, he finally found the truth. As Shaw said, all great truths begin as blasphemies. But it was too late for the beginning as he himself was ending. Miserable.

So how does God work?

This question is unanswered. It will remain unanswered.

After thousands of years, both God and humans are unable to maintain a good relationship with each other. Both are at war against each other. But it is like a war of pawns against a King where pawns are brutally punished, and the King remains King forever.

Again, how does it work then?

It works in an unusual way. Live your life. Enjoy it the way you want; without hurting others. Fight your own battles yourself. Focus more on practical things rather than dua and prayers. Stop wasting your time on prayers if you cannot do anything practically. Work hard and hope for the best.

I know. Sometimes, you lay low. Or turn a side in bed. To think about your miseries and mishaps. And then you shed tears. On your own fate. And failures. And how brutally life turned out to be against you. Well, those are crocodile tears. You are your own misery. You did nothing. You just let anyone to walk over you over and over again.

Don’t be your own misery. Don’t pray when you cannot walk what you prayed for. Or, when you are done with your favorite sins, then ask for forgiveness. That’s somewhat sensible. That’s the best way as religions work that way too. Do and then ask for forgiveness.

Also remember, you are after all a human. Sins define you as much as virtue. You are not an angel. You are not a spirit. Or a robot. You are God. You a miscalculated algorithm of neurons who will sin. Shall sin. Must sin. “Father! I have sinned.”

Maintain your relationship with God when you are done with life. At least, give it a meaning. How can you manage a relationship with God when you had no experience of having a relationship with a person. With parents. With people. With friends. And that someone special. The one you want to touch – sin. The one you want to hug – sin. The won you want to kiss – sin. The one you want to drink with between the sheets for the hungover morning – sins.

Only then you will be ready for the ultimate relationship with the God. Who has made you in flesh. And blood. If. He has.

This is how it works. And it works ONLY this way.

Your life is your life. Your problems are your problems. Your pain is your pain. Your battle is your battle. Walk yourself. Fight yourself. Pray if you want to but prayers alone do nothing. The world doesn’t work that way. Some can kill thousands of children and women and can bomb the hospitals and can close their food rations for months and months… and nothing changes with 2 billion prayers. Are you getting the point?

The Curious Case of ‘Evidence’ in Pakistan

Rape: Four witnesses. Or a video in good print. DNA test is a big no.

Forced Conversion: A video message at gun point to dismiss the case instantly.

Murder: First of all, a dead body. Then it depends on the murderer. 444 can’t convict. 1 can.

Treason: A tweet would be enough.

Blasphemy: A blame would be more than enough.

Abduction: Can’t be proved until the abducted person comes forward himself. But then, he/she isn’t abducted.

Honor killing: A dead body. Followed by a long trial to acquittal for all. After all, it’s a family matter.

Harassment: Ah! Tricky slope of sin. It happens. And it never happens. No evidence is enough. Yet, a blame is enough.

Drugs: No urine test. No blood test. Nothing for evidence. Depends on who is not in power.

Fraud: Cannot be proved. Even banks don’t know who transferred the money to whom and where through bank accounts.

Theft: Clear CCTV footage where a burglar shows his CNIC. Otherwise, a future encounter will close the case.

Virginity: Two finger-test. It can escalate. In case… consent.

Civil rights: A mutilated dead body would be needed.

Mass murders: More than one mutilated dead bodies would be needed.

State violence: Instantly proved. Instantly dismissed. Instant transfers. Instantly forgotten.

Corruption: A jigsaw puzzle where rules and laws are presented but then there are countering rules and laws. Can never be proved. Bureaucracy on both sides.

Civil disobedience: To be a civilian is civil disobedience in itself.

And the list can go on.

9th May – The First Anniversary

Jinnah remained homeless in the city. The city, which gave home to everyone in history, was unable to provide shelter to the father of the nation.

But history didn’t stop even after his death. Lahore kept on finding a suitable home for the very suitable Jinnah.

On the auspicious day of May 9th, 2023; hundreds of archaeologists of Lahore went out of their homes. Crossed every hurdle. Even the defense of the defenseless. And they finally found one in a mansion hidden from the eyes of civilian beholders.

After 75 years to his death, Jinnah found a home. Not just a home but his home. He had a home. The sacrifice of archeologists in this regard is yet to be written in the books of history.

