World Teacher’s Day!

​They held my hand,

Scared and small;

Taught me to spell the tree,

That apples came from.

Gentle and kind,

With a strict edge at times;

They showed me around school,

Its intimidating hallway became mine.

From A to Z,

And running with scraped knees;

They watched as my friends,

Became my chosen family.

My teacher held me when all fell apart,

A second parent, not by blood, but by heart.

– Gulrukh Rizvi~

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Excerpts from the books I will never write.

Guaranteed to make your day

 

1.      Frank Herbert, Dune

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

2.      Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

3.      J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Remember, if the time should come, when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

4.      Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—’God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’”

5.      William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.”

6.      George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

“We look up at the same stars, and see such different things.”

7.      C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“Wrong will be right,

when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar,

sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth,

winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane,

we shall have spring again.”

8.      Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

9.      Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”

10.  Julian Barnes, Sense of an Ending

“We live in time – it holds us and molds us – but I never felt I understood it very well. And I’m not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary, everyday time, which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: tick-tock, click-clock. Is there anything more plausible than a second hand? And yet it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time’s malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing – until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.”

11.  H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

12.  Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

“When today fails to offer the justification for hope, tomorrow becomes the only grail worth pursuing.”

13.  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.”

14.  Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

15.  Macbeth, William Shakespeare

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.”

 

 

-Warisha Akbar

 

Anxiety is the friend who stays past dinner and doesn’t want to go home.

sara

 I thought she wasn’t going to stay for long

I met her at a park when I was 10 years old

She said she was lonely, that she needed a friend

So I held her hand.

My mother took us to the beach one day

She told us how the sea had strange powers,

that it reminded you how to breathe just by watching it.

She explained to us, in the way she told stories,

How the waves touched the rocks with gentle caresses

and landed kisses on the white sand.

When my mother turned away, my friend whispered to me

“It’s violent.

It’s violent like a monster.

It has so much rage. Like it’s angry at us.

At you.”

One time, when a teacher called me to her office

to discuss my work, my friend kept telling me

“You must have done something wrong.

You must have gotten a bad grade.

You must have spelled that word wrong.”

And so like that she counted the ways I might have screwed up

on her fingers.

I let out a small laugh

though my palms were starting to clam up and my knees felt weak.

Some years passed

I made other friends

Friends who gave me their phone numbers

But every time I would send them a text and waited for their response

My friend made me check my phone

3 times

Then 7

Then a few times more

All in the span of five minutes

And if there was still no response, we’d argue

“They’re probably busy,” I’d say

“They don’t want to talk to you,” she’d say.

“They must have not checked their phone.”

“Maybe you said something wrong.”

My friend started sticking around a lot more.

One time, when I was waiting to meet a colleague from work at a café,

she insisted that I had left the stove on at home,

even when I reassured her I hadn’t.

She said something about the house erupting in flames

if I didn’t go home right then.

I eventually had to leave

It was the fourth time I had cancelled the meeting.

I didn’t understand why nobody else could see my friend

I wondered if anyone else had a friend like that

Who kept them up at night so they could either rewind past conversations

in their head countless of times

or play out scenarios perfectly so they wouldn’t

have to face reality.

I wondered if they also had someone who

made them change their outfits 5 times before leaving the house

only to constantly remind them to check their bag in case

they had left the keys at home

even if they hadn’t.

Who pushed a hand inside their chest and

grabbed their heart in their fist and made it beat faster and faster

until they felt it would burst from the seams.

Who made them stay home with a tempting offer to be wrapped in a blanket.

and read a book

instead of to face the world

because they just want to make them feel safe.

To protect them.

“This world is too much for you,” they’d say.

“You’re not ready.”

My friend doesn’t want to leave

She has no luggage she can pack up and move out

She says she is the safest person I’ll ever know

And maybe she’s right.

 

-Sarah Jafrani.

bro

Dastangoi- Reviving the Lost Art of Story-Telling.

They say certain traditional stories that moves thousands of hearts never truly die and their slightest mention can stir emotions in the toughest of souls. But how warmly beautiful it is when those stories are not just words written in ink, but rather narrated in smooth voices that have mastered the skill of language. How appealing it is when the imagination sits back and rests to experience stories vividly being acted out through the eyes.

Such is the art of Dastangoi- a form of oral story-telling that a talented performer narrates to an audience, perfectly synchronising with gestures and voice tones, in a suitable decorum of a mehfil.

Having roots in Persia, the art of elocuting/narrating fascinating stories, once had its branches blooming in many areas.of the sub-continent. With fate giving birth to extraordinary kings of Dastangoi, a magnetically energized audience was left glued to their seats, thrilled to the bone. Their hunger to keep listening to epic stories of history, culture, magic, humour and war never really thawing until the end. However, as eras passed, and death cruelly took away all the masters of Dastangoi, the art began to fade, draining the color from the masterpieces of verbal stories and leaving behind memoirs in dark and light shades of itself, in hopes and despair.

Where the fire of passion exists, the will to brighten it never calms down as for the past few years, many passionate theatre artists are in pursuit to revive the art of Dastangoi. To caress and ignite the magical charm it once held in the hearts of literature lovers and paint the art of Dastangoi- close to its original elegance.

