Sahiwal

January 23rd, 2019 / 10:43 AM

Sahiwal Incident is a national tragedy.

I have never liked policemen. Somehow the law enforcement agencies in my country represent evil. If one half of law is the intricate system of judiciary, the other without a doubt is the system of police and other law enforcing institutes.No one can pinpoint to how a crime comes to being or how a criminal is made in the first place. There are examples of people who went to the wrong side just because they were never treated well on the right side. Look at the example of what happened in Sahiwal. What would happen to the minds of a youngster when he sees his parents shot to death in broad daylight by none other than the people who were supposed to protect them. The print and the electronic media are the two main sources which are keeping me updated on the incident and how it is unfolding in front of our eyes. Shock and grief are the two emotions which have spread throughout the country but we as a nation have weaker memories and tomorrow we will forget what happened. The tragedy of a dying breed whether it is a dying breed of an animal or an art or a nation is that they never remember those tragedies which happened to others but they only remember the ones that affect them and those too on an individual level. It is our personal interests over the national interest which has divided us to a level that now there is no going back unless we cut back on our greed. This very greed of us is what has us divided in the first place. It is our greed of life which makes us afraid of these monsters in uniforms. We see everyday the policeman searching civilians in the name of law the so-called snip checking. Still the crime rate is high and people are afraid more from these traders of law who were supposed to be protectors. I still remember the man who used to sell fruit-juice in my neighborhood. Because he was too friendly with a policeman he had to suffer a fatal wound when that policeman was attacked in a targeted attack.

Just imagine witnessing a car travelling on the motorway carrying a family with women and children in it. Suddenly you see a police car chasing them and then blocking their way. Out jump those masked policemen who would shoot a spray of bullets on that car killing the members of the family instantly without the intervention or thought of law, logic or humanity. There are no external reason why other nations fear and scorn us. It is our own hypocrisy whether it comes to the system of law or the system of justice or the system of religious equality and social justice. We are hypocrites. You can never argue with a bearded trader of religion because there are so many educated and cultured blind following are crippled wheelchair wala who easily label you as a blessed famous and then send you to a harsh end. Luckily the bastard is behind bars as of this writing. But every monster comes out in a weaker system. It is so easy to just blame someone of a serious charge like blasphemy and then settle personal scores. The tragedy is that in a country of God, I found no God. You never know when some mullah might blame God for blasphemy or when a policewala shoot him.

Aamir Bilal

2019

January 1st, 2019 / 06:53 AM / Lahore

Yes, a new year demands a new flow. But every time I move the current year to an archive, I start feeling like an old ghost. Or maybe is it a ghost haunting me. A chudail perhaps. No, the chudails could never be one. Never.

Flickr

November 5th, 2018 / 4:08 AM

After twelve years of love, the old flame still keeps burning. The sting of nostalgia and everything associated with it is always hard to give up. Like an old city where a person has lived keeps calling him. Again. And again. And yet again. The old city of Flickr.

I still remember the time when sharing a picture was more of a problem. It was a bigger problem than taking a picture and transferring it to your computer was. that is why more genius people started thinking of a cure and came up with a wonderful service called Flickr. The solution was remarkable but the only shortcoming that I faced with it was the number of images that I could share with someone else was limited to 200. But even that did not stop me from uploading the images as I knew that all the images were safe. At least I intended to get a paid subscription in the later years when I can happily enjoy all the pictures that I have uploaded to the service. Many detailed articles on the Internet talk about how Yahoo purchased a vehicle and then destroyed it eventually selling it to Verizon after a data breach. But even Verizon could not contain the fallout and the fiasco led to people leaving Flickr. The love for photography has not died, at least not yet. That’s the reason why I was hopeful when Smugmug bought Flickr in 2018. They have recently paid attention to all those free hoarders which we can find in almost any community and any service who are there only to pollute the beautiful walled gardens. Just look at what they have done to Facebook Twitter and Instagram. These were really good places just like mountain towns. Now the crowd has destroyed them. The same crowd found free enterprise-grade storage of 1 Terabyte on Flickr. They were the people who were least bothered about community interactions in photography. They just wanted a place where they can store their photographs and delete them from the computer and save some space. I remember once a property broker came to the hospital. When I asked him where he lived, he told of an average neighborhood just to keep his low profile from all the extortionists. A colleague added, “Why is that posh town so expensive?” The broker replied, “The taps don’t push out milk in that area. The price exists just to keep the filthy poor out.” To this day I remember his ideology. Free is what made Facebook filthy, Android filthy, Twitter filthy, Instagram filthy. You will never find Bahria Town filthy, DHA filthy, Cantonment filthy, etc. Flickr was great. Then the free-minded settlers moved in. This recent price tag push will kick them out just to let those who care about photos stay.

It is a good move in the long run. Technology giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook or even Microsoft should introduce a bundled service that packs some services under one roof. Only if there existed such a service that had a section for all the tweet-like statuses being streamed and a blog section for longer blog posts, a photo drive where all photographs one has ever taken are saved (in their original quality) along with those cherished screenshots and a video drive where all the videos are safely backed up. Those who care about their data would move to this amazing town instantly. The service would be more ideal if a personal domain could be linked to it. It is quite possible and eventually, someone is going to make this dream a reality.

Flickr may start looking like a posh neighborhood in the future. But that is what I fear too. I seek peace and harmony that was destroyed by free hoarders. My experiences are riddled with dust collected from the surroundings from Saddar Town and Walton Colony to Nishat Colony and Old Anarkali that if life moves me to a palace, I might leave the fancier walls when everyone else falls asleep, sneak out, take a ride to that part of the old city, sneak into my old home and fall off to a peaceful sleep on the cold concrete floor.

