Thursday, 29 December 2011

Political Awareness

Me: Dad, a bunch of my friends are gonna get together and go to the PTI jalsa. Can I go?

Dad: You wanna go to a political rally? Pagal ho? Do you even know what PTI stands for?

Me: Half the people at the rally can't spell PTI. Look, what's the issue?

Dad: It's not safe. Why don't you just watch it on TV with me?

Me: Will you buy me an Imran Khan T-shirt?

Dad: Are you gonna wear it and pretend you were at the rally when you really weren't?

Me: Yes.

Dad: Okay.

I love how he just GETS me. What a cutie!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Socially Awkward

I have a dumb face. No, seriously, I look a little bit lost all the time. I open my eyes too wide, which looks great in pictures cause then my eyes seem larger than they are, but generally I look perpetually startled. So people have this idea that I'm always lost in my own little world, but I'm really quite observant. I admit, I do daydream A LOT. But not when somebody's talking to me.

I also react just a teeny tiny bit late. So when someone asks me something, I just stand there blankly, with my lemur eyes, for a second before answering. My parents, therefore, believe that I'm irresponsible and I never listen to anything they say. This often leads to some pretty funny incidents:

(In the car)

Mum: Zoha, did you lock the front door?
Me (after a two-second pause): Yeah
Mum: Oh my God! You didn't! Oh God, we'll get robbed.
Me: No, relax, I did.
Mum (to Dad): Turn the car around. We have to go back!
Dad: But we're almost at [wherever we were going]
Me: Seriously, I locked the door. Chill.
Mum: Do NOT tell me to chill, you hopeless thing! TURN THE CAR AROUND! WE'RE GOING TO GET ROBBED.
Me: Calm down. I'm absolutely positive I locked it.

(We drive all the way back home, the door IS locked.)

My parents were furious. But you know, they're the ones who passed down some weird creepy-eye DNA, and then raised me to be so socially awkward.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Black Magic

Forcibly dedicated to Ryan D'Souza. Enjoy.

The American awoke with a groan. The bed-covers were sticking to him, drenched in sweat. David thrashed wildly till he escaped the sarcophagus of heat, cursing loudly. He picked up his phone violently and left a message with the Embassy, "I hate Karachi. Get me out of here!"

The humid night pressed against the windowpanes, fighting to come in. He walked over to the windows and threw them open, but it was even more balmy and humid outside. A quick movement in the garden caught his eye, a little boy leaped over the wall and ran off into the plot next door.

David bolted down the stairs and out the front door to see what was going on. He tried to climb the same wall that the boy had leaped over, but it was too high. "How could he have...?" David ran his hands over his face, thinking that he needed to stop imagining things. Just then, he saw something white lying near his feet. He bent and picked it up, it was a skullcap, too small for an adult. He threw it over a wall, muttering, "Damn squatters!"

He made his way back to the house, thinking about the family of squatters that the Embassy had unceremoniously thrown out of the guest-house a few days before David had arrived in Pakistan. He made a mental note to tell the officials about this incident with the boy. He now wished he had kept the skullcap as evidence.

A shadow moved across the lawn. Startled, David looked up and saw something hanging from the porch light. As he neared it, a nauseating smell hit him with full force. Trying not to gag, he examined the strange thing dangling from the light. He reached out and touched it, immediately drawing his hand back as he felt warm feathers under his fingers. The object spun to reveal itself to be a dead crow, with a long horizontal cut across its middle, its intestines spilling out. David fell on all fours, vomiting copiously before he blacked out.
                                                                                 * * *

"David baba, wake up!" Someone was slapping his face lightly, he opened his eyes and found himself lying on the porch, his old Pakistani maid and her small daughter crouching on each side of him. "Get him some water," Gulshan said to the little girl in Udru. David slowly raised himself off the ground, and rubbed his face, sore from lying on the hard porch. 
"What happened to you, David baba? Why are you lying out here?" Gulshan peered anxiously into his eyes. 
"I don't know," David replied, "what happened to the crow?"
"Crow? What are you talking about? Let's get you inside."
He allowed himself to be led into the house.

"What happened to your hair?" Gulshan's daughter asked him shyly. His hand shot up to his shoulder length hair, and he found himself grasping at nothing. It was gone, snipped off at odd angles. His nails, too, were missing; untidily cut into twisted half-moon shapes.
"I didn't do this!" he said, panicking. 
Gulshan smiled at him, "You Americans and your drinking."
David shook his head vehemently, "I don't drink,  something's wrong." He narrated the little boy and the crow incident to Gulshan, whose expression of disbelief was quickly transformed to one of horror.

"Baba, you're a victim of black magic. That explains the hair and nails. In order to cast something upon you, a person would need your hair and nails. " She looked terrified. 
"Black what? No, they're just squatters messing around. They're angry about losing their resting place." His voice took on a tone of practicality.
"Do you have lemons in the house, David sahab?" the little girl spoke from behind them.
"Lemons?" he asked, confused.
"It's a simple way of checking," the girl replied, "you cut open a lemon to see if it looks normal. If it does, then you don't need to worry."

