A World Away: Bannu, May 2015.

Extracted from undergraduate thesis, first published in 2015. 

The Margallas finally come into sight, a hazy blue presence becoming clearer and clearer with every mile of motorway. The Peshawar-Islamabad route is beautiful. There are rivers and canals and trees, cattle, and small, neat farmsteads. There are some rugged peaks too, but they are not the Margallas. The Margallas are home. Continue reading


On Grief

I listen to the sweet lilting of a Persian poem, perched softly on my bed. It has been a long day. The sun came out in all her summer glory and then the clouds gathered and had their say. It rained a while. Then the breeze picked up, wrecking havoc with my hair and going deep into parts of me I barely remember. A day, I muse, is a metaphor for an entire life. There is a dawn and a dusk, and a span of time in between. And then there is sleep. Continue reading

The Ritual of Bread

It is a gentle summer afternoon and I have a bowl full of golden white wheat flour laid out. It has an earthy fragrance- like it never quite forgot the fields it came from and part of it yearns to go back there still. I run my fingers through its grainy texture, rubbing between thumb and forefinger and letting it slide off my palm. I feel how each grain must have exploded as the millstones ground and ground and ground, gold to white, and gold to white. And as I stand there, I wonder how many men and women and children over the millennia stood just as I am, with both hands covered in flour- just as I did. It is a ritual honed over lifetimes upon lifetimes. Continue reading

The Illusion of Learning

Education is beautiful. What a dream, to be numbered and lettered. There are tiny ink-strokes on blank paper that unlock doors to all of human civilisation, perhaps since the beginning of time. Who are we to deny anyone such a treasure, should they wish to acquire it. Who are we to deny anyone the joy of exploring stories, uncovering the world, delving deep into the secrets of the universe. It is all to be found within the written word. Continue reading

Of Oscars and Executions

This 29th of February turned out to be quite a manic Monday for Pakistanis everywhere with even the mildest interest in the currents that shape their country. These currents are many, varied, and not a little unpredictable- as was made clear to all of us who woke up groggy and sleepy-eyed to find social media and the news exploding left right and centre. Continue reading

Perfect Ones

My beautiful broken pieces wandering from one day to the next- don’t you see how wonderful you are? With all your jagged edges, and sharp corners, and peeling paint- don’t you see? Don’t you see how you fit, one with the next, with the next, with the next? There is no rhyme or rhythm to your beauty, but you are awe-inspiring, breath-taking, powerful in your perfection. Look into that mirror. Look. For just one second, See. Continue reading

Little White Bird

Here, hold a mirror. Sit. Let me tell you what I see- hush- just listen. You are a bird- beautiful, soft, white feathers, long graceful wings. You are flying and flying, round and round a cage. It’s a tall, wrought iron cage, circular and unforgiving. You are flying. Sometimes you are frantic and you flap about it and other times, you are defeated. Always, always, gazing through the bars, at the world within. I wonder what you see. I wonder why you do this. Continue reading