Shifting Gears from Hackschool Project to The Eid Engagement, and Other Weddings

When I finished writing Hackschool Project, I knew the story of the three Moin siblings remained yet to be told. I could see clearly them continuing along the lines where I had left them. With Leena in college, Inaya just having finished her O Levels and Jasir starting Matric, I see many tales of their educational years yet before us. I decided, however, to put the Hackschool Project sequel on hold to make way for a new story to come through. An older story with more mature characters and a different theme from Hackschool Project, exploring the world of young people once they are past their educational years. I decided to explore the topic of choosing someone to marry through the eyes of three friends, two who are already engaged when the story starts, and the main character, Hina, whose process of getting married is the focus of the story. Hina’s experiences of getting engaged and everything that comes with an engagement unfold in a backdrop of commentary from her friends, who have opinions about every step of the process and do not hesitate to share them.

The Eid Engagement, and Other Weddings flows differently from Hackschool Project in terms of how story points connect to each other. The story builds over time as events progress and one thing leads to another. Wedding-level excitement cannot be present in the beginning chapters of the story, where the engagement is still in the planning stages. In this way, The Eid Engagement, and Other Weddings builds from stage to stage: the pre-engagement stage, the engagement ceremony stage, the immediate post-engagement stage, and so on. At every stage, we see the friends’ commentary of it. The friends’ commentary is a recurring occurrence and its regularity in the story is the bar by which each stage is measured. Is it acceptable? Is it fashionable? Is it current? Hina’s friends run her ongoing engagement experiences past their personal standards. Their most strict standard is comparing Hina’s experiences to their own engagements. Hina’s engagement might fail one friend’s standards of being fashionable, or the other friend’s standards of being authentic, but in the end what comes to light is Hina’s development of her own standard. As Hina determines what she wants, she runs her engagement past her friends’ standards and finds it severely lacking. This, combined with her own wishes to get more out of the situation, ultimately leads her to prioritize what is important to herself first. Will she remain bound to her friends’ standards? Will she find what she is looking for in her engagement? Will she fall in love with her fiance? We will find this out together, as I am still writing The Eid Engagement, and Other Weddings at the time of writing this post. If you’re interested in my published work, you may get Hackschool Project, my story about students using the power of family, fun and friendship to survive school life, here at the Mera Qissa bookstore.

My Firstborn Novel, Hackschool Project

Write what you know. It is the saying that guides all those who explore the world of writing fiction in novel form. For me, this was an easy choice. I wanted to write about student life before I got too far ahead in life to remember it as clearly and dearly as I do now. The part most dear to me about student life were the little things we did for each other as friends and family members to help us get through this time of our lives, which seemed to stretch on and on. Then I wanted to write about these moments as well as those features of student life in Pakistan that students challenge and that students celebrate. A challenge moment might be exams, and a celebratory moment might be end of exams, tearing up the exam schedule that was done and in the past. I drew on my experiences and observations of student life to write up ice cream parties as well as the doom and gloom that accompanies bad results.

The result was my novel, Hackschool Project. I am proud of it and the subject matter I chose to write about. When it comes to young life and student life, anything you write about is someone’s story. I wrote this story for 3 years in Us Magazine, The News International. Then I compiled it into novel form. In a way it is a story that has stayed with me and been my companion for years, the characters often thought of in between everything I was doing in my own life at the time.

Here it is. My beauty of an ink baby. I say it’s a wonder it even came to be, and for every novel it is so. It was published on the 21st of January, 2021.

You can get it here:

My Interview In Us Magazine

Waqas Hassan's WebPress!

Tea with Us!

It is a law of nature. The sun will rise. The tides will flow. Fans want to know more about their stars. Where celebrities are concerned, the tabloids fulfill this demand, but what about the fans of Us? Something had to be done.

And done it was. It took some doing, but I managed to book Café Online. I sent out the invites and got my notebook and pen ready. I didn’t know any shorthand, but I was going to get those interviews!

Us is made of regular sections and contributions. I couldn’t invite everyone who’d ever contributed, but I invited those who had carved their own niche in Us and earned appreciation from the readers in doing so, both senior and relatively new writers.

And not only this; for today…

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Unsuccessful shopping

And I wonder what goes on in a man’s head during shopping trips. Do you think I nailed it?

I do not know how they talked me into it. Let me think. Oh, yeah. It was dear old mom, proclaiming her wish to visit the mall before being put to eternal slumber. It was Zoha, too, claiming proof of my undying love. Does filial duty and holy matrimony depend on becoming the family driver? That’s what it seems nowadays. Life is not fair.

I’d regret it, I knew. But I did it. If driving four miles in the rush hour to the nearest shopping centre with incessant female chatter boring into one’s ears is not proof of filial and marital loyalty, I don’t know what is.

To begin with, they wanted shoes. I steered them to the nearest outlet and spent half an hour watching them pull every footwear within reach off the shelves. It was Cinderella redone, minus the prince. The prince was off-duty, observing from a safe distance. After thirty minutes’ worth of bargain-hunting, they decided that that store was not for them. Enough to satisfy the common populace, but not for thrift-queens. They evacuated the store at full speed. I trailed after them.

The next shop housed miracles of every description, enough to entertain the two for twenty minutes, but not sufficient to entice them to a purchase. Then it suddenly struck Zoha that a newly-opened and very popular shoe store was just across the mall. She proceeded to lead us on a wild goose chase after this elusive establishment. Every person we asked pointed to a different point of the compass, until we had trudged through every part of the mall, but the white stag of our hunt was not to be found.

At that point mom announced that she was not leaving until she had procured an instrument to adorn her feet, so she and Zoha set off with renewed vigour to scour all the houses of footwear the mall had to offer. We went to shoe-palaces, we went to shoe-huts; we haggled over sandals, we bargained over high-heels; we combed every shelf of every store, but could not bring ourselves to buy anything. I say “we” because a man’s quest to protect his women from weird shopkeepers while those women strive to empty their man’s wallet is a noble and chivalrous mission, worthy of notice.

Finally, I refused to go on any further. I told them, quite seriously, that I loved them dearly, and had sacrificed three and a half hours to the cause, but was not going to endure much more. Upon this, they conferred among themselves, and came to the conclusion that the object of their desire lay in the very first shop we had entered. We set out towards this shop, but we couldn’t find it! After ten minutes or so, Zoha shrieked at the sight of our destination, and we hurried in. The friendly shopkeeper informed us, in tones of calculated tactfulness, that he had sold that very pair only five minutes before, but if we were interested, he could show us some new designs…

I shepherded the protesting ladies out of the shop, out of the mall and into the car, and drove in a smouldering silence calculated to quell the strongest soul. Mom didn’t even dare suggest a visit to the tailor’s.