Unhinged Realities and Unfortunate Expectations.

 The deafening silence was broken by his exasperated sigh. It was the kind of day where you were done with the world and it’s impatient, judgmental people. “They look at me and see the me they want to see,” he whispered to the silence taking a long drag from the burning cigarette in his hand. “No one will see you like I do,” his reflection replied. He stared harder at the mirror before him and gave a bitter laugh “and they call me narcissistic for believing that.” His smile was sarcastic. “Even if someone does see through the facade, how can I believe they would be strong enough to stand by what they see?  I can’t control what people think but I can control how close they can get to understanding me. I refuse to hand over my reality  and my emotions to someone else so they have a hold over me. I can’t create weaknesses. I don’t need anyone else, they need me,” he thought aloud. He took another drag and stared up at the ceiling hanging on to the words he’d just uttered. “Look at me, what do you see?” The man in the mirror asked. “The real person they refuse to believe exists” he answered without looking. “There’s a man of many talents, with a misunderstood heart and an underestimated mind. Eyes that wander, keeping the doors of the soul locked. A human, like any other, but extraordinary at numerous levels” the reflection reflected. “You’re opinion doesn’t count, it’s biased,” he laughed out smoke and turned to see his reflection laughing with him. “Life is like a song – the pitch changes according to the melody. I’m adamant to ensure the composition of mine is balanced and not auto-tuned.” he smiled a sad smile and exhaled the smoke of his troubles away, preparing for another day of the same, unhinging reality.
Music had lost its ecstasy, the fiction writers had lost their fixation and people had lost her trust. She lay in bed, mind overflowing with the thoughts of a woman on the verge of collapse. She stared at the white ceiling hoping to see beyond the paint, bricks and cement. The chains she threw around the arising emotional conflicts broke, unable to tame them. “When will I start enjoying my own company?!” she exclaimed in frustration. “Ok me, lets have it, ambush me with your degrading questions,” she thought out loud. Instantly the demons awoke, all set to pounce. “You can never be like the other girls, you’ll never be worth it, you were made to be emotionally exploited – your heart was created to be broken,” whispered the demon of insecurity formulating out of the darkness. “That’s what makes me different – I’m not like the other girls, my heart makes other people’s lives better – so what if I have to endure a little pain it’s worth it in the end” she defended herself. The empty room erupted into laughter and the sinking feeling in her stomach started to grow. “You? Making lives better? Don’t you get it, they’ll all be better off without you, no one is irreplaceable,” fear chuckled. She shook her head hoping these words wouldn’t take refuge in her mind. “Who said happiness awaits? This is the best you’re going to get, now watch it slip away,” piped in uncertainty. The demons were clearly having a ball, circulating her mind giving her their worst. Then came the evil of all evils, expectation. “Funny isn’t it? The pain of crushed hope, the destruction of optimism? You really started to think those people cared? That they had made a special place in their hearts for you?” He gave a loud sarcastic laugh “whoever comes close to you realizes what a waste of time you are and starts to pull away. Yet you still expect someone will suddenly love you more than anyone else? How stupid are you?” She wasn’t stupid, she thrived on hope –  hope that was being murdered by the hands of expectation and fear. “When will you learn stupid girl that you’ll always unintentionally expect things from people and break your own heart. You make it all too easy, what with always looking at the best in people and thinking they’ll do the same for you? They’ll believe your honesty, trust your loyalty and appreciate your friendship? Naive stupid girl.” She burst into tears as expectation gaffawed in satisfaction. Curled up into a ball, she cried her eyes out unable to fight off his control. The fear of living had taken its toll, she had been destroyed by the hands of unfortunate expectations.

