Written on 22nd August 2008

It was February. The start of the new semester, Spring 2008. We were called upon by Sir Wajdan Raza of the Humanities department. There were 20 of us, a few from every college. It was an important step that would change the history of the extracurricular dept of PAF-KIET. We were naturally very excited about it, and discussed it with each other. I found my best friend, Shagufta with me, to my relief, and a few others, some of whom were my classmates and some were Shag’s. One of Shag’s classmate and point-mate was Asra Amir. As we got seated, we looked around at familiar and unfamiliar eager faces, people who were determined, people who were proud, people arrogant, and people dedicated. Most were young, our juniors, but that didn’t make a difference as we were a team. At least that’s how Shag n I looked at it. We were then given a presentation by Sir Wajdan, telling us what benefits we would get, certificates, and other things we could look forward to. We were satisfied for then.

We were then distributed some notes, which we found to be an organizational chart and a detailed description of the members. The organizational chart was interesting; especially when Asra started to make a fuss about multiple reportings. Looking at the chart I realized what was biting her: she had to report to me. Oh, sure she had two or three teams under her, but her main problem was me. At least that’s what I was told. That is also the impression that I got myself. I was about to laugh out loud with Shag, when Mazhar bumped into me. Okay, he didn’t bump into me, but he shocked me out of my skin calling me out like that. I turned, expecting to see someone my age, dreading it, too, being as unsocial as I am, but I found there a boy in his 3rd semester of the engineering dept. He knew I was, well, me, but I wasn’t sure who he was. We had an introduction, then came another boy, Fahad, from the BCA dept, he was also part of my team. The rest of the two were missing. We introduced ourselves, my determination covering my consciousness, exchanged contacts, and started discussing what our pages were all about. I was given 2 pages, whose topics were Postpaid Naturally (17), and Bingo (16), both under one Team K. I had 5 team members, two mentioned above, myself, and two missing. Fahad was in the designing dept, so it was left to me and Mazhar to do the writing job. So we discussed what to do, while Fahad slipped away saying he would send me the logos ASAP. Maz n I discussed about how to make people give us material, when in popped Shag! She was way too excited, and would definitely have shaken hands with Maz, if she hadn’t been called off by someone. As she went off, Maz and I distributed the works. What we didn’t know was that our plans would change drastically in the next few days and weeks. We made our plans, and stuck around, until Shag popped again, asking what I was given, and pouting that she hadn’t been made editor.

I had to give her all the courage possible as she grumbled about working as only the coordinator, and not being able to order people around. J Anyway, laughing it off with her, I gave her the task of writing a story for me on Sneaking Affections. That story would later give me and Maz the greatest headaches of our lives. We decided to keep each other updated through email and start work on PostPaid Naturally (PPN) page. Mazhar had other duties as well, but he was more interested in page 16 n 17, as others “are so dead boring!” as he said it. Well, he went off to agonise himself with other tasks, and I rejoined Shag, who was complaining to Sir why she wasn’t given any responsibilities. Sir looked at me and gave me a knowing smile, and I dragged her off to ask her something about some idea that was burning in my head about PPN. We were all given refreshments as well, and at that time we all had a glass each in our hands. I had to make Shag sit and asked her how d’you like this idea about PPN that we ask different people living in different areas write about their areas as places to travel to. She said she liked it, but as I’m not a good explainer (Hey! Everyone has their weaknesses and strengths), she wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, so I decided to keep it to myself, and experiment on it before discussing it with my team. A pity, really, the team could have helped me improve the idea and we could have been saved from a lot of hard work. But, as they say, what will be, will be, so it happened as it was supposed to happened. The rest of that meeting is a blur, although I remember getting the emails of the 2 missing people of my team so as to contact them later, and a photo session, in which most of the people prominent are those who were out of the team in the 2nd issue meeting.

Well we went home, feeling important, prepared to work off our heads, wanting our magazine to be one of the top ones in Pakistan. Okay, at least among the universities if not overall country wide. And maybe some of us didn’t want to work so hard, but I did, and so did my teammates, Maz n Fahad, and also Shag. I don’t know about anyone else, but these I would vouch for on my life. So we went home, happy-go-lucky, each planning his/her own schemes on what to do next, how to submit the best material, how to meet the deadline (or to delay the magazine altogether for months!).

