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.

Over And Over And Over And Over

What we do shows a side of us. It shows who we are or what we are and what we think. A man who can cook good is likely to make a good husband but that is just likely. He might not be married and still be a good cook. Similarly, a girl who takes good pictures might not be photogenic herself. Yet many would assume her to be equally of an art herself. Just by looking at a creation, we habitually assume a lot of things about the artist and that goes for the artists including poets, writers and painters etc. One artist is God. The perfect artist. We have never seen him, never heard back from him in our prayers, never met him yet. So just by pondering about what he has made around us, in us and the very us makes us imagine how he would be and so on. Almost always, we fail to see the ultimate reality itself that beyond the appearances is what the real artist is. A person with a camera is not a photographer, a person with great cooking skills is not a perfect husband(that is a long debate) and a person carrying a gun is not a murderer. Our mind plays such tricks and we are lured into believing what we see and assume. Hence a person with an SLR becomes a good photographer, a person with a pen in his hand becomes a writer and a good cook is taken as a good husband even though desi legends say that husbands are never good and can never ever be either. A creator or an artist must have an inner mystery that can churn art out of them. Otherwise even I have a DSLR camera and I can cook too. But neither am I photographer nor a husband, a good being out of question!

There is a painter I know just through his works that he posts online. The fact remains that he can paint real good. Over the years his work has improved a lot. Each of his brush stroke shows an evolution from what he was some years ago. As I have already seen him so I never needed to imagine how he would look like. He is an artist beyond his appearance with that much needed mystery inside him which is a must for any and every creator. Recently, he received a comment on his online post that his work has improved in the recent years to which he replied,

“We excel in anything that we keep doing over and over and over.”

His answer struck me. It made me think about love. Would we excel if we keep loving over and over and over. Love is highly controversial word for in the present age, holding different meanings in different souls. It demands an intricate dissection to understand it. If you want your mind not get confused, please stop reading here. Beyond this is a dark alley for many where you can not see and just feel.

Love is a mystery every poet from Baydil to Faraz has tried to unravel and failed. In fact they tried to lift the curtain of the mystery but ended in themselves disappearing behind it. Love is too divine a thing that takes a worldly man years, in fact his whole life to know what exactly it is. I got only one life in which I can live as me. I don’t have any time machine either which I can use to go back and step in someone else’s shoes just to know their perspective and lesson on love. So I read what they have said about love in the form of prose and poetry. It is like living their life. Just feel the mystery when Momin wrote

“Tum mere paas hotay ho goya”

The mystery never breaks who exactly was with him. For a young man it would most likely be a woman or women with a nice music in the background. For a veteran soldier who has lost everyone in the war and now sitting all by himself in his dark room, that “TUM” can be a mixture of extreme sorrow and rage who visit him when he is alone. This is that inner mystery that made Momin an artist and all creators have got it. This makes that divine love un-apprehended for a young fool. Love is a heavenly element the men of earth can glimpse once in a lifetime and that too not any sooner. The other shades of love are many. As a school boy, I used to fall in “love” twice every month yet here I am still happily surviving. Later I knew that it was not love but it tasted pungent enough to confuse me as love. Then the hormones settled. And so did the laundry bill. The boy changed into a man.

Doing a thing over and over polishes it but can it be applied to love? The ladies of sub-continent have always disagreed. They keep their fictions about love alive and feed them well hoping that love is a one-time phenomenon that we can’t improve ever simply by loving over and over again. For them it is not a game of archery one can master by practicing. The men of sub-continent would disagree to them. A man can fall in love more than once and he can improve by falling in love the second or the third or the fourth time. As they say love is an art, perhaps the most epic one of all arts, logically all the realities of art would naturally be applicable to love then. The ladies who might have read till here would disagree.

I believe that a man no matter what his age is can love over again if he had already loved in the past. But let me lift a curtain. We always seek an aroma in the air that our heart has felt in the past. In new love, the similarities with old one are desired. Love is so like a plaque. It never lets go off the walls of the heart. It penetrates so deep inside. So even if love has occurred once or over or “over and over” or “over and over and over” some traits of the old love always remain. Just like paint coming off a wall and beneath the new coat the old colors tell a story only if one sees close enough.

Six One Nine

In exams I try to keep myself away from all distractions and the distractions away from me. I am not a genius in any way so academic books to me are like forced marriage. And one needs to forget, if not kill all his affairs in order to find the beauty in his marriage. So did I and on February 1st, 2014. I deactivated some social networks and powered off all my numbers in order to stay focused for exams. However on the night of February 19th, I got informed that one of my numbers is transmitting texts to one of my contacts who informed me. It was quite startling to me. I pulled the phone out of my drawer and turned the phone on. I was greeted by a “Registration Failed” dialogue. My number was in wrong hands. But that was not the only worry. All my accounts including some email addresses were linked to that number in two factor authentication. I myself found locked out because of the situation. Who and why would someone do this? It was the question hitting my head. I closed the books and opened all the email addresses one by one and with the help of some back-up codes I had printed and the password reset process, I was able to safely revoke that number as a key to the accounts. It took me some hours to do it. It was not a happy feeling removing that but it was necessary. It gave me an impression as I am dissecting a dead part of the body which if not removed would spread and cause more harm. At around 3 in the morning with my eyes hurting because of stress and wakeful state, I felt a little lucky that in there was no power surge which if had happened would have delayed things. In Pakistan, power outages are an unavoidable curse. I slept for two hours. The daily civil unrest in the country and use of technology tools in the spread of fear and terror across the country is one worry too. But why would someone want a specific number to do anything evil. They can use any number for that.