Journey to Destiny

I used to believe I was very aware of my surroundings. The same to-do list, the same locations under the same sky everyday. My routine was set – simple and redundant. The sun was shining bright on a regular Wednesday morning. I was sitting on my bench waiting for the bus I took everyday. My nose was buried in my favourite book while the breeze played around with the pages. The regulars passed and we exchanged pleasantries, insignificant and extremely artificial, as always. The sidewalk started to fill with the usual bus travelers all gathered to get to the same destination. I couldn’t help but get distracted by that thought. All these people waiting for the same bus to go to the same place. So many walks of life, joining at a single point to embark on the same journey. The depth and emensity of this thought stretched farther than that of the mysterious sky. So much unknown so much uncertain. Surpassing the chill of such thoughts, the bus arrived on schedule, as always. I got up, bookmarked my book and took my place in line. Somedays, I would be right in front, others right at the end. That was the only unforeseen event of the day. But today something different happened – I tripped. The contents of my bag spilled all over the sidewalk. Carefully gathering my belongings from around the feet of others, I fixed myself and walked towards the bus doors. The man in front of me climbed in and the doors closed before me. I stared at the driver slightly betrayed, as he accelerated the bus ahead.

 I had never missed that bus, what was I going to do now? I looked around me and nothing looked the same. I had never been in this spot, at this time ever before, I didn’t know what happened next – I had no control. Was there another bus that passed through here? Should I wait or turn back? Was there someone I could turn to for help? The uncertainty was heightening and the confusion increasing. What was happening?
The sound of an engine was coming closer. I turned to the left and saw another bus materialize from around the turn. It looked like the bus I had missed but there was something different. It was more pronounced, more noticeable, like it demanded your attention. The bus stopped in front of me and the doors flew wide open. The driver looked tall and extremely lean. “You don’t seem like a regular, you must be one of the ‘bus-missers'” he smirked. I looked right and looked left. There was no one else around, this bus couldn’t have been scheduled. My attention went to the steering wheel, there was no GPS like in my usual bus. The driver clearly didn’t follow any of the extra rules and regulations. Was this bus trustworthy? 

“Miss?” He stared at me. Startled, I realized he was waiting for an answer. “Umm yes, I don’t know what happened, I somehow missed my usual bus.” 

“No surprise there, I’ve never seen you before – I don’t forget faces. Where you headed?” 

I looked inside the bus, it was pretty much empty, but most of the seats were occupied by females. There were a couple of men scattered here and there, some obvious couples but nonetheless it was pretty much empty. 

 “450 Serra Mall,” I answered. He grinned and looked behind at his passengers. 

“Well ma’am, that’s not an official stop but that’s where I’m heading myself. I’ll drop the rest and get you there, hop on,” he ushered me in. My brain began hyper analyzing options. I looked around again and seeing no harm hopped on. I sat in the second row behind a young shy couple that secretly stole glances at each other time and time again. 

The people were generally friendly and well spirited except for a few that occupied the back row. I chose to ignore them. The chirpy girls got up after a few intervals to speak to the driver. It wasn’t anything like my ordinary bus ride. Soon the sun disappeared behind angry grey clouds and  it  started to rain  fast and hard. 

The bus emptied as we drove on, a few passengers joined for a stop or two but the bus never filled to capacity, the same seats were recycled. Soon it was just me and the group in the back I had decided to ignore. 

“How much longer?” I called out to the driver. 

“We’re heading to your stop now.”

“Didn’t you say you’ll drop all the other passengers first since this isn’t an official stop?” I asked confused.

“That’s what I did,” he turned giving me a weird look.

“No there are still passengers in the back!” I gasped thinking he hadn’t noticed.

He laughed a slightly painful, slightly evil laugh. “Those in the back? They come and go as they please. Just ignore them.”

This day was getting absolutely bizarre. How did I even get here? I thought to myself.  

“You alright miss? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?” The driver called out.

Startled I looked up and shook my head “no no, everything is fine. I was just surprised at the weather and the randomness of this day.”

He smiled. “Look closely through the rain. Only then can you see the rainbow. Sometimes you set out on the same journey with a particular set of people because they are to be a part of your destiny or you are to be a part of theirs.”

