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Updates

The first review of Blue Dust just came out in the Daily Times… see link below.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20122\26\story_26-2-2012_pg9_14
Hello all,

This anthology is for for those interested in the global menace of religious discrimination and other pressing issues such as governance and food security, peace and conflict relating to development in South Asia.

My paper Shame and Fury on the global menace of religious conflicts in terms of how religion is and has been used as a political tool by nations and its ramifications on world politics from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq to the more local fractures that Pakistan has witnessed in the context of conflicts between religious sects and different religions has been published in this anthology which is titled Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia: The Way Forward. It is available on several links including links for Blackwell UK, Sang-e-Meel Pakistan and Krisostomus, Estonia!

http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/display_product_info.jsp;jsessioni=F107AFC8A8EC5BED37449610AAB3FE35.bobcatt1?isbn=9789693524772

http://www.kriso.ee/Peace-Sustainable-Development-South-Asia-Way/db/9789693524772.html

http://www.sisbok.no/vare.php?ean=9789693524772

http://www.ak.uit.no/vare.php?ean=9789693524772

Updates on Blue Dust and Quotes

Update on Blue Dust

Blue Dust is now in stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata as the main ones and then in smaller cities as well. And it will be coming to Pakistan in February. I have also been invited to the Karachi Literature Festival where I will be speaking at a panel with Kamila Shamsie and H.M Naqvi next month about Pakistani writers writing contemporary fiction in English. The book is being sent to 100 reviewers in India and 30 reviewers in Pakistan. The online link to Blue Dust is given here where you can also view the blurb about it.

http://www.rolibooks.com/indiaink/fiction/-/blue-dust/

More links of book shops where Blue Dust can be bought

http://bookshopofindia.com/search.asp?action1=default&bookid=9089377

http://www.jainbookdepot.com/servlet/jbgetbiblio?bno=B002190

here is a brief blurb about me too:

I did my Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of East Anglia, UK. Many of my poems have been published in literary journals in the UK including Smoke and Splizz. I have also worked for the development sector in Pakistan for more than twelve years during which time I have written several technical papers in various sectors. I have been a panel organizer and panelist for two of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s panels at their annual conference on sustainable development, one of the largest in South Asia, for the last two consecutive years. The first panel was on religious minorities in Pakistan and the second on bridging the gaps between fact and fiction. My paper, Shame and Fury on the global menace of religious conflicts in terms of how religion is and has been used as a political tool by nations and its ramifications on world politics from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq to the more local fractures that Pakistan has witnessed in the context of conflicts between religious sects and different religions was published in this year’s anthology, Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia published by Sang-e-Meel.

I am currently writing my second book, Noora, which is about a Pakistani family based in Islamabad against the backdrop of the recent “holocaust” of bombings that rocked the nation. The book’s main characters are a hijra, Ruby, Umber, her husband, Ali, their son Zain and the local rubbish collector Noora. Although they each come from entirely different worlds they are all tied together in a strange bond that threatens the fabric of their lives and yet teaches each of them not only of the frailty of the human condition but the necessary armour that each of them must carry with them to survive in a world that is breaking apart.

Favorite Quotes

We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.  ~Gloria Steinem

“You can tell how high a society is by how much of its garbage is recycled.” —Dhyani Ywahoo (Native American)

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. ~Lucretia Mott

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

“But the artist persists because he has the will to create, and this is the magic power which can transform and transfigure and transpose and which will ultimately be transmitted to others.” 

Anais Nin 

“Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.”

Albert Einstein 

“When I was a boy of fourteen,

my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.

But when I got to be twenty one, I was astonished

at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Mark Twain

…….. The universities, for example, are not independent institutions. There may be independent people scattered around in them but that is true of the media as well. And it’s generally true of corporations. It’s true of Fascist states, for that matter. But the institution itself is parasitic. It’s dependent on outside sources of support and those sources of support, such as private wealth, big corporations with grants, and the government (which is so closely interlinked with corporate power you can barely distinguish them), they are essentially what the universities are in the middle of. People within them, who don’t adjust to that structure, who don’t accept it and internalize it (you can’t really work with it unless you internalize it, and believe it); people who don’t do that are likely to be weeded out along the way, starting from kindergarten, all the way up. There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently. Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don’t do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly (they aren’t lying) internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, say, Harvard and Princeton and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization. If you go through a place like Harvard, most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on.

