words cannot die …

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

(Earnest Hemingway.)

I was in high school when I fell in love with his books and to this day, they are a source of awe and respect, for his use and respect for ‘words.’

In those days every month American Traveling Library vans used to visit schools and colleges once a month. It was through those libraries that I was introduced to American Literature. “A Farewell To Arms” was the first book that I was issued by the driver of the van who was also a librarian + the attendant to help around the books. His name was Ken and he could speak in Urdu too. Maybe in their archives, they still have a picture of a young girl checking out a hoard of books from the shelves. On one visit there was a photographer on board who took photos of the students coming in to borrow books. On next visit, we were presented the library magazine with pictures of the students in the narrow space between bookshelves. It was here, in this traveling library that I was introduced to Hemingway.
Even when I had exhausted everything by him, available in that van, my hunger for his prose was not satiated.

Over the years, his style of writing has influenced many writers and it still retains that power. When not writing, he was pursuing some adventure. Sometimes game hunting in Africa or bullfighting in Spain. He also loved deep-sea fishing in Florida. Worked as a war journalist too – He was a reporter on the Spanish Civil War. He lived a life to its fullest – as large as his creative talent was. Here is something I am copying from an old journal that I kept on him adding things that I read and liked about him :

…. “When asked by George Plimpton about the function of his art, Hemingway proved once again to be a master of the “one true sentence”: “From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.”
This was the most meaningful entry in my journal and all through my creative writing time, I have followed these lines as my ‘ mantra’

Now that we were living in Florida, not going to Key West and and visiting the place called Hemingway House was – in my eyes – unforgivable. So one warm morning we started from Orlando and drove straight six hours to the destination. Our hotel was on Duval Street, not far from his house. The house is now turned into a museum and is a tourist destination.

We Visited the house the next day. Earnest Hemingway house in Key West where he lived and wrote his novels. Wow!! Reading his books, in my high school time, I never in my wildest dreams, dreamed that one day I will breathe in the same space, he once owned and lived – his home! It was an experience to remember for all times. I went to his study which was on the second floor, his writing desk and chair – a wooden chair. A serious writer never goes for comfortable, cushy chairs – I know that. There was a book display showing the books that were owned by him. Our guide explained that there was a second story walkway connecting the study to the Master bedroom. It was not there anymore. She did explain why it was not there any more but I am not sure about the details.

We saw the six and seven toed cats. These are the descendants of of the cats owned by Hemingway. They are a big tourist attraction. They live on the premises, roam around the grounds where tropical trees and plants are growing and they are protected by Animal Protection Agency.

The most interesting feature of the house is the swimming pool with a shiny penny embedded in concrete near the pool. The story goes like this that Hemingway wanted to have a swimming pool in the house, but it was just an idea when he talking to a reporter who was interviewing him. It was during the time he went away, as Spanish Civil War reporter, that his third wife Pauline had it built. It cost a huge amount of money for those times. When Hemingway came back, he was not happy to learn how much money Pauline had spent on it. He gave her a penny saying “well, you might as well have my last cent.” That penny is now smiling there, embedded in the cement and bringing smile to every face listening to this story.

After the tour, I sat in the porch for some time. That was an intense existential moment. But a cat peacefully, was sleeping under the shadow of a low tree. Another, a little further down the drive way was licking her six or seven toed paw and tropical plants still were growing on the far edge of a lush yard, swaying in the Tropical breeze. There was also a book lined shelf in the house behind me, only a master story teller’s vacant chair, pulled near a writing desk, was reminding, that the story teller had long gone.

But then there was also a penny holding that moment it exchanged hands and went down the immortality rout. People coming from far away lands, when see the shining penny, they smile and they think about this larger than life man. That is the moment he comes to life. And when they go back a living memory goes back with them.

Am I trying to appease my angst? No, I do not think so. Because there are words I am talking about. Yes. Words.
And words cannot die.


a compassion called agony …

A friend from Pakistan screamed. The scream was loud enough to reach from across the oceans to the shores of Florida without any telephonic help.

“oye, stop writing about your American holidays. Stop confusing my clueless ‘hum-watanon ko… you are doing a huge dis-service. Making them act like headless – clueless – directionless robots.”

“ What happened?” I asked, wincing at that shrill voice boring in my ear, “and calm down… stop shouting. You would even raise the dead with your shrieking.”