His words took me by surprise. I sat in silence absorbing the depth of what he had just said. Maybe uncertainty wasn’t to be feared, it was to be marveled at. The element of surprise did create the most beautiful and worthwhile memories. I took a deep breath and smiled. Maybe this different, unexpected journey was some sort of an infinite destiny.


Murder, she spoke.

“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”
It was barely audible, but nonetheless I’d said it. I needed to go on and just say it all. But I was ashamed. That’s when the sobbing began. 
“Go on child, just let it out,” a deep voice startled me. It initially felt like the wall was impermeable to sound. 
Slightly spooked, I wiped my tears and took a deep breath. “I’m a murderer,” I confessed. That’s when the elephant walked in. The priest’s gasp was loud and unhinging. How was I supposed to keep going?”
Moments later he whispered “Dear child, who – who did you kill?”
“Myself,” I sobbed.
You could hear the confusion clouding his brain.
“I don’t quite follow, do you mean you tried to take your own life?” 
I shook my head as the tears fell fast and hard. “I killed myself, the real me, I’ve become a person I never was and never wanted to be. I was led astray. Everyday I look at myself in the mirror and try to find the person I used to be. It’s not like she’s hiding in a closet just waiting to be summoned. She’s slowly conformed, become a part of the people around her. Influenced by what they thought was right. But they didn’t smother her with a pillow every night or let her drown in her tears, that was me. I could feel her slowly leave me and I did nothing to stop it. I’ve lost faith in humanity and the concept of good people. The world is cruel and unfair is a very cliched concept, one I don’t want to believe in. Yet every time I look at someone I fear -” I stopped.
This was getting too personal and going off topic. He did not need to know the piles of insecurities and airport carousel worth of baggage I carried. I needed to explain my point through other means.
“The last year has been about change and loss. Loss in the hands of God and loss in the hands of people. I didn’t realize how I was making everything worse by not connecting with the rainbow of emotions the turmoil had brought out. I let it spread like a cancer bringing on my own destruction. So I sit here now hollow, void and incomplete. Missing the vital bit that made me, me and there’s no one to blame but me. I’m a murderer.” 
The priest tried to formulate words but he was awestruck. 
He took a deep breath and gave it his best shot “Dear one, clearly the person you claim you have lost for good is still there. You have come to this realization all on your own. Your heart is pure, your intentions good. You have not murdered, verily you have caused a mild concussion. Now that the dizziness has stopped and heaviness subsided, you’ll find the real you right where she always was.”
“That me was too nice for my own good. This me is guilty of a lot of bad. Clearly,  I live in extremes” I sarcastically chuckled.
He gave a pity giggle before continuing “for once look at the mirror and really look at yourself. Appreciate every pigment, curve – all of it. Embrace the reality of your inner and outer beauty because remember child – this too shall pass.”
In that moment, I took my leave.  I found the words that pushed me forward everytime my legs gave way:”This too shall pass.”


It was more than just discomfort now, she needed to see the doctor fast. Ignoring the other people waiting before her, she barged in. “Doc, the pain is unbearable I can’t wait anymore,” the doctor looked at his current patient and then looked at her “what seems to be the problem?”

She took a deep breath and tried to explain. “It started as a little pinch a few months ago, I couldn’t understand why so I turned to a friend. We spent a long time trying to figure it out. She even massaged the area that was hurting. But slowly the pain started to increase. I complained about the growing pain but soon that friend disappeared. So I turned to another one. The same thing happened and soon she disappeared too. This series of events repeated itself a couple of times till it reached this stage. I can barely walk, the pain is so immense. I don’t know what to do, doc would you have a look?”

He nodded and waved her in. It was when she turned to close the door did he see the protruding plastic. The patient in the room gasped. She turned to look at him but couldn’t understand the reason for his exclamation of shock. The doctor shook his head at the patient and returned his attention to her. 

“My dear, your friends seem to have been so helpful. Surely a sweet girl as yourself gave them something in return for their kindness?”

She smiled, “I gave them the only thing that I could, a little piece of my heart.” 

There was silence. The doctor looked at her fondly and asked “as priceless as your heart is, it holds little value in the real world. Do you realize that?” 

