Posted in Being Someone, Questions

The Race to Timbuktu

There was once an old farmer, who worked hard on his lands.  His stature with time had become slightly withdrawn and bent due to the weight he carried for a living. His complexion was of dark hue because he spent many hours in the sun. He had a wife and kids. The cave extended into tunnels that provided shelter. His family ate well. His wife and he worked the farm while the boys hunted. They had good, healthy food; shelter, safety and most of all, love.

For centuries now, man has been a target to modernization, and industrial revolutions, and all such ‘-tions’ have pretty much left him shunned from all hope of the basic necessities of human life. He no longer has farms to till but he wears infamous clothing like ties to work, uses executive desks; or otherwise is unemployed. His food decreases in nutrition day in and day out and he can not do much about it as the whole world is concerned about profit not health. His house is under mortgage and of he takes the leap to the bottom of the ladder, he could easily lose his house and everything along with it; his wife and kids. And so does too, goes love out of the window.

Man left his cave where he had been perfectly happy carving his drawings on the wall, went through various forms of revolutions and reformations; got himself all modernized and finally he realized the basics had started to slip from between his fingers like sand. He thought he was running after success, and just when he thought he could play God and everything was within the palm of his hands, he slowly realized his marathon towards achieving his goals only led him to Timbuktu.

Timbuktu- the land of the all popular, yet unknown, undecided, unfathomed. It could easily be the land of the walking dead. For perhaps, all those who ever get to visit there, are not allowed back, and therein they should live forever in utter torment. As is written so shall it be.

Okay, I agree the last statement sounds rather ecclesiastical, but I really hope you can see through the window I’m pointing out from. And perhaps in time, see what is that I want to say.

Life has a weird way of saying, “nay na na-nay nay”. And as much as I hate to say it though, that is exactly what has happened. Man thought he outsmarted nature by making fruits in labs and babies in test-tubes. But Mother Nature is fierce as it can be. It has proven to man that it can easily outsmart us. At any time, man will be forced to see himself in the mirror and realize that it would have been better to have lived in caves than to ride in vehicles made out of legos that run on solar energy or even air.

Man has finally decided to go back on herbs and roots.  He is forced to find peace in meditation and spirituality or some form of Godliness, surprisingly enough when finally he was able to ‘prove’ that all rationale pointed towards the non-existence of a Higher Power. Man after all was a master of his own destiny, and everything he could possibly own or steal or kill and plunder for, was no longer his to rule and torment. But alas! Man has found himself in a catch 22 situation.

He can no longer go back to the cave, agricultural life he knew, nor can he progress forward without the fear that something, anything, and probably everything is to be doomed.  After crossing the finishing line for man’s race towards the ends of time, he now realizes he no longer has leaps and bounds to overcome, nor can he possibly live a page out of The Jettsons and live in space and quit the earth altogether after its complete ruin because the journey back has become impossible.

Standing still, a mile after the red finishing line, he stands exasperated. He wonders if the abyss ahead which he himself has worked so hard to create is his best option to work forward towards. Or would it be better to turn on his heels and run backwards, backwards towards the starting line, where he might console himself with shelter, food and love and teach himself that this ought to have been enough.

Posted in Questions

The Damned

We wonder why we are damned? We are saints, all holy and justified. Wearing green robes, and eating from what passerbys hand out of mercy. Mercy. We think we need to be shown mercy.

We sin. Then we sin some more. Unabashed. The sense of shying away from people due to extraordinary verbosity of thought- out there, in the open, is exhausting. We are not to be blamed. We do not shy away from ourselves with unclean and sinful thoughts.

In fact, for most, this is a thrill. It is the next roller coaster ride. Yippee or Hallelujah! We are no saints. We never intended to be one. Instead, we thought of degrading ourselves to the lowest depths of self love.

Self love out of improvement is something else. Self love to trade your mighty soul for a dirty, smelly slave is different.

We are slaves to our instincts. We are slaves to our emotions. We are slaves to our desires. We are slaves to the things we covet. We are and always have been slaves to the world of people. The people we hope to get love from. The people who just might show that they do after all ‘care’.

The one thing we ignore or forget is that we could attempt to choose to be slaves to our souls. The one and only harmonious core of our being. The only thing that would never lead us astray.

