Never Forget – 16. 12. 2014.

Exactly one year ago, I was sitting with my mother in the waiting area of a hospital in Karachi, awaiting our turn. Debating whether to get a sandwich or not, I got up from the extremely uncomfortable chairs, and walked towards the exit. Twenty-something faces glued to the television screen caught my attention, and I ended up joining them.

The news anchor was repeating the same line over and over again. Terrorists had breached the security of a building in Peshawar and armed forces had been deployed. I shook my head, and, not understanding the gravity of the situation, continued my search for something edible.

By the time I got home, the name of a school was flashing in big, white letters against a red background. Beneath that, the number of casualties was changing rapidly. 80 – blink – 85 – blink – 90.

At night, the number had reached 141. A hundred and forty one lives cut short. School-going children, whose biggest worry while leaving home would have been the exam they were due to take, were made to witness the death of their friends in the final few minutes of their own lives.

The anger had run high in the days following the attack. People wanted to personally seek revenge; charities were set up in their names and even the politicians were made to be compassionate towards the families of the martyrs.

And then came the new year – the year we vowed to carry on the legacies of those who had suffered at the hands of the enemy – an enemy that was retaliating against the war waged against them just so we could be safe.

A severely divided Pakistan came together for just one cause – to defeat the enemy in their own, little, manageable ways.

As days passed, the martyrs of the APS attack remained in our hearts, but, as it happens, life went on. The vows made during those days were soon forgotten; Pakistan was as divided as ever in the year 2015.

What does #neverforget mean? Will it bring back the women and children killed last year? Is honouring their memory simply restricted to posting a picture? Do we even remember what their deaths signify?

Pakistan has, for long, been waging a war against terrorism. While we are busy deciding whether an Ahmadi can enter a Sunni mosque and whether a Punjabi can take the most votes in Sindh, our men in uniform are fighting day and night to keep Pakistan safe. What, one may ask, does one have to do with the other?

Everything.

It is virtually impossible to harm a unanimous crowd. A country in which havoc is raised every time a single human being is killed or violated cannot be a failure. A country where one person stands for the rights of another, whether it is in their interest or not, is a country that will flourish no matter what.

#NeverForget that the children killed that day weren’t just killed for going to school. They were killed because their parents were risking their lives to save ours. They were killed because their parents are fighting a war to save Pakistan – the very Pakistan we, with our ethnic and sectarian melodrama, are destroying everyday.

 

 

 

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To New Beginnings.

Four and a half years ago, sitting in class and pondering over different options, I was a confused mess. Three vastly different majors stood in front of me, waiting to be approached. Each step was timid, hesitant; and the prospect of choosing something that I might regret, rattled every fibre of my being.

What seems like seconds later, I’m – we are – at crossroads again. Some of us might know where we want to go from here on, but most of us, myself included, are praying that one day they’ll wake up and their future will have been decided for them.

Every time the topic of graduating is broached, there is massive pandemonium. Hair stands on edge, hands begin to tremble, and the overwhelming feeling is akin to that when stepping on a landmine. One wrong move, and you’re gone.

The competition, at this stage, is immense. People who were inseparable since the day they stepped onto the campus are learning how to fight their way to the top. Friends who had once been there for each other are now all independently endeavouring towards their goals. It is truly that point where you begin to acknowledge that your mother, with her decades of experience, had been right. From here on, every battle is our own.

Peer pressure is another thing that begins to take its toll at this point. Not everyone in the class will or even want to end up with a successful job. Some will get married, move away, get so busy with their lives that they wouldn’t have a second to spare. Others will have immersed themselves in climbing the ladder of success. All of us will have some difficult decisions to make, and there will always be hoards of people disagreeing with you, blaming you for blowing up your education, not having time for your friends, or if not that, then something else.

In the end, the best decision will be the one that makes the heart happy; in helping people, accumulating a fortune or maintaining a happy family – or, who is to say – maybe even all three.

When I began writing this, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with this. Part of me wanted to write about all the amazing moments we’ve had together, a small part of me wanted to be grateful that the crazy exam schedules will soon finally be behind us, but mostly, I think I ended up reminding myself of how these four years were still the easiest and few of the best years of our lives.

There are still a couple of months to go before we finally bid adieu. Some of us might even continue to meet over the course of the next few years but, all in all, the greatest chapter in our lives will have come to an end, bringing with it fears of uncertainty.

I think, where I was really going with writing all this was to rescind that you all have been responsible for some of the best, and sometimes, the worst, moments in this four-year span. So really, all I wanted to say was thank you.

Thank you for helping me be who I am today, and all the best for wherever we all go from here on.

Bin Roye – [An Honest Review]

From the day Bin Roye was released, the movie had received mixed reviews from the public. Whilst none of the reviews I had read or heard called the movie promising, I decided to watch it myself for two reasons: first, it was a Pakistani movie with an intriguing trailer and second, because it starred the ever-beautiful Mahira Khan who, (I must admit) had an entertaining number with the one and only, Adeel Hussain.

