I’ve never finished a TV show series as quick as ’13 Reasons Why’, and I’m shaken to the very core- in fact there are goose bumps trembling across my body, in waves if I might add- to and fro- to the beat of my thoughts.
It’s eerie how well I could relate to all the characters in this show- to all the 13 reasons why a girl ended her life. Ah. Look at this; I’m making things about me again. Typical. But isn’t that what most of us do? We; who are a society of bullies, plastering ourselves with fashion-forward style, smiles and aesthetics, raking in meaningless ‘like’ after ‘like’, deluding ourselves with our “perfect” existence- when we could be so much more. Instead of being tools of destruction, we could be the building blocks, the pillars for support to those crumbling inside. We could be so much more than an empty box with a Wi-Fi connection, really.
It’s an amazing series. Watch it. Understand it. Make it amount to something- for all those ‘Hannah Bakers’ out there; for the sake of this one, make them smile, and believe in themselves. Show them that there is humanity out there in a world where so many get lost, that there is a compass somewhere just waiting to guide them home.



A moment of magic:
Of madness,
Of half-
-Or double-
You decide.

It’s the past
or the future
Depends on where you stand,
Where you look
It’s you who decides.

It’s not your mother,
Sleeping on her room, brow creased in fear
Nor your dad,
Limp moustache and glasses askew-
Harassed with the life he’s lived for you.

A cusp
Between wishes or dreams
And reality and truth
What is-
-What can be.
And its You
who decides.

~Saniya Shahzad

A eulogy for my tree

Trees are companions. The silent ones, whose presence is felt, not heard; whose presence holds different meanings for its beholders. Each tree has its own story to tell, let it be a short memoir, or a long history, trees tell stories to those who are willing to listen. This here is our story.
I had a beautiful tree, it was green, tall and perfect, but most importantly it was mine. I planted its seed almost a decade ago, and then we both grew together. I watered it while its roots were learning to search for that essential fluid. I remember crossing the street each morning supporting a sloshing, dripping bucket with my grandfather or my mother, who pointed out different things to me, ensuring that my tree wasn’t the only one who learnt new tricks and tips.
Swiftly and silently time flew by, and both of us grew, me into my teenage years and my tree, higher than any other in the whole street. I used to talk to it, in my head, telling it my stories and listened while it whispered back to me, sometimes replies in forms of shaking branches and rustling leaves. On weekdays, often was my norm to wake up in the wee hours of morning, to simply watch the world as it woke, and always my tree was there to watch with me. When I sat down to write poems, or something that meant a lot to me, I always sat by my windowsill and faced my tree, and somehow it always helped me think and organize my thoughts. Sometimes when I would pass by my tree, I would stop and feel the rough bark that coated it, and hug it, and feel strangely lighter after doing so.
It warmed my heart to see my tree becoming an asset to society, as in the blistering heat of Karachi; it would also provide shade to dusty vendors, and wandering animals. Young boys in the street would hang on its thick branches, and crows would make it their home. In springtime it would grow the sweetest smelling flowers, which I would present to my mother to hang in our kitchen. During Eid time, we would all collect near its base, as that’s where our sacrificial animals used to be tied up.
Throughout my life, my tree had been my companion. Even when life got tough, and I would not be near it, I felt its presence- and the fact that it was there; from the start of my journey in life warmed my heart like nothing else. And then one day it was gone.
I got home from college that fateful day to find it chopped up, its trunk with its branches shaved off and lying on the ground, unattached. In those defeated hues of green, I saw red. That was my companion they murdered for wood. That was my companion they dissected and sold. That was my companion who is no more, killed by ambitious men who unwittingly committed the greatest sin by letting greed overcome their senses. Who cuts trees, which have so much to offer this world, and want back so little?



