Dear Rumi

Sabahat Muhammad (writing as self and as Natasha Ahmed)


The Army Public School Responds

“I belong to a nation whose children scare the life out of you. What a terrifying force you are, fighting with children…” The children of Army Public School returned to school this week. This is their tribute to their fallen classmates. Peshawar, December 16 2014.

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Interview with Khalid Muhammad

Over the winter break, I had the chance to meet an upcoming Pakistani author, Khalid Muhammad, who wrote Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office. He agreed to record an interview over a casual cup of tea, which I am uploading here.

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There should be squares in every city reserved for the public execution of the Taliban. Let them swing. Five hundred Taliban, mostly low-level soldiers, sit on Death Row in Rawalpindi. Five hundred out of thousands released because our weak judiciary was intimidated, or because our corrupt politicians consider them allies. Five years ago, when the […]

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Falling in Love with Urdu Poetry

In school, my Urdu was a widespread joke among my friends. My pronunciations aside, I was hopeless with sentence construction, which in Urdu is the opposite of the way a sentence is constructed in English. If I was to translate ‘she is sitting under a tree’ into Urdu, the correct structure would mean that it would […]

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The Real Fairy Tales

I have to admit that I really, really, enjoy reading fairy tales. Yesterday, my mother found an old tattered illustrated book (or what was left of it) of fairy tales in a box. The book had no cover (I am not sure what happened to it) and the frayed and curled edges barely held the […]

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The Introvert’s Guide to Social Affability

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was so shy that I had difficulty looking anyone in the eye. I was a quiet mouse who took years to make friends and open up beyond a surface politeness. I hated (and still do) social occasions, or meeting new people. I rarely had anything […]

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In Pursuit of Imperfection

A friend of mine is a perfectionist. For many years, I thought I was a perfectionist until I came across her. Last week, we worked on a design project together, creating a brochure for a non-profit organization that places orphans in adoptive homes. The brochure was to be delivered to the printer yesterday. She’s still […]

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A Fine Silk Thread

Two days ago, a great friend and fellow designer, Uzma, passed away suddenly and without warning. I hadn’t spoken to her in a year (for all the usual, sad reasons—marriage, responsibilities, life), and I heard about the tragedy on Facebook when another friend posted a brief remembrance.

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The Peshawar Cliché

Over coffee with a friend, I mentioned that I spent a week of my vacation in the city of Peshawar, and the reaction, though expected, jarred me. His eyebrows climbed up his forehead and he asked with pure disbelief, “Why?”

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Tea at the Frontier

At the northwest edge of Peshawar is the Khyber gate and Jamrud Fort that marks the beginning of what we in Pakistan know as Ilaqa Ghair, or ‘ungoverned/lawless territory’. This is Khyber agency, one of several agencies that comprise FATA, or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

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