Category Archives: Human Condition

Strawberry Fields

Video

ImageAnd in that void, I swayed. To the beauty of the moment that embraced me. The breeze of silent whispers that softly hit my drums like a soft love song sung behind closed doors and thick walls. And as I closed my eyes, and breathed stronger till my nose converged within itself, I let my worries out through a whiff of air that escaped my mouth. And I was there..

I walked through the garden, sunlit green. Rose kissed trees smiling at me, reaching out for an embrace.

‘Can you walk here to me?’, I asked.

And they swayed their head in melancholy. How unfair life is, isn’t it? To build a desire you simply can not please? Their roots held them back, so I could see. Like most of you, and I, him and she. So I walked to her, so tall and pink and green. And as I melted into the bark of the tree, her twiggy arms encircled me. And as I let go, all dusty and pink, she gave me a strawberry which made me think..

I wonder how she knew I wanted one, so juicy and sweet?

As I treaded on the infinite stone path that didn’t seem to end, I held the strawberry in my hand. And pondered if I hadn’t walked to the tree, if my desire to have one would be in vain? That would’ve been a shame..

So I looked at the vultures that orbited me, and I gulped down the berry before they could see.

My berry, my berry, all mine” was all I could think..

And as the berry struggled through my pipe, and bounced inside me, my vision became clearer and I could finally see. Did the sun just become brighter, or is it just me? I thought to myself..

oak-tree-abstract-study-regina-valluzzi

The sun indeed was livelier, the veins of the flowers pursed like a lady’s lips to kiss her beloved, the grass became younger than I last remembered..

It was a breakthrough, that much I could see. Closed doors opened, visions got clearer, things started to unravel.. And did life suddenly make more sense that it ever did to me?

And as I stared at the gold butterfly that sat on my nose, and flapped its wings to synchronize with my lashes, the voices called out to me.

Wake up, wake up, have you fallen asleep?’.

I felt a tug on my arm, though I could not see. And I reached out to the branch of the tree, to save me. The pull became stronger, and as I let out a scream.. The butterfly turned to dust, the tree fell apart, the sun deceased. The darkness sucked me in through a straw I didn’t fit in to, but such is darkness, and such it has always been..


 

Inspiration:

 

Advertisements

Vertigo

Standard

10154434_10152427021914050_1468745591_n

Come here.

Sit.

 

How did we get here? When we stopped looking for monsters underneath our beds, and started looking for them within and around?

Don’t make a sound. They’re listening.

 

Did you check for the ones hidden beneath the sheets of your bed? The ones that hold you close on a winter’s night, warm their bodies, until summer arrives? Did you hunt them down?

 

How did we get here? When dreams stretched longer than a night, and reality came a bit too soon..but still too late?

Open your eyes.

 

Do you want me to pinch you now, so you know what is true and that which is not? But didn’t you ask for that pinch when nothing seemed real? I believe you felt the pinch too late, my dear. Wait..

How did we get here?

 

Are you out of colors, yet again? The black, the blue, the green, the grey.

Prick your finger with a needle sharp, and paint your wall with blood so dark..

Wrap it with a chain and lock, not a door this time..

Remember the last knock?

 

Nothing is true, did I tell you not? Not the words spoken, or the purple rock.  God died in all the battles that were fought, the devil crawled out of him, I kid you not..

 

A sweet demise this shall be one, a revival, a reform? Or maybe none..

A cliff you’re standing on, yes, right there..

 

Wait..

How did we get here?

 


 

Inspiration:

 

News Package: Slum Life in Winters

Standard

This is our News Package project for Online Journalism Course. Slum life for these nomads is even more difficult for in the harsh winters than usual. Already fighting with lack of food and provisions, winters wages an added battle with the cold. We entered into their world and to take a glimpse into their life.

