Taymour Soomro

Selected Journalism

The House of Wisdom, The Friday Times, July 2009

The water will arrive tomorrow, someone says, and the following morning there’s a muddy slough in the broad channel that crosses our land. It swells over

the coming days into a shallow pool – then a brown stream – that crawls unhurriedly across the bed and trickles into the narrow courses that branch out along the fields. Our farmers wedge makeshift dams of earth and stone in places to stop it seeping onto the land as it rises.

The scrawny boys usually chasing goats and buffalo into the brush are sliding backwards down the steep canal banks, splashing heels-first into the water. And the stray dogs otherwise guarding the towpaths – barking at the windows of our jeep – are gamboling muddy-pawed by the bank or wading in after them.

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The Happiest Women, The Friday Times, May 2009

The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history,” writes George Eliot (née Mary Ann Evans) in The Mill on the Floss, the (necessarily tragic) history of Maggie Tulliver. Pakistan seems to prove her right for the wrong reasons. The fates of our leaders read like the popular mnemonic for Henry VIII’s wives. Assassinated, dismissed, resigned. Take your pick. Our twenty-third prime minister was the first to complete a full term. The unpleasantly rich history of an unhappy nation, then. The women of Pakistan fare considerably better though, if, as per Eliot, their welfare is inversely proportional to the space they occupy in our public narrative. They have no history at all. But I’m not sure Eliot provides a mathematical equation. In the context, it reads more like a comment on the constraints of her time.

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The Epic of the Soil, The Friday Times, January 2009

A renowned Sri Lankan architect, visiting Sindh, travelled from Sukkur, where he was designing a department store, to our farm in Jacobabad late last year at my invitation. “The landscape is luxuriant,” he said, “from Hyderabad to Sukkur. Beyond, it is uninspiring.”

Dense groves of bananas and orchards of dates and mangoes, often intercropped, shade the roads to and from Khairpur. And Sukkur perched on the banks of the Indus is a town of low bridges and leafy gardens. But as you turn away from the river towards Balochistan, gardens and orchards dwindle and the landscape becomes drier. Broad plains on either side reach as far as the eye can see, varied by an occasional cluster of tree, redbrick and thatch. It is uninspiring insofar as it is nature at her sparest. Unadorned with mountain or forest or oasis. Only man and landscape and the elements at their least merciful. We grow wheat in the winter and spring and rice in the summer and autumn and in this landscape the harvest is the ultimate testament to the reward of toil.

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