I guess what the worst part of growing up and out is, when the people who knew all about your life once, stop being a part of it.. And you’re powerless as you watch the once active 24/7 chats lie dormant for weeks at a time, powerless as the permanent marks they made fall victim to time and that the lies of the advertising agency become apparent as they slowly but surely fade away to nothingness.. 😦


During the post-exam frenzy, I often fall into daydreams, trying to relive the ‘good ol’ times’ when the workload wasn’t as much, and when two plus two always made four; back when the world made better sense.
They say; ‘The past is history, the future is a mystery and the present is a gift from God, that’s why it is called “present”’. I agree with this cliché as the present is indeed a gift from God because it is in the present in which we can relive the beautiful memories that we have.
Of all the memories that I can recall at the moment- ahem-at the present, one in particular jumps out towards me as a mixture of scents, sights and textures. I remember curling up in my car watching with immense awe, the breathtaking sunrise on the open road. The great ball was rising majestically, unraveling exquisite hues of orange, gold and yellow, bringing in view the dancing fields of greens swaying with the early morning breeze; each leaf being weighed down by a drop of radiant dew. And the best part was, this was just the beginning, the beginning of an epic journey to the northern areas of my beautiful country; Pakistan.
It had been four thirty in the morning, when I had felt a curious ticking sensation upon my feet; reluctantly I peeped out of one eye and saw my dad smiling mischievously. Then it all came flooding back to me; the time I had been preparing for was finally here! Today was the Day! In an hour, my family and I had dressed quietly, creeping around as to not arouse the rest of the house. Then, like fugitives from the law, we stole out of our house, into our car and after weeks of imagining this moment, we were finally off!!
So here we were curled up and cosy, watching the sun slink from the horizon, the landscape full of rural activities slip by as our car raced on ahead. My sister and my brother looked serene, for the first time in a long time they were not arguing, both with dark locks falling on their faces with their heads touching as they slept on. My mother, my father and I were all enjoying the view. I was taking pictures, and my mother and father were deciding on when they would switch seats, so that my mother could also have a chance on the wheel. Unlike other families, the ideal vacation for us was to spend time together, eating both junk and health, travelling and being merry.
Soon it was time for lunch, we stop at a driver hotel; you might know as the ones alongside the roads for truck drivers and travelers. There we have the most delicious meal of daal mash and hot chapattis. We wash our hands the traditional way from a hand pump and are soon back on the open road. It is indeed the small things in life that give the greatest pleasure.
My father says that if we travel all through the night, we can make it to Lahore (our first destination) by dawn or at the latest by midday. But by unsaid consent to make the journey as long as possible, we end up staying the night at a rest house in either Bahawalpur or RahimyarKhan, both in Punjab, as it is not safe to stay the night in Sindh. We wake up in the morning, bright and early all set to leave the premises of the guest house and make our way to the North.
Back in the car, the sound of the car tires on the gravel of the road, the hum of the engine, the five simultaneous breathings of my family, and the murmur of my siblings playing (yes, playing) and most of all the energy radiating from the strong family bonds are very clear to make out in the car. There are innumerous things I would love to talk about, things I love that are impossible to explain like the feathery bareness of the trees, the size of the sky stretching blue-white from horizon to horizon, and much more. The time passes, with every five minutes the chime of my siblings breaks into my thoughts; ‘a 100km left to Lahore’, ‘80km left’ ,and especially; ‘daddy, I need to go the washroom’. This is the beauty of the trip, trying new things along the way, eating fresh sugarcane; unprocessed and not even cut small, and best of all being together as a family and making discoveries, finding adventures. We catch up with each other, our likes and dislikes, make plans about what we want to do once at the mountains; my plans usually are about food and drink; the lemon soda at Jinnah Super, and of course; Nathia Gali’s special spicy roast chicken.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the national highway, as we entered the village of Gujarat, in Gujranwala, then go on to Lahore. After staying a day in Lahore, we went to the twin cities. It was the 30th of December when we left for the Northern Mountains, my favorite time of the trip.
While going up those mountains, we usually prefer to take the old route. The new route, namely The Expressway, was too new for us and we only used it on the journey back to Islamabad. Going up using the GT road is like a family tradition. The beauty of the mountains of Pakistan is completely unparalleled. The russet and gold leaves hang from the ancient coniferous trees, dancing with the wind and its whispering song. My ears are affected due to the higher altitudes, but I seriously don’t care; the love for mountains courses through my veins, I belong here. Where the air is fresh and clean, where my cheeks turn pink from the cold and I lose the hollowness in my face. It was in the afternoon when we reached Mall road in Muree. We spent the entire day wandering on the streets; had lunch in ‘Us mania’ restaurant; with creamy hot soup and cold drinks. Outside the air was biting cold. And I loved it. I loved eating ice cream (ice cream is more fun to eat in the cold) in the market while my parents brought dry fruits, and later we each had a steaming cup of coffee warming our fingers and our innards. At night we stayed at an army ‘mess’, which was in such a secluded and picturesque location higher up the mountain. It was the first time in a long while that we slept hearing the crickets chirp their night songs, instead of the constant racket of the vehicles back in Karachi.
On the 31st of December we went toward Nathia Gali, where I fulfilled the longing of mine to eat the famous spicy chicken. Just try to imagine my experience; your mouth is literally on fire due to the spices involved and the atmosphere is freezing cold, with the cold transferring onto your fingers. You are sitting out in the open, observing the beautiful sunset in the mountains, with a fear of monkeys. All jokes aside; this is the life.
The next day was the best day of my life. It was the first day of the new-year, and it was my birthday. And best of all, it snowed. I had the best gift ever from my parents; they had brought me all the way from Karachi to the place I loved the most, to see the thing I loved the most; snow.
We spent the first half of the day on the Expressway. It was sad at first despite the fact that I knew that nothing lasts forever; I wanted the serenity I felt in my heart to do so. But our time in the snowy peaks was over for the year and it was time to go back to school. School started on the 2nd of January, we were still in Islamabad at that time. I had to take a few days off from school and rejoined on the 5th. But I neither had, nor have any regrets, for it was a time well spent.
Events don’t last forever, but memories do. Whether they were good memories or bad; they stay. It’s up to you on how you use those memories to help bring a positive change in your life. My time in the mountains helped clear my head, helped make me set goals in my life and renew my personality. I am grateful to my parent for giving me this golden opportunity to make a difference in my own life.