And His Highness would be remembered to be the first one to pen words on the sacrifice of those who unfolded new pages of the history of Lahore. And Jinnah.

The first anniversary should not forget the unsung archaeologists. The others, may remember it as an Urs.

P.S. The difference between 2 May and 9 May is of 7 days and 13 years. Nothing else. With that, condemnable-good-mourning!

Dil Se… (1998)

Entire Bollywood on one side, and Dil Se would stand taller on the other side. The story, dialogues, frustration, love, music, songs, and everything is remarkable.

All India Radio. What if we change it with Radio Pakistan? How relatable it can be?

Imagine going to Balochistan or western belt of KP or any other periphery of Pakistan and you may find things that are not as they are shown on the mainstream media. The truth may take 180-degree turn during your journey. That’s how significant that movie was. Yet, underrated and only known for its music by A. R. Rahman.

The tiny details in the movie were astounding. Like the seven stages of love in Satrangi Re: hub (attraction), uns (infatuation), ishq (love), aqidat (trust / reverence), ibadat (worship), junoon (madness), and maut (death). The movie categorically covered all these seven stages beyond that song.

What if there is an entire narrative of nationalism, security, patriotism, and religion? And then, what if there is a stronger counter-narrative: of love?

The frustration of love – a prerequisite – was there. Just when it looked that love was going to walk its due course, the surroundings changed so significantly that it became impossible to live or love. After all, only unfulfilled love stories are remembered as ‘love stories’ worth narrating. Because afterwards, is just a disaster.

Another movie of this genre is ‘The Last Sumari” of Tom Cruise. The music was equally good by Hans Zimmer. When the protagonist was captured by the ‘savages’ in the movie, he not only saw the truth, but he became part of the truth. Fell in love. Rose as a new warrior. From fighting on one side of the battle, he chose the other side and fought for the truth and honor rather than national duty.

Watch Dil Se… for once. And watch it with a wide spectrum so you may connect the dots in your own national and security settings.

Society of the Dead

The Local Graveyard Committee of the Dead was called before dawn, not unusual as graveyards work in moonlight. It was an emergency case, though not a new one. The elders thought it was enough.

The eldest of the graveyard cried that they were unable to do anything even when they could see all that happened in front of them for hours. That too in the broad night when all the dead were awake.

Another newly-dead-woman was dug out of her grave and was raped by two men. They came some hours after the final proceedings and did what should never have been imagined. It was neither usual nor an unusual incident for the dead but after all, it was ugly. For all. Without dissent. Because hormones decompose with the body and even the cursed ones become impotent when they are laid to rest. And they rest.

After a long discussion, the committee decided to decay themselves rapidly with a foul smell to keep living men away in such scenarios. The amendment was passed unanimously by dead-men. The elders.

But the dead-women and children retaliated. A dead-boy accused a dead-elder of sodomy back in days when both were above the surface. A dead-woman accused a dead-elder of rape in life. A dead-girl accused her teacher. A dead-male accused his qari sahib of raping him and some of his class fellows. The whole graveyard erupted in chaos.

The eldest of the graveyard cried again. He asked the heavens to fall and prayed to God to have mercy on the non-beings. He raised his hands and cursed the dead society of the graveyard that lightning may strike the ugliest one right here and right now to set an example.

And the heavens made a move.

Lightning thundered to prepare for a feast of the dead souls. The wind made a move from one grave to another to choose the most cursed one. Serial rapists. Harassers. Sodomists. Killers. Abductors. Who was to be struck down with lightning from hell?

The angels decided and inferno’s thunder fell on a grave, making a heatwave of a bomb. The whole graveyard fell in shock. The wind stopped. The thunder moved back to the open sky. The beastly angels from Hell came down to pick the most cursed soul to be transferred for punishment.

The eldest – who cried twice – was picked up. He was to be made an example of himself and for himself as he himself prayed a while back. He was punished for knowing what was happening inside the madrassah; not with one child or two but many, while he kept praying for himself and forgiveness of the mankind… knowing very well that a man is never kind.

You Missed Me?

You missed me?

I did not.

With so many ATL references that one cannot not miss, liar!

Such a lousy user of words. ATL?

Above the line. It’s a marketing and advertising term.

You market and advertise yourself?

