A strange illness is creeping down the generations of my paternal family. Starting with forgetfulness, forgetting names, faces, things or events, it snowballs suddenly and in extreme cases results in a total loss of memory…. or a major part of it! You can call it Dementia, a combination of a streak of Alzheimer’s and a series of micro brain strokes.

Although the victims of this condition are hardly aware of their condition and thankfully not tormented by it, the family members definitely are! Toiling hard to make a parent or sibling remember who you are, can be agonizing and as the condition is often irreversible, one has to learn to live with this heartbreak! 

My grandfather forgot nearly everything about his recent past. The only glimpses he had of his past life were of far off events, the days he had spent in Aonla (a small village near Bareilly, India) and Calcutta, where he usually lived a major part of the year for the sake of his business and the schooling of his children. He had been blessed with a big family, sons, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren and we all lovingly called him Abbaji. He was equally popular in all the generations because of his soft nature and caring ways.

When his memory started to fail, our family took it for a part of ageing, and also a result of the ups and downs he had experienced in life. At age above ninety, it was not surprising if he could not remember the names of his grandchildren (we were more than fifty Masha Allah!), the painful fact was that he forgot the names of his children. But in spite of this, the flicker of recognition in his eyes when they came to meet him and the happy smile which lit up his face were really heart warming.

My eldest uncle whom we called Taya Abba was a man of great intelligence. Being the eldest among five brothers, he had a special place in his siblings, his word often almost taken to be the final and we all respected him very much. In the early years of East Pakistan and after migrating from India, he was one of the founder members of Sikander Industries in Dhaka and was held in great awe by the staff members and all and sundry called him “Bara Sahab”. But this Bara Sahab was reduced to a mere shadow of the great man he was, as slowly his memory started to failed him and for decades he remained in a state of oblivion before death finally freed him from this painful state.

My father’s eldest sister was beauty, grace and dignity personalized! She was cherished and respected by all the people close to her and her siblings hardly took any decision without her advice. In our childhood, I and my cousins were always awe struck by her and every statement she made was like an order for us. But this fear changed into deep fondness as we grew older and came to understand her better.  Though years have passed since her death but I still feel sad for her as my sweet and wise Phuphi Ammi met the same tragic end!

My father was often called “The mastermind of the Elahi family”, (my paternal family name) and a very successful businessman, a workaholic who always came up with innovative and brilliant ideas to take Sikander Industries to new heights. He worked day and night to pull Commander Soap Co (a branch industry of S.I.) out of deep crisis and Alhumdulillah pulled it out loss to give it a new dimension. By nature a very jolly and loving person, he divided his time between work and family, taking great interest in the studies of his children. And he always urged, coaxed and sometimes bullied us to perform our best!

 But when tragedy struck (at age 70 plus), we were pained to see him disoriented and confused. He was like a lost child fumbling in the darkness to find his way back home. Luckily, his IQ was too high to be wiped out totally.  He improved gradually after the initial symptoms. Though he seemed like a shadow of the great person he was, had lost his booming voice and brisk gait, his memory revived considerably during his last days.

Who will be the next victim of this painful disease? I and my siblings often ask each other! Getting forgetful by the day, I spend a considerable part of my day hunting for my keys, specs, cell phone etc, sometimes forget the names of people very close to me and the most troubling thing is that often while offering Namaaz, I forget the number of Raka’at I am into! Sometimes a strange fear grips my heart and I wonder what future has in store for me.

Often in our lives, we keep on putting away expressing our feelings to the people who hold a special place in our hearts. And with the passage of years, we find that it is too late in life to express our sentiments. After mustering a lot of courage, I have finally decided that if (God forbid), I am destined to be the next in line who has forgotten all about the past, I would like to tell a lot of people a lot of things!  

 Before addressing family and friends, I would like to relate with the Almighty. Lest I forget, I would like to thank You, my Creator, for all the blessings you have been showering on me. Until the recent fear gripped my heart, I had been taking all these blessings for granted! Alhumdulillah, all my life I have lived in a decent home, never worn hand-me-down clothes and have had three square meals daily. I have seen and enjoyed the beauty created by You, heard the chirping of the morning bird and felt the gentle breeze which, in difficult times has the power to soothe my frayed nerves. And foremost of all, You have blessed me with a compassionate heart, a loving family and caring friends.

Lest I forget, there is a lot I would have liked to tell my parents, but unfortunately for me, both of them have departed to their heavenly abodes. If I can reach out to you, my loving Ammi and Daddy, I want to tell you how much you meant to me. Thanks for all the values you instilled in me. You taught me to believe in myself, to face life’s difficulties with a head held high, to be kind and compassionate, to forgive and also were my role models on ways to keep the people around me happy and content.

Lest I forget, I would like to thank my children for their infinite love and care and unfaltering faith in me. I would like to tell you the umpteenth time how much I adore you and what beauty and purpose you have brought to my life. Without you, my loving children life has no meaning for me. Everything I plan and do, I think about you first and I firmly believe that you also do the same. And in the twilight of my life, I can not thank you enough for being mine!

Lest I forget, I would like to thank my adorable grandchildren for the sheer ecstasy and color they have added to my life. You overlook all my shortcomings and your blind support is like a positive drive for me and my heart swells with pride for having such wonderful grandchildren. Your unconditional love and caring gestures give me a sense of serenity and add a new warmth to my life!

