Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Day 5: Rain dance.

" If opportunity does not knock, build a door." Mendel Berlinger

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Day 4 : Dollar Bill.

'You ask me what is poverty? Listen to me. Here I am, dirty, smelly, and with no "proper" underwear on and with the stench of my rotting teeth near you. I will tell you. Listen to me. Listen without pity. I cannot use your pity. Listen with understanding. Put yourself in my dirty, worn out, ill-fitting shoes, and hear me.
Poverty is getting up every morning from a dirt- and illness-stained mattress. The sheets have long since been used for diapers. Poverty is living in a smell that never leaves. This is a smell of urine, sour milk, and spoiling food sometimes joined with the strong smell of long-cooked onions. Onions are cheap. If you have smelled this smell, you did not know how it came. It is the smell of the outdoor privy. It is the smell of young children who cannot walk the long dark way in the night. It is the smell of the mattresses where years of "accidents" have happened. It is the smell of the milk which has gone sour because the refrigerator long has not worked, and it costs money to get it fixed. It is the smell of rotting garbage. I could bury it, but where is the shovel? Shovels cost money.
Poverty is being tired. I have always been tired. They told me at the hospital when the last baby came that I had chronic anemia caused from poor diet, a bad case of worms, and that I needed a corrective operation. I listened politely - the poor are always polite. The poor always listen. They don't say that there is no money for iron pills, or better food, or worm medicine. The idea of an operation is frightening and costs so much that, if I had dared, I would have laughed. Who takes care of my children? Recovery from an operation takes a long time. I have three children. When I left them with "Granny" the last time I had a job, I came home to find the baby covered with fly specks, and a diaper that had not been changed since I left. When the dried diaper came off, bits of my baby's flesh came with it. My other child was playing with a sharp bit of broken glass, and my oldest was playing alone at the edge of a lake. I made twenty-two dollars a week, and a good nursery school costs twenty dollars a week for three children. I quit my job.
Poverty is dirt. You can say in your clean clothes coming from your clean house, "Anybody can be clean." Let me explain about housekeeping with no money. For breakfast I give my children grits with no oleo or cornbread without eggs and oleo. This does not use up many dishes. What dishes there are, I wash in cold water and with no soap. Even the cheapest soap has to be saved for the baby's diapers. Look at my hands, so cracked and red. Once I saved for two months to buy a jar of Vaseline for my hands and the baby's diaper rash. When I had saved enough, I went to buy it and the price had gone up two cents. The baby and I suffered on. I have to decide every day if I can bear to put my cracked sore hands into the cold water and strong soap. But you ask, why not hot water? Fuel costs money. If you have a wood fire it costs money. If you burn electricity, it costs money. Hot water is a luxury. I do not have luxuries. I know you will be surprised when I tell you how young I am. I look so much older. My back has been bent over the wash tubs every day for so long, I cannot remember when I ever did anything else. Every night I wash every stitch my school age child has on and just hope her clothes will be dry by morning.
Poverty is staying up all night on' cold nights to watch the fire knowing one spark on the newspaper covering the walls means your sleeping child dies in flames. In summer poverty is watching gnats and flies devour your baby's tears when he cries. The screens are torn and you pay so little rent you know they will never be fixed. Poverty means insects in your food, in your nose, in your eyes, and crawling over you when you sleep. Poverty is hoping it never rains because diapers won't dry when it rains and soon you are using newspapers. Poverty is seeing your children forever with runny noses. Paper handkerchiefs cost money and all your rags you need for other things. Even more costly are antihistamines. Poverty is cooking without food and cleaning without soap.
Poverty is asking for help. Have you ever had to ask for help, knowing 6 your children will suffer unless you get it? Think about asking for a loan from a relative, if this is the only way you can imagine asking for help. I will tell you how it feels. You find out where the office is that you are supposed to visit. You circle that block four or five times. Thinking of your children, you go in. Everyone is very busy. Finally, someone comes out and you tell her that you need help. That never is the person you need to see. You go see another person, and after spilling the whole shame of your poverty all over the desk between you, you find that this isn't the right office after all-you must repeat the whole process, and it never is any easier at the next place.
You have asked for help, and after all it has a cost. You are again told to wait. You are told why, but you don't really hear because of the red cloud of shame and the rising cloud of despair.
Poverty is remembering. It is remembering quitting school in junior high because "nice" children had been so cruel about my clothes and my smell. The attendance officer came. My mother told him I was pregnant. I wasn't, but she thought that I could get a job and help out. I had jobs off and on, but never long enough to learn anything. Mostly I remember being married. I was so young then. I am still young. For a time, we had all the things you have. There was a little house in another town, with hot water and everything. Then my husband lost his job. There was unemployment insurance for a while and what few jobs I could get. Soon, all our nice things were repossessed and we moved back here. I was pregnant then. This house didn't look so bad when we first moved in. Every week it gets worse. Nothing is ever fixed. We now had no money. There were a few odd jobs for my husband, but everything went for food then, as it does now. I don't know how we lived through three years and three babies, but we did. I'll tell you something, after the last baby I destroyed my marriage. It had been a good one, but could you keep on bringing children in this dirt? Did you ever think how much it costs for any kind of birth control? I knew my husband was leaving the day he left, but there were no goodbye between us. I hope he has been able to climb out of this mess somewhere. He never could hope with us to drag him down.
That's when I asked for help. When I got it, you know how much it was? It was, and is, seventy-eight dollars a month for the four of us; that is all I ever can get. Now you know why there is no soap, no needles and thread, no hot water, no aspirin, no worm medicine, no hand cream, no shampoo. None of these things forever and ever and ever. So that you can see clearly, I pay twenty dollars a month rent, and most of the rest goes for food. For grits and cornmeal, and rice and milk and beans. I try my best to use only the minimum electricity. If I use more, there is that much less for food.
Poverty is looking into a black future. Your children won't play with my boys. They will turn to other boys who steal to get what they want. I can already see them behind the bars of their prison instead of behind the bars of my poverty. Or they will turn to the freedom of alcohol or drugs, and find themselves enslaved. And my daughter? At best, there is for her a life like mine.
But you say to me, there are schools. Yes, there are schools. My children have no extra books, no magazines, no extra pencils, or crayons, or paper and most important of all, they do not have health. They have worms, they have infections, they have pink-eye all summer. They do not sleep well on the floor, or with me in my one bed. They do not suffer from hunger, my seventy-eight dollars keeps us alive, but they do suffer from malnutrition. Oh yes, I do remember what I was taught about health in school. It doesn't do much good.
In some places there is a surplus commodities program. Not here. The country said it cost too much. There is a school lunch program. But I have two children who will already be damaged by the time they get to school.
But, you say to me, there are health clinics. Yes, there are health clinics and they are in the towns. I live out here eight miles from town. I can walk that far (even if it is sixteen miles both ways), but can my little children? My neighbor will take me when he goes; but he expects to get paid, one way or another. I bet you know my neighbor. He is that large man who spends his time at the gas station, the barbershop, and the corner store complaining about the government spending money on the immoral mothers of illegitimate children.
Poverty is an acid that drips on pride until all pride is worn away. Poverty is a chisel that chips on honor until honor is worn away. Some of you say that you would do something in my situation, and maybe you would, for the first week or the first month, but for year after year after year?
Even the poor can dream. A dream of a time when there is money. Money for the right kinds of food, for worm medicine, for iron pills, for toothbrushes, for hand cream, for a hammer and nails and a bit of screening, for a shovel, for a bit of paint, for some sheeting, for needles and thread. Money to pay in money for a trip to town. And, oh, money for hot water and money for soap. A dream of when asking for help does not eat away the last bit of pride. When the office you visit is as nice as the offices of other governmental agencies, when there are enough workers to help you quickly, when workers do not quit in defeat and despair. When you have to tell your story to only one person, and that person can send you for other help and you don't have to prove your poverty over and over and over again.
I have come out of my despair to tell you this. Remember I did not come from another place or another time. Others like me are all around you. Look at us with an angry heart, anger that will help .'
Source :