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Even though, a greater portion of how the art was performed in the culture-rich days is still unknown, many performers are solid determined to once again, like years ago, spellbind an excited audience. To make them feel the power of alluring words in verbal stories and the intensity of the actions as if they were reading the pages of a holy scripture in the fiery eyes of the performers.

This November, the SZABIST Literary Society, is organizing a live Shaam-e-Dastangoi event, featuring a bomb trio of the most demanded and accomplished Dastangos -Fawad Khan, Nazrul-Hassan and Meesam Naqvi which will prove itself to be one of the most promising events ever.

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She Was Lost Between the Pages of a Good Book

She dipped her toes into the water, stretching the fabric of her leggings, a yellowed book cracked open on her lap. A cold breeze passed the dock area, rustling through her thick, dark curls and turning the pages, several at a time. The waves crashed into one another: a cacophony of the blue-green waters, white foam floating and curling around her feet like swirls of soap on the floor during a shower. The sun lowered into the horizon, concealing itself behind a blanket of blues and pinks and yellows. She nibbled on the tip of her thumb, teeth biting into the skin, her thoughts immersed in the characters between the pages and their struggles. This was the one place where she could come and sit by herself just to focus on how her breathing fell into a synchronised pattern, and enjoy how the early autumn wind danced delicately on her freckled skin, her half bare arms, and the nape of her neck that peeked through a bush of curls. She flipped another page, not worrying about the little sister who always found one excuse or another to come into her room and borrow something from her closet, or the mother who made it her life’s duty to teach her daughter how to work a stove and boil the rice to perfection. The characters in her books didn’t have to bother with such mundane tasks: they had to find sacred gems, go on road-trips with strangers, defeat an evil wizard, or go on a journey in search of their soulmate. How interesting their lives were, everyday a new found adventure, an exciting story to tell with plenty of hand gestures. The sun dipped lower, the sky changed colours, and she decided it was time to return to her world long, mundane days.

Sarah Jafrani

BS Biosciences

A One-Sided Story.

The epitome of Pakistani drama serials could be observed during the times PTV was in monopoly. When dramas were less technical and more logical, when the roads were found to be vacant during the time slot any of the dramas would be aired; when the content was suitable for both adults and children. Exactly these are the stories we often hear from our parents about the ‘90s, when either they feel nostalgic or get disappointed from the content of the current dramas on air.

I probably wouldn’t have been proficient enough to compare the worth of the dramas of the two eras until, I watched dramas of both the periods critically myself. It is pretty evident that today regrettably there is deterioration in the standards of the content.

Dramas today might be much more realistic on the scale of one to ten in comparison to the Indian serials but they are unfortunately stagnant in terms of the content. We witness a woman to be showed either as a weak and helpless person or as a subject of objectification. And the catch is that even if by any chance a serial has a better story-line, the pivot point of the story would always be either the harassment of women or her helpless state.

Interestingly, our audiences’ minds have been so engrossed by these types of contents that despite recognising the flaws in the story and pointing them out either verbally or on the social media, the dramas still manage to get ratings that touch the sky. The best example to substantiate would be to mention the most hyped-about drama serial, “Mann Mayal”.

I mean don’t we feel awkward that last night at a party we mocked on Mannu’s helplessness, Salahuddin’s indecisiveness, Jeena’s rants and Jameel’s change from being the most sensible character to finally displaying the “Mann Mayal” vibes. And yet we manage to stick in front of the TV every Monday at 8pm to check out Hamza Ali Abbasi.

Talking to one of the most insightful and experienced man of the industry, Sir Rahat Kazmi, I realised why charms like him are demotivated from working anymore. Upon asking why can’t we see him on TV dramas either as an actor or as a writer after his first and the last written drama named Teesra kinara. He with disappointment in his voice replied, “At this point in this industry where the content is only about women being merely an object of desire and a victim to atrocities from the in-laws, I feel like Ali (the character he played in Teesra Kinara) who couldn’t bear with the conventions. Hence, I’ve taken a step back.”

I think it is high time we start making dramas that induce logic as well as have a moral. And also give the authorities in the right hands, so that we don’t lose such significant people from the industry.

 

 

 

-Bakhtawar Ghaffar.

I Dream Of A Place.

i-dream

I dream of a place with warmth and water,

A place where trials of life don’t matter,

A place where I can fall peacefully asleep,

And you can keep me from falling in too deep.

I dream of a place without sweat and blood,

A place where tears don’t threaten to flood,

A place with no noise and just merry sounds,

A place where you are always around.

I dream of a place where all of us are loved,

A place where bad feelings are shoved

In a box with a lid shut on so tight

Where they don’t come back to haunt and to fight.

I dream of a place, a place so sweet,

Where there’s reason enough to laugh and to weep;

But the tears are joyful and the smiles so serene,

And no place for things that make life mean.

I dream of a place so beautifully true,

Where there’s a place for me and a place for you,

I dream this dream with such heartfelt trust,

That this place in my dreams no one can crush.

For its a secret I share only with friends,

Those who I’ll take with me to the end

I share this place with a trusted few

And one of those friends happens to be you.

 

-Aqsa Baig.