Lest I forget, I would like to express my gratitude to my siblings for sticking by me in good times and bad. We should be thankful to our caring parents for instilling the deep love and bond we share even when we have grown old. I appreciate the way you all always put up with my bad temper and pamper me when I feel blue. You are one of my earliest childhood memories and the laughter and tears we shared is a precious part of my life.

Lest I forget, I would like to thank my friends for always being there for me. Sharing my pleasures and sorrows with you has worked like a catalyst to keep me moving ahead. Your encouragement has been a boost for my spirits. Quick to lend a helping hand, pulling me back to my feet whenever I faltered in the walk of life, you have made life’s adversities bearable for me.  Without your emotional support and understanding ways, I have no idea how I would have carried on in life!

Though it pains me to even think that there may be a time when I will forget all the people mentioned above who hold such an important place in my heart, I would like to tell all of you something. If (again I repeat, God forbid!), the day comes when you feel I don’t recognize you any more, look out carefully for the glimmer of recognition in my eyes. I am sure you will find it, a feeble flame left from the fire of the long love and association I have shared with you throughout my tumultuous life!







Yasmin, u shd paste this on yr Blog.  Old mail I sent,    but worth every word in Gold.     I read it v v often.


Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure..   Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, “I love you and I wish you enough”.

The daughter replied, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough.Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom”.

They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”.

Yes, I have,” I replied. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?”. “I am old and she lives so far a way. I have challenges ahead and the reality is – the next trip back will be for my funeral,” she said.

“When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough’. May I ask what that means?”.

She began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone”. She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. “When we said , ‘I wish you enough’, we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain 
 Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray theday may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

She then began to cry and walked away.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to  appreciate them, a day to love them but then an entire life to forget them.

*Only if you wish send this to the people you will never forget and remember to send it back to the person who sent it to you. If you don’t send it to anyone it may mean that you are in such a hurry that you have forgotten your friends.


To all my friends and loved ones, I WISH YOU ENOUGH!!!

Read, Ponder and Spread the Message!

The Quran which is the Holy Book of the Muslims, is compiled on the revelations that came to The Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). It is a book for all ages and all people and contains lesson of immense wisdom. It only needs a sensitive heart and a true insight to understand the lessons of The Quran!

In this blog, I shall add from time to time,the Quranic verses that inspire me and keep me moving ahead in life! All those who visit this blog, are cordially invited to join me. Mail or inbox me the Quranic verses you like most, you can also share incidents about how a particular verse helped you face the different faces of life. Insha Allah, I shall keep updating this blog, so please be sure to be a part of it!


Here, I would like to clarify to my readers that although reading and pondering on the meanings of Quranic Verses often gives a new direction to our thoughts and if Allah so wills, sometimes completely transforms our lives, it should be strictly kept in mind that the Ajr o Sawaab (reward) of reciting the Holy Quran is only in its true ARABIC FORM! Please do not get carried away by declarations that the reward to read the translation of the Quran is the same as its revealed form i.e.Arabic!!



They (the righteous) perform their vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide.

And they feed for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and

the captive.

(Saying) we feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we

desire from you, nor thanks.

We only fear a day of distressful wrath from the side of our Lord.

But Allah will deliver them from the evil of that day, and will shed

over them a light of beauty and blissful joy.



O you who believe! Fear ALLAH, and let every soul look to what

(provision) he has sent forth for the morrow. Yes, fear ALLAH, for

ALLAH is well-acquainted with all that you do.

And be you not like those who forgot ALLAH; And HE made them

forget their own souls! Such are the rebellious transgressors!

Sura Al-Hashar Ayat 18,19



Touching Quranic Ayat

(To be recited when one is in distress)

Or who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls

on Him, and Who relieves it”s suffering,and makes

you (mankind) inheritors of the earth? (Can there be

another) god besides Allah? Little it is that you heed.

Sura Al Naml



“Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and

take to yourself our souls in the company of the righteous.

Our Lord! Grant us what you promised unto us through Your

Apostle (PBUH), and save us from shame on the Day of Judgment:

for You never break Your promise.”

Sura Al e Imran: Part of Ayat 93 and Ayat 94


When I muse on my sins and despair seizes my heart this Quranic verse consoles me:

Say: O my servants who have transgressed against their souls!

Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for

He is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful.

Turn to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His Will, before the

Chastitement comes on you: after that you shall not be helped.

Sura Al- Zumar, Ayat 53-54


An inspiration in adversities!

Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some

loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad

tidings to those who patiently persevere.

Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return”.

They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy,

and they are the ones that receive guidance.

Sura Al Baqarah Ayat 155-157

If you reject (Allah), Truly Allah has no need of you; but He does

not like ingratitude from His servants, if you are grateful He is

pleased with you. No bearer of burdens can bear the burdens of

another. In the End, to your Lord is your Return, when He will tell

you the truth of all that you did (in this life). For He knows well all that is in (men’s) hearts.

When some trouble touches man, he cries unto his Lord, turning to

Him in repentance; but when He bestows a favour upon him as from

Himself, (man ) forgets what he cried and prayed for before, and he

sets up rivals to Allah, thus misleading others from Allah’s path.

Sura Al Zamar Ayat 7,8


7- 6- 2012, My favourite DUA in the Quran:

On no soul Allah places a burden greater than it can bear. It gets

every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.

