A Healing Experience.


In a field of my insecurities and short-comings, she plants flowers. Previously, it would be left unattended to. No one to look after it as it grew more and more. Why is she doing this? She doesn’t have to waste her time like this.

With a whisk of her graceful hands, she masterfully composes art as beautiful as her existence. I try to stop her but the feeling isn’t like anything I’ve experienced before? I am loved and surrounded by a constant feeling of fuzziness. “Relax”, she says. I am stiff at first, but gradually let her consume all of me.

The flowers she plants are little parts of her own self. They merge into my dry field to grow instantaneously, almost like fruits that are only meant to be grown on a particular soil.

There aren’t many things that I am grateful for in this world but she is as transcendental as all of the objects in the universe combined. To have her in my arms can be described as feeling, all of the warmth of nature’s creations in a rub of our atoms.

You are the light of my eyes and the food to my soul.

So come into my arms and let me love you whole.




-Asad A. Shamsi



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


Within The Confines of My Mind.


I creep down the stairs
There isn’t anyone there

The people are in bed
The house sleeps on
There is no one to stop me
As I leave home

Rich hues so blinding
Sensory nerves in overdrive
I breathe in deeply
Feeling almost alive

Gone are the black rooms
The suffocating darkness
Instead appear the wild paths
The rolling hills endless

Inhale… Exhale…
I walk tentatively on
Inhale… Exhale…
Deep into the illuminating morn







He speaks of time
Days yet to come
Stories and moments
That haven’t yet been spun
Of humans, happy
And battles undone

Surpassed sweet harmony
Wretchedness cast aside
The deadened homo sapien
Brought back to life
Voids refilled
Responsibilities recognized

Prevalent: Empathy, Humanity, Consideration
Melodious laughter, smiles untaxed
Is such eccentricity possible?
Sans being asked?!
Mass malady cured?
Altruism atlast?!

The world seems not so bad
In his soft lilting tone
But just as I am about
To ask of more
Down slide his hat and eyebrows
As he melts into the floor

Colours swilling around,
The unrecognizable cascading individual
Whilst the puddle flows away from sight
I blink unperturbed
Gone is the old presence
Departed; not unheard

Instead appear the hedges
Sweet roses so red
Hospitable thorns
I am tempted
But inhaling…Exhaling…
I stroll on ahead





Shrill cries pierce my reverie
Vine-y fingers encircle my arm
Shoulders shaken, the cacophony-of worry- fills my ears
Mutely, not protesting in alarm
I am dragged back by The Distressed
Back to my life-as they see fit
I try to speak but am silenced
Not allowed out of home since birth
Atleast not without an escort
Eons have transpired in their pointless worry
Visionless by birth, voiceless by the protector
(I realise) I cannot tell anyone of the things I see
For in my condition, who
In this world would dare believe me

-Sidra Zahid.





The day I realized something was wrong with me was when I had a 2 hour breakdown over the fact that someone touched my water bottle because it wasn’t where I had kept it earlier, because the thought of someone touching or drinking from my water bottle alone was enough to send me into a full-blown panic attack.

For people who do not get what I am referring to, I am talking about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) A cocktail of consistent discomfort coupled with a brain that never really seems to quiet down because it is a never ending party up there because the intrusive thoughts just don’t really know how to quit.

The concept of neutrality does not exist when it comes to OCD because your obsessions drive you to do things that you know are not normal, and you cannot help but stick to them because these ‘rituals’ are important. These rituals are adhered to because of your irrational beliefs. In my case, it was someone dying or just the fear of being ‘filthy.’

This means not using the same plates or utensils as everyone else. It means wiping everything before you dare lay a finger on it because it is as though you can physically feel the contaminants travelling up from your fingers towards your body and just thinking and typing about this bit alone has me scratching at my hands.

It always starts out small, you don’t step on cracks, you walk on tip-toes when bare-footed and then it begins to escalate. Wearing gloves when handling dishes, using your shirt to open door knobs and car doors, not wanting to eat in restaurants and ultimately (in my case), not wanting to eat at all because everything just seems so filthy and you cannot trust anything to be truly ‘clean.’

You see obsessive compulsive disorder is more than just wanting to rearrange something so that it looks symmetrical, or wanting to keep your room clean or organized;

Obsessive compulsive disorder is telling yourself that if you do not clean your plate or someone else’s plate before handing it to them, they will die.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is telling yourself that if you have too much fun, something will go wrong at your house.  

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is telling yourself that if someone touches you (including your own mother), you are covered in filth and that you need to wash the ‘affected’ area till you can feel your skin burning.

However, that is not what breaks you. What breaks you is watching the people around you distance themselves from you because your ‘rituals’ are getting out of hand and you cannot do anything about it. What breaks you is the embarrassment. You want to cry while explaining to your friend that no, they cannot use your bathroom, or, taking the fork they offer you and then asking them to wash it again while you watch. OCD is watching your mother ask what went wrong and all the while, you have no answers to give. OCD is being called a freak or an abnormal and you want to tell them otherwise but in the end, you know they are not wrong so you just come to accept it.

I am not going to sugarcoat, use any jargon or beautiful metaphors here, this is me using a platform to talk about what went on in my head for the longest time. It took 8 months’ worth of sessions coupled with exposure and eidetic therapy and the only reason I am talking about this today is because I was fortunate enough to be a ‘mild case.’ Fortunate enough to seek therapy and fortunate enough to have the support I needed.

