All About the Lens

How beauty is built

Pictures by Abdul Karim

The marbles don’t just smell of grandeur, the lofty pillars don’t stand in pride, the huge dome doesn’t speak of opulence and this place doesn’t feel like religion.

These pillars, they smell of the hands of the artists who embellished its pieces. They stand tall for the champions who struggled for its stones and bricks. They echo of the sigh of the refugees whose soul found console in its shed and of the wanderer who found faith on its step.

These pillars, they speak of beauty. They speak of spirituality. They speak of simplicity accentuated by twenty years of people’s contribution.

That’s what it took to build Masjid-e-Rashdiya, a mosque at Darul Uloom, Uttar Pradesh. Twenty years of unprecedented dedication and hardwork.

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All About the Lens

Breathe again

Picture by Abdul Karim

I remember the song the drops played on my pane. The song, I recalled, it used to play before the hands scuffled them. Hitting the right keys, the soft sounds pulsating in the stillness, waking me from my sullen reverie. And I felt it then, the sudden cry and the rushing embrace. That hasty warm embrace. I remember I breathed it in when my lungs tried vehemently to breathe all my soul out. I remember it staring at me when I opened my eyes back to light.

I let the string loose, stepped down from the stool. I went closer to the music and the warm embrace.
I smelled life for once again and it felt good.

All About the Lens

Azaadi ko kiska khauf hai?

Picture by Samra Rizvi

मैंने देखें हैं वो मुस्कुराते ख्वाबों को खिड़की की जाली से झाँकते हुऐ। इस बंद खिडक़ी पर उनके नारों की खटखटाहट मुझे पुकारते हुऐ, “ये वक़्त अज़ादी माँगता है!”

इस वक़्त के सामने आने में मुझे डर लगता है। ये वक़्त आक्रोष से घुर्राता है,कभी बौखला सा जाता है,कभी नफरत के जुनून में ख़ून ख़ून हो जाता है। फिर अपने करतूतों की सफाई मेरे नाम से देता है।

“आज़ादी के नाम पर.” मैंने सुना उसको कहते हुए।

मुझे रहने दो छुपे इस खिड़की की आड़ में; ऐसे वक़्त के हवाले अपने आप को करने से मुझे डर लगता है।

Translation

I have seen those Hopes peeking through the latticed screen, smiling at me. I have heard their ardent cry knocking on my closed window, calling out to me, “This Time wants Freedom”

But I am afraid; afraid to face this Time. The Time which is growling with rage, sometimes running wild with insanity, drugged with hatred and draped in blood. And after all this, It will cleanse itself adhering my name with it.

“In the name of Freedom.” I heard It said.For that, let me stay hidden behind these closed windows. I am afraid to surrender myself to the Time you are in.

All About the Lens

Do I dare?

Picture by Wajiha Haider

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?

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot