Monday, November 07, 2005


From New York Times,* "What's a Modern Girl to Do?"

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
-Dorothy Parker

* Subscription required

Thursday, November 03, 2005

*~* wish upon a star *~*

Part the first
Part the second: wish upon a star!

Some feelings about this awe-inspiring creation of God known as the sky are universal. Particularly, if one looks up at the dark blue blueness of the night. There is something very reflective and enveloping about the curved design of the Heavens - and as many minds have wondered, it may indeed be reflecting some of what we have on Earth, but may not yet have seen? After all, the moon and the stars have been there forever - with respect to a human's ordinary time horizon - and surely they must have seen and known much more? Besides, they are all over the Earth, they travel it, they envelope it, they go round and round seeing everything...

So why not tell me, oh sky, have you seen my like?

Surely, as my thought reflects back on me, having left me, having touched you and then drifted back to me with secrets and answers - somewhere must reflect myself. Can you mirror me, oh majestic sky? And return me to me, with more wisdom, knowledge of eternal secrets, and a sense of endless joy?

Surely, oh wise sky, you have seen my like! There is a sense of knowledge and knowing when I look up at you... as if I have seen this life before, waiting to be spread on Space with Time unfurls... Surely my life has been before, or has been, and waiting to BE for me... there is this sense of duplicity in everything, and very close to it the sense of twin-ness. Certainly, just as my life has been, and I live it once again, there is also duplicity of another kind a duplication of me, and you, oh sky, have been keeping it from me!

When I am with my little friends, I tell them - and oh, they echo my feeling as their own - that I know I cannot be one of a kind. There is another, certainly another, perhaps in another world, on another Earth, somewhere, somewhere who is exactly like myself.

"Do you know," I asked my companion-of-childhood Saba, "that when I just gazed up at that sky, someone else, who is just-like-me, in fact me, in fact may be I am that person who I am thinking about because if they are exactly like me, then they are me...," I got breathless, wide-eyed.
Saba remained quite in her wisdom, with an "I know." arranged on her clear face.

"So," I resumed, "do you know, when I just gazed up at the sky, that person did too!?"


Yes, of course. We all knew that secret.
Saba, and Mani, and I. The precocious philosophers who knew that everything which only a child can, and somehow able to preserve that precious knowledge through the adolescent and adult years. But this is the wandering of a wondering mind!

It was a secret we knew with the seriousness of the child who had the opportunity to lie under the sky, and the faculty of wonder to probe it. And along came Age, and no longer were we privileged to have that peek into heavenly secrets, to converse with the stars, and search for a reflection of our souls under the umbrella of the night sky.


Many years have passed since. Not a moment for the eternal sky, but certainly a useful lifetime for a child who matured and seasoned over time. The sky changed for the adults, but it all must have remained the same over the years, with stars falling over in its vast expanses.

When we were children, we did not know about this wishing-upon-a-star business, but you know, a child's heart if so full of wishes, ever, and particularly when it yearns to know, know, and find. While we watched so many stars break into a glorious trail over our heads, we must have been wishing. Of eternal things, such as learning about the Beginning and the End, and more specifically - of more earthly things such as: WHO is that other me? WHERE is that other me? ? ? ?


"When I was a small boy, I used to think, yaar! There must be someone like me in this world!" he said, his starry eyes fixed on mine.

"Um-hmm," I gestured him to go on.

"Do you know what I used to think?"


"You'll think it's crazy, but even as a child, I used to think, ya Allah! There must be someone like me. Will I ever find her? How will I find her? Will I find her when I am really old?"

"Um-hmm. Yes?"

"But you know, I was sure. I will find her." He paused, and looked into my eyes in that affectionate, amused way - and in that instance, I had seen a reflection of myself, a knowledge of all things there, a gateway to reality in those gentle eyes. We remained silent awhile as he held warmly onto my hand.

"Hmmm." I finally murmured. "I know. I always did know. I wished for you too. I knew someday I would find you - find my soul, if I searched hard enough...?" I looked at our hands, with their destinies inter-twined and sighed. " I had once wished you upon a star!"

...a star broke on the sky

Looking up at the sky today reminded me of something I wrote early last year. It is part of the memory of the Universe now. One day, when someone captures the sounds of the Universe Past, he will hear the quiet whispers of this tale. It is, as of now, no more. It was, when it began, to not be in the sounds of the Universe-to-Reveal.

