On Fire From Within

I feel like my soul is on fire

Deep down, where the smoke is smothered by smiles,

There is a crackling…

Like the embers of a flame that should have been extinguished a long time ago.

 

Time and again I push down the demon that raises its flaming head,

Its burning eyes glaring deep into the depths of my soul,

As though charring my flesh down to the bone,

 

And the pulsing pain within grows louder,

Until I can’t even hear my own heartbeat….

I look around, desperate for help,

Without realizing there is nowhere to go

I’m trapped – all alone, on this Island surrounded by memories, that are trying to drown me;

 

Unable to scream for help, because no one knows about us…

We are nothing but a myth;

Real for each other, but invisible to the rest of the world

I am yours, and you are my secret to keep.

They are still so fresh, I can reach out and touch these memories,

But I hesitate… afraid to get burnt.

And then a soft breeze flows by, spreading the fire inside me

Until I can feel it heating me to the tips of my feet,

 

You are everywhere, in everything I do

Every word I say, Every breath I take…

Every step I take, I take it thinking of you.

 

I tried drowning myself in this world,

Surrounded by distractions all around;

But I got lost in the crowd,

All alone, by myself; still searching for a glimpse of you…

Anywhere; My beating heart trying desperately to keep up

My brain racing with images of the past as my soul tries to curl in on itself,

 

A protective gesture I acquired over time –

Which is as useless as it is desperate.

 

Because you are a part of me…

Everything you do, everything you say, every breath you take –

They are burned into my soul

I take you with me everywhere I go

Regardless of the smile plastered on my face,

You are the Zonda that I couldn’t save

For myself…

And now I sit on the sidelines, pretending to be free from all care and worries;

Searching everyday,

For a sign – anything that might lead you back to me.

Or me to you.

Somehow, I know this can’t be the end of everything.

Because you are a part of me.

And no matter how much I try to keep the past from affecting me,

I have to admit (at least to myself) that you took a major part of me with you,

A hole as glaring as the one burning into my heart ,

When each day I take one more breath without you in my life,

I may seem numb to the pain

But I don’t see a happy future for me,

Not the one we envisioned at least.

 

It doesn’t matter if I change continents, or I race away to another life,

I will take you wherever I go,

You are my demon and my savior all at once,

You are inside of me, always and forever…

How can one hide from oneself?

 

 

 

 

I Want That Love

“I am capable of a lot of love,” is what you said; and my heart skipped a beat before crashing to the floor.

You weren’t talking about me. You and I are no more.

Your future missy, whoever she may be, has my blessings and my wellwishes too.

But, most importantly, I pray she can give all that love back to you.

You darling man, you are so special it’s almost funny how you don’t know,

Your own worth; your character, your sense of honor, your honesty and your trust;

I am so grateful to God that he led me to you, if only for a simple tryst.

You are capable of so much love, it will almost be too much to handle;

I am glad though that I was the reason you recognized that part of your personality,

Regardless of how much I wish I could be at the receiving end of that love,

What we had I shall always cherish; It was enough

To last a lifetime, to create memories that will never grow old;

Everyday I pass without you by my side,

I pour all that love for you into the future I now keep in sight;

It is a future with only me, which is not truly very surprising now;

Since, to quote you, “you have spoiled me to be honest,

and I can take no more bullshit or drama for anyone anymore”

Who’s going to settle for that?

No one, I’m sure.

So I’m working on building a small world for myself,

Where only I will be (along with a few loved ones, obviously)

I may look at children and yearn for one of my own

But then I remember you,

and my heart recoils from the thought of making babies with anyone else;

regardless of what the future holds,

I wish you the best of luck and your lady love,

Even though, secretly, my heart yearns for the love you’re capable of giving…

For the love I have not yet known.

Serenity

Dark clouds converge overhead,

The sound of thunder rips the air at intervals,

On deck, people rush for shelter from the rain,

And I… I stand in the middle of it all,

Longing to feel a few drops on my face.

The water, it washes away my sins,

I no longer feel chained to my grief,

Cold shivers run through my body,

The rain is resurrecting me.

The thunder reflects my ire,

The silent screams inside of me,

Which were never allowed release.

