Bura Time

Kaaiynat aik bahot hi pecheeda jagah hai. Laikin hum jo yaha karnay aey hai woh kaafi simple hai. Hamay yaha career bananay beja gaya hai.

Laikin career banana itna asaan kaam nahi. Kaafi hurdles hotay hai career bananay may. Jaisay baaz logo ko tu yeh bhi pata nahi hota k hum yaha career bananay aey hai. Magar career k parwan charhnay ko jo sab se barha khatra lahaq hota hai woh Buray Time ka phenomena hai.

Buray Time ko kuch is tarah se bayan kia jaa sakta hai: Insan ki zindagi ka woh pehr jis may usay apni naani, daadi, par-naani, par-daadi sab yaad aa jatay hai, bil-tarteeb.

Buray Time ka koi muqarara mudat nahi hai. Yeh 10 saal se lay kar tamaam umri ho sakta hai. Yaha may yeh batata chaloo k Buray Time ko Dukhi Shakhseat har giz na samjha jaey. Woh aik alag phenomena hai. Bura Time beruni halaat se banta hai, jabke Dukhi Shakhseat androoni kefeat hai. Dono may zameen aasman ka farq hai. Buray Time walay shakhs ko khushi ki talash hoti hai, jabke Dukhi Shakhseat walay dukh par paltay hai.

Ba-zahir aisa lagta hai k Bura Time bahot hi chaotic aur violent hota ho ga. Such tu yeh hai k jitnay orgazanized tareeqay se aur jis patience k saath Bura Time kaam karta hai, shayad hi dunya may kuch itnay smooth andaaz may hota ho ga. Aik tarah se khoobsoorti hoti hai is may. Haa, zahiri taur par sab bahot chaotic nazar atha hai, laikin agar poori tasweer ko deka jaey tu har chiz aik rhythm k mutabiq harkat kar rahi hoti hai. Har chiz ka aik hi maqsad hota hai. Aap ka din pichlay din se ziada choda howa banana. Laikin yeh maqsad aisa nahi hota jaisay aik janwar apnay shikar par jhapatta hai. Balkay aik bahot hi high-tech karkhanay jaisa hota hai. Jaisay hi aik product karkhanay ke aik khaas hisay tak puhunchta hai, waha maujood machinery pooray indifference k saath us par kaam karti hai aur usay aagay dusray hisay ko bejti hai.

Buray Time se mukhtalif log mukhtalif tarah se deal kartay hai. Laikin kuch riksho k driver is ka hal kuch is tarah se bayan kartay hai, jo k un k riksho par tehreer kia gaya hota hai:

“Tamaam masayl ka hal, bistar baandh k tableegh markaz chal”

Dusra hal:

“Aap k tamaam masaayl ka hal. 100% guarantee k saath. Aaamil Bangali Baba”

Teesra hal:

“Ghutno ka dard, zehni inteshar, be-auladi, bawaseer, har qisam k masayl k leay tashreef laey, Al-Qadir dawaakhaana”

Chauta hal:

Yeh painting k soorat may hota hai. Kisi shakhs ko bahot violent halat may dekaya gaya hota hai. Hath-karhia torhtay hoay aur khoon may lat pat. Is may baghi bannay ki taraf ishara hota hai.

Paanchwa hal:

Yeh umooman kisi ghamgeen sher ki soorat may hota hai. Jis may zindagi se koi umeed na raknay ka dars dia gaya hota hai. Aik misaal mulahiza ho:

Ay zindagi humay tum se koi tamana kab hai
Hum tu is aas par jeetay hai k marna kab hai

Maafi chahta hoo, agar may nay aap ko dukhi kar dia. Khair, umooman Buray Timers yeh paancho hal yakay baad deegray try kartay hai. Aik aam Bura Timer aap ko is qisam ki guftgoo kartay hoay sunaey day ga:

“Aaj hamari mushkilat itni q barh gaey? Yeh sab deen se duri ki waja se hai.”

“Behen, mujay tu lagta hai meray khawand par kisi nay jadoo tona kia hai.”

