Where am I?

Task: with “Man on flat roof of high building” as a prompt, write 300 words immediately.

Where am I? What’s going on? Why is the sun blazing? Where am I? Does it have to be so bright, damn it! Okay wait. Where am I? The hard concrete has grazed my head. Is this a rooftop? What is going on? How did I end up here on this darned roof? I need to get up. The sun rays are blinding me. Okay nice and slow…woa…steady there…steady…steady…damn it…steady. Okay now I’m up. Now what? Yeah. Where am I? What is that? Is that a glass building? Is this the rooftop of a darned building? That doesn’t make any sense. How could I have gotten here? Damn my head hurts. Okay, now steadily walk towards the wall. I might be able to…steady… get a look across…steady…steady…okay…now I’m looking down – woa! That is some height there! Must be a good four, five hundred feet. Okay stop. Breath. Think. First questions first. How did I end up here? What time is it? Must be two in the afternoon. Or three. What the fuck does it matter? Trace back. Where are the stairs? There must be stairs here somewhere. I need to get down first. Okay all I see is a flat, concrete floor. What the hell? There has got to be a staircase here somewhere. Fuck, I’m sweating. I need fresh air. Great time for a private joke you nonce, find the stairs…or a darned ladder…yeah there has got to be ladder somewhere. Damn the sun! Okay stop. Breath. What is going on? How did I end up here if there are no stairs or ladders. Okay I need to sit down for a second. And breath. Trace back. First things first. Where am I? A rooftop of a high-rise building. Okay glad we settled that you prick. Serious now. Okay.

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Overheard

15th September, 2015

An interesting conversation I overheard last night during intermission. I transcribe it here from the vestiges of memory.

WOMAN: This is my first movie experience in a cinema in around fifteen years.
MAN: Oh really? You should watch more movies in theatres. It’s a good experience.
WOMAN: I heard you left Lok…
MAN: Yeah I left Lok Virsa after Fouzia came.
WOMAN: Oh yeah I heard about that.
MAN: I chose her for the position.
WOMAN: Oh yeah yeah I remember, you both were pretty friendly.
MAN: I knew she had the potential that’s why I chose her but once in power she discontinued everyone’s pensions.
WOMAN: Oh no that was a bad move.
MAN: She wanted to do a project on the red light district. So I had to explain this to the board members to approve a budget. They said this was government money and government money can’t be used on such projects.
WOMAN: I remember reading that somewhere yeah.
MAN: So when I told Fouzia that, she got angry and we had a falling. They wrote about it everywhere, in the newspaper columns.
WOMAN: Oh no!
MAN: I even gave money from my own pocket for a project she and Shahaab wanted to do and then they spent the same money on the red light project.
WOMAN: Oh dear! You should write about that in your memoirs, are you writing them?
MAN: Nah I don’t know. Anyways how are you, where have you been?
WOMAN: I’ve been here in Pakistan.
MAN: Really?
WOMAN: Yeah, I am living here at my dad’s house since Reetu died last year.
MAN: Reetu died?
WOMAN: Yes, last year. I am her sister.
MAN: When did Reetu die?
WOMAN: Last year in August.
MAN: How did she die?
WOMAN: She died of cancer.
MAN: Cancer of what?
WOMAN: Colon cancer, it was very hard on me.
MAN: Reetu…oh you are Reetu’s sister Seema!
WOMAN: Haha yes I was waiting for you to recognise me.
MAN: Oh you are Reetu’s sister Seema! We have all been looking for you, where have you been?
WOMAN: I was nowhere. I am in Pakistan, living at my dad’s place.
MAN: Oh in that big house?
WOMAN: Yes yes.
MAN: You live alone?
WOMAN: Yes yes.
MAN: Oh so you live all by yourself in that big house? How come?
WOMAN: Yes, it has huge beautiful gardens.
MAN: How can you live there all alone?
WOMAN: I just do
MAN: So what do you do?
WOMAN: Ah just keep myself busy here and there, you know there is so much to do.
MAN: Oh so you are Reetu’s sister. You know people kept asking me about you. Where were you?
WOMAN: Nowhere just here.
MAN: Do you mind if I take your number?
WOMAN: No not at all…
MAN: I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with Shelly because he was asking about you.
WOMAN: Oh no not at all…

That’s when the second half of the movie commenced. The overhead lights went off. And last I heard of them, she was mumbling digits as he repeated them into the faint glow of the mobile screen he held so close to his face. Then the loud dialogue noise filled the hall.


 

17th September, 2015

Afterthoughts

Scouring through books at the library, my eyes stopped at a familiar yet alien title “Taboo – The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area.” Faintly reminiscent of a conversation I 51x8NqOfsFL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_overheard a few days ago, I proceeded to take out the book, and to my utter disbelief, saw that the book was authored by the same person who was referenced to in the aforementioned conversation.

Such concurrences are a rarity, but when they do happen, I’m at first overcome with glee – I was meant to come across the book at such a moment in time when I had just, a few days ago, overheard of its conception; that at a precise moment in history, the book was present in the library, had not been issued, and was meant to stumble before my peripheral vision.

