I used to wonder why people in Lahore swear so much? “BC” (if u don’t know what that means, stop reading right now) was a common figure of speech. It took me a while but I got used to it. It was only the other day when I found myself calling someone a BC, at the top of my lungs, in a crowded market in the middle of the day that I figured out why.

If you want to drive around this city (especially if you are a girl and god forbid your dopatta isn’t with you) you will need an ample amount of expressive vocabulary to get the sentiments that build along the way, off your heart.

The rickshaw wala that will casually decide to switch lanes; previously I would think the guy probably has a messed up life and no time to care for courtesy, but it’s only after twice or thrice you end up dying or killing someone that this sympathy tends to subside and you find yourself saying stuff like “tum ajao yar, tumhare baap ki road hai?!”…

The motorcycle walay uncle with his wife hanging for her life behind him…He will actually behave like he just inherited the road as property from his grandfather. Dude I understand that there’s no lane for bicycles or bikes here and it must be really hard for you guys but hey, here’s what I am saying: all you have to do is stay in the left lane… not in the right, definitely not in the middle. When somebody honks, they mean to say, “please do save your ass”. The “must mahol” thing you got going is going to get you killed bro. Also, mmm a bike does need side view mirrors… no trust me, im not kidding! And just coz you are sticking out your arm, does not mean the traffic will suddenly stop because your royal highness suddenly wants to turn right!

The gadha gari wala who will casually break the signal and be trotting away infront of you like this is the Shandur Polo Festival! With no breaks, mirrors or the hint of concern for his own life (let alone anyone else’s), he’s basically saying “You bang into me, it’s your loss a—h—-”! There’s not much you can say to these guys.

And then there’s that aunty in the civic and that uncle in the Prado, who will break the line before a check post, go all the way up and clog an otherwise functional queue. For them, I feel like using every swear word that exists in man’s dictionary. I mean, helloooo; this is a queue, just because you are in a car does not mean you don’t abide by the basic courtesies of a line! You are the same person who will wait for hours in a queue in your annual vacations in London; why must you behave like a primitive form of yourself here?

Then there’s the ass pincher (it’s what the bike dude coming from behind does to the girl waiting at the signal sitting behind another bike), the sleaze ball who wouldn’t stop staring… some will dare to do a thumbs up sign coupled with a wink too (that’s the average desi guys idea of charming a woman so take no offence) … Oh and if you are wearing jeans or a sleeveless, it’s all on you; it’s then ok to harass you. To these guys, a show of the middle finger is generally my abuse of choice. (Some smile back to that too but well, can’t run a man over for winking now… mmm actually, why not?!)

So I get it. Swearing is good … & for now, my weapon of choice. 

The ants and us… (Part 1)

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

On a random hangout with friends, there’s something someone said that has been playing in my head ever since. Our friend from India, Riaz Amlani was over. A very unique character this one is; he has something to say about everything. Not in an obsessive compulsive talker sort of way, but in a very impressive knowledgeable  way. I quoted a shair from ghalib, he quoted the entire nazm! We discussed mosquitoes, he knew all about them (yes some ten odd 30 year olds happened to be discussing insects very intently). The discussion moved to ants, n lo and behold; he was an ant expert. He owned something called an “ant farm” for two years! So he knew how their society works, how the roles are divided, how the succession of the queen takes place and basically, everything all there is to them.

