Monday, August 30, 2004

moonshine heavy, your eyes
smile at me, your skin still
aglow with deep breaths of serenity
your flower eyes brush their lashes
softly against your cheek as you blink
and, arching feline grace,
smile a dreamful sweetness, mists
of slumber still stranded in your hair

waking up
june 04

Mina at 3:31 AM


When I was a freshman at LUMS, I took Introduction to Philosophy in my very first quarter, the beginning of a rapid succession of similar courses where I have spent some of the best hours of my college life. I still snap up any philosophy course Ghazala Ifan teaches, she sets me free in her class. Baharal. I took Intro to Philo, and of course, I had a TA. She was one of the several people at LUMS I already knew of- brilliant academically, debater girl, headgirl who knew my cousin the headboy (“Ohhh, you’re Kamran’s cousin?!”). “SS cheeti” came later. As it is in courses that one enjoys, my hand was always in the air so I guess she knew my name well enough, and my handwriting for all the term tests she marked. She was pretty cool for a TA- didn’t take anyone’s bull, but she’d hand you her immaculate notes from her freshman year ('yeh bhi kabhi freshie thi :O') and explain obscure Kantian theory if you barged into the SS TA room during lunch hour. Nothing was a masla. You got that from her, she exuded a quiet confidence coupled with a big smile (and some rather funky t-shirts). She would write funny things in the margins of your term test, drew smiley faces and crossed out my 14 to give me a maddening 13.5 instead.

Of course, this was all before I really got to know Mehreen Zaidi.

I cannot, as it goes with most people you feel you’ve known for several lifetimes, remember exactly how Mehreen and I became friends beyond the classroom. I was good at philosophy so she remembered me beyond the social connection, and we bumped into each other on campus enough to hello-hi almost every day, I suppose. I think the two days I spent at her house watching the Bold and the Beautiful while waiting for the cameramen to show up for the advert my media group and I were shooting did the trick. Somewhere between the explanations of how Brooke was related to Rich, meeting Farroo for the first time, moving furniture, going to Defence market to pick up enough food to feed a horde of Huns and watching her deftly powder an old man’s nose we bonded, and I think it’s turned out to be of the carbon variety. As happens with most pieces of this type, I think I might fall prey to highly unoriginal sentimentality, but I will try to do justice to this special breath of spring who is going away to reach for another dream, another hope, another set of wind-chimes in a higher window. For a drop in a lifetime, which is why I do not believe in good-byes.

Mehreen is like one of those cousins who you love to pieces, the ones you want to carry around in your back pocket so you could laugh with them every day. She’s the neatest, pickiest person I’ve met in my life- watching her cook is like following a stopwatch: precise movements, nothing clanging or sputtering, tick-tock-tick and simmer for ten minutes. The kitchen is probably cleaner than it was when she came in and everything that falls prey to your fork will be just right. Mehreen doesn’t ‘do’ half-baked. She doesn’t do not-quite. She doesn’t do 99%. She will love you to distraction or she’ll pass you by in a corridor, smile nicely and say hello- and walk on. There is black and white, but only a smidgen of grey. She cracks jokes that make her sound so much like my sister I sometimes suspect that Mehreen just might be some runaway baby of my mother. She will never forget, but she will forgive you anyway. She will sing, wearing the overalls and purple t-shirt she’s been wearing all day, standing like a pixie on a stage in front of a sea of faces, and her voice will sound like moonlight on a cold, starless night- that enunciates perfectly, at all times, and gives you goosebumps any which way. And then she’ll get off that stage, clap her hands and laugh in glee when you tell her that the person who yelled ‘MEHREEEEEENN’ the loudest was you, because she expects to be loved. She’s like that. You’re supposed to love her, supposed to dote on her and her swingy straight hair, her clonky glasses and teh big eyes they precede, the hand on your arm and bubbling laugh when she gets excited about what you two are talking about. And it’s easy, it comes to you naturally, like smiling. I know this because she mirrors me in so many ways, because when she tells me about arguments she had I can nod and say ‘haaaan I knowww’- because I do. She’s the big sister I have had only second-hand before because I’m the big sister otherwise; the kind of people who feel like home, the person to whom you don’t explain why you hate the word ‘jaraab’ because she already knows, is already laughing in recognition. The girl who says what you're thinking and thinks what you say. Mehreen. She is such a rare, special sparkle of a woman. I wish I had more stories to tell, but I guess I have our whole lives for that. You will always have a part of me, little lightning, and I love you. Moti!

