Emotions: Unshackled

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Insane and neurotic
All out of my mind
Eyes brimming with teardrops
Blurred vision, I’m blind

My self is all but lost
Humanity’s gone
Life isn’t worth living
It’s time to move on

But where would I go to
Who’ll keep me around?
Why would someone pick me
Withered and run-down?

No feels, no emotions
Drifting with the flow
No set destination
There’s nowhere to go

The scars run too deep and
The stain is too fresh
Entangled, strangled
In this pensive mesh

Everything is laced with
A trace of self-doubt
Is this what I’m worth now?
Is there no way out?

You plucked all my feathers
Couldn’t fly away
Cleverly made sure that
By your side I’ll stay

I keep hearing voices
They’re all just the same
Coaxing me, cajoling
To call out your name

The hurt that you’ve caused is
Just too much to bear
Should I crawl right back or
Should I cease to care?

You crushed me, you used me
Till I came undone
These tears I shall wipe and
Grief I’ll overcome

Barrenness within I’ll
Fill with a new love
You’re not worth my pity
Tears you don’t deserve

With brand new resolve I
Get up from the floor
There’s worlds worth exploring
Beyond your closed door

The sun’s shining brightly
The sky’s filled with light
Breathing in some fresh hope
I take one more flight

– Yousuf Bawany, May 2016

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Washed Away

I look out my bedroom window
And see the falling rain
Pouring down from the heavens above
It takes me down memory lane

This view stirs up memories
Of a not-too-distant past
When I used to live my life
With the fullest of my heart

With no plans for the future
No vision, no objectives set
I just danced all my worries away
Didn’t matter if I got wet

On my way back from school
With a bunch of friends in tow
We jumped into potholes and puddles
Feels like an eternity ago

Always in pursuit of something
Chasing frogs and butterflies
With arms wide open as wings
Always reaching for the skies

There was only one fear, if any
Of going home all covered in dirt
That Mom would flip if she saw
My newly bought clean-white shirt

Not caring what others may think
We were young, we were free
Slaves of society is what we are now
Denying it won’t make us see

Now we just sit at the window
Rather than joining all the fun
Not remembering that someday we too
Will set with the setting sun

This heavenly shower from the skies
Will wash away all our tears
It’ll cleanse our souls off all the grime
It’ll wipe out all our fears

The Suicide Mission

The inevitability of death is the only constant in our mundane existence, the one thing you can truly depend upon. Mathematically speaking, the probability of us dying eventually is always 1 – few events around us can make the same claim. Even though we tend to lose ourselves in our worldly affairs and ignore this reality from time to time, it always looms ahead of us, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right time to make its move – you’ll never know what hit you when it finally grabs you by the throat, suffocating you, and sucking out every last vestige of life from your body. I’m sure most of us never want to grow old, never want to die, be immortal, but that is not the case. Death always finds a way to catch up to you when you least expect it. There, however, still exist individuals wishing to escape the drudgery of life, embracing death as a means to an end. These are people who have hit rock-bottom, and then some. Circumstances shove them in the middle of the fiercest sea-storm, miles away from the shore, and believe me they swim hard, waiting for the currents to subside, the huge waves to flatten out so that they can come up for some air, but that doesn’t happen, with nothing to keep them afloat, no one to throw them a life-saver, until all that is left for them is to take fate into their own hands, inhale one last painful breath, filling their lungs with water, burning their insides, and ending it all.

