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.
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 shrine of Data Darbar was attacked by two suicide bombers, killing 42 pilgrims, Shahbaz Sharif stood on a public stage and whimpered, “why are you attacking us? We are one people.” For that statement alone, Shahbaz Sharif should also swing. It’s no coincidence that the Pakistan Army has not been allowed to conduct any operations in the Punjab against the various Lashkars operating with impunity in the province—they’re Shahbaz Sharif’s people, after all.
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 read like this: ‘She tree under sitting is’. In Urdu, of course, that sounds perfect: ‘woh darakht kay neechay baithi hai’.
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 […]Read More
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 to say and often couldn’t do more than smile awkwardly and mumble something incomprehensible. I had become so used to avoiding talking about myself that my first interview for a new school in Pakistan (I was 12) was an unmitigated disaster. I remember one of the teachers asking me to talk a little bit about myself and for several minutes, I sat there in front of 4 teachers in complete silence. My tongue was heavy and my mind blank, because talking about myself was something I almost never did. Luckily, that was the only school that required an interview. Needless to say, I didn’t get in there.
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 mulling it over.
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.
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?”