Part the first: a star broke on the sky

when we were younger, there used to more stars on the sky than there are now.

we were also luckier to have more of the skies than we can have today: one could actually see the horizon curve at the ends, and there were more shapes and patterns for a child of four to find than John Nash ever could.

in sultry, warm nights - which were sometimes breezy if the day had been particularly warm - we slept on neatly arranged charpoys on the roof. When the cool air finally lulled everyone to sleep, and all existence was quiet except for the
occasional restless bat that flew over evoking imageries of wicked fairytale characters, a child used to rise from her
affected sleep, and indulge in that primordial human fascination: of staring, searching, probing into space.

the best first thing a human mind can do is to observe, to follow closely by wonder - and then question. In questions are their
answers, and they reveal over Space when Time so intends. And so she observed with wonder.

there are amazing wonders in the skies, particularly if one's mind isn't self-assumed all-knowing, the heart isn't heavy with some faceless, unrelated grief, and the conscience is only concerned with childish misdoings.

to the child's mind rose many images, questions, answers... besides, in a sky so vast there is always a marvel waiting to
reveal itself to the curious. Mostly, it takes the form of a broken star; for which the child had a constant amazement. A star! A shooting star! ... Only at those times it was more often construed as something to do with the image of the Snow Queen she had seen in a story, etched forever on memory...

a mind which wonders is a mind that wanders, in a beatific idleness. the beauty of a blue, blue night cannot be caught, much less the secret feelings it arises in the hearts and minds of the amused young.

"Where has this world come from?"

"Am I part of this, or is this in some way separate from me?"

"How many stars are there in this constellation?"

"What if I die, do I go up there?"

And then the occasional childlike: "Do fairies really descend in the night, and put that toffee under my head? Why not ice-cream? Fairies can do everything!"

My aunt, for one, had no answers - only a look of bewilderment. "Do not talk like that, your mind will go insane!" She would say in horror.

"You do not know the answer? I read in a book..." and those 'overage' books would be hidden that evening, locked for good by those who could neither manage o answer the question they led to, nor realize a mind needs no answer other than those of the questions it asks itself, nor understand that a mind that seeks will seek... for that one needs no books but an endless blue sky with a ceaseless variety of wonders....

Have you seen...?

Chaand mubarak! Eid mubarak!

Hmmm. I just went out and looked for the crescent. I found Mars in its tiny dazzling glory. Wherever the Moon was, though, it saw me. And it sees the whole Earth. I had to ask a few things of the Moon, I had to ask if it sees…

Well. I know it sees me. And it sees… it sees the Earth. All of it. Every one on it.

Now, you are nowhere to be spotted on the sky, oh Chaand! What else do I say?

I said a quiet prayer, and came back in.

Equipped to help

And then, I will be off to Islamabad > Abbottabad > wherever I am needed. The digital camera, and the MP3 player+FM+recorder will be used to capture images and sounds to be dispatched to the interested. With the few heaps of make-up that I’ve bought, I intend to look pretty when I help around (who wants to look at a sad volunteer? Cheer up time!).

The PDA phone will be used to organize tasks and contacts. I can no longer afford the slippery-balled Ericsson which keeps misdialing numbers and embarrassing me.

I also thought a little forward, and took yoga training from yogi Anees. He taught me to toughen up the back for the trek and reduce the general strain.

Ah. I love being an equipped techie!

My Eid this year

Tomorrow is Eid. And I couldn’t decide: should I remember someone else’s pain, or forget mine?

After deliberation, I decided to celebrate Eid. I have also done quite a few other things that I hadn’t done in a life time. I acted like there’s no tomorrow. For the first time

  • I bought make-up worth a few thousand rupees in a go

  • I got an Eid dress tailored by a personal designer. It is a beautiful embroided ferozi silk

  • I bought (finally, having got over my sloth) a digital camera

  • I stole my brother’s iRiver MP3 player + recorder. My oldest passion is a tiny recorder. Did I tell you that there is a journalist/ reporter/ on-the-go thinker/ technophile/ spy somewhere in me?

  • I am buying a Siemens PDA phone

  • I am wearing henna and bangles with my new dress tomorrow, inshaAllah. I don’t care if I look pretty in a sad time

  • I am going to a friend’s wedding in Peshawar to have fun. Have fun! And from the merry moments of marriage, I will fly to a sad land to help the people I care about

  • I began all the statements above with an I, I, I. I matter.

Somewhere inside, my conscience keeps telling me I have gone crazy. It is conscience, or some in-built mommy voice with automatic activation? I told my conscience I am not interfering with myself anymore. Like a needle in a compass once displaced by force, I had lost my real bearings for a long time. I will let myself swing free for some time until I settle. Eid Mubarak.