The Final Conquest

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Perched on my favorite rocking chair in the wooden porch of my small house, I was swaying back and forth. A backward stroke of the chair, and dark shadows engulfed my charcoal skin. The magic of physical laws brought it back to its initial position and sparkling sunshine made my face glisten. Darkness after light… Light after darkness…

I closed my eyes to relish my victory. Years of protests, neck-breaking efforts, and innumerable insults had borne fruit. We were free at last. Screens of every gadget I owned were live with a single news.

“The feminist movement has destroyed misogyny once and for all. The last group resisting the change surrendered yesterday night after a heated debate between the two leading parties ended unanimously in the favor of women.”

It was a bittersweet moment for me as a thousand disturbing images flashed across my eyes.

Beautiful feminine features made hideous by the pettiness of male ego. Uncountable pregnancies aborted forcefully and an even greater number of forced pregnancies. People tearing one girl’s scarf and forcing it on another. Glass ceiling, domestic abuse, honor killings, acid throwing, marital rape, sexist comments, and varying shades of sexual harassment. I had seen it all, experienced it all, and fought it all.

It was now a decade ago when one of my male colleagues had said it in defense of his gender but the low blow still stung me. We were having our usual lunch break discussions about the increased surfacing of rape case. He said, “If somebody has a key and they find a keyhole, they insert it in there. That is natural.”

I’d wanted to smack his deplorable face but I acted exactly how my gender did when angered and triggered; calmly but sarcastically. “That means if I find a bat somewhere, I can hit your balls real hard with it because you know it’d be very natural too,” was my tart retort.

Looking back at it, I was burning with anger at the audacity of that piece of sh** when a small crowd disturbed my solitude by blocking the sun. There were other lights though — flashes and cameras. “Ma’am we want to interview you.” Journalists! I thought.

“Go ahead!” I relented.

“Do you think men are your enemy?” asked a kind looking bespectacled man. His glasses were slipping down his nose after every other second.

“No!” I declared, “My biggest supporter throughout the movement had been a man. In fact, it was his brilliant idea that proved to be the stepping stone of our success.”

“Do you mind sharing that secret with us?” he asked visibly thrilled at the opportunity of asking me questions and even more so at getting prompt responses.

“I would love to,” I replied, “It’s not a secret, really. Do you know how the biggest reform came when men began supporting our cause and safeguarding our rights?” I saw him nodding vehemently, which was a dangerous risk, considering the condition of his horn-rimmed glasses.

“The man I am referring to had advised me to teach the womenfolk to raise feminist sons and that I believe did the trick. The opposing party called us whores and the poor men who stood for us were called impotent or gay. My great mentor used to say gays and impotent men are much better humans than these pathetic excuses of men who lack even basic decency I’d chop off my dick any day if it made me such an arrogant bastard.”

“You talk about your mentor a lot. Why didn’t you ever reveal his identity?” It was a different journalist this time.

“I didn’t want him to get hurt,” was my curt reply.

“Does him being a man bother you ever?” asked the guy with the slippery glasses. Good question, I thought. Something bothered me about my mentor but his gender was not it.

“No!” I replied, “Feminists believe in equality and not female Supremacy. We advocate humanity.”

They wanted to ask more questions, but I had had enough and thus excused myself. I retreated inside my home. I needed to talk to my mentor.

“Why am I a man?” He asked me.

“You know why,” I said evasively.

“No, I don’t,” he said, “Is it because the world wouldn’t listen to a woman?”

“No, not the world! The women wouldn’t have listened to another woman,” I admitted reluctantly.

“So you created a visage of a man who ‘helped’ you?” He said in a fake deep voice.

I nodded and said “The world had ingrained women to listen to men for so long. Therefore, I used our psychology to bring us some happiness. I could have saved them from men but how was I to protect them from themselves?” My eyes brimmed.

“It’s all right! You did great,” My reflection told me in a voice that was a distasteful mockery of Liam Neeson.

I smiled at it. No longer was he a figment of female imagination — a man who understood.

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Originally published on Medium

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My Entangled Thoughts

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I can’t speak for other people because their minds are not on the list of places I had checked into but my own thoughts, I have visited often. Thus, I know the questions that arrive in this desolate place I call my brain. They used to be simpler and consulting a parent, a friend or a teacher sufficed. Yet, they grew complex. I can’t say on which exact date the change happened. All I know is that now, I have queries with no answers.