<http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710&#8211;.htm> accessed 5 October 2011

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair -
(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin -
(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all -
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all -
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all -
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet - and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" -
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: "That is not what I meant at all."
That is not it, at all.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor -
And this, and so much more? -
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous -
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

New Developments on Blue Dust and poems

Update on Blue Dust

Blue Dust is now in stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata as the main ones and then in smaller cities as well. And it will be coming to Pakistan in February. I have also been invited to the Karachi Literature Festival where I will be speaking at a panel with Kamila Shamsie and H.M Naqvi next month about Pakistani writers writing contemporary fiction in English. The book has been sent to 100 reviewers in India and 30 reviewers in Pakistan. The online link to Blue Dust is given here where you can also view the blurb about it.

http://www.rolibooks.com/indiaink/fiction/-/blue-dust/

More links of book shops where Blue Dust can be bought

http://bookshopofindia.com/search.asp?action1=default&bookid=9089377

http://www.jainbookdepot.com/servlet/jbgetbiblio?bno=B002190

here is a brief blurb about me too:

I did my Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of East Anglia, UK. Many of my poems have been published in literary journals in the UK including Smoke and Splizz. I have also worked for the development sector in Pakistan for more than twelve years during which time I have written several technical papers in various sectors. I have been a panel organizer and panelist for two of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s panels at their annual conference on sustainable development, one of the largest in South Asia, for the last two consecutive years. The first panel was on religious minorities in Pakistan and the second on bridging the gaps between fact and fiction. My paper, Shame and Fury on the global menace of religious conflicts in terms of how religion is and has been used as a political tool by nations and its ramifications on world politics from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq to the more local
fractures that Pakistan has witnessed in the context of conflicts between religious sects and different religions was published in this year’s anthology, Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia published by Sang-e-Meel.

I am currently writing my second book, Noora, which is about a Pakistani family based in Islamabad against the backdrop of the recent “holocaust” of bombings that rocked the nation. The book’s main characters are a hijra, Ruby, Umber, her husband, Ali, their son Zain and the local rubbish collector Noora. Although they each come from entirely different worlds they are all tied together in a strange bond that threatens the fabric of their lives and yet teaches each of them not only of the frailty of the human condition but the necessary armour that each of them must carry with them to survive in a world that is breaking apart.

I continue to write poetry.

Prior to publication some writers are currently reading Blue Dust. I just received my first blurb..

“Ayesha Salman’s voice is remarkable and original… at once sensual and sublime, stark and surreal. Blue Dust is a compelling and agonising personal account – but beyond all, uplifting.” (Dave Ward- Editor- Smoke)

She picked up her mother’s limp, sleeping hand. One day insects would eat that hand and crawl into the womb that had once held her in its shell. The whole thing seemed like a cosmic mistake. How was it possible that such a beautiful creature could be mutilated in such a cruel way? The indignity of it astonished her. She defaced Zaib over and over again; it was the mental action of someone outside themselves making a reckless attempt to play the role of the onlooker. It didn’t help, instead it just made her realize how frugal nature had been in bestowing its creatures with pleasures and how generous it had been with its dreams. There was a continuous existing imbalance in everything she thought about and it caused a deathly panic in her. She looked at Zaib’s face again. There she was, her perfect mother, negated by life… almost dead, with throbbing matrix functions only, and a sleeping smile that was her only reality right now. Still, she hoped something unexpected would happen.”

Hello everyone! Have been rather caught up with things! Harold Pinter is one of my favorite writers and  his nobel prize speech is worth reading..here is just some of it..

“Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy…..”