Its ear-splitting sound echoes,

The pain deep inside my soul,

It has gone numb over the years,

So deep inside that now,

it is a part of who I am,

And I realize that the mask of calm and serenity

Which I love to wear,

Is slowly disintegrating,

And I’m trying catch the layers,

As they peel off one by one,

Little by little,

My feelings overcome,

My resistance,

And I am left with nothing,

But an image of the past,

With that smile of yours I love so much,

And the dimple peeking out at the world,

Just above your jawline,

And I can’t help but reminisce,

On how it used to be. And how it all ended.

And here I stand,

In a world of my own,

Regardless of the outside,

Safe in my cocoon,

Of memories.

I can never let it go.

And as I think this, I realize,

I don’t want to.

I wish to hang on to these precious memories forever,

For they are a part of me as much as they are a part of you,

And for all the peace you brought me,

They help me remember, in snatches,

What that serenity felt like,

For when you left,

You took it all with you.

Nothing Left Inside of Me

Memories. There are only memories left of me. Nothing tangible; just a long, lonely walk to infinite.

I find myself lost in the past, a haze of sorts preventing me from seeing the future.

I am confused. I am emotionally distant. And somewhere, deep inside of me, there is pain.

So much pain, that I am afraid to touch it; lest it devours me.

The dying embers of a love lost; never truly die. Love never really runs dry. The tears, however; the tears stop flowing after a time. So now, only my eyes reflect the pain inside.

All around me, life moves on. Laughter, happiness, new beginnings, new lives, new relationships…. and all the while, deep inside, there is a sorrowful cry.

I have big plans; plans which would never have come into place had you decided to remain by my side. Plans that aim to take me away; far away from this place, where there are only memories…

Wherever I turn, there is a familiar face. Be it a building or a street or a person, everywhere I turn, I see you. Sudden flashbacks take me unawares, leaving my breathless, unable to utter a word. It is a wonder I am coherent at all.

Time has not healed my fall. A numbing sensation creeps slowly from the pit of my stomach to the corners of my body, touching my very soul. My heart is pumping furiously, as my soul shudders and tries to stand after the blow. My body cannot help but curl up into a ball; the sudden opening of a window to many beautiful memories renders me nearly senseless. I am sitting here, in a crowd, yet I am not. I am far away, so far away, with you.

A mention of an event, a laugh, a sound, even the clouds… anything, anywhere, can remind me of you. How you would have reacted, what you might have said had you been here, what you used to say, how you used to laugh….

The dimple on the side of your face, which I would be so helpless against. I wish I could kiss it away again. I wish you were here right now to tell me about your day, or to simply laugh at something I say. How you used to force me to speak, when I was overcome with emotion and unable to utter a word – I am afraid now; now that I am all alone.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I know this; I can never compromise on what we had, what I have felt and seen; what I have experienced. I don’t know where I will go, where I am headed; but I do know that I can never accept anything less than what we had. But I don’t think I will ever get it again; because, see, there is no us. There is no you. There is only me.

And you’ve taken the best part of me. Now, what is left, is nothing but dust and ash. There is nothing but a numb, hollow pain left inside of me.

Peace

I am alone

On my own once more

I can feel the restlessness

Stirring deep inside my soul

The winds are howling inside my head

Old demons resurfacing after an eternity of rest

Long forgotten fears

Once again shackle me to the ground

My eyes are shining with long dried tears

I cannot make a sound

My soul is petrified

Afraid of what is yet to come

You left me on my own

After promising to forever hold my hand

So here I am

Trying to capture these footprints in the sand

Before the waves of time wash them away

For good

You gave me peace

You were the only one who understood

Me.

All my demons, all my restless energy

Were asleep because you were there

Now I search for glimpses of you

Anything to get back what I have lost

I let you go to keep you happy

Aware of the high cost

I was going to incur

I have so many dreams,

Wild fantasies I must work to come true…

Yet, I gave them all up – for you.

Now you’re gone

And the poof of smoke that you left in your wake

Has shattered the dream I lived in

Shaken my awake

The bubble of optimism and dreams has burst

Leaving behind deathly shadows and a slowly falling curse

Of sedition and despair

I have seen it – I saw it way before you were there.

It is my due,

And I will have to pay

In our world there is a price for love

One does not simply get up and decide for oneself

There are repercussions – family to consider

If only it were as easy as that episode with Cathedral Cove

But oh, what am I saying! I find myself talking to you all the time

But you are not here – am I going out of my mind?

For even if it is a month or two years or forever

I know this: that your memories will help me last an eternity

I cannot allow anybody else to come close to me

No one can touch my body… or my soul

It belongs to you; my heart is fully yours – It is not in my possession anymore

And whether you agree or not… I’ve given it to you

For now and ever more…

-Cupcake ❤

Numb This Pain

One of those days

When I would gladly do anything

Just to numb this godforsaken pain.

