(This poem was in my drafts since months and I have no idea why I never shared it here. I must say though, before any negative criticism makes its way into the comments section, that I am NOT a poet. Poetry has never been my forte, admittedly, but I did try writing a few poems in the last two years, mainly due to the urge to try out something different and experiment with my writing.)
Out of every 10 people, at least 15 love eating pasta. (My math isn’t that weak, I totally made that up, thank you) The day I made this pasta, two of my uncles came to visit us. My mom asked me if I wanted to serve this dish too and I just couldn’t resist showing off a tad bit (Hey, who doesn’t like appreciation?) And so, when they ate their first bite, they were both pretty impressed. Huhu, scored!
Anyways, one of my uncles commented, “This is a pretty simple recipe, you just added pasta to already cooked meat from the last night or something,” and that was enough. I said, “Hello? I spent like 15 minutes making this meat sauce… how could you?” And then I realized he was ONLY kidding. Bad jokes, ugh!
Well honestly, it is a pretty simple and finger licking good recipe. If you love herbs and spices like I do, you’ll definitely give this a try and show off your cooking skills, like I did.
1 cup penne pasta
1 tbsp oil
1 chopped onion
5 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (available in the markets)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp parsley
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 pound minced beef (Add garlic/ginger paste, pinch of salt, chili powder prior to cooking)
Boil the pasta according to the instructions. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet heat the oil. Add the Italian seasoning, chopped onion and red pepper flakes and fry until the onion has softened.
Add chopped garlic, salt and pepper and cook until you smell the aroma of garlic. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a pan and cook the beef until it is brown.
Add the cooked meat to the pan with the seasoning.
Add the sugar and tomato paste and cook for another 15 minutes.
Now it’s time to adjust the seasonings of your sauce. You can increase the amount of tomato paste if you find it a little dry. Add salt and pepper. Add more sugar if you find it a bit too sour.
Finally add the pasta and sprinkle with parsley.
Do try this recipe and let me know if you liked it or not. I love feedback, yo!
People nowadays, are facing major health issues because of inadequate nutritional values in their food intake. Even the slightest deficiency or excess of some important elements in our body, like potassium, sodium etc., can lead to dangerously fatal disorders. Therefore, it’s very important to make sure your family has a proper nutritional diet. Keeping this under consideration, it is advised to eat all kinds of meat as well, along with vegetables & fruits, unless you’ve been advised, otherwise, by your doctor.
Before I start though, here’s a general question: What’s the best thing about herbs/leaves? Minimum calories, is the answer. If you’ve decided to lose some weight, the best idea is to add more leaves to your food instead of starving yourself. Choose from the following:
Arugula (Rocket, Rucola)
Arugula is commonly known as qulfa in our language. It’s a highly under-rated, Mediterranean herb. It has an acidic taste and a strong fragrance and is usually used in salads. But in some desi families, it is cooked along with potatoes, lentils etc. and eaten with bread.
Arugula has shown to have lowered blood pressure levels and increased athletic activities.
Scientifically it has been proven that people who consume this vegetable have lower risk of cancer, mainly of colon, & lung. The bitter taste of these vegetables is due to the presence of cancer fighting compounds in Arugula leaves.
Arugula is rich in Calcium and thus helps in preventing osteoporosis.
It also helps in decreasing the glucose levels, thus very beneficial for Diabetic patients.
Tips to increase Arugula intake:
Add Arugula leaves in different pasta to give it a strong taste along with minimal spices. It can also be added to pizza.
Add a handful of Arugula leaves to your omelette, sandwiches or even cooked bread.
You can also sprinkle Arugula leaves in your juices or smoothies.
Parsley goes by many names in Urdu, mainly dhaniya and ajmooda. Prasley also has a slightly bitter taste and is often as a garnish to bring freshness to delicacies. This vegetable is rich in Vitamin K, A, C, Iron and Folate and is very much unappreciated despite being highly nutritious. It is advised to use fresh parsley instead of dried parsley because it has a stronger flavor.
