Categories
Prose

mountain-top peace

The gazebo was lit up with candles, which flickered through the patterned candle holder, forming mysterious shadows on the ground. The sides of the gazebo were draped in a thick layer of ivy from all around except the front entrance. Through there you could see down the mountain-top, a vast valley with rivers snaking down the opposite mountain. Tiny houses dotted here and there, and the sun setting behind the other mountains. Above it, a giant ombre canvas of pink, orange and blue.

The slight twittering of birds surrounded me. The refreshing smell of mint and something sugary mingled together with the faint scent of fresh fruit and reached my nose. The benches inside the gazebo were thick wooden ones, rubbed smooth after years of use. You could still see faint intials which other tourists had carved years ago, but were now almost completely rubbed smooth. I looked back down the mountain; it was a breathtaking sight.

Categories
Prose

Feeling Dirty

Dirt and grime had caked upon his skin. There was a thin black crescent at the end of his fingers, where the nails had overgrown and dirt had gotten stuck. His hair felt as if it had been dipped in smelly black oil. The stench from my clothes mingled with the unbearable smell of days old sweat which had mixed with the grime and hardened on my skin and then reached my nose. The soles of his feet were as if he had accidently stepped in a tub of tar and hadn’t bothered to wash it off.

Categories
Prose

Spices

As the fiery red powder hit my tongue, for a split second, I felt nothing; the longest split second of my life. Then I felt it. A prickling feeling was slowly creeping up my tongue  and the inside of my cheeks. It felt like red hot needles pricking my mouth. I clenched my teeth, and the pain from my jaw had travelled up to my temples. Then I realized that I had started panting. I rubbed my tongue against my teeth, my throat aching for water

Categories
Prose

Nightmares

My phone buzzed. I stuffed a few more French fries in my mouth before wiping my greasy hands on my hoodie and picking up the phone. I couldn’t recognize the number. I read the message and froze. There was only 1 message and it said “meet me outside right now” I looked at the screen for a moment before getting up and cautiously peeking out the window next to the front door. There was no one in the porch, but a dark hooded figure sat on our swing in the garden, swaying back and forth slightly. I stood there watching before closing my eyes and opening them again to see if I was hallucinating. Just like that the hooded figure disappeared. When I opened my eyes again, no one was sitting on the swing, but it was still swaying slightly. I reluctantly opened the front door before immediately shutting it again, and locking it. The hooded person was standing right in front of the door, and as I opened it, he grabbed the doorknob from outside, but he let go as soon as I pulled. I double-locked the door before locking all the windows and drawing the curtains. As I went to lock the kitchen door, I saw the same hooded person standing in the window, this time their face was visible, and he had a knife n his had. He grinned before smashing the window and stepping inside…

Categories
Prose

Eye Contact

She was standing in there. Any moment she would turn towards me and recognize me. Every fiber of my being wanted to go anywhere except in there. But I knew going back wouldn’t be much better. Pushing against my will, I pushed the gleaming door open and walked inside. My legs were shaking and I was grabbing the shelves to stabilize myself. As much as I tried to act normal, I couldn’t. My head started spinning but when I opened the freezer to get out an orange popsicle for Jamie, the fogginess in my mind cleared up a bit. I buzzed around the shop gathering all the groceries. As I walked up to the cash counter, she turned and looked at me. Her gaze was soft but it soon transformed into daggers, piercing through my forehead. My head started spinning again. Her expression hardened and his lips were glued together as if she was sucking a lemon. She took his first step towards me as I lost focus and the voices sounded miles away. The last words I heard were:  Take her in the storage room.

Categories
Prose

Short Story

See the source image

We dodged through the rickshaws, the donkey carts and the gaudily decorated buses and headed to the bazaar. We had to reach the forever crowded bazaar, in which our old school stood, before the policeman, even though it was Friday evening and we were supposed to be enjoying the start of a peaceful weekend. If we were to describe our situation it would be something like this: We were flying through the busiest road in all of Lahore on a vehicle which we had constructed only less than an hour ago, rushing to the school library before an overweight traffic policeman reached there. How we were going to get into the heavily guarded school building was still a mystery. I could see in the side view mirror that the policeman was closing up behind us, stuffing his face with chocolate frosted donuts as his figure became bigger and bigger in the side view mirror…

Now before I go on you must be wondering how we arrived at these mysterious circumstances. Well, it all began a month ago, when we were at the grocery store shopping for a trip to Peru (those adventures I will share another time) and we had a lot of shopping to do, mind you, and we already had filled 3 grocery carts up and the grocery store people wouldn’t let us use any more of the shopping carts, when mom got angry and decided to rush home with a good amount of anger inside her, (which was sure to last a few days) and, she wasn’t really in a mood to control or hide that.