Mina at 3:19 AM


Sunday, August 29, 2004

today the most wonderous thing in the world happened. i will never, ever forget. family dinner at our house today, the entire posse was over and after dessert us cousins were all sitting around and laughing our butts off as we are wont to do when together....and sara apa put one of my hands on her belly, and left it there. i was in the middle of a sentence, and promptly forgot what i was saying, along with everything else inside my head. i waited, quivering with excitement and awe and anticipation, and after a while....i felt a nudge, right under my hand. a stretching of a limb, pushing through fluid and skin, just enough for me to feel it. and right there, in that one instant, i fell in love. we all have been waiting for this baby, getting excited for it, making plans, but today i realised just how big a deal it all is. i know babies are miracles, i have always believed that....but today was one of the sweetest moments in my life, one perfect moment of complete wonder...and my heart belongs to this child, irrevocably; this unseen little one growing under sara apa's skin, reaching out to touch the rest of us even before he or she breathes for the first time. i felt a baby kick for the first time in my life and the miracle, the breathtaking simplicity of it all...-the wow-ness of it, for lack of a better word- is so heady that i can't even begin to express how beautiful it is, was, will be.

Mina at 2:28 AM


Saturday, August 28, 2004

Tobacco is a dirty weed: I like it.
It satisfies no normal need: I like it.
It makes you thin, it makes you lean,
It takes the hair right off your bean;
It’s the worst darn stuff I’ve ever seen:
I like it.

G. Hemminger, Tobacco

For all my beloved chimneys, who have taught me the meaning of the words ‘let go', ‘second-hand smoking’ and 'aaiee, the entire matchbox is on fire!'

Mina at 11:50 AM


Friday, August 27, 2004

bury your head
under the grass

down, with the
roots of things that breathe.

i could dance about naked
slit my arteries open to bleed
fresh, oxygenated goodness
into the pores of the soil--

you might spy
blood in the water
roots drip


discovered this scrawled in my nocturnal mind-rambling notebook yesterday after almost a year, i should think....i had forgotten it entirely, and finding it- scribbled in loopy pencil, lines overlapping, mashed underneath GPA calculations- was like being slipped a few sweets by an indulgent grandparent with a wink and a finger on the lips, even if the content is far too dark to be a grandparent treat. :D

Mina at 1:26 PM


noon is a very dodgy time of day. until it's one p.m, the entire business of being twelve and then twelve o-something is a pause between one half of the day and the other. thirty-six hundred seconds of time-warp limbo. i wonder...maybe you could get away with just about anything, just fold in time where nobody's looking.

Mina at 1:03 PM


The solar plexus is a ball of nerves placed underneath your belly-button. If you put your hand on your tummy, you can feel a pulse beating steadily underneath- thud, thud thud. Faster, more insistent if you've been running about and are now lying down to breathe. Thud, thud, thud. As if your heart had taken a walk and was sitting on a bench, watching the red blood cells sail past. The solar plexus- what a name! gives you the permission to harbour stars under your skin!- is also called the naaf. Sometimes the naaf can be displaced. This gives you diahorrea and leg cramps, but can be fixed in a rather ingenious manner that involves a balled-up dupatta and a few contortions aided by a helper. I think that the solar plexus is the heart’s separated-at-birth twin, the kumbh-mela sibling who went away and never came back, but never forgot either and always sends a letter every Friday because it remembers and loves still. The solar plexus. Who knew what constellations your belly-button hid?

Mina at 12:58 PM


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

i saw 'big fish' yesterday, another movie i really wanted to see and happened to catch on the telly, and it was magic. i loved it. and the best part was the basic premise of the film- tell a story enough, so many times, so imaginatively that people will remember them forever, and tell them to their children....and you will be immortal, live forever in every breathless audience, every pair of wide eyes and awed 'phir kya hua?'. i would like to be that.....yes, i would quite enjoy that. i have a standard to live up to, there have been master story-tellers in my family. i think i'd rather like to carry that on.

Mina at 1:57 PM


Monday, August 23, 2004

Allah, I inhale deeply
Hu, I exhale light.

