Archive for February, 2010

On Writing

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Personal Stories
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There are times I am forced to pause and contemplate on the urge to write; that had become an obsession at one point. From poetry, fiction to non-fiction and personal stories the words flowed serenading my inner voice, making me more voluble than before. I realized an introvert needs to be heard too at some point and giving voice to thoughts is a seemingly easier way to do it. Somewhere along the line I found that words had taken control over my thoughts and had starting dictating them to pen them down.

That’s when I figured if one cannot get rid of obsessions and the propensity to be led by them, then atleaset weaning oneself  from  the hours spent on them to the exclusivity of everything is necessary. But an addiction that is most welcoming in my mind and one which I cannot rehab under any circumstances.

Writing for newspapers/media is an altogether different expression of thoughts, indulging more in the observatory power and its presentation ; one that I enjoy doing. Presenting facts in such a way that the reader’s interest is sustained and directed towards the presented event, leaving an imagery in their mind’s eyes as was experienced by the person reporting it.

The joy of expressing oneself in words and letting it hang there somewhere seems significant to a writer and I am no exception. An indulgence I crave for and give into often.

After all isn’t life all about  pursuing dreams and setting goals- if reached or not?

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Sacred

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Poetry
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Entwined in the branches I see truth

Dangling its naked self raw on the hide

Struck by lightening and wounded too

Bare and exposed facing the storm

Pinnacles of pleasure that once was

Standing rooted in misery and death

Reaching for succor and life to the sky

Walking away with faltering steps

Rising, fighting elements for a lifetime

Never thought it would see the light

Filtering through yesterday’s leaves

Gathering on the ground and blown away

Like a wind wafted seed it flies yonder

Seeking life and after-life

And see it through the fog and tide

Bedeck it with new spring and shine
Memories of a touch so light
That can’t let go even if it tries

The journey and the stretching limbs
Is  to behold and watch with care

As it stays grounded waiting for spring

Remember in passing and smile once

 For today is as sacred as yesterday too
Sacred…

 

Kamila Shamsie the author of 4 novels. Twice short-listed for the John Llewelyn Rhys Award and the recipient of other prizes lives in London and Karachi and is a visiting professor of English at Hamilton College.

The book is engrossing since it has my kind of humor, the kind I find entertaining with satire and wit. The story revolves around Aasmani working in an independent TV station in Pakistan. The arrival of a secret code that she deciphers  taking her on a journey, unraveling the mind- boggling mystery behind it. A mother-daughter story narrated so well. Her philosophical musings are beautifully interwoven into the narrative.

Her book ‘Kartography’ might be interesting also set in Karachi. I plan to read that eventually.

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Avatar vs Hurt Locker

Posted: February 20, 2010 in Movie Reviews
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Avatar by James Cameron had all the ingredients Sci-Fi, the drama, emotions, a fairy tale blending into the real world. A world of Navi and surreal utopia. Bad guys, good guys and mindboggling special effects. I saw, I enjoyed and liked it . The 3D effects were spectacular adding to the visual impact. Technology at its best. James Cameron outdid himself this time and took a huge gamble in the process.

Then there is ‘The Hurt Locker” by Kathryn Bigelow shot in Jordan in 2007 where she sweated it out in the desert.

Kathryn Bigelow the ex-wife of James Cameron has movies such as Near Dark (1987) and the surfer heist cult classic Point Break (1991). They were a couple from 1989-1991. It will be interesting to see the friendly face-off between these two movies of different genres and themes. Will she make history this time at the Oscars?

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Awaiting Death

Posted: February 17, 2010 in Fictional stories
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 (Fiction)

Stanley capped his pen and slowly put it away in the stand. His eyes scanned the ‘Will’ for one last time. Everything was in order. His sons would be taken care off. He had divided his estates equally between the two of them so there wouldn’t be any quibbling over it later. His daughter would get the seaside condominium with a cabana attached. She had loved the place since her childhood. That would make her happy.