Production Team:
Kashmala Amin Khan

Rabia Khawar

Fatima Ebadat

Sara Mahmood 

Asiya Shoaib

 

The Other Side of Lahore

Standard

A pictorial assignment on various street vendors in Lahore.

Quite often, amidst our menial worries and small problems, we tend to forget that there are people in the world who have bigger problems than us. While our problems concentrate around finding the perfect outfit for a birthday party or getting an A grade, there exist those who don’t even know whether they’ll have food on the table the next day. These people have a whole family to support on a measly income that ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 a month.

This post is dedicated to the street vendors in Lahore and all over Pakistan, who work tirelessly to give us delicious street food and some wonderful products that we wouldn’t be able to spend a day without.

 

Utopia

Standard

 

Image

Astronomica

 

Faith.

Ever had that feeling, when you’re lying on the hospital bed, and you just know who you want to see when you wake up; That one person who’d make it all better? Have you ever had that moment when you’re treading but you can’t stop yourself from turning around expecting to lay your eyes on something other than your shadow? Have you ever hoped to feel a warm embrace when you’re sitting alone crying?

 

Ever looked into someone’s eyes, wanting to see love? And have you ever led yourself to think that it’s there? Ever come across an episode when you see the knife, but you let your back turn anyway? And have you pretended like your loved one didn’t tear your spine with it? Ever been in a state when you can’t embrace the truth because it’s too harsh? And have you ever knowingly let go of the truth, and embraced the lies because they give you a reason to smile?

 

Ever lived in a time when humanity perished and greed prevailed? Have you ever been a part of the system, even though you hated it? Ever become the person you dreaded the most? Have you ever reaped your soul to have a little power? And have you ever sadistically liked being superior, while crushing your fellows beneath your feet?

 

Ever come across a point in time when you think you’re special to god? Have you ever had the faith to nullify the fact that he’d let you get hurt? Have you ever told yourself that it’s going to be okay, when you know it isn’t? Have you ever lied about how you’re grateful to god, when you really aren’t? Have you ever fashioned a facade, believing that god will give you the answer, when you can’t find it? And have you almost always known that that isn’t going to happen?

 

Faith is a funny thing. A state of intoxication, an eternal beauty where reason has drowned and lies have succumbed. A beautiful denial; A beautiful lie; A beautiful utopia. Faith is what all of us need. A reason to decline, a reason to believe in good when there isn’t any, a reason to smile when there is none. Faith, like utopia, is not wanting to know the truth because the lies are better.

 

 

To a Teacher’s quest, Nobody Protests!

Standard
To a Teacher’s quest, Nobody Protests!

 

 

Teacher introduces and implements a ‘five percent of the total grade’ assignment for a course in Islamic Studies that is compulsory for everybody in class. The whole class has to offer prayers at the college mosque. There are people from various sects and religions in the course. Nobody protests.

Teacher states that the military is the only institution that can  lead economic development, in terms of GDP growth, in Pakistan. In her first lecture on Macro Economics, nobody even tries to counter argue, since the teacher has an amazing reputation in the economics department. Nobody protests.

Communication skills instructor details in a half an hour long diatribe that students must watch Zakir Naik if they want the real truth in life. teacher goes ballistic on sole student who tries to question the logic behind that revelation. Student humiliated, and ostracized. Class moves on to further lecture on piety. Nobody protests.

Teachers questions why the Shia’s can’t even dare to challenge the writ of the state by protesting against the mass killing sprees all over the country. In the backdrop of the Alamdar road incident where the families did not bury their dead for four days, A professor claims that the shias should listen to the majority as the majority rules in a democracy. And yet again, nobody dares to stand up, its all about securing your grade and remaining in the good books.

Teacher feels up girls in class and calls his methodology “a spiritual reawakening of the student population”. Later he lambastes a girl for wearing a hijab who giggles and takes it in her stride. Teacher is woken up by his female teaching assistant everyday and escorted to class by girls who have to do it out of duty. Nepotism reigns supreme. Nobody protests.

