As simple as catching a bus

 

'Dang! Every time I've almost caught up to the bus, the driver puts out that stupid stop sign.'

‘Dang! Every time I’ve almost caught up to the bus, the driver puts out that stupid stop sign.’

Believe me there’s a hell of a difference between having nothing to do and not feeling like doing anything.
Think of it both scenarios as a bus stop.
For starters the atmosphere is tenser in the former station.
Even though the seating is all leather cushion and the works,
yet you might as well be sitting on a bed of nails, what with all the pent up energy.
In the latter, you’re standing under a rickety shade and the next bus is hurtling towards you.
You have to make your way through a sea of humanity with your luggage to get to the bus and you only have a couple of seconds to do it.
But that doesn’t stop you from putting the load down, arching your back and tying your laces.
In your head; there’s always the next bus just right around the corner.

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All Aboard!

train of thought

When one says ‘train of thought’ it is in fact exactly that.
Words are funny that way sometimes.
We might all be thinking the same thought but as with a train, we might pick up different aspects of the thought and thus, metaphorically speaking, climb onto a unique caboose within the same train.
Now whether we reach the same destination in the end or not will be determined by the other passengers in our caboose such as off shooting thoughts, personal views, biases, pre-conceived notions and not the least important; our intellect who is also in essence the protagonist trying to get on the train.

Anatomy of a Government Officer

Disgruntled-Employee

It all starts from the shoes.
It has to.
They have been run ragged, scampering from floor to floor..pressed under the burden of massive, rotting, fly-stained files. Each time the wearer presents a new case to his superior with ‘submitted for kind perusal, please’ , the soles cave in on themselves a little more.
The socks are lucky that they do not need to be presentable or seen for it is too late for them. They have long ago lost the war to the big toe and have no identity or shape of their own anymore.
Next come the trousers. Legend has it that they were once a part of a suit. Maybe they still are together, maybe not. The rigors of working in the government have driven clefts between the staunchest of relationships. The trousers have seen better days. Now they just look slept in because they usually are. It is no longer advisable to look for the crease because their isn’t one to be found. They have long since crossed over the partition between trousers and shalwar. In fact, they are now categorized as ‘Shalwousers’. Of special mention are the knees which show more wear owing to decades spent smooching the floor, bent over.
The belt comes with the area, and disposition of the wearer. For those unlucky souls, still floundering in the choppy waters of the bureaucracy, the belt has lost its efficacy due to the countless times they have been futile in rescuing the trousers from being pulled down to knees in meetings by irate seniors –figuratively speaking ofcourse.
The shirt is irrelevant and comes into the equation not because of its texture or quality. Rather it is due to the monstrosity that it tries to encompass..the gut. Their ability or failure to ‘hold it all in’ is in fact the actual ACR of the officer if there ever was a need for one.
The gut is the end-all-be-all of the government officer. You can tell a lot about the government officer by the acreage of his/her pastureland (don’t kid yourselves ladies..you’re in it too, although in case of females the gut readings are not as conclusive or accurate owing to difficulties in terms of norms and ethic involved in observation. Therefore, anthropologists have reverted to other tried and tested variables such as quantity of war paint and accompanying paraphernalia.)
If the buttons are down to their last threads, hanging on for dear life cliffhanger-style, you can tell the wearer has been classically conditioned in the art of seminar/workshop/meeting attendance. The gutsize of an officer is directly proportional to the number of meetings attended which is in turn, a dead give-away to the level of involvement in day-day government affairs. Because, lets face it; not much happens in all committee meetings involving done-to-death powerpoint presentations that does not involve tea, biscuits, sandwiches, patties, working lunch ..*starts to drool*
One of the first thing a government officer learns is to never..NEVER pass on a chance to feed the gut. There may not be any free lunches in life, but if you play your cards well and are willing to take minutes of meetings, you can assure yourself a pre-retirement era of free luncheons.
Moving on.
There are two things that define a government officer; a tie and cufflinks. After a few years in the service, an officer can easily quit his job and open up a tie and cufflink shop. No matter what the weather; come hail, snow or fire the government officer will be sporting a tie that will have seen better days. Cufflinks will mostly be sported by officers whose hands are in full view most of the time. Be it holding the millions of files as they scamper after their boss or the food plate while heading out for refills on state-sponsored buffets. Nothing says ‘made it’ like a gleaming pair of cufflinks-one of many presented to the wearer on prior such ‘meetings’. And that my friends is what we call ‘the circle of life’.
The coat has spent more days hanging on the shoulders of the chair than on those of the owner. It thus, performs two important functions; on the chair it is a constant reminder to snooping seniors who are liable to burst in on any day that the wearer is present and on premises, even though he isn’t. On the occasions when the coat has been spotted in the company of a live person, it is easy to mistake it for a shawl, kurta or even a jacket..depending upon the mileage the apparel has accrued.
Sitting on top of this amalgam is the owner; the government officer. A quivering double chin that has heard more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’, fed on years and years of office tea and samosas leads up to a pair of lips that have been frozen into a scowl that strives to resemble a smile. Spectacles are mere decorations, eyesight has long since been considered obsolete along with other mental faculties. The officer performs purely on muscle and gut memory.
The crowning glory of the specimen is a clear and shiny helipad that has been created over the course of days, weeks and years pulling out hair, one follicle at a time.
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Your beloved government officer.
Disclaimer: Resemblance to any uncle, father, aunty, brother, sister is purely coincidental.
Corollary: (i) It must be noted that the size of the gut is irrespective and in most cases, in contrast to the overall health of the officer.
(ii) Government officers are rarely spotted in isolation. They travel in packs and feed off of each other’s company.
(iii) There are further sub-species within, known as ‘service groups’ which may differ slightly.