At the Crossroads

I pray to God to give me the swiftest feet,

so i can tread water, instead of going beneath

this grade isn’t a float across

a water body towards soft, cool moss


it’s a battle being fought with fearsome foes:

Work and Time; hence pain is sublime

It’s a memorial to the days you’ve lost,

the golden days that once were yours


you look back with a tear or two

wishing your life ahead didn’t look so sky blue

there’s just so much you want to do

so much potential, you’ve yet to prove.


you divide to conquer, thinking its fo the best

but then you seem to fail what you call ‘tests’

you want to give each thing more Time

but end up dreaming of sour grapes and limes


you find there’s only one brain in your head;

so you want to go for recreation instead,

but you are stuck doing things you wont mind

throwing in the dustbin to gather dust all the while


There’s just so much you want to do;

so many dreams you’ve dreamt for you,

a million people who you want to be,

after all, Youth doesn’t last for all eternity


so you divide and conquer, to pass all those ‘tests’

each one you receive, you wish it were the best

‘a little more time’, you wonder, ‘ a little more rest’,

then maybe, just maybe i can beat the rest


and fulfill those dreams of what i want to do,

and live my life the way I’ve always wanted to.



~Saniya Shahzad


Encased within a claustrophobic tub

I think of my life, before the poisoned sub

I try to ignore the pain coursing down my veins

trying to stall my impending, final faint


I curse the recklessness built within,

yet feel compelled to love; from my ratty whim

and just before my lights go dim,

I think of the life I’ve lived for Him


I once thought of changing the world we know,

when I was small, yet not mature

Golden dreams that filled my heart with glee,

Imagine, a mouse, changing the world we see!


Perhaps we’d make human traps galore,

to catch a human, so we can explore

Or maybe build a spaceship which

would take us to the magical land called the ‘fridge’


I dreamt a thousand dreams in my life,

All involving change and strife,

beautiful thoughts, they all were so,

yet never saw the reality they were meant to know


All because I remained that rat,

Cosy within its habitat,

not bothering to discover, envisage, explore;

content with living life the way it was before.