“Yeh dek yeh manjan may nay 20 rupay may lia hai, bus may aik shakhs bech raha tha. Is se daanto k tamaam takaleef dur ho jaey gay”

“Kutay ke bachay, rasta de, nahi tu lun par charha dou ga”

“Dost hi nay dagha di, dushman se kia gila
Hum tu waha doobay jaha paani kam tha”

Bura Time mehez infiradi nahi hota. Aik riasat bhi Buray Time may mubtala ho sakta hai. Aik riasat Buray Time may mubatala ho jaey tu us mulk k shehrio k Buray Time may mubtala honay k 50 feesad imkanat ziada ho jatay hai. Aur 50 feesad se ziada shehrio par Bura Time aa jaey tu riasat par Bura Time aanay k imkanat 75 feesad ziada ho jata hai. Khair, yeh aik alag mouzou hai. Jis ko hum kisi aur din zer-e-behes laey gay.

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The Black Prince

As I splashed water on my face I saw him. There he was. In the mirror. Looking back at me, with a bastardly smile on his face.

“Look what you’ve done now, you fucker. You’ve completely fucked me up. And look at you. How utterly fucking sexy you look, like you’ve just come out of a party where you’ve successfuly seduced some chick to shag the next time you meet her. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what you might’ve been doing. While I suffer here.”

The smile on his face broadened.

“Don’t worry. Everything is going perfectly according to plan,” he said.

“Fuck you! Does it matter to you one iota what I’m going through? Everything is going according to your fucking plan. My fucking plans are fucking fucked.”

“Come on, you know your plans mean shit.”

“How fucking dare you call my plans shit. This life is fucking MINE.”

“Yes, it is. But you know what you are.”

“Oh God, what the fuck have I gotten myself into. I’m just your fucking piece of art, ain’t I? And you want to create art with your art. That’s fucking artistic. But what do I get? Some flowers on my grave a century later? How wonderful. Look dude, I don’t want to be part of this anymore. You, somewhere back there, sit indulging in yourself, while I, your puppet, run around and suffer. Don’t you see I am the one out here. Not you. You sit somewhere back there. Safe as a ghost. How I wish I could drag you into my amygdala and lock you in there.”

“Haha. That’s cruel.”

“Look, who the fuck is talking.”

“Look kid, we’ve had a deal. The best you can do is to suffer through it with dignity now.”

“Dignity? You bastard. You talk to me about dignity after taking me through the worst forms of humiliations. Dignity. That’s how you got me into this in the first place. What a fool I was. How I wish I had rather chosen to be singing Chammak Chalo than going for the dignity that you offered me. This is humiliation, pal. This is a much much worse form of humiliation than singing Chamak Chalo.”

“You didn’t think so back then. You thought it would be fucking cool.”

“Yes, I was a fucking fool. I’m not a fucking fool now. Look, you bastard. I know law. You can’t fucking make contracts with minors. This contract is null and void. Get the fuck out of my head now.”

He laughed real hard. I burst out laughing too. Then I came out of the washroom resigned to suffer more.

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Short Story: The Fake Pakistani

Also published on Chowk.




Nikalna khuld se Aadam ka suntay aey hai laikin,

Bahot bay-aabroo ho kar teray koochay se hum niklay

– Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Don’t look at the policeman taking bites of the chicken leg. Look at the TV above him instead. The vultures are feeding on the dead zebra.That won’t make you as angry. Anger is not good. Remember how your paddar got shot when he spitted in the Soviet soldier’s face? Though to be honest, you can’t do something like that, you can’t have that kind of pride left in you after spending two decades living here like a criminal. Let him have his chicken. It hardly costs two hundred rupees, and he’ll probably catch bird flu and die. Poetic justice or something. If you displease him, it’ll cost you much, much more than the chicken.

No, your Afghan Card means shit. They don’t need any particular reason to take you to the police station. And let’s just not talk about your Afghan Card – the only recognition you finally got after twenty-three years – for other reasons, it just makes you all the more nervous. It expires in a few months. Your right – though they can pick you up and take you to the border any day they feel like – to stay here ends. They’ll probably really send you back to Afghanistan this time, to make you an emigrant all over again after two decades.

He is done with the chicken, now he is going to pass in front your counter. Don’t show any signs of annoyance. Just ask him if he’d like a kettle of qehwa. With a smile. And if he asks for the bill, though it’s quite unlikely, you do know that he doesn’t mean it. It’ll be the biggest shock of his life if you do actually present the bill. Now you don’t want a policeman fainting in your restaurant, do you? Just laugh and say, “Why would I take money from you. You are my friend.”