The people I used to look up to are as much confused as I am. When they had no replies to my wandering abstractions, they silently accepted me as their own.

“Congratulations! You have crossed the threshold of black and white. Welcome to the Grey zone where everything is muddled up,” they informed me.

I cannot turn to them with my pleas no more.

I have learned to ignore my mind, my conscious, and its ramblings but it continues to gnaw and nag me. When the tossing and turning of these contemplations chew away a chunk of my brain, I go to Google. If natural intelligence is failing me, I try artificial intelligence. If nothing else, it kills time. Afterward, I am left with a hundred new types of hopelessness.

The familiar wave of despondency engulfs me. I smile. The exhaustion takes over my senses and I sleep. My brain, however, stays awake bringing me fresh thoughts from the realm of horror to ponder over in my dreams. Sometimes, the audacious bastard brings forth pleasant fantasies of a time to come or a few cherished moments from the times gone past. There is nothing wrong with the latter as long as you are asleep but the moment, the first surge of consciousness hits me, all the niceness melts into a sharp tinge of longing that slowly settles into my mounting melancholy.

The hustle of the day conquers my being and the cycle repeats.

Knitted cross-stitches,

Ah! Painful itches.

A spider’s web hanging,

Intricately from ceiling.

Intertwined earphones,

Decaying set of bones!

Inosculated boughs of a tree distraught.

How nasty are my entangled thoughts!

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“A Life of Pretense” 

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I laugh a lot. People take me for a jolly person. it is rather sad that 90% of my giggles are to please my fellows only. I do not restrict my insincere show of emotions to laughing. I have cried for others too. Some of my tears were genuine, others? not so much! If I ever disclosed which was which, I would risk my credibility as a human being.

Heck! I have even pretended faith. Not a long time ago, I had been into madrasas and Majalis. I had been a part of congregational prayers more often than I would like to admit; it was all action-no feeling. The one emotion, however, that I truly felt is agitation. When anxiety hit me, I was alive.

I have pretended to be alive for several years. One day, I decided I should be able to feign death. Thus, knowing it would end up in a failure, I ventured forward. I went to bed and slept. 16 hours later, I was disturbed and forced out of my bed. I couldn’t tell them I was dead for that would kill the purpose. I persuaded a doctor to admit me to a hospital, but they didn’t declare me dead either. I knew in my heart I was more dead than alive but it was easier to pose life than the demise.

Descartes said, “I think; therefore I am” so I stopped thinking, and that robbed me of my anxiety. Now, no part of me was alive, and they continued to believe in my existence!

My final thought, which is a proof I had lived once; why is the world so apt at calling your bluff of dying but not of living?

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The Demise of the Fittest

‘Super’ is what they called me
‘Magical’ was how I was described
when all failed, I was the one who survived.
I saw my fellows wither,
For they could not compete
against the changing times.
‘Unfavourable conditions,’
they cried
Then said the world ‘Goodbye!’

I endured it all,
season after season.
I grew stronger,
With every passing obstacle.
The harsh weather didn’t cut me through
And the head wind lifted me high!

It was the loneliness
that has stung the worst.
But since I had suffered a lot
and adapted according to my fate,
the nature gave me a mate.
We reproduced and multiplied!
Best of the genes, we passed on,
for my counterpart too was
a breed quite high!

Sooner than I’d liked it to be
The time to depart arrived
‘What was the point of toiling through
if at the end of it all,
I had to die?’
I philosophized.
The Reaper,however, yawned
Disnterested in my thoughts.
It had a job and I had to oblige.

My only solace after my demise:
‘I had done well in life’
There was a progeny
most likely to succeed
In the world I had left by
‘In my future generations,
I will live forever’
The consoling thought
made me smile .

In the Afterlife, I met my old colleagues
It bemused me to see them so satisfied.
I spent time watching over my kith and kin.
While those losers sat and enjoyed.
‘It is because they have no one,’
I smirked day and night.

Then it happened that shook me through.
The word for which I lived and died,
with a bang, it was destroyed.
What were my troubles for?
The extreme pains I had gotten by.
The world for which,
I had planned and strategised
Blew away
Like a puff of smoke in the skies.