It haunts me

Eats me from deep inside my soul

Slowly, one teardrop at a time

Until there is nothing but a hole

Where my soul used to be

My eyes are blank

Dark with the pain of loss and sacrifice

Here, in this world,

I stand alone on the sidelines

Afraid to reach out

For this ever present fogs makes it hard to see

Afraid to feel

For fear of awakening the pain

Which is ever present inside of me.

Today is one of those days

When I would gladly do anything

Just to end this godforsaken pain

I know the cycle

I have become used to it

Like a druggie on coke

I know how to use my sorrow as a shield

Filled with laughter and Happiness

Yet, inside, there is nothing but broken mirrors and smoke.

There is nothing inside of me

But broken dreams and shattered hope.

There is nothing inside of me

That is reminiscient of the light of days past

Nothing inside of me

Which does not remind me of the vast

Darkness enveloping me.

Everywhere I turn,

Everywhere I see,

There are reminders of who I used to be

Yet, this pain refuses to die

Always in the background, a solid thumping ebb…

It’s slowly eating away at my life,

My heart is broken,

Every turn feels like the point of a knife,

Slowly turning inside of me.

One of those days

When I would do just about anything

To make the pain go away.

A pain which is now a very strong part of me

It has enveloped me whole

I know not what happiness is…

I’m used to this dark cave of sorrow

Will I be able to fight for what I want?

For my dreams. for my future –

For what is left of me?

Numb this pain…

And we shall see.

First, I have to numb this pain….

Dark with the pain

Vulcan’s Flames

Why can I not forgive you?

Everything seems to be fine

The dust is settled and the beating of my heart has gone steady

I have convinced myself that this is happiness

This is as good as it gets

And I am fine….

Until suddenly, something happens

Something that reminds me of the past

Of what true passion means

Of what it feels like to be truly alive

And the scabs on the wounds of my heart

Which I so painstakingly covered

Begin to slowly scratch themselves away

The tearing of each piece of skin as painful as though I am on fire

Burning alive

Unable to breathe…

Able to do naught

But go up in flames

As my anger begins to consume me

And I struggle to contain it.

Afraid to prematurely burst

I do not want to estrange you.

Still, after all of it, I still care. So much.

Then why can I not forgive you?

Why can I not completely put my life on hold

Kill my dreams – and breathe only for you.

Why does my soul and heart cry out

Why do I so desperately want to be me?

And the saddest part: even after all these years, you still don’t know me.

Still don’t know who I am.

I don’t know whether to laugh at the dark humor of it all

Or cry at my helplessness

We can’t both be happy at the same time

Either you can be happy – Or I

I think I’ll choose misery each time

Because I care about you that much

No matter how much I die inside

Yet, there will come a time when I will have completely died

And you will no longer be able to affect me

Will no longer be able to influence my decisions

Will no longer be able to wrench my heart from inside and twist it until the blood vessels burst

Because I will be dead

And the dead cannot be affected by the whims of the living

When I will be dead

Truly gone from this world

And nothing you can do will ever be able to hurt me again

Because I will be dead…

Far, far away from you

No Goodbyes

 

I still can’t believe you’re gone.

Even though it has been so long.

Since I last saw your face

Last heard you laugh

I look at your pictures

Expecting you to come to life and talk

About whatever it was that we talked about.

You taught me to stand tall

And fight for what I believe

You taught me forgiveness

And were the epitome of silent strength

You lived a full life

Despite all the odds

The last I remember

You were prancing around the newsroom

Excited about a new project we had just decided to launch

I remember our last conversation

So full of misery and love

You were my mentor

I hope to make you proud as you look down from above

I promise to hold dear

All that you taught me and more

You lived a lover’s life

Without prejudice or spite

Your teachings will always stay close to my heart

I wish to make a difference as great as the one you made

Even after you did depart

The many faces of Musadiq Sanwal

Both enthrall and make one laugh

With joy had having known such a man

And misery at having lost him

I refuse to say farewell or goodbye

For I know we shall meet again

Until then, sir. Make merry until we meet again.