That night I got to work. Up and awake all night, working away in my inventing barn (which was a place where I worked, aka my inventing studio) at my latest project. The next day I had turned a a few bars of steel and nails into another magnificent creation of mine.

Now all this has been very abrupt and to the point and a bit awkward if I do say so myself. Now I’ll explain in a bit more detail what you are reading.

So. I live in Lahore a beautiful city in Pakistan. Also I have a mom with a bad temper and a dad who lets us do anything as long as we do our homework and eat our vegetables. I have a twin sister who is my partner in crime also helps me cook up wicked plans. The other sibling is an elder brother who is 17 and is quite dim-witted, to be honest (he moved into a hostel about six months ago).

So now back to what I was saying earlier. I proudly walked out to show mom my marvelous creation.

“Mom I solved your problem at the grocery store yesterday.” I said to her before mentally going through my “signs that mom is angry an now is probably not a good time to talk to her” list. She looked at my creation and then beamed at me.

So my creation was a robot with a giant detachable trolley. It also had a barcode reader installed into it. I had implanted a clear map of our most commonly shopped at grocery stores. What it was supposed to do was that whatever items you wanted to buys you could put them in the trolley and when that got full you could simply scan each item with the barcode reader and then when you were done shopping you could get the items in the trolley scanned by the cashier while you detached the trolley off the robot and it buzzed around the store collecting all the things which you weren’t able to add to the trolley but had scanned and then you could collectively pay for all the items and then happily take them home.

This was a one of my most complex inventions ever. Mom immediately slipped into her mile long heels and told us we were going grocery shopping…

It was no surprise we were in the limelight at the grocery store. Some people sniggered, some stood and looked at us in awe. Some even took pictures when they thought we weren’t looking. Some aunties with a tire of fat around their stomach pointed at us and said to their children This is what will become of you if you continue these idiotic and non-successive games of yours” with no concern if we were standing right in front of her. But whatever the reaction was we kept shopping.

The cashier was a mousy looking woman and her scarf seemed to have swallowed her face. She kept nervously smiling (and sometime breaking out into a fit of giggles) while keeping an eye at the manager’s office but we kept our expressions consistent and managed to get out without an unnecessary and rather disruptive and interrupting of an adventure.

When we got home dad was lounging on the sofa. I put away shelly. That is what I had decided to call the robot while Nooria, my twin sister prepared dinner.

If my skill was inventing things then Nooria’s was cooking. She has the BEST food on the planet and this way mom also gets some free time. Since the winter was just beginning to sneakily creep up and then hit you with a burst of coldness like it did every year, Nooria was making fish, since fish is usually eaten in winters. At least in Lahore.

The next week…

So I should probably update you on all that has been happening this week. So first of all I added some new features to shelly and now she is basically a walking, talking human clone robot. She can perform tasks and even move around on her own to fetch you things and stuff. I keep building it more attachments, such as a layered trolley attachment for Nooria so she could hold her ingredients while cooking and also, I inputted the recipes into her so if Nooria needs to confirm any part of the recipe she can just ask shelly instead of opening her recipe book again.

Also mom has gone on a vacation for a week to her mom’s house so we are at home alone. Oh and also Haroon (the 17 year old brat) finally decided to pay us a visit (which he rarely does). He was sulking the whole time, though he did bring me and Nooria the cheapest box of chocolates he could find, but I think I overheard mom on the phone with him telling him to bring a gift for us since we were missing him oh so much…as if

So with mom gone and the winter vacations just around the corner, I think we are up for a pretty good time…

So what happened next is kind of interesting. So we had to bring something for a show and tell on the last day of school before the winter holidays. I asked my teacher if I could bring it in the day before so I wouldn’t have to rush the next morning. Sure enough I wanted to bring shelly. When miss asked what exactly I was going to bring. This is precisely what I told her:

A robot human clone with a high IQ level…She just sighed and scowled before striding back into the staff room…

I think I’ll take that as a yes

So I brought in my project and then asked the librarian if I could lock shelly In the library. The librarian is a really nice teacher she has won the the best teacher award in my brain and that is also the reason why I asked her.

