Not Entitled To You

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“I don’t want you to this.” “I don’t want to do this.” There’s a massive difference between the two. The former is an imposition of your beliefs on someone else, the latter addresses you. We humans have the innate ability to take ownership – we want ownership. We want to call something or someone ours, we want to put labels on what’s ‘ours’ and what’s ‘theirs’.

How would we survive otherwise? God forbid! if you’d ever have to be seen sitting alone, basking in the solitude. What would all of them think? The society?  You can’t possibly be seen reading a book with earphones in your ears, away from all forms of social interaction.

Those people you call your friends wouldn’t associate with you now would they? The group of four or five that you fostered for the last couple of years, went out of your way for in the most literal sense and bended over backwards if all else failed, would disown you if you ever indulged in antisocial behaviour.

Hey, it couldn’t possibly be that you enjoy your own company or could it? That you wish to disassociate for some time, unwind. You’re not the kind to break off ties on the basis of mood swings, you’re just finding solace in yourself. You’re keeping to yourself, doing your own thing.

You’re looking at things from a fresh perspective and have realised that you don’t need to wear a tag around your neck to have a sense of belonging and neither do you wish to add tags to your prized possessions to claim ownership.

What’s yours will remain yours, without the tags and labels, and what isn’t will never be no matter how hard you try. The only way you can truly be at ease is when you’re happy by yourself. It’s unfortunate that there are times when people find it intimidating, they take it as a blow to their egos that a person is perfectly capable of standing alone.

Some individuals just don’t need the big social circles and mindless babble around them to survive, they can do it without any of it or just with a few likeminded individuals whom they know would be there  – no strings attached.

Limpid Pools

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Did you find what you were looking for?

Lonely but not alone; a distant cry for help,

His yelp – eyes limpid pools of distress

Committed to an emotion; a lack of devotion

His heart leaped into an abyss, mind and body in bliss

Alas! a tale of estrangement, his lovelorn soul

Loyalty has a price to pay, a painful death to his chivalry

Heart in the mud – His thoughts muddled

Picked up the pieces, masked the spirit,

Taught for the joy of learning, escaped the palms of misery,

Failed to be held – his miscalculations,

No takers for the weak of heart

Lonely, not alone; a distant cry for help

His eyes limpid pools of distress.

Dear Human Race

Dear human race,

We have come a long way, a very long way indeed. From living into caves to fancy big ass houses and from watching the birds fly to flying in the air ourselves and from looking at the sun and moon to looking into cosmic bodies millions of light years away. And these are great achievement indeed. We seem to have made our lives much easier for ourselves. The sound of that sounds pretty good doesn’t it! The question, however, that I post towards you is: Have we lost something on the way? Maybe something that we may have to go back decades or even centuries to get a hold of again?

Let me answer that for you. Yes, we have lost not one but many things. Some of them are surprisingly what essentially makes a human a human in the first place. Dignity, which is basically a state of being worthy of great honor and respect. We, lost it. There are humans dying of gunshots and tank fires and hunger and poverty and natural catastrophes and the rest of the humans live in peace, like kings and queens. Are they worthy of honor and respect? No.

There was a notion of integrity somewhere in the air a long while ago. There still is but perhaps the meaning has changed and has become quite relevant to each individual or rather groups of individuals. Humans talk about morality and strong principles based on honesty. Just have a look at the world around you, someone seems to have wiped away all the morals and replaced it with something else instead, prejudice. Humans are proud of things they don’t even possess. How naive is that! Principles based on prejudice can only make things worse not better.

Humans have lost another gem on the way up, selflessness. Its almost impossible to find a selfless human being ready to serve a purpose without expecting something back in return. But it is quite common to find human beings leading their own kind astray in the hopes of staying ahead of them in life. Humans have become selfish, a despicable quality that was mocked at at some point but the human race is full of it now. Selflessness and goodwill, we lost it.

I can probably go on and on but the point of the matter is that being human is a state of mind. We’ve lost that too. It should not be a surprise that the human race is not worthy of being called just the human race anymore, the term “the damned human race” seems to serve the purpose more aptly. Ironically, all the damnation has been brought about by themselves. There must still be some real humans left though, maybe that is why the world hasn’t ended yet.