She calmed down.

“Okay, what have I done this time that has agitated you so? “ I asked

“ Look my bholey bhaley humwatan are already confused about their identity. These ‘shaitan and shatir shit-bag politicians are also playing tug of war with their sensibilities. Poor dears have been fooled many times and are still being fooled by the likes of Zardaris and Sharifs. Now with Qadri and Imran Khan joining hands and showing already victimized public the new ‘sabz baaghs’, things are not getting any better. So why confuse them further?”

What have I done – you didn’t answer that”

Mr. St.Valentine has already landed here. Ab koun poochhey in mindless logon sai keh yeh Valentine tumhara chach, mama thha kia? I am asking why insert alien customs in our tradition? Its people like you living in amreeka , in wilaiyat who are sending wrong vibes to my country. “

“ You are rambling.”

“ No I am not.” she thundered again.
“ Chalo maan lia… there is no harm in celebrating a mother’s day. Celebrate this day the year round – each day and every day. Not just one day in a year. But a Valentine’s day?”

“ No, I do not do that. Not Valentines day.”
“then why feed it to my people?”
“ No, I never did that either.”
“ Why not?”
“ A strange question coming from you. Love is not for advertising. It’s a bond between you and the person you love. You show it with your actions, honoring the person, treating with respect and compassion, understanding. Love is not just leading towards the bedroom … which has become the sole purpose of this day.”

“Hmmmm, yes, true.

“If only I could tell my fellow citizens that Valentines day does not suit you? You are used to raping, abusing, burning and mistreating women, why make a show of a fake emotion? First learn to respect a female. Otherwise this would be just one more venue, opened for the predators to operate from. We do not know what love and compassion and respect is. So why bother? Right?”
She took a big gulp of air to fill her lungs.
“ But no, if it’s not you then there is someone else oohing and aahing about your amreeki stuff.
“ Are you done?” I squeaked?

“ No, I am not yaar, or maybe I am. Everyday I die a little more. Every day a new wave of dishonesty, maltreatment,bigotry, killing of innocent and Mulla geeri lines up for inspection… See, look, yes look at us, I am your Watan that people died for… Your Pakistan – the land of pure.”

“ Yes, I am sorry, things are tough. My voice was a bit stronger this time

“So stop contributing to this sorry state of affairs. One more word about your next  eid called  Thanksgiving and I am banishing you from what little circle of friends I keep.”

“ But it is a purely American tradition, my dear. Nothing to do with your azeez ham-watanou! Aren’t they already thanking Almighty five times a day?”

“ That is exactly the point.” She thundered again.
“That is exactly the point. These badesi traditions and myths are cluttering our culture – not that I am demeaning your tradition. But my people, taking some from here and some from there are fast forgetting their own tradition, their myth, their identity. With the rate of following other cultures, my people are losing their ‘Shanakht’ – self respect. Do you understand what that means?”

“ Yes I do. But you are also missing my point. This is just a historic, American Christian tradition that people celebrate. It was the year 1623 when the crops were harvested and they were found to be in abundance. So the Governor of Plymouth Plantation proclaimed a day in November and told every one to gather at the Meeting House to listen to the Pastor and show the Thanksgiving spirit to God.
That is the ‘myth’ the honorable tradition we remember and honor by celebrating the spirit of welcoming and sharing and thanking.”

“ So if it is a christian tradition then why do you follow it? “

Well we have so many names for Almighty. Haven’t we? So keeping with the American tradition we Thank Almighty Allah for His Blessings on this historically documented day.

“It’s all nice and lush for you.” She paused.
“ I am tired.”
And with that she went off the line.

I am not callous, I have a compassionate heart. I understand her agony.


and then love will return …

I want rains, lots of rains – non stop rains. On my roof, against my windows, and hear it falling; falling  beyond the glass doors. Looking –  just looking at it falling. Lying still – under the blanket – just looking, just listening – not thinking. But what is there to think? All the words wrapped in a bundle, have long left.
There is nothing happening – waiting to happen but not happening. So there!!

This year the famine in Damishq was bad. So bad that people even forgot love … لوگ بھول گئے ۔۔۔ محبت کرنا بھول گئے   who said that? Who was that sage? Sa’adi? Oh yes Sa’adi.