So when he was describing how the worker and soldier ants look different, behave different, I said…

Marya: “The humans are like the ants too in a way; we also have job divisions, there are workers and soldiers etc”…

Riaz: “yes that’s right; we are just like the ants, we do what the Creator wanted us to do. We don’t control who we are, we only think we do”…

Marya: “hmm… no but some of us choose to be something else. For example, I always wanted to be an actor, maybe I was cut out for it… But I never pursued acting and hence I am not doing what I was supposed to do”…

Riaz: “ But do you appreciate acting? (I replied yes)… well then, you are still doing what you were supposed to do… Art needs both, the artist and the art enthusiast… without the enthusiast, the art form is incomplete. So you contribute to it just as the artist does”…

I have to admit, rather vainly, that not many conversations leave me as awe-struck as this one did. It was just so true and it answered such an important question…

I am smiling back…

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I believe today is a day the world celebrates love; so I am dedicating this day and this piece to the man who introduced me to it. He is the same guy who introduced me to God, to relationships, to joy, to life. Saying he is a part of my heart would be wrong, because he helped shape mine. It beats like he taught it to.

It’s hard to describe my relationship with him; he was some 50 years my senior. He was my teacher, my friend and my parent when I needed him to be. He passed away a few days ago and I haven’t spoken to anyone about it; I don’t intend to. I do intend to introduce the world to him; I feel like I owe it to everyone, but today I intend to only remember my fondest memories with him.

That day after the University put up a disciplinary case against me; his face that went red like never before, he lit a cigarette and then called one of the guys on the DC… I remember his words: “the function of parents and teachers is to salvage their wayward children, not to excommunicate them”.🙂 How I laughed even back then telling him that I don’t think the person on the other side understood what you meant sir!

How he took me fishing; and I spent an entire day with my fishing rod in the river to no avail. I remember he walked down a 100 stairs with me to the river, just to be a sport. We had lunch on a hill; we took a picnic basket with us. What a nice day that was!

Then my visits to his place; on one of these visits, early on, he started narrating his lovestory to me. What a storyteller he was! It lasted 8 hours on the first day, and we completed it in 3 eight hour sessions back to back J He used to read to me his writings; and letters. One letter he wrote to his neighbor, in reply to them having an objection with a girl staying at his place, was rather hilarious. He was naughty like that; made a stern face while he read it and laughed when it ended.

That tea, those cigarettes … the book shelf, the area dedicated to prayer…  those candles… that house wasn’t a house, it was a sanctuary; one where you knew God lived too.

I wish my words had the strength to describe him or all that he taught me. But his did. He said,

“Soon you will come across a man whom you can truly love. When you step out together, know that I’ll smile and wave…”

His last words to me were;

“And now as my own sun goes down, I pray for the likes of you who made my life worth living. There is nothing on earth more precious than love freely given and taken, peace shared and a prayer, that stretches as far as the heart can see.

Be happy, Marya, and may the Lord wrap you round with His care ~ always!

Qayyum”

With that prayer by my side, what do I ever have to fear… Rest in Peace Sir! You will live on in my heart and of those whose lives you touched, forever. As you smile and wave, know that I am smiling back.

Dreams and quantum physics…

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

I hardly ever have dreams; or so I think, because even if i do have any, I never rememeber them. But then there are those that I remember, with every little detail; those that are almost real.

I once had a baby in my dream; a beautiful boy. I remember being very happy. When i woke up, it almost felt like I had merely switched from one reality to another. For days, I kept thinking of ways i could go to my baby again. So I wonder sometimes, are dreams just our subconscious coming to surface or is it another reality? Do we exist in two places at the same time?

I also saw my mother die in one of these dreams; that day, I was glad that it was “just a dream”- but was it?

I had you in my dream today. It happens pretty often now. It’s nice just to be able to see you and talk to you in my dream. It’s sad how the reality i know, relies on space, distance and custom just for little things such as being able to tallk to someone, be with someone. But strange how sometimes I know with certainty that I’ll get to meet you in my dream.

I am here in Islamabad today; thinking of all the people I’d like to be with. Thinking of how one thing or the other separates me from them now. To me, dreams are becoming more important each day. They allow me to be where reality no longer lets me…

 

You fascinate me…

Posted: November 13, 2012 in The people in my life....

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that amongst the things that fascinate me, people top the list. I think this has been true for me all my life. But my recent interest in psychology and philosophy has definitely fueled this interest. I have developed a taste for human quirks and idiosyncrasies, without any judgment.