Aamir Bilal

 (Zafar Gorakhpuri) (Zafar Gorakhpuri)

چڑیل | The Witch

October 8th, 2018 / 4:49 PM

I came across a book while roaming the old bazaar. A book about witches, or better, a book on the subject of witches. The subject has existed in almost every culture, religion, and region though the ideas, beliefs, myths, and ideologies about evil under the guise of a woman differ. Even the one I was born and raised in has a lot to say about this fascinating subject. From folk tales, dramas, contemporary literature, modern writings to informal gossip, proverbs, urban myths, and those evening warnings dadi used to say when we kids wanted to go to the neighborhood park, she existed.

As I grew up, so did that churail (چڑیل). She has lost that horrifying makeover from my earliest perceptions. Maybe those perceptions came into existence from all that was spoken about her. No more exist her hard reptilian skin or her beastly nails. The glowing white or black-hole dark eyes are gone too. She doesn’t levitate in the air or walk on the ground with those inverted feet of hers. The horrifying mask of her has fallen. Out has come to the appearance I had never expected. Organic. Staple. And normal. Like any other non-witch being. Only a master with the skill and experience might be able to spot her. The fools of men would never be able to do so, even with a thousand eyes. Perhaps that is the reason why she mixes herself so well in the crowd and ordinary mortals fail to spot her truer self.

Not all definitions one starts believing in exist in the dictionary. Not all ideas one follows are taught at a school. The experience is, after all, the best teacher. It is that very same experience that helped craft definitions for hard and impossible to define concepts including those of life, death, love, divine, and the witch. Out from the hideous and centuries-old reptilian skin has come a normal and organic witch who looks like any other woman one would come across. In her definition, she has been to the universities and beyond. She has a social media presence that she uses, very aptly, for two of the most nefarious purposes – propaganda and stalking. Beyond her apparent modernist ideologies exists a centuries-old soul, if the soul has something to do with her. Her beliefs do not bend with the fevers of the present era. Men of the modern age would not stand a moment before her ancient powers.

Two of the short stories in my book are inspired by this topic. This number does not do justice as the number of witches that helped define her is higher. I know this because at least a few of them would surely read these words. Yes, this is for your eyes. You are the witch for you know what lives under your skin better than any mortal ever can. A few of the witches were kind enough. They didn’t suck blood even after biting. None of them had inverted feet even when some had feet that incited the foot fetish and helped it evolve to new heights. I always wondered what if one day she reveals her true nature and her feet bend backward, would my fetish stay the same or disappear? What if her horrendous scary skin was not what she removed but the skin was something she just wore on to mix among her human preys? A few witches kept saying that men are dogs. I am not sure of others but had I been one, I would have seen her true self. I was told dogs see what humans cannot. Maybe the inner dog found a bone in this book bazaar. I look forward to a new definition this book might help craft.

Aamir Bilal

Verdicts

February 9th, 2018 / 05:28 PM

The verdict of the case is out. Two people have been convicted and have been sentenced to death. And a whole gang pardoned or given very light punishments. But the drama has not ended. In fact one of the very evil political parties has taken to the streets and are protesting in favour of those who killed a man in the name of God. It’s not the first time somebody has been killed in the name of god and definitely it’s not the last time either. But in a country where blasphemy is a very sensitive subject we all have seen how it was manipulated in silencing a person for personal interest. It is more shocking that people are still supporting a killer. The father of Mashal Khan has also expressed his disagreement over the verdict of this case. I too failed to understand why everybody who played a role of being an accomplice to a murderer not awarded the same and justful punishment. What has happened to Mashal Khan can happen to anyone. But all the people to whom injustice is done are not lucky enough that for them a political party stages a protest especially when that party comprises only of mullahs standing united under the flag of self-proclaimed God’s good men. The only beard I like is either my own or of a girl who was my classmate in medical college. She had very long hair on her legs which made me imagine her in a beard. Sadly, she is equally violent in my imagination. 

The Forgotten Path

I had a very memorable trip to Pindi some years ago. The train trip itself became a good memory. I killed the ephemeral moments clicking pictures instead of slumber. The unkind weather helped in discovering the bogey’s door to take pictures because it was airy enough with a handsome view. The train sped its way through Gujjar Khan (a city south of Rawal Pindi) It was after crossing the Salt Range, when I saw an old road running along the train tracks which in old times used to connect Lahore and Rawalpindi, probably during the British Raj. Hence a century old gem. Still some village folks were using it as a mean of transport but hardly any modern vehicle. Time had worn most of that road after decades and centuries. New roads have sprung up making that path almost forgotten to the modern dwellers. Hidden in bushes and away from the eyes, it was hardly possible to see it from the road side. At places, it was so narrow that two cars cannot cross it simultaneously.My camera was clicking pictures at a steady rate. At one moment it clicked an old bridge which I didn’t know then. I discovered that after weeks when flicking through the pool. That picture, attached here, was a thought provoking push, a strong one. I wondered how many lovers, teachers, mothers, children, friends, enemies had crossed that old and forgotten bridge. Very literally, the paths of many lives would have crossed at that bridge. But no one would remember it as we forget even the paths we take ourselves in life. Don’t we?

Bridge on an old route between Lahore and Islamabad
Bridge on an old route between Lahore and Islamabad