Excerpts from Blue Dust

Excerpt 1

She dreamt of an old haveli. There is a sweet shuffle, the sitar is playing to the wind, the raj of the Mughals is at its peak, breezy music sweeps the lawns, hinged on an ancestral memory, crackling sounds echo, like a scratched LP with two hundred years of dust to prove its wisdom and worth. Dancing girls dance like birds waiting to be fed, their flat empty bellies moving back and forth to the rhythms of their nawabs’ desires. I can smell their soft, clean dupattas, fluttering in the purple wind carrying them to the edge of reason. I long to touch them even when I know they are buried somewhere where I can’t reach them. The sound of their payal jingling in my head, cutting through time.

Excerpt 2

The smell of the dripping blood sky outside: sickness overpowered her. She
wished again she could be transported somewhere else, now, before it was too
late. Her mother looked undistorted, unlike the last head she wore. The creases
on her forehead had smoothed out and she had a cold calmness about her that
was daunting. The dazed doll-like eyes of Zakar had disappeared and a strange
tranquility had set in its place. She had obviously reached a resolution. Alya’s fear

of the unknown almost choked her. The room, with its now immovable objects,
had become absurd.

Zaib smiled her test tube smile.

Excerpt 3

She needs air. Whispers, whispers. She pushes through herself and ammi outside and pulls in air. Quickly. Green sky, lop sided mouth grins. It yops at her. Hurts her pulsating head not to remember where the blue flower is. The one she picked with ammi when she was little. The one ammi loved and kept for years. Her fingers warming silverspine trees. Bloodyants on the wall, again! Always there. It hurt not to remember, not to remember at all, not for any time at all, if someone had ever told her how long things that were around her had been there before she could remember. Mostly remembering small truths like those tended to confirm her existence. But she has not been told; nobody would tell her and that meant she was stuck on a firm point of non-gratification and non-reversal, in a small place of immovable inequities. Me and me and me, only me. She wanted to wipe herself out somehow so that all that racket in her head would stop. Once and for all.  Sky space slips from her mind and is rapidly replaced by mama’s fixed dolls, hanging porcelain-unchanging, crudely. This is fragmenting. Me. My bits stuck here and everywhere. Unlaced porcelain children, glass eyes searing, sucking the life from her, rocking her upside down. They swallow into her; she touches her face. She is nine again – in terror with frills and red marble clothes, cold – cutting herself. Still she is worried about ammi. Where is she? Is she safe? … Pins scrape my head of weeds as I look right and left, left and right, plastic head stuck to me, not mine, such strange inertia in my pulse and the bad bad smell excludes me so I am me and alone and I am me with me.

Excerpt 4

She recalled walking in to the house and hearing Zaib’s giggles sliding up the
sides of the walls. The corners whispered ghosts littering the streets of her
memory with the familiar path of her chequered youth. She saw herself run into
a room and disappear into the walls, she looked eight or nine and unlike herself.
Devi told me thirty years later that it was the most desolate house she had ever
seen, with just a nuance of its former days, its grandeur lost in some casual talk
on the outside about the family inside fading fast. There was no sound except
the faint footsteps of children, unwilling to yield to the end of time. She called
out to the cook, who was the one solitary figure in that creaking mansion she
once called home; he was always present, always affirming the existence of a
home that he was an intrinsic part of, protecting its sanctity from foreigners and
those wanting to harm the integrity of the family within.

Excerpt 5

While cooking he looked out at the sea from his kitchen window. Only his Zaib was more beautiful. He missed the cadence of her body, the sound of blood through her veins. Without her, he came home to an emptiness that locked him inside it. Initially Zaib’s absence was a small blessing. The unique peace that comes with solitude is welcomed; for a time.  Barely two months had passed and he started looking for her in every street corner, behind all the shops that she may have liked for one reason or another. He looked in the fish markets she had nightmares about and the church gardens that would have enchanted her. In the evenings when he came back from work he noticed the absence of a voice that told him he was the most loved man in the world.  His throat would go dry thinking about how far away his lovely wife was. His actions in the last few months sickened him, when he thought about how he had abandoned Zaib he lost the will to wake up the next day, but when he did, and on a brighter day, he realized the sad flamboyance of dreams and memories. He was no artist but he knew that the collapse of reality in the face of a single longing was the greatest failure of the human mind, and that’s when he remembered Zaib as a mere mortal.

