Doctor Bahu

“Fiction is a favorite genre of many in Pakistan.”

Out of a total of 304 individuals in my batch, there were only 72 who could grow beards without looking odd though there were some in the remaining class who had scary amount of hair on their arms and legs. I did come across some veiled ninjas who had nightmare-inducing amount of hair on their arms so I happily imaged them having a masculine beard under their hijaab. The imagination didn’t stop there. I calculated the number of total ninjas, then the number of fat ninjas, thin ninjas and the hairy-armed ninjas. One thing was certain about all ninjas. Theoretically they were destined to become doctor bahu. As a matter of fact some were already one before the first day at college. Many treat the reality of doctor bahu like unicorns but as I have lived with unicorns, I saw the hairy unicorns from a dangerously close distance so it’s one over-hyped realm. Every kid in a class is unique and no two are equally smart, equally dumb, equally genius, equally popular etc. It makes some stay in the lime light of popularity, blessing of intellect and power of talent. Some, like me stay in the shadows and are still able to find friends in the dark and even with the dark too. In fact one friend of mine is totally dark and he is glows in the dark too. No I am not being racist. I love him. Saaf wala love. The same imbalance between the individuals exist in any class whether it is from a kindergarten, a college or a university. Some people turned out to be really popular and hence their real names faded into their nicks. One very popular lady in my class earned the title of a Bitch due to her “obviously special” talents she put to use at various levels. She would be a Doctor bahu too. Another lady was so pious that people called her “Aapa“. A fat rich one who came late to class. A tall one who lived in a poor area but kept saying she lived in Defence. The “good girl” whose close friends called her “too pretty to be a doctor” etc etc etc. The list is long. All of these amazing ladies would be a doctor bahu eventually. What society fails to realize is that these doctor bahus are girls with all their talents and flaws. The word I want to convey is human. But the hype has made the realm superhuman. There got to be some tr……..
(This writing is a part of a chapter from an upcoming book)

That Time. That Path. That Song.

In the days of Lahore, I had to cross the whole city to reach my academy. I was preparing for exams then. The bus ride was peaceful in the morning. However it was a torture in the evening when coming back in an over crowded bus was a battle itself. I had an iPod back then which was a temporary but a stable refuge. I had a bad internet connection at home so I did not download music from the internet. A small shop near my house was a blessing from where I got many CD’s with pirated music and books. That is the bitter truth of music in the country. I used to get a new CD every Friday, sometimes even two. All the songs ended up on my iPod because it had more memory than even my computer and it looked cool to carry thousands of songs at one time. I loved summer mornings and winter evenings of Lahore. Even today the charm of their magic is etched.

One day when on way back home, the iPod played a song I hadn’t heard before. There were many songs that I had never played even once. So coming across a new song was never startling. But that song was simply amazing. It made me wish that neither the journey nor the song end. I didn’t know which artist that was. Even the file name was showing some website from where the CD’s were loaded with pirated music. That art by an unknown artist occupied my mind for some time in the coming days. I used to sit next to a window and music was an add on drug. The earphones muffled the world around. I felt like watching a film. That song was sheer solace. But we all know that solace like any joy is short lived.

Then I lost my iPod.

Shifting home is never easy. With all the muscle spasms and cranks, one is likely to lose a long list of things every time one moves. I lost my iPod among some other things when I shifted place. And with that I lost a piece of art which I regretted. The price wasn’t the setback. I lost the only copy I had of that song and now had no hope of finding that song again. Shazam was in infancy in those days. I went to a music store but that was of no help. Googled all possible variations of that song’s lyrics but that gave me no results either. The only hope I had was to get back my iPod back and retrieve that one song. Even today I feel that it was some fragment of Lahore that Lahore didn’t want me to take along.