Gulshan and the girl went off to look for the fruit, while David collapsed onto a chair with his head in his hands., trying to process all that had happened. A scream pierced the silence. David ran to see what had caused Gulshan's daughter to shriek in such a bloodcurdling manner. She pointed to the living room window, from which they could clearly see a cat hanging upside down from a tree. It's head on the ground.
                                                                            * * *

They all gathered around as David sliced open the lemon, and all of them fell to the floor at the sight of it's blood-red interior.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Cage

They throw you in, ignoring your pleas of innocence. All they have is a shadow of a doubt, but it's enough. You land face-down on the gravel floor, pain jolting through your entire body. You gag at the pungent stench of urine that hovers over you, envelopes you like a shroud. The lights go off, plunging the tiny cell into darkness, interrupted by the pale light of a single, naked bulb that hangs overhead. You go over to it, like a moth, desperately in search of even the tiniest flicker of hope. You pace around the miniscule cell, a caged animal, trapped.

You long to rest your head on a pillow, but all you have is a hard bench, and you lie on it, looking up at the pitted, pockmarked ceiling. You close your eyes and try to pretend you're under the open sky, but not even the strongest, most vividly imaginative mind can escape the putrid stench that permeates every cell of your body.

You need to empty your bladder, but refuse to use that revolting urinal in the corner of the cage. Eventually, sleep, your temporary saviour, takes you in its embrace. A wetness rouses you. It's still dark, so you haven't slept too long. The smell is more intense now, you've wet yourself. You jump off the bench and huddle in a corner of the cell, iron bars, cold and hard, pressing into your back.

You're shaking, and sweating. You lean back and rest your head against a wall, but a smear of brown catches your eye. Hoping it isn't what you fear, but knowing that it probably is, you curl up into a foetal position on the floor. You breathe through your mouth, tasting the salt of tears.

They find you like that the next morning. A guard unlocks the door and struts in, jangling the keys, and evil glint in his eye. He says something you don't understand. And when you don't respond, he kicks you in the ribs, hard. You shrivel under his malicious gaze and he strikes again. You hear something crack.
"Answer me, you bastard!" He yells derisively.
All you can manage is a low moan, you try to move but the pain is unbearable. He kicks you again, this time in the stomach, and leaves, slamming the cell shut. His laughter, your rushing blood and pounding heart form a steady beat that ricochets off the walls of your mind. You slowly sink into darkness.

You spend your days sitting by the door, fingering the metal bars, watching your fingers flex and unflex as you stroke the cold lines that separate you from humanity. You no longer wish for the things you yearned for all your life. You only want a pillow, and the open sky. You long for fresh air.

The light-bulb flickers and dies, throwing you into darkness that presses down on you like soil on a coffin. You weep silently at first, and then the deep, heaving sobs ripple through your body. You cry with luxuriant abandon. You surrender yourself completely to your tears.

You hit your head on the wall, and scrunch your eyes against the pain. You must continue on. You rear back and hit your head again. And again. You repeat this like a ritual. It is religious in nature, of course it is. You will keep at it until you see heaven and hell and the gods and stars. You feel pain flowing through you, but you know it will not last. Soon, the comfortable numbness will take you away. This is the only form of escape left, you must keep at it. You will keep at it. It's the only option. You hit your head on the wall, laughing at how simple it is to escape. You laugh and laugh, and hit your head on the wall again. So simple, it's a wonder you didn't think of it before.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Breathing in

Winter skies resting on rooftops,
Specks of dust dancing in shafts of light,
Grass- so cool that it feels wet.
Tiny coke bubbles that leap up to kiss my nose,
Drops of ink swirling in a bowl of water,
Foam mustaches left from steaming coffee.
Pillows- soft in the center from the weight of my head,
Books with cracked spines and finger-marked pages,
Fuzzy socks with holes through which big toes can peep.
Laughter starting from deep within me,
Eyes- serene yet shimmering with amusement,
Paws- gentle and velvet on my face.
Joy. Complete and Beautiful.

Monday, 12 December 2011


Your breath fogs up my mind and I’m drenched in this moment. The hushed voices combine with my pounding heart and throbbing pulse to form a steady beat, which ricochets off the walls of my mind and breaks into a crescendo of breathtaking beauty.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


The furry little body curled itself around my hand,
Weightless, fluid; I was carrying a shadow.
Eyes, large and amber, sang songs
Of city lights,
Of moments just before the sun rose,
Of leaps taken from between onyx leaves.

Gentle vibrations, the kind welcome to children
returning from the beach,
Falling asleep on the backseats of cars.

Velvet paws, a damp nose, tiny exhalations,
All searched me.
The turquoise sky shone through papery ears,
And our hearts synchronised.