Subconsciously. Step by step. Person by person. With already marketed references of glamorous impact.

That’s BTL.

Whatever. It’s an indirect way for deep impact.

How?

Books. Tolstoy. Activism. Snowden. Harsh truths. Arundhati Roy. Asma Jahangir. Conscientious objector. Like no one. Tyler Durden. To give mayhem a chance. So, I may narrate. The narrator. Songs. Hey you! Out there on your own, sitting naked by the phone, would you touch me?

I would never touch you.

Those were lyrics. Touch is suffocating. More disgusting than interruption. What was I saying? Yes. And Messi. You know, the most beautiful thing about Messi is that he doesn’t know he’s Messi. Like Cillian Murphy. But Cillian Murphy is nothing on my list of the list. Anyway, once bitten, never forgets.

Let me be honest. You write beautiful words as if they are divinely revealed on you, yet you are so shameless and disgraceful. You are without an iota of sense of what happens afterwards.

I’m just the messenger.

Ok messenger! Do they know that you have already written the scripture. Why don’t you reveal it to the world.

That was for you.

Take it back.  

Then I have to burn it.

I don’t care because your words are a scripture of hypocrisy.

You may publish those later in life like the letters to Milena or the letters to Salome.

So that hardheartedness can be published and propagated?

Would be a magnum opus.

As if the followers are waiting for the magnum opus.

Subconsciously, yes.

Fantasies. What about the practical implementation of the magnum opus?

Up to the believers.

Shameless!

Indifferent.

Ridiculous. How miserable you are when you speak.

I’m just the…

You are a false…

You missed me.

Who let the dogs out?

I thought I would leave these topics for some time but then they do something, and you cannot miss the content. And if nothing, I am blessed to see the comedy of bureaucrats on routine. And I love that. I would choose this comedy any day over Abhishek Upamanyu. Kidding. That was sarcasm. A language I haven’t mastered.

You know, they tried to get criminals from Katcha. Katchay kay daaku. Police planned to circle the area and the military planned to come from the top. When you come from top, it’s called riding. Anyway, it failed. Couldn’t do anything. And that’s just one area. Land on all sides. Neighboring no other country or sea. Nothing. Just two pathetic forces at display of disgrace.

And then, they thought what they could do? So, they had a fight. I totally love that. When villains are fighting each other, I just enjoy the show and I like blood. But I want equality in that too. The damages should be equal.

Police getting beaten up by the army is not an unusual thing. It’s a usual act. Happens routinely. Sometimes, the entire police station is turned upside down. It’s a sad thing. Officially, I condemn. How dare they?

Happy? Ok!

This would bring nothing. You cannot take those who have the ultimate authority and monopoly over violence. That’s our military. They don’t care even if they have to kill on live TV. They install cameras in your bedrooms. They kidnap anyone anywhere. They can make villain hero and a hero villain overnight. They have it all. All the expertise to win locally, yet to lose otherwise.

Remember that incidence when a Wapda lineman was killed for disconnecting meter of an army officer? Tell me what happened afterwards. Nothing. At least, they didn’t kill anyone now. All they got is bad publicity and you may never know if they wanted it intentionally or not. This we can never know because, after all – they are duffers too.

Having said this, His Highness – being His Highness- condemns this officially and would direct the authorities to submit a report. Otherwise, I loved that. How couldn’t I?

And how couldn’t you?

Last thing. I wrote some different (and serious) stuff in the last 6-7 days. You didn’t notice. Now, because an idiotic act of least interesting people / institutions has been mentioned, you will outpour your emotions. Like a crowd. Or maybe not, because this has been mentioned.

Those 50-60 people who read those words… are the beautiful minds.

Eid & Tragedy

If a tragedy strikes during the Eid days, all the remaining Eids become tragic afterwards, till death do them apart. Eid brings pain and nothing else afterwards. Be it Eid of Summers or Winters. It hurts.

A traffic warden died yesterday. On chand raat, while on duty. Had a three-year-old daughter who was taken away from him by his wife. He was supposed to meet her on Eid day. Apart from his cumbersome father’s role – and a professional duty – he was a son too. A brother too. And a father figure as he helped his mother raising her other children. And just when he settled his siblings, he departed. Was not allowed to settle his daughter. Was hit, crushed, and left. Died. Or murdered.

