Tag Archives: philosophy

The Honor Killing

“They killed my brother,” Nano says it so softly that I can barely hear her. Her glassy eyes lock into mine and she half-smiles. I cuddle next to her in her cot and the warmth of her body spreads around mine. It’s cold outside and we don’t have a heater. We don’t even have electricity. The only form of light that is illuminating the room is coming from a gas lantern Nano placed on the table so we wouldn’t kick it when we’re running after each other. It’s so cold outside that my fingers become numb and the tip of my nose becomes stiff. The stars twinkle in the night sky, then disappear beneath each other. We usually bury ourselves beneath layers of quilts and blankets and lock ourselves in Nano’s room because it’s the warmest.

Nano is my maternal grandma, and in Urdu, we say Nano Ami- and I call her Nano for short. She’s beautiful and she has long hair which I cut because Mama told me to do so, and Nano never forgave me for that. But she loves me the most out of all her grandkids. She once told me that my features sometimes resemble her brothers.

“He was tall and handsome and he knew how to do almost everything. When he walked people would stop and stare at him.” Nano heaves in a breath and turns around to face me. I’ve heard the story a thousand times before and I can’t seem to take her seriously. But I know one thing for sure, Nano loved her brother more than anything in this world.

Nano’s older brother was young when the British took him to England. He worked there, and he occasionally came back to visit.

When he came to Pakistan one time, he fell in love with a girl, whose family was culturally strict. They refused to get their daughter married outside of their cast. Nano’s older brother didn’t have a choice, so he ran away with her. They got married and moved to England.

The girl’s brother filled with rage came after Nano and her other brothers. Nano was safe because my grandpa wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with. He kept a revolver at home and my mother and her siblings weren’t allowed to leave the house alone.

But unfortunately, Nano’s younger brother got caught in the middle and he was shot in the stomach. He died on the spot. He was married, and he had a daughter, who now lives somewhere in England and I’ve never met her. She could pass me by on the streets of NYC and I wouldn’t know it’s her.

Nano’s older brother and that girl who ran away got a divorce after a year. Nano’s brother later married ten other women. How romantic!

Nano never really let go of her brother. Even when she had Alzheimer’s she would repeat the story again and again as if it happened recently. At times when I would sit with her, I would see thick tears drop from her brown orbs.

“My brother was very caring,” she would say again and again. Nano passed away this year, but while doing so, she transferred all her stories down to me. Unconsciously I think of Nano’s brother I had never seen. I try to imagine what he looked like, but my mind gives up on me. He was killed for no reason. He was trapped in someone else’s love and hate.

That girl’s brother killed Nano’s brother for his pride. He did it with a smile and he had no shame. Did he not realize that by doing so he wasn’t just ruining one life, he was ruining many? There are so many people out there that die because of someone else’s hate and ego. Why? Can human life be measured in terms of love and hate?

That man who killed Nano’s brother is old now, and he’s probably on his deathbed.

The art of confusion

Sometimes I think I’m dumb, but then I have to remind myself that I’m a student majoring in biochemistry. To say that I’ve received all A’s would be an unorthodox lie. I’ve failed countless times but here I am trying to write a paper on Carl Schmitt. I know, this has nothing to do with biochemistry, but here I am taking a class I most probably won’t use in my career- that too, if I have one. It’s a political science class, and so far, the only thing I’ve learned is how to use an online dictionary.

At first, I was impressed by all those political and philosophical ideas. I was amazed at how beautifully the human brain can come up with such complex ideas. But after a few days, I realized that those ideas only appealed to me because I didn’t understand them. It was fascinating because I had no idea what Schmitt was talking about. Not like I understand the difference between an enzyme and a protein. FYI- A protein is made of amino acids, while enzymes can be made of both nucleic acids and amino acids (I googled it). See you learned something new. But sometimes, I have these moments where my dense brain gives up on me and I forget my own name. I’ve taken so many classes in the past, and ironically, I’ve received A’s but I still don’t know what I was supposed to learn.

When the teacher asks a simple question. I want to raise my hand and tell her/him the answer. But my version of the answer seems dumb. Like what is two plus two. My slow mind would say ‘four’. But then you have these smart-ass kids that would use the principles of God-knows-what to justify their answer. These are the times where I try to morph into the wall, so no one would know I said something as simple as four.

I like Trump in that sense. He speaks simple English. I bet if he taught biochem I’d be Einstein right now- in medical terms. Trump would make a good teacher if I was capable of taking him seriously.

People around me have the tendency to use complicated words. Like, ‘The zeitgeist intellectual has nescient ideologies.’ You lost me at ‘The’. The hell does zetgast mean. I can’t even pronounce that word.

I’m not saying that increasing your vocabulary is bad. No, it’s an amusing idea to go memorize the Oxford dictionary. You guys should go try it out. I’ve tried, and I’ve miserably failed.

I’m just saying that we should have an easier way of exposing complex topics. Sometimes it’s not even about complex words it’s about using words in such a way that it becomes impossible to decipher. It’s like a code that only a few of us can decode.

When people around me use complex words, I go into a trance. Like another universe. It takes time for me to adjust. Like my physics professor said something about relativity two years ago and I still can’t make sense of it. It gives me nightmares. I have dreams of two brothers separated in space for the sake of science. That is inhumane.

Sometimes I have to pretend not to speak English because people use simpler words. Yes, you feel smart and elevated and you feel like that college degree hanging on your wall has value but come on. Nothing is worth destroying brain cells in others. We already lack a lot of those.

Saying things in a simpler version should be named after our president. We should call it trumpling. So, when someone speaks in a complex way, no matter the language. Just say, please speak trumpling. Please don’t deport me Mr president. I’m a dreamer and I’m still waiting for that house with the white picket fence and an amazing loving soulmate, with two and a half kids and maybe even a giraffe.

Moral of the story. My inorganic chemistry professor pissed me off and I needed to vent. He’s one of those people who speaks with such authority that I get scared. Like okay, I understand the importance of chelates, but you don’t have to make me feel like I belong in the zoo, next to those penguins. Even if I did you didn’t have to point that out. I get insecure.

But my point is, that sometimes, certain things are hard to understand, and it takes time and patience to grasp concepts. Instead of making things more complicated, maybe we should figure out other ways to get our message across. Yes, it takes time and it might be hard, but the fruits at the end of the bridge are always rewarding.

Think of knowledge as a door and in order for you to attain that knowledge, you have to open that door. For some people, it might be easy because their door is made of plastic, but for some, it might be hard because their door is made of metal. But the only way to get through is to bang on it until it opens. Yes, at times you will feel dumb and stupid because you might not understand why things have to happen the way they do, but giving up midway won’t make things easier. Knock, bang, and strike until your door opens. Tear it down, blow it up, ignite it; try whatever you can. Do whatever is in your power. If one way doesn’t work, then try something else. But don’t ever doubt yourself, because sometimes while doing that, we create more doors instead of destroying old ones.