I am a part of the damned human race but I don’t want to be. I want to live like a real authentic human being, the way all of us have been created. It just amazes me how the most evolved creatures to walk the planet can lose their originality over things that are temporary, to say the least. We need to change, evolve and sustain that evolution. The big change back towards being real humans is quite possible. As it is said that instead of fixing a corrupt system you come up with a better and evolved system so that the old one becomes obsolete on its own, something of that nature needs to happen. We, all of us, need to come up with a new system based upon the values we’ve lost, at individual levels as well as societal ones. This needs to happen as soon as possible and if doesn’t, civil wars are not far from raging out globally and whatever is left of the peace in the world will be gone, for good.

(May 22, 2012)

Submitted by: Holytwistedface

The Empowering Lemonade

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When I made my way through the gates of Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore on Sunday (yesterday) I had absolutely no idea I would walk out a changed individual. I had heard of Tanzila Khan earlier, I knew enough to know she was a woman working towards a better future not only for herself but for all humanity, but little did I know the magic she possessed inside her. I was greeted warmly by Zoya Ishaq who was hosting the event and also happens to be the founder of ‘SHE’ – An organisation that works towards celebrating and promoting womanhood in Pakistan.

Tanzila Khan – a motivational speaker, an author, a mentor and an inspiration to many has been empowering individuals since 5 years but it seems so effortless that one could presume, she’s been doing this her whole life. She has her own production company by the name ‘Creative Alley’ and she also happens to be exceptional at public speaking and marketing. Tanzila Khan with the collaboration of ‘SHE’ held an interactive session for women by the name ‘Lemonade with Tanzila’ at Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore. The event consisted of seven segments based on problem solving, activism, confidence building, communication, career, relationships, and personal grooming.

Amongst the laughter, the light banter, the never ending packets of ‘Oye Hoye’ provided by United Snacks, the oh so sweet and gooey brownies provided by one of Tanzila’s friends and the most beautiful ornamental baskets provided by NN creations, was an aura of rebirth and rejuvenation. It was as if each and every one of us who was a part of that gathering was there to fulfil a purpose, it put so much into perspective. The short while spent with Tanzila wasn’t just about celebrating the joys of womanhood, it was about self-reflection as a human being.  

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Life is all about creating a balance. As a woman residing in the Pakistani society, it is so important to know how to perfectly balance responsibilities. A woman carries the weight of the future on her shoulders, she has to recognise her strengths and weaknesses and condition herself in a manner that emancipates everything around her – Lemonade with Tanzila aimed to do exactly that and succeeded to a great extent.

When I walked out of that place, I felt much lighter than before, I realised that my life’s grievances were insignificant compared to those of the women sitting before Tanzila, discussing their lifelong struggles and hard earned achievements. I spent the four years of my undergrad at Beaconhouse National University (BNU) fussing over the minutest details of my coursework. I worked so hard I forgot to stop and smell the roses, and while my parents were and are extremely proud of me for achieving what I have, I still can’t make up for the lost time.

I just can’t make up for all the golden moments I missed spending with my parents, the times when I could’ve skipped typing away on my laptop for that ‘very important submission’ and just gone out for ice cream with my family. I don’t regret any of the hard work I put into my work. I was respected for my diligence and still am, but a small part of me feels like that perhaps I went too far, my ambitions got the best of me.

It’s not like I didn’t try to strike that balance, I really did, but I made too many sacrifices for no particular reason.  I spent a good amount of time with my friends but not enough with family, which is why I’d say that if I could change one thing, I’d give all my time to my family and little to the people who no longer even exist in my life.

Anyhow, my point here is that I let go of a big part of me yesterday. I realised that while I couldn’t change the past, I had the ability to reflect on my mistakes and make the present better. Every  woman present over there left with a little string of hope, Tanzila’s “Empowerment Party” succeeded in making the most tantalising Lemonade anyone has ever tasted and something that those women would carry with them for a lifetime.

 

 

The Loner’s Plea

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– You’re not the only one.