They have forgotten, they don’t care what love is, he laments. What life is without love ۔۔۔ اب کے برس دمشق میں بڑا کال پڑا، اتنا کہ لوگ بھول گئے ۔ محبت کرنا بھول گئے۔ محبت کے جیسا لطیف جذبہ؟ محبت کی باتیں ، محبت کی نظر ،محبت سے گلے لگانا ٓ بھول گئے ، سب بھو گئے

And across the oceans, the story continues. They have famine for years now. But this famine is of a different kind.
Every morning they bring out their hope, wipe its face clean, and holding it close to heart they go out looking for life and come back at night. Hope dead, darkness another shade darker and they silently descend in their dark holes, avoiding hungry eyes, burning – burning white, burning wide, staring in the darkness, bulging out of sockets. Another hungry night before another day of famine sets over the towns – fangs,teeth,claws,talons and shrieking contests.
What is one supposed to do if not ….

“chunaN qehet saale …. ?
framoosh kerdand ishq ? “
بھول گئے ، محبت کرنا بھول گئے؟

I want rains. Rains, up the towns, down the vales – rains. To wipe clean the dirt hanging in the air, the blackened hearts, the soul dredged with soot,  making them sparkling clean

And then love will return.

kitab e zindagi …


کون؟ کون ھے؟ اس نے سر اٹھا کر کمرے میں پھیلی مدھم روشنی میں دیکھنے کی کوشش کی مگر کمرے میں تھا ھی کون۔ اس نے پھر تکۓ پر سر رکھ دیا اور سونے کی کوشش کرنے لگی مگر نیند ایک بار اچٹ جاۓ تو پھر دیر ھی سے آتی ھے۔ کچھ دیر بعد اٹھی اور پانی پینے کے لۓ چلی گئ ۔ ۔پانی کا گلاس ہاتھ میں لے کر کمرے کی طرف آتے ھوۓ دروازے کے اوپر لگے شیشے سے آخری تاریخوں کا چاند نظر آ رھا تھا، آدھا اور کسی بوڑھے کی مانند کبڑا اور جھکا ھوا۔ پھیکی ، بیمار چاندنی کی چادر میں لپٹا ، شرمندہ۔ کچھ دیر کھڑی وہ اسے ھی دیکھتی رھی پھر کچھ ہنس کر سر جھٹکتی کمرے کی طرف چلی گئ ۔نیند اب پوری طرح غائب ھو چکی تھی ۔ پانی کا گلاس اس نے آدھا پیا اور میز پر رکھ دیا اور کتاب اٹھا کر پھر کمرے سے باہر چلی گئ ۔ مگر کتاب میں بھی دھیان لگ نہیں رھا تھا ۔ جانتی تھی ، نیند اچٹ جانے کی وجہ جانتی تھی مگر جان کر بھی کیا ، کچھ ھو سکتا تھا ؟ بالکل بھی نہیں ، یہ وہ جانتی تھی ۔۔۔ اچھی طرح سے جانتی تھی ایک وقت آیا تھا جب اسے اپنی کوششیں کامیا ب ھوتی لگی تھیں مگر بات صرف اُسی تک تو محدود نہیں تھی اس رستے پر کسی اور کی بھی نظرٰیں لگی رھتی تھیں ، منتظر ! مگر وقت آگے جا چکا تھا۔ پیڑوں کے نیچے اب صرف خاموشی تھی اور ہوا ئیں سر برہنہ خاک اڑاتی پھرتی تھیں ۔ ایک وقت تھا جب اس نے کچھ لفظ اپنی ہتھیلیوں پر رکھ کر اسے ہدیہ کۓ تھےجو اس نے بہت خوش ہو کر اٹھا لۓ اور اس کی خالی ہتھیلیاں واپس کر دیں۔ اپنے روزمرہ سے کچھ لمحے اٹھا کر ان خالی ہتھیلیوں پر رکھنے کا اسے خیال بھی نہیں آیا یا شائد آیا مگر ۔۔۔ شائد عافیت پسندی نے اسے آنکھیں چرانے کے لۓ کہہ دیا۔ کسی کو کیا معلوم !۔

