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Aayesha Aijaz Bari

myjuxtaposedthoughts

A Page From My Life

 

Born on a sunny morning of March in the southern city of Multan when the air was crisp and the orchids sprouted in the hospital grounds, I was welcomed in this world with sweetmeats being distributed among my father’s comrades who celebrated with fervor at the birth of their Commanding Officer’s first daughter and my mother lauded with gifts brought all the way from Lahore and Karachi, the two home towns and two ties that would remind me of my roots in years to come. I was named Aayesha Aijaz Bari after Ayesha, the wife of Muhammad (pbuh) when I was nothing but a fetus, thus pre determining my destiny by a family who highly believed in the mystic importance of Islamic names. My grandfather, May Allah forgive him, held me in his arms and prayed to the Heavens above to bring me joy and peace, health and happiness. I grew up under the shadow of my father which served as a solitude from the world unknown to myself as a happy, peaceful, healthy and a joyous child. Being an army brat I’ve spent a good part of my childhood travelling extensively and making different cities my home. My disciplined upbringing instilled in me a sense to be acutely aware of my surroundings, noticing the minutest of details, absorbing everything that a child’s brain could comprehend, ultimately shaping me into a woman I’m today. Being a dreamer, I’ve been drawn to stories of far off lands and epic adventurous tales of the knights, making me an avid reader ever since I could spell out words. A happy childhood spent in a flash of lightening paved way to the more realistic and mature years of my life where I not only became aware of the life unbeknownst to myself but also began to understand the soul and mind that my body withholds.

Wanting to be someone, I’m struggling to recognize my most innate demons. Possessing the urge to be the best of myself I tend to defy stereotypes and leave a mark. Honing my artistic skills with the stroke of a brush, I have learned to express myself on a canvas. The best consolation is that I’m myself. With hard work as my weapon I work on breaking the dependence and stop myself from using my femininity as an excuse to not being what I want to be. Mistakes made during my university years have made me realize that the stigma of life without faith, actions without purposes and feelings with passion drives you to a certain aloofness which is hard to overcome. My mind lingers on words uttered and also on those left unsaid. My eyes fixated on the way grass grows in the dry creaks of the concrete ramps, my ears straining to listen the rhythmic beating of the blood in my veins and my fingertips feeling the rich creaminess of the paint on my palette which burst my soul into a thousand shades of happiness. I spend my days assembling my segregated thoughts to define a broader purpose of life, the meaning of which I seek in my faith, nature and literature, the three most fundamental aspects which will define my future.

What the upcoming years behold, no one knows. But, a life sprawled with meaning is what I strive for, where my every action has a motive, every deed for the land which made me and every step taken for the people who complete me. What drives me towards my destiny is the sheer determination to show the world what I am through my words, wisdom and art. The motive to live every day and not just exist, to mold, to grow and rejuvenate is the paradigm and also the very center, the pivot on which I want to balance myself. A future where the tales of my travels are inked, illuminating the ways in which the narrative of my homeland can transmigrate into history. Thus, serving as my contribution to literature and art. I’ll end the words on myself with a few lines from my poem “Chasing Exuberance” which exemplifies my yearning for knowledge and progress, an aspect of life which has always been my objective.

Fleeing omens in search of portents,

Forever in search of progress

Because I know, happiness doesn’t chase me

It’s my own efforts which will take me there

Responsible you are, for your miseries

Reluctant still, for the cemeteries

Decide now, or regret later

To stay a blackened soul or the spirit of color?

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North Star

(A free verse poem for you) 

Let us roam in the woods

With wild flowers in my hair

Lying till the darkness takes over

Huddled together,

Under the starry blanket

So you can whisper to me,

All that you learned

About the constellations

With the pale moon shining bright,

Glowing us with silvery light

As we lay there, alone amidst the pines

Looking for the north star,

Blissfully happy

Songs of Freedom

SAVE ME, O EARTH! ONCE MORE

I carried lightening and thunder

In my bones, making you wonder

I was that storm you hid from,

Feeding my soul, escaping the norm

My sovereign self, wanting to be free

From shackles of the ordinary, I flee

Dancing with the waves, I swam the sea

This rhythm of the ocean, again with me 

Breezes from the desert, mourned us all

For I had asked, “What if I fall?”

To which the winds replied, “Darling, what if you fly?”

Whilst lost In Lord’s holy sky

When the time stood still, in a plea

For a moment there, I felt free
Aayesha Aijaz Bari

My Two Cents on Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

This is my response to those who bashed the book to no end. First of all, this is a continuum so don’t expect the unexpected. This book is neither a full fledged reinvention nor a hasty offcut, it is also neither enslaved by the past nor entirely free of it.  This is a screenplay of what it means to live under the shadow of a protagonist with a heroic tale and a screenplay is not a novel so stop criticizing it as one. Also, story played on stage is the real deal.