Before I proceed, I must mention that the movie is based on a novel written by Farhat Ishtiaq, who also wrote the hit drama series Humsafar. Even though I hadn’t read the novel, knowing some great serials that had been adapted from Ishtiaq’s books, I felt that I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

Keeping that in mind, I must say, I was quite disappointed. Bin Roye has everything a blockbuster film needs: famous actors and actresses, beautiful costumes, a great setting and, for the emerging Pakistani cinema, good cinematography and choreography. However, it lacks one major thing: a storyline.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched the movie, I would suggest that you stop reading right here. No? Fine. Don’t blame me. 

The movie opens at a fair of sorts, with Irtiza (Humayun Saeed) and her cousin Saba (Mahira Khan) shopping for bangles on chaand raat. Immediately, the age difference between the thirty something Irtiza (in the movie) and the less-than-twenty-something Saba dampens their on-screen chemistry.

The movie continues into a scene with their ‘Dadu’ (grandmother), who is seen wearing the same kind of clothes throughout the entire movie, except in different colours. I think we all know which character’s designer lacked inspiration! Her acting was irritating, her voice high-pitched and nasal. In all, I think a better actress could’ve been chosen for her character – we have plenty in our industry!

Irtiza (orphaned when he was just a little child), who is loved by all in his family, announces his decision to move to America. Saba, who finds out about this at the same time as the audience – a day before he is due to leave – is depressed and needs some coaxing before she is fully convinced of his departure.

Enter Saman (Armeena Rana Khan): Saba’s sister who had been adopted by her Aunt and Uncle when she was young. She lives with her foster parents in America with full knowledge of the fact that she’s adopted. Her parents (Zeba Bakhtiar and Javed Sheikh), meanwhile, are regretting their decision of giving their daughter away.

Coming back to Irtiza, who is now in America and is found flirting with Saman. Two dialogues and a song later, they exchange their goodbyes as two years pass and Irtiza leaves on a plane back to Pakistan.

Back in Pakistan, Saba is asking her grandmother to get her married to Irtiza (who clearly likes her sister, LOL.)

Like every other ‘filmy’ story, someone has to die before a climactic scene can take place. In this case, poor Saman’s foster parents are killed when a Germany-bound plane crashes. Leaving everything, Saman lands in Pakistan, reveals to her parents that she knew she was their daughter all along, and Saba decides that she loves her sister. They even put in the brilliant ‘Maa’ scene. Super-filmy!

More confusion ensues as Saba – who can see, but is too daft to accept, that her childhood love has his eyes on her sister – is thrown off by Irtiza’s declaration love for ‘tumhein pata hai na mein kis ki baat kar raha hun.’ Of course.

Five minutes later, Saba is in her grandmother’s arms crying because Irtiza has asked Saman to marry him. Grandmother explains to her that everything happens for a reason and voila! All’s well and good and Saba is dancing on her love’s mehndi. At the nikkah, Saba, agonized, rips off her jewellery with such ferocity that it would’ve ripped her hair out or, at least caused her ears to bleed a bit, but they came off as easily as if they weren’t secured in the first place (big surprise!)

Although, here I’ve got to admit that the songs were pretty amazing in the entire movie, and the choreography was very well done. A special appearance by Adeel Hussain didn’t hurt much, either. If you know what I mean. Also, Mahira Khan’s scenes in which she is displaying her anguish over losing Irtiza and later, when Saman dies (whoops! But like I said, someone has to die for the greater good) and she feels responsible for her wishing death upon her.

Fast forward to Saba getting married to a relative’s son (Junaid Khan) who is already married and has a son and has no interest in getting married again. Ten minutes before their nikkah the guy meets up with Irtiza and asks him to put a stop to this marriage. He is surprised to hear about his first marriage and I think so was the audience. A part of me wanted her to get married to someone else and give that two-timer Irtiza a lesson or two!

But, since everyone’s all dressed and puckered up for a wedding, the show must go on. Irtiza replaces Saba’s to-be-groom and gets married to Saba, who is still consumed by the guilt of indirectly killing her sister. Needless to say, she is furious!

There are some major plot holes in the movie. By this point, Irtiza, who had declared his undying love for Saman, is busy in wooing Saba. His child (Aariz Naufil) was born and grew several feet over the scope of a song, had been left in Saba’s care by his dying mother, and was forgotten by the newly-married couple as they went back to America. Also later, an injured Humayun Saeed sporting a bandaged hand and wrist, effortlessly picks Mahira up and carries her into the house. Saeed has clearly outclassed all the men out there. Sorry guys!

The movie, which obviously had to end with Irtiza and Saba in love with each other, did so in what I’d like to think was a mistake on the screenwriter’s part. Irtiza – lo and behold! – says that he took care of Saba for all those years because she had always been his first love! Clearly, they forgot to put in the part where Saba slaps him for being such an ass!

Bin Roye, in all, is not the romantic movie it’s set out to be, however, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going to watch this movie. It’s a good for a laugh and some light entertainment. And the songs, of course, will have you grooving to their catchy tunes throughout!

*** Sorry about the insane amount of grammatical errors. Didn’t proof-read it before!