Being rich in Vitamin C, it is helpful in preventing the progression of asthma, colon cancer and diabetes.
It is also helpful in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis & osteoarthritis.
Parsley leaves can be used to avoid heart attack and stroke.
Tips to increase Parsley intake:
Parsley leaves can be added to salads, lentils or any other cooked vegetable or meat.
You can add Parsley to your pasta for an enriched flavor.
Parsley can also be added to omelettes, soups and herbal tea.
Lettuce is known as salad patta in Urdu. So basically, it is used in salads. Lettuce has a succulent, juicy taste and has quite a few varieties, the most common being Romaine. Lettuce has been appreciated since ages and guess what? Chinese people consider lettuce gives good luck so they consume it on special occasions!
Lettuce contains compounds which have relaxing properties. Thus, it is a perfect vegetable for insomniacs.
It helps preventing the production of cholesterol & plaque.
This is one of the best vegetables for the people who are trying to lose weight.
Tips to increase lettuce intake:
People use lettuce leaves in smoothies and desserts.
Lettuce leaves are perfect complements for cheese, mayonnaise, oil, peppers, onions, eggs & vinegar. Now let your imagination explode and make something delicious!
Basil (Saint Joseph’s Wort)
Basil is more often known as tulsi or niaaz boo. Basil is a key ingredient in Italian cuisines, typically pesto sauce. Jews believe basil gives strength to them when they are fasting. It is known as a royal herb by the French. Basil has medicinal uses. It is of various types, most common being sweet basil which is used in Italian cuisines. the other types are lemon and lime basil, which are rich in citrus fragrance.
Basil has the ability to reduce swelling and inflammation.
It is a stress reliever and a great ingredient for anxiety patients. (WOW!)
Women use basil water for beauty purposes, like the removal of blemishes on their skin. Also, dear ladies, it is a beneficial ingredient during THAT time of the month. It helps fighting bloat.
Tips to increase Basil intake:
To relieve stress on a hot, tiresome day, add a few leaves to your tea, either green or iced.
Who doesn’t like sauces and pasta? Make your favorite pesto sauce with basil leaves and eat it with pasta.
You can add basil leaves to your soups, salads and stir-fried vegetables to experience an extraordinary flavor.
Mint is commonly called podeena. Mint is one of the most commonly used leaves, not only in cuisines but in various market products such as toothpastes, soaps, air fresheners and even candies. It is rich in anti-oxidants. Mint has a cooling taste, which itself is a mystery (how can “cool” be a taste?!) It is fresh green in color and has a strong aroma. It has multiple varieties including spearmint and peppermint. Mint has excellent medicinal properties.
Mint has compounds that can combat seasonal allergies like inflammation, cold etc.
It is a valuable appetizer and helps in digestion.
Some people suffer from severe bouts of nausea and headaches. Mint is a great remedy for these ailments.
Mint oil is great for skin, specially breast feeding women.
Peppermint chewing gums are very common and it has been shown in studies that people who chew these gums have higher cognitive abilities. (Keep it going!)
Tips to increase Mint intake:
To get the best out of these leaves, it is advised to use them raw or uncooked and should be added to the dishes at the very end.
Mint leaves can be added to cooked vegetables, soups and meat.
Mint can be used in tea or smoothies along with honey and lemon juice.
If you’re just in a mood to laze around, you can simply chuck in a few leaves to the water you’re about to drink.
Okay so I’ve had this story on my mind for quite some time and I’ve decided to share some parts of it. Firstly, I can’t promise a perfectly good & complete ending. I’m seriously not good at it. Secondly, feedback means a lot. Positive criticism keeps me going. Share your thoughts with me, I love it. Third, this is going to be a story of typical Pakistani family, from a girl’s point of view. Romance & life is a bit difficult to write about. Please don’t judge me, I am really new at this. Fourth, I’ve mentioned the credits for the image used, at the very end. Final word, it won’t be too long. I’ll divide it into less than 5 parts and it’ll be done. This is the first part, I’ve tried my best to do justice with the story.
Thanks a bunch if you’re still reading. God bless you.
