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Restless

A dog sniffs over his body lying near the garbage bin at the end of the street. He has been lying there since a day hardly conscious without coming to the notice of people passing by.  Those are the last few moments of his life. At that moment, he wants to forget breathing so that he can let go of this life.

He never thought it would end this way. Guilt robs his peace of mind for all the wrong he did. A sense of remorse covers him that he can’t take any more of it. He wants to put everything at rest now. At that instant, he doesn’t need a physical entity to live in. His soul is set free…

His soul is now enticed by the beauty of things around him. He is in no hurry. This is the only state of mind where freedom comes with no responsibility. He is thrilled to see bud slowly blossoming to become a beautiful flower, clouds taking different shapes as they float in the wind. The buzzing sound of bees and flies, the booming noise of river rushing towards sea sounds musical. A leaves shed tree looks like a great piece of art. Dawn and the dusk sky looks as though it’s being painted by a baby with all colours in random fashion. He is mused to hear whispers of rustling leaves and cold breeze. He marvels at the harmony with which everything in nature exists and suddenly he finds that he has no place in their world.

All that made him happy just a while ago seems overly simple. Trees which looked motherly and majestic now seem to be chained to earth, stagnant. Ceaseless journey of river looks tiresome and course less.  Moon, a romantic symbol of love which ruled the night sky now looks abandoned longing for a companion. Birds returning to nests at the end of the day make him long for his family. The rhythm in nature which he found amazing now looks like a mundane routine. The heart which once jived to the melody of cuckoo now mourns. He realises the greater purpose of life. He wants to go back to his former life, which was dynamic, constantly changing. Only now, he wants to recreate the reality.        Battle is between him and him within. Winning of one would only mean defeat of his other self. Mind is restless again. It can neither stay here nor go there. It’s inexorable…ironic.

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An evening

World looks so empty. I feel lost. Nothing will ever go right in my life and there is absolutely no one who cares about me. At the end of this horrible day all I want is a shoulder to rest my head on , arms to welcome me back and assure that everything will be fine . But I go to my room to no one. I rush through the door, carelessly throwing the slippers on the floor and tossing the bag on the chair and push my body to fall on the bed. My only companion waits in the corner to be turned on. As I open it, it greets me. I break down .Tears roll down my cheeks.
As I try to look outside I see dark clouds covering the sky. A lady comes up on the terrace to take back dried clothes before they get wet due to rain. People are hurrying back to their houses to avoid getting drenched in the rain. Big birds are enjoying themselves free falling in the cold breeze. Small birds in group look frightened by the wind, flying hard to get back to their nests. This is my mind confused, scared and sad.
And it rains. It pours down heavily, cleaning the dirt on earth. Trees dancing to the sound of the thunder. Rain is the symbol of the union of earth and sky. Earth lives in joy. This makes me think that somewhere out there, there is another loner, who is waiting just for me, to spend rest of the days and nights together .To cheer me up when I‘m sad , to hug me when I feel lonely ,to feed me when I m hungry. The loud thunder tries to silence the noise inside my head. Rain has wiped off the tears on my face. I have found hope once again. Heart sings along the line ‘find me here in your arms…’
Rain slowly starts to recede. The city is alive again as people jump to the streets. Children are at their best as I see them build small paper boats to carry their hopes. Water droplets trickling out of the leaves fall on the flowers. Sunray passes through the clouds announcing that the darkness has ended. As though somebody has pressed refresh button, everything looks lively and cheerful. Silence speaks volume. Without having said a word, I had the best conversation with myself.
We need not answer every question. Beauty of some questions is that they don’t have an answer. Everything has changed over the course of a song. Nature, by undergoing a change in itself, has taught me the meaning of life. Change is Permanent. The moment will pass anyway, whether good or bad, happy or sad. Sun comes out of clouds and beautiful seven colours form rainbow against the sky. Even when he is behind the clouds we see a silver lining. So is the void inside me: it is filled with new hope and love to look forward in life.

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a little girl.

  “Ah!! finally it’s here. .!” tired of waiting for nearly half an hour, I say to myself and rush into the bus. That is how this place is. It makes you go crazy.  People are not bothered of what is happening around them. They don’t care if they are sitting or sleeping next to a buffalo or an opened up manhole. They try to sell you everything that you don’t want to buy on bus. They just hop into bus and sell food stuffs, books, even clothes and slippers. Whether it is heavy down pour or hot sunny day, their life still goes on. Anyways.
           I pick a comfortable seat for the next one and a half hour travel. A little gal sits across me with her mum. Probably she is 5 years old. I guess she is on her way to grandma’s house. They have got big bags. There is one on little girl’s lap too. A woman sitting next to me is stringing a garland. That little girl is so engrossed in watching her work! She wispers something in her mum’s ear and they both smile at each other. She puts her tiny fingers out of the window and gets the feel of cold breeze. She has got her own cell phone too! Dials some fake number and speaks as if she is on line with her dad. Then she takes out a bar of chocolate and pleads her mum to open the wrapper. Mum asks her to stay quiet and they will reach home pretty soon. She cannot resist the sweet smell of chocolate. Somehow she opens up the wrapper, the chocolate is melted, yet she is happy licking the cream on the cover. She peaks into my note and smiles at me for the first time.
          After a while, seat next to her gets vacant. At the next stop, a lady gets in to the bus. This little girl taps the seat to draw lady’s attention and shows her the seat. The lady is happy at little girl’s act and gives her a chocolate. Though hesitates to take in the beginning, later with mum’s permission, she happily keeps it in her pocket. Relaxing back on her seat, she starts observing people on bus. She is not worried how long it is going to take to reach home. She is not delighted to see the giant buildings that stood on either side of the road, nor the expensive cars that people drive, not the sky buses. But a broken wheel of her toy car keeps her engaged for rest of the journey.
         That five year old girl is able to bring smile on everyone’s face on the bus, which is very hard to find in this fast pace world where nobody has time to stop and take a moment off of their busy schedule. As she falls asleep, I continue my thought process…
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A piece from “Angels & Demons”

  Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and drudgery and provided an array of gadgetry for our entertainment and convenience, but it has left us in a world without wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexity of the universe has been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. Science proclaims that planet earth and its inhabitants are meaningless in speck of grand scheme. A cosmic accident. Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel alone.  We are bombarded with violence, division, fracture, betrayal. Scepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? Does science hold anything sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn foetuses. Science even presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters god’s world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning…and all it finds is more questions. Temptations are too great to man to resist. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. The language of science comes with no signposts about good and bad. To science, I say this. Your world moves so fast that if you stop even for an instant to consider the implications of your actions, someone more efficient will whip past you in a blur. So you move on. You proliferate weapons of mass destruction but it is the pope who travels the whole world beseeching leaders to use constraints. You clone living creatures but it is the church reminding us to consider the moral implications of our actions. You encourage people to interact on phones, video screens and computers but it is the church that opens its doors and reminds us to commune in person as we were meant to do.
          And all in a while, you proclaim church is ignorant. Show me proof there is god, you say. I say use your telescope to look to the heavens and tell me how there could not be god! You ask what god looks like. I say, where did that question come from? Do you not see god in your science? How can you miss him? You proclaim that even the slightest changes in the force of gravity or weight of an atom would have rendered our universe a lifeless mist rather than out magnificent sea of heavenly bodies, and yet you fail to see god’s hand in this? Have we become so spiritually bankrupt that we could rather believe in mathematical impossibility than in a power greater than us?
          When, we as a species abandon our trust in the power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faith.. All faith are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable. Are we obsolete? Does the world really need a voice for the poor, the weak, oppressed, the unborn child? Do we really need souls like there, who though imperfect, spend their lives imploring each of us to read the signposts of morality and not lose our way?
 

          None of us can afford to be apathetic whether you see this evil as Satan, corruption…the dark face is alive and growing every day. Do not ignore it. The force, though mighty, is not invincible. Listen to your hearts. Listen to your god. Together we can step back from this abyss.

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An extract from “A thousand Splendid suns”

Mariam’s kolba is still here.
When she approaches it, Laila sees that the lone window pane is empty and that the door is gone. Mariam had described a chicken coop and a tandoor, a wooden outhouse too, but Laila sees no sign of them. She pauses at the entrance to the kolba. She can hear flies buzzing inside.
To get in, she has to sidestep a large fluttering spider web. It’s dim inside. Laila has to give her eyes a few moments to adjust. When they do, she sees that the interior is even smaller than she’d imagined. Only half of a single rotting splintered board remains of the floorboards. The rest, she imagines, have been ripped up for burning as firewood. The floor is carpeted now with dry-edged leaves, broken bottles, discarded chewing gum wrappers, wild mushrooms, and old yellowed cigarette butts. But mostly with weeds, some stunted, some springing impudently halfway up the walls.
Fifteen years, Laila thinks. Fifteen years in this place.
Laila sits down, her back to the wall. She listens to the wind filtering through the willows. There are more spider-webs stretched across the ceiling. Someone has spray-painted something on one of the walls, but much of it has sloughed off, and Laila can’t decipher what it says. Then she realizes the letters are Russian. There is deserted bird’s nest in one corner and a bat hanging upside down in another corner, where the wall meets the low ceiling.
Laila closes her eyes and sits there awhile.
In Pakistan, it was difficult sometimes to remember the details of mariam’s face. There were times when, like a word on the tip of her tongue, mariam’s face eluded her. But now, here in this place, it’s easy to summon mariam behind the lids of her eyes: the soft radiance of her gaze, the long chin, the coarsened skin of her neck, the tight lipped smile. Here, Laila can lay her cheek on the softness of mariam’s lap again; can feel mariam swaying back and forth, reciting verses from the Koran, can feel words, vibrating down mariam’s body, to her knees, and into her own ears.
Then, suddenly, the weeds begin to recede, as if something is pulling them by the roots from beneath ground. They sink lower and lower until the earth in the kolba has swallowed the last of their spiny leaves. The spider-webs magically unspin themselves. The bird’s nest self-disassembles, the twigs snapping loose one by one, flying out of the kolba end over end. An invisible eraser wipes the Russian graffiti off the walls.
The floorboards are back. Laila sees a pair of sleeping cots now, a wooden table, two chairs, a cast-iron stove in the corner, shelves along the walls, on which sit clay pots and pans, a blackened teakettle, cups and spoons. She hears chickens clucking outside, the distant gurgling of the stream.

A young mariam is sitting at the table making doll by the glow of an oil lamp. She’s humming something. Her face is smooth and youthful, her hair washed, combed back. She has all her teeth.
Laila watches mariam glue strands of yarn onto her doll’s head. In a few years, this little girl will be a woman who will make small demands of life, who will never burden others, who will never let on that she too has had sorrows, disappointments, dreams that have been ridiculed. A woman who will be a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her. Already Laila sees something behind this little girl’s eyes, something deep in her core, that neither rasheed nor the Taliban will be able to break. Something as hard and unyielding as a block of limestone. Something that, in the end, will be her undoing and laila’s salvation.