This is a series of open letters that never got sent. If you want yours to be published please send it on the link provided below:

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I tend to isolate myself from others. I don’t know why I do that, I just need your help or even a small advice could make my life much much better. I fall for everyone, sometimes I become paranoid, I don’t know why. I start thinking that at some point that no one likes me, people say I have ego issues but have they ever noticed why I even tend to have those ego issues? I try to work on myself i try to work on my ego but I fail I don’t know why. I am a self proclaimed introvert and I just want to be happy but I can’t be. At times I can’t be. I isolate myself from people I just don’t know what to do.

 

Sent by: Loner

Dear Mom

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Take this from me.

This is a series of opened letters that never got sent. If you want yours to be published please send it on the link provided below:

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Dear Mom,

Out of all the moments we’ve shared for the last twenty-two years, there’s one that still burns at the back of my mind.

I want to talk about that moment today.

It happened six years ago, when you were dragging my lifeless body off the bed, when your fingers were digging into my flesh but my mind was too numb, and yet too pained to register it.

It happened on the morning after my first breakup.

You’d always kept me protected, always drew the line between the good and the bad. I didn’t know there were places and spaces that existed between the two and so, when he promised me forever, I believed it.

The morning after my first breakup, I woke up feeling fine. Happy, to be honest, just the way I always did because I woke up to the thought of him everyday, the same way I fell asleep. It was a constant state of euphoria.

I sat up groggily and watched the dust motes swirling around a lone ray of sunshine hitting the bed and I was still happy. But an alien feeling had begun to surface from the depths of my amnesia and before my body hit the bed, racking with tearless sobs, I remembered.

I remembered everything.
The first morning after my first breakup, I experienced heartache.

I fell back on the bed, once more in shock… losing all sense of time, of obligations, of my body. Years later, I still can’t piece together how I really felt. It was like being dragged naked on the scorching dessert sand, like being pushed underwater and feeling the water gush into my lungs, like being stabbed and shot and shredded to smithereens.

There was also a haze.
It was tangible.
It was real.
I could see it.

I don’t remember if it was really brown or why that color stands out so vividly in my memory as I write this, but I do remember the haze. It was like a thick veil that stood between us as you came to wake me up.

It was early in the morning.
It was time to face the music.

You found me lying on the bed, lifeless, paralyzed with grief and you shook me. You called out my name and heard me gasp instead. I couldn’t breathe. And you said, “Get up.” It was a command. “Get up. NOW.”

Your hands closed around my ankles as you dragged me off the bed. I almost fell to the ground because I couldn’t move a muscle but you caught be around the shoulders and as I leaned onto yours you said, “If you don’t get up now, you won’t ever be able to get up again.”

I couldn’t feel it then, drenched as my mind was with what, for a very long time, I thought would be endless grief, but in the depths of my layered subconscious, your words had struck a chord.

I didn’t want to go to my internship. I didn’t want to face life. I didn’t think I could trust myself. I didn’t know how I’d be able to make it through the day without you. I was at the precipice; waiting for the dam to burst, yet gliding through the corridors of an infinite wait to feel something. I aged that day, and so did my heart.

But what has never aged, are your words.
That firm whisper in my ear.
The one moment that still burns at the back of my mind.

Out of all the moments we’ve shared for the last twenty-two years, this is the one that will always come back to haunt me, to heal me.

Thank you Mother, for transforming your daughter into a phoenix, for teaching her to rise from the ashes, to heal, and to fly.

Thank you, for teaching me that the world never comes to a standstill even if we feel that way, that life goes on.

Thank you, for being you.

With love,
STH

Divorce: Mirrored Differences or a Stigmatised Dogma?

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*Names have been changed to ensure anonymity.

 

This is a subject I’ve been meaning to address since quite a while. I feel the need to express my concern regarding divorce in the Pakistani society as too often, it is considered a taboo. Speaking of divorce or being a ‘divorcee’ is treated like an unforgivable sin in our society and while it should ideally be taken as the last resort, it should not be stigmatised regardless of the circumstances.

“It’s amazing how unpredictable life can be…I was married for 15 years, we were a happy family – two kids, a financially stable household, free from everyday bickering (except for the usual meltdowns), but when things between me and my husband crippled, everything came crashing down along with it” says Sara.

