May 30th, 2021

Good places for the youth to channel their energies through are near to non-existent in Pakistan. That explains, partly, why many seek refuge in wasting their energies swiping up on their phone screens. They could swipe left or right too but the Government banned that as well. A dress followed by another and then another is the only soothing drug left for many women which society still hasn’t labeled haraam. For men, this rainbow of refuge ranges from bikes and cigarettes to women and drugs. I am thankful to the handful of the storytellers and poets who added the eighth and the ninth color to the rainbow. Everyone rushed to the refuge when a man witnessed and reported a couple kissing on board a flight from Karachi to Islamabad. The world of Twitter got into a frenzy. Being away from my den, capturing this beauty in screenshots in a more organized way was not possible. Everyone turned to the online fish market and became a social analyst. No, this writing is not about right or wrong. Twitter and Facebook are still getting filled with the opinion from both sides. I watch horror movies and wrestling with french fries and coke, so I grabbed them and enjoyed the frenzy from the front row.

The incident reminded me of all the kisses that became permanent. As all kisses are permanent, and we cannot remember all the kisses, this writing cannot be about the permanent ones. It is about a temporary one.

Do you remember your first kiss? I don’t. As a human when we earn our first kiss, we are too young to remember anything. But as a young man, that first kiss made of fires and flames, yes, I remember that. Oh boy, just remembering it altered the taste of my mouth. Summers had faded and evenings were becoming cooler. An ice-cream bar was our rendezvous point. The traffic on the roads was visible from the one-way mirrored windows of the second floor. Suddenly. the noise of the traffic just faded into silence. Even the ice cream started to feel too hot to touch. The edges of my fingers turned numb. I saw even with closed eyes that I couldn’t with the opened ones. The perfume that we wore on us lost its powers. Time started to slow down and then quickened along with the heartbeat. The evening felt like flying back into the warmer summers too. An experience of a non-believer glimpsing life beyond death perhaps. As if a drug that I hadn’t known about suddenly filled the lungs.

The rest of that day is nothing more than a haze in memory. Luckily or not, the world was free from social media, and back then no one bothered to give blankets to those who needed them.

That’s the dilemma with the kisses that follow the first one. Then we stop seeing with closed eyes, unlike the first. We cannot write anything about something we cannot see. Except for God. And love. And pain. And ghosts. I think I should stop as the list is long and my tastebuds are already too contaminated to taste anything else.