So when got back home Nooria told me that there is some sort of fair on Saturday and she heard it was supposed to have a inventions exhibit and a cooking competition so we should ask dad to take us there after school tomorrow. We asked dad and he said immediately agreed. We grinned at each other before asking Nooria where the flyer for the fair was.  I skimmed through it before finding the inventions competition. It said whoever wants to participate has to bring in their invention before 9 in the morning, and just like that our adventure starts…

I immediately knew I had go fetch shelly right now or I would be screwed. I looked at Nooria and I knew she had read my expression. School would still be open because the senior section of school had and an extra two hours.

Now getting shelly out was only half the battle; getting to the school in the first place would be difficult. Even though dad was lenient, he did refuse sometimes and I know this would be one of those times.

I slipped out of my uniform before tying my hair and heading to the inventing studio. Nooria was following close behind. But as soon as I walked in and saw my lack of equipment I knew it would take me hours to think up something. Usually mom takes me to the junkyard every week so I can refill my supplies, but with her gone I had to ask dad which I hadn’t really gotten a chance to do.

Nooria was standing beside me looking at the materials I had in dismay. Then she looked at me and shook her head. I knew this meant that now there is no hope and that we should just give in. I was about to agree when an old box of junk under the bench caught my eye. I rushed over to it and examined its contents, and after glancing at the materials I had, my brain’s levers and pulleys began whirring at top speed…

So now that we had a rather absurd but simple looking vehicle, all we had to do now was sneak out. Nooria and I slipped into our sturdiest shoes and wrapped our faces with scarves so that we wouldn’t be recognized by anyone who knows us and happens to see us pass by on the whimsical looking vehicle. We got out the back door and and out onto the road. We had never travelled alone like this especially to such a crowded place…

Now before I move on with the story, I must remind you all that the story you are reading is supposed to lead back to the first paragraph. Also I must warn you that part is very close by, so read on if you must.

So all was going fine, though fine is a rather ironic way to describe our situation, until we reached a police check post. All the vehicles were supposed to pass through the barriers while the police made sure we weren’t criminals in disguise, though do you think criminals would even take the route which falls on a police check post. Anyways, since the device I build was basically a modified skateboard with an engine attached to it, we decided to act like pedestrians walking by holding a skateboard. The police were eyeing us suspiciously but we managed to get out without getting caught.

Now I may be a bit self biased but I must say my inventions do work pretty well. And just when we were about to jump back onto the skateboard I heard a whistle and I knew we were done for. Nooria screamed as she saw the overweight policeman jump (more like limp) onto his bike and we suddenly fell into hot pursuit.

Now this is precisely were it would be appropriate to add the following:

We dodged through the rickshaws, the donkey carts and the gaudily decorated buses and headed to the bazaar. We had to reach the bazaar , in which our old school stood, before the policeman, even though it was Friday evening and we were supposed to be enjoying the start of a peaceful weekend. If we were to describe our situation it would be something like this: We were flying through the busiest road in all of Lahore on a vehicle which we had constructed only less than an hour ago, rushing to the school library before an overweight traffic policeman reached there. How we were going to get into the heavily guarded school building was still a mystery. I could see in the side view mirror that the policeman was closing up behind us, stuffing his face with chocolate frosted donuts as his figure became bigger and bigger in the side view mirror…

And I took a sharp right before swerving to the left. I was going to kill Nooria; she was screaming at every little thing. We had entered the crowded bazaar now, and it would be difficult for the policeman to follow us here. It took us a moment to take the atmosphere in.

Aunties examining dupattas and yelling out prices to bargain. Children having temper tantrums and screaming that they want to buy cotton candy from the street vendors. The smell of gol gapy and Chana chaat mingling with the pungent smell of freshly dyed clothes. The tinkling sound of bangles clinking against each other. It was a wonder feeling just being in the bazaar.

But we were quickly reminded of the terror behind us by a whistle and I zoomed on dodging the bulging posteriors of yet more aunties.

