Sep 25, 2012


By Aleena Kazi

Q. Write two contrasting pieces between 300-450 words each. One which describes a particular place at the end of a war or natural disaster and one which describes the way it looks after being rebuilt. In your writing you should bring out differences between setting and atmosphere.

The dirty brick wall that was once decorated with a myriad of colours had crumbled. The graffiti no longer stood out. Despite the large variety of shades splashed onto the walls of the destroyed houses, only one colour was prominent. The crimson shade of human blood was splattered across the previously grand Chinese white walls and the gravel road. All the houses, cars and small stores contributed to the amount of shattered glass on the road. You could see it glisten in the morning sun. You had to be careful not to step on the sharp pieces. Although, you only had two options. Either to damage the soles of your own feet or emotionlessly step on the mutilated bodies lying on the ground.

You had to thank the Lord that you had survived the war but then again, looking at the remains of the Defence area in Karachi would leave you hopeless. You had survived but the city had not. Your fellow citizens had not. Do you remember your neighbour? The one who used to sit in his garden and sip his warm green tea every evening and smile at you every time he saw you? You smiled back every time but what do you do now when you see his lifeless body crushed under a car? You don’t smile do you? Looking ahead of the debris filled road, you can imagine little Asiya riding her tricycle. Now, just the colourful orange and yellow tyres lie on the street.

Behind you once stood your house, the clean windows displaying everything that took place inside. Your father reading the newspaper and your plump mother waltzing about in the kitchen preparing new dishes for you to try. Yourself sitting on the carpeted floor of your lounge in front of the wide screen television, playing Modern Warfare. On the ground, right on top of the rubble, lay half of your PlayStation 3. Unlike in your game, you cannot restart the round and bring your players to life. You sit on the ground in tattered, bloody clothes just waiting to find a restart button to your life.


Large dirty orange road rollers moved along the once cracked roads, making the coating of gravel smooth. The fresh tar on the road sparkled like a precious onyx stone. Like a lake full of the beautiful stones. The rubble had been pushed to the side and the houses were being repaired. It was a slow process but effective nonetheless. No more dead bodies littered the floors, reminding you of the ones you had lost.

The half done houses gave rise to your hope. The telephone poles once again stood up tall and a crow had already made its messy nest at the top. Busy men walked around the area and you could see they were tired. Exhausted mentally as well as physically. They stood in front of walls newly built as well as the old ones that had managed to survive. Sweat patches clearly visible and the clean white paint coated their dark hands. It was a difficult job, trying to cover up the blood of a war victim with just paint. The blood could have belonged to someone they knew or maybe someone you knew.

The trashed cars had been pulled away and a few people who survived the devastating war stood there, in front of their new houses, just like you. You looked around and took in the sight. The transformation of the Defence area from a lifeless war zone to a once again springing neighbourhood was remarkable. At that point, right after the war, you had lost hope. Lost the will to live. However, right now you stood tall, looked back at your almost finished house and raised your head to the sky. You smiled; you had found the restart button.


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