~ Chachi Amma, a.k.a Neyyer Ehsan Rashid, in her beautiful new book

Mina at 1:59 AM


Friday, August 20, 2004

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when (being fool to fancy) i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds

the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always) and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

one pierced moment whiter than the rest

-turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep

e e cummings

Mina at 10:45 PM


on traffic
The back of the yellow Monolith Urban Star hangs open. I can see the bus guts, dusty metal circles and straps going round and round, nuts and bolts doing a whizzy whirry jig I imagine, in their screw-places. The bus lumbers on and on smack in the middle of the road and I know that Sana next to me is tense. She hates buses; she’s afraid that one will begin to veer inviolably towards the side of the road we’re on, grim and smoky, and squash the car one day, leaving everyone inside wedged in a crushed Coke-can of a car. I learnt how to drive on Peco Road, the heart of Township, and whizzed about amongst ghaday gaariyan, rickshaws, rehris with huge metal sarieye poking out the ends and yes, quite a few Daewoo greens. So I can scoff and beep-beep past, but Sana shrieks small shrieks and gasps when she’s scared, and much to my afsos, she is quite a sissy girl. When we pass the bus, she finally breaks her tensed, alert gaze.
“Stupid bus,” she mutters, and looks out of the other window.

we are the sultans.....of sound
I am thinking that there are interesting things to a word. Consider ‘man’ and ‘woman’. Man is such an abrupt word. You could shoot someone with it, bark it. MAN! You c’mere RIGHT NOW! It’s a snappy word. Man. Crack! And then you have woman. The mouth softens for woman, the word sounds complete. Woman. It undulates, almost. One could use woman in poetry but never man.

‘woman much missed, how you call to me’
‘man much missed, how you call to me’

‘consider O
woman this
my body.’

‘consider O
man this
my body.’

Naah. Baat nahien bannti. And not because I’m a woman and being all ho-ho we are such an ultimately fantastic breed of human, but because the dynamics of cadence say so.

(Hardy and Cummings quoted, respectively...formal literature-taking won't let me sleep if I don't quote properly khekhekhe)

on daal

if you’re stressed, it’s fine dining we suggest

I just had some pretty good daal-chawal.. Daal chawal is supreme comfort food. Everyone makes daal and most people make a really good one. When you don’t see meat too often, you make sure what you eat every day is as good as you can make it. Ahmed has eaten daal all over the country during the various quests for the Red; I’m after him to get recipes. Seriously. Of course, nobody can beat Latif’s daal, but it’d be so wonderful to have different-different recipes from all over the rural place. Latif is Nana’s khansama, he’s whizzed every single one of us cousins about in our pushchairs and he apparently isn’t half as good as the khansamey Nana was fed by growing up. We can only imagine when Amma and my khalas spin tales of the food at their dadi’s house. But Latif, for our relatively untutored palates, is pure delight. Latif ki masoor ki daal, Latif ki fried bhindi, Latif ka qaurma….*blinks dreamily* Nani Nana ke ghar you never left the table without eating three rotis at the very least. And then green jelly, Nana's specialty ;)

Mina at 9:37 PM


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand
Nor look through the eyes of the dead
Nor feed on the spectres in books.
You shall not look through my eyes either,
nor take things from me
You shall listen to all sides and filter them for yourself.

Walt Whitman ~ Leaves of Grass (ext.)

(here's lookin' at you, kid ;) )

Mina at 9:56 PM


i would rather have
(here, between my tilting
fingers) the
precise happinesses of your
face than the
(really unnecessary)
bother of a world too
brashbusy to one to
deem reason worthy. i should
keep you alwaysforever
(exactly like this) in the sinuous
lines between boneskin breath
(you are everyday a miracle)