Yesterday was an extremely busy day at the office, what with all the business meetings and a work-load that knows no end. I ended up getting late (no surprises there), and it was almost 8:30 p.m. before I got up to leave for home. I headed into the pitch-black parking lot, finding my way to the car with the little light emanating from my cell phone. After putting my laptop bag in the back seat, I parked myself into the driver’s seat. The engine roared to life as I started it and gave it some gas. It was downright spooky in the parking lot so I hurriedly turned on the headlights. I put the car in reverse, took a slight turn to the left, shifted to first, and steered it towards the ramp. Once on the service road, I tried hard to maneuver my car through all the water that had accumulated on the road due to recent rains, all the while praying to God for saving me from any invisible potholes and open sewer-holes, and breathed a sigh of relief only after taking a u-turn onto the relatively-dry main road (i.e. Shahra-e-Faisal). I eased into the fast lane, all the while checking my rear-view and side mirrors for any rouge drivers in the insane traffic. Suddenly out of nowhere, a man jumped out from the shadows and started making his way towards the center of the road. The guy was thin, about 5′-8″, slightly balding with unkempt hair and wearing a dirty shalwar qameez. The only thing I could think was, “Has he lost his mind or has he gone blind?” I slowed down my car a bit to get a better look at what was unfolding right in front of me. What happened next was nothing short of insane. This man sat on the road and lay down on his back, as if it were his sofa at home, not caring for the cars speeding past towards and around him. He actually looked at peace with himself, a sad smile on his face, staring right into the eyes of his sorry existence as if mocking it, as if what he was about to do was going to liberate him. Thankfully, the speeding drivers saw him lying there and slowed down. A few motorcyclists stopped in the middle of the road and tried helping the man on his feet. He struggled, shrugged off the motorcyclists and pushed himself in front of a speeding Corolla in the next lane. It was at that exact moment that I had to take a right turn and the man slipped out of my peripheral vision. I do not know whether the car crashed into him or was the driver able to brake just in time. It was all I could think about when I reached home. I could feel the onset of a slight headache, my mind racing with questions that may never be answered. What happened to him? Did he survive? Why did he resort to such a thing? Was suicide the only way out? What were his last thoughts? Did he have any family?

People say that when you hit rock-bottom, the only way you can go now is up. I say what if there is no rock bottom? What if the conditions become so bad that you have no other way out? What if getting up in the morning everyday becomes a chore? What if the only feeling you have left is that of worthlessness? Unfortunately, the recent socio-economic scenario has turned life into a nightmare for the common man. Joblessness is everywhere, and that makes things a lot worse for him. A thousand rupees seems more like a hundred, with the ever-increasing inflation and prices of even the most basic human needs far out of his reach. Pride does not have a place in this society and he has to resort to begging if he wants to support his family.

Had he been a celebrity, he would have made headlines, the media making sure everyone knew of the circumstances leading to his suicide. People would have held vigils in front of his house, thousands attending his funeral, mourning the sad demise of the great man. Heck, even his suicide attempt would have made page 6, if not the front page. At least then I would have known the fate of that unfortunate man. But he was just a common man with nothing extraordinary going on in his life; not someone worthy of any attention. All I could hope for was that he was safe, and that his brush with death had put some sense into him and helped him put his life in perspective; it sure helped me prioritize mine.

Battery-operated Ears

With the recent advancements in bio and nanotechnology, we can now safely assume that we will have at least some easily replaceable body parts in the future, if required. Prestigious institutions put in billions of dollars in this research just to make life easier for people in need of such prosthetic organs. But this article’s not about that; I put the enticing title to this entry to hook you in so that you’ll end up reading it (and hopefully get a few laughs). So do I have your attention now?

Women tend to fall sick a lot, so I had to take my wife to the doctor (yet again). My mom was really worried about my wife’s health so she tagged along. Funny how I find the finest insights into life at the doctors’ – this visit was no exception. This particular doctor (let’s call him Dr. Abe) has a clinic in a relatively posh Karachi locality and runs a very successful practice providing care to the rich as well as the poor. He is one of those kind souls who unselfishly hands out his cell-phone number to his patients so that they can get him when they need him; surely one of the few doctors who does justice to his Hippocratic Oath.

Dr. Abe is a highly intelligent guy with a keen sense of diagnosis, which makes him really good at his job. The only downside of visiting him is the condition of his clinic; it is in such bad shape that a makeshift clinic in the middle of the Congo jungle would seem like a palace. The walls are a drab shade of brown which, believe it or not, is the tolerable aspect of the clinic. In most places, these walls are stained with dried liquid spills in red, white, green and black (makes you wonder what goes on in there) and the stain-free portions (one can only imagine) are plastered with advertisement material from various pharmaceutical companies. If those walls could talk, they’d scream,  “Oh for the love of God, please get me a new paint-job and wash these filthy stains off of me”. Moreover, these walls are paper thin and as Dr. Abe talks really loudly, so everyone in the waiting area is privy to the doctor’s diagnosis even if the patient inside is talking in hushed tones (if you have a “special” problem, Dr. Abe is NOT your man).

So back to my story! When you stand are about to enter the clinic, you see two doors; one marked “Ladies” and the other marked “Gents”. I peeked inside the ladies door and happened to see a man sitting inside with his wife (or sister or mother – who cares?), so since I had two ladies with me, I squeezed into that section too (and also because the patient-in-question was a female; duh?!). As soon as we entered the clinic, the first thing that hit me was the stench of antiseptic and sickness (if it has any particular odor) that never fails to make me nauseous; the second thing was the wailing and screaming of a child from inside the doctor’s office. Dr. Abe (who, as I mentioned earlier, is quite a loud-mouth) was heard saying, “Beta kuch nahin hoga; tumko pata bhi nahin chalay ga” (meaning: Son, nothing will happen; you won’t even notice it).

After a few moments, a stout short bearded man came out of the doctor’s cabin holding the child-in-question’s hand. The screams had thankfully turned into sobs and a chant that went something like, “Abbu please, main nahin daalnay doon ga isko” (meaning: Please daddy, I will not let him put it inside me). The context was totally lost on me as I had not been privy to the doctor’s full diagnosis (having arrived just moments before the father-child duo came out). The child was not more than five or six, and he seemed to be in a lot of pain. My wife gave me a look that was filled with pity for the child. My mom said, “Bechara kitni takleef main hai. Pata nahin kya howa hai usko?” (meaning: The poor child is in such agony; I wonder what happened to him). The father’s exit was the doctor’s assistant’s cue to enter his office. He came out with a weird looking contraption designed for extraction (something out of a SAW movie – no wonder the kid was so scared) of something or the other and a huge flashlight. The assistant beckoned the dad to follow him into the adjoining exam room, which acted as a push-play on the child’s scream player; and there we were again. The kid went on and on saying, “Abbu please nahin, nahin, please nahin, isko mana karain” (meaning: “Daddy no, no, please, no, no, tell him not to).  I could vividly picture the father trying to console and coax his son into letting the assistant extract whatever he was supposed to extract from wherever (mysteries, mysteries…. ahh).

My mom apparently had heard something I had not (another insight – female hearing is way better than ours), thereby solving part of the mystery and shedding some light on the child’s plight. She said, “Beta, is ne kaan main kuch daal diya hai” (meaning: Son, he has put something in his ear). Although I am not a parent myself, I can very well imagine the pain a parent feels when his offspring is in pain. The child’s unceasing screams ticked Dr. Abe. He was well into his next consultation but he apologized to his other patient, stormed out of his cabin and with a determined look on his face, walked straight into the exam room the child was being held hostage in. Dr. Abe said, “Iska sar pakro, aur aap iskay pair pakrain. Isko hilnay nahin daina.” (meaning: You hold his head, and you hold his feet. Do not let him move); this triggered a series of no’s from the child (something very annoying) and within an ear-shattering scream that would scare the ghosts of Spooksville, this whole episode came to an end. The weird extraction thingy wasn’t as painful as it looked (we could only assume) as the screaming suddenly stopped and the child’s sobs (and countless sighs of relief) were heard by everyone in the clinic.

Now the final piece of the puzzle – what was in the child’s ear? Again, Dr. Abe and his loud-mouth came to the rescue. In fluent memoni (a language spoken by some Pakistanis who migrated from India), he said, “Kan main sanni wari battery wiji gini howi gharyal ji” (meaning: He had put a small wrist-watch battery in his ear). With that and a prescription for the residual pain, he handed it to the child’s father and said, “Yeh battery to kharaab ho gai hai; ek nai la kar de dijiye to main kaan main daal doon ga. Phir iska kaan sahi kaam karay ga” (meaning: This battery is drained; go get a new one and I’ll put it in his ear so that his ear can function properly); and everyone burst out laughing.

Moral of the story: No matter how much pain and suffering you have around you, there’s always time to share some laughs.