اس نے کتاب بند کر دی اور آنکھیں بھی بند کر کے وقت کے تعاقب میں نکل گئ ۔ آج کی رات کہیں کوئ بہت بے چین تھا ۔ مگر اب اسے خود
سے کۓ وعدے یاد تھے اور یاد رکھنے تھے ۔ یہ وعدے کسی سکون کا باعث ھوتے ھیں ، نہیں ھوتے ھیں ، جاننا بھی نہیں تھا

تمھیں یاد ھے وہ لڑکی جس نے سکول آڈیٹوریم کی سیڑھیوں پر چُپ بیٹھی لڑکی سے کہا تھا “کبھی ایسے مت کرنا” اور ھوا میں ہاتھ
اُٹھاۓ چٹکییاں بجاتی برآمد وں میں کہیں غائب ھو گئ تھی” ۔۔۔۔
( کتابِ زندگی سے ایک اقتباس )

on March 2014 …

On principle I do not believe in hunger strikes or putting oneself on fire in protest. It is like a tmasha for the passing by who would stop, watch, shake their heads say a few hai, hai and be on their ways again to where ever they were going. No one would give two hoots, life would go on and it would be business as usual,

killed by a fly by shooting is unfortunate. It was not planned or for seen so we are not talking about that. A Passive / planned death is beyond human dignity. Shahadat / martyrdom is attained while fighting for your rights, not by not eating and just getting weaker by day till the day you are no more.

Fighting for the cause and do logon ko mar kr mrna is shahadat, otherwise it is suicide. yes, suicide. period. I am not a mulla, or a religious authority but if you are a Muslim, You should know It is not a favorable act.

Tipu Sultan, a pious , devote Muslim, fighting for freedom from the British, chose death over a life of subjugation. He knew that once he was out of his fort, he would die but he also knew he would die defending the rights of his people. He killed many before he was martyred. We celebrate his death, his courage and his stance on principles. Before stepping out to face the enemy, he said

” Sher ki ek din ki zindagi, geedarr ki sou din ki zindagi sey behtar haiy.”

This is not 1930’s time any more. Gandhi and his “barats” (hunger strikes) were noticed then but now are meaningless. Such passive protests are injurious not only to the person himself but to the organization as well because a man lost is the organization’s loss. Living, one can use his faculties to further help the body of resistance but dead he is only a heap of flesh and bones. The oppressor would welcome your death because he knows, one man dead is one man less demanding his rights.

Sitting high up he wouldn’t give a damn. You live, you die; what is it to him? He is safe in his ivory tower.

I like Johar and absolutely love his innocent smile and those big black eyes that now look like two saucers on his thin face. With what information on his health I am getting, I am not sure he would live long now. Only the other day I was discussing his health scenario with a Baloch friend and he said that that was exactly what the doctor says. I listened to the video I was sent. What the doctor was saying was common sense / plus professional opinion but he didn’t say what would happen if Johar goes into a coma, if he is revived, and if he becomes brain dead. What would he do then? He would not be able to take care of himself so he would be dumped in some khairati idara or he would become a burden on his parents. Has johar thought about that? He wouldn’t have a healthy, thinking brain to decide for himself then. So?

I am not a prophet of doom, I want him to live. I want to see him have a meaningful life. I would love to see him happy that he attained what he was struggling / working for . And That would be a happy day when some friend would tell me “johar got married and now has many little proud Johars to love and serve the free country he worked for.

5/31/ 2014

its not about legends …


Last night again, one of the Pakistani TV stations played one of the great renditions of Abida Parveen,

ڈھو نڈو گے اگر ملکوں، ملکوں

and I never thought I would be so disappointed. The original style was par excellence and here in this one, she had used a totally different style, different “raaga “ and turned it into a mere vocal exercise – all simplicity, feel and that haunting resonance gone! Just like what Rahat Ali did to Nusrat Fateh Ali’s تم اک گورکھ دھندا ھو

But one can forgive Rahat because he was never an original artist – just there to nit-pick Nusrat, the great legend. But Abida Parveen? She is also considered a living legend in ghazal singing. She should have remained faithful to the original rendition, the first one where she gives all… deep down from her soul.

If I am not mixing it up with some other event, it was 2005 – 6 that I – just by chance – landed on some Pakistani TV station and heard Abida Parveen singing this ghazal. It was like I was struck by some thunder bolt.. I just sat there, mesmerized, not moving, not blinking and only God knows how I was breathing. Long after it finished, I was still sitting in the same position, lost somewhere in memory marshes; brought back by “whats wrong? Why are you crying baby”

Yes. I was crying and I didn’t know.