~Saniya Shahzad

Understanding, please

As a child, i was a brave young one

But sometimes i got scared quite well

And at those times, i would run to you

For in your arms, i would be soothed


And from then on every time i felt

My world was crumbling on my head

I would reach to your arms in simple need

For understanding when the world disagreed


Through the mornings, the noons, and the nights,

the understanding coursed like a beam of light

For the struggle of buoyant ecstasy;

Felt, when my world came in accordance with me.


Times changed, as i grew braver still

My hopes changed, as did my ways and will

News things arose; some predicaments unseen

And I felt smaller than I’d ever been.


I turned to your arms, but to my dismay;

They seemed to have shrunk, in a queer sort of way

Regardless, i moved into them, like I used to do

To find my peace, while being cocooned into you.


Your arms were smaller, yet stronger than before

I didn’t want to stop, just hug you some more

I matched your height as we stood together,

With our arms around the world we call one another.


As we stood side by side; our troubles leaked away,

Gone was the steam, that caused our dismay

Understanding coursed through that ‘ever-dark’ night

And both our burdens became quite light


I stepped away from you, with a tearful smile

You; my Mother, and I; your child

Armed with an understanding; swift and bright

Bent on eradicating the deep, dark night.

~Saniya Shahzad

Homemade Icecream

I had just come back from the salon after getting my overdue haircut. My hair was beautifully styled and hung “just right”; an inch or two under my ear, bouncy and perfect. I was overjoyed and being the slightly vain person I’ve always been, i just wanted to stand in front of a mirror and look at myself. But it was not to be. For my father (who had been away the whole morning and part of the afternoon) brought home the Ice cream Machine.

Last week, when our entire house was being whitewashed, a-very-much- neglected-barrel-type-contraction turned up from under a pile of dust from an unfrequented storage place. My mother, a person who did not believe in keeping what she called ‘old-stuff-with-little-use’, was adamant that the contraption ‘to be removed from the premises at once’. It was my father’s recognition of his ‘age-old friend’ that the Ice cream Machine was not thrown away to fill a landfill, just like the rest of the trash, rather was frisked away in our car to the Ice cream-machine repairman, who was paid to bring the old critter back to life.

It was probably a tense week for my father, (for he visited the repairman quite a few times to see how the rejuvenation process was taking place), as for me, I had quite forgotten the Ice cream Machine for it held not much importance, as i had not shared any history with it. Yet.

So as i stood in front of the almost-full-length mirror, my father dragged in the surprisingly heavy contraption and stood looking at it with the look of utmost pride and ecstasy. It was almost evening when my father rallied my siblings and called for an Ice cream Machine Inauguration. My mother refused to have anything to do with it, and retired in her room to read. My father remained undeterred, and went off with my brother to get a big block of ice to run the mean machine. Meanwhile, my sister and I, were working in a joint partnership to create the perfect milk solution that would form ice cream. Half an hour later, after heating milk, and adding sugar, discussing saturation points and breaking of the ice block into smaller pieces using hammers and old kitchen knives, the old thing was up and running; on Man Power.

It had the Persian Wheel type mechanisms: turn one wheel, and the other will follow the suit. And so, for the next two and a half hours, the four of us turned the handle, in the melting dampness of the ice, and the slowly hardening barrel of sugar-milk, till our arms were sore, and the handle refused to budge for the ice  cream was ready. It was a long, but somehow relaxing 2-and-a-half hours; we actually got to see the sun set, the birds fly home, to their nests, the settling in of dusk and the onset of twilight, and finally into the quiet of the night. We got to see and repair strong family ties, and most of all it was lovely to see memories stir deep in my father, and to hear him recount them shows how times have changed, how the present generations are dependant on sophistication to keep us happy, whereas that what kept the youth of the past happy was simple and uncomplicated.

The result was a lot of milky ice cream with a low amount of sugar and taste, but with an amazing texture, and being one of the few things that comes straight from the heart, to heal the heart. The Ice cream Machine touched me in a way few things have ever touched, it ran a chord in my heart, that reverberated through my very being, and left a strong message of the importance of family(and also the importance of remembering the essential part of perfect hair is to stay away from humid and damp conditions :P). As Mary Poppins said; ” Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…” and through our ice cream required more than just a spoonful of sugar, it helped sink the medicine, i mean, the message go down; “in the most delightful way”.