Some days ago an artist released his second album after his first was a failure many years ago. He collaborated some songs with a few artist in the past but had no success. I was just surfing on the internet when I came across him. Then I searched for his album. I listened to the whole album and shockingly, the last song of the album was a bigger shock. It was the same song. There were some modifications to its instruments. But it was the same thing. Even the lyrics. I was having the urge to fly back into time. I put on my headphones and closed all the tasks I was doing. Felt as if I am listening to my iPod again as I look out of the bus window. The winds are hitting my face. These winds of Lahore are magical, just like Lahore itself. A never ending magic. I am on way home, to meet myself.

Not Paperless Still

“I had all the 60 books from the series.”

In school I made friends with a boy who was almost always submerged into some books. He kept to himself for most part of the time. It was his silence that made me curious. One day I found him sitting under a tree in one corner of the playground. He was startled to see me which was natural with all his lone nature. We had a small talk and he brought me some books from his collection the next day. I could not read them for the next whole week until the winter vacations. One day I got the chance and started reading. It was quite interesting. The story was about a girl and his brother who move to a new house which their parents inherit after the death of some distant relative but the house was apparently haunted . The story ends in a twist. I got so interested that I bought and even read got all the sixty books in that series for the young readers. For the sake of fact, it was a children’s series by R.L.Stine. With passing years complex prose and poetry reached the shelf. But one thing didn’t change. Paper. Almost all books existed in the printed format. With today’s penetrations of phones and tablets people are so lucky to read anywhere, even in the dark which was such a battle in my school days when I feared of getting caught by mom and keeping the lamp on under the blanket was so suffocating. Unfortunately, reading books is a declining trend where I live. After joining university almost 190 academic books have added up in my collection which require at least two healthy men to move them around. Sometimes we need a book and so urgently yet that isn’t available anywhere. A reputable university (not a Pakistani University, obviously) states on their webpage that they offer iPads to new students with all the books they would be needing for their academic time in the university. The price of the device and the books is distributed over the tuition fee to minimize the burden. I wish my university had done the same but they didn’t partly because of the corrupt people who are politically appointed to the university administration. Over last years I gathered electronic versions of almost all the academic books that I have read. It was tough and slow process of pooling them, buying from online stores, downloading from old archives and even manually scanning the ones which haven’t been and won’t be converted by the publishers any time soon (the desi books published by local authors). I emailed an application to my University administration to take such a step and go digital and introduce paperless medium for the benefit of new students. But I got no reply. Then I sent a written application on a paper to go paperless. It too was not entertained. This does not mean that my university has made no progress. We have technological advancements. There are cameras in every corner of the university so the authorities can have perverts in the control room looking on the students all day long and make sure no one hugs, kisses or touches someone of the opposite sex. This advanced technology was helpful in catching a female guard with her trousers down with a male guard near the tennis court. This saved the morality and religion in my secular university. Then some “couples” were caught in histology laboratory holding hands. They didn’t know that holding hands can lead to many diseases and even pregnancy. Their parents were called. Due to some girls holding more than just hands, the university got cameras installed in the girls common room too. I bet the control room guy who overlooks the camera would have an awesome collection to jerk off to. Undoubtedly. Back to the matter of paper. We love paper at Dow and looks like that this love would not end any time soon. There are forms worth hundreds of rupees. Every form costs money. You name it and they got a fee on it. Bonafide, Cumulative, Leave, Grade-book, Exam form, Recheck, College card etc which range from from 50 rupees to 1500 rupees. The greed of university administration would not let students have a more efficient, swift, organized, honest, digital and paperless environment. It will not happen in the next five hundred years at least. This state-of-the-art technology called paper is so exquisite that it doesn’t exist in other institutes of developed countries. Advanced technology. That is why I used to sit on the stairs of Principal’s office during my freshmen years and download movies because my university had no WiFi then even they announced to cover whole university under a blanket of free WiFi. They even wrote that in the prospectus of university in 2009. I found out that only WiFi available was on the stairs of Principal’s office. It had no password or restrictions which was a big plus. That was the only techy thing happened to me from my university’s side. But when I was in my fourth semesters, that Principal was shot by some unknown armed men when he was travelling back to his home. Due to some political involvement he was later removed from his office. With him gone, the WiFi died coincidentally. Even today I could not make why that happened. Maybe the WiFi signals came out of his butt. Maybe. You never know.