That was the impact of those words and that voice.

I got stuck with the ghazal but there was one couplet that was like a non stop tap tapping on my mind and causing a disturbing, distracting rude ripple in this otherwise smooth flowing of music, mood and mantra. The couplet was / is

میں حیرت و حسرت کا مارا خاموش کھڑا ھوں ساحل پر

دریاۓ محبت کہتا ھے، آ کچھ بھی نھیں پایاب ھیں ھم

Why the river of love is saying that there is no need for hessitation because it is not deep – I know the meanings of ‘ payab ‘ but still I checked the meanings in dictionary کم گہر ا

is what payaab means ، it said. I checked it with a friend. Nothing new. Same apparent explaination.

I left it at that.

A few years passed and I sent it to Naim sahab. Now keep in mind that I respect him, love him, think that there is none more honest, more sound and original in his opinions – a total no nonsense person. I am in awe of him and sometimes totally nervous communictating with him. Really, Talking to him I always feel like I am a total jahil. Once he threatened “ … one couplet in bad taste and we will have a fight ..”So talking to him is like treading a most fearsome, slippery path. There is a fear of slipping, tripping and falling down. And when this happens, then there is no hope left for any retribution.. Totally gone. But I still put my courage in both my hands and offered him this couplet.

Nope. Nothing. He said the same thing.

I stoped and left it at that. Though I had this suspicion that the great master had something else on his mind.

I couldn,t let it go altogether. Every now and then a time would come when I would feel the need to pry open the poet’s mind and the association of ideas that made the poet go against the set meaning of dariyaiay mohabat – I know I will keep wondering from time to time.

What is it that is so ellusive? Its there and not there and still there!. I turn this couplet in simple phrase.

میں حیرت اور حسرت کا مارا ھوا، ساحل پر خاموش کھڑا ھوں اور

دریاۓ محبت مجھے یہ کہہ کر بلا رھا ھے کہ وہ کم گہرا ھے، پایاب ھے

اور میں اس میں اتر سکتا ھوں

This literal meaning is fine but my point is dariyaiy mohabat is never meant to be payaab. It is meant to be deep. Where ever in Urdu lit, anyone mentioned mohabat, tried to explain it, always called it deep, gehra, with depth, doonga (now this one is a Punjabi word but I am only giving an example 🙂

Given the option to the poet to say what and how he wants to put forth his thoghts, the couplet would become mere exercise، a “ qafiya pemaaii “ Poets have a thing called “poetic license” that gives a lot of lee way to them ; and if this is what it is then Abida Parveen also can sing in whatever style she chooses to and spoil it.






analysing …

Last night reading a book, I suddenly started feeling irritated for no apparent reason. I put the book down and started walking around the house. Did a little stretching, and some deep breathing routine. I have never liked going to bed with a heavy heart and irritated soul.

I discovered some fresh scars. Peshawar bomb blast – a shia moulana targetted and killed – a wounded infant in his father‘s arms, and most of all the expression on this father’s face.

I had heard this news in the afternon. We, – meaning I and my family – talked about this, talked just as we are now so used to discussing such “waqaiyat” and then everyone went back to what everyone was doing before this four sided discussion. I do not know about others but that face stayed with me a long time and then finally disappeared in the afternoon routine. Cannot say about others but I had pushed it to some far corner of my mind.

While pacing from family room to the office – the far corner of the house and back, that face surfaced. I sat down and cried; saying sorry, sorry, sorry, again and again. Like I was the one who had done that. Sitting here, on this side of the World, thousands of miles away, I was feeling like I was responsible for causing that grief – that grief on that silent face. What was he thinking holding his child in his arms, looking at his injuries. Was he also saying sorry to his son? I cried.

There is no way to know how his son is now. Did he open his eyes and smiled at his father, did the wamth in his mother’s lap put soothing balm on his wounds. No way to know that. A prayer for him for all the little angels was sent on its way to heavens, hoping that Someone High Up Would Listen, would do something but He had already said a long, long time ago that He would help only those, who would try helping themselves first.
Please, please, make some amendment in your doctrine… look at the suffering. I said. Did He listen?