Monday, 26 September 2011

Day 3: Reasons To Love Life.

Quoted from Baakh Nusrat's blog:

Life holds so many priceless things- The wind whipping across your face on a roller coaster,
That random smile from a stranger, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, that one text from a person that pretty much makes your day, the standing on the balcony and watching the sun rise, the sip of water after a long soccer practice, knowing that people actually count on you,looking at old photo albums, accompanied with the "ooohs" and "awws", the smell of freshly laundered clothes, making footprints in the sand and watching them wash away, waiting for an eternity and getting the perfect snapshot, hearing that song on the radio, laughing until it hurts, knowing exactly what your best friend is talking about and shooting those furtive glances, waking up and knowing you still have a few hours to sleep, the cold side of the pillow, finding some spare change in that old pair of jeans, being yourself and actually being liked for it, freshly shaved legs, proving someone wrong, de javu, finding out someone you like, likes you too, walking barefoot on grass, wearing that same pair of jeans for 3 straight days, watching an old cartoon and still be able to recall all the lines, reading magazines in other languages and realizing you actually understand bits, getting lost in New York city, missing a plane, random notes, getting your homework done way before its due, wearing two different socks, being in love for the very first time, rereading a good book, . . . Trying to find reasons to love life :)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Day 2 : Printemps

Short films are the new obsession. Lately, I spent a lot of time watching a dozen of short films and the following two are my personal favourites.
'Symmetry'by Radio Lab was set out in search of order and balance in the world.

' Last day Dream' gave me goosebumps. Directed by Chris Milk, this short film tells the story of a man who watches his life pass before him.

DAY 1 : Drops From Heaven.