(Pray) Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; Our

Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which you did lay on people

before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have

strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have

mercy on us. You are our Protector; help us against those who

stand against Faith.

Sura Al Baqarah Ayat No 286


My Inspiration Ayat for Today (4-6-2012)

“Did you think that We created you in jest, and that you would not

be brought back to Us (for account)?”

Therefore exalted be Allah, the King, the Reality: there is no God

but He, the Lord of the Throne of Honour!

Sura e Al Mu’minun… Ayat no. 115,116


24-4 2012… My inspiring Ayat for today! Please read, ponder and spread the message!

Sura Aal- I- ‘Imran… Ayat No 26, 27

Say: “O Allah, Lord of all dominion! You give power

to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please:

You award honour to whom You please, and You humiliate whom You

please: In Your hand lies all that is good, and You have power over everything.

“You cause the night to turn into day, and You

cause the day to turn into night; You bring forth the Living from

the dead, and You bring forth the dead from the living,; and You

give sustenance without measure to whom You please.”


25-4-12… My inspiring Ayat for today….Ending lines of Sura e Hashr

“Sufficient for me is Allah, besides Whom there is no other god,

In Him have I put my trust and He is the Lord of the mighty


Abu’l-Darda’ (Radi’Allahu anhu), relates from the Prophet (Sall’Allahu Alaihi Wasallam) who said:

“Whoever recites these words seven times in the morning and seven times in the evening every day, Allah will suffice him with regard to what he is worried about, in this world and in the Hereafter, regardless of whether he believes in the virtues of these words or not…Abu Dawud

Friends, I have tried this many times in adversities and believe me IT WORKS!!


5th May, 2012……My inspiring Ayat for Today…

Sura Al-Kahf (part of) Ayat 10

“Our Lord! Bestow on us Mercy from Yourself, and dispose of our

affairs for us in the right way!”

Whenever I feel confused and indecisive, at a loss about what to do and in which direction to proceed (regarding problems of day to day life), I start reciting this Ayat as much as I can and Alhumdulillah, My Rabb always guides me to the right path and He helps me take the correct decision. Try this Ayat but with full faith! Insha Allah Divine help will arrrive!

Beginning of a New Journey!


22nd April……It is four o’ clock in the morning! After tossing in my bed restlessly for hours, trying my best to go to sleep, I give up! Sleep is miles away from my eyes tonight.I finally get out of my bed and switch on my computer. Tomorrow is a big day for me, perhaps the beginning of a new phase of life.

I have often written in my articles, life keeps on springing surprises at me and over the years I have taught myself not to be stunned. But this is really a big one! Often when we are standing on the seashore, enjoying the beauty of the little waves coming in, there comes in a big one crashing down and we are swept a bit off our feet. I can not analyze my feelings tonight. Am I happy, excited or my ego has got a big boost? I scourge my mind and heart but find none of the above emotions. At last, I realize that finally, I am at peace with myself as well as I feel greatly honored!

When I couriered by prize winning book ‘Follow the Light’ (Published by Ferozsons),to Amtul Sajjad, regional librarian, BSS, I had not the faintest idea of what was in store for me. My basic aim was to set up stalls at the different branches of BSS, where I could put up my book for sale at discounted rates, to the school children as well hold reading sessions of some inspiring parts from it.I wanted more and more children to know about this book, read it and further spread the message I have tried my best to convey in it! But being invited as a guest speaker on the World Book and Copyright Day, is something I had not thought about in my wildest dream. Mrs. Fatima Rehman’s invitation was really a big surprise for me; because having no formal education in any form of journalism, I hardly consider myself a writer.

Being an ardent reader since my childhood, my passion for reading turned into writing as my daughter in law Saira Owais, and a friend Faizan Usmani, urged me to start writing. I was surprised, (but this time the wave was small!).  Me? I asked in astonishment! What and how can I write? I have no knowledge about writing. I told them seriously but somehow they did not give up on me, and finally they convinced me to raise my pen!

The first article I wrote was in Urdu and a daughter’s loving tribute to her father. I wrote an article about my late Daddy for our community magazine (Shamsi). And when I started to write, I got so carried away, I just couldn’t stop myself, resulting in a 2500 words article. The editor of the magazine Qaumi Gazzette said, “Cut down on the words”. I re wrote and this time ended with 2600 words! This is only an amusing start of my writing career which I would like to share with you, my little friends at BSS.

In those days, having no knowledge of Urdu composing, I hand wrote and rewrote the article many times, trying to improve it as I felt that whatever I wrote, I could not do justice to my Daddy, nor could I express my intense love for him! Some day, Insha Allah I shall compose that hand written article and share it with my little friends here!

I also want to tell you that in those days, I had a single computer at home, which I shared with my three sons, and except writing e-mails to my sisters abroad or chatting with them on Yahoo,I thought I had no other usage of a computer.

How wrong I was!

‘Confessions of a Grandmother’ was my first article published in the ‘The Review’ of Dawn magazines, which appeared in those days in a booklet form on Thursdays and was not merged in The Images on Sunday. Articles appeared from time to time as I kept on struggling as a writer, pouring my heart out on each and every word I wrote, happy when a piece was approved and disappointed when it was rejected! During bad patches, when one after the other article was turned down, I often became shaky and started to think about giving up, thinking that I was only wasting my time as well of the time of the editors of the publications they were being sent too! But somehow, the inborn fighter in me refused to give up!