Teacher mails students six hours before a mid term exam that 80 per cent marks are a prerequisite for students being able to qualify for their thesis in the final semester. Like lambs, led to slaughter, students appear in the exam next day, nobody protests.

 

“I am not an Island!”

Standard

It is a common phrase we hear, tucked in here and there to show that man is not self-dependent or independent, and in fact requires not only companionship but also strength in numbers in order to gain his sustenance.

If you come to think about it, even the natural order of things does not allow for me to be a complete loner. I was born as a sixth member of my family. Right when I was born I had two sets of grandparents, parents, fives uncles, an aunt, a dozen cousins and three (incredibly awesome) siblings.

1

As we begin to grow up, we are institutionalized, by which I mean put into academic ones. From this point forth our life is just a race through one school to another, or to a college, and then to a university and then perhaps to another university. All these years you manage to gather another web of people you begin to depend upon. Whole categories worth of people; teachers, acquaintances, school friends, college friends, and university friends. If you are lucky, you get promoted to another institution after that which is called quite aptly; work. And there you have another set of people to forge through and pick as your own; boss, colleague, project manager, you name it.

29

However, somewhere along the way we don’t just categorize the people according to how we know them, but also we begin to prioritize them. That uncle always gives me more Eidi on Eid so he’s the best. That school friend stole my eraser in kindergarten; she’s such a menace to society. That girl from university wear hideous clothes, does she not look at herself in the mirror before coming? I really don’t want to be seen with her.

20130604_131636

With this prioritization of the people in our life, we begin also to alienate the people in our life. Sometimes we do it to a single person out of some grudge we have or a bad past experience. But other times we do it as a group; someone who doesn’t fit our perception of a friend and hence cannot be included in our confidantes.

The truth is though that by prioritizing the people in our life, we begin to treat them like commodities. We label them; pervert, druggie, psycho, loser etc. And with these labels we begin to shed these labelled commodities from our lives, very much the same way we label our old clothes when cleaning out our closets as garbage, give away, hopelessly old etc and then continue to dump them.

What we need to realize is the difference between not being an island and reducing someone to an island. Where yes it is wise to have some level of prioritizing in the people you love and trust, there we must also be careful to not make someone feel excluded. So your group of friends does not like a person, it does not mean that you must dislike them as well. In fact, befriend them and show your friends what a great person that person really is; or at least try to be polite to them.

Reaching out to other people and accepting the fact that we are all not islands drifting in the sea is key to human existence. You are not alone if you are with the right persons and then you realize the sense in never letting anyone feel that way either.

And if you are among the few who have been made to feel lonely and commoditized, don’t be shy to say it aloud, “I’m not an island!”

19

Apathy

Standard

By Asiya Shoaib Ismail

Image

People expect most of those around them to be concerned and sympathetic to the troubles that others face, and it is, I guess, the most natural and humane response to incidents of violence or hurt. But what does one do if they stop giving the normally expected response?

Clearly that is, what I appear to be going through. As a child and a teenager, I was rather impassioned, full of patriotism and this hope that I could fix things, fix my society of its ills and evils. I had grown up expose to many realities of my country but still viewed them in a very idealistic light. The mere fact that I have given up even before I have graduated is a shame, and I am truly embarrassed to admit that I am, in fact, apathetic.

IMG-20140329-WA0004

It’s worth addressing why I have become so. Being exposed to a society that is reeking with evils and vices, along with a very blatant display of them everywhere, from classrooms to the media, I have stopped feeling much concern about alleviating and resolving the problems. It is not something that a single person can do alone and there is no way that the status quo of this country is going to stand for and support anything that is for the benefit of the society. Only benefit for the individual works, and this trait makes the entire society uniform, thus negating the need for anything that would lift and support the masses. Secondly, the masses also go ahead and reinforce that which is uniform by their choice of leadership and administrators. Thus, every attempt for change is left futile and useless.