Unfortunately, the volume of the soul has long been muted and replaced by a rather assumptious price of the fashionable slave of today.

Still, we wonder why we’re damned?

Posted in Questions

Brave the World

How does one find the courage to get out of bed everyday? To change? To work? Do something? Create? Breathe?
After a defeat, after failure, to get up and ‘be’ once more is not easy. To be hammered into box, to fit into a pulpit, to sing a song taught not out of love but legality, how does one begin about the business of everyday? To go back being who you once were. And then while trying to immitate yourself and follow your own footsteps, you come across someone rather familiar.
Amazingly, you had a lot in common with him. He wore the clothes you used to wear. His shoes were not unlike yours. Not a single hair out of place, he looks at you. And this is what he sees; a shrivelled figure in some faded and torn hand-me-downs. A mouldy cabbage for a face, and rotten lettuce leaves for hands. His tread is like that of an old man. Every step causes him to whimper. So, he limps in hope the pain might ease just a bit.
These two look at each other in amazement. Mirror images parted but by time.
Braving the world was never easy. Truth be told, the actual truth was never told. Whispered perhaps, but never spoken out, aloud.
Braving the world, living in it, surviving it, breathing and being- would cost you everything you ever had on you. Including the very flesh, and the blood within, the dreams once aspired, the keen hopes, the spark that beckoned you to keep fighting, everything. Everything, but the soul. Only that is left once the world is braved. And only that too if you don’t sell it to the devil for an easy pass.

Why Sugarcoat?

You know how we all like our doughnuts sprinkled with sugar and the treacle tart all syrupy? Well truth is not like that. In fact, truth is anything but a chocolate cupcake with the colourful sprinkles on it.
I have a nag of speaking the truth, usually when it is more appropriate to sweet the truth talk. But I don’t do it. Even though I’ve been told countless times by practically everyone I know to keep my mouth shut when someone asks my opinion.
But you know what? The reason why people come to me for advice, or opinion, is not because I sweeten the bitter stuff, but because I blurt it out.
For some people not speaking the truth is as much like as not looking someone in the eye. The fact is; truth is raw, usually bitter, even sour sometimes, so much so that you can taste it. When God speaks, He doesn’t sugarcoat the burning hell nor does he sweeten the fact how He is a legalistic. He just says it. Clear and loud for those who would listen and pay heed.
Man is no different. When he speaks the truth, it might drive through the chest as a six inch knife. But it’s there. Like the cat out of the bag. Everyone has a different way of dealing with truth, but that’s between them and their conscience.
Once, a palmist told me that I will suffer great losses in life because I speak the truth. He begged me to learn to sugarcoat. Sugarcoating the truth doesn’t take away the bitterness. Instead because of the sweet stuff it might be mistaken for a bad medicine which just had to be ingested and forgotten about afterwards.
I might have suffered great losses in life because I speak the truth to the point where I don’t care if it might destroy me. I do it anyways. There are very little things we do right in the span of our short lives. I’m glad I blurt the truth and don’t sugarcoat it.

Posted in Being Someone, Questions

“And so, I’ve got nothing to do”

