For the Love of Books

  1. “Walking into a good bookshop is like walking into another zone. These places are time machines, space ships, story makers, secret keepers. They are dragon-tamers, dream catchers, fact-finders and safe places. They are full of infinite possibilities, and tales worth taking home. Because whether we’re in the middle of the desert or in the heart of a city, on the top of a mountain or on an underground train: having good stories to keep us company can mean the whole world.” – The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
  2. “Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn frm the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilisation, the depth of our awareness about the underpinings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.” – Carl Sagan
  3. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”– Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  4. “Books may not change our suffering, books may not protect us from evil, books may not tell us what is good or what is beautiful, and they will certainly not shield us from the common fate of the grave. But books grant us myriad possibilities: the possibility of change, the possibility of illumination.” – Alberto Manguel
  5. The object we call a book is not the real book, but its potential, like a musical score or seed. It exists fully only in the act of being read; and its real home is inside the head of the reader, where the symphony resounds, the seed germinates. A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another. The child I once was read constantly and hardly spoke, because she was ambivalent about the merits of communication, about the risks of being mocked or punished or exposed. The idea of being understood and encouraged, of recognizing herself in another, of affirmation, had hardly occurred to her and neither had the idea that she had something to give others. So she read, taking in words in huge quantities, a children’s and then an adult’s novel a day for many years, seven books a week or so, gorging on books, fasting on speech, carrying piles of books home from the library. – Rebecca Solnit
  6. “I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
    In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”– Tahereh Mafi
  7. “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
    Go throw your TV set away,
    And in its place you can install
    A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
    Then fill the shelves with lots of books.”– Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  8. “I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.”– The New Life by Orhan Pamuk
  9. “And if I had a bookshop of my own? Well, it wouldn’t make any money. So I am no help to anyone. But I would set it somewhere with a garden, where light poured in through the windows. Sit in the sun, I’d tell my customers. Open this book. Try it. It won’t do any harm, after all, to sit a while and read.” – The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
  10. “A book can become your best companion in times of crisis.
    Not only do you learn in the journey of your pages, but rediscover yourself, with your virtues and defects … often makes you question everything, even life itself.
    The books are fantastic, as they not only transport you to other places and the awakening of sensations, curiosity, laughter, hilarity, sadness, etc. Other times, it can give you a quiet space in truculent moments, and lead you to a level of peace, acceptance, healthy optimism, that I will never tire of recommending it.
    Never stop reading, there are no excuses … there are always some minutes in any place, at any time and a huge universe for all tastes!”– Liz Hay
  11. “If you have enough book space, I don’t want to talk to you.”– Terry Pratchett
  12. “Books make great gifts because they have the whole world inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy someone a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” – Neil Gaiman
  13. “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  14. “Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.”– Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
  15. “The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”– Alan Bennett

 

 

-Sarah Jafrani.

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Oscar Acceptance Speech

I would like to thank my parents for giving me genes of mediocrity

Since I now have my whole set of stairs to climb upon

I would also like to thank my teachers who slapped me

For now I have little patch of stories embossed on my skin

And I would like to thank every person who told me I was not special

Because of you guys only, my path has now no red lights

And last and not the least, I would like to thank God,

For throwing me alone in the jungle full of hungry souls

Only for you, Oh Lord, am I now a meshwork of malice and beauty

And I thank you for that.

-Hira Altaf

Hearts of Granite.

Frustrated I gave the keys one last futile jab before I slammed down the laptop’s screen. A real piece of junk; it never really worked anyway. If only my dad had coughed up some more money and bought me the one that I actually wanted; I thought as I stretched and swung open the refrigerator door before me.

My stomach growled its approval as I took inventory of the shelves, straining under the weight of the food, but with nothing to eat. The ping of my cell phone distracted me from my deteriorating mood.

Excellent! Last minute lunch plans.

As the tires rolled on the hot tarmac, my mind was pre-occupied; what exactly would I choose to satiate my hunger with. Did I feel for a light refreshing sandwich, slabs of meat with crisp lettuce and tomatoes on toasted rye? Or some sumptuously spicy noodles, bite sized crunchy vegetables drizzled in sauce and chili oils.

The aromas wafting away were sensational. I could hardly wait. Right now, I was so hungry, I could just about eat everything. At the tap on my window I snapped out of my reveries, miffed.

Two eyes and a palm stared beseechingly at me, a dirt crusted face attracting flies, lips quivering, mouthing out words, whose sounds never reached my ears. The cracked lips had a spit bubble settled comfortably at one corner. My eyes slid down the boy’s kurta- if it could even be called that, with its holes and patches it more accurately was closer to rags- slicked with sweat. He could hardly have been sixteen. My lips curled at the smudge that had now spread across the glass, grime sedimented in the ridges of the boy’s fingertips from God knows how long.

ho

It was bad enough that these people were allowed to roam freely in this state but then they had to come and make contact with us in such a manner. With the country’s current condition, we could hardly look after ourselves let alone attend to the welfare of others. Wasn’t that the state’s job? And of course everybody knew giving away money was useless. It never solved anything and it was never used for the right things by these people.