My whole life is surrounded by ironies. I am a psychologist, I work with thoughts. I can make out what you’re thinking at the moment by looking at your body language. I can tell your whole life story by only asking you a question or two. I can read your eyes, your face. I can tell about your personality by asking your 3 very easy questions (I might share them with you someday, won’t promise). And me? People find me very… difficult to understand. What I believe is that they don’t even try to understand me. I only crave acceptance. But obviously, people can only accept me if they actually know who I am as a person. What usually I experience is pure judgement on the basis of asking “How are you?” Okay, how can you even judge me with the reply “I’m fine, thanks.” People often complain why don’t I ask them in return how they are feeling. Well, maybe I don’t want to know. Duh. Maybe I’m tired of listening to people telling me their stories and I deserved a break over an evening tea with other people. Maybe, we could get over the pretentious formal questions and simply discuss the weather. Maybe, people would just for a second, put themselves in my shoes and think about it & the reason behind it. Well this, in turn, was connected with my so called snobbish attitude. Whatever. Thus, I usually failed to carry on conversations and I preferred to stay quiet. Also, ‘normal’ people, they bored me like anything. I’d rather listen to politicians droning on about their latest scabs than the people around me. At times, when I was having sessions with my “special ones” (they call them ‘patients’, I call them ‘special ones’), I imagined myself sitting on that comfortable chair, which I had bought specially for their comfort, with someone sitting at my own chair, readily listening to my ramblings. I needed a psychologist myself. But I didn’t have the time for it. I was so tight on my schedule most of the times that I couldn’t even have weekends off. People needed me and I, having faced the atrocities of life and having tasted bitter loneliness, could never deprive people of my company when all they wanted was someone who’d listen to them. All in all, I always enjoyed listening to my special ones more than anything. They always had a new story to tell me. Their thoughts intrigued me and I never felt bored. Whenever they smiled at me at the end of our sessions, I felt a surge of pride run through me. Their smile was the reason behind my smile.
I once went to Paquetá Island; it’s in Rio (Brazil). I made this trip along with my colleagues to visit some doctors and discuss a few issues. One evening, I was reading a book and chilling on my own, when one of my colleagues Erum, who is a great friend of mine too, knocked on the door and literally dragged me to this place. It’s called “Ponte Da Saudade” which I learned, was the bridge of longing. I, along with Erum, sat down at its edge, drinking hot tea, letting the fresh breeze fill our lungs, each engrossed in their own thoughts and longings. I kept my eyes on the changing colors of the sky which was honestly the most beautiful scene ever. I thought about everything I yearned for. But all that came to my mind was the yearning for ecstasy, hidden deep inside me. I let it resurface at that time, let the emotions wash over me, as we quietly enjoyed the serenity and tranquility of that place. The sun was setting, the water reflecting its beauty. It was paradisal. I wanted this yearning desire to be fulfilled. That’s all I wished for at that moment.
Today, when I entered my home, after a long tiring day with absolutely nothing on my mind except the desire of a good scrumptious dinner and a long sleep, I sensed there were some guests. I went to the lounge and there I saw a family I had never seen before in my life. A man, around 70 years of age, with his wife, around 50 years or so, with their son, who was around 30 years possibly, were sitting very comfortably on the sofa. As I entered, the lady’s eyes snapped up. It was as if she’d been waiting for me to come. Which now makes me wonder what my mom’s been telling them about me. Her son’s eyes were fixed on the tea cup in his hands. It didn’t bother me. My dad and the unknown uncle were busy discussing business. “MEN!” I thought and started to make my way towards the room. As I should’ve already expected, my mom called my name. Oh God. I was so not in the mood of listening to anyone tonight.
I walked towards them at a slow pace. This better be good.
“Leave everything and just go to Mr. XYZ’s house! I won’t repeat myself, do you hear me girl?” My mommy came roaring out of the kitchen, brandishing the rolling pin in her hands and threatening as if she’ll kill me with it.
“Yes mommy.” I stammered.