Fifty Thousand And Blank

“After Fifty thousand tweets, I stopped tweeting.”

I joined Twitter way earlier than I joined Facebook. The only network I knew back then was The Orkut which seemed like a cool place but it was losing its cool factor very fast. So one day while wasting time at a public internet cafe in Lahore, I searched for new networks and viola! I discovered something called Twitter. I signed up and I was disappointed. Because I didn’t know what to do next. So I didn’t use that for many months before giving it a try after I faced life’s changing events and moving to a new place. I was coming across the word so often that I gave that a new try. I had stepped into a university where everyone was saying the word Facebook so I stayed more on the worst social element to ever exist. i never liked it from the beginning – the blue strips everywhere were a turn off. The digital friends I made outnumbered the real ones. People from college were “friends” too as the word was losing its meanings faster than any other decline in the human history. Even those whom I could barely recognize in college talked to me for hours on the Facebook chat. This made a part of me like Facebook. It was a sweet poison, a favorite time killer which I used daily. Back then Twitter was still a new born kid almost no one used in my class. I however had crossed 2000 tweets on the Christmas Eve that year. They were not words of wisdom though some were direct quotes of Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz and Faraz, hence wisdom. Most of what I tweeted was lame but original. Lame nonetheless. My growth was steady on the bird network. I made acquaintances. It lasted for two years. The time that I spent on Facebook somehow agitated me while the time on twitter was always either peace or fun or both.

Then came 2011.

Much of the Pakistani awaam who had already jizzed enough on Facebook started to migrate to Twitter and that gave birth to new desi norms on Twitter. A new subculture was born. Sadly, it damaged the original harmony of the network. The analogy is like people moving from cities to a peaceful mountain lake in flocks. What would they do? They would pollute it. The same happened to Twitter. Even worse. They moved and settled. Today the only people from the old days of Twitter know what it was and what it is no more. Every day when I log onto Twitter,  I find something disturbing. No one talks class. No one talks art. It is not that in earlier days Twitter was occupied by scientists, Prophets or some other higher beings. But there was a better crowd, a mannered gathering. Now it has become a fish market. Maybe it was designed to become like this eventually but neither I hoped nor I wanted to see this version of Twitter. It has become an utopia of perversions, twisted norms, copy-paste plagiarism. People shamelessly copy and paste words of others to satisfy some unknown thirst in their perverted souls. It is not wrong when an idea posted by one might match with another one, but word by word, punctuation by punctuation is a classless shithole which is being posted every day. It makes me remember a public toilet filled to it’s brim with muddy water in which solid feces are floating. That is what twitter is now. I feel two prime reasons responsible for this damage – first, the birth of android which gave smartphones in the hands controlled by not-so-smart minds and second, the advent of mobile internet. As a doctor, I have come across drug addicts and one thing common in addicts is their inclination towards cheap-but-always-available addiction. They would never let themselves away from the drug and if that is out of their budget, they would opt for cheaper and cheaper alternatives. Keeping up with addiction is not everyone’s courage. That is why the society is full of so many stories of people starting rich and their drug addiction makes them poorer and poorer. And then to stay numb, they start using cheaper alternatives. I have seen extremely few people who would wait instead of investing on something readily available. Many do otherwise and this thing is prevalent in our society. Due to population load, most families have one TV, one washing machine, one computer in their homes which is used by all members in the home. The smart phone is on the contrary. That is why when the availability and owning of a cheaper phone is possible, the majority does it, making it a cheaper addiction. Laptops and tablets follow smartphones but they are still a pricier addiction than phones. Android has fueled the addiction to stay connected of lower middle class and lower class and this is one reason why programs like AndroidONE exist in Africa and India where population load is huge and people want to find refuge in some way which eventually is a phone. Hence people get a connected experience for as low as 4000 Pakistani rupees and one such member of society becomes a threat to a cleaner network rather than a contribution to a world of knowledge. The advent of cheaper addiction has hurt the bookshops too. In the last two years the number of readers have seen increase but that is nothing as compared to the cheap phones sold in the last seven days. I once asked a property dealer about why the land was so expensive in a posh area. He answered that half of the reason was just to keep the poor out. Apple knew that someone who would buy an apple thing would be having an ecosystem of computing to sync music, transfer pictures and load books onto his phone or tablet. Maybe that’s why they had expensive phones from beginning. Android however knew that android owner might not have any other ecosystem. So Android itself became an efficient and cheap drug. One big side effect was an irreplaceable damage it caused to the mountain lake town of Twitter. Just remember that public toilet with floating feces.