For you, it’s just a statistic. A number. A traffic warden. Not the traffic warden. A father. Not the father. A son. Not the son. A brother. Not the brother.  

Or it can be a newspaper story for you. A TV ticker for any news channel. Newspaper story will die in a day. Tickers will end in two days. And that would be that. A life gone by. Crushed and dusted.

A life that was already tragic for a father and his daughter, ended just like that. And nothing happened. No earthquake. No tsunami. No eclipse. No apocalypse.

The left ones will mourn every chand raat from now onwards. And every Eid too. That’s how some Eids are. Tragic. For a lot of people.  

And that’s how our lives are too. Just like a cat crossing a road and getting crushed by a vehicle. At random. With no dots to connect and with no loss to grieve except for the scratches on the bumper. Or maybe not a cat, as it sounds fancy. Maybe a dog.

There were some right here with us on last Eid. Their profiles, numbers, DPs, and memories are still here; but we can’t call or talk to them.

We had it like they will always be here. As we take everything for granted until terminal illness finds its ways.

Then there are so many others who left us in our small span of life. The number of funerals we are destined to attend are decreasing every passing year. Until our own funeral. Which doesn’t occur to us. Because we shall never die.

Eid is one occasion where we go to graveyards and say our salaam. Fateha can be a beautiful gift one can offer to the deceased ones. It travels from the land to the heavens even there is no… connection.

Broken people, broken dreams; some with health issues, some breeding cancer deep inside, and some just having another Eid but nothing like the previous one when that particular loved one was around and sitting right across the sofa. Where do they all go?

Where has the father gone? Where is the mother? Open the old cupboard and sniff and try to get that one shot of their scent. Long and slow breaths and you will travel through the times to a hug that you have been missing. Smell has a memory. We don’t realize it until the perfume is gone.

Where is the aunt? The uncle? And the old man who used to sit at the bus stop?

And where are the kids? Sons? Daughters? Eid Mubarik? The parents who lost their parenthood cannot be happy for a moment. They can be seen laughing and smiling but they are not those laughs and smiles. No Eid or happiness can bring back their joy of life ever again.

Only kids can have a happy Eid till they are carefree and clueless. But not all kids. Naru cannot have a happy Eid. His mother died in pursuit of his father who is missing… like other missing people… in the deep hell of this deep state.

So many holes. So many pains. Yet, we stand and embrace and hug each other like we are actually smiling with happiness. Maybe we do! After all, we are all born with hypocrisy. I know. Wrong word.

Some are financially weak, and Eid makes them even more vulnerable. The better-off offering more Eidi to the kids and the weak ones being exposed around. Happy Eid!

And those old folks who made us, and the old lady who kept us warm in her belly for nine months, and the sofa with a missing spot and the cupboard with the scent, and the bricks in the house, and the leaking tap in the bathroom… everything has a missing. Everything has a missing point.

Some of us run away from the bricks and the cupboards and the sofas as we don’t want to travel through time while time itself is sneaking away right through our hands like a fistful of desert sand.

Mirage! This is all a mirage. Tell me, how many years since 2018? I can count to 2. See! We are a missing point.

Anyway.

This is how we are supposed to carry on the burden of legacy and humankind. Evolution. Reproduction. Death. Decay. Without a choice. Without consent.

So, Eid Mubarik! With all the pains, nostalgia, time travels, and missing points. The Sofa across you is empty today. Your sofa will be empty tomorrow. And you think you two will meet afterwards when both the sofas will be empty and that’s the point where…just kidding. Let’s not open the pandora box today.

Not today, Zarathustra!

Remember those who are not with us anymore. Say a prayer for them.

And meet those who are with us. Show them how important they are for us and for this entire world.

May Allah be happy with us.

May people be unharmed by us.

Walli – Chapter & Year No. 10 (from Jinnah Library)

If you get the nerve of the universe, the way it operates and functions, you will know that Walli wasn’t insane. He was a bit odd at times – fine, all the time – but not insane.

He was there, passing through the Mall Road in 1866 when the foundation was being laid – just after a year of the Museum. He doesn’t remember what he was doing in that life. Maybe he was going to the court. He was a judge, yes – he was a judge. A lord. Or maybe he was fighting a case which ultimately led to the formulation of the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890.

You don’t know Walli at all.