I had to arrange to meet with the rest of my team and then discuss what to do, all that work needed distribution, just 2 people couldn’t write the material of the whole team! Okay, we DID in the end, but we had to spend nights on it. So I called in all my team to the city campus at about 5 ‘o’ clock in the evening. One of the team members kept telling me not to come, others did not respond. Mazhar was the only one who got there, and he was scared like a wet cat. J So when I got there, this little dedicated youngster was there all ready to get into gear. Well, I told him about the others and we shrugged and got on with our tasks. What tasks, we talked about everything but the tasks of the magazine that day. We found we were both citizens (from City School), and we both love to write, and we’re bookworms too, and we were both very excited to be in the team of the magazine-the very 1st issue of the very 1st magazine of PAF-KIET.

So, being writers, our half problem solved -and half increased- we went back home, with more determination and some amount of courage. We did everything in our power to entice the students to write something for us, but they weren’t ready to believe that the magazine would even be published. They thought it would die down as most activities do in the uni now. But we were planning otherwise. So we worked. We worked hard enough for more than 10 people each, determined that the magazine be published. We were too excited to let it just die down.

So we had our things ready, although the deadline was increased due to some problems with designing. Our materials done, we submitted them, I to Asra, although I’d already edited the stuff myself. I told her so, and she agreed to just submit it onwards. Then started the work of our designers. Fahad had been busy in his brother’s wedding so he was a little late in submitting the work. I pressured him, though softly, and we were able to submit our whole work one day late only, but it didn’t matter- the magazine itself had been delayed. Meanwhile, Shag had sent her contribution and it was 3000 words! Maz and I had to spend hours on that to just cut it down to 1,500 words! That was bad enough, on top of which, the little princess had not bothered to use ANY kind of punctuation at all!!

As in the organizational chart, we were two creative directors, each having two editors under him/her. My editors were Asra and Mazhar. Since it was my responsibility to get the edited stuff from them, and teams under them. There were quite a few teams under us three, and it was very hard to convince them to submit their work. Some were so overconfident that they said they’ll mail directly to the top person; without editing! It shocked me no end. The editors were appointed for a purpose, not to waste their time. So I started to pressurize Mazhar and Asra, and they started to bear my “bharambaz” attitude. Though after a while Asra lost her temper and started to show ME HER attitude and insulted me in various of her emails. The first I ignored, sending a polite but sharp reply. In the next I had to send her a good scolding. After that she gained back her senses and, though she did not apologise, her tone changed satisfactorily. Not being the fighting kind, I moved on. I was told that her house had been robbed that Wednesday, so I inquired after her welfare as well. We changed our tones again, and I started the pressure again. This time she just gave up when no-one would reply to her. I was sure it wasn’t her fault, as when I contacted the concerned Team Leads, they said they had already submitted their work directly to Junaid. By that time, it had been decided that instead of separate designers for each page, we’d have just one, Junaid. So even I had to submit the work to him in the end. But nobody submitted what we had asked. The result was apparent on the inauguration of the magazine: It was unedited, with lots of grammatical and spelling mistakes, with most of our hard work disappearing into thin air WITHOUT our knowledge.

It was a great disappoint for me to not see my sections in the magazine. They had taken a lot of my time, and I expected them to have had stood out among the rest of the contents of the magazine. And when I searched for them in the magazine and didn’t find them, I asked Sir and he said “they” had to exclude some stuff for “cost-effectiveness”. Cost effectiveness was okay, but the sections which had the writings of the students of PAF-KIET were more important than philosophical writings of other writers or other dry things included.

All-in-all the magazine was a disappointment, yet an achievement for the team, especially for those of us who’d worked. Well, we went to the President and the two Deans and presented them with the first copy, and they were happy. We WERE proud of it, just conscious of its mistakes. I went home, happy, proud, but did not touch the magazine for over three weeks. I was not in the mood to accept the fact I had been excluded, even though I was the Creative Director, from such a great decision as that. I regretted being on that post and not being able to make myself prominent enough.

After the first issue, we had another meeting. It was for the second issue and changes to the team. Many members of the team who hadn’t attended the meetings or not done any work, were immediately excluded from the team, and the rest of us hung on. Sir wanted to pass on his post to someone else, and Maz n Shag kept nudging me to raise my hand to accept the post. I did no such thing, grinning at them instead. As Maz later expressed, “Someone, a frog, was jumping around ready to accept the post and you weren’t doing a thing!” It still makes me laugh out.

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