Sunday, September 28, 2014

Escaping Reality

It is so easy to lose oneself in a book and forget reality. Especially if reality sucks. 

Since childhood I've found fantasy fiction to be the best hideaway. Maybe this feeling came about after I read Tilsm-e-Hoshruba at age eleven. No matter how crazy everything became around me, here was the answer to all my problems. Not just the story itself but the possibilities the story provided to my imagination. Solitude was no longer scary because I always had imaginary friends, mostly characters from the novel, at my beck and call. I was queen of my realm and my wazir was a deadly cobra who was constantly at my side but invisible to all. 

I found similar abandon in some works of Neil Gaiman. Step into Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, or Stardust and the world ceases to exist. While reading such books dread starts to settle in as I get closer to the final pages. I was gripped with such great fear of reaching the end of A Mirror of Beauty (Shamsur Rehman Faruqi) that I've yet to finish the book. These days I am lost in the world of the Malazan House of the Fallen - a ten volume fantasy fiction saga by Steven Erikson. I'm just starting book six.  

Maybe this is an ostrich approach towards life. It is easy to hide behind a paperback and let the world dissolve. To become friends with certain characters of the book and channel all the emotions inside one towards them. Doing so makes it easier for me to let go of my emotions for then I am crying with or for the characters, not at myself. I direct my angst towards the twists and turns in the story and thus manage to obliterate the sources of the pain from my environment... least till I turn the last page. 

Queen or not, I could really do with that deadly cobra now. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nostalgia post-Karachi jalsa

The first time I went to a big gathering that featured Imran Khan was in Quetta - 1992. He was the captain of the cricket team and they were on a tour all over Pakistan with the World Cup. The details escape me but we all went to cheer the team. While my brothers and father stood on the road looking out for the truck (containers weren't the mode of travel then) carrying the team and the cup, my mother and I went into a girls college where the team was due to make the first stopover before going to the main gathering area or ground. There was a lot of excitement of course but the logistics were such a nightmare that we all came back home without catching a glimpse of the team. Going there and being in the thick of the action was enough to inspire me to write a poem on IK. I don't have it with me now but I think the first few lines went something like 'Imran Khan is a great Pathan....' and so on. At 12 years of age, rhyming is very important. 

22 years later.....

Yesterday was the third time I went to a big gathering which featured Imran Khan. The urgency and excitement was similar to that of 1992. Then, the 12 year old me had wanted to catch a glimpse of the team and the cup. However, the present me went to show solidarity with a cause. A cause that, we hope, will bring a change. A cause that, I believe, has brought a change. When people of all ages and all social backgrounds can come together in front of the Quaid's mausoleum without any fear, on a humid Karachi day, that IS representative of the change that is seeping into our lives.

I voted for PTI in the last elections because I want a new Pakistan. But I also know that IK doesn't have a magic wand that will change everything. He is the harbinger of change. He can only do this much. It is up to us, through our actions, to bring the real change. For the simple truth is that Naya Pakistan, or something similar, is a dream which we've all had at some point. 

The question is can we play a role, no matter how small, to make the hope and dreams of a better future into a reality? 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Little things matter

'Look for the little loves, find and shape the little bitternesses. Savor them in your mouth, try them on your typewriter'. 

(Zen in the Art of Writing - Ray Bradbury)