Category: Emotions

The Door Stays Open

Fear saunters in like that uninvited guest
who wants to be centerstage at every party.

Constantly sniffing for food,
it wonders where the joy of the party went,
and while pestering the host for drinks,
it cajoles your intestines out and becomes

the manifestation of your worst nightmares,
alive only inside your consciousness
but consciously everywhere you look.

Fear saunters in and refuses to leave.
The door always stays open…

of dotted lines

my bedsheet has a pattern
of dotted lines–
lines going zigzag,
making diamonds,
making arrows,
making beauty.

my mind seeks asylum in these dotted lines–
lines going zigzag (but going haywire)
making diamonds (but closer to coal)
making arrows (but never reaching their target)
making beauty (out of chaos).

I’ll Meet You There (2020)

A Muslim cop goes undercover at his estranged father’s mosque while his daughter hides her passion for a forbidden dance, uncovering a shocking family secret. (IMDb)

This blogpost is available as a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/moniba-mehboob/episodes/Ill-Meet-You-There-2020-e15t0li

Poster from https://illmeetyoutherethefilm.com/

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t read the above quote by Rumi. With this as its titular phrase, the recently unveiled movie I’ll Meet You There sure had big shoes to fill.

Written (with contributing writers Rajeev Dassani and Uttam Sirur) and directed by Iram Parveen Bilal, I’ll Meet You There is a confusing movie about confusions between the past, present, and future intermingling with themes of identity, hybridity, and faith in the context of immigration. All of the actors have done a fantastic job of their given roles, the direction is good enough, the setting and the dressings are all as they should be. I found nothing lacking in those aspects. However, when it comes to the plot, the themes that the movie tried to tackle, the character development, and the dialogues, I felt there was a lot of room for improvement and clarification. You can leave loose ends when your characters have been developed well enough for the audience to reach its own conclusion, but when your plot and dialogues leave so much unsaid…

Watching this movie was like watching a beautiful abstract painting come to life and eventually end up as a muddy mixture of several different colours standing out, as they so often do. I can say both good things and bad things about the movie, but let’s start with first impressions.

The movie began with intriguing parallels between the movements of salah and ballet. The protagonist, Dua, is shown dancing gracefully as in other frame, Muslim men pray in congregation in a mosque. To a Muslim, these parallels can be irritating as they were to me, but perhaps this is what the movie tries to do. It tries to blur the lines. It pinpoints some burning questions, brings them forth for examination, and just when we expect the flames to go off, it pours water on them. I say this because I honestly felt the movie had great potential. It addresses some scathing issues of the immigrant communities in America and elsewhere, but it just seems afraid to bring the address to its deserved and needed climax.

Some of these scathing issues are of the Muslim communities facing a lot of unjust judgment, interrogation, and hurdles after 9/11. Some are of parts of Indian / Pakistani cultures melding together and being minterpreted. Some are of love and modesty in modern life. The movie also addresses some feminist questions: What does Islam say about how men should treat women? What does Allah say about how we should dress and conduct ourselves? It mainly tries to talk about intentions. The bottom message in the paraphrased words of the character Baba: If your intention is clear, then do whatever you desire. This message is what confused me the most. Since the movie seems to set out to correct the representation of Muslims in mainstream media, I feel the movie should have stuck to that and seen it to an end befitting the religion and culture it was trying to represent. Instead, the movie resolves upon what seems to be a sufistic ending which I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t yet watched it.

I admire the writers for showing clearly the prejudice Muslims often face in foreign countries, especially after 9/11/ I admire them for showing the repurcussions of that, for holding the system responsible, for showing that a man does not go against community for duty, and does not cower from duty when it clashes with community. I admire that they had courage to show how teens go exactly towards what you try to fiercely “protect” them from, and how good parenting always gives reasons for why something is being encouraged or discouraged. I do feel that some parts of the movie could have been excluded, for example the romance between Shonali and Majeed seems to contradict the representation of Muslims. I also feel that Dua’s mother shouldn’t have been kept an ambiguous figure.

One thing I’ll give a lot of credit to this movie for: It made me think. About a lot of things. For a lot of reasons. Perhaps not in the line the movie tried to take its audience, but it made me question numerous things, and for that, I’m grateful.

