Rain, rain don’t go away.

The much needed respite from the heat comes in a cluster of clouds, shades of gray varying on the spectrum. If you fear the storm you learn to recognize the bouts of anger nestled in their depths. However, when you learn to love the smell of the earth before water washes over it, you realize the very same clouds are a blessing in disguise.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Monsoons can be unforgiving. When you learn to expect them, when your body awaits their arrival, you are prepared. These old, creaking bones devoid of anything but salt laden air crave it. Unless you are left unsuspecting. That’s when you’re really in trouble. 

Karachi is no different. We forget the signs that Mother Nature bestows on us and instead listen to the uninformed and often incorrect Meteorological department. But can you blame us. Our rains are dwindled and few, like a blue moon. We see the clouds drifting away from us like memories of a long forgotten past. Slipping past the crevices we failed to fill up.

That’s exactly how the water creeps through. Cracks in the foundation.

It’s calm at first. Calm before the storm. Until it isn’t. Your senses are heightened, it reminds you through smell. The smell is in the air long before the first drop falls on the dry ground, a ground thirsty for rain. This smell will remind you of home.

The wind in your hair turns volatile, a lover’s caresses no more. And then the first drop hits your nose, your cheek, and your lips before you open your mouth to taste heaven’s tears. Often it starts out slow, a drizzle to prepare you – then angry. A pitter patter turned frenzied, the onset of water washing over you, as if to wash away your sins. You are worthy now, you may be cleansed now. It takes away with it the sticky, stuffy air and brings with it winds that make you shiver in your clothes. The solace that comes with the rain only comes from loving it. 

And it speaks out. It always speaks out. Appreciate me human for I will only grace you with my presence if you pray for me. Pray for me. Pray for me. Want for me. Beg for me. 

And we do.

We do even before the clouds roll away, a new destination in sight.

We do.

Just like that, the sorrow of goodbye settles into the pits of our stomachs. Even before that last drop has fallen. The end is always near. A reminder of short-lived joy.

But in Karachi the rain is a paradox. It brings with it destruction and grief and sorrow. It reveals the cracks in the foundation. Crevices we weren’t bothered to fill up. We crave the monsoon but we don’t flourish under it. Instead, we turn ugly. And while the green becomes vivid and bursts into innumerable shades that cannot be captured, you tend to miss out on the beauty. It cannot be appreciated by those who suffer under the rain, through no fault of the rain or them. 

There is much despair to go around in this metropolis. But much appreciation as well. Always appreciation to follow. 

Rain, rain don’t go away. Come, every day. 

This Skin

There are days
When this skin feels unfamiliar
Laboured breaths
Clenching sides
An uncomfortable spotlight Of judging eyes

On those days
I hug myself closer
Look towards my feet
Take solace in the even ground
Pray,
Pray steps aren’t miscalculated
That steps aren’t forgotten

I shrink
Into an oblivion of thoughts,
Thoughts I wish my subconscious
Would repel-
These dark nights of unforgiving thoughts
Are the worse.

You should know
How I know
That even among friends
My fingers fumble
And words that come out
Are always,
Always
Calculated

These clothes on my back
Help in the hiding
The nipping and tucking
And yet
I still feel foreign-
Those scrutinising eyes
Tear them apart
Till all that remains
Is rag and bone

I’ll suck in my stomach
Nibble on my food
Afraid that they’ll associate
Size with portion-
This stomach of mine
Has been trained,
Trained to restrain

So,
Pen me a fat girl’s guide
To surviving in this world-
The alien in me yearns.

Those Dial-up Connection Days


Here’s the thing, adults love to remind us of their good old days and how we will never know the blessing of being tech free. However, what they fail to remember is that we too grew up without tech. At least my generation did. We had Sega but we also had playing under the sun. Regardless, my childhood was nothing like the one of my nieces and nephews. They will never know the sheer the fear of that dial-up connection sound. To this day I get goose bumps if I ever hear it.If you wanted to use that worldwide web, it needed to be through the devil’s ringtone. And you had to make sure that your parents never heard you calling him. Not that you would have hell to pay, but you just wanted to avoid the conversation and lecture that followed whenever you used it to play games. So, to control our internet usage, my parents would invest in those dial-up internet cards. They had an x amount of hours in them and that package was supposed to last you till the time you actually needed it, never mind the fact that your project wasn’t due till another two months. That package needed to survive till the end of the year. Let’s get real though, that never happened. Our parents should have anticipated that it would be a miracle if it even lasted till the end of the week.

