Dostoevsky Constructs Me a Nightmare

26th June, 2017 at 4:36 am

Day 29: I had forewarned myself to be wary of the Russian getting into my head. For I’ve had a sudden and most terrible fright tonight. As I lay on my side, I felt the devil had slid into the form of a snake and had grazed my skin only slightly to jolt me into a semi-conscious state. As I turned to my left, still half-asleep but gradually reconciling with my senses, I felt the snake nudging me to reveal all that I knew of Dimitri Karamazov’s trial. I recall waking up with a shudder, assuring myself of having come to senses only to find myself seeking the air-conditioners remote, which lay on one side of the pillow, and upon taking hold of it, I became aware of its shape resembling the very pestle with which the murder had been committed in the novel. My first thought was “My God! I have the evidence in my hand!” But fortunately, I was fully awake now. I surmised the darkness around me and placed myself safely upon my bed, beside my husband, in an unfamiliar room. I only say unfamiliar for I’m unaware of all its nook and crannies and every crisp, scraping sound at night makes me twitch with deathly anxiety. 

The chapters concerning Ivan’s conversation with the devil and Dimitri’s subsequent trial having interspersed with tales of snakes being killed before our arrival to this hometown were the chief cause of my momentary nightmare. Dostoevsky is not a good night’s read. I’m thoroughly rankled. That being said, now that I’m almost nearing the finish line, I shall see these Karamazov’s to the very end. 

On a Break

I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch in my relationship. They keep calling to me but I wilfully ignore them. Later at night I feel guilty for not having attended to them. They lay beside me, an open book, beckoning me to hold them once again but I pay no heed to their silent appeals. Night passes by us in solitude. They look my way but I am wary of returning empty glances. Nameless faces rise up from their folds and haunt my sleeping hours. We are united in our suffering. I reassure myself of the approaching tomorrow. “Tomorrow is another day,” I say to myself. “Tomorrow I shall tend to you again and all will be well.” My thoughts commit to them time and time again. But, tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes. My thoughts remain unresolved.

“My mind is in shambles,” I whisper to them. “Excuse me, forgive me for neglect.” I try to reason with myself, with them. But the remorse remains, lodged in the depths of my throat, at the pit of my stomach, in the deepest and darkest crevice of my heart.

At times I wish to move on. “I’ll come back to you, I promise.” But an unread book is a half-finished love affair. I do not wish to part but we remain distanced, day in day out. This is not the time for us to be united. Not yet.

“Come hither,” they call upon me once again at dead of night. Shadowy figures, ill-drawn caricatures rise up from the pages once again. I bring them closer to me. A pen is nestled in their tightly wound bosom, a marker of where I last took respite. “Be with us,” they chant together in mellow voices. I run a finger across their spine. They tremble open, baring their secrets. Words upon words spill out, summoning me with their undead voices. “Let us be known to you, Faiza.”

I remain still, unfeeling, callous. I snap them shut.

“I’m not ready to indulge,” I cry out to the inked pages. “I’m too troubled, too preoccupied. Pardon me! Mercy!”

I return them to my side. They are shuddering, pleading to me in muffled tones now. I’m terrified of their loyalty to me as a reader. I have pledged to never abandon them, but now is not an occasion to rejoin. No, not yet.

And darkness dawns on us once again. Words remain unread. We are united in our solitude.

1st April, 2017 at 5:14 PM

Inspiration eludes me. Whilst watching George Saunders’ interview on his writing process, I’m shocked at how little of his valuable advice is fusing into me. I am keen to learn but my present disposition is such that no external or internal motivation is willing to be grounded. I am so detached from myself and my sense of reality that everything seems trivial if not entirely futile. I am aboard a slowly sinking raft, amidst wide stretches of water, the notion of drowning is inevitable and distressing yet I am not seeking any shores.

A Case for Ethics

I have an ethical issue with CSS and dissemination of education in general, that of absence of personal political and religious thoughts and perceptions. Why is there a foundational and rigorous restriction on inclusion of a political and religious viewpoint in an answer? Does this not follow the same western phenomenon of not teaching creationism in schools? Does this restriction fundamentally not obscure the very purpose which education aims to achieve? Say, if I was allowed to construct an answer based on factual, research based points, and could add to it a personal, well-thought out, well-researched religious (or political viewpoint, depending on individual inclinations) not only would the concerned research help my basic understanding of a phenomenon but also aid in an unbiased approach towards the issue since research always tends to minimise biases by providing a vast canvas of differing schools of thoughts. Now extend the same to class discussion in which student A and student B participate; the former with strong leaning towards politics, and the latter towards religion. Under the supervision of an unbiased instructor, the mutual discussion would not only be respectable, but also induct new and original perceptions to the student who was wholly unaware of the other’s inclinations, or harboured personal misjudgements and misinformation about a particular topic.
By asking students and teachers to leave personal political and religious rhetoric out of the class, the educational system is further promoting social intolerance and ignorance. Why are such crucial matters not discussed and debated upon at a very early stage, rather than leaving it up to experts (who by then are themselves so embedded in a biased system of information).
Isn’t the whole purpose of Education (with a capital E) dissemination of uncontrolled knowledge and information, so that the educator and student both can formulate their own stance, whilst having complete grasp on standpoints of various schools of thought?
In a Pakistani society, where religion has long played a crucial role in individual and collective existence, and much more recently is the question of political awareness becoming part of our social existence, is it fair to blatantly ask students to leave the very core of their identity outside the class door? Does this not promote hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance of ones own beliefs?
Educational and institutional reforms, on international and national level, all stress on amicable discussions to counter the myriad of problems the world faces. How can one expect to reach unanimous resolutions when the two important factors that figuratively make the world go round are discouraged on such an intermediary level. Healthy discussions and debates require ample research, which in turn introduces us to countless faces of the same issue.


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


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.