Africa beckons from Spanish shores. It’s the summer of 2014, and we’re waiting for the 3:30 pm Ferry to Tangier, Morocco.
Five months and twenty two days before I was born, my country of birth under the rule of Bhutto decided that people of my community were no longer allowed to call themselves Muslims. So, when I was born, I was born a kafir according to the Constitution of Pakistan.
Roohi Vohra’s nostalgic poem, Islamabad ki Sarkain-इस्लामाबाद की सड़कें/اسلام آباد کی سڑکیں, takes us down the streets of Islamabad where she grew up. An English Lecturer at San Jose State University and Evergreen Valley College and currently Interim Director of the San Jose Area Writing Project, Roohi invites us down those streets with this poem in English.
Abu is in the letter, arguing voraciously about politics with his fellow Pakistanis on the ship. Mummy promises her mother that he will add a line or two at the end of the letter, but true to the man I knew, he decides to let Mummy have the last word.
This poem was inspired by Hassan’s poem “Yaad” which brought back memories of my own childhood and young adulthood days in Islamabad.
“To do something extraordinary, you have to be willing to push the envelope into having those uncomfortable, raw, real conversations through your literature; something both Saadat Hasan Manto and Mohsin Hamid have done.”
Like my students, I grew up in a culture of many languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, and if we were lucky, some Farsi, too. Pakistan was where I was born… Read more How Subhani Met my Margaret →
“He will sip tea as he relates the story of Lyallpur. He will remind his audience how the plan of the city is representative of the overlapping crosses of three Saints: Andrew of Scotland, Patrick of Ireland, and George of England.”
“We have been asked to reflect on the moment we fell in love with learning. In those moments of silence at the conference, I stare at the sunbeams glistening through the windows in the auditorium. I am transported to another milder beam forcing itself through the window of my college library in Pakistan in the late 70s.”
Urdu Bazaar A labyrinth of narrow winding streets just outside the old walled city of Lahore. Horns blaring, cars squeeze past donkey and camel carts loaded with printed material. Books… Read more Charming Booksellers in the Chaotic Urdu Bazaar of Lahore →
As we inhale the miasma of the past, we seek the perfumes indelible to the history in which we grew up. What better to choose as our leader in this endeavor than Attar, the perfume maker of the twelfth century Persia, and join his Conference of Birds.
“We cover the pallets with the copied lines, twisting the reed pens we try to replicate the beauty of the script. Like birds on the horizon, the strange calligraphic forms of Persian characters hover above and below the line, just like Urdu, the language we speak, and Arabic, the language in which we pray. We are gratified by the beauty of the text, the meaning of the lines.”
When he returned, the camera had disappeared under the edges of tulle lace bordering a blueish green party dress. The woman wearing the dress chose that color to match her eyes. Margaret Catherine Davies, a student of art and literature, brushed back her deep auburn bob as she talked to her friend, unaware of the camera.