The Many Faces of Musadiq Sanwal

ImageIt had been a long day at work, and I was just packing up for a meeting when I got a text from a friend asking me whether I was going to Musadiq’s memorial in the evening. I felt a jolt of surprised pain and a sizzle of anticipation at the thought, so I immediately replied back asking for details. Turns out, friends and family of Musadiq Sanwal had decided to come together and share their memories and love for the great man.

I immediately logged onto Facebook and found the event’s details. I was going.

 * * * *

Musadiq had been my mentor and Editor during my brief time at Dawn.com. I remember his constant smile and the spring in his step whenever he would enter the newsroom, walking up to each and everyone of us for an individual chitchat. No matter how singular we all felt on an individual level, we were all extremely attached to Musadiq in one way or another.

When Musadiq passed away in January 2014, it was as if the world had stopped moving. I had been telling my teacher about my experience of working with him at the Dawn.com news desk just one day before in Journalism class. That night, a colleague messaged me to tell me Musadiq was in the hospital in critical condition and blood was required. I immediately called up his “right hand man”, as I called him then (who I shall – for this blog – now call Uso). I found out to my great horror and even greater sorrow that Musadiq was in ICCU for pneumonia and was in critical condition because his kidneys had failed. He had already lost one lung to cancer and had been fighting the illness for the past year.

I decided then and there to go visit him in the hospital the next day after work and donate my blood. The next morning, as my parents and I were headed towards the license office, I was messaged by a close friend and colleague at Dawn.com (I shall call her Fatty), informing me about Musadiq’s death.

“Noushin, Musadiq is dead.”

Those four words should have felt like a bomb had just been dropped on top of my head. All I felt was…. numb.

There was a hollow pit at the bottom of my stomach, and my mind was as if moving in slow motion. I told my parents “Musadiq passed away. I just got a message.”

My mum and dad expressed their sadness, and I agreed. Yet, I felt nothing inside. As if my body had decided that to not feel at all was the best way to deal with the news.

We arrived at the license office and went inside, waiting for our turn. We were made to fill out forms and were soon going about our business, trying to get a license. All this while, my stomach had dropped somewhere down to my knees and my mind was as though detached.

I knew they were holding a meeting at the Dawn.com office in the cafe right at that moment, I knew the silence that had probably gripped the newsroom and the tears and sobbing that was sure to follow; yet, here I was getting my license made as if it were just any other day in the world. All this time, I had a feeling Musadiq was probably standing at the newsroom door or sitting at the cafe table just like everyday.

My mind failed to register how completely contradictory these two scenarios were, yet for me they seemed completely normal.

I managed to score a permanent driver’s license to my complete surprise, and upon arriving back home I called Uso and found out the venue for the funeral prayers. I was completely calm on the outside, but something inside had begun to slowly crumble. I refused to acknowledge it and went about picking the perfect dress – I even asked my boyfriend’s advice on what to wear to a Shia Mosque because I had never before set foot in one. I finally decided to just go with whatever I was wearing; being there was more important than being dressed in white or black.

When I arrived at the Imam-Bargah, the street was blocked and we had to walk to the main gate. People were streaming outside, and my heart sank as I realized I had come too late to participate in the prayers. As I walked down the long stretch of pavement leading up to the women’s section (I’d gotten lost and had had to ask around) I saw women sitting together in the main room, some reciting Surahs from the Koran, while others were huddled together and cried softly for their loss.

I was suddenly faced by the fact that maybe, just maybe, the news had been real. And he had indeed passed away.

Even so, I located my friends from Dawn.com sitting on one side of the room and went softly across the white sheets lying on the ground towards them. I greeted them all then sat next to Fatty. Sid, another girl who had worked with me at the news desk was came up to sit with me. They shared how they had felt when the news had first broken, and as I sat there surrounded by people who were grieving for him my eyes welled up with tears and a few slipped down my face.

Being hugged by a loved one at such a moment is the only thing that keeps you from totally falling apart. Yet, even after I had attended his funeral, I did not truly say goodbye. I could not talk about him or write about him  – which is weird, because writing for me is both therapeutic and what I do.

At the KLF 2014, when Mohammad Hanif during his conversation in the Main Garden, read a poem by “my close friend Musadiq Sanwal”, I stood amongst the crowd and silently wiped away the tears that fell down my face, not caring about the looks people were passing me. I felt the pain, yet refused to let go. Thus it was that this memorial was extremely important to me. It would be my chance to finally sit amidst people who knew Musadiq and who shared a love for him – a deeper love and respect than probably I ever could, but which I shared just as wholeheartedly.