My brows furrowed as I gestured a sharp flick with my hands, annoyed. I turned away, failing to comprehend the disheartened eyes that retreated. Eyes that were used to harboring disappointments from long ago. Eyes that in a cruel twist mirrored the irritation I felt towards my parents(at that moment), as a yearning for such beings that had never existed, for this boy; yearning to feel the presence of such people, their laughter, their rules, and even their restrictions. Impervious to the embers extinguishing in those pupils, I settled back into my seat to comfort my tummy with thoughts of the meal to come.

The sky had darkened now, as I was returning home from my day out with my friends. The humid heat of the day had built up to its climax. Rain poured down, a storm rumbled overhead, drowned out only by the temporary haven I was sitting in, in my car; heater turned up, radio blasting away.

My eyes were focused on the road beyond the periodic swish of the wipers on my wind screen. As I drove past the roundabout, almost home, I noticed a body lying on the side of the pavement.

A kurta clad body, rain soaking up the fabric, washing out the layers of sweat. Clear water fell on a face, dripping down as mud-changed. Dozens of cars drove past, flashing their headlights, hands permanently pressed to the horns, staring in front of themselves, thinking only of the remaining distance till their destinations. Nobody stopped for the boy by the pavement. Nobody looked at the fallen body.

act

Across the world, 2 people die each second, 105 each minute, and 151,600 each day. More people than deserve it remain alone till their last breath; an even greater number are the nameless-basically faceless- that in no way affect our lives so we see no reason to pay attention to theirs. Children without homes, with families, without knowing anybody that could possibly love them withering away.

As I switched on the hazard lights and parked by the pavement, I dialed for the ambulance. A whirlwind of thoughts swirled through my mind. Countless moments previously stored in my temporal lobes broke free; instances that I had no conscious memory of. Endless faces that I might have come across over my two decades.

I saw a boy being whipped with a baton, victim to the occasional, half-hearted police crackdowns.

I saw another lying unconscious, a shiny tell tale needle sticking of his arm, sparkling in the sunlight, blinding me.

I saw numerous blank faces plowing past, their eyes glazed with their apathy; their faces pinched, concentrating on some undoubtedly irrelevant and inane problems that governed their lives.

And among those desensitized robots I saw myself.

streets

We are used to witnessing such sights of poverty, of abandoned children and of broken homes around us that we have by now taught ourselves to ignore them. We have built walls around our sheltered lives, protecting us from the outside, dispensing out 20 rupees intermittently, whenever reality finally catches up to us. Chaos, horror, hardships released in measured doses; the suffering of others ‘inferior’ to us, whispered gently to us so that we can handle them according to our mechanisms, correlating with our whims. We purposefully turn the other cheek to the young, the children forced to grow up prematurely, to stand and look the harsh world in the eye before it consumes them.

streeeeet

As the sirens-picked up by the wind- reached my ears, one final image swam before my eyes; a child barely five, skipping along the sidewalk, alone, cars whizzing past on both sides, his face full of laughter, singing some old tune gleefully, oblivious to his surroundings; and I remember (shamefully) my shock, my surprise that somebody in his situation could still feel the capacity of happiness, possess the ability to smile. But of course he was still to learn of his reality, of the ways of the world, and of its men.

 

-Sidra Zahid.

Let’s Give Her A World.

ahmedLiving in a society where men are merely looked upon as the oppressor of women, I was raised in a very different manner. For starters, I was taught to respect women starting from my own two sisters and then the circle expanded to cousins, school and later to all the women I met in my 22 years of small life. Women? Yes I use this word because it represents the respect they deserve, maybe if only people understood the difference between girls and women and only of they knew what struggles they go through, it could make a difference.

Being a brother, I was always asked and expected to accompany my sisters wherever they went. What I realized many years after this whole phenomenon, went on for years, it is not women that need a man to protect them, it is men that need women to remind them of how they are supposed to behave. My mother always told me never to look into the eyes of a woman if it made them uncomfortable, there can always be other ways to show confidence, she said. According to her, respect is the best communication a man have with a woman, and this is what gives confidence; not to  men but to women that there is still hope for humanity in this stereotypical society.

I never realized all this was so important not only for others, but for my self-respect. This could be a start to that place where we change this world for women, make it better. We, men can inspire them to raise sons who have a different set of mind towards the women of society. No woman should need a man to accompany her when she goes to her college, no woman should be afraid of eating alone in a restaurant, no woman should be worried to travel alone, no woman should be finding a crowded place to wait for her conveyance, no woman should be obligated to cover herself when she walks through a street alone, no woman should be worried to ask for help from a stranger, and most importantly no woman should be disrespected.

Let us give them a world where they can breathe, laugh, walk, talk, meet people, make friends, travel, and trust. Give them a world they deserve for all the things women have done for us, from giving us birth to raising us, from watching us grow to waiting when we are late at night, from opening doors silently for us when we get in late at night to making tea for us in the morning, from giving us the happiness of children and raising a family with us. Let’s give them a safe world in return. Let’s give them respect in return.

 

Ahmed Ghazipura.

BBA, Senior Year.