This morning when I got up, I was feeling fine. That moment when I first open my eyes and the first thought that comes to me, is important. After a few moments I put my hand out and picked up a book from my night table, put on my reading glasses and opened the book. There it was :

unhein manzoor apnaiy zakhmiyon ka daikh aana tha
othhaiy thaiy sair e gul ko, dekhna shokhi bhanaiy ki

What a beautiful, beautiful couplet. I had the feeling I would be okay. This was my first relaxed and calm moment and I had this feeling that things would be alright. I know I am not a chronic optimist but when was the last time worring did me any good. Pakistan is going through a difficult time but things that go down, come up again. This is the circle of life. We shall emerge victorious; I am optimistic about that.

I thought about a dear friend who is pouting for the last week or so and smiled. Then I picked up my Nexus 7 and wrote my status of the day and got out of bed.

mid morning.

looking for the one who knows …

I am looking for the one who knows.

I need to consult him to get the answers to some very important questions.

Coming back home from the Islamic center, after the martyrs of Karbala majlis, I was feeling bruised all over.  Like my soul was hunched over with helplessness. In such situations I go quietly somewhere deep inside me and think – not in words but images.

In this year’s Chehlam majlis someone read  something in the end that was just pure grief and nothing else. The prophet’s family released from the prison and having the first ever majlis for their martyrs; visiting their dead, visiting the battle ground, visiting the river Euphrates. Calling their sons, and brothers their fathers and husbands, their children and getting only the swirling sands of the desert sending their wailing in reply.

Half way to our home, my inner conversation ended . My mind had gone numb.  Then slowly a question came out of the fog.

” why, but why Allah? you never once tried to intervene? Didn’t you know what was happening? what was going on? never once, never once you did something to help them.  There was a lot more that I hurled at my creator because I was hurting inside.

I am familiar with this line of thought, and I have grappled with such questions many times before and somewhat, have satisfied myself, with my reasoning but that nauha was absolutely heart rending and like a small child I was throwing a tantrum. I knew that, but I  was not willing to stop it.

” Why is he not letting us go” someone in the car said. I came out of my reverie and looked up with real eyes this time … without any blinders of my thoughts.  A truck , right ahead of us was moving slowly. I leaned to my right to see what was in front of the truck that was not letting it go faster. Nothing, there was nothing  in its way. I looked up again at the truck. This time I saw it.  Right in the middle of its back wall There were some highlighted words:


Whatever was holding the truck back got out of the way and the truck gathered its speed.

I reeled back in my seat.


fall is here …

It is that time of the year again. Dry, cold winds singing an autumn sonata … a song of separation making you go deeper, looking for lost times.

A mist hanging in the air like a curtain  and a night bird whispering a name over and over again.

Go to sleep. It is time to dream the dreams!

stars don’t talk …

 A very warm night was reigning over the town last night – dark and mysterious; Pulsating with many unsaid stories, unspoken promises and longings. A very bright half Moon was looking down and loving its beauty reflected on a calm and serene surface of the lake. Sitting on the back porch, I watched the houses on the opposite shore. Their outside lights were on and looked like minarets of light bathing in the calm waters, intending to go deep down to play with the sleeping fish

A group of people – probably high school kids, out for summer break from schools – were having a party. A contained fire was burning. Every once in a while, red and orange flames leapt in the air, illuminating the silhouettes of a small group of people sitting on the grass. Sometimes their laughter or some muffled word or two, riding on the air would land here on this side. Then two figures stood up and started doing a slow waltz on the green turf … fire in the background, smell of burning wood in the air and people scattered on the grass like shadows from the past! It was ethereal.

A hand stretched and stoked the dying fire and sparks rose to the sky where a half moon was playing hide and seek with some dark, some silvery white tufts of clouds …. It sure was a playful night, demanding love ….  cajoling, beckoning, smiling and dancing away the moments, weaving the memories.

I changed my side on my patio recliner and looked at the sky – an ink blue vastness where the clouds were floating and the moon was sending moon-beams to the restless souls. I found my star twinkling on the far west side of the sky.
“hello” I whispered. “are you there? I see you every morning, I look at you every night – do you know that ? But that does not make anything any easier. Do you know that?

But stars don’t talk … or do they?