You can fantasize about torturing him in many different ways later.

That’s more like it. He’ll be here again next Friday. Maybe with his friends.

Change the channel to something cheerful to make you forget about the policeman. The highlights of a cricket match. Afridi is hitting the daylight out of the Indian bowler!

Looks like the policeman has spoiled it for you. You feel an idiot for cheering the Pakistani team, don’t you? Change the channel. No, don’t stop at an Afghan channel. No real need to make your Afghan identity conspicuous. Don’t stop at any of the countless bollywood channels either. A news channel it is then.

Time to go home. Go through the back alley to reach the road, you don’t want to come across them policemen again on the main street, do you? Get into the rickshaw. Wonderful places these rickshaws are for anxious people like you. The shaking and the terrible noises of the the rickshaw overcome the turbulence inside your head. It’s a perfect therapy. A ride inside a rickshaw from Khyber to Karachi will kill all your anxieties. If the police doesn’t stop you in the middle and rob you clean. Haha.

Right. Stop at the grocery store. Get your kids some milk. They need all the energy to cope with their statelessness. And oh, when will you learn to use the local version of Pashto properly? Be careful when talking to the shopkeeper. Use more of ‘khay’, less of ‘chay’ and ‘sheen’, and pepper everything with plenty of ‘marhas’ and ‘yaar’. Not so much to make you look a weirdo. But it’s a tough task, speaking one version of the same language at home and trying to speak it with some adjustments outside, isn’t it?.

Right. You are home. You don’t have to worry about your language. The feelings of guilt, gratitude and resentment will fade a little. Zareefa’s tea is more of a potion.

I see, you’ve brought a newpaper with you. What is it to you what happens in this country. Let me tell you something. There is an Afghan newspaper called Wahdat. Why don’t you buy that instead of this Urdu newspaper. Learn something about Afghanistan. Do you know the name of any Afghan political party? Or the date they celebrate their independence day back there? Wait, I forgot that you can’t really read Pashto to buy Wahdat. Haha.

Your eight year old is here. Isn’t she a bright child? Ask her about her day in school. All that she has learned about Jinnahs and Iqbals. Crap. She wants to know where does she belong. Alright, it’s time for a fairytale.

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KP vs Punjab: A Racist Post

I was in a part of Punjab last few days. I know I’m making it sound like I’ve been to Antarctica. Anyways here are a few things I noticed in Punjab that differ from KP.

mar jao laikin qehwa nahi milay ga

Punjabis will get extinct in a while. They’ll kill themselves with their overconsumption of that dark, greasy drink that they call tea.

But more importantly, a Pakhtun will die in Punjab with lack of qehwa. I mean for fuck’s sake, there are places that call themselves tea cafes, and when you ask for sabz chai/qehwa, they’ll look at you like you’ve asked for the holy grail.


The involuntary music that you get to hear in KP restaurants, buses, barber shops, music stores etc is usually the cheapest of the Pakhto or Bollywood music. Not that their isn’t good Pakhto music. But people don’t have the taste for good music in KP. They don’t call it music if it doesn’t make you want to smash your head against whatever is hard enough near you.

In Punjab they play awesome awesome folk and qawalli music. When there is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan playing in the background, you can even enjoy your shitty cup of non-qehwa drink. Unlike KP where you have to just hurry up with your awesome awesome cup of qehwa, to get away from the horrible music.

daal with it!

In Punjaab when you ask the waiter what’s there to eat, all that you are going to hear is ‘daal’. Every dish has got to have a ‘daal’ prefix. The Afghans who hate Pakistan, use ‘daal-khor’ as a derogatory word for Pakistanis. I get that now. What’s worse, is that, if the name doesn’t start with a daal they don’t consider it a pulse, and won’t serve it. Beans is a pulse as far as I know. But go check the restaurants in Punjaab, you’ll find ever variety of pulses, not lobia. Just because someone hasn’t named it ‘surkh daal’ or something.

If you find a hotel that serves something for carnivores, it’ll suck monkey ass. I had a Karhai that cost twice it’s price in KP, and tasted like a tyre in roasted tomatoes.

mehnat may azmat

When you are getting a hair-cut in KP, the hairdresser will first spend 10 minutes making himself a ball of naswar, then he’ll only take a break from talking to his pal, when you tell him that you are leaving. And when you get back home after getting a hair-cut your parents will ask you if you’ve been involved in a brawl.