She looked down and sighed “but it’s all I have to give.”

He walked towards her and pulled on one of the numerous plastic handles sticking out of her back. She yelped in pain. “You gave your heart to those who left a knife in return. My dear each person you turned to stabbed you once in the back.” 

The doctor held out the knife for her to see, but she shook her head in denial. “That’s impossible, there has to be another logical explanation for this! They would never do this to me.” 

He pulled out another and again she shrieked in pain. “Can you count the number of people you turned to?”

“Five,” she answered after a brief moment of thought.

Again the doctor pulled out a knife and he did so two more times. Once she had stopped screaming, the doctor lay the five knives before her. 

“One from each friend,” he whispered. 


You can’t find it in articles, on Google or in the words of those you care about. Reality is the pain you feel. The gut wrenching feeling you get when you wake up in the morning. 
It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and wondering -evaluating whether the decisions you’re making or the things you’re doing are right. When you suck your stomach in thinking you look fat, wear the world’s biggest smile to hide your tears and hug your pillow at night looking for compassion; trying to fill the unkown void; looking for something to fight the misery and loneliness you can’t help but feel. Loving someone who doesnt love you back, losing someone closest to you, being stabbed in the back multiple times: that’s reality. 

Reality must be accepted for what it truly is: real. The thoughts you push away in shame, the feelings you surpass out of fear, they’re all real, they all exist. The truth you convince yourself you aren’t a part of – it exists. No matter how much you deny it, they’re real. We look around ourselves and point fingers, casually singling out others as frauds. The truth is we’re all two faced. We all have a side that surfaces when we are alone. The parts that make us vulnerable. No one is as carefree as they think they are. We are all prisoners of our mind and our thoughts. The insecurities, the complexes and the innumerable heartbreaks are the essence of our existence. Those tears, those fits of rage and those bouts of strength build the backbone of our character. 

You know how you would give up anything to stop feeling alone, guess what? So would the person next to you, or in the other room, or in the other building and so on and so forth. We live in a world full of people yet we all feel alone. This is our reality. This is humankind. This is what we are, who we are. The truth is , the backstory behind freedom of speech, women’s rights etc is nothing but guilt. We don’t know how, or rather we’ve forgotten how to be human. Benefits, money, material goods; the never ending greed and competition, it’s all brought us here. Brought us right here where we’re standing today. The hearts we broke, the dreams we crushed and the hopes we discouraged all have left us with the pain we feel right now. That is reality. Happiness isn’t a destination. You can’t take a bus there. Happiness is making peace with yourself, your thoughts and accepting the truth – accepting  your reality.

It was the perfect balcony, one that overlooked the sea.
Every night, at the same time she would stand there leaning on the railing and staring out into the distance, searching. Hoping, that maybe somewhere in the darkness a hint of light would appear.

The sea breeze would tickle her bare arms but it never distracted her. The cold wasn’t far, however that wasn’t going to change anything. Below, the strip of sand was a reminder of the awful night they said goodbye. “I’ll wait for you” she said to him, knowing that the date and time of his return was unknown. He looked into her eyes and knew, knew that she meant every word. He took her hands in his trying to find the right way to express the mess of emotions building up within him. He kept searching her eyes, there was so much love in them it was overwhelming. He couldn’t find the words, so he took her face in his hands and kissed her forehead. With that he turned around and walked towards the boat he was supposed to depart in. The motor kicked to life and slowly the boat began to descend.

She ran towards the edge of the pier and yelled “I’ll wait for you” waving her hand frantically.

The wind carried the sound of her frantic, desperate voice – a slight echo still audible, if you listened close enough.

Awaking from this haunting memory, she turned her attention towards the sky, wondering if they still shared the same stars; hoping he still remembered her. Disappointedly, she gazed out at the calm sea wishing that tonight the wait would be over. Darkness had swallowed the entire city, there was no sign of light anywhere. There were no boats, no ships and no people making waves in this sea tonight.

