The Newspaper Memories

“People don’t actually read newspapers.  They step into them every morning like a hot bath.”
Marshall McLuhan

There are hardly any memories I have from my childhood. Most of my memories have either been forgotten or repressed in some corner of my mind.

But one of these memories is a visual so strong, stuck in my head. A moment filled with a weird sense of peace, tranquility and warmth.

In my early years, I lived with my parent in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, a beautiful and rich country. That is where I had my primary schooling. Every morning my father would drop me to school at almost the same time. On the way to school, he would stop the car at a shop which sold food and newspapers, known as (Bakala) in Saudi Arabia.

We would get out of the car and go inside the shop, my father told me to go take whatever I want, while he stood at the newspaper stand, searching for the Urdu News, once he had the paper he would pay the shopkeeper, take my hand and walk me back to the car. He then sat inside the car and opened the paper, and for the next five minutes he would scan the headlines of the day.

“The newspaper is a greater treasure to the people than uncounted millions of gold.”
Henry Ward Beecher

I distinctly remember the crackling sound of leafs turning, the posture and focused sight of my dad’s face. Looking and scanning the newspaper, turning the pages. Then he turned the side of the paper in his right hand as he looked at his watch, and coming back to reality he would neatly fold the paper in four turns, place it on the handbrake and move forward.

Now that I think of it, as to why I remember this scenario in most detail, I feel a sense of warmth and security in this gesture. The aura of a man immersed in the task of reading a newspaper makes him so grandiose and noble. There something so poetic, so beautiful and warm about a man engrossed in the world of thin grey sheets and yet so aware of the world outside those sheets.

It’s a pity that now twenty years later; I rarely see a soul with a newspaper and a watch. The scarcity of newspaper culture implies that not many children would feel and witness this security and warmth which I was fortunate enough to experience.

With the mobile phone becoming a view port for the world, the fathers of today read the news on the screen which has no crackling music of turning paper and no firm twisting of the wrist to give their family and children that silent and secure experience.

The watches have become status symbols, the leather bands which once fit the wrist have turned to the free moving metal Rolex, which takes a jerk of the hand and arm to bring the watch in view of one’s eye. People take pride in holding the iPhone X as it makes them look rich.

But the combination of the firm, wrist hugging, leather band watch, which demanded an elegant classic turn of the hand to take note of time, and the thin grey sheets of black and white have long been lost.

 

The Him of Our Society

Every day is a new challenge. But the real challenge of everyday is to follow that one same aspect of your routine that you most despise. In my case, it is the walk. The walk, which might have been the best part of my day, had it come with different circumstances.

I wake up at the same time every morning and drive up the Mall Road of Lahore to get to my destination, the National College of Arts. I park my car behind one of the heritage buildings of Lahore known as the Tolinton Market and get out of my car, which is when my heart starts to race and my breath becomes heavier. Now is the time to cross the street filled with dark eyed, smirking men on bikes and rickshaws, staring and gawking at every passing female pedestrian, one of which is me. I know I have to walk fast, I console myself thinking, “watch your steps, don’t trip, don’t worry, it’s just a thought and a building to cross.”

I hold my bag close to my body, and stiffen my shoulders, as I start to walk away from my car and towards the first street. As I leave the parking lot I look towards the right and then the left to see all the cars, rickshaws and bikes. As the traffic breaks I pull my thoughts together and cross the street as fast as I can. Now and then I wish there was someone walking by me, a familiar face, a person who is safe. I look around to see if someone I know is close by and would walk with me to the NCA gate, but I catch the eyes of the men staring at my direction, scanning me with their dark piercing eyes.

My heartbeat fastens and I quicken my pace, I cross the Lahore museum, lowering my gaze towards the path and console myself thinking, “It’s just a few more steps.” As I reach the college gate and take the first step inside, my heartbeat goes back to normal, the horror is lifted. I can finally feel the air I breathe filling my chest and thanking God for the life ahead.

Over the past year I experience this every day and I feel like I may never get over this, but then I question, is it just my thought or is this actually happening? One of my professors once commented on this attitude of our nation saying, “our people are just prone to stare, we are a staring nation, and it doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything if someone is staring at us. We just can’t get rid of it.”

I agree to the fact that we are a staring nation, and I myself sometimes get lost in a thought and don’t realize where my eyes are affixed while I am experiencing a metaphysical realm of reverie.  However, the women on the streets, going about their business in this part of the world are more likely to have their eyes fixed on the ground than the men roaming the streets purposeless, as they may seem.

This makes one wonder is it the clothing or the figure of a woman, which of these is so enticing, even though she is most likely covered from head to toe with no room to peak.

With literally millions of women, maybe even more than men in this world; so common it is to see ‘her’ moving past you every single day, then why is it that the ‘him’ of our society feels the need to hold a sociopathic stare as she passes by in the markets and streets?