So, what happened is, that mankind kept inventing to a point when ploughs were replaced by desktops, horses were replaced by automobiles, cattle was replaced by the milkman and story-telling was replaced by WWF boxing. But that wasn’t enough for man, so he settled with the stakes a notch higher. Today, everything is smart. We have automatic cars, a smart phones, IPad is ‘smart’ for a desktop, then we have dry milk which has altogether replaced the institution of a ‘milkman’. Whereas, boxing, has been replaced by facebook.
In all these very smart times, I wonder if man has outsmarted himself? Especially, when all a man does in a day is; coaxing buttons of remote-controls, keyboards, phones, ATMs, etc. and turning the steering wheel. Texting, heating the food in microwave, facebooking, watching ‘Two and a Half Men’ on Starworld- life should be easier for mankind. Man should have nothing to complain about. Still, everyone complains about how everything is ‘complicated’. About all the stress, the depressions, the insane outbursts of frustration. I again wonder, if man has outsmarted himself?
With a life that is termed to be ‘easier’ than that of our predecessors, we have so much of time in our hands. Man did, outsmart himself. He created so many luxuries, that he is left with little to do. With all the time that is saved, what is man doing today to kill his free time. So man, once again, did it again. To kill the time that he spent centuries saving, he invented facebook and Hollywood. Mobile phones, that as they put it, ‘carries the whole world’ within them. Everything invented today, which is smarter than it was before, helps man to while away the time, which should never have been whiled away.
My brother, who is thirteen, has a habit of coming to me on weekends and asking me, “what should I do?” As a child, I never remember asking my mother that. I had so much to do. When twenty years ago, were also smarter times, I had ways of spending my free time. Playing outside, reading, journaling, sketching, or listening to my grandmother’s bed-time stories. I remember moments from long ago, when I used to just sit in our garden, and did nothing. When I do that today, my folks get worried, because I’m not busy. They think something is terribly wrong. I don’t blame them, their generation was also taught to be super busy all the time.
What I’m trying to say here is, is it important to do something all the time? Is that the purpose of mankind? Never be at rest, so that after we’re dead, the epitaph on our headstones reads, ‘rest in peace’. Why can’t mankind learn the basic requirement to be human is to ‘be’? And that too during our life, not after we’re done with it. We needn’t be doing something or trying to be somebody all the time. If that was the case, man of today wouldn’t be so confused to an extent that he thought it best to go back to basics. Praying, meditation, ‘blogging’ (smart form for journaling), organic food versus lab food, anonymous group discussions where strangers tell each other personal stories, healing clubs, and therapists.
Man has indeed, outsmarted himself, for today he goes around saying, “and so, I’ve got nothing to do.”

Posted in Questions

Not Frequently Asked Questions

Common knowledge is always taken for granted. It is so common that we don’t bother asking, or finding out what otherwise should be frequently asked questions in this too general a world.

What is a ‘friend’? The dictionary says that a “friend is a person that you know and like, and that you enjoy spending your time with.” I wonder if that statement suffices to define this person, friend. When you were little and at school, a friend was someone who used to accompany you during lunch. In college it was the group you used to hang out with. Looking around now, you don’t see any of these friends. Neither the plaited hair, freckled teeny bopper, nor the bunch of twittering girls with whom you used to share your notes. Then there were those whom you used to party late with and did everything that you were not supposed to do. There were others too, who provided a hanky so you could blow your nose or those who were eager to help when you wanted it the most. Looking around again, you don’t see any of them anymore surrounding you the way they used to.

So I ask again. What is a friend? Is it someone who happens to be just there at the moment we need them because of the cosmos’ grand design, or someone who’ll stay even after their time is up to offer whatever we needed at that time. Not everyone is lucky to have friends like Ron and Hermione, but then again, not everyone faces a troll and ‘live to tell the tale’ about how they took one on with their friends. Hence, with regret, I have to declare that we don’t know what a friend is.

Then there is this other thing everyone just loves to talk about. Love. What, may I ask, is love? Is love what a mother feels for a child? Or is it described when a man pines for woman? Is it love for the Lord that the mystics dance in joy for? Or is it a soldier who is willing to die for his country? The dictionary describes love in three different ways: “you love your family and people who are close to you, or people you admire, if you are fond of them and are concerned about their welfare and happiness”; “you love someone when, as well as being attracted to them sexually and romantically, you have a deep affection for them”; “you love something such as your country if you want to be loyal to it and protect it”.

Although my source is as good as any, in my opinion, these short definitions don’t even come close to the actual thing. Jane Austen has said it best in a way that not only explains the complexity of the idea of love, but also hints that however we might try, we may never be able to get the whole picture. She says, “There are as many forms of love, as there are moments in time.” To wrap up, I would have to say, man can not begin to comprehend the meaning of love.

Keats once said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” One wonders, what is ‘beauty’? Is beauty what Pygmalion fashioned in his sculptor of a woman and fell in love with it? Is beauty defined by Helen of Troy? Or is it what it has become now, a warring pageant for the kinky? The dictionary says: “Beauty is the quality of being beautiful”. While, “you describe something as beautiful if you find it very attractive, pleasant or delightful”.  Is the beauty of an English country girl’s “fine eyes” which so smite Mr. Darcy, a criteria for beauty? Or was Pygmalion’s Galatea (meaning, she who is white like milk) the real deal? I am afraid, man might never know what beauty is? But of course, this has never stopped him from imagining what it might be.