The following is quoted from Mehwish Zuberi's blog

'It was a Friday afternoon. As usual, Ami had forbidden us from turning the TV on until everyone was done with their Friday prayers. As I was about to begin reciting a chapter of the Holy Quran, the phone rang. Ami picked it up.


I don’t think I will ever forget the look of utter horror on her face.

“Turn the TV on!”

I did as I was told.

And there it was all over the news. Another bomb blast in my city. A terrorist attack in a mosque. And not just any mosque, the Parade Lane mosque. The mosque that was across the street from my Uncle’s house.

“Abdullah and your baray Phupa were in the mosque!” Ami shrieked incoherently.

Abdullah, my 16 year old cousin and his grandfather, my Phupa, had been inside the mosque for Friday prayers when the Taliban attacked it.

“They’ve taken your baray Phupa to the hospital, but Abdullah can’t be found anywhere!” Ami continued, her features distorted with panic.

I was having difficulty breathing. This can’t be happening. Not Abdullah! Not baray Phupa! This can’t be happening!

An agonizing half hour later, my Phupa was pronounced dead and Abdullah’s lifeless body was discovered at the hospital.

Later that night, we arrived at Parade Lane which was the military residential area where my Uncle lived. Wailing could be heard from every house in the colony. Because most of the roads were blocked, we had to walk through the street in front of the mosque that had now been reduced to ruins. I remembered how happy my Uncle used to be at having a mosque so near their home. “We go out and a minute later we are in the mosque,” he would tell us proudly.

Bullet piercings marked the few remaining walls that still stood. Splatters of blood and gore everywhere. The shoes of the worshipers were scattered. I had to tiptoe so I wouldn’t step on anything that was once human or belonged to one. The overpowering stench in the air was a mixture of blood, gunpowder and roses. It is customary to put roses on the deceased’s grave. The scene inside my Uncle’s home was even more distressing, if such a possibility could exist. If there is a hell on Earth, it is for a parent who has lost a child.

The incident took place around 1 in the afternoon on December 4th, 2009. The muazzan had just recited the call for prayer. As usual, Abdullah and my Phupa had gone early to get a spot near the muazzan. This simple act of wanting to please God had cost them their lives. Abdullah’s father and two younger brothers had just stepped out of the door when the first blast was heard.

The attack that involved grenade throwing, firing from guns and deadly explosions martyred at least 40 people, 16 of which were kids. Every house in the area was in mourning. Families lost fathers, sons, brothers, husbands.

This was just one of the hundred and hundreds of terrorist attacks that have pulverized my beloved country in the past 3 years, leaving more than 8,000 dead, 20,000 wounded and countless lives afflicted. The country that was carved on the world map as a valley of peace and religious freedom is now on the US Department of State’s list of most unsafe places in the world.

It is a new low for the Taliban, for these cowards who fight “in the name of Allah” are in fact nothing but traitors of Islam and the message of peace that it brings. It is because of them that the word Muslim is being treated with disdain, that a Pakistani is treated with a doubtful glance on international airports for carrying that green passport, it is because of them that I can’t leave my doorstep without my mother anxiously fretting until I get back. But I am no longer afraid. No longer do I fear for my life. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” It is not bombs or grenades or guns that terrorists use as weapon. It is fear. They can only be successful in their vile scheme if they are able to manipulate people’s fears. The nations of the world need to unite and look these terrorists in the eye and tell them that we are not afraid. We will attain peace at any cost, for no cost will be too high.

Sidenote: The mosque has since been reconstructed and my cousins have moved to a different city.'

Gol Gappay Aur Gulab Jamun.

I would like to share something that inspired me a lot and somehow convinced me to write, to think and most importantly be grateful to God.
The plan is to share stuff every day on my Blog. Ok, I don;t know why I wrote this.

Friday, 23 September 2011


Ok, these two videos are SO WORTH WATCHING.Hopefully,one day I will be swagging like them.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Infinitesimal Joy.

My hands shake all the time. When I take a single sip of water, when I tie my shoe lace or even when I type this sentence.

 I feel blessed when she holds me tight and convinces me not to shake, when she laugh on my ridiculously lame jokes and tells me not to change for people.

I adore her desire to sleep on my lap. I adore how she expects me to go for window shopping and try out shocking pink shirts.

I always love the very first sight of her face, her smiling face. It takes a while to accept that she is physically around me. Our long walks to the football field are nothing less than a very cheesy Bollywood movie scene.  The comfort of talking to her about anything (including the hot Islamiat teacher at LUMS) is priceless.

I like how I have some hope in my life. Hope to make more friends, hope to be a part of those red buildings, hope to do something big in life, hope to give her something in return.

I wish I could describe the perfection of her back or tell her how beautiful that little white birth mark on her arm is. I wish I could tell how special I felt when she constantly stared at me on our way back from fortress. I wish I could measure her level of awesomeness in words or feelings. I wish I could write something good for her.

I won't be wrong if I call her a blessing. I thank God for her, I seriously do.