In Punjaab people not always look like they wanted to become artists and are stuck in the wrong jobs.

Final score:

Punjab 225.08 points
KP: 3589

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The Curious Case of NFP

1990s: This is the embittered Nadeem Farooq Paracha, who has abandoned writing.

Early 00’s: This is when he is giving up on any sort of revolution.

Mid 00’s: This is when he is just being cynical.

2010: And this is the young NFP who is enjoying his life. This is before someone tells him who is the guy that’s pictured on his new cool t-shirt. Which will begin to change his life if he were aging normally. But he is only going to grow younger and cuter and happier.

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Another Brick in the Wall

The best children’s Urdu literature that I read in my time was the 2 Rupees Umro Ayyar, Sheikh Chilli, Tarzan etc little books. I don’t think they are still available. I used to buy mine from a guy with a bicycle stall outside our school. Along with the books he also sold toys like slingshots and bubble-blowing kits, and funny tasting stuff in curious looking containers. He probably brought all that stuff from Kohe-e-Qaaf, the place that his books were about, and was a djinn himself.

Apart from those stories, there are children’s magazines for kids to read. They seem to have thrived since the time that I used to read them, unlike the fantasy books that I’ve failed to come across again. When you hear the phrase ‘children’s magazines’, you’d expect innocent and fun stories. But no sire, you have a sick mind. Why should they let a kid relax and expand his imagination instead of using the opportunity to turn him into a good citizen of the land of the pure.

The only idea behind these magazines seems to be shoving morality, religion and patriotism down your unsuspecting throat. They are something that The Ministry of Love in Orwell’s Oceania would be proud of. A typical story from these magazines will have a topi-wearing, masjid-going, maa-baap-ki-izat-doing, school-may-1st-positioin-coming patriotic guy, who’ll go all righteous on your ass.

Nopes, nothing about magic.

The most revolting thing about it all, is the name of the biggest children’s magazine in Pakistan, it’s called Taleem-o-Tarbiat. Do they need to get more obvious? They aim to be the mullahs and nannies of the children.

Ludovico technique, my backpage!

Last week my kid cousin asked me to bring him something to read. I couldn’t bring him one of those magazines of course. I went to the biggest Urdu book store in our city. There I searched for a children’s section.

There was a ‘Shayri’ section, and a ‘Classics’ section. Then there was a “Nafsiat(psychology)” section. It was full of Urdu translation of American self-help books. I felt pwnd as I went there expecting real psychology books. The largest section was ‘Sufi’ section, and it had books like ‘Gaana Bajana Haraam’. I prayed a silent prayer for the peace of Rumi’s soul and tried to move away from that section, but it covered most of the bookstore.

I couldn’t find any section dedicated for kids books. I asked the helper for any Umro Ayyar, Sheikh Chilli and Amir Hamza books. He thought these were the names of some Arab writers. I clarified that I’m looking for children’s books. He showed me the last shelf of a small cupboard. There were a dozen books in it. I cringed as I read the title of the first book: “Piyare Bacho Ke Liye Islahi Kahaniyan”.

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The Stringed Thingies

Japanese are awesome. Not only do they produce the most reliable electronics, but they also have a very wicked culture with their kaminoes, geishas, sumo wrestlers, samurais, and all. Japanese are so awesome that they only need three strings in their stringed thingy called shamisen to produce the coolest of sounds. And if they fail to impress you, they can always perform seppuku.

South Asians have the biggest of the stringed thingies, and it can have up to 23 strings. It’s so sure of itself that it doesn’t need to sound aggressive like the other stringed thingies. The west is also pretty much in awe of the sitar, but when it gets in their hands it goes crazy and makes psychedelic sounds.

Rabab is the dearest of the musical instruments to Afghans and to the Pakhtuns of Pakistan. You can find it getting played in these parts when it’s not banned by the Taliban.

The Middle-Easterners play Tanbur. It’s associated with Sufis, and Sufi music is usually played with it.

The westerners took our sitars, tanburs etc and turned them into a guitar. Then like everything else they put electricity into the thing.

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