 

 

The Essence of Life

Go back in time to a dream you first saw. That dream which you confused with reality. Or was it a reality which you perceived to be a dream? The souls exist in the back of your mind, those conversations which supposedly happened in front of your eyes, that house which was once your home, the house which might not exist anymore. Now you go ahead and shut your eyes, you are already living way too many lives. Take a deep breath so that the air may travel to your heart; make this connection to what is a world apart. The past which was once in the innocence of your childhood may show you the intimate threads of connection. You see yourself where and there is where you live, the place where your child self is not at all afraid. He is safer, he is calmer, he is once again curious. He is excited about the future with no memories of the past, and that is the past which you long for, a past which was the present with no memories of the past.

The house that you visualize is yours alone. You live in peaceful solitude, as you visualize your private, warm corners in that dim lit room. You are connected to yourself and your beautiful pure soul. The air is light, blurry is your sight, but it is and will always be yours and yours alone.

It’s vast, it’s far and wide. It is as you saw it as a little knight, fighting your emotions, accepting what you have without the knowledge of it being real or a dream perhaps. The movement is smooth; you walk through that room, up the stairs as you rise, the compassion, passion and butterflies. You are eager, curious to explore that house; a space which you think is only without. But, you have to know, just, need to know, the house is not without, but a space within. Every dream you ever had with open eyes, every second you were lost in the well of thought, you explored the depths of your own existence and reunited the fragments of the treasure of memory; the calm and hopeful treasure and the very essence of life.

 

An Oblivious Existence

Staring into oblivion, his eyes see what he does not see.

He looks far and deep unto the horizon, he breathes what he does not speak.

His mind blinded by the light so bright

His eyes blinded by a desert of fright.

 

He sits with his legs crossed at the knees.

As the world in front, is buried beneath.

The sorrow wells, he turns to rock,

As time passes, his peace dissolves.

 

And then the life of his is distorted,

In the form of crystals and bruises blotted.

He’s ripped to shreds with complete dignity,

He’s a coward, a dog, a hog and incendiary.

 

His mind is pierced with the thought of thinking,

His heart smells the danger condensing.

And then he trusts what’s not to be trusted,

The earthly, the ecstatic and the worded.

 

Now, he’s old and brittle, decrepit,

But, he’s strong and stubborn, masculine.

He believes and endures what comes to him,

As he knows he brought it unto him.

 

A lover tries to console his soul,

The lover he has neglected and loathed.

He seems to forget, what he has never heeded,

Staring into oblivion, he’s rigorously rigid.

L'oeil, 2017
L’oeil, David Altmejd, 2017

Thought of the day.

You cannot be great by acting like larger than life, confident beings with heated words, colourful metaphors and fake conviction; used to entertain the mediocre. It doesn’t make you god. And it definitely, will not fool the shit out of real rationality.

Healing

A layer of metal under my skin.

A protection for what is fragile.

So you can’t tear my beautiful fin.

My heart and soul is bright and agile.

I healed myself by myself.

I healed all that was to heal.

You broke nothing, you should know.

All your efforts are a fail.

Do me a favour and ask youself,

What your words worth ehat you lost?

My heart and soul are synced too well,

For negativity to penetrate the shell.

If your vision told you the worst,

Why did you tolerate me thus?

For all so long you dragged me on,

Then I’m hanging and you’re gone.

But doesn’t it all matter no more

Since my life is so much better than yours.

Whatever you judge of me

Only be a reflection of thee.

Whatever you claim it is

Says what in your heart besits.

Now my heart and I are so free

Of thee and all other adversity.

I shall breathe the long and happy breath

Deep and relaxing it shall be.

I will live with a purpose and genuine beam,

This ignorance shall never make me scream.

TRY

You tried so hard, you tried consistently.

You say you did, but, did you really?

You seem unhappy, you are always depressed.

It takes the best of you and you claim to have panic attacks.

But all you do is ‘try’.

Why is it that you ‘try’?

You dont ‘do’ you just ‘try’.

You try to fight for what you want.

You try to fix what went wrong.

Is it that you console yourself?

Or is it that you actually ‘try’?

Because, what you and I, both don’t realise is that ‘trying’ is a ‘thought’ and not an ‘act’.

‘Try’ is a ‘barrier’, a ‘hurdle’, a ‘rock’.

So don’t you ‘try’, don’t you dare ‘try’.

Just do what you can, and then do what you can’t.

Do that which is ‘mad’, do that which is ‘bad’.

Do that which is ‘wrong’, do that what makes you ‘strong’.

Because whether you like it or not.

“YOU ARE DYING ALONE”.

The Perfect Pen

Art is a word. It is just a three letter word, a sound one makes from their mouths, like every other sound we produce to talk, express or impress. But it is the meanings, the romanticism, the clichés and all the other vast meaning we attach to this word which need to be contemplated. We describe things we don’t understand as art. We label thing we refuse to understand as art. And once we have done that, we attach the idea of madness with the one who forms the art. The artist is widely known as mad and eccentric.

Another way we see art or artist is a person who creates visuals out of paint and brush and other tools. The instruments and gizmos used to create what the eye can see and the mind can name, tools which are used with sheer level of skill to create visuals, so pure and perfect to be named with one’s mind and held with one’s eyes.