The policeman was sure to a much harder time passing through the tightly packed ladies who had no intention of giving way to the policeman who would most probably smear frosting from his donut snack all over her newly shopped shopping. I could see the school building now but I suddenly realized that it was almost dusk and school was closed hours ago.

When we arrived at the school building, we had lost the policeman. We hid my invention under a bush and examined the security. It was pretty well guarded, but luckily we found a gate where the guard looked as if he was about to doze off. Nooria and I hid behind the billboard advertising skin whitening cream and waited until the guard fell asleep, which happened quite soon. We sneaked past the sleeping guard, and into the school. We headed straight to the library but to our dismay we found that it was locked. I knew exactly what to do. I ran to the science lab, with Nooria running close behind me. I just turned around the corner but stumbled back again and bumped into Nooria. The janitor was moping the floor. I mouthed the word “janitor” to her before pressing ourselves against the wall.

We watched him mop the whole corridor before moving on to the next corridor. I rushed to the science lab and rummaged through the drawers until I found a bunch of metal stirrers. I asked Nooria to turn on one of the Bunsen burners. I slipped on a heatproof glove and heated the metal stirrers until they were just hot enough to be bent into a lockpick. Nooria turned the gas off under the burner and I dashed back to the library. I picked the lock and beamed at Nooria when I heard the faint click of the door opening.

I kicked the door open and stood and admired shelly I just realized that she might be a robot but boy, did I miss her! I walked over and wheeled her out. We were just about to turn around the corner when we bumped into the janitor. We were so worried about getting shelly out that we forgot that we would be in trouble if we were caught.

Luckily the janitor was a pretty aged person so it took him while to recover from the shock. We however were better at acting fast in these situations. Nooria still had the metal stirrers in her hand, so she poked him hard in the stomach and then banging the back of this head before hoping in Shelly’s Trolley I turned her on and wheeled us out of the school building. The janitor, by now, had probably alerted the security about us so we had to take another way out. Luckily we had our scarves covering our faces so we wouldn’t be recognized.

We ran to the same gate from which we had entered all the guard had been called to the main gate to be alerted about us so the exit was easier than the entry.

Now getting back would be rather difficult since now we had shelly with us. I thought that I could take shelly and Nooria could take the same invention that brought us here. Now, we were travelling back in a pretty good condition though we probably now had a petty criminal record. Now I was scared that dad was aware of our monkey business and though he wouldn’t scold us himself, he would tell mom and she would come rushing back and kill us because we were a “disgrace” To the family, so now I was just hoping the word hadn’t spread too much.

When we reached home we put shelly in the barn and stopped to catch our breath. When we flopped down on the sofa of my barn we sighed before looking at each other and breaking into a fit of giggles. Just now we had realized how absurd of an adventure we had just had. We were so lucky that we had this adventure when mom wasn’t around.

The next day…

Nooria and I had fallen asleep in the barn. We were awakened by dad gently shaking us and then leading us to our bedrooms. Through our foggy sight we could see him smiling at us in a way someone smiles when you just shared a secret with them.

When we woke up next morning, we quickly got ready for the fair. We got into the car and headed out. After our adventure last night the fair seemed like small potatoes I sighed and looked out the window as a small dot in the horizon became bigger and bigger until it took shape of the fair…..

(This is kind of an elaboration of the “cliffhanging passage” I seriously don’t know what to name this so like i’ll just call it pt 2 of the cliffhanging passage)

Categories
Prose

The dentist’s office

  The horrible stench  of antiseptics mingled with the overpowering smell of a floral air freshener before reaching everyone’s noses. You could almost taste the mustiness of the room and you felt like someone was suffocating you. The walls, which had posters of teeth all over them,  were plastered with a thin layer of grime. The sofas were patched so many times you could barely see the original fabric. A woman with eccentric looking hair was loudly yelling over the phone and trying to quiet down a screaming baby at the same time. You could hear the whimpering of the kid before a faint humming sound coming from the dentist’s clinic. I saw a pair of twin boys who were still in their school uniform. They looked extremely sleepy after staying awake all weekend.

There was a table along the sofas with last year’s magazines and newspapers, along with an empty vending machine. The receptionist was a dull looking woman with a grim face who was going through about a hundred files at once and was greedily eyeing a plate of soggy cookies which the dentist made her put there for the frightened kids. There was a pair of twin boys who were still in their school uniform. They looked extremely sleepy after staying awake all weekend. Their mother sat beside them, reading an old magazine about interior home designing. The floor was littered with all sorts of junk from years ago which no one bothered to clear. 