How I compiled Follow the Light is also an experience worth sharing and I shall definitely do so one day in a separate (bashart e zindagi!) blog. The only thing I want to say today was that a ‘Divine Hand’ helped and guided me throughout, and my children, grandchildren and friends went all out to help me. With hardly any knowledge of how to use Microsoft Word and the way the electricity kept on playing hide and seek with me, it was an uphill task. But with the help of Allah and a deep determination, I compiled this book in nearly a fortnight. And today, I am thankful to Mrs.Fatima Rehman who has deeply honoured me by inviting me as a guest speaker to talk to the children at BSS Primary 4.

With still more than four hours to the time I have to reach the school, I feel happy and at peace with myself. My mission is to bring our young generation closer to Islam, make them understand what our great religion is really about, and I feel that it is moving in the right and satisfactory direction! And I can not thank Allah enough for this.

The Moazzin has already called for the Fajr prayers, so I must stop myself now, say my Namaaz and try to catch up on my sleep! 

Subhan Allah i Wabee Humdihee Subhan Allah i Azeem! 

11Am 23rd April. I am back from the BSS Primary4 after a delightful interaction with the sweet children and with a big, fragrant bouquet!The staff (from the Principal, the Co-ordinator, the Librarian, the teachers and even the peons) was very polite and I specially found Ms Fatima full of warmth and very co-operative! And she gave me many helpful tips as well.And,last but not the least, I can never forget the smiling faces,the eyes shining in wonder,as the children listened and their little minds tried to grasp and understand each and every word I spoke. Thanks again BSS Primary 4 for this great boost to my mission!


I posted this blog last year, but the situation and my feelings have not changed! Frenzy about branded lawn is on the rise and new designers are mushrooming to make the most of this mindset! What if political instability, religious intolerance, inflation, illiteracy, crime and uncertainty is on the rise! Who cares for it as long as I can pay for what I want and whenever I want it. Whether I need it or not is another question, to be ignored and brushed under the carpet!

The lawn season is on! To be more accurate it was on even when we were still braving icy winds from Siberia and pulling closer our woollies to stay warm! The designers were racing each other to be the first to launch their lawns and exhibitions were being held on prestigious venues as early as in February! The city was painted blue, green and red as (semi dressed) smiling beauties looked down upon us from hoardings everywhere! Was there a faint look of disdain in their eyes or my imagination was playing tricks with me? This is a question I still find difficult to answer.

Try as I do to resist to the exhibitions, at last I give in to temptation (Sigh)! Although I know that my cupboards are over flowing with dresses, some of which I have not worn for months, and I have clothes enough for a life time, still I compelled to go to at least three or four exhibitions. After all, all the rich ladies I know are going and buying lawn suits to their hearts fill. I try to satisfy that inner voice inside my head which keeps on troubling me by always speaking the truth! Ok, Ok I will not buy much, may be a jora or two, at least I can boast to my friends and acquaintances that I am also one amongst the privileged class who visit and can afford the designer lawns inspite of their staggering prices.

So, hushing up the voice which perhaps is my conscience, I call a friend and pompously ask her to accompany me. And I am careful to choose the one who has a big mouth and loves to gossip! I know that if she goes with me, the news would be spread among my circle in no time!  Logon ko pata tou chalna chaiye ke mein bhee designer lawn pehnti hun! Because most of my friends from the lesser privileged class have to be content with wearing copy suits of the branded lawn suits!

And at the exhibition, I simply give in to impulse! How can a clothes lover like me resist when the material is so soft, the colors and designs so vibrant and when my wallet is full of five thousand rupees notes?  Who cares about the prices? I am buying the suits only because I can afford them. Again I hush up the voice in my head which is now protesting loudly. Remember? It reminds me, only today the maasi was asking for a couple of thousand rupees to buy the syllabus of her daughter for the new session in school, but I had flatly refused. And my driver complained today that although it was only the 20th of the month, he had nothing left from his salary so his family would have to do with roti and onion for the remaining days of the month! And the sabzi wala was asking for some monetary help as the canopy over his theila had broken down and he had to face the burning sun as he moved from one lane to another selling his sabzees. He had even offered that he would adjust the money in the vegetables my cook bought from him daily but I had flatly refused all these people.

Ok, ok I again try to shut up this troubling voice; now don’t spoil my shopping spree. I tell it angrily. I will give 500 rupees to Maasi tomorrow and she can get the rest of the money from the other houses she works for. Theika tou nahin lya hua uska mein ne! I am angry at the voice which refuses to shut up! As for the driver, there are still some packets left from the meat with which I had stuffed my freezer at Baqraeid. The kids don’t want to eat it any more as the meat smells a bit stale. Only yesterday, when my cook prepared a delicious beef roast, they refused to have it for dinner and had insisted that I order for pizzas to be delivered at home! But the meat would be good enough for the driver’s family. At least it is much better than having only onions with roti!  I console myself further. Sabzi wala can also have a thousand rupees as a loan. I am sure the cook will recover this amount even before the week is over! Now, thankfully, my mind is absolved of all the troubling thoughts!

Back home with my treasure, I try further to justify my unnecessary shopping! Tomorrow I shall give away some suits. I open my wardrobe and in a fit of generosity (and somewhat guilt!!), I pull out six suits one after another. These will go out to replace the ones I have bought today, I soothe my ruffled conscience.

