Harris Khalique, Islamabad, Pakistan


Windows on the World

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

In the afternoon when the sun is blazing and in early evening when its orange hue allows me to stare into the horizon, I look out of this window in my office that opens into a terrace but offers a wider view. I see the palatial houses and imagine the few who live there in luxury. Then I think of the many who serve them—who hurl rolls of newspapers onto their porches, bring groceries, drive cars, sweep floors, toil in the sizzling kitchens. They dwell in shanty settlements ensconced within the affluent neighborhoods or live in crammed quarters in the backyards of these houses.

Before dusk I can look beyond the trees and catch a clear glimpse of the thin-looking white minarets of the Faisal Mosque, one elegant and expansive structure on the slopes of the Margalla Hills. These minarets remind me of the worst dictator we have had. He lies buried in the gardens of this mosque while we still struggle to rein in the beasts of ignorance and bigotry he unleashed.

Last week when it stopped raining after several hours, I decided to go beyond the window and walk across the terrace to look over the street from above. I saw a young girl squatting by a small puddle and folding paper into boats. An odd mix of intense sorrow and great hope enveloped my heart. —Harris Khalique