* * * *

2

All throughout the meeting I sat at the edge of my seat, conscious of the ticking of the clock. Thank fully, the meeting ended at 5.30pm. I had half an hour left to maneuver my way across the traffic-packed roads of KDA towards the Karachi Arts Council on I.I.Chundrigar Road.

When we reached the venue, only a handful of people had come so far. The event had yet to start. Famous Pakistani author Mohammad Hanif stood at the door welcoming the new arrivals.

Inside the auditorium, people were milling about trying to locate a good spot to sit, where they could be both closer to their loved ones and also have a good view of the stage. I spied the Dawn.com team sitting directly to my left as I reached the top of the stairs and walked up to greet my old colleagues and friends. The Desk Editor Quratulain “Annie” Siddiqui and Blog’s Editor Zehrish John were at the front of the auditorium, directly before the stage. I felt obligated to go greet them and pay my respects to these two talented ladies, who had helped me improve my writing skills and trained me under Musadiq’s watchful eye.

As a newbie at the News Desk, I worked directly under Annie and Zehrish (sometimes), but my features were always reported directly to Musadiq. So in a way, I worked with all three of them – mostly, however, with Annie and Musadiq.

The auditorium began filling up slowly, as the technical team set up the final few touches and necessary equipment. All the while, as we sat there talking to one another and catching up (I was meeting them easily after four months), a video of Musadiq’s song Aajzi was playing on the screen, his voice filling up every corner of the room.

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It was beautifully sung, his soulful voice causing the hair to stand on end. I was staring at the video playing on the screen alongside my friends, and slowly the thought hit me: I never knew he could sing. I remember our lunch time conversations – or, rather, the ones we had in the cafeteria before lunch time since I was usually handling the desk during – and I know he had expressed a passion for music. I never knew how deep that passion was. Until last night.

The event started soon after. Hasan Zaidi, a close friend of Musadiq’s, had been chosen to act as moderator.

“Let me start by saying that we are not here in sadness, but are here together in happiness in order to celebrate the life of Musadiq Sanwal,” Zaidi started his speech. “And even if, sometimes, a few tears drop from our eyes, they are those happiness, at having had the pleasure to know such a person.”

And I could not help but think, as I looked around the auditorium at the many heads, all staring intently at the figure on the stage: “you brought all of these people together. They came because of their love for you. You are still alive among us.”

On stage, Zaidi went on to tell the audience about Musadiq’s many talents – a trained singer, journalist, actor – and informed them about his aptitude for languages.

“I know that if he could be here and see this he would say: Abay yaaar!” causing the audience to laugh appreciatively at this apt imitation of the late artist.

“Musadiq could speak fluently in a host of languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Saraiki… I decided to moderate the event today using the language we all share (Urdu) but please feel free to express yourself in whatever language you are comfortable with.”

He then recited a couplet from a poem by Musadiq’s favorite poet, Nasir Kazmi: “Zindagi maut k parday main rahi, Khwaab dar khwaab hi bedaar hue”.

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The event was officially started off by Sagheer Baloch, another close friend of Musadiq’s. He performed a poem by Nasir Kazmi on his flute which was often hummed by Musadiq during his life, the sound hauntingly beautiful as it floated across the auditorium and captured each and ever member.

He was followed by Zafar Abbas, the Editor for Dawn Newspaper. Abbas looked visibly shaken as he came to stand behind the podium and spoke for a few minutes about the man who had brought us all together (from our different busy lives, in the hopes of sharing his life with each other for those few minutes before walking back out into the real world).

“In all this time, I could not properly know him!” He declared, hesitant to call it his biggest failure. “I am getting to know him now (his personality, the different sides to him.”

He told us he had been introduced to Musadiq by their mutual friend, Mohammad Hanif. Soon after, Abbas had rejoined Dawn and begun working closely with Musadiq, who called him “Murshid” which is an Arabic term for ‘guide’ or ‘teacher’. Regaling us with their encounters, he remembered how Musadiq would often tell him to stop working constantly and take a break once in a while.

Kabhi mere studio tou ao!” he said, remembering how Musadiq would often ask him to visit him in his studio and here him play his music. “I wish I could have gone once.”

He went on to tell us how Musadiq had broken the news of his illness to him one fine day. He had come into his office and asked him to come outside so they could talk, and said ‘Murshid ek problem hogai hay’. Contrary to what Abbas had initially thought, the problem was not related to work but was a lot closer to home.