But by the time morning arrives, I have changed my mind! This blue dress is as well as new. Why! I bought it for 4000 Rs only last year! Or was it the year before? I try to remember as I fold it and keep it back in my wardrobe. This pink one was a birthday gift from Mummy; so it has an emotional value for me! The third one is my favourite color. Ah, black has always been my weakness and I can not bring myself to part from it. And the hazel brown has such a pretty print, and my friends always say that it compliments the color of my eyes to further beautify them (Blush)! So, four out of the six suits I had vowed to give away yesterday find their way back to my wardrobe and I have the heart to give away only two! What if one was a bit faded and the silly dhobi had torn the doppatta of the second one. Both the suits are still much better than the one my Maasi is wearing now…. At least they do not have patches on them!

Although my inner voice always troubles me, but luckily I am smart enough to find a hundred and one ways to quiten it.!

Life has become one rat race for me as my foremost aim is to excel my friends in material goods! I keep on piling dresses, shoes, bags, jewellery, furniture, crockery, show pieces; anything I can get my hands on, all of which are far more than my requirements for a comfortable life. Even when I do my grocery, I feel happy to pile the trolley with luxury food items, some of which will expire even before I will get to use them. If my friend, Ms X has got a new sofa set and matching carpet and curtains for her drawing room, just to fix the envy that I feel, I can at least have the upholstery of my sofa changed.

The only reason I can give for my extravagant expenditures is that I have money enough to afford them! Enough is simply not enough for me! Shopping for things I hardly need, gives me a high and I do not give a hoot to how this mindset is deepening the wedge between the rich and the less privileged class. And then, I sit in my drawing room with my like minded friends, dressed in my beautifully stitched designer lawn suit, showing off my new sofa and curtains; and as we sip coffee from the quaint china cups I got myself last year from France, we sadly discuss the barhti hui mehengai in our poor homeland!




            The year was probably 1976. I was suffering from a bad throat, cough and high fever. The doctor in the neighborhood (whom I consulted for my routine ailments), felt my pulse and stuck a thermometer in my mouth. After noting down the results on his pad, he peered at my throat with a torch and after I had made the funny Aargh….Aargh sounds, shook his head disapprovingly, “So again you have been drinking iced colas! How many times will have I have to tell you that your tonsils can not afford chilled drinks?”

                 With a sheepish smile, I admitted my crime, my only lame excuse being the intense heat and the chain of dinners I had been attending. “Come back for a checkup after two days if you do not feel better. I fear I shall have to start you on anti-biotics”, the doctor announced in a menacing tone, as if taking anti-biotics was a great disaster!

                 ‘Daaktar Saab’  (as he was called by all his patients) scribbled a few illegible lines on his pad and send me off to the ‘Compounder’ in his clinic, a friendly man peeping from the small window of his cubicle, which had shelves loaded with all sorts of medicines. He was so familiar with this scribble, that he easily doled out the pills and ‘mixture’ the doctor had prescribed. I came back home with my bottle of labeled pink syrup and a pouch of pills. Feeling much better and the end of the second day, I had my medicines repeated and found myself hale and hearty after four days. Total cost of my illness; forty rupees! And the time spent at the doctor’s clinic, just half an hour!

                 Fast forward to 2011! I had the same symptoms as my sensitive tonsils keep troubling me off and on. The good old doctor of my neighborhood has long since departed for his heavenly abode and I am always at a loss at whom to consult whenever I am down with some minor problem. I rang for an appointment with the ENT I had been consulting for the last couple of years. As the doctor was very busy, I was asked to come two days later. The wait was long and the doctor after asking me a few questions and a thorough physical checkup, wrote down a prescription and a battery of tests. I watched with a sinking heart as the list went on and on. Chest X-ray, Blood CP, ESR and Culture and Throat swab Culture! I paid the specialist a hefty sum of a thousand rupees for the consultation charges and more than triple this sum for the investigations. As expected, all the test reports showed was what the doctor had diagnosed after the physical examination and my inflamed tonsils settled down after the course of anti-biotics. The total cost of the illness was around five thousand and time consumed (at the clinic and laboratory) more than four hours!

                 Medical science is advancing by leaps and bounds, thanks to the huge research budgets put aside by most developed countries. Nowadays, we have a specialist for every ailment, and usually doctors refuse to look at our bodies as a whole and often know little beyond their specialized fields. Once a doctor has explored his domain, if one of us has multiple problems, he refers us to another specialist and we have to pay the consultation charges again and often go through another battery of tests.

                 In a third world country like ours where few people can afford or have access to specialized health care, more and more people are turning towards self medication and over the counter prescriptions, as they can not afford the money or time required to go to the specialists. The middle class is the worst affected, as with the soaring cost of living, health expenditures often take a back seat in their tight budget. The easier option that they have is to gratefully accept the advice of friends and well wishers (?) who have gone through similar symptoms and are ready to give advice or share their prescriptions. The salesmen at the medical stores are also eager to play the doctor and readily hands out medicines after listening to the symptoms of their customers. And tragically, quacks and fake hakims are making a hayday out of this situation!

                 Due to lack of information and a low literacy rate, most of us do not realize that self medication can be hazardous, and medicines taken in the wrong combination or dose can play havoc with our health.

