The Burgers Are Extra Spicy

Let us for a moment, talk like the arm chair analysts that we are and not like the Pulitzer prize winners we pretend to be.
Let us for a moment ignore the precedents it would have set and the precedents for it already extant.
Let us make an effort to differentiate between de-politicising a situation and dehumanising it.
Let us fade out the coloured lines. Forget red, blue, green. Let us revert back to black and white.
Let us all take a collective step back .
Exhale.
Let me tell you of an incident that happened to me, many years from now.
When I was thirteen I got a room of my own for the first time. It was the high point of my existence till then. I was the master of my domain. The king of my castle.
The only thorn in my crown being the other occupant, my two year old brother.
In retrospect it shouldn’t have bothered me. How much space could a two-foot child take? I practically owned the place, as depicted by the posters of my idols adorning three fourths of the room. The only exception being the corner occupied by my kid brother in his crib. For all practical purposes he was a guest in my home.
And yet it rankled me.
As long as he stayed within the confines of his crib, I could tolerate him, for a while. But my mother, astute policy maker that she had shown herself to be over the years, had given me the room with a proviso. The room was mine, provided I kept the other occupant, satisfied.
In plain terms, the room was not mine by right, it was a trust, made on an understanding with all of its occupants, that I would not usurp their rights. All fine and dandy when they were just words that I excitedly kept nodding my head to.
Something had to give.
When my brother started crawling, nobody had been happier than I . Of course that had all been before he took up residence in my den. Suddenly nothing two feet from the floor was safe from his tiny hands.
I tried keeping him barricaded in the middle of the room with obstacles that he couldn’t climb over.
In time he learnt to crawl around them. Things came to a head when he managed to crawl under my study table, the seat of my throne, the Kings Landing to my seven kingdoms.
All attempts to drag him out from under there were met with loud wails and hysterical sobs that brought immediate response from my mother.
I had arrived at a deadlock. Force would only give temporary respite. I might get my room back but for how long?
Mother would not let the wails of her youngest go unheard. And once she intervened the decision would no longer be in my hands.
I summoned a meeting of the elders.
My two sisters had also been given a separate room and my action would no doubt affect them too. So it was only fair that I discuss the current dilemma with them.
The two sat impassively as I presented my case; the study area was sacrosanct, if I let my brother enter it, I would be setting precedents with disastrous consequences. Pretty soon he’d be roaming all over the place.
So? They inquired.
But that must never happen.
Why? They inquired.
I owned the room he should limit himself to the crib! I bellowed.
Owned?! They inquired.
Fine, I shared it with him, I huffed.
And? They inquired.
It was a trust shown in us by our parents and we were both equal parties to that trust, I mumbled.
So is the room yours by right? This was getting annoying.
No, but I was the majority by size and I couldn’t give in to the whims of a smaller party, that would show me as a weakling, I sputtered. He’s a mummy-daddy weakling! I earned this room!
And a show of strength against this mummy-daddy baby will prove your strength? They asked, what’s the worst you can do? Lock him in his crib? Once he has endured your worst do you think you will ever be able to use it again without mother finding out? And how much longer after that will you be able to hold sway over the room? On the other hand, what if you let him roam around? He tears your posters? Stick them a bit higher where he can’t reach.
Let him crawl wherever he wants to, how long do you think will he stay there? What’s the worst that can happen? He can’t possibly take over the room. Most probably he will grow tired and bored. You will still have the aura of being bigger without having to show your superiority and he will continue to look up to you for guidance and support. On the other hand if you choose to show him who’s boss, mother will have no choice but to interfere. She will take away our privileges of being responsible adults and you will have wasted, in a moment of arrogance and high handedness, our years of obedience and diligence which led us to our freedom.
It was an eloquent response, I had to agree, albeit to myself, but I wasn’t ready to cave in yet.
He will always be a mama’s boy won’t he? Calling for her help to get his way.
Weren’t we all, at one stage or another? She smiled.
Yeah but not anymore, this is mothers way of keeping us in check, my tongue was running ahead of my mind now.
And that’s bad because?
Because I’m too old to take directions and instructions anymore! It’s my room I’ll do what I want there, I can’t let mother question me everytime he complains to her! I was losing the argument, I could feel it the balance shifting.
My elder sister stood up, grabbed my younger sisters finger, sighed and said, do what you will but know this, I will not be a part of this, it will define who you are for the rest of your life, you will not have gained anything and your strength will forever be exposed .
With that the two walked off into the sunset of their room.
In the course of time, I learnt to ignore the odd torn book or spilled milk. To say I was happy would be an understatement , I was happy with the status quo prior to the onset of the crawling. But now I realised that change cannot be stopped. You have to roll with the punches and hope to remain standing at the end of it all.
That is strength.
The source of power lies in never having to use it.
I never again had a problem with my brother , who in time has come to be my greatest supporter and defender.

