When people shed like tree leaves


Together or alone in the online world? 

Journal writing – thoughts 

From one window to the other – the air is the same. Sky is clear but we have been banned like the kites in Pakistan. Is the thread too harsh? Is the act too festive? Does it have a history that we don’t want to remember? What just happened? Where did all the shields and bionics go? Imagine the Mongols, Mughals or Robots suffering from covid-19. The Quranic event of the Ababeel (Martin bird) runs across my mind. The Prophet’s grandfather was assured by Allah that the strong invading army won’t be able to do any harm to Makah. Abdul Muttalib told the people of Makah to hide in caves while flocks of Ababeels crowded the sky and carried gravel in their claws and beaks. The Ababeel threw gravel stones in a way that it hit the enemy like bullets.

We are also in hiding these days – hiding in our caves from the enemy: Covid-19. The atheist denies communication with the skies, the agnostic confirms with a reflection, the monotheist asserts, the polytheist is confronting all the gods but the point is – this has happened. It has happened and we are trying, hiding, escaping, washing our hands and our hearts, masks are stronger than all armor ever constructed – the fight continues, it’s a war but with whom?  

Is it our own reflection? DW TV shows a program on people and their conflicts in too much proximity and also those finding ways to come around it. My online lectures/teaching help – they assert a shadow of normalcy. My brothers always gave me the responsibility to fix all nonfunctional VCR’s, phones etc as a child and I was always able to fix – I have liked joining the right wires since childhood – I never gave up – but now – technology – ‘virtuality’ exhausts me after a while, more than all mental, physical, emotional work… Social media and the reliance on the online world tire me down – although I am so looking forward to an online poetry recital on the 18th. 

It is a human ban. There is news of animal visits in populated areas. Do we deserve being human and how human have we been in the past decades? While the bees do their hives and butterflies and birds visit flowers, we are homebound. Home is a privilege. It is heaven – but did we care enough for it? Home is the grandmother who always wanted you to listen to her stories but you couldn’t care enough (btw I did). Home is a warrior. We return to our nests, some crammed in one room, some in life’s luxury but our conditioning has been robotic and the online world sustains it. There is a Human side, genius too, Christiane Amanpour shares about music as the unifier across balconies and continents. Andrea Bocelli singing amazing grace in the empty Milan Duomo cathedral, Italy, has a soul sinking impact. It’s as if all cells, molecules and particles of the universe are in me.

The other side is the reliance of survival on plastic social media check lists. We have become our own voyeurs, looking into our own windows with fear of missing out. It is not a Rumi-isque or Bulleh Shah-isque looking in…not to do with understanding and solitude but more of a podium with positions marked on it. Are we making a sufficient number of beautiful looking dishes? Do we have a correct number of friends to insert on a zoom-grid online conversation screenshot? Are you being productive or unproductive enough? I was born in the 80s. I feel a short term memory and conversation span in many people around me. The cliché “if it wasn’t on social media it never happened” is used with cheerful hashtags but it is the pandemic of our times. Lives which are curated with precision and requirements for a digital cloud space are only tweaking themselves around the home bound livelihood. The sky, the trees, the sun have in some way been banned for us by nature itself but the marathon continues. Quarantine makeup tutorials and quarantine makeup continues on Instagram when daily wage workers starve at home and people shed from the earth like the tree leaves in Lahore these days. I’m not a scientist, psychologist or a sociologist but I wish empathy was trending in today’s world. Mourning, survival and suffering are all conflicted. We have become ‘effort repellent’ and the electronic cloud sucks up all our energies. Call me old fashioned but it all began when call and visit invites were replaced by WhatsApp group invites. Another privilege has been taken away. To hold hands, to hug, to hold on… 

Somewhere down the line we forgot how to feel for each other… 

To listen to each other… 

To share with each other… 

My grandmother used the word ‘incorrigible’ for us when we didn’t listen to her… 

We are incorrigible…

Probably we weren’t listening and nature decided to roll up its sleeves…

Being opinionated also trends in today’s world but I don’t like too much opinion and too many statements, though I do like searching for the truth and shared reflection, I love curiosity. It’s been an avalanche of statements here and this is a one off. Anyone could agree or disagree. 

I don’t defy or condemn all the sharing on the cloud – and also commend and salute it for its array of possibilities…the accessibility, speed and openness of knowledge and sharing is uncontested and all the online ‘cake making’ can be heartwarming sometimes.

I was not up for opening up fifty Google tabs and giving reevaluated facts and figures today… 

This is to share the weight we carry 

I hope we change 

I hope we can change 

For ourselves, for each other… 


Last night we saw a beautiful live poetry session from across the border in our living room. The line between the autumn and spring of our millennial world is as abstract as heaven and hell – who will go where? We can never really know.

As I YouTube-watch Poetry in Voice 2016 winner Marie Foolchand recite Carl Sandburg’s poem ‘I am the people, the mob’…the words and her recital enrapture me:   

“…I am the working man, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes.

I am the audience that witnesses history. 

The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. 

They die. 

And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.

I am the seed ground. 

I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. 

Terrible storms pass over me. 

I forget.

The best of me is sucked out and wasted.

 I forget. 

Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have.

 And I forget.

 Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. 

Then—I forget…”

We have a history of forgetfulness. We have never been so alone and so together at the same time. The question is how alone and together are we – today? 

One thought on “When people shed like tree leaves

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