                 The economical and friendly doctors found in every neighborhood who knew us, our health problems and those of our family, are hard to be found today! Instead of laboratory tests, these doctors relied on physical examination, observation and questioning for diagnosing our disease. Instead of a big consultation fees, they just charged us for the daily medicine they gave out from their clinics. They rarely sent us for tests, opting for simple medicines first and only in the case of a complication did they advise us to consult a specialist.

                 No matter how much medical sciences advance, most of our illnesses are best handled by these family doctors. We don’t necessarily need a gastroenterologist for every stomach ailment, a pulmonologist for a bad cough or an ENT specialist for all problems of the ear, nose and throat. What we need and most of us really want is a sincere doctor who we can trust to manage our ordinary health problems, sniff out the serious diseases and who is concerned about our health. Sadly, the affordable and friendly doctor of the neighbourhood, who only on a phone call would come to ease the pain of a seriously ill or worse still dying loved one,towards whom we could turn for reassurance, comfort and, yes, even bad news, is hard to be found today!    


HAPPY NOBOBORSHO to all my freinds out there in Bangladesh

14-4-2014 (I posted this blog 2 years back but would like to re-blog it again on the Bengali New Year. Yesterday my brother called from Dhaka and he was talking about the enthusiasm with which people were preparing for Noboborsho, about the mad rush at the shopping centres and the resultant traffic jams which have become a pain in the neck for all the Dhaka city’s residents!!)


An old (and close) friend Nusrat Awan, from my Dhaka college days messaged me early in the morning wishing me A Happy Bengali New Year… or Shubho Naubo Borsho! Her message opened the gates to a flood of memories and I found myself taken back way back into the past, to the days I studied in Viqarun Nissa Noon School back in the 1960s!

V.N. Noon School was considered one of the most prestigious schools in Dhaka in those days, and our teachers took great pains to inculcate religious, moral and cultural values in the students. Our principal, Mrs. Kamal or Lulu Apa, as she was called lovingly, was a woman of strong principles and she was the driving force behind the school management, as she and the teachers reached out to the students to extract the best possible from them.

I am sorry but I seem to have deviated a bit from my topic today, but when it comes to the memories of my school, I can never find words enough to describe with what dedication and care the great institution polished me as a student and a person. I take this opportunity today to thanks with the depths of my heart all my teachers for all the lessons they had grilled me with and my peers for the wonderful time we had together!

The first of Boishak was celebrated with a befitting manner in our school. A proper function was held in our huge assembly hall and the students eagerly lined up to the gates and systematically took up their positions in the hall. Smartly clicking her pencil heels, Lulu Apa appeared on the stage which was colorfully decorated with the beautiful orange Flame of the Forest flowers. she delivered the opening speech in which she described the historical and cultural importance of the day. We were entertained to a cultural show beginning with Rabindranath Tagore’s famous song, Esho, he Boishakh, Esho Esho (Come, O Boishakh, Come, Come), and the students who had a talent for the stage, eagerly participated in the event!

Nusrat’s message brought back sweet memories of those carefree days. Memories of the sky dark with clouds and the rain which usually came on the first of the Bengali Year, of the trees heavily ladden with the orange flowers of Krishna Choora (rightly called the Flame of the Forest as the trees seemed to be on fire!) The green city of Dhaka with its endles ponds and the old trees forming canopies on the roads. Sadly, over the years Dhaka has changed into a concrete jungle and you have to venture out of the city if you want to enjoy the greenery which symbolizes Bangla Desh.

Life has moved miles ahead as so much water has passed under the bridge! I have long since moved away from Dhaka, my birth city and have been living in Karachi for more than four decades. Though I visit Dhaka often, but hardly have time for cultural events, as I am tied up and busy with my family members still residing there.

Today, on an impulse, I decided to find out more about the history of this day and how the first of Boishak is celebrated in Bangladesh in present times. I would like to share with my readers the Info I got from the internet.

The first Of Boishak, the first day of the Bengali calendar, is celebrated in both Bnagladesh and West Bengal and in Bengali communities in Assam,Tripura and Orissa (and all over India where Bengalis reside). In Bangladesh, and some Bengali majority areas in India, it is a public holiday, celebrated around 14 April according to the official amended calendar designed by the Bangla Academy.

Basically the Bengali calendar is derived from the Hindu solar calendar. During the Mughal reign, the agricultural taxes were collected according to the Islamic lunar calendar, which during some years did not co incide with the harvesting months. As a result, farmers were hard-pressed to pay taxes out of season. In order to streamline tax collection, the Mughal Emperor Akbar ordered a reform of the calendar. Accordingly, Fatehullah Shirazi, a renowned scholar and astronomer, formulated the Bengali year on the basis of the Hijri lunar and Hindu solar calendars. The new Fasli San (agricultural year) was introduced on 10/11 March 1584, but was dated from Akbar’s ascension to the throne in 1556. The new year subsequently became known as Bônggabdo or Bengali year.

Celebrations of Pohela Boishakh started from Akbar’s reign. It was customary to clear up all dues on the last day of the year . On the next day, or the first day of the new year, the landlords would entertain their tenants with sweets. On this occasion there used to be fairs and other festivities. In due course, the occasion became part of domestic and social life, and turned into a day of merriment. The main event of the day was to open a Halkhata or new book of accounts.

The day continued to be celebrated in East Pakistan as a symbol of Bengali culture. After the creation of Bangladesh, it became a national festival.