There are still days where I relapse and this struggle will always be there, but I am my mother’s daughter after all, forever stubborn and unyielding. So, come, shake hands with me the next time you see me around the university, and this time, I promise I will return it.


-Aasma Adnan.

Crimson Waves

The foamy waves gently caressed her bare feet as she strolled by the sea, her worn-out brown sandals clutched firmly in her grasp. Another brunette skipped in front of her, giggling and twirling, her short silky curls bouncing with the motion.

At first glance, just about everyone could tell the one fact that linked the duo. Everyone in town knew their names as well. After all, identical twins were quite rare in the thinly-populated sleepy town of theirs. It made them feel quite special really. Add to the fact that those two girls were the only twins around in their age-group; just shy of thirteen. The girls even attempted to confuse the townsfolk by wearing the same outfits and parting their hair the same way. Even that very day, they were both wearing similar white frocks which reached just below the knees. They had even worn the same set of sandals. However, Tanya was the only one left holding hers. Haniya had kicked off her sandals somewhere on the beach and was attempting to dance, twirling round and round with her arms widespread, a gleeful smile etched onto her face. On any normal day they both would have been dancing and having fun on the beach. But that very day the older twin was more forlorn. More detached with everything around her. Way more than what was considered normal.

This strange mood did not go unnoticed by her other half.

The younger twin turned around on her heels, both hands clasped behind her back as she looked at her sister with raised eyebrows. Her hair splayed about her because of the wind that was raging in the opposite direction. “What’s the matter Tanya?” Haniya inquired, leaning forward and frowning. “Who spit in your porridge this morning? You’re such a sourpuss today!” she exclaimed, trying to tuck her curls behind her ears.

Tanya rolled her eyes at her sister’s oh-so-fine choice of words.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Haniya. I’m perfectly fine!” she said, raising both hands. “Everything is just… peachy.”

Haniya took three long strides forward and unclapsed her hands from behind her back, taking her sister’s hands in her own. “You can’t fool me, you know,” she said to her mirror image, her frown deepening.

Tanya sighed in resignation and looked into her sister’s eyes. The same sea-green eyes as her own.

She could lie to the whole world but not to that girl.

She took a deep breath and started, “I honestly really cannot figure out what the matter is, but I feel like something is wrong. Something is really wrong.” She took a gulp of salty air, “I feel so down right now for no reason at all. I feel restless. Hollow even. And it’s not only right now. This feeling has been persisting in me for some time. And I have no idea why! What’s wrong with me?”

Haniya’s grip tightened on her sister’s hand before she suddenly let go and walked straight into the water. She stopped when it reached up to her knees, her white dress getting soaked at the seams.

“Since when?” she whispered, facing the crimson horizon.

“Since when what?” a bewildered Tanya inquired, rubbing her hands on her arms. They suddenly felt cold. Perhaps from the loss of warmth her sister’s hands had priorly provided.

“Since when have you been feeling this way?” Hainya asked, standing perfectly still in the water against the rhythmic tides.

For some reason, Tanya couldn’t stomach seeing her sister’s silhouette with the deep crimson sky in the background. So she closed her eyes and thought about it. Since when had she started feeling this strange emptiness? Was it yesterday? Since last week? Last month? When did it all begin? How had she lost all perception of time?

She was suddenly broken out of her reverie by the voice of her best friend calling out her name. No it was not Haniya. It was her next door neighbour, Samira.

Tanya turned her head to see Samira in a purple t-shirt and white shorts running towards her. “Hey, Tanya!… Hey!” she yelled, waving her hand as she ran with the wind, leaving a trail of footprints behind in the sand. She came to a sudden halt just in front of her.

“Samira! Where did you come flying from?” Tanya laughed at her friend who was bent over, panting, her hands on her knees. Quite a few strands of her jet black hair had come loose from her once-neat ponytail.

“I saw you here… alone… so I ran over!” Samira gasped, standing upright, grimacing while holding her side.

“What?” Tanya raised an eyebrow, “First of all, you have horrible stamina. And second, I’m not alone. Haniya’s with me,” she said, motioning to her sister with a slight flick of her head.

There was a static silence.

5 seconds

10 seconds

15 seconds

30 seconds

“Oh Tanya,” Samira’s eyes welled up, “Don’t tell me….? Don’t you remember anything? The fire…did you really forget…” she reached out a trembling hand towards her friend.

“What in the world are you babbling about?” Tanya shouted, swatting away her hand as she stepped back, feeling a wave of anger sweeping over her. How dare she say something like that? How dare she! Haniya was right there! She was right….

She turned around to call her sister over.

And in the midst of the crimson waves, there was no one there.


-Maria Ahmad.

Biosciences, 4th Year.

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

Can you hear me? Where did I go?

Let us endure.

Let us fall.

Bring back that version of me that penetrates through my entire being.

Bring me back those eyes that lost themselves in the many realms that you had created.

Bring me back the heart that once understood what it meant to feel different no matter how diminutive it was.


And listen.

Try to find me in the cracks of my skin.

Search for me in the words my quivering lips fail to say.

Maybe I’d be humming in the dim halls, alone and astray.

The lights are fading now.

I’m slowly blending into the inky skies above me.

You’re losing me, and you’re still begging me to stay.

Can’t you understand?

My existence is not necessary for you, and neither are you for me.

Let’s be real, just this once.

I have lost you.

My beloved existence, my beloved self.

I have lost you.

-Gul Butt.