Mina at 3:25 PM


I was in the hospital yesterday, in the emergency, waiting for the nurse to come back with her tray of supplies and Ali to get the injection and antibiotics. Around nine thirty. Swathed in a big maroon chadar to cover my t-shirt and denim, I stood next to a pillar, watching people. As usual, when I’m tense I focus on bits and pieces of things around me as opposed to the big picture. My toenails shone deep ruby. The man on the sofa had light eyes- grey?- and a nose that tilted upwards at the tip. Ali has a slender back. The nurse at the counter had glasses that made her look like an owl. The paper sign on the door had come unstuck from two ends. There were three or four little kids, a girl and two boys. One of them had a long monkey face and none of them waved back. Kids shouldn’t be in hospitals, it’s scary. And when the plump, pretty woman in apple-green came running in, followed by a tall man in a shalwar kameez and crotched white prayer cap, I wished those kids were at home, asleep.
For me, you don’t know the true meaning of a word until you experience it. I have really truly mumbled only once, and it honestly felt like words had turned into marbles in my mouth, stumbling over my lips, having to be pushed out in a habbar-dabbar kind of fashion. Yesterday I saw wild-eyed, I saw denial, I saw shock. I saw desperate, bewildered, helpless. I wish I could get them out of my head, those siblings greiving for a father. The green one kept trying to go into the emergency place itself where the patients are. She was hyperventilating, screamed awful animal moaning of horror and disbelief and desperation. I wished I was a doctor.

Mina at 2:13 PM


Monday, August 16, 2004

surprise parties mean someone loves you enough to think of it, plot it and carry it out. and not only one person, but every single person who was involved- who showed up, who brought food, who phoned friends of friends, who kept a secret and a straight face.

and i've had two.

cue heart-smile.

Mina at 2:09 AM


Friday, August 13, 2004

compassion fatigue

funny how there's a word- or two- for everything.


Mina at 5:20 PM


the debutante has left the ballroom :)

Mina at 4:58 PM


Thursday, August 12, 2004

i vos in isloo, dying to run about in my jammies in the rain, hanging with the homies, eating good food, browsing musty yummy books and wishing i could live in a little house on rawal lake so i could watch the sun set off a mountain. am back now, and damn i missed my internet...and i think i just ruined all that poetic effect i was building up *grin*

Mina at 7:59 PM


on rain

the rain in Islamabad- and the rain on the motorway, to be completely fair- has purpose. it mills around in the sky, chewing its cud as it were, rolling a mouthful of water around in its cloudy mouth, flashing lightning like a flickering tubelight behind layers of clouds before spraying the ground below. phooosh. Lahore rain tends to pitter-pat, softly, like baby powder. tinkletinkle on a windowpane. Islamabad rain comes down in an intent, steady open-faucet stream. zor se, thundering down. it means business. i’m comin’ down whether you like it or not, and i’m gonna be here with or without you. Islamabad rain is thunder and lightning and real-life proper water-from-a-showerhead kind of monsoon rain. Home rain is so much more watered down (pun so intended).
i’m writing a story.

on the taxis

there are no rickshaws in Islamabad, only lots of yellow and black taxis. bumblebees with oversize numberplates and things written on their bums- ‘mila karo’ ‘don’t follow me’ ‘live life’. my personal favourite was a vertical venetian blind hanging in the back window proudly bearing ‘naseeb apna apna’ in red letters and, underneath in black, ‘don’t touch me’. the refined ricksha.

on food

united bakery has my heart. buttery, soft croissants we buy by the cling-filmed tray. once i get the oven of my dreams, i’m going to make them. baking your own bread seems like the epitome of the sughar aurat, now that i know how to make jam and pastry (scandalously easy, its such a deliciously overrated skill). and i had some smashingly good lunches and dinners here and there; i am the true culinary child of my kashimiri ancestors.

on books

i leave a trail of musty pages in my wake and i love it. old book shops zindabad, and Isloo is such a wonderful place to find things you want to read, all the goray dump their lovely books in little delicious khudday where they wait for you to sneeze over their dust and take them home. i got the fountainhead, much to my delight, a history of god (hooray!) and a nancy friday- no, it's not a sex-fest, it's about the impact of appearance and beauty in our lives, borders on psychobabble but is enormously interesting. oh, and i read the da vinci code (more like inhaled it) and although there were a few plot eye-rolls, i have to say that it was a fabulous romp. i now pack keeping in mind i'm going to need space for at least six books on the way home- the three i always travel with, and the (at least three) i will acquire. hehehe. bliss.

on skin

attack of the invisible keeray! i've come home covered in dark pink welts and a funny itchy patch on my right forearm that's faded to rose from its original angry purple. reminds me of the time when we'd just moved back and the machars drove me insane; i used to be covered in massive red welts. machars love me and the skin's always been on the sensitive side, so field day for marauding keeray.i don't mind them for their colour and interesting texture, but they itch.