If there’s one thing I want from me, it is the pursuit of positivity and stability. So if I see a person not oscillate, it almost gives me a rush! It makes me wana follow them like a little puppy til I have found out “why and how”! That is not to discount the importance of dark and twisted but that’s mostly a case of ‘been there, done that’ for me.

So I want to tell you that I am supremely fascinated by you. I haven’t heard a single person say one bad thing about you- ever! I don’t get it. I have not seen you angry except for ten minutes. I have never seen you low except for one day. Is that even possible? Your emotional graph would probably come out to be a high-scoring straight line. I can’t help but wonder how.

I’ve met a few people before who have inspired me, some of whom have taught me all that I know. But this, I’ve never seen before. If I could I’d sit you in a cell and interrogate you or stalk you and find out my answers. Is this a garb? Or is it real? Did you learn this or were you always like this? Who are you? What is this? You make me question myself as much as I want to question you. Finding out a few things about you would’ve helped find some more of me. I really feel I should be allowed to know you. Because not being able to know you, is blurring some parts of me.

 

 

The biology of being a girl…

Posted: August 18, 2012 in Letters

God, it’s me.

You know I have been thinking about this for a long time now. I don’t want to discuss this with anyone else, lest they start believing you are unjust. But I am a bit confused; I feel it’s unfair for you to make anyone a girl, let alone in this country. I know you know more/better but I want you to hear me out.

Starting from the time I got my first period, a week every month is spent in pain. Let’s just say a lot of pain. It feels like somebody is scratching my insides with a poisonous rake which leaves my insides sore and burning. Like somebody’s sucking my life out inch by inch. I have fainted several times because of it, and honestly, every time I’d rather faint and not feel the pain. Then there’s the depression and fatigue that lasts more than that week and what’s worse is that the world thinks it’s funny. PMS is every man’s favorite joke. And what can one do, but laugh with them. I get it; they can’t be expected to take something that happens so often too seriously.

All of this for being able to produce a baby one day. Then I think about why must every girl have a baby? I understand the world’s need for pro-creation but, in a country like ours, with millions of babies that could use a home, why don’t we adopt them? Why do people nod in disapproval or cringe every time I have said the word adoption? Maybe someday someone can explain this to me.

Back to having a baby; you know, if a woman can’t have a baby, she is looked down upon? After a while, a woman’s worth becomes proportional to her capacity to produce children, and in our case, boys? You must be amused by this ignorance, but it affects us, badly. There’s this weird obsession with a woman’s reproductive system in this country; the convenience with which people ask you about your plans of having a baby is disturbing. It’s ironic too, in a country where speaking of sex is taboo, speaking of babies is a favorite pastime.

So if a girl does get pregnant (to the utter joy of aunties all over), she ends up puking her guts out for the first few weeks, followed by so many body changes it’s hard to count. You end up giving up your career for supporting a universal cause (aunties’ applause). Does the world stop and let you join in after a while, nope! Does your family understand the amount of sacrifice involved in giving up work and your life for a baby they all want? No. Are you the hero u thought you’d be?  Hah…If you ask me, it’s all a waste. Because after a few years, the baby won’t need you anymore, you turn into a useless ranting person nobody wants to listen to. You end up being the subject of a hit tv show; desperate housewives or something like that.

All that glory surrounding mothers… It’s all theoretical. All talk!

In between all this, is the emotional trauma you go through when leaving your house and coming to another’s (marriage as we know it in this part of the world). Again something that has been romanticized, though there’s nothing remotely romantic about it. It’s a nerve wrecker. Leaving behind a life of 25 years (roughly) is no joke. Starting a new one at that age?? Sigh… never mind that.  Not to mention the amount of girls who are physically and emotionally abused by the in-laws. I don’t mention them because I can’t even begin to imagine what’s it like for them. They too, btw, are a hit subject for local tv shows, if it’s any consolation.

