The idea of a ‘forever and always’ has had our senses encompassed, since the beginning of time; and more often than not, we tend to give into the need of being accepted by the people around us, being aware of its adverse effects.
The funny thing is, the person, who’d probably have hurt us the most, even if they call us at 3 in the morning, we’d be there. If they’re stuck in a town, 200 miles from wherever it is that we are, we’d get ourselves there to help them out with whatever resources we’d have at our disposal. But yet, we fail to do the same for our own selves. If those people are like the grey skies in our lives, we’ll always, no matter what, try to be the sunshine in their lives.
The problem is, this world forgets to give us a lesson on self-love. It tells us that it’s selfish to prioritize ourselves, and that we can’t be greedy when it comes to loving our own bodies, souls and minds. Nobody tells us that sometimes, it is okay to go about pampering our own selves without anybody else doing things for us. It’s ironic how the world teaches us to fearlessly give all of ourselves away to other people, but condemns us, from doing the littlest of favours, for ourselves. The idea is to unapologetically and unabashedly be in love, with ourselves; it is to value our judgement, intellect and respect our own spirit.
The truth is, we can only have an ‘Always’, with our very own self. Loneliness scares us, because we feel uncomfortable about the idea of being on our own. But then again, why do we need another person to make ourselves feel complete and to validate our existence into this world? We were born complete, in our very own skin; and the very atoms it has started to cater to, leaks with the satisfaction of growing into love, first, with ourselves, then with others. We tend to learn this lesson the hard way. The idea is to evolve as we are, with or without anybody supporting us.
The most important thing is to know if we can be there for ourselves in the time of need. Whatever the world puts up for us, is more or less a façade, and like E.V. Rogina says, “never apologize for having been born a wildflower” even if the world fails to acknowledge that about you.
The Moon loved the Ocean so; he came to her every nightfall, like a lover to his mistress, and thus they fall hopelessly into each other’s gravity. She rises with delight at her lover’s sight, glimmering like broken pieces of glass even in the dark. Miles apart they may be and never the twain shall meet, yet this amorous tale of eternal love has shamed all togetherness with such passionate gravity that distance cannot part.
The soil was drenched in blood, yet the Nazi’s thirst for more could not be quenched. Years rolled on and it felt as though the dark uniformed men have locked away their hearts within the ribs of iron. Nothing would move them, neither the sight of torn hearts, nor of torn flesh!
Yet, one caged heart in particular was effortlessly unlocked, when his eyes met hers.
Halfway through the World War II, the Nazis began sending the Jews to prison camps. Benjamin was a young Nazi soldier whose youthful eyes had seen much horrors of the war. The war had sucked all emotions of love out from his soul. But love, I dare say, can be found in the strangest of places, between the strangest of people in even stranger circumstances. However, who would have thought of it in the midst of the proceedings of the deadly concentration camps! She was a young Jewish prisoner who had lost all her dear ones to the prevailing hatred amongst mankind. The evil of the world unfolds in front of her eyes, awakening her of the Jewish people’s doomed fate, as they are paraded through the camps to be tortured to death.
From the very moment he saw her, he was drawn into her gravity. It was a cold October morning and she had, except a light summer frock, only a thin shawl thrown across her bare skin to keep herself from the piercing gusts of the wild wind. However, he only had to look into the depth of her soul, and see his own self being reflected thus. There he rushed, into his cabin, and brought back his warm coat and gently wrapped it around her. Yet, how could he forget that he was an enemy? Loving her meant embracing death, but who would tell that to his unthinking heart? She was afraid of him, he could see that terrified emotion being mirrored in her eyes. How could he ever explain to her that he wished to be her savior but was held in disguise of a sinner instead! She would detest him for his hands were ornamented with the blood of her own people.
They fell in love and as time passed their conscience grew and so did the gravity of passion. They cannot be together, yet they cannot stay apart.
“I will come back for you”, he whispered softly in her ear one starry night. “I shall wait,” she said, smiling. That night he bade her goodbye, for duty to his country called him overseas. They had been far, but not once did his heart left her memories vacant. Her essence lingered on for the rest of his calling. After the war was over, he was sent back to his land, where he discovered that the Jews were emancipated from the clutches of bondage. That news came to him as a bitter-sweet reality. His longing eyes searched all around for her, but alas, all in vain! He knew not where she went, he knew not how either!
The stilly night was falling, slowly creeping over the golden sands of the shore, where he laid with his hands behind his head. All past hopes laid behind, giving way to the cynical possibilities. Maybe she was taken far away, maybe she has moved on, maybe she had fallen ill and… But whence upon the moon he looked, his lost hopes were enlightened once again. He hoped against all hopes that somehow gravity will find its way back and they shall meet again, like the moon and the ocean.