He stated how Musadiq smilingly had told him about being diagnosed with cancer, while he had sat and stared in stunned silence unable to believe the news.

“Musadiq was a fighter!” Abbas declared. “He said to me, ‘laraingay! puri zindagi lartay aye hain, isay bhi laraingay!’

There was a sad silence amid the soft clapping as he descended the stage afterwards to go back to his seat.

Zaidi then called for Wusutullah Khan, a fellow colleague of Musadiq’s at BBC Urdu. The man looked visibly shaken as he slowly climbed the stage and went to stand behind the podium, taking deep breaths before beginning. His speech consisted majorly of a poem he had written for Musadiq, and he ended his emotional monologue by comparing his late friend with Multani Mitti, which can take the shape of whatever the child wants it to be, saying “Musadiq mujhe woh mitti ka gola nazar ata hay.”

It was then Hasan Zaidi’s turn to take to the stage. The journalist regaled the crowd with a story he had recently come across while sharing memories of the great man with mutual friends and he asked permission from the original teller before stating the them of it.

“Nazish Brohi was telling me earlier about an incident that happened with her and Musadiq,” he began, smiling down at the woman sitting in the audience. “She told me they were camping around a fire in Thar desert, and Musadiq asked the camel owner to walk his camel around them in a circle because he liked the soft tingle of its ankle bells. He then began to sing, his voice floating around them. When he was done, Brohi picked up a few ghass poose and needles lying on one side and presented them to him as a gesture of appreciation. Musadiq, instead of taking it graciously, looked down upon the offering and said, ‘that is not a desert rose. I got one (from Hasan) and I know what it is.’

“Soon after he said that, a gust of wind came and picked up the thorn and needle bundle, carrying it far away. Musadiq raced after it, and was soon so far away that they had to travel in a car to get to him, where they found him lying in a heap on the sand with the bundle clutched in his arms. Afraid something had happened to him, the quickly went to his aid. Musadiq looked at Nazish and said, ‘Hasan ne tou mujhe maulvi bana dia hay.’

He was referring to how religious leaders refuse to accept and look beyond what they are taught or what they learn by heart, failing to see the beauty in the simplest of things.”

Zaidi’s anecdote left us all feeling slightly more nostalgic than when we had first entered the arena, the picture he painted so aptly describing Musadiq’s absolute acceptance of everything regardless of origin.

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In continuing with the spirit of nostalgia that had slowly spread across the people attending the memoir of Musadiq, Zaidi then decided to call onto the stage Musadiq’s very own theatrical group Baang. It now consists of only three people after Musadiq’s death: Ali Hasnain, Khusauri and Farrukh Hassan.

Ali Hasnain started the speech, talking about how 22-years-ago Musadiq first started the group after he came from Lahore and taught them all how to act.

“We shared the same room for 10-12years, myself, Muhammad Hanif and Musadiq,” said Hasnain, talking about the difficulties of trying to introduce theatre for the first time in a society which had never accepted it before. “He would walk amongst the people and convince them to watch our performances.”

He regaled the audience with the economic difficulties they had faced, reminiscing about the time when they did not have money enough to even pay their rent.

“Ek martaba tou hum dukan ka pesa aur kamray ka karaya le kar bhaag gaye,” he said, causing the audience to burst out laughing.

Khusauri was overcome with emotion during his speech. He managed to utter a few incoherent speeches and abruptly ended the monologue by praising the broad mindedness of Musadiq Sanwal.

Farukh Hassan was the last of the trio to speak and easily the most extrovert of them all. It was easy to see how he and Musadiq could have been such close friends. “Musadiq started theatre in Karachi from scratch and his was a progressive success.” He went on to talk about how Musadiq was both a mentor and a friend, who selflessly took care of them through thick and thin.

“Esa lag raha hay jese abhi Musadiq ayega aur zor se bolega, yaar drama shuru karo drama shuru karo sab aagaye hain!” he laughed softly, gesturing towards the crowd.

He further went on to regale the crowd of an incident between him and Musadiq. “The one quote of Musadiq’s that I remember clearly and always remember… I had just finished my thesis on psychologically unwell children and wanted him to take a look at it. He flipped through it and then wrote something on the paper before handing it to me. Gali gali meri yaad bichi hay, pyaray rasta dekh k chalo.

This anecdote so clearly defined Musadiq’s love for his fellow man, accepting the people for who they are – and proud of being one of them, without judgement or fear.