Oh and losing your virginity; this I will accept is amusing even to me. You know how they show the first time in the movies?! Well, we both know that ain’t true. It’s rather painful the first time (very- just to be clear) and that unfortunately, doesn’t even qualify for a tv show.  (p.s. girls out there reading this, they lie in the movies and no, you are not abnormal, it does suck in the beginning).

A friend of mine just lost her unborn baby of 5 months. She gave birth- knowing her baby had died. She had labour pains for over 4 days and now, is unwell and scarred (possibly forever).  After all her years of period pains and the effort that went into getting pregnant, her body itself has become a bitter reminder of a baby she has lost.

I’ll tell you what God, I am very confused. I don’t understand why you make women the way you make them. So much pain for a human, just by virtue of their gender?

There are not many issues in life that I feel cannot be fixed or don’t understand the solution of. But this surely is one of them. That’s the problem with nature, you can’t defy it. You can complain about it, cry all you want but in the end, you are right where you started.  If I think about it, all I can wish for is for more people to have sons (in this country, to the sheer joy of everyone and to mine).

Not so long ago, I sat in the middle of the night crying because a man called Salman Taseer was murdered “publicly” infront of one my favorite coffee places in Islamabad. I cried because although I hadn’t known him, I felt like I understood him- he died fighting, for the right of one woman (atleast on the face of it). He stood in the face of all the advice that came his way saying it was useless, that there are “more important issues” than that. That one woman’s life was nothing he should endanger his life for.

I cried because I was afraid that soon they will come and hunt the likes of him down. That in this country, even holding a contrary opinion shall become a crime punishable by death. That mothers will no longer be able to teach their kids to always speak the truth. That some people will give their lives for the truth, like they always have, only in vain now- that murderers will walk out heroes.

A few days ago I read that police raided the same place, targeting those who were eating because it is against the law to eat “publicly” in the month of Ramadan (during fasting hours). Ironic how when it comes to doing it publicly, murder went unpunished whereas eating is being reprimanded.

Hey, how are they defining publicly? You inside your car parked at a deserted place in damin-e-koh is public? Or you inside a restaurant with 4 walls around it with mostly people not fasting inside it? Or a hospital? Or school?

For argument’s sake, I am a pregnant woman passing by kohsar market and decide to grab a coffee. Shall I carry my ultrasound report with me to prove my claim? Or forget pregnant, I am anemic. They would require my blood reports? I am not even going to mention the possibility that I just “don’t fast” because I am pretty sure the penalty for that here must be being whipped to death.

Mocca I hear has put up a sign outside that says it is only “open to the communities not observing the fast of Ramadan”. Does a percentage of the community that “does not fast” regardless of reason count as a community?

I could go on fighting this law on logic but we all know that’s futile. My agony is too- people are still thinking this isn’t an issue; it effects only that 0.1% of the society that doesn’t fast. Let’s worry about the 99.9 %. I am not even going to get into the absurdity of this attitude. What I unfortunately have to break to you is that when it comes to a law, the percentage of people it affects is no parameter for its soundness! A wrongful law must be condemned- even if it affects no one! Why because it reflects a mindset- a mindset that has no respect for rights and feels no obligation towards upholding principles of the State . If the people making these laws don’t give a crap about the 0.1%, rest assured, they’re not giving any for the 99.9%.

So knowing there’s nothing I can do (yes I’ll vote when the time comes)… I am going to Mocca next week. I am going to go and order a coffee and a muffin and wait til the “police” (literally so) come. Not because I want to agitate anyone but because I have a few questions to ask. I don’t think I will get arrested, coz I am “ladies”.

See you at Mocca, whoever cares to join. That’s the place a man died, not so long ago defending the rights of a woman who was “0.1” of the society… So I am going to go there and fight, “whoever” thinks 0.1 is a percentage that doesn’t matter!