Sunday, 21 December 2014

Zubeida, Peshawar, Dec16th : Blog # 201

Zubeida, Peshawar, Dec16th

Ammi came to my room and pulled away the bed sheet from me. I wanted to sleep for some more time. When Ammi came and whispered in my ear what was for breakfast, I jumped from bed. She kissed me and laughed seeing my enthusiasm. I brushed and went to Abbu. Irfan was sitting in Abbu’s lap. Seeing me, Abbu asked both of us to get ready for school.

At the breakfast table, Ammi and Abbu were talking about a marriage to go to in the evening. I told Abbu that I do not want to go. These marriages are so boring. Abbu said “I know Abbu’s Zubi will come”. That was Abbu’s trick to get me to do something which I did not want to.  When he said that, I also never protestedJ. That was our sacred agreement. As usual, Irfan left behind one last spoon of cereal. Ammi came and fed him that. He always does that!

We were getting late. Abbu started his motorbike. I sat behind and Irfan sat in the front. Ammi wiped my face with her duppatta and I screamed “Ammi, I am not a child anymore!”. She laughed and said “Sorry daadima”. We reached a signal. Abbu asked me “Zubi, what are you going to be when you grow up?”. “Abbu, I want to be a pilot and I will fly you around the world in my plane”. I could see in the mirror that Abbu was beaming with pride. He asked Irfan “ Beta, what do you want to become?”. He said “ Abbu, I will become an officer like you”. The signal turned green. I hugged Abbu even tighter. We reached school and we got down. Abbu, “where do you want me to take you when I become a pilot?” Abbu smiled and said “Take me to the doorstep of Jannat and drop me there my dear”. I did not like that answer at all!

After the assembly, we all went to our classrooms. The first hour got over. I saw that Ammi had kept Irfan’s lunchbox in my bag. I stepped out of the classroom and went to Irfan’s class. I gave the box and was walking down to my classroom. I saw some uncles running towards me. They were in the uniform. For a minute, I thought they were Abbu’s friends. Then, one of them ran towards me and held me by my hair. What mistake did I do? I screamed out my teacher’s name. The teacher came out and they shot at my teacher using guns. I tried crying but I couldn’t and my body started shivering. I said “Sorry uncle. I won’t do it again”. I did not know what I did to make him angry. Then before I could say anything, he took out his gun and shot me.

I hope they did not do anything to my friends. I pray to God that Irfan is safe. What will my Ammi do without me? I am the one who always go for shopping with her. Who will she go with now? Who will polish Abbu’s shoes? Who will Irfan play with? How will I take Abbu on a world tour? What will happen to my dreams?
Zubeida, Peshawar,Dec16th

Anyone who has ever been with a child at least for a day would know that all a child is capable of is to Love. Have you seen a child getting scared? Their eyes go wide and they look at someone who can protect them. If you have ever been in such a position, you would give your life to protect that child. Imagine what those children would have gone through in those class rooms. Can you fathom what bottomless trench of grief the parents will be going through? How will they ever overcome the guilt of not being able to protect their children?

There are moments in eternity where the entirety of humanity weeps for the loss of its own self.  16th day of December in Peshawar, Pakistan was one such moment. We shouldn’t let it pass. Even if it suffocates ones heart and soul every time one thinks of it, one shouldn’t forget this blot on the consciousness of mankind.

Keywords: Peshawar,Pakistan,Terrorism,Children,Attack,Humanity,Tragedy,Traversity

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Pushpak Viman chronicles : Blog # 200

Pushpak Viman Chronicles          

If you are a frequent flyer, there are certain things one cannot help but notice about the way people behave in an airport and on board a flight. The pattern is so obvious that one has to be blind to not make a note of it.

            Let us begin with the airports. The first rush is to screen the baggage. Once the baggage is screened, we move to the check in counters. Many a time, this turns out to be a long winding queue. Some of us who are not used to standing in a disciplined queue make the frustration obvious by making random remarks. Most questions are rhetoric. “Why aren’t all the counters open?”, “Are the staff on leave?”, “Do they know what customer service is!” and it goes on and on. The person standing at the front of queue is in an LOC kind of a spot. He/she needs to be really alert and go in to the next counter which becomes free. Delay it by a second and the people standing behind you will start producing random sounds and rhetoric like the ones we saw above.

At the counter, the overworked – exhausted ground staff gives you a forced smile and a welcome greeting. If one is carrying excess baggage, one should pay for it. Instead what do we do? Random rhetoric comes here again “This is not the first time I am flying!”. “I am never flying by your airline again!”. During boarding, the ground staff announce clearly that the rows at the back need to board first so that there is less congestion inside the aircraft. But who are they kidding? Everyone from rows 1 to 16 will be at the counter demanding to get in first, shouting and arguing with them.

            More interesting things happen inside the aircraft. This starts with NOT greeting the cabin crew at the door. Again the over worked – exhausted cabin crew greets each and every passenger at the door. Most of us don’t even have the courtesy to look at them. Now starts the efforts to place the cabin baggage. Ideally, one should quickly place it in the overhead cabin and take one’s seat. But no! We take our own sweet time, place the bag exactly above our head and then look around and stand in the way! After getting everyone seated just when the cabin crew get ready for safety briefing, we feel thirsty and if the water is not served in the next 10 seconds, starts the rhetoric again!

The safety briefing is the most futile exercise I have ever seen. Right at that moment, many of us get occupied like never before. Some of us will be reading the newspaper or a book, others will be busy with the cellphones and some will look anywhere else but towards the person doing the safety briefing. The underlying vibe here is that I am a frequent flyer and I need not listen to the briefing! Don’t even get me started with the food and beverage being served. Yes I agree that most of it is so synthetic that you don’t feel like even chewing them let alone enjoy the taste. But there is a menu card and these are the only options available. Why should one start enquiring about the spread as if it were a 5 star restaurant buffet? Then there are some people who would want to visit the wash room exactly during take off and landing. I do not know what adrenalin rush they get from doing this!

            The funniest part comes during the landing. The moment an aircraft lands, people get up as if they are poked from beneath the seats! They start opening the overhead cabin and pulling the bags with absolutely no concern if the baggage is hitting an elderly person nearby or a child. Everyone knows that the door will open only after a while and until and unless people in the front rows get out, people in the subsequent rows cannot move. But no, neither will they sit down nor will they stop taking out their bags. You might think they are trying to save time. But these people have to go and stand at the baggage belt till their bags arrive. However fast these people arrive there, it takes some time for the baggage to reach the belt from the aircraft. Not to mention, ignoring the cabin crew who thank us continues during exiting the aircraft also.

            We do all this and wonder why the foreigners look down on us at the airports!