These emotionally rich speeches were followed by two pieces of music recorded by Musadiq played to a collage of his pictures. The first song was in his Aajzi album, Saiful Mulook, written originally by Mian Mohammad Baksh. The second song was an – as yet – unreleased version of a Punjabi poem which he recorded against techno music with Bilal Brohi.

His rich voice filled the auditorium, for a second making us believe that he was right there among us. None of us could tear our eyes away from the screen, filled with remorse at having lost our time with him, happiness at having known him and joy at having the opportunity to celebrate his life with each other once again.

Zaidi then called on to Zehrish John, Blogs Editor at Dawn.com to say a few words regarding Musadiq and his memories. Wearing a beautiful orange and black sari, John spoke about Musadiq as a mentor.

“Very few people know about Musadiq the mentor,” she began, going on to talk about how the late Editor of Dawn.com was also a friend. She said Musadiq had had a flair for a variety of subjects, from philosophy to architecture to music.  John’s speech was heartfelt and aptly described Musadiq’s ways.

“We at Dawn.com are a staff of only 28 people, so we are very like a family,” she said. “He was our mentor and our friend. Our problems became his problems, our happiness was his happiness.. He taught us about being gentle with strength and about being forgiving.”

Her speech made quite a few tears to be spilled, and sniffles could be heard in different parts of the auditorium. John’s voice was trembling with emotion as she finished and invited the members of the audience to view a clipping of the people of Hazara, a project undertaken by Dawn.com and very close to Musadiq’s heart. The clipping focused on the Sketch Club in Hazara community, aimed at creating peace and unity through art. You can view the indepth feature here.

The auditorium reverberated with claps as the clipping finished and Hasan Zaidi once again came on stage. He praised the video and Musadiq’s resilience in going after what he loved, before inviting Owais Tawheed, Musadiq’s close friend, to say a few chosen words for the departed.

Tawheed recited a few well-versed poems in Musadiq’s honor, calling the poet “sur ka musafar, Sanwal”.

He remembered the times when as students they would visit Musadiq’s room, knowing their friend would be there to welcome them with open arms.

“On one side lay the harmonium and on the other side of the room was his pile of books,” he laughed.

He ended the speech by poetically describing Musadiq to the audience.

“Na darwazay ko kufr ki adat, na anay janay k liye waqt ki pabandi.”

Mohammad Hanif and Arts Council President Ahmed Shah also spoke about Musadiq and shared their memories of him with the people. These speeches were followed by a musical project worked on by Musadiq and Bilal Brohi, who introduced it to the audience.

Unforturnately, I was unable to stay until the very end so I could not stay to hear the opinions and memories the audience was asked to share at the end of the event. It was an amazing way of sharing our love for a great man and celebrating him in our small way by coming together and joining our hearts if only for a few hours to pay him our respect and gratitude.

He changed the life of everybody he came in contact with, and in this day and age, that is not easily come by.

We shall miss you, sir. Until we meet again.

PS: You can read the Dawn Newspaper edition of yesterday’s event here.

One blog that really hit me was written by Chagtai Khan, who talked about the different faces of Musadiq really well.

Also, feel free to go through the blogs others wrote about him here.

Photo credit: Dawn.com

KLF – Comments And Observations

KLF

The Karachi Literature Festival took place at the Beach Luxury Hotel on the 7, 8 and 9 of Feb 2014. It was a platform to bring together authors, publishers, distributors and those interested in literary arts from around the world. A total of 207 speakers/moderators/authors had come to the KLF.

The venue was beautifully laid out, with two rows of tables flanking the entrance where visitors could register for the lucky draw. Then came the HBL corner, where families were encouraged to get creative by painting or writing a story – the best entry would win a prize. A mascot in the form of a red colored book was standing at the entrance to the main event, with the words SAY NO TO BOOK PIRACY written on him. Coupons for free Diet Coke and Sprite were being distributed at the gate for visitors to quench their thirst with should they get parched.

A help desk and a media desk were directly before the partition leading to the Main Garden and other halls where the sessions were scheduled to take place. Visitors were asked to verify whether they were guests or speakers – or media personnel. Each had their own unique welcome; the guests and speakers were given a schedule for the KLF, a booklet introducing the speakers, and a peace prize badge (for the guests) or a tag (for the speakers). The media personnel were led to the rooms allotted to the media on the ground floor.

Quaint wooden tables and chairs were kept before a small bar at the entrance, giving an impression of olden-times.