Time was at his disposal throughout the times. You may not get it till you get the bending curve of the gravity that spreads through out the space making it stronger around the denser beings; but then everything adopts new rules just outside the giant black hole. For you. These are all just objects to mess your cleanest measurement tools, for example time.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Simple. 60 seconds a minute. 60 minutes an hour. 24 hours a day. Simple. Clean and straight. But no.

Forget 1800s.

All of you cannot see 1990s again. Saddening, isn’t it? Some of you may not even had seen it at all. It was the last decade of evolution. A halt in 2000s. Devolution since 2010s.

You cannot imagine the beauty of 1980s.

You cannot ever witness what it was like in 1960s.

You cannot smell the flowers of 1910s.

You cannot understand the glimpse of her mole on her neck when she’d be angry, and her neck stretched a little upward… that was 1822. You cannot see that. Yet, Walli had the courtesy to travel through all these times and moments to be trapped in a single action that he didn’t commit but to become a slave of his own self for the generations to come. For another glimpse.

For a glimpse of a newborn girl, a decade back.

For a glimpse of the crawling baby, a year later.

For a hug, a year later.

For a long uninterrupted chat, a year later.

For a long stare, a year later.

For another crusade, a year later.

For the 3rd temple of Jerusalem, a year later.

For the demolition of all the holy places all over the world, a year later.

For the first conquest of the one who was awaited by the massive crowds, a year later.

For the final revelation that it was a very harmful and bloody joke on you, a year later.

10 years it is. It is not. The time doesn’t run as linear as you think. It bends around the denser objects… like Walli. I wish I could explain but you got only five senses. Or six as you claim at times of being a complete waste of DNA.

What would be the 7th sense? Or 8th? Imagine. You cannot. Because you have only 5 senses and they will never let you think beyond them. Hence, you will never ever understand anything, except the joke that’s on all of you. Glamorous one.

Anyway, he saw that white structure coming out of the garden like trees making their own way. Upwards. It’s always upwards. Against gravity. Pillars were raised. Like nails on the land. The ceilings and the two halls were designed in the Victorian style with chandeliers in the halls. The Raj looked into the work, and they did their Victorian jobs really well.

Have you seen Bahawalpur Library? Nothing. Mentioned it for no reason.

Later in years, Walli saw that structure turning into nothing. Renamed. After Jinnah. And nothing more. Became a library of random books. Not a place worthy enough to be called a library.

But then this structure is too precious for Walli. He saw that from the womb. To this. From 1886 to 2024. The first draft of the law of the guardians and ward act was written around this structure, not inside. And just like knowing it for over a century, he couldn’t own it. Couldn’t give it a name. Orphan. Orphaned.

Ignore those irrelevant details.

Have you held a hand between the aisles of books? The hand, that must not be left ever again. I know you cannot relate to this part of human behavior – hint: devolution – when only one hand was supposed to be held forever. Walli’s case is different though. He had to live a number of times to hold different hands, but in the end, it was also for one hand that he wanted to hold one time before ending his journeys through irrelevant and parallel times.

You can also debate that there was never a time of holding one hand ever. Irrelevant debate.

Have you ever heard how wasteful time is in itself? Of all the creations, the most wasteful is this: time. A ridiculous concept that does not even exist. Anyway.

Let’s cut the story to today. Imagine, Walli sitting in Jinnah Library’s main hall in the year 2024 to write a brief history of M. It was all about M. Not the library, not the Victorian style, not the Raj, not the gravity, not the denser objects, not time travel, not even time… but M. Maryam.

In the name of M. You have been bestowed with fortune and the favor of the Lord. Yes, the Lord. Who gives. And takes. Makes you happy. And sad. Gives you reasons to be blasphemous. And then sends unreasonable crowd to burn you. Infidelity.

“I object.”

“Drag him back to his cell where his years will repeat in days.”

“I detest.”

“Send him to the infinite frames of time where the loops will punish him without killing him.”

“10 years, Lord.”

“Your Lord is not done yet.”

“A thousand crimes are forgiven after 10 years, Lord.”

“Your Lord shall not forgive. Not yet.”

“I object.”

“Your Lord doesn’t care.”

“That’s why you are not my Lord. Not today.”

Wait for another year. Because another year, is just a joke in the Divine Comedy of thy Lord.