The Glorious Road to Medina

The Glorious Road to Medina

  The SUV's clock reads 11:40 AM. It's Tuesday and we are headed to Medina. I hear the melodious recitation of Sudais softly coming through the speakers and the sporadic Urdu translation after every few verses. The road is smooth and the air conditioner is just...

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Motherland’s Calling

Motherland’s Calling

I never knew something as unimportant as black powder could have the power to formulate an entire mental manifesto. That, coupled with a photograph, and perhaps some genetic element in the blood that throbs and makes waves as soon as motherland's calling echoes and...

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Old But Not Gold

Old But Not Gold

  Old streets, old people, old times. There's a pleasure in old that seldom gets explained in words. Old is gold, they say, but old is not gold, love. Gold is strong, sturdy, and ever-relevant. Old is old, crippling, falling apart, hazy, broken, and faded. Old is...

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Nothing and Everything

Nothing and Everything

  The sun sets in Istanbul, he once told me, and I never thought to question his claim. To me, it was subjective, like many things in life. The setting of the sun, the passing of time, the leaving of people, the changes in seasons, the loss of love. Many things -...

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There is Love in Death

There is Love in Death

  Every Friday, there used to be a bouquet of fresh flowers on his grave. His brother would walk up to the gravestone, the crisp leaves of fall crunching under his shoes. He would first read his brother's name, engraved on the grey stone. He would dust it off...

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Before She Died

Before She Died

  She watched the transparent fluid feeding into her veins through the thin IV pipe. Her limbs felt alien to her, jelly-like and useless. Her throat was dry, her thirst unquenchable. She felt restless but there was nothing she could do about it. She would picture...

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Black Sea Breeze

Black Sea Breeze

  The door chimed as I walked into the dimly lit café. It was empty, and the overhead speakers were playing a sad Arabic song on love and war. The mourning, thick voice of a female singer dripped through the violin. A woman soldier shouted: Is that you again?...

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the sundays of fifteen years ago

the sundays of fifteen years ago

  Its a humid Tuesday and as the dust in my mind settles down under the sharp blow of the air conditioner, I am reminded of the Sundays of my childhood in Peshawar. Sometimes, these were days spent well flying kites and roaming rooftops. Sometimes, these were...

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Part III of Reclamation Therapy: Epilogue

Part III of Reclamation Therapy: Epilogue

  Recovering from a heartbreak is like recovering from a long, excruciating fever. She was left weak, trembling, shivering and vulnerable. She needed nourishment and warmth, company and healthy conversations. The lucky ones find those elements of complete...

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The End of an Era

The End of an Era

  Alarm. Legs dangling off the side of the bed. Sudden pounce, stepping into the washroom. Stepping out of the washroom, towelling my face dry. Changing. Running downstairs, grabbing car keys, half a granola bar in my mouth. Garage door opens, car reverses,...

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This Sadness Will Last Forever

This Sadness Will Last Forever

  I remember sitting in the back of an old, grey Corolla eating mango flavoured ice cream out of a transparent cup. The windows were down and the cool, jasmine-scented night-time breeze of Peshawar was sweeping into the car. The stereo was playing a song on rainy...

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these are not memories, my love

these are not memories, my love

  these are not memories, my love. these are crushed petals of dried rose infused with a thousand million rays of sun and precisely three hundred and sixty five specks of happiness. these are the remnants of lost hopes transformed into more hopes, gathered into...

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granny sweaters and mothballs

granny sweaters and mothballs

  like characters from sesame street, my brother and i posed in granny sweaters that smelled like mothballs. those are innocent eyes staring back at us, pleading their older selves to stay true to their roots. those are genuine smiles stretched in joy, imploring...

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The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

  In the city of my birth, the houses have rooftops. Standing tall on one of these rooftops, one can see the mountains in the north. Closer, a keen eye can catch a kite. Closer yet, one can see other rooftops. Down below, streets meander around bungalows. A lone...

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The Swing in the Backyard

The Swing in the Backyard

I was using my fingernails to crack open some cardamom seeds while the green tea leaves boiled in the water on the stove. The sun was setting and the sky was an eerie shade of blue green. The first...

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The Dying Tradition of Condolence

The Dying Tradition of Condolence

This morning, as I packed my books away into my bag and walked out of the classroom, I happened to join a friend in the hallway as we headed in the same direction. "How're you holding up, S?" I asked. "Fine, I think." Then she told me about how, in an earlier class...

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Raised in the Hands of Love

Raised in the Hands of Love

There are moments when I feel insignificant and this feeling of unimportance often results in a phase of ingratitude that, upon retrospect, is shameful. Insignificant. Unimportant. Ungrateful....

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Part II of Reclamation Therapy

Part II of Reclamation Therapy

Heartbreak is simply the aftershock of a very big love. There is nothing sadder in life than a heart that was not broken at all. Jann Arden Precisely forty-four days later, a tidal wave of...

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At the Spectacle of Ambitious Humanity

At the Spectacle of Ambitious Humanity

  It is a Friday evening and a cold wind is blowing outside. Though its only the middle of September, the remnants of the first snow of the season are still present along shaded sidewalks. Yellowed leaves frozen to a crisp are fluttering and the sky is a strange...

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Part I of Reclamation Therapy

Part I of Reclamation Therapy

She placed her faith in people, in places and in things, which is why her ultimate condition was that of misery. Misery of being. There was a high that lasted eight days and before she saw it...

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Your knee is growing, she said.

Your knee is growing, she said.

On the daily, the mesh of feelings one goes through is a complex web of everything: one moment, its cold charcoal—dark and just there. The next moment, it's a fire, out of control and burning...

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Those Were Times Spent Well

Those Were Times Spent Well

Evenings are the epitome of emotional transition. When the sun is finally setting on a long summer day, and when hues of orange, pink and gold are playing hide and seek, it usually so happens that a...

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Glass Bottles & Vapors of Childhood

Glass Bottles & Vapors of Childhood

When I was eight years old, I loved tagging along with my brother and cousin and walking, sometimes skipping, to the little cornerstore by the local neighborhood mosque. It was a five minute walk...

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The Year 1999

The Year 1999

the year 1999. what is it about sepia hues and motherland’s mountains that wring the insides of my heart and call my name? what is it about this portrait of my childhood that forms a summation of the ‘90s…a summation so profound, it leaves me weeping for the innocence...

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The Storyteller

The Storyteller

"When spring-time flushes the desert grass, Our caravan winds through the Khyber Pass. Lean are the camels but fat the frails, Lighter the purses but heavy the bales! As the snowbound trade of the North comes down, To the market square of Peshawar town." - Rudyard...

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And It Bears Witness

And It Bears Witness

and he toils, ever so, ever yet. this is man. these men. they exist or they exist not—one knows not. and the place still exists, ever so, ever yet. just shinier, polluted, and a little less clean....

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The Ages Around Instants

The Ages Around Instants

During my depressive, post-1984-reading phase, I was helplessly sour at everything. I yelled at my little brother and pictured O’Brien’s nasty grin every time I chased pointless debates with my older brother. It all felt so natural and good, it kind of creeped me out....

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True Liberty

True Liberty

“You’re encased in a disastrous matrix of fear and loathing. You’re just a function. You’re just a function of the universe. You think you’re free. You have no more freedom than a cell on your body. The universe isn’t a democracy. It’s a monarchy. You’re just a...

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The Paper Reality

The Paper Reality

“Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean, look...

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Nourish the Essence of Perfection

Nourish the Essence of Perfection

We grew into children running around and creating chaos. Surprisingly, the chaos we created was cute to many. Then the obnoxious years of teen bid upon us their presence. We battled through the acne...

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