It is only later on that I am engulfed with doubt – how am I so certain that the author of the book is in fact the person referenced to in the conversation? My mind had jumped to a plausible albeit abrupt connection between the two, but nowhere do I find tangible evidence of such a connection, nor am I in possession of logic that relates the two extemporary, seemingly indirect events as having a single source, which in this case is the woman, the authoress in question.


 

The Opposite of Loneliness – Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

Beautifully poignant, altruistically sad and brilliantly fresh donned with crisp ideas and a lucid style. Absolutely loved it! The continuous theme of death in many of the stories sets out even more so in the backdrop of her own tragic demise. As Arundhati Roy said in God of Small Things “a sunbeam lent to us too briefly.”  From philosophical musings to generic observations of life, Marina Keegan’s prose and context is a sobering reminder of the magnanimity of philanthropic thought coupled with individualism and the inevitability of finality, of death, seen not as an “end” but as a cessation of life.

“We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down”

“We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out—that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.”

“The middle of the universe is tonight, is here,
And everything behind is a sunk cost.
—Marina Keegan, from the poem “Bygones”

“We were involved, of course, but not associated.”

“Brian’s death was the clearest and most horrifying example of my terrific obsession with the unattainable. Alive, his biggest flaw was most likely that he liked me. Dead, his perfections were clearer.”

“I remember finding it extremely hard to open presents as a child because the requisite theatricality was too exhausting.”

“my state of mind reminded me of the world’s remarkable capacity to carry on in every place at once.”

“She understood silence the way he understood darkness—running from neither as the sun set and the words ran out.”

“I felt an odd nostalgia for my high school friends and the days when everyone shared the same world of people.”

“I wanted to crawl into something and lie with our faces touching for as long as it took to feel like I didn’t miss him anymore”

“My mother always said how amazing it is that things seem so absolute when you’re young. But the sand slides down in chutes until the dune craters are all full. Inevitable, the magazines write, and we shake our heads with somber nostalgia for the grass and its crickets. We always will.”

“I’ve started praying. I’m sure your raging atheism finds this amusing. It’s something about this place. The flowers, the marble, the people who don’t go more than four hours without stretching towards Mecca. I don’t know what God my mind keeps consulting—but I’m hoping it’s one who doesn’t believe in Jihad.”

“It’s like the country is unraveling from the inside.”

“Kyle wondered whose job it was to erase the memories from someone else’s life.”

“A man received an eye transplant and began to see things from the donor’s life. These cameras, he decided, must function exactly like that.”

“sorry I kept talking to her all the time when she probably just wanted to sleep or eat or start mapping her world”

“I try to remember these months objectively but it’s hard—and around thirty, they started to haunt me.”

“My reaction to his presence was always visceral”

“My eyes hurt from seeing but there was a strange hope in the blue light, and the weeks of darkness drew us toward it like moths.”

“I believe this functioned in the same way as not being able to taste your own saliva or smell your own odor—the car and I were pleasantly immune to each other.”

“The task was strange, like deconstructing a scrapbook, unpeeling all the pictures and whiting out the captions.”

“I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans. There’s less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting too involved. In war movies, a thousand soldiers can die gruesomely, but when the horse is shot, the audience is heartbroken.”

“Beached whales die on their sides, one eye pressed into the sand, the other facing up and forced to look at the moon, at the orb that pulled the water out from under its fins.”

“There was nothing to be fascinated by, nothing to esteem, nothing to romanticize in this everyday examination of our immutable solipsism.”

“Suddenly and totally, we’re threaded together in a network so terrifyingly colossal that we can finally see our terrifyingly tiny place in it. But we’re all individuals.”

“I was lying in bed the other night wondering whether the Germans created a word for its opposite when I realized that the displeasure derived from the fortune of others is easier to spell. I should have thought to coin its green eyes.”

“I blame the Internet. Its inconsiderate inclusion of everything. Success is transparent and accessible, hanging down where it can tease but not touch us.”

Lost Islamic History

A wonderful, enlightening read that everyone, irrespective of their religion, should get their hands on. Illuminates the LIH-Coverroots of many of current world problems, especially the rapid loss of empathy for our fellow brethren. New World conflicts are very reminiscent of clashes faced by ancient societies, and perhaps we can all learn a thing or two by reading and analyzing the glorious Islamic history. But above all that, the book succeeds in making an excellent point in a few last pages – that of our Muslim identity, and its utmost importance in solidifying our spiritual connection with Islam as basis of reviving the lost spirit of the perfected religion.

Perhaps the only flaw of the book is the lack of maps and diagrams accompanying the text which could have aided my understanding of historic invasions and span of empires even more. For someone who is as geographically challenged as myself, consulting the internet time and time again becomes tedious, especially concerning ancient city names that have now changed.

That being said, it’s a highly recommended book owing to the simplicity of narration which makes it an effortless read.