I feel like I have turned into a cynical, jaded and hopeless girl who doesn’t represent the youth or her country. I bear a banner all on my own without feeling the need to associate with one of the many labels that our society is broadly placed under. I have expressed the need to move away from the uniformity prevalent in our society and adopt a more individualist approach and I feel like I have come to own individuality as a trait within me. But, this country, and the people within it; I feel no element of sympathy or concern for them. I am, apathetic.

 

The writer is self-studying the Korean language and Hangul script at the  moment and possesses a keen interest in learning as much about the Korean culture as is possible.

Epiphany

Standard

“I still live, I still think: I still have to live, for I still have to think”
Friedrich Nietzsche

The Fractal House.

The Fractal House.

 

As I drown myself into the deep abyss of scrutiny, voices break my mind into a puzzle. This enigma, the mind, something hard to put back, speaks to me with perplexity. And as it does, it dismantles from the rest of me. But what is this rest that I speak of? Isn’t my mind me? Isn’t it what elucidates me? Or is it the heart that steals the strength I have, weakening me with every scarlet tear it sheds?What am I made of? Am I made of dreams? Of spirit? Or just bones? Is there something that dwells within me, which holds me together? Or is it just reality that holds me intact, telling me that I am existent. Can it be true that the world we live in, the steps we tread everyday don’t really exist? That the words I’m carving on the wrinkles of this paper are a dream? But a dream of what? And every time this thought assails my mind, I pinch myself to prove that I exist. But does the pain that screams within the wound that I gift myself justify my being?

 

As I narrow my eyes, fixated on the hand of the clock, ticking its way to it’s friends that await it, a notion tingles my mind. Is the hand of the clock forced to move away from one comrade to another? To say a goodbye so quickly for a speedy hello? Or is it that these friends aren’t really friends? The clock, like every being, is ordered by the norms of society to know another to make itself known in order to exist. But who orders us? Who sets these norms for us? Is it the dominant paradigm, or is it a spiritual entity? Who determines that the sun has to burn the earth knowing that some people may not conceal themselves? Who orders the dark to set, knowing that it might camouflage the beast within? Who decides the fact that the bee has to die after it stings its enemy? Who determines these gruesome specifics to a degree where they feel just fine?

 

In a world where every word is a prejudice, where man devours another, where the existence of truth is a lie; Is it wise to have faith in a being that hasn’t been acquainted to your iris? Or is it naïve to think that the pink veins of the flower gave birth to themselves without the help of a supreme individual? And I ask myself; Is man one of God’s blunder’s or is God one of man’s?
But as my hand scribbles its way to its last words, my mind still wandering in a maze of unattainable desires, I sigh as I watch the woman in the water staring back at me with more strength to breathe in the answers than I do

 

 

The Sparrow Sings

Standard

A poem about the social evils and crimes against humanity, committed not only in Pakistan,  but in other developing nations with male dominated societies. The metaphor of the sparrow has been incorporated to indicate how the world rarely notices how brutal and painful these crimes really are.

Far away,
A place where no one dares to travel,
Somewhere along the empty trail,
A young girl loses her innocence,
She wails and screams,
While the sparrow sings.

sexual-assault-symbol_0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the neighborhood,
In a place called home,
A tattered and broken abode,
A wife, a mother, lies on the floor,
Abused and marred,
And the sparrow sings.

In a field,
A barren and hollow piece,
A man sets his blood on fire,
Simply because she chose to,
Fulfill her desires,
Still the sparrow sings.

Round the corner,
In a desolate village,
The epitome of purity and innocence,
A female infant,
Meets her demise,
But the sparrow sings.

In front of me,
The people I know,
Disrespect and shoot down,
The ones who gave them life,
Yet the sparrow sings.

wm169645tt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands cry,
While millions die,
Torment knows no bounds,
As everyone watches the world burn,
Havoc, unrest and anarchy,
Then why does the sparrow sing?