Let us not forget the power of vaginas in any digitally connected, hyper connected, android-liking, android-buying, desi society. Any sane boy would know that only if he had been a girl and owned a vaginal orifice, his lame words would automatically turn attractive. I have felt the power of pussy very intensely with connection to social media sites, especially Twitter. As a confession, once I made a fake Twitter account as a girl with the cutest possible avatar and started interaction with boys and men more than thrice my fabricated age. In one week, I had boys after me. It was a strange feeling. I crossed two thousand followers in ten days. Wow. Just imagine what would I had achieved if I had a hole between my legs. I could have used that as a weapon! Even my lamest things earned interactions, my DMs kept buzzing. Even after glimpsing the power, I would never want to be born as a woman in this society. Never. I can happily make another fake account and be better off with this cheap addiction.

I reached near fifty thousand tweets in 2014. It was a useless milestone after which I felt near impossible to write things which matched the new norms of the new Twitter. It had become another evil by then with the online hate and harassment stuff. I planned to write a book which I am working on but with a day job, it is not easy to write full time. One day I wrote a very small line from that book on to my Twitter. Sadly it got copied. That was a lesson for me. Some humans made me love humans while some humans made me hate humans. I found the later type in abundance on twitter. Some might not agree. They can just roam on Twitter and experience it themselves. No one likes truth there, at least no more. I feel a vividly colorful and an artful world around me when I am reading a book or in the moments of creativity. Even the world of a silent moment is more beautiful where one can meet one’s own self. These worlds crumble to dust when I see forty year old men discussing their “inner feelings” with fourteen years old. The opposite exists too. I know a Twitter “aunty” from Karachi who is fond of Indian boys. I have no grudge with Indians. They seem to be very mannered. But “aunty” is damn scary. Another sickness on Twitter is that every other person on Twitter uses a stethoscope somehow rendering Twitter more like a work-space instead of a social space. Twitter was fun until every doctor in Pakistan joined it and whined about anatomy in the first year, biochemistry in the second, pharmacology in the third, pathology in the fourth and every subject in the final year. I didn’t whine so I guess I don’t qualify to be a good doctor like all others. Stethoscopes in avatars, “surgeon of tomorrow” in bio and “be nice to me, I maybe your doctor tomorrow” in updates is a big turns off. So many kutta-billi medical colleges opening, the doctor element is not cool any more! I started like humans of the opposite sex who are not connected to medicine in any way. I find teachers and art students hot. Even a girl wearing just a stethoscope fails to excite.

Finally the hateful sleepers on Twitter. This is a sick breed. They are monitoring their timelines everyday and yet don’t post even a single thing. They judge every word they see on their timeline yet they don’t type. They are frustrated souls who have nothing good to do with their lives. They are a benign tumor of Twitter. After all this I know that Twitter is becoming equally irrelevant like Facebook. I want a new place to roam again, a new mountain lake with fresh air. There is a need for a new social network which stays un-affordable for majority of population just like what the property dealer said, for some years at least. If that doesn’t happen I feel compelled to wear a mask in the same world and live under a new identity or just don’t exist in the shitty town. I feel so strongly a need for a new mountain lake town where the water is still clean and I can sit in silence over the hill and watch the sunset peacefully and not be disturbed. Not at least until the new settlers start moving in and I pack my bags and move to the new mountains in search of new hope.