Though the plot holes are very visible and spread throughout the story. The thrill of the plot died with the 8th book. Admittedly, it was strange to read this supposedly 8th story in Harry Potter’s world in play format but the truth is, it was extremely easy to imagine everything play out like in a movie, so it all felt alive to me. You feel it’s not Rowling’s writing and that’s disappointing. However, this play has a quick and interesting plot in which Ron’s character almost nullified, Harry is no longer innocent or pure and the focus is on Harry’s son and not him or his friends, something which we are used to in the previous 8 books of Harry potter saga.

The Cursed Child being a play, especially one so difficult to see in the flesh. Rowling has always been deft and funny at dialogue. The exchanges between Albus and Harry are convincingly tense, and reminded me how good she is at drawing angry teenagers. Harry sanctimoniously seems to think his own hardships were more valid than Albus’ because Harry didn’t have a dad, and Albus does.The character of a troubled child of a father with a troubled past is very realistically sketched and that’s what I think is the true mastery of this screenplay. Another thing which was exceptionally described in this book was Harry’s character. His traumatic childhood comes to play full circle in his adult life, we see Harry afflicted with pangs of the past which interfere with his daily professional and domestic life and acutely affects his parenting skills. “All is well” the last line of the 8th book paves way to reality of Harry’s chaotic world in this screenplay, fears of a past which he can never escape. Albus has a dad in name only. Harry rarely shows any attempt at actual parenting, i.e. helping to make his son into the young man Albus wants to be.

Where the script is almost inevitably less satisfying is in earning the emotions it claims to evoke. Despite their best efforts, Rowling-Thorne’s stage directions are functional things, describing atmosphere rather than creating it. “There’s a silence. A perfect, profound silence. One that sits low, twists a bit and has damage within it.” This twisting may well happen in performance, but doesn’t shout from the page. The melancholy joy of seeing Harry commune with Dumbledore is not matched by the direction: 

“A pause. The two men are overcome with emotion.”

 Having said that, the climactic ending which reverses to Harry’s beginnings is deeply affecting and must be quite something on stage.

The possible rise of voldemort was for me, a major plot hole. It seemed a little immature and childish to stir up the old plot in a new story but then again it’s a screenplay and the dramatized on-stage version of this plot would have lit the stage up!

Also, this book is JK Rowling’s world, she created this story and it’s up to her to continue it with books/movies of this universe or not. So stop buffing up saying “this book was a nice gift but she needs to stop now” who are you to say this? This her choice! And I for one wouldn’t mind for more of this world.

This isn’t a book you have to read but, if you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan, I am going to look at you quite incredulously if you decide not to. I’m sadly not going to be able to tell you that you’re making the right choice, because this is so, so charming and fun, but I can understand people wanting to have their own vision of the Harry Potter cast as adults and their children.

THE TOUCH

 

(From his memoirs)

Clasped in jewels, her hands are flawed

With trailing fingertips, leaving me awed

 

Browned ‘neath the eastern sun

Caressing my spine, the grief drowned

 

Making me alive on dreary days

Like chrysanthemum in the autumn haze

 

Sweet and warm in the golden hours

Nurturing like honeysuckle flowers

 

Tainted fingertips touching my soul

Flourishing my heart which was once coal

 

(From her memoirs)

Made for labor, his calloused hand guides

Strong stroking fingers, burning in my insides

 

Flexing his palms, my echoing thoughts spin

Igniting the array of stars left on my skin

 

Those fingers teased me on summer nights

Like rippling water in porcelain whites

 

His fingertips on my nape is what I require,

They left me aflame in water whilst I drown in fire

 

This death of me, would be his touch

Which must be love, ‘cause it hurts so much

~Aayesha Aijaz Bari

DOWRY DEPRAVED

I like the look of her hennaed hands
gloats the bridegroom, as he glimpses
her slim fingers gripping the palankeen’s side
If only her face matches her hands,
and she gives me no mother-in-law problems,
I’ll forgive her the cot and the trunk
and looking glass.