Finally, we come to the most controversial of notions in the history of mankind. What is God? Man has had a long history with this idea. Perhaps, longer than those discussed above. In his four thousand years quest for God, man has evolved many beliefs, none of which are explicit. The dictionary offers a rather short definition: “God is the name given to the being who, many people believe, created the universe and guides or controls the lives of all people”. To say that the three monotheistic religions might have an answer, would be untrue.

When Moses had cried out on Mount Sinai, “Who are You?”, the only answer he got from his Lord was, “I am, who I am.” Young Christians are made to learn a catechism answer to the question, “What is God?”: “God is the Supreme Spirit, Who alone exists of Himself and is infinite in all perfections.” I would like to quote Bulleh Shah on this account. He said about God: “God and man are one, Like cloth comes from cotton. Cotton is hidden in cloth, Like God is in man.”

Whatever we might have to say on the truth of  ‘friend’, ‘love’, ‘beauty’, or God’, we need first to understand that each of these notions are quite subjective. They are not what they are, rather what we want them to be. Hence, it is as they say, ‘to each man his own’.

Posted in Questions

Who are you?

Unless you have something other than to say “I am me,” you are in serious trouble. From the moment we are toddlers, we are put away to learn about the world around us. We learn about theAmericas, of primitives, study languages and disciplines. But do we ever learn anything about ourselves. Can you answer the question “who are you?” without being repulsed at yourself for not knowing the answer to that?

You can define yourself keeping in view several spheres of thought. You can describe yourself in regard to the state. What your country is, and what principles it stands by. At the same time you can talk about yourself in association to the religion you follow. You are a Pakistani, governed by diplomacy. You are Muslim, sect so and so. You are a part of society which you make up by your presence and the workings of your tongue. You are him who follows a creed, is manifested by it, and lives by it.

You are intellect and feeling. You are consciousness and unconsciousness. You are a hallmark between understanding and knowledge. You are him who tips the scale of the world. The universe looks at you for advances, for the success of humanity is the success of the one individual who dared. You are disciplined as an individual and as a mass. You can shake the very earth with your fury and study. You are; human and divine.

Fatima Abbas

Posted in Questions

Does Death Kill you or Taxes?


Death and taxes are both inevitable. When you do the crime, you have to after all do the time! Life is in its adverbial sense a crime in itself. All the pleasure we take from it in partying, they way we misuse it with drugs, they way we flounder it with our endless lists of sins. We pay up for life by talking to Death. As for taxes, it’s a well versed epic for all the luxuries we have allowed ourselves to keep in this short life. Luxuries, which we might probably not even need.

But what I want to ask here is, does death kill us or is it worry that gets to us? People can easily go to warheads on this question. But I’d make it simple for you. Worry like Death is inevitable for anyone who wasn’t born with a golden spoon in their mouth. Everybody has a story to tell. Someone parents’ died when they were kids. Some of us had to work our way through college. And every single day is a battle these days, considering it’s getting difficult by the day to keep bringing food to the table. This, the food thing, is a catastrophic worry for the people of today.

There are other worries too. Fear of not passing your exams or losing your job to someone else or that you’re not having a baby or also the fear of not performing well in society. I could go on listing worries that trouble our people, but the fact remains, whatever the cause, everybody has a worry. A worry they can not shake out of. A worry that eats them up slowly from the insides. A worry that may perhaps one day claim their life.

So going back to base zero. Worry. It is something that one should be worried about. It’s almost like what they say about fear, that the only thing you should fear is fear itself. Worry is like that too. When you are constantly rambling in your head with all the negative, repetitive talk, take a pause. And think this: “What good is my worrying, if it doesn’t help me?” Start from here, and understand that worrying does not help you in even the most insignificant atom-of-a-manner. If it did, all the great thinkers would have spelt it out for you in ink and parchment. But the thing is, they didn’t.

As a teaser, I’ll give you something that does help. Thinking. Not worrying. There is a stark difference between the two, and you don’t have to be smart to know it.

One difference, however, I will point out to you. Worry will eventually kill you. Maybe not instantly, but slowly like a cancer it will spread through your body and claim your life. So, while you are at it, remember, think but don’t worry.

Fatima Abbas