“Another night then”, she thought as the wind blew the sound of her ancient screams through her ears. She turned and walked back inside, “I’ll keep waiting for you,” she whispered, as hopeful as ever.

Self Portrait

I know who I’m standing here for. 
It doesn’t matter that the sea I stand in has different faces everyday. I attract the ones I want to attract, the ones whose eyes light up when they see me standing on the corner of the street. There are some who get the spark watching the silver joints move around mechanically, doing everything like a robot. Fulfilling their every challenge. Then there are those that see an art, something special through all the silver. Who don’t just smile to see if it’s reflected back, but because they spotted the person I am on the inside. Those are the people that keep this show going. I can bare the noise of all the honking cars around me, deal with the obnoxious children telling me “I stink”, accept the loose change they throw at me – for those who truly care. 
The routine becomes monotonous, the same performance each and everyday. I try to change it as much as I can, but as confined as I am, it’s pretty difficult. However, the food’s great. Every corner has a great place to eat and that is one thing that I greatly enjoy. The food, the music and the socializing people. In the rush of the corporate lunch breakers and the students I don’t feel alienated, I just mesh in with the crowd. No one cared what I was wearing, saying or even ordering. Of course, there are always on average one or two people who stare, but that’s inevitable. At times I sit at one of my favorite quiet spots and write about my experiences, hoping it could help someone not become like me. To avoid my mistakes. To learn what not to do and what definitely not to do.
It sounds lonely but honestly it’s not. This world is too big for me to be the only freak, there are a few more and of course since we have that strong trait in common we’re the best of friends. Although we’re busy making our place on the streets, we try to take time out for each other, to talk about the ways we survive. Over the years the bonds we’ve formed are quite strong. Our stage might be miles apart and our performances slightly different, but we could never forget one another.
As for the fans, there’s there only few who return everyday, who believe in my every ability. The people who stand by me. The people who see beauty in the differences that make me stand out. It is because of them I stand before the unknown showcasing what I was once ashamed of – myself. I recently got the ability to see that even though my robot suit is cramped and worried with work, it’s my key asset. It defines me, explains who I am and who I am is the robot man, a show performer on a stage that is life. 


People say the woods are scary, I hear them whispering about it when they’re passing through. I never understood why, maybe it was because they didn’t know it as well as I thought I did. It was the only place I’ve ever called home. My daddy brought us to this part of the forest when the elder called for our species to grow. They used a very hard word, something like extension or extinction – mommy said he meant us deers were dying out. So I left my friends behind and followed my parents all the way here.

It seemed we were the only deers here, until my daddy went looking one day and came back with a few females. I didn’t like them, they made my mommy make angry and sad faces all day.
One day the three of us decided to search for something extra yummy to eat. I was so happy, jumping and racing both of them, chasing butterflies. Sometime mid dinner, daddy got up to check on something and didn’t come back. When mommy and I went back home, the female deers were whispering about him running away with someone. I really didn’t like them, I wish the elder hadn’t ordered daddy to find them. Mommy didn’t talk to me that night, she was very sad. She sat by the pond all day. I missed my friends, with daddy gone there was no one to play with here.
Days passed, daddy didn’t come back. Mommy tried very hard to play with me but it just wasn’t the same. After daddy, mommy was in charge, she went to search for more deers just like daddy used to. When she would be gone, she would tell me what to look after here. I felt so grown up, finally being considered a deer just like everyone else.

As time went by, I grew. I understood things better, met different creatures and animals, some I wish I hadn’t. One night, I accompanied mother on her expedition to herd more deers from other forests but this time we faced an unexpected surprise. He came out of nowhere, with big antlers and a mean, vicious face. He had captured her and there was nothing I could do. My antlers weren’t anywhere as big as his. So just like that my mom was gone.

I walked alone that night for the first time. The darkness was daunting, the sounds terrifying. I was alone, a lonely underage deer with no idea what purpose or existence meant. I stopped in my tracks and tried, tried to find an answer. But I was clueless, I couldn’t recall a single conversation with anyone about what to do when something like this happened.