And when they shall indeed meet, all the universe’s gravity will be faded into forgetfulness. Their gravity will shame the Moon’s and the Ocean’s as they will then appear but feeble in front of the gravity between a Nazi soldier and a young Jewish maid.
1st year English,
People don’t eat at fashion weeks. Even at the after-parties, their bite-sized fancy hors d’oeuvre and tikkas cannot help them get rid of their hunger and the exhaustion of keeping up appearances and changing outfits three times a day. And you know that you cannot drink, so you stay on an empty stomach. And go back to sleep for two hours till you catch the flight back home. But it is when you enter the city you call home that things make sense enough for you to start eating again. You can travel in public transport and not be judged for wearing pajamas outside. So the moment you get to the bus station and the aroma of frying food hits you, you gravitate towards them. And the next thing you know, you end up at the fresh fries stall where a little boy is making fries.
You buy a big pack and devour it. And you remember why, in the first place, it was fries all along that needed to save you.
Nobody eats the night before the exam. There is too much going on to worry about food. Even the sight of roti makes you want to hurl. You can’t blame yourself, it’s the tension that brings out the worst food instincts in you. So you just keep chugging coffee like it’s a holy drink, and it might be, because it helps you stay awake and study. As a medical student, you know that coffee also suppresses your hunger. That means, lesser distractions. So the morning before the exam, you take a bite of a buttered slice of bread and that’s all you can manage to chew at the moment. Your body doesn’t feel the hunger, it rejects it like Harvard would reject a 2.5 GPA high school student without looking at the application. The exam ends and in half an hour, you have to catch the bus back home from saddar. So when you enter the saddar, once again, you’re hit with the smells of roadside stalls selling so much food that you could go in a food coma and still live to keep eating more. Naturally, you incline towards the fries and you buy a heavy pack.
Fries. Your salvation. Always.
I have always wondered about my inexplicable obsession with fries. All I know is that fries were there for me when people weren’t.
As a young boy, I remember trading my burger with my classmate for his fries. I did the same with everyone. At school, I knew my lunch tasted better but I wanted fries. So I always offered them this deal.
At the gym, I was usually alone, just running on the treadmill now broken because a fat couple ran over it. So I would often cheat. I would go out to the fast food joint and order their fries. They were crispy with a hard shell. Something I wished I could be. Or at least look like. Fries provided me that comfort of knowing I could be whoever I wanted, however I wanted.
Be it saddar, or a five star restaurant, I will always order fries. I feel that fries are a part of my being. Let me explain this to you. I’m a relatively rich kid in a third world country. And fries are equally enjoyed by the lesser rich and the aristocracy, so to speak. I take the public transport in my Calvin Klein jeans to go to a bar where I would order only fries. And on the way back home from saddar, I’d buy more fries, the gooey, slimy ones. Fries thus symbolize my lifestyle for I embody those fried crisped in expensive oil as much as the roadside ones.
The fries you order and where you order them, thus represent so much more than just your choice of food. They show that you’re fine with oscillating between different lifestyles. That you’re the kind of person who can have the best of both worlds and be happy with whatever life throws at them. That you’ll always be yourself, wherever you are, with whomever you are. And that you can be versatile and live through life like a fry.
You are the fries you eat.
And that’s why I eat fries. To be.
BDS, Final Year
University of Health Sciences, Lahore
 Saddar Bazaar is usually the main market or bazaar in most of the Cantonments of Pakistan and India.
The English Literary Association began the Pre-Litmus 2016 events on an exciting note, with a talk by Mr. Tenzin Tsundue, the Tibetan poet and activist renowned for his stirring poetry and staunch activism for the Tibetan nationalist movement.
The subject of the talk was “From Shangri-la to GPS : myths and legends of Tibet. Mr Tsendue asserted that the very idea of the Tibetan revolution in which many second and third generation activists are involved, who only know the country they are fighting for through it’s legends, traditions and stories is founded on the myth of hope that sustained their struggle against political apathy, colonial subjugation, and the tragedy of exile.
He also explained the various symbols and figures that make up the repertoire of Tibetan myths. These include Ling Gesar, the hero born of Maya Devi’s armpit, the Avalokiteshvara Dalai Lama, and the Snowlion which made it’s way from the Tibetan flag and currency to the unlikely ruins at Mahabalipuram. He introduced the concept of Shabala, a higher paradise.
Mr Tsendue talked about the symbolic ‘R’ which all Tibetan children in India seemed to carry with them, painted on their foreheads, which distinguished them as refugees. ‘R’, notably is also the first letter of ‘freedom’
The talk cast light on the formation of myths, the transference and reinterpretation of mythical figures across geopolitical zones, and the plight of being uprooted from one’s native land. To quote Mr Tsendue’s poem, “My Tibetanness”,
“I am Tibetan,
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream of dying there.”