Tuesday Bloody Tuesday

When I was in college, a roommate of mine introduced me to the music of U2. One song of theirs that instantly intrigued and captivated my attention was ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and I looked up its origins. Absent mindedly I used to imagine other such titles based on the rest of the days of the week.

On the 16th of December 2014, Pakistan got its own version.

Two days ago I would have come up with some statement full of bravado and resilience. Two days from now I will in all likelihood be sprouting venom against these barbarians projecting their band of religion.

Today is not that day.

I have had my legs shot out from under me. I have had the wind knocked out of me. I have had the blood drained from my body.

I have failed.

I am tired.

I am lost.

As a Muslim, Pakistani, Father, Brother, Husband, Son; take your pick.

I let this happen.

You let this happen.

We let this happen.

There are those among us who have already started pointing fingers at some party’s ‘dharna’s’ or another’s inability to govern. There are those who have already started the age-old mantra of us being victims of our military’s doctrines. There is always the usual us-being-the-pawns-in-a-greater-game and of course our neighbor state that always has evil designs on us.

I know all the arguments. I have heard all the conspiracy theories countless times.

They are all true.

They are all false.

So what?

What are you going to do about it?

Black

I’m not going to blame the government, the forces that be. This one, I am keeping for myself. This one is all on me. There is no fate, no religious punishment, no global conspiracy in this.

All. On. Me.

Today I am unable to look myself in the mirror. The face that leers back at me is grotesque. It is numb. It is cold. I may profess to be a Muslim but what that may mean, I have long since forgotten, in my heart of hearts, I know that I never knew what Islam is.

Will this ever end?

I would’nt hold my breath.

I know will get over this in a day, max a week.

And this will happen again.

I’m just hating myself for knowing that I’m used to all this and for that part of me that is secretly grateful that I’m still away from all this, for now.

Having worked in a national level counter terrorist organization that never got off the ground owing to the inflated egos and turf wars of our leaders, I am no longer as naïve and idealistic as I was when I decided to serve my country.

I now know myself.

I  am not resilient, I am cold, numb. I am opportunistic. I am a terrorist. Not the one that wields a gun and straps on a vest. A much more harmful one. One that talks, and talks and then gets on with his life. I hold a soft spot for killers, because I feel I can discriminate bloodshed. I feel I can justify some of it.

How do I come back from this?

I  don’t.

Where do I go from here?

Downwards, and onwards in my journey towards my personal hell.

 

The shepherd from Vijhara

A tale told by father

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!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KJMP4GO

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