Taufiq Rafat’s uncanny skill in depicting the cultural standards of Pakistan enunciates the institution of marriage with dark humor in his poem “Wedding in the Flood”. Reading this beautiful piece of literature brought to my attention the maestro of Rafat in voicing a topic on which people shush or else a stereotype which people recognize as a social anomaly but stay resigned to voice against it, and it is brushed under the carpet like unwanted dust. Rafat sees flooding as a catastrophe which discards the old menacing activities such as dowry, to make way for the new. A groom, in his soliloquy wonders that he might consider the mere dowry his wife brought and not taunt her if she is beautiful and has the qualities of the archetypal submissive daughter-in-law. This stanza intrigued me to write on an often ignored reality that has plagued Pakistani culture and made beautiful reunion of marriage a financial nightmare which is something that everybody wonders about but no one actually does anything about it. My response may seem to be screaming “Liberal feminism”, but I believe that the attitudes expressed by Pakistani men and women in relation to dowry are purely patriarchal and chauvinist.

The irony lies in the term that the potential of happiness for the bride is measured by the amount of dowry given to her, better the dowry, the more secure and guaranteed is her marital happiness. The three dimensional scenario of wedding splendor and marital elements such as dowry may seem comical to an onlooker but is highly negative in practical and economical terms for the community in general and the family in particular. Groom’s family demands dowry as a prerequisite to provide for the bride as she is now a financial burden on him, whereas according to the law and religion of the state, she is actually in matrimonial harmony with the groom . One of the biases associated with dowry irks me to no end; people who are against the acceptance of dowry for their daughter-in-law will make sure their daughter get a hefty dowry to keep her from the backlashes of her in-laws and to avoid the social stigma of “log batain karain gay” (The people will gossip). Dowry is hereby seemingly linked with family’s honor and status in society where the value of unmarried girls is defined by their respective dowries. Unfortunately, the commencement of matrimony is scarred by the horrifying predicament of a family’s self-respect blown away under the colossal burden of dowry, plunging themselves deep into financial debts yet happy that their status in society is secure and lifelong goal of scraping every bit of cash to get a dowry and “sell” their daughter to the highest bidder is now complete. Surprisingly, a daughter wedded and off their hands even if it results in going bankrupt is the idea of success for Pakistani families, such is the evil that we call dowry. Even in well off families, where the bride’s family can easily afford everything and the groom’s family already has everything and none of them brings up the topic of dowry for fear of sounding selfish, but if the dowry is not provided, the poor bride is looked down upon. Torn between the echelons of wealth and family she becomes a victim to constant emotional abuse. Dowry becomes a socially endorsed form of violence in society. Its absence becomes a constant presence. Hence, not giving dowry is redeemed to be a symbol of mortification. To avoid this, the bride’s parents would give material possessions to their daughter under the pretense of “gifts given in happiness”.  Perhaps, this rampant activity is so deeply embedded in the society that both families entertain the concept of “Jahez” as some sacred obligation and it has molded into an accepted norm even for the rich and the educated. Everyone is tied up in the notion of trends, cultural and social pressure knowing that it is unnecessary and wrong but no one would agree to a dowry free marriage, retorting with the classic argument that “masharay main chalne kay liye karna parta hai” ( we have to do this to move in society). This changes the whole outlook of the felicitous occasion of marriage in a somber way giving it a tragic face. Oh what a consummation is here! (Rafat, 63). Coming to the religion of the state, there’s no concept of dowry in Islam, and one can sue/ file a report against any family who demands dowry. In fact Islam insinuates the right of wife to money and property called “Mahr”. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “The best marriage is that on which least trouble and expense is bestowed”. One regrettable aspect of dowry giving is that it is turning into a matter of ostentation which is absolutely un-Islamic and un-lawful. The problem of dowry is not only that people can’t bear the cost of it but the fact that it needs to be discredited regardless of the fact that you can. Because when a rich man affords it and gives a dowry, it sets a trend and compels the poor to do the same under pressure.

Let us leave this culture to our neighbors with whom we struggled for independence to rid our society of these evil practices of avarice and move forward with our religious teachings of righteousness and simplicity. It is ironic how dowry is the poignant feature of 18th century Europe and Indian culture yet we are the ones who have incorporated it in our skins making an honorable ordeal of matrimony a living hell.

Having said that, long standing traditions in Pakistani culture such as dowry abuse is not so easy to curb in reality. It entails effective measures from the state, law and the families involved if we’re ever to get ahead as an economically sound families and as a country.

Chasing Exuberence

(verse poem)

– AN EFFORT-

Building the headstones on
debris of passionate courage

Stroking colors on
monochrome faces

Upholding a rebellion on
the shunned land

Painting rainbows on
dispiriting skies

Harvesting beats on
lost love

Subduing imageries on
the chain of being

Flickering shimmer on
blackened souls

Coating neon on
Abandoned alleyways

Against the facade of the misty evening
All for what is alive and breathing

Fleeing omens in search of portents
Forever in quest of progress

Because I know, happiness doesn’t chase me
It’s my own efforts that will take me there

Responsible you are, for your miseries
Reluctant still, for the cemeteries

Decide now or regret later
To stay a blackened soul or the spirit of color?