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Fiction Friday-Remembering Camus!

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My son had brought me here. It was quite a long time ago. My joints didn’t know what arthritis was back then. Lately, the pain defined them. It was around this time of the year, though which year and on what date, are the details that had escaped me. The one thought that I could focus on was ‘I made him and he is throwing me to some nursing home.’ Initially, I used to miss his selfish form, the rascal I had birthed.

“You kept me inside you for like 9 months and you want me to feed, clothe, and shelter you indefinitely in exchange ?” That had been his reply to my motherly remonstrations. “Besides, it was your decision. You had your fun and decided to make a big deal out of it”, my son had always been a strange one, “Why would you cherish the unpleasant side effects of a drug, Ma? Bad move!”

It was several years ago, this and many such conversations were exchanged between us. He was not married. We had no one other than each other. He did not have any major financial troubles. I could never fathom why he turned me away. It could be mere indifference. He never visited me except once but it was too late then… To be honest, I cannot really recall his features clearly. Maybe its because of my bad memory or maybe he was right… you do get used to anything after awhile. I got used to this nursing house. I got used to death too. Mine! I will get used to his too. My Meursault, my stranger son!

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Random Thursday Thought

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I wish I was someone else… anybody’d do except this person that I am. I wish I could craft like some of my friends do. Beautiful gifts they create out of random, most useless stuff. All I have ever done is destroy everything. Or I could clean like a washing machine or perhaps like a vaccum cleaner but heck… I can’t even clean like humans do.
I want to cook too. Like a chef or even better… like my mom. Yet, eating is the only art I know.
I wish I was not so tired always. I wish all the fantasies I have of completing some amazing projects turn into a reality. Peeling off vegetables, changing sheets, taking care of house decor…
Why is it so hard to get out of the bed? Some days I’d like to metamorphose… like that Kafkan Gregor. Is there anyone out there who will silently put their foot on me and whistle a bit… to cover the sound of my shrieks ?

Tell Me a Story

Helloooo peeps!

Do you remember a few days (actually weeks) ago, I promised on delivering a story every week? Yeah so after missing a week or two, yours truly is here for the simple purpose of telling you a story

Here is this week’s entry from my side:

The Chicken Piece 

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“Saab! This is the finest, the juiciest item, I have here,” the shop-keeper was advertising a product to a handsome gentleman.

I threw a shy glance in the said customer’s direction. With an immaculate garb, that must have taken him a few hours to assemble, the youth gave the airs of an elitist dandy. The scornful look, he had fixed on the carefully skinned poultry, only strengthened my apprehensions.

“Under normal conditions, I won’t be here, buying meat,” he was saying, “I have employees for such jobs.” What a snot! I thought.

“Today is a special occasion though so I will inspect the poultry myself, which judging by this lousy flesh you are offering me is not up to the mark,” he continued, “This has gone soft. I want it to be tender but firm.” Impossible expectations, I thought.

The butcher looked disappointed. He was hoping to get rid of that chicken today. It was not a fresh product, and he needed to sell it ASAP. Yet, that didn’t stop him from showing better stock to this young man. He couldn’t afford to lose a customer of his stature over a rancid hen.

The arrogant buyer selected the healthiest bird from the livestock that was cooped up inside various cages, which stood over one another.

He handed over his pick to the storekeeper and said, “I take this reluctantly. It is not up to my standard but then I am very hard to please!” He smiled. The effect it had on his features was singularly grotesque. Good looks, despite their legendary powers can’t cover the flaws originating from an unpleasant disposition, I thought.

Meanwhile, the chicken-seller sealed the fate of the fat hen with a swift yet powerful blow. Then he said, “Saab, don’t mind my asking but what is the important event?”

The abhorrent smile deepened as he answered, “A girl and her parents are coming to our place. You know, a marriage proposal. She might be the one although I doubt that very much. Standards!” He winked at the butcher, received his now neatly bagged meat, paid, and left in a hurry.

The shop-keeper pocketed the money greedily. He proceeded to hang the naked bird that nobody wanted on a wire. He had to display it; he was desperate!

I gazed after the fading figure of the self-indulgent buyer. I had played the role of the chicken in the society for too long. I knew, by experience that he will choose his wife, the way he had bought his meat. A woman or a chicken, at the end of the day, is nothing more than a piece of flesh!

Read what Midu has to say!

Let me know how do you like it in the comment section. =) 

 

Good Night! Sleep Tight!

The advancing night was scary,

I dreaded sleep, not the nightmares really

Opening eyes to another hopeless day

Was the thought that terrified me!

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Image Source: Sadequain’s Original Work at Frere Hall, Karachi

 

 

 

Tea Strength, Birthdays, and other Depressions

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When I was a kid, my dear mother ensured I stayed away from tea. I guess, feeding milk to their children is an inherent trait in mammalian mothers, which does not go away even when the child’s suckling days are over. Like any other good mom, she force fed me a glass of milk. Being a thankless turd, what I had on my plate never satisfied me. I made faces. “It smells,” I used to complain.

Besides worrying about my health, my poor Mama cared for my happiness. Thus, she added flavor to my essential dose of lactose. Terms such as Ovaltine, Cocoa Milk, Milo, Chocolate and Vanilla Milk entered my vocabulary and the ingredients holding these names, my body. I surrendered to my dairy-laden fate but still coveted my mother’s chai.

Then I grew up a little, and she allowed me a few drops- the ones I got for dunking my rusks in her precious tea. These scarce droplets transformed into a Doodh Patti, which after passing through various dilutions turned into my first cup of a strong tea. I was 14.

It only got worse after that. With every passing birthday, the tea granules increased while the whitening agent decreased. The concentration was according to my energy requirements.

It continued that way until I hit the quarter-century plateau. After that all went downhill — three cups of strong tea a day reduced to two moderate ones. I was growing soft!

Tea, my magical potion, gave me strength. I needed the strength to fight off the obstacles that came in the way of my dreams but at 25, I found out I had none! When you lose your aspirations, the extra stimulation doesn’t do you much good. It only fuels your depression.

There was no point in consuming an exuberant amount of tea, only to lay awake at night, resting against a pillow made from the wool of anxiety, under the blanket of melancholy. As a kid, I watched a lot of Popeye-The Sailor Man. It made me wonder had Olive died, would he still eat his Spinach to defeat Brutus. I don’t think he would and I am Popeye with no Olive in my life. Brutus hit me and I couldn’t care less.

Today is May 8th, my birthday. A long time ago, this day used to awaken dancing butterflies in my stomach. Now, the butterflies are dying so silently that I don’t even feel the urge to mourn for them. I’d rather drink my diluted tea. It won’t stimulate; just sustain. Indifference has prevailed!

Tell me a Story…

Hello peeps!

Now as my ‘about section’ will tell you, I am crazy for stories. I read them, write them, adore them, inhale them, exhale them… you get the idea! For me life was going this way until kismet decided to do me a favor, which given my history doesn’t happen too often, and I met this awesome woman, Midu Hadi, who shared my passion for stories.

Long story  short (see what I did there =P), we became friends. One thing led to another and now we are here to further our dreams that every story-enthusiast will share with us.

How?

The aim is to tell a story! This is as simple and as complicated as that. However, there are no rules. It can be prose, poem, art work, or anything. As long as it tells a story, it floats our boats. This makes it that easy and that hard. Okay, I should stop doing that. Here is the deal:

We will be sharing a story, every week with our lovely friends here but with a twist. I will give you a link of her story before sharing mine!

Read what Midu has to say

And then perhaps find out what happens…

When a Heart Fails

Once I had a brain,

With various thoughtful trains.

It housed a guy called Cerebrum,

Who was aplenty quarrelsome.

He was a big shot

And had important jobs.

Thanks to him,

The sounds made sense

The colors felt dense.

I talked, and could interpret

Without a lot of fret.

He also had a Maiden

Whom he called Cerebellum,

Who was the Master of pose!

Made my movements flow!

There were some other players too

Who mostly connected these two.

They also had in their control

All my actions I couldn’t patrol.

In short, they all performed!

Then I met your wretched form!

Kaboom! It was the big bang!

All over again but nothing had formed…

The house in my head was now a broken home.

It was an empty dome.

The gray matter

Turned into gooey batter.

And it leaked out as poison

At the slightest provocation!

I thought I’d die of this depression

Instead, I met a myocardial infarction!

P.S: Don’t forget to share what you think about it.