Sara was a loving wife, fostering mother and a responsible homemaker, yet even after pulling at many strings there was no way she could have saved her failing marriage.  The result was: Divorce. For many, this term is a forbidden one – much to the extent that it is considered a sin. Rightfully so, the society we reside in treats it like a stigma.

For her, this word meant her household being torn apart in two pieces with labels and tags of ‘this is mine, that’s yours’. And for the society, it is simply a symbol of disgrace. The question that arises here is; Why is it associated with negativity? Why can’t it be seen as two people failing to be compatible and so; for the betterment of their respective lives, they part ways?

It is an understood fact that we are living in a society bound by religious beliefs (however subjective they may be) and Islam has strict inhibitions regarding the concept of separation, however; what does a person do when faced with circumstances that leave no choice but to get decoupled? For Sadia, a 35 year old born and bred in Karachi, her fear of being stamped by the social stigma label got the best of her.

She says: “My marriage was an arranged marriage; my in-laws were well educated people they treated me worse than animals. My mother-in-law used to warm metallic spatulas (used to flip chappatis) on flames and put those piping hot plates on my arms and wrists, the bruises on my skin still remind me of the suffering I have faced. A month after my marriage, I came to know that my husband’s sexual orientation was not straight, even after discovering this truth, I stayed with him for 5 years.”

There are many girls out there just like Sadia who have suffered a great deal. The only reason she faced that prolonged torture was because she like most girls in our society, was afraid to tell her parents and let them down. She knew that if her parents found out about her failing marriage, they would be disgraced and condemned by their kith and kin. The thought of having your daughter get a divorce is tragic; however, what people fail to see is that because of these typecast images that we ourselves have created for us, we have complicated our lives.

Sadia sacrificed her well being for the sake of her parent’s dignity, she tolerated extreme cruelty, to the extent that after her separation, she had to go through therapy. Had she communicated with her parents, had she not been pressurised by the societal norms regarding ‘divorce’ she could have saved herself.

Rukhsana (Sadia’s mother) was in tears the moment she was asked about her daughter’s separation. She said that the kind of pain and suffering her daughter had gone through, it was a lesson for all women to realize that they did not deserve to be treated like that, that they had the right to question, they were in no way supposed to suppress themselves for the sake of what people would say about them, the idea of being pressurized by such matters is fatal to say the least.

Even though, divorce is still considered a stain – be it on a woman or man, it is far more stigmatised in the case of the woman than the man. We as human beings have to think beyond our comfort zones and stop complicating each other’s lives by constricting ourselves to a box. It is the stereotypes that we have created that compel men and women to make choices that can be fatal not only for themselves but for their children as well. The effects of decoupling on children is a completely different ballgame altogether and requires discussion at length.

The thought that a woman is completely stained for the rest of her life after leaving her spouse should be shunned. It is opinions such as these that restrict women from making choices that they are entitled to make when the need be, and by no means should a woman be forced into a relationship. Women in our society need to educate themselves regarding the rights they have as a woman.

Most women do not even know about the conditions of a “Nikah Nama” and that they can have the right to give divorce. It is important for women to know, and teach themselves the birthrights they are entitled to, as this is the only way they can rise against social oppression.

Women like Sara and Sadia are living examples of incidents that give us a better insight on our own understanding of relationships and the concept of ‘decoupling’. They are there to make people comprehend the difficulties that sometimes lead to terrible situations – circumstances that lead to separation and then finally divorce. This by no means imply that separation is being advocated as being positive, It just simply means that sometimes it has to be accepted as a part of life, and rather than condemning it, it should be understood with another perspective, preferably a wider one – one which is free from prejudices.

While in some terrible cases leaving your spouse is the only option, one should understand that marriage is a sacred institution that works with constant effort and compromise as a team and as an individual and it should be respected at all levels. Marriage isn’t just between two people, it’s between two families, and it is a sanctified bond that should be cherished. Women shouldn’t misuse their rights to their benefit and men shouldn’t exercise dominance where not required.

Thoughts on life, love and everything in between.. transcribed by a self proclaimed bleeding writer.