 

At ten in the morning, I was sitting in the customers relation office. After some reasonable explanation I was able to recover my number. I don’t know how exactly it happened but the CR officer told me that the number was reissued under a fake transfer and then ownership was also changed under a fake name. But who did that remains a mystery. In fact even when I am typing this message, I am getting a call from an unknown number which ends in a pretty similar number as mine. There are a million memories associated with this number which I never changed in more than a decade. And now another memory got added to it.

 

Aamir Bilal

Bad Bad Girl (short story)

He was already late for the flight when he left his hotel room Worried that he might not be late for the flight, he kept asking the cabbie to pace up the ride. The city’s evening traffic was always a hell. He always felt that the erratic minded folks on the streets were responsible for him being late. In a while later, he was sitting peacefully in the waiting lounge recalling his day. Like a movie reel playing at the back of his eyes, he lived the whole day in a couple of seconds. It reminded him of his great uncle who used to tell him that in the old age a man sees the gone days of his youth like a film and then that seems more like a dream he had lived years ago and sadly cannot live again. How good are the tricks of mind that allow us to time travel. He came to the city a few days back to attend a seminar on ‘Nano-medicine and Oncology’. He always thought of coming back to the place he had graduated from some years ago. But the pace of life took him far away from here. Two days ago he came here hoping to find a chance to go to his college but couldn’t. The only time he could visit it was during the day and then he was occupied. He wanted to touch and feel the walls of the place where he laughed, learned and loved. Every path of this city was rigged with memories. Even the air of the city carried a nostalgia.

He was brought to the present moment by the announcer who was announcing the upcoming flights. Around him were passengers from every walk of life. He scanned the lounge. Not much changed about the airport since he was here some fifteen years back. Even the color was as old and boring as it was then. He observed the people. There was old couple right at the far end of the lounge arguing on something reflecting their love strengthening in old age. There were bachelors laughing together in another corner. A group of air-hostesses entered the lounge and the team of those bachelors couldn’t help but carefully examine each of the hostess from head to toes. A few families were scattered here and there. He looked at his phone only to find notifications he didn’t even bother to check. He wasn’t a teenager anymore who would get excited to see some closed envelopes on the screen. A caffeine craving was rising in him, asking him to get up and grab himself a cup of the needed dose. Winters were setting in already. A strange and odd restlessness was sweeping upon him which made the demand of the caffeine more intense. He got up and walked across the hall to reach the appropriate counter. The tea was served in a few seconds. A wave of freshness entered his tired mind and drained limbs. Sipping in the hot liquid, he took another glance at his watch. Four hours seemed to be a very long time to kill. What could be more efficient way to kill the time than his phone. So he pulled out the screen and checked his log. It was no different than what he had expected. After replying to a few people, he thought about an old fellow who happened to be in the city. He took his tea and returned to his seat almost colliding with a child on the way who was enjoying the best years of his life unaware of the blessing. That call was soothing to his soul. Even after all the technology that plagues our lives, we seldom find moments for the people who made this life a blessing in the first place.

As the call ended, he plugged in his ear-buds and started playing some music. What his eyes were seeing seemed like a video complementary to the music on his playlist. The tunes silenced the noises of the surrounding. There was a couple sitting three rows away from him with their backs towards him which is why he could not see their faces. The child he collided into a few minutes ago reached that couple and the man hugged the child. He was a very beautiful boy. That complete little family had his attention when the mother of that child got up from her seat and turned. Then he saw her face. He did not know that there was something else very close to him in that lounge at that time which was carrying the power of same nostalgia, far stronger than the winds and streets of that city. He was seeing a face after years. Everything was changed yet everything was the same. For a moment he felt the surge of strongest emotions in his blood. Time seemed to have frozen in that moment. His mind played the tricks, like a mind always does and took him some years back when the face he was seeing was more fresh, more younger, lively and a joy for him. The track changed on his playlist. Nature’s coincidences occur for more than just coincidences.

“…tera naa japdi phiran sohniya…”
“…’cause I am a bad girl…”

Time goes by so fast. And when we look back, it’s gone and disappeared into the ravines of nothingness. He felt jolts of memories all over his mind. He sat there frozen. But his flashbacks were not. The black of the burqa of that woman transformed into every color his eyes had known, learned and cherished. His imagination of the bygone days pulled out the locks that stole the peace of his life which were were then so well hidden under that black hijaab. He was flowing with the rhythm of the tunes and words pouring into his ears. He didn’t close his eyes and still saw everything his imagination was bringing right before his eyes. Past was morphing into present or present had metamorphosed into past..