Book Review: Me before you

​Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I read this book when it first came out. A very dear friend lent it to me ( which is amazing because i don’t know how people lend their books. It’s like giving up your baby ) 

The storyline was so good and well crafted, it touched my soul! I never understand why authors make me fall in love with a character and then break my heart. I cried crocodile tears. Such an emotional rollercoaster ride!


It’s original, reality based and yet it makes you believe in the existence of love. To exploit the notion of love in such a cliche manner is beyond awesome. It’s a tale of a girl convincing a man that he has something to live for and the man teaching the girl to free herself of societal bounds and explore the world unknown to her in other words, teaching her to “live”. The underlying message is so strong and clear that it levitates you into a state of nothingness where all the focus is on you and your definition of a disease called amor deliria nervosa (pun intended from Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver, which was also great, which my dear friend lent to me. How do you do this? woah! )
The turn of events is never predictable, the story has its fair share of humorous moments, the plot shifts paints a surprising picture of the class differences in a small European village and how it effects the lives of people in the book, its hits the chords of travel and adventure but most of all it makes you reflect on assisted suicide.
An emotional typhoon, a book to learn from and a book making it’s place in you for times to come. Jojo Moyes you’re a winner!
I recently watched the movie which also gets a 10/10 from me. It rarely happens because movies based on novels are never as good as the books. The emotional connection and rawness of the feelings is experienced in the movie as well which made me cry crocodile tears again. A must watch for everyone!

Reflecting on Pakistanis Reaction to War

Rationalizing terrorism is more dangerous than terrorism itself and worse is our insensitivity. Recent Indian military boastfulness and swaggering aggressiveness sticks out like a soar thumb. State level draconian tactics on both sides are spewing hatred for the sub-continental neighbors at national level. Profoundly influenced by the heated atmosphere that surrounds me at this time, I’m bound to pen down my thoughts on this skeptical upcoming war. Being citizens of this motherland that we call Pakistan, its protection, integrity and sovereignty is our first and foremost duty, no question about that and I’m sure my Indian neighbors feel the same way about their country.
Rebuking onslaught of our fellow Kashmiris with pained hearts is one thing, however, welcoming war is a whole different matter. What irks me is the behavior of Pakistani youth who’s making a joke out of this fiasco!

War isn’t something to be glorified.

It comes with a price of blood. My rant here is against the falsified notion of valor and courage in war and misguided idealism of the civilians. I’m not a pacifist nor am I opposed to defending my motherland when some fool dares attack it or aiding our fellow Kashmiris in times of need, but I want all to see war as it is, not the poetic view of it. Can you even imagine the aftermath a nuclear conflict may bring? Innocent deaths is the inevitability of war. It just calls for prolonged darkness in which building new pieces is next to Impossible. We are already fighting terrorism and it has cost us lives of soldiers, civilians, men, women and children. Mothers not knowing whether their sons are going to come back or not, wives and children left alone, homes destroyed.This is the gruesome reality of war, it’s not a child’s play.

It’s about time we start dealing this matter seriously instead of joking about war and the glory it supposedly brings.

The murder of innocent Kashmiris can never be justified just because it is a by-product of the spiraling Indian violence and disorder of decades of war. It isn’t and can never be a solution to a dispute. Stop making fun out of this situation. Instead, do something you really can. Boycott the entertainment industry of the country which aides terrorism in your cities. Give up this hypocrisy of spitting venom on social media and then dancing crazy on Indian songs at your weddings. Supporting your stance on Kashmir and building the economy of the country inflicting violence on Kashmir can never go hand in hand. I’m a peaceable person, a staunch supporter of Pakistan Armed Forces, probably in the vain hope that a better understanding of the circumstances of war may help prevent or limit it.

Rest assured, it’s NOT my call to be ambivalent about who’s your friend and who’s foe or to be a defeatist. This nation was born with a sacred statement as a cause and this nation will defend it’s sanctity for that cause. I quote my favorite words by Horatio Nelson, “Gentleman, when the enemy is committed to a mistake, we must not interrupt him too soon.”

We need to break the nexus of threats, terrorism and corruption and are ready to retaliate and defend the future of this great nation in order to provide a framework of discipline in which a peaceful mind can roam free. But, it’s nothing to be celebrated or seen as a noble undertaking. Raging an illusionary war along with celebrating the culture of your enemy shows nothing but your incompetency and hypocrisy as a citizen of this state. Support peace, support Pakistan, get out of your delusional beliefs and see war in all it’s honesty.

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