 

Excerpts from book 3

Excerpt one from The Burial

Zara? Curled inside singing in round rhythms that punctured silence waves sweeping her up….black shroud wrapped- and Apple Mummy’s heart beat- tick tick tick ticking blood bursts in her head. Asghar?

She sinks into lapping up pain hums in angular loops sizing up her options from time shadows away. He must bleed into himself and know why. Her lipstick smile rises up up above her (bzzzzzzzzzz, bees buzz in flight. Their eyes slide into her head socket) – a red balloon, bursting into bits and falls in strips- just like mummy’s baby ribbon strips boxing her in- the sweat drips fatly and covers her fingers. Ha ha ha winner, winner, winner she chuckles, winner I am.
The King and Queen of Hearts enter. The crowd shares blistering laughs.  They crawled into themselves with fear, the rest of them. Ha! A single groan loops through the crowd.

Change was going to clean things up!

Asghar was hungry, crawling back to her. Not alone.

Excerpt 2 from Apple Mummy  
Apple Mummy bits were dust baked now, slinking into corners like rats or smeets, impulsive, careless creatures. She protruded into the brooding pinnacled room. Repeated thoughts of Small White Shoes apple mummy bought me plague shot me in the knees. I wanted to eat them with joy when I was a child and now! The White plastic dazzling delight impish light in rainbow games. I hid them in my cupboard for times and times and times (so mummy wouldn’t throw them away). I stitched them to myself so that they stayed fixed to my “old house of cats”, purring in corners and crevices of skinned walls, while mummy packed the shoes one night and threw them away to half dead things.

Apple mummy in fury stands erect and hooded in dark smothering intentions.

More poems…..

Mother

The clock digests time

Between soft blue words

As I watch the great moth fade

I smile beneath my sheets

Blood tulip of your deafening womb

Nourishes despair

I breathe the remains

of your dust baked hair

A moment renewed

with the sound of your voice

A sermon told

Through a rose washed breeze

More painful than a butterfly

unready to die.

 

 

Water Weight of the Abyss

Head sick splattered
I am unused ink
searching the blue crow
yet to feast on half dead things
that square into me, fixing me in my place

Waxy faced crow arrives
Blowing a pink kiss to the sky
Where the wind will chop it up
Dizzily drinking up my words with it
Consuming the decay

Water weight of this growing abyss
Fills me with wit
For a world I weave again
Then falter
And wait for the night
when the womb of sleep will fold me in

 

Hope

You pour in me deliciously
Soothing my mind
Settling me
Steady in your faith
Aching for a promise
left unsaid

A green breeze sweeps us up,
In slow mornings of dazzling jasmine,
While the pendulum ticks on
Waking us- to red grass sliding beneath our feet

We live in the shade,
you and i
the cold white light between us.

Memory

Moon prisms crawl the pink sand

Yet he is hidden from them.

Hidden inside white folds.

Water Flowers.

Blue flowers

Pictures pour into him, greedily

Black shadows unready to fade

He is hidden

Water Flowers.

Blue Flowers

Inertia in his pulse.

He sinks.

Bleached sky above

The salt breeze washing his lips

pictures follow him

Sliding through the hours

Sinking into him

He looks up

On his skin, silver requiem sheets,

(like fish stung by their last wave)

lick the beach with their effulgent crust.

Your smile

That red smile

That red smile lipstick you always wore as if it defined you in all your living glory

Big balloons floating around you as if you had them with you in the womb, as if you owned happiness all by yourself

Did you project that great big smile onto us, like pouring water in a bowl of sugar

Subsuming all that is left within us, spilling it out to the rest as if re-inventing joy again and again

Do you recall the sunlight jingle of a child’s tip toes on a quiet winter morning just before you killed her?

With a smile on your face.