But little do we understand that art in itself is a word so fluid, it can be used to appreciate anything and every skill which exists on planet earth and beyond its horizons. But there’s a condition, the idea and skill behind anything called art should be nothing less than the excellent and exceptional.

One of my favorite quotes, from a brilliant movie describes this, and i.e. the idea: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but great art can come from anywhere.” And that is exactly what distinguishes the ordinary from the extraordinary. The ability to take a leap of faith, to think the new, to understand the existing, and to observe the ordinary from a phenomenal, unprecedented angle leading to an excellence of consciousness and instinct together working on producing the “new”.

ART: The Essence of Life

Art come in all forms, from the mother excellent at cooking breakfast pancakes to the painter, who is a master at using his brush, and the writer who uses his pen in the ambition to make a change. The tool, the idea, the conscious, the subconscious, the knowledge and the ignorance; all of it together becomes the perfect pen. And a pen is the agent for recording the essence of life. And that record is ART.

empty souls
Empty Souls by Muhammad Ali Bhatti

 

Full Stop

I told him, I cared about his work more than he did, and it was a tongue slip. I did not mean to say it but it came out that way. I believed it to be true because it was true because I wasn’t consciously saying that. Yet I destroyed it, it was in front of me and I destroyed it, he trusted me and I broke it. I disappointed myself more than I disappointed him. I felt broken and sad and helpless. I was better off being completely helpless. I tried. But I was ignorant.

I care, but I proved otherwise. I am naive, it is worst to say and destroy rather than just destroy. But earlier on I criticized someone who ruined something of mine, and I was mean to him, and it was karma which worked against me. Now I can’t show him my face. I can’t see his. I can’t face him at all. I have lost all my chances. I never get a second chance

I don’t want a second chance. It will be true to just look at him from a far. And never get near. I don’t want to hurt him again. I love him. But wait, about how many have I used the word love? Am I real with this? I have made this word so mediocre. I hate me for it. But do I really hate me? Because if I did. I would be dead. Am I even sincere? No I am not. What am i? I don’t know. I have feelings for him. I want to see him succeed. I want him to be the artist. My friend called him a stud. Yes he is. And what am I a big blob of flesh. Yes I am. I am despicable. Everyone in my life seems to despise me including me.

Acting like a hopeless romantic isn’t going to cut into anything. I want him to be something great which he is and is capable of more than this. But I am not going to be piercing into his life anymore. And the solution to all of my problems seems to be silence. If only I could condition myself into being silent, and listening to all. I need to stay silent, observe, and work on my life and my body.

Talk about body: If this is actually love the way I feel at the moment is supposed to make me a little more than slim, and that is skinny. I do love him. I will keep living him. And keep these feelings alive, I shall never tell him. I shall stay secretive. I will keep it in my heart hidden in the safest place so that no one can take it out of me. I will stay this way, this will be my success. It is amazing how the minutest thing as a dot can actually become a full stop. And this is a stop.

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Yearn

She is addicted. She is fine. She isn’t fine. She doesn’t know. Yet she knows. She cares. She is taken care of. She smokes. She breathes. She drinks and eats. Yet everyday her addiction increases, her heart beats faster, she tries to stay normal. But then she thinks to herself this isn’t normal. But what is normal, and what is the reason? She can’t answer that. She can only ask. She is superficial, double faced and very judgmental. She is kind, open hearted and loving. She is normal. Because normal is a word of great meaning.

From time to time, she has flashbacks. She judges herself, her memories and her life.  She thinks of all the things she has messed up. Everyone she has hurt. But there is no way to make things right, because time has passed, days have become nights. But little does she acknowledge how right now is.

She remembers all the ex-boyfriends she has had, and she knows there is no one she loved. Yet when she was asked if the words of the song playing in the background had any meaning for her, she had said yes. A yes that was confident. A yes that meant, “YES”. But the truth remains as it is. She had never felt for anyone. Or maybe she did, but her conscience was never ready to accept. Her conscience believed she was a sinner and a liar. And this is why, on this day, as she sat and wrote everything that was anything. She was imagining herself in a place that was beyond her reach and yet so close. It was out in the universe yet in her heart. It was in the arms of the man standing right next to her. “If only I was prettier, and better as a person. If only I could be something he would want. If only I had a heart which was pure. If only I was as smart and intelligent to be considered an option.” She knew she was better. Better than all people and all women in her sight. But she had a past filled with darkness. She was comfortable being there. She couldn’t step out of it. It was her home. And he was light. She had recognized the light way long ago.  Yet she opted for the darkness. She chose darkness. She slept with darkness. She regretted her existence and walked back in to darkness.

But now as she sits and writes everything that was anything. She has finally realized, she want his light. She wants to be his home. The person he would come back to and never want to leave. But she knows it is beyond her reach so she decides: “I will watch, I will attend, admire and care. But I will do all from afar and never near. I might not be in love now, I might be heartless now. But he is whom I want. He is the one I want to love. May I fall so deep and never return. This may be my wish and I will forever yearn.”

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