Mamlaat (ramblings of insanity)

Wo dhun pata nahi kb milegi. Wo jurm pata nahi kb maaf hoga. Wo jurm jiski maafi na maangi jaaye kabhi maaf hoga bhi k nahi hoga? Maafi bhi kia cheez hae. Maangny waaly ka dil halka krdeti hae. Baaqi maannay waaly ko agar maanna hota hae wo wese bhi maan he jaata hae. Haan agar anaa ka masla ho tou nahi maanta. Lekin dil k maamlat mein anaa ka kia dakhal. Wo dhun najaanay kab milegi. Wo jurm najaany maaf hoga k nahi.
Mere zehn mein uska ehsaas esa hae jese ye baahar ki aawazein. Raat k 2 bj rahy hon ya dupehr k. Ehsaas nahi jaata. Najaany achha hae k bura. Najaany jurm maaf hoga k nahi. Qaidi dekhay haen na? Wo jo haathon mein hathkarriyan nahi pehntay balkay apni zaat pe taalay rakhtay haen. Wo hotay haen darasal qaidi. Apni zaat k qaidi. Insaan ko qaid he hona hae tou apni zat mei kyun ho bhala. Kisi aur zaat mein hojaaye. Najaany jurm maaf hoga k nahi. Najaany maafi maangy bagher kabhi milti hae k nahi.

dark period within evolution

Everything evolves, sometimes into nothingness, and sometimes into expansive energy which holds power to bring a million dreams to life. Within that process of evolution is a dark period: one in which little light enters, always to be consumed by the darkness. But if we can hold on to that little bit of light, cling to it and climb it like a rope till we can get hold of all that light, well then that energy tantamount a golden wand of granting wishes is ours to claim.

We’re in that dark period. Perhaps all humans are at this age, but WE are in this dark period. Frustrations, greyness, exhaustion, despair, hopelessness, unsettling uncertainty which looms over every single thing; it makes us doubt our very being. We’re alive, we’re not very conscious. We’re awake, we’re not really conscious. We’re breathing, we’re just not really conscious. You without me, me without you, you uncertain of me and me of you, or not of each other but of fate. And of course, fate is something to be uncertain of. It’s that fireball which could either set you on fire and burn you to ashes or set you on fire and light you up into a likeness of a celestial being.

Such a pity, this dark period. Such a pity. You and me, we try to turn it into words; dark words, curling in on themselves, hiding a depth of meanings, curling, curling, curling, like that snake which suffocates. And within those words we lose parts of ourselves and we don’t realize it. Years later, we’ll look at these, gather those scattered parts and hold them close to our hearts. Years later, when hopefully we will have reached that light. Years later when hopefully we will have grabbed hold of that expansive energy and turned it into…. I don’t know what. You tell me.

Sparrow and Canary

Look up in the sky; the Sparrow and the Canary

The Sparrow and the Canary met over a pond
They stared at their reflections and wondered upon
How the Sparrow saw yellow and the Canary saw brown
Here I write there story as the fly across town

It needs not flowery words nor delicate strokes
It needs not lengthy books nor layered cloaks
It is pure and true, and flies like the birds
It is earth, fire, wind and water in thirds

The mackerel sky tells their tale
The seven seas, the waves, the sand, the hale
All wildfires of the world burn in their passion
There resides the story, free of one nation

And here flies the Canary, in wing the Sparrow

It will

You can talk about it

You can mutter, you can grumble

You can complain, whine and curse

But you cannot change reality

It will remain stamped on your forehead

It will pollute your blood, your air

It will drill holes into your dreams

It will puncture your lungs

And take you to Oblivion.

~Moniba.

I wonder, I wander

And then, I wasn’t there anymore. I don’t know. I might have been floating in the sky somewhere above Morocco, or I could be resting on the clouds above the Jamia Masid of New Delhi, I might have been sitting right beside this form of me, but I wasn’t here, this wasn’t me. So I began acting like someone who’s not really here, absently doing things, answering queries unconcernedly. I’m not even here so why bother. Except, to other people, I was here, this was me, and I should have acted like myself. How could I, when this wasn’t me, really? How do I act like myself? Act is what we do, in reality. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”, as the bard puts it so eloquently. So here I was, worrying about how I should act when instead, I should have been worrying about where I am, if not here…

Where am I? Morocco, New Delhi, Karachi saahil, my own home, or have I passed away entirely? Is that why I cannot function the way I am supposed to? This “supposed to” creates a myriad of problems for me. I have this stubborn, twisted muscle which makes me want to defy every “supposed to”. And when I do that, I end up defying all accepted forms of being. And then…. well, then I end up existing everywhere but here. What does it mean to not exist? Does it mean being dead in all senses of death? Does it mean being dead in the heart? Does it mean being wiped off the face of this Earth? Or does it mean doing things not apropos to world?

I’m wandering off-topic. But then, there is no topic. I’m not here. Only this world requires  a topic and a label on everything. I’m not here. I need no topic. But I do wonder where I am, and who this “I” is that I keep on referring to. I do wonder.