This was it, this was what those people meant about the woods being scary.

Firearms- Part 2

My face met the ground as Haider pushed me down. Inaudible instructions were yelled out somewhere in the distance and just like that they had all disappeared. Still flat on the ground propped on my elbows, I aimed the sniper to the source of the chaos. Evaluating where to shoot, I looked to my right. Haider was still there, his hand was on my back keeping me on the ground, he knew I was capable of being completely stupid and running towards the center of the action. He signaled a plan to me, I nodded and we both started shooting.

The brass rain falling down at us had thinned, we were shooting blind but it was working. All of a sudden there was silence. The firing had stopped. Still on the ground, I searched the campsite; there was no sign of the others. I opened my mouth to call out their names when the excruciating pain made me choke on my words. The brightness of the day was changing to the dark of the night every few seconds in front of my eyes. It was when my hands felt the warm blood oozing out of my waistline did it make sense, one of the last few bullets had found its way into my flesh.

“We need to find the others, come on,” Haider instructed already on his feet a few feet away. He was gathering the already scarce supplies into a rucksack. I tried to move and ended up yelling in pain. Haider looked at me and saw the small pool of blood forming around me.

“Oh shit,” he exclaimed falling on his knees next to me. I was fighting the tears; I refused to cry, to be weak at this point. “It’s gone in pretty deep, this is Hammad’s area of expertise, I have no idea what to do,” Haider was panicking; I didn’t have the energy to try and calm him down. I wasn’t in any position to say anything reassuring.

“Can you walk?” He asked sounding terrified.

“I think so,” I managed to choke out. “I need help getting up though.”

He stood up, put my arm around his shoulder and helped me up. I felt the damaged tissue pull as I came to my feet barely managing to swallow my scream. I winced on every step, as I hopped down the trail leaning on Haider for support.  We couldn’t call out the other’s names without compromising our positions, so we wondered aimlessly through the woods trying to figure out where they had disappeared too. Every step I felt my energy levels drop a little. Haider sensed my lethargy and started to make conversation.

“I’m hoping Maleeha sees another snake or something, her scream might give us their location,” he joked.

I gave a shaky laugh but that’s all I could do.

“Does it hurt?” he asked sensing my discomfort.

“Yeah a bit,” My voice was so hoarse; it was getting difficult to speak as well.

 There was silence again. I kept thinking about them, about Ali and Maleeha. Just last night Ali had said he wanted to propose to her if we got out of here alive. Surely the universe would grant them their taste of happily ever after. Then Sheheryar, the youngest out of us all, he had so much more to see, so much more to live for. This couldn’t be the end for him.

It hurt to even think about Hammad, I knew how much he longed to see his family, to go back to his beautiful wife who he loved more than anything else in the world. He had promised her that he would come back to her. He had to keep his promise.

Haider had other reasons to win. Avenging his sister was the fuel to the fire, the fire of hatred that burned inside him. This war had taken everything from him, from his family to his peace of mind. I can’t remember the last time I saw him sleep. His mind replayed the screams, the horrific scenes as punishment. He was unable to protect his sister from the worst form of torture a man can do on an innocent little girl.  They had their way with her and left them all to die. Our soldiers were unable to save anyone other than him and since then it has been the purpose of his life to avenge them all, especially Eesha.

Here I was slowing him down in his fight against them.

I wasn’t even going to think about Sarim, this bullet was a sign, we really were not meant to be. I just hoped that once he found out about my passing he would move on, just like I had advised him too before I was deployed.  

My eyelids were drooping, the sandman was adamant to put me to sleep, but I knew that if I gave in now, I may never wake up again.

“Aleesha?” Haider whispered stopping. I felt my body go limp, but he caught me before I hit the ground. I could feel Haider’s frantic hands slapping my face, calling my name in the distance, but I was too tired to answer. The last thing I saw were red sparks in the sky, the signal. Somewhere towards north-east my friends were safe, with that peaceful thought I blacked out.