Categories
Prose

a cliffhanging passage

We dodged through the rickshaws, the donkey carts and the gaudily decorated buses and headed to the bazar

We had to reach the bazaar , in which our old school stood,  before the policeman, even though it was a Saturday. If we were to describe a situation it would be something like this: We were flying through the busiest road in all of Lahore on a vehicle which we had constructed only less than an hour ago, rushing to the school library before an overweight traffic policeman reached there. It was a Saturday but so it was even busier. How we were going to get into the heavily guarded school building was still a mystery. I could see in the side view mirror that the policeman was closing up behind us, stuffing his face with chocolate frosted donuts as his figure became bigger and bigger in the side view mirror…

Categories
Prose

Autobiography of a Leaf

Hanging from the leaves, so quietly. People pass by us all the time but we are just an extra part of people’s lives. I just hang there, slightly swaying in the breeze. Yet my friends and I make the most beautiful lush green trees. I start out small, like all the others, but then grow all big green and delicate.

But then the autumn came, the time we all wait for our whole lives. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. First one of my friend from the higher branches turned brown and withered up and then flew into the sky as the wind blew and landed softly in the grass. We all were amazed. After him many others left the same way, but my turn never came. And then suddenly I noticed a corner turning brown. and then before I knew it I was like the others; brown, withered and crumpled up. Now all what was left was for the wind to blow and I fly away to discover the mysterious world. I felt cozy and my body was even more delicate. I felt myself loosening from the branches and with a sudden gush of wind I blew away.

I first fell to the ground with some of the others. Then once another strong, windy day came and then we flew with the wind. I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. We flew over the seas and mountains. We travelled to the wonders of the world before finally settling down on the hard pavement on which we would twist and crackle under people’s feet.

This would be our graveyard.

Categories
Prose

/the social dilemma_

Social Media is a marketplace that trades in humans.

Today there are hundreds of social media networks, some of the most popular being Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram,Tictok and Youtube, and they all are competing against each other to see which is the most popular and which will become the next “trend”.

Social networks are platforms where people share content such as entertainment videos, pictures, political or religious information or news and sometimes educational content. Like mentioned earlier there are so many different platforms and all of them have different trends such as different challenges, tricks, dances, pranks and so on depending on what features the network contains.

These networks were made on the basis of what people are interested in, what is the latest craze.These social networks are in a steady war which is hidden for a normal user. The war is all about how many people prefer using whatever network over any other network. But in the bigger picture the only thing they are interested in is the money and how much money.

On the topic of money another question arises that where are they getting all of these trillions of dollars from anyways. The users aren’t paying. Well, when we use these social media networks, they have our attention and here they can pop up anything they want us to see, so basically they are selling our attention. They are selling our attention to the adverts. They pay to the big companies like facebook, instagram tictok and endless more for our attention. And when you think about it sometimes different platforms provide an option to go “premium”. In which in most cases they ask you for a monthly pay and one of the features of this premium mode is that you don’t get advertisements which is why they ask you to pay. To make up for the money they lose by not showing you ads.

“If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.”

The most interesting part hasn’t even happened yet. If you have an account in any big social media network you know that your homepage is going to be filled with recommendations that they know you like; they know what ads or video get you hooked up and they know for how long you look at you screen day and how long you look at each post  and which ones you enjoy best and which person or thing are you interested in which is kind of creepy that they are spying on you.

Everyone in your newsfeed sounds just like you”

These can make you like things you generally hated before or hate things that you loved before. They can predict and control your actions and most people don’t see this because this is done indirectly. After a few hours of scrolling through whatever network you prefer it is very easy to convince or persuade things to you and this again is sometimes done indirectly. Your opinions are valuable to you and you are enthusiastic about them too and anything or anyone that says otherwise is wrong. People aren’t ready to reconcile. They have been brainwashed.

We have a team of engineers whose job is just to monitor your daily activity.”

“We want to psychologically figure out how to manipulate you as fast as possible.”

Social media has its own goals. We want them to keep using it with their fingers so that you are being programmed at a deeper level.”

“Facebook discovered that they were able to defect real world behaviors and emotions without triggering the users awareness.”

Social media is a drug”