The partners of the KLF, which is an initiative of the Oxford University Press, include HBL, The British Council Pakistan, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Goethe Institut, Coca Cola, National Investment Bank (NIB), Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad, Embassy of Italy in Islamabad and the Consulate of Italy in Islamabad.

For the first time in the history of the KLF, awards were given to Pakistani authors in three different categories: KLF Coca Cola Best Non-Fiction Book Prize, KLF- Embassy of France Prize and KLF Peace Prize.

The KLF Coca Cola Best Non-Fiction Book Prize was given to Dr. Osama Siddique, for his book Pakistan’s Experience with Formal Law; the KLF-Embassy of France Prize was given to Uzma Aslam Khan for her book Thinner Than Skin; and finally, The KLF Peace Prize was given to Akbar Ahmed for his book Thistle and Drone.

Bilqis, who has been regularly coming to the previous KLF events, was full of praises for the KLF2014. However, she did point out that the KLF last year – which took place in Carlton Hotel – was on a much grander scale. “There was a lot of culture there, speeches and lot of shows to see!” she said. “This one is a little over-crowded, maybe the space is short.”

Rimsha Asad, from Happy Home School, was one of the volunteers at the KLF event at the help desk. Talking about the different types of people to show up at the event, she said most were in their middle ages, with the children staying outside the venue because their sections were elsewhere and not in the main arena. She stated that visitors had been asking them all sorts of questions, from where to get the free complimentary Coke to where the prayer room is.

“The most bizzare question that I got asked was when a guest came up to the help desk, pointed at the Author Profile Booklet and asked whether it was for free,” she related laughing.

Talking about Bushra Ansari’s session with Ali Saleem as moderator, “Bushra’s Barbs”, Saba Hussain an artist based in Lahore and a member of the audience, complimented the reality star and comedian on her ability to talk about serious events in jest, so as to make it easier for others to swallow. “Everybody nowadays is busy giving sermons, which is not at all effective!” she compared Bushra’s way of interacting with the audience with that of others. “Her style of conversing is very effective.”

When asked about her opinion regarding the 5 KLF, she declared, “I love it! I’m here from Lahore. I have previously attended the festivals over there. I think such events are important for purifying our way of thinking and also for our soul.”

Shamim Hilali, an actor by profession, had the following remarks about the KLF: “I come every year, and I love this event. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for us to listen to the people who come from abroad, and to go away with what they say.”

Rehana Alam, a “die-hard” of KLF, called the weekend “a three-day event aimed at totally cleaning your mind intellectually.” She, however, suggested that the venue could be bigger next time and perhaps could be stretched to a four-day event, allowing the visitors to easily sit in the sessions they want to without any overlapping. “Perhaps next time they could pace it out,” she said.

Marc Barren, a specialist of Indo-Pakistani literature and founder of India Maya, a literary agency in Paris which specializes in Subcontinent literature. He represents Pakistani authors was also present at the event as a speaker. “I love it!” he said, talking about his experience at the KLF. “It is my first time in Pakistan and I have read so much about it, I wanted to see it. It’s amazing.”

When asked if he would like to come again for the future KLF events, Marc smiled and said “In sha Allah!”

This blogger also managed to take an interview from one of the partner organization’s heads (unfortunately, I can’t give away the name because I was strictly told not to mention the name, since the company had already given its official statements). “The KLF has a few partner organizations, including the _____. OUP being the main organization, ____ brings in different authors for the event. They moderate different sessions, talk about what is happening in terms of culture, arts, education and society.”

When asked about the amount of difficulty faced in organizing their part in the KLF, he stated that, “getting a good number of authors in the KLF.. identifying those authors is a task in itself. You need to know who to bring in, who you cannot bring in in terms of political affiliation, in terms of their writing skills and in terms of the genre they cater to. It is sometimes hard to differentiate between those authors, and there are times when you have to get such a name that it would actually draw people to the festival so you have to draw a very thin line between these things.”

He further added that the KLF for next year could have a wider scope, including Urdu authors and even those involved in performance art.

_____ also stated Rajmohan Gandhi was the perfect choice for keynote speaker at the KLF2014, because he is what everybody wanted to see.

The Karachi Literature Festival was a weekend of fun-filled literary activity; providing a platform for intellectual dialogue, tolerance and acceptance – celebrating art and culture in all its forms. A side of Pakistan which is rarely portrayed in the world. We hope to see much more of the KLF in the future.