I didn’t even bother to change. I simply covered my head and dragged myself out the front door. Mommy didn’t even come to say goodbye.
The roads were bustling with traffic. I love watching the huge shiny cars with the people sitting in them, fogging the windows from inside with the expensive cigarettes they smoke. The rest, they have black windows. I always wonder what they’re hiding from…
I hate going there. I’m trying to be as slow as I can be. I wish I could die this very moment. I wish some rich would run over me with one of these huge jeeps and simply put an end to the constant harrow I face in this cruel world. Just one swish of the wand from almighty Death, and everything would be peaceful for me.
I’m tired of fighting.
I entered the mansion. Oh what I wouldn’t give to never ever see this place again. I’m ready to exchange, for that freedom, a gold necklace which my granny pressed into my palms, before death swallowed her. Only one soul knows about it in this whole universe. Me.
I made it to the mistress’s room without interruption. I took a sigh of relief. I knocked.
“Come in! I hope it’s the God damn young lass I hired ages ago! 15 months, still she never comes on time!”
Oh boy. Here it goes. I opened the door, eyes on the floor, muttering under my breath, every verse of the Quran my granny taught me for being safe. It’s the only thing that can save me from this worldly Hell, she used to tell me, before kissing my forehead. For a fraction of seconds, I glanced at my mistress. Nothing different. She is always dressed like a queen. Repressing a sigh and the ugliest profanity I heard, uttered by the gardener of this mansion, I closed the door to the room and faced my fate.
Every bone in my body screams with pain right now. My mind’s blurring with images I can’t discern. At least, not when, as I open my eyes, I’ve to see a hairy-chest, burly beast lying beside me. Bolting upright, I gathered my clothes and left the room.
Is it possible to die of shame every time I face this situation? Why not? Why can’t my mistress just beat me to death instead? Why can’t she feed me to the wolves instead? Why is it my, an 18 year old’s, daily routine to satisfy her son’s needs? I’m not even spared on weekends. No sir, I’ve to work extra hours that day! I spat at the basin, imagining his face there. Thank God, today I made it to the washroom even, undetected and without having to endure the teasing sneers of fellow maids/workers.
Thank you Lord, for at least sparing me from that shame.
I found what I was looking for. Earlier the day, when my mommy was shouting at me, I had sneaked the sharpest knife in my pocket. This pocket is well hidden.The only thing that kept my heart hammering was “my master” finding that knife. I have no use of knife, at least not in their mansion. Would’ve raised a lot of questions.
It was evening. Time for me to go home and everyone else to go out. Except him. I heard him telling my mistress the other day, that he couldn’t go to the dinner they were planning. He had other plans, he said. Right, as if we don’t know what they would be. I have had enough of it. I couldn’t, rather wouldn’t, let him ruin other girls’ lives, Not anymore. I thought of ending it the moment I knew I had a chance. The very first and the very last chance I could ever get.
It might be my end too. But I don’t care. Anything’s better than this Hell.
It was so easy. I didn’t even feel remotely scared. All other workers and maids were in the basement. He was sleeping, probably napping before the next one entered his room. I slit his throat. The blood gushing out satisfied me.
His eyes were blank. I took a sigh of relief.
And then… I ran.
They won’t find me now. I knew of a lone hut, very very far from that place. A lady used to live there. I knew her. She died of liver cancer. That house was left un-cared for. I used to go there, whenever I had time for myself. And now, it was mine. She said it herself. She wanted me to come to her. I was here now. A little late, but I was here, now.
My mommy won’t bat a lash if I go missing. She used to call me a slut. Funny, she was the one who made me one. She’ll be happy she had one less to care for now.
I find this place Heavenly. My sanctuary. Th e place, where at last, i have found peace.
“I have two questions, my Lord.” I’m eating grapes. They are delicious.
1. “Who is the real criminal in my story? My mommy, him or me?”
2. “How long will I be on the run? Are they still looking for me?”
I hope I am not the criminal. I hope it’s not the police who’s looking for me.
But in the end, I’ve committed a crime and I’m still on the run.