 The awaiting death had spread a light on his life like never before. Impending death had purged his life of all the blemishes that had stood out at one point in his life as sores. The jagged lines traced in his life had taken on a new meaning as he found peace in his voyage so far and the tidal waves that rocked his boat then were calm and devoid of any angry reprisals. Life had dealt him all sorts of cards but he had surmounted them all. They were mostly external threats and acts done by own volition that he had no regrets doing. But this, he felt helpless with. Something he had no control over. He could feel his body being eaten on the inside and consuming his life away. All that he had achieved and gained all his life suddenly seemed ready to float away as a wisp of cloud when he was not ready for it. Slowly over the months he had accepted the fact and finally came to a stage where he was ready to embrace it.

 He leaned back into his plush armchair and slowly hoisted his feet on to the table and sat leaning back in contemplation. He was approaching the evening of his life and he knew every day was precious but he had miles to go before the final sleep. He was preparing for it ever so slowly but meticulously. There were so many details that couldn’t be tossed aside; so many documents to be signed, the bank accounts, his stocks, mutual funds and his medical bills. Those were the ones that were eating away his time and energy. He had accepted the fact that he was dying. His weekly visits to the doctor for check ups were a habit now and didn’t bother him too much. It was inevitable. His insides were being eaten by cancerous cells that had metastasized all over. It was a matter of time and time suddenly seemed so precious.

 ‘Death’ what was it about death that had him flummoxed, like never before? ‘Living’ had never been a problem. He had lived life to its fullest and had skipped every rock thrown in his direction. Obstacles had only challenged him and excited him. Fame, money eventually fell in place and he never felt deprived or lacking. He had achieved most of what he wanted to do. He sat back reflecting and wondering if this was how it was all planned out for him. To be extinguished, being fully aware of its oncoming force was a hard ball to dodge. He would have preferred to have died in his sleep but he didn’t comprehend the part as to why he was being subjected to so much torture by his own body, realizing the painful treatments and counting the number of days left, on his fingers.

 ‘We all die, the goal is probably to create something that will live on forever’, he thought. Then he wondered about it. Had he really left behind anything for posterity?

Dying is certainly not a romantic event and death is certainly a game that will be over…it is nothing; it is the absence of the presence…an endless time of never coming back to this world…a gap you can’t see and when the wind blows through it, it makes not a sound… he  had heard someone say. But why did he feel today that he was not ready for it yet. Is it because he felt the desire to live, to experience and sail through life and travails all over again …all of which he enjoyed doing so much. His entire life flashed in front of his eyes like an old black and white movie. He stood up and took a deep breath and taking his walking cane, he walked out into the garden with a smile. Come what may nobody can take the happiness away from my ‘this moment…’

 

 “Of all the wonders that I have heard

It seems to me most strange, that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end

Will come when it will come”

 -William Shakespeare

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Tears for Mumbai

Posted: February 15, 2010 in Poetry
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Smoked out and blasted away

Flying around witnessing it

Armed to the teeth, they came

Killed, maimed and destroyed

As I sat watching on the sills

Brothers of mankind are we?

Smiling they pumped bullets

Emptied their AK-47s and left

Segregating few and taking away

I screeched and cried unhearing

My voice drowned in the battle

I fluttered around and rested

Messenger of peace I’m called

I couldn’t do a thing to help

My wings clipped and beak tied

I leant my broken wings

Bloodied, injured and shaken

They walked out in a shock

A brother, wife, sister, father

Someone to somebody they are

Cowards, beastly and inhuman

My heart bleeds and watches

Was this what was taught?

Not martyrs my men, killers

Is what they made of you

Unfeeling and remorseless

Can’t you see it, you’re wrong?

They are wrong, they all are

Neither heaven nor hell awaits

Your crimes against humanity

Why, oh why you walk so?

Not superior or inferior

In race we are all the same

Here today, gone tomorrow

You stake claim on a world

That is no longer safe

Betrayed and vanquished

On the monument of faith

They brainwashed you,

They killed the real you

And you killed the rest…

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Photos- AP photos

The Red Umbrella

Posted: February 11, 2010 in Fictional stories
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The incessant pitter-patter of the rain broke the stillness in the room. Rivulets of water cruised down the window panes steadily creating zigzag patterns. The glistening free drops clung to the glass refusing to join the rivulets, reflecting the glow of the sun playing hide and seek between the clouds. Samar stretched himself on the couch lazily watching the scene unfolding in front of him mesmerized by it.

There was something beautiful about the rain song. The distant melody was continuous and calming, yet haunting in its steadiness. The elements outside were slowly mixing with his blood and traveling through his vein, bringing a serene lullaby in his love-struck mind. Samar saw visions of his love etched on the window.

The rivulets were caressing her profile, the gentle winds kissing her cheeks and her half-opened lips. If love could do this to anyone he wished it a hundred times over to everyone else, to sink, to float and rise in its enveloping warmth. He was afraid to move a muscle, for fear of loosing the ethereal vision. He stayed in the position for what seemed an eternity, then slowly retuning from his reverie he looked at the clock.

The hands of the clock slowly moved towards the countdown. She had said she would meet him at six. If he could will the clock to move a tad faster; if only he had the power to change it all to make the meeting sooner yet slower, so it lingered on until he was smothered by it. The power of love he said, smiled and pulled himself up.

Samar fished out his black umbrella and stepped out into the rain. The rain hadn’t let down. There was something magical in the way the big drops fell from the sky in a continuous stream, as if it wanted to empty every bit of happy tears onto the earth. When it hit the umbrella, the drops annoyed at the obstruction loudly protested and rolled away. He jumped over puddles and quickly found his footsteps taking him towards more puddles, just to side-step it in perverse glee. His heart was as light as a feather and a heat suffused from his depths.

Was she going to wear the white dress with the little red buttons on her shoulder?
‘I hope she will,’ his mind said childishly. The first time he had seen her, she was wearing it and standing on the bridge at the park, when he had gone for a walk on sunny day. He had never believed in love at first sight but whatever happened to him that day way in-explainable. He had fallen hook-line and sinker for the apparition. Her white skirt had fluttered in the breeze. Her hair was flying all over her face as she looked at the swans gently skimming the surface of the pond. The red sash of her shirt fluttered behind her like a flag. The vision had stayed in his mind and refused to go away. And as they got acquainted and she had moved away she had promised one day she would come back for him. Today was the day.

The street had several other people walking, jostling, with their black umbrellas and side-stepping puddles trying to stay dry. Samar lingered on looking around. As he reached the bookshop at the intersection where they had promised to meet, he folded his black umbrella and leaned against the wall, under the awning, surveying the scene before him.

People were walking around, a few running to avoid getting wet, and a few standing around waiting for a bus or taxi. A sea of black umbrellas-bobbing around-unknown faces, unknown minds, unknown destinations–he was only a passive onlooker there–waiting in anticipation for that known face and warm smile. He had eyes only for his radiant, sunny goddess, his eyes scouring the sea waiting breathlessly. He knew she would come. He knew she would keep her promise. It was only a matter of time before his prayers were answered. He unconsciously put the palm of his hands on his beating chest to calm the rhythmic palpitation of his heart.

Then he saw it and a spark coursed through his being. Among the sea of black umbrellas a lone red umbrella bobbed in unison, yet standing out in its vivacity and color. A glowing smile spread on his face and he chuckled. The distant red umbrella slowly made its way through the sea towards him. So far, yet so near. The warm flush of his blood pounded headily. She had kept her promise. It had to be her. The red umbrella was undoubtedly hers. It made its way hiding the face behind it. The person inched towards him, towards the bookshop as he waited breathlessly. She stopped in front of him. She was wearing the white dress with the red sash, resplendent in all its glory. Her face looked up at him and broke into a luminous smile. Wisps of damp hair clung to her forehead.

‘Hello!’  She said.

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( Story published in Chicken Soup for the Romantic Indian Soul)

Photo from Internet