New Year’s festivities are closely linked with rural life in Bengal. The markets are brimming with people who are out shopping for the festive occasion many days in advance. Usually on Pohela Boishakh, the home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned; people bathe early in the morning and dress in fine clothes. They spend much of the day visiting relatives, friends and neighbours. Special foods are prepared to entertain guests. This is one rural festival that has become enormously big in the cities, especially in Dhaka.

Boishakhi fairs are arranged in many parts of the country. Various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold at these fairs.

The most colourful New Year’s Day festival takes place in Dhaka. Large numbers of people gather early in the morning under the banyan tree at Ramna Park where Chhayanat artists open the day with Rabindranath Tagore’s famous song, (the song which I remember from my school days) Esho, he Boishakh, Esho Esho (Come, O Boishakh, Come, Come). A similar ceremony welcoming the new year is also held at the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. Students and teachers of the institute take out a colourful procession and parade round the campus. Social and cultural organisations celebrate the day with cultural programmes. Newspapers bring out special supplements. There are also special programmes on radio and television.

According to a Bengali friend from Dhaka who messaged Nusrat, today the entire nation is in a festive mood and it is one of the most colorful event of the year!

This blog is dedicated to my nephews and nieces out there in Dhaka specially, Zain Elahi, Zoya Elahi, Saif Elahi, Obaid Elahi, Abeer Ayesha and my dear freinds Nasim Firdaus and Shahin. Happy NOBOBORSHO again!!! And Thanks Nusrat for the reminder!

The Pied Piper of Today

COMMUNICATION: The Modern Pied Piper

Cellular companies are the modern Pied Piper. Our youth chase them blindly, dancing all night to the tunes of incoming calls or the beeps of the text messages, writes Yasmin Elahi

Who hasn’t read the fascinating story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin who played a musical pipe, luring hundreds of children to follow him out of town into a cave, never to be seen again?

The story holds true to this day, where the Pied Piper of Hamelin has been replaced by slogans floated by cellular companies of our age.Sab keh do, Tum hi to ho, baaton baaton mein, Feel free are some of the slogans adopted by these companies. The way consumers are attracted to them, especially young people, paints more or less the same picture and the use (read misuse) of the cell phone is becoming more and more common by the day.

With these companies offering new incentives and bargains with every passing minute to capture the market, the tele-density of mobile phones has reached 55.60 in the country (Pakistan Telecom Authority report) which means that more than half of our population has access to mobile phones with over 89 million subscribers. In the 2007-08 fiscal year alone, cellular phone companies added 22.36 million subscribers to their networks amid cutthroat competition.

In times like these, when a fulltime homemaker gets painfully exhausted by the end of the day with endless chores and responsibilities around the house, the working woman is too busy juggling her time between her home, family and social commitments to use her cell phone and the man of the house after being stuck in a mad traffic jam on his way back from work, prefers to be called a couch potato as he flips lazily the channels on TV, the young end up falling prey to these cellular companies. They cater to and target our only hope for a better future, and the rest is a Pied Piper tale, where text messaging and calling each other endlessly on the mobile phone without any rhyme or reason is relative to walking into the cave.

In their competition to win over the market, the mobile servers are cutting their rates to outplay each other.packages like these are common, “Five hundred messages for Rs50!”, “Unlimited messages for a month for a [paltry] Rs80!”, “Free extra time in lieu of the air time used!”, and the most outrageous: “Free calls and text messages from midnight to six in the morning!”

The cellular companies’ television commercials reflect the kind of customers they are targeting. Take the dancing damsel in a flowing ghaghra hopping about in the fields, for example, or the college students laughing and joking in the cafeteria behaving as if studies were the last thing on their minds, or the glamorised anorexic young models endorsing mobile phones, being idealised by young girls of today. Most sane people will seldom find these commercials realistic or even sensible.

It is irresponsibility on the part of parents who think they only have a role to play as long as their children are going to school and not beyond. It is during youth that we happen to be the most vulnerable and it is during youth that most parents these days give children more freedom than they can handle. This is how they get carried away.

Wasting time sending unnecessary text messages or calling each other keeps young people awake till the wee hours of the night, and then they are expected to be on time for their classes and perform well at their studies. The boy meet girl has become something of the past; the modern way for teenagers to flirt is boy text- messages girl or the other way round.

Cell phones are an incredibly ingenious invention if put to good use, for they have broken all barriers of communication. It is the abuse of the device, triggered by the greedy policies of cellular companies and the recklessness of parents and teachers, which is the trouble. In this day and age of insecurity and lack of law and order, parents feel more at ease when their youngsters carry a cell phone with them. But in an attempt to outclass each other, cellular companies are turning this device into a big nuisance and their dirty marketing strategies are playing with the very future of our youth.

Confessions of a Grandmother!

REFLECTIONS: Confessions Of A Grandmother

Yasmin Elahi writes on the joys of becoming a grandparent

There are some sentiments in life too great to be described in words. We search for them but find them too weak to express our feelings. Holding your first child in your arms, or for that matter just knowing that he or she is on the way, is one of those sentiments.

When my eldest daughter was born, I thought that no happiness I shall ever witness in life would be greater than this one, but oh, how wrong I was! Pure ecstasy was still in store for me and I learnt this when my first granddaughter was born.