me n baati

The shepherd from Vijhara

Mohammad Ali Bandial:

A tale told by father

Originally posted on Wonders of Pakistan:

The moral of the tale is that the men of of sense must never lend ear to women’s gossip. But that is not the true essence that hides behind the tale.
This is a tale of Punjabi resistance to the all-powerful Mughals. Here in the Laehnda, the rich and powerful Bandials and Tiwanas were the masters; the Ghanjeras were a tribe of lesser influence. And here was a Ghanjera who was courageous enough to make off with his stolen property from right under the nose of the most powerful emperor the Mughals were ever to produce.
And if a poor Ghanjera shepherd could be so, consider what the more powerful tribes could wreak upon the Mughals.
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PUNJABI‘S HORSEAND THE INDIANKING

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by Salman Rashid

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Aali of the tribe Ghanjera was a shepherd from village Vijhara under the southern shadow of the…

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My debut short story published on Amazon Kindle

The story is a satire on the unpredictable nature of politics and shaky power bases that are prevalent in most post colonial states in South Asia. In today’s age, no state can afford to adopt an isolationist stance. This has been depicted in a satirical fashion here as the inhabitants of Monty’s bathroom have to face the repercussions of changing policies, taking place beyond their borders and out of their control. Through the course of the narrative, the fickleness of loyalties and vulnerability of alliances and dynasties is  exposed.  As the arrival of an unexpected outside sets in motion a chain reaction of events that threaten the status quo of the ruling party, ties of friendship and loyalty will be questioned and each character will have to answer their own demons as they are faced with a constantly changing political landscape.

Please do check it out on Amazon Kindle and spread the word too!

Thanks

My way or the highway

Life is a vehicle,

the choices you make become the road that you travel upon,

Maturity is borne out of the miles that tread beneath the tires,

you have rear view mirrors for hindsight and retrospection.

 

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This vehicle, however, can only go forward.

Man aspires his progeny to act as the reverse gear.

wherein he can go back,

relive the past,

make up for past mistakes,

strive for success again.

But no two vehicles are alike,

just as no two roads lead down the same path.

In the end,

all one can do is to sit back,

roll down the window

and enjoy the ride,

all you need is a great playlist.

 

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The personal statement I would never write or why we love Shahd Afridi

That was uncalled for.

I have been called many things in life.

I am ok with that.

When you have spent as much time as I have in hostels and boarding schools, you are bound to meet up with a lot of people.  People who have disagreed with my parents for their choice of name for me. People who have felt the need to replace my birth name with an adjective.

I am ok with that.

Infact, I learned to appreciate and respond to the adjectives that I came to accumulate and in turn, bestow upon my acquaintances.

It was fun. It became sort of a rite of passage. A barometer of sorts. The quality and quantity of names you had acquired providing a bird’s eye view in a way of you as a person.  Our obsession with castes and ethnicities is at some level another proof of this urge to be associated with the dominant group.  In some ways, it is what Cooley described.

I am ok with that too.

But here’s the thing. The mirrors that you choose to see yourself in are in essence your own creation. What happens when you come face to face with a version of yourself you never knew existed?

Safe

That’s what he called me.

I’m looking at this person I have never shared three samosa chats with. This friend of a friend.  And I’m thinking…

That was uncalled for.

Admit it. That is not the adjective you would want in your Top 3 words-to-describe-yourself list. Or Top 10 or Top 20 even. If a potential father-in-law figure called me that, I would maybe be ok with that. Because, well you know, you’re looking at the bigger picture. Let the old man see whatever makes him sleep peacefully at night, right?

But this guy was my age. He might as well have challenged my whole belief system, for all I cared. The metaphorical line had not only been trespassed, it had been mutilated.  He would have had to take atleast two connecting flights via Dubai to retreat behind the line.

But behind the fake constipated smile and the loud buzzing inside my head as all the available blood was deployed to my ears, I could hear a tiny voice whispering…

What if he is right?

In my defense it was my first time playing Texas Hold’em and I did not want to make a fool of myself.

Aha!  Says the little man, straightening up and walking a little taller, So u WERE playing it safe. *At this point I’m assuming this is the owner of the voice inside my head.*

I’m tempted to say Better safe than sorry but with fake money involved, who am I kidding?