Fast forward to the end of the week where you have finished your dial-up minutes and now must let your mother know. Or at least somehow sneak out the house without her knowing, run to the nearest store and buy an exact replica of that dial-up card without her ever realizing you were gone. Fat chance of that happening. So, instead of choosing either of the options, you went with the third option; don’t bother telling her and just live without that internet till your project rolled around, feign ignorance, and blame the card manufacturers for the faultiness when it wouldn’t work.

But, those dial-up connection days were scary. If you wanted the internet you had to somehow mute the dial-up tone that reverberated in the whole house, pray that your parents went deaf in the moment and pray again that no one needed to make a call till the next hour or so. Hey, this was a time before cell phones could be used as an alternative mode of communication. That landline relationship was still going strong at the time. Now, you try a bit every day to somehow keep the spark alive.

Still, nothing compared to when the telephone bill came rolling at the end of the every month and you were never the one first one to have a look at it and prepare yourself for jhar that would follow. I swear that dial-up connection really knew how to betray. If there was one thing that got my father going about that bill, it was international calls and internet usage; they might as well have been one entity. They fell under the same heading of, ‘why the hell is the bill so much?’ And the follow up threat of, ‘this is coming out of your pocket money.’

Well, thank God for wifi and thank God for our own parents’ dependency on it. They’re glued to their phones just as much as we are, if not more. How we survived the age of slow internet astounds me everyday. 

At the Doctor’s


If you must know

This clinic

Is eyesore white

A failing attempt to prove cleanliness

And a single crack 

Weaves its way 

Along the wall
The only colour in the room

Is a blazing red

And ironically

It screams out in pain

At the merest contact

Of a tush

Your weight ain’t no indication

Of its agony
I might as well be a palmist

For the lines on its rubbery surface

Reveal an unwell life

Vacuum

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Don’t tell me God doesn’t weep;
these fallen stars
Are witness
to tears shed
and your wish upon a shoot-ing star
remains in vain

Hopes and dreams and desires
you vacuum,
these stars
are nothing more than flecks
of dust, littered across the night sky
that you no longer recall

This velvet suffocates-
No fairy dust to light the way
each constellation
a hindrance in the philosophy
of existence-
we no longer wish
to understand.

Oaks and Weeds

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Throughout the years of our life, we come across different people. I firmly believe that while there may be many, you can always categorize them into two groups. There are those that stand strong like ‘oaks’, deeply rooted into the ground. And then there are ‘weeds’ that grow in the moments where you ignored and changed route – ‘growing in the wrong place’.

Weeds will always fester, and like poison attach themselves, eating away at all the good. Unless you don’t make the active effort to pull them out and chuck them away, they will remain. But once the weeds are pulled out from the ground, they are pulled out from your life as well.

The oaks however, unlike the weeds hold more eminence. Their loss is not insignificant like the weeds’. It is commonly wondered, “If a tree falls in the forest with no ears to hear does it make a sound. It matters not for the tree has fallen.”The obvious, scientific answer would be a resounding ‘yes’. But that sound unheard would not remain unfeeling in the heart. The true answer actually does not lie in the sound but rather the fallen tree – the unmistakable loss of the tree.

An oak may never have the power like the weed to disappear. An oak with always make its presence, or lack of, be known. The lush forest will may appear the same to untrained eyes of an outsider, but for those who live within its depths, the loss will be imposing.

This brings into question why it is always considered a ‘family tree’. Drawn on paper is a great sturdy oak that branches across the page as the family grows. That single truck holds everyone together but the loss brings everyone tumbling down.

We all resume life after the death of an oak, a loved one who held importance in our life, but are we ever able to extract ourselves from the legacies that they leave behind? Your oak need not be famous; their legacy could simply be living. The loss of that one person in our life is like losing the whole forest, leaving behind barren land that cultivates no life.

Life is never the same. Slowly, traditions start to die down. They almost seem trivial and time consuming, things that we rationalize with ourselves that we no longer need to do. Sometimes, it is that single person who was the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle and with them gone, the puzzle forever remains incomplete. That single piece possessed the power to bring forth a landscape that had mesmerizing qualities and with it gone, the rest of the puzzle begins to dull in comparison.

The family is no longer complete. Relations are no longer complete. The oak’s roots were what prevented relations to drift away and with it gone, the landslides of strife and missed connections come to play.

The disappearance of the weed causes no loss to land, to life, to love. It is the oak that holds the power to make true loss felt.