To this day I cannot analyse my feelings when I first saw her. It was joy to the limit of agony, awe, a strange sense of nostalgia for the time which had flown away so quickly. All these mixed emotions gripped my heart when I set my eyes on her, all wrapped up in a big green blanket. I laughed and wept at the same time, while the little darling, my granddaughter, gazed back at me with a triumphant look in her eyes. It would not be wrong to say that she came, she saw and she conquered. From the day she was born, my granddaughter spins my heart around her little finger.

The confession that I have to make today is of the change of heart as soon as I became a grandmother. Gone were the rules and principles, which were strict and inflexible, according to which I had raised my children. I was surprised to see myself helpless, giving in to the whims of my granddaughter. With the passage of years, a silent war began between me and my daughter. She was sometimes amused and sometimes annoyed by my interferences in the upbringing of her child and reminded me time and again how strict, as a mother, I was with her.

There are times when a rush of guilt seizes me and I think that if I had the chance to live my life all over again, I would be more lenient with my children. But in my heart of heart I know very well that I would be the same firm mother that I was, with my unbending rules. But to be a grandmother is something totally different!

How can I bear to see someone scolding my darling on trivial matters? (even if the person giving this scolding is the darling’s mother!). To me she is the prettiest, the best-behaved and the most intelligent child in this whole wide world, who needs to be pampered and cuddled all the time. No! Scolding is not for my granddaughter –– she is too sensitive for them.

As the issue does not seem to settle down with time, I have decided to set up a Grandmothers Action Committee, The GMAC, to safeguard the rights of grandmothers. The rights are as follow:

1, It is the basic right of all GMs (grandmothers) to spoil their GCs (grandchildren) to their heart’s content, and parents, especially mothers should not deny them this right. Complaints that we, as GMs, have changed should not be entertained as everyone has a right to change his or her opinion at any stage in life.

2, GMs should be given the right to interfere, whenever they want, in matters relating to the discipline of their GCs, after all they are more experienced than the parents, therefore their opinion should be valued.

3, GMs should be given the above mentioned rights because they have no idea of how much time in life they have left to follow these delightful pursuits!

All GMs who agree with me are invited cordially to join my committee, but if some of you do not share my feelings, please be kind enough to keep your thoughts to yourself, or you will be guilty of accelerating the silent war going on between me and my daughter for the past many years.
Attention, all grandmothers! A meeting of the GMAC is about to be held at Hug House, Love Lane, Mohabbat Nagar… all the GMs who want to attend plz join my Committee… those who do not want to join (for fear of their daughters), can come as guests. GMs can bring along their GCs, but their daughters are strictly not allowed:)))))
N.B. The GCs will be served with ice cream, cold drinks, chocolates, chips etc. i.e. all the junk foods they love but can not eat to their heart’s fill under Mama’s strict eyes!!!

How I became a writer

I can hardly call myself a writer in the true sense of the word! A readaholic since my childhood, I would gleefully read anything and everything I could get my hands upon! And my Nana often used to say fondly (and sometimes a bit angrily when I paid him less attention than my book or magazine)… is ke hath mein to phatte hue kaghaz pe bhee kuch likha hua aajaayeiga to parhne beth jaayeigi!!!

This love for reading was inculcated in me by my parents.. I remember that before I and my siblings had even learnt to read, they subscribed to a number of children’s magazines with strict orders to everyone around that no one would read them out to us! In those days, it seemed as if we had a treasure to which we ourselves would have to find the keys! So, I, my twin sisters (who are only a year older than me), our eldest brother (one year their senior) and the youngest of us ,my (one and a half years) younger brother struggled together to read the books and magazines we found around us, and with each others help, we learnt to read at an early age.

We siblings did not have a considerable age gap, so we shared our hobbies and games together with no communication gaps. The love for books and reading developed with our growing ages and we spent a considerable parts of our pocket moneys in buying new books.

Time flew and we moved on to our new lives and three of us moved out from our childhood city Dhaka.Life had its new challenges, surprises, joys, fears and pains for me, but the love for the printed word survived all the adversities! It was only by chance that I stumbled upon the writer dormant in me. After the death of Daddy (to whom I was deeply attached) I wanted to write something about the great person he was and  and I have to pay credit to some well wishers for their encouragement to start my career as a writer. My first article about my father appeared in Qaumi Gazzette, a magazine of the Shamsi community and Alhumdulillah was widely acclaimed. It was re printed in Shamsi Awaz, a magazine from Muradabad India. And from there, the journey began.
Although I was a bit nervous, and had no idea whether my articles would be approved, I started sending them to The Review (in-Page Magazine of Dawn). Confessions of a Grandmother was my first published article, slowly and steadily my writings kept on appearing in Dawn. Being a slow writer I take a lot of time on each piece, pouring out my heart on each sentence and re reading and writing many times before I am satisfied.
The big break through came when the National Book Foundation announced a writing competition and my son’s freind Faizan Usmani and my daughter-in-law Saira Owais( Both of them writers) urged me to participate). I agreed after a lot of convincing from them. And Alhumdulillah, my entry Follow the Light, which is based on true stories from the early history of Islam got the first prize! The next year I participated again and my second book Footsteps, which is compiled on the same pattern, bagged the 3rd prize.
Although I have been writing for more than four years now, but with no formal education about writing, I still feel that I have to learn a lot and still a far way to go!!

Hum chal to dye ae jazbaa e dil jaana hai kidhar maalum nahin

Aaghaaz e safar pe naazaan hain anjaam e safar maalum nahin!!!!