Mina at 7:18 PM


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

they have red on blogger!


now i can be a rainbow

(and that, m'dears, is vibgyor! mbruhuhahaha! *slaps five with mehreen*)

i have too much time.


"my dear, you must striiiiiive for erudition!"

there should be a filmi pose emoticon, i wonder where you can go to make one, it's very do-able.

shalalalala float along and listen to the song

abrar-ul-haq's 'nachan main oday naal' starts with a sleazo english thingabob! hahahahaha 'always wanted a laal paranda' et al., quite the funny.

talking to birdie and i told her about perry! haven't though about that old bird in a long time :) will tell y'all about him later sometime.

won'tchoo take me tooooo funky taaaoooown *does the walk like an egyptian dance*

if you did something and nobody knew, would it still be real? would it count? i wonder. maybe not. which means secrets are relegated to the sphere of the ephemeral. that's a notion! :D

shaadi season's beginning! woo woo! bring on the apple-green chiffon and the high alive i love getting dressed up :D

i think i should go now. and do s'more box dances (don't ask) with the sibs and mum, that's just the bestest beserk fun bruhuhahahahaaa

Mina at 9:21 PM


'tum itna hanste kyun ho? '

'that's 'cause tum phone pe funny sound karti ho'



conversation, part II

Mina at 9:13 PM


on the reappearance of the toolbar
oh yay! finally! i missed having techie buttons and stuff on this 'new post' page; keeping in mind the html for italics and thisthat can be annoying sometimes.

article du jour
bhutta sent me a choice pick from his abundering (from abundance, i just made it up) supply of articles: new translations of the Quran (i abhor the K spelling. makes me wanna run around yelling 'qaaf! qaaf! for the love of God!') that change everything we know right floopy. 'cover your bosoms with a veil' becomes 'buckle your belt around your hips' for le femmes, and martyrs don't get 72 vestal virgins (vestal....matlab banyan pehn ke phirti hongi, that's the image i get), but white grapes! HAHAHAHHAHAHAH! 'hur' goes from lana lang to white grapes! this is just funny!!! i don't think i approve of this new Quran-in-Aramaic development- i mean, buckle your belt around your hips? what's next, 'wear low-rise pants only'? Islamic feminists are thrilled. obviously they don't know quite much about their religion. i don't either, but from what i do, it really isn't too bad a deal for both sexes. in fact, i feel a little sorry for the men.

today's point-to-be-made
the focal point of today blog approacheth: the Christian issue. people in Pakistan treat Christians like they were Untouchables (no 'fense to any Untouchables). today i was getting lunch fixed for a Christian woman who was at my house and obviously i was using the regular plates and everything. my cook inquired (don't know why, apparently you can tell if a person's Christian or not) if Razia was Christian or not and i said yup she is! and happily went on scoopig biryani into the plate i was holding. 'are you going to use that plate?!' comes the shocked answer. err. yes? Christians are humans too, you know! which is precisely what i told the cook (also inquired as to her mental health in a very sweetly polite manner) and went off to feed a hungry woman. but i'm thinking- nobody thinks Hindus are unclean or 'other people' (no 'fense to the one Hindu reader i know i have and any others i am unaware of). nobody gives them food on separate dishes like some kind of racist kosher when they come to visit. and they're the proverbial idolaters. i mean, if you have to make a fuss about religion, make a fuss about the ones who don't believe in the same prophets you do. it's mind-boggling, how can you think like that? why does believing in something that you don't have to become the reason for your maginalization? i love Razia, she's such an incredibly good woman, probably gooder than a lot of Mussalmans. people wondered if Mother Teresa would go to heaven after she died- "Isaai thi". Hindus and Buddhists and Parsis tak to baat hi nahien jaati. what kind of stupid rubbish is that? if you did good things you will go to heaven, it's pretty simple, and just because you were born a certain religion doesn't give you the right to feel superior to anyone. separate plate indeed. hmpf.

Mina at 3:25 PM


Monday, August 02, 2004

my babies :D L-R: Shazaan, one and a half and Faiz, three and a half

Mina at 10:23 PM