“Tum itni achi kyun ho?”
“Kyun?”
“Kya kyun?”
“Acha hona mein koi masla hai?”
“Masla to nahin lekin….”
“Lekin?”
“Rehnay do…”
“Lekin kya? Bata do!”
“Lekin yeh keh…”
“Keh?”
“Keh boys ko achi girls achi nahin lagti.”
“what!”
“G!”
“To buri ban jaon?”
“Haan ban jao”

And she smiled and tried to run away. And he recalled grasping her wrist and pulling her in. 

How quickly time faded the things that were his life. He was still looking at a fragment of his life or a part of his past which was no longer his. Even being just a viewer, he knew that element would live on forever like a cherished scar. The woman took the child and carried him. He could see the smile on her face. She hadn’t changed much. Maybe it were her clothes that were making her look different. He didn’t want her to see him. So he sank into his chair a bit more. That concealed him quite well. A distance of few meters wasn’t just a few meters then. It was years and miles long and he knew that he could not cross that by any means. The years of his life won’t be enough. The “Good” and “Bad bad girl” was right before him.

“…tera naa japdi phiran sohniya…”
“…’cause I am a bad girl…”

 He wanted time to pause. But that is exactly what men had wished for in the past but it never stopped for anyone. From Prophets and Kings to common men, no mortal could ever stop its flow. Some announcements were being aired on and off. At one such announcements, that family stood up and picked up their bags. It was destined to happen. Even he knew it, he wanted something else. That glimpse of the past was sweeter than what was concrete. He dipped his head for a moment. A few seconds later, he looked up again. They were leaving to board on the plane. And just when he was sure that they were at a safe distance, he stood up and felt the cold air against his ears. The track was about to end. Just then he saw her come back to the place they were sitting. Apparently she had forgotten something. He was not able to hide himself again. It happened so suddenly. Then she stopped momentarily and looked at him. She knew about his presence. That stare stopped his heart. At that moment the song ended.

The Perfect Girl

In school days, I had a rich friend. But we met in childhood and that is why money was not the cause of our friendship. Neither of us knew the power of the word rich so our bond of being friends strengthened. We went to the same school. His money pushed him to that school and i earned that after I cleared the test somehow. As we grew up the differences in our lives become prominent. We stood at the opposite ends of a spectrum. I used to come to school by bus while his driver used to drive him to school. Even the car was really a good machine. I never accepted his generous offers of dropping me home and he never stopped offering them. Before anything could get polluted by greed or some other emotion of the mortals, I got into another school. His family moved to a more posh city and he moved to a new school. It happened just an year before the school life was about to end. When we got promoted to the sixth standard, his dad gifted him a computer. In those days he was the only boy in the entire school who owned a computer. He invited his friends to his house which was in an upscale locality of the city. I went to his place to see what a computer looked like in person. It was a branded machine. I can still remember that brand. Yes, it was cool! Comparing it to today’s modern computers, it was shit but everyone in school wanted that shit. I was included in that everybody too. That night before sleep could take me into a valley of dreams and nightmares, I I decided to save money and get my own computer. As I was on the other end of the spectrum, I knew the saving would take some time. After many months, that day came when my pool could be changed into a computer. Boy that excitement was so pure and innocent. Back then gadgets and computer stuff was really expensive. A good screen used to cost an arm. It would have taken me years instead of months to get a branded computer like the one my rich friend was having. So I took the bitter path of compromise majority of middleclassyas take when it comes to desires and dreams. Compromise. Such a bad, ugly and bitter word it is. You feel the trap you are in more clearly when you compromise. I bought the individual parts for the computer to assemble them into a machine. It took one week of bus trips to gadgets shops and bargaining to find the parts at the cheapest possible rates.

Finally I had built my own computer.

It had a white mouse, a beige keyboard and a black case which housed all the parts like the motherboard, the processor and the power supply etc. In no way it was like the computer of my friend. That had everything in one color and one branding. Mine looked like it was made from leftover parts. A part of me which liked art didn’t like it. I did not tell anyone about it. So showing it to anyone was out of question. It remained a dream from that day to have a PC that looked like it came from one factory. This dream kept stinging for many years.

I remained in a relationship more than once. Each time it had something positive and something negative. In other words, every relationship bore something I cherished and something I feared. Upon being asked a very innocent question

Who is the best girl you came across

It was not an easy question. I have asked this question to myself too. The answer reminded me of that first computer I built. The perfect girl is a fiction. A pure fiction that lives in the head. And I assembled her from real girls. She has those penetrating eyes, those feet whose thumps echo heart, locks that have trapped peace of men. Her words work like magic. She never lies. She has no ego crisis. She has no dark matter with her. She would never betray. She would always understand. She would be obedient. She knows flying, driving, diving, archery and can be playful with kids. And she can cook too!

The bitter reality that she is a fiction. An unreal beauty of the mind that stays in the mind. But hey, these are her qualities. These are real qualities of real people I have seen, met, heard, loved and wished. So she is some real at least. In fact she is real only if the parts and qualities were available. However, she is nameless. I have not thought of her name yet. That would encase her in one flaw rendering her no more the perfect girl.

Aamir Bilal