I AM safe.

My whole life has been a lie. I have an out of body experience where I’m seated in a leather cushion infront of a giant screen. I am watching scenes from my own life.

The picture is a bit fuzzy. The camera zooms onto a piece of paper. I am in class 3. It is a class test. Masculine and Feminine. I have all the right answers. All except one. The pencil hovers against Dog. I watch myself write Bitch and then with what I imagine, infact KNOW to be embarrassment, rub it out furiously.

I write Doggy.

I knew that was the wrong answer. I knew I was ruining my perfect score and a chance at free ice cream. I knew the teacher knew that I knew the right answer.

But I also knew it was a bad word. I did not want to be the boy who was known to know bad words-later on in boarding school I would long to be that boy.

Safe.

I’ve had enough. I fast forward through the rest of the reel.  Hasan Abdal versus Aitchison College. I took one step over too many before threading the pass through to Shahid Nadeem, our forward. By the time he took the shot, the whistle had been blown..offside.

Our soccer final against the 2003 batch at LUMS, I hesitated before shooting goal wards.

 Safe.

We lost.

The soccer match at the Civil Services Academy. I decided not to take the penalty kick I had won for our team. I reasoned that I was too pumped up and would blast it over the goal post.  I delegated authority to our centre back.

Safe.

  He blasted it over the goal post.

We lost. By a landslide.

Then a long blur of files and notes and letters..Ah my life as a government officer…Safe..?

Wait a minute. I can imagine the little guy operating the projector pause and look down at the lone viewer of this depressingly safe movie.

What’s that?  He says with a raspy accent.

There’s been some massive editing in this reel! It’s the little voice, for once he’s on my side.

And I realize he is right. So what if I’ve taken the occasional safer route? That should not define me just as me busting my knee in a soccer match against GIKI should make me a risk taker.  We are more than the sum of our parts. A moment should not and does not define us, even though at times it is much easier to look for simpler answers. We live in a complex society that places untold burdens in the form of expectations and responsibilities on us. Situations shape our decisions and actions. But it is not who we are.

We all love Afridi because deep down we can relate to Misbah.  When the chips fall down both fight. While one charges headlong into enemy ranks with both guns blazing. The other provides a covering fire.  One cannot live without the other…*metaphorically*

All we need to achieve whatever we want is already inside us. Choosing which plan of action to take at the precise moment is a judgment call.

But one that should not define us.

If Federer chooses to stay back on his second serve instead of coming to the net that does not mean he cannot serve and volley or is safe.

Strategy should not be confused with ideology.

Which is why I am always stumped with first impressions and explaining myself in three words and personal statements and all that we are made to do.

Ain’t Life a Doggy?

As the color retreated from my face and I floated back into my body, I could hear the last words of this friend of a friend echoing inside my head.

Safe.

That was uncalled for.

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..and that’s the way the cookie crumbles

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I sometimes wonder which scenarios scarier; to lose someone or something you cannot imagine living without or to be constantly in fear of losing.

So much so that each living moment becomes full of trepidation and fear.

Like a kid waking up at night and raiding the cookie jar, always in fear of being caught. He has no option but to gobble up the sweet treats so fast that he is unable to cherish  their taste.

 Sometimes i wonder if all this period that we call life is nothing but a continuous chain in which people have been coming and going forever.

We fit in for a brief period with our lives. Our life in turn, is a collection of random, fleeting experiences that are composed of stolen moments.

…blink and miss them.

It would be a tragedy if it were all to end suddenly and all that we’re left with are tiny crumbs of experiences and incidents that passed by too fast for us to savor them.

.. take your time with that cookie…worst case scenario  you still have a memory to cherish.

Imran Khan – An emotionally compromised view.

Mohammad Ali Bandial:

couldnt have said it better myself! GO KHAN!!

Originally posted on Pakistani Society:

imran khan

Let me state this for the record that I have never met Imran Khan. The closest I have ever come to him is at a Jalsa where I was possibly in the last line. Yet, when I saw the news of his fall today it sent shivers down my spine. The feeling was considerably close to what I feel when I am worried for my loved ones. And I could distinctly tell that feeling because I have experienced it in life – the moment when food suddenly feels unneeded, plans fall apart, hope diminishes and you get a feeling of utter helplessness. These are the times when you look up to the sky, and just pray, and try to avoid “those” dreadful thoughts from coming into your head. Yes, you know which thoughts I am referring to. The ones you consistently avoid thinking about – regardless of the fact that…

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