Yasmin Elahi

24-3-13
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…

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اک مہرباں ہے مرا

بےخواب تاریک راتوں کی تنہائی میں
درد جب حد سے گزر جاتا ہے
روشنی دور تک نظر آتی نہیں
امید کوئی بھی بر آتی نہیں
اک مہرباں ہے مرا
جس کے نرم سینے میں چھپا کے میں چہرا اپنا
بہا لیتی ہوں چند آنسو
اور کہہ دیتی سب اپنے دکھ سکھ
اور وہ دوست مرا
کرتا ہی نہیں کوئی بھی سوال
کہتا نہیں وہ کچھ بھی مجھ سے
بڑی خاموشی سے
سنتا ہے مرے شکوے سارے
اور اپنی نرم آغوش میں 
بہت پیار بڑی نرمی سے
جذب کر لیتا مرے سارے آنسو
بانٹ لیتا ہے وہ سب بوجھ
جو ہیں دل پہ مرے
میرا تکیہ جو مرا ہمراز بھی ہے
میرا تکیہ جو مرا غمخوار بھی ہے

LIGHT THE TORCH! (MY MUSINGS ON THE EVE OF PAKISTAN DAY)

Gloom hangs heavy in the air as Pakistan is going through one of the worst phases of her short history! The most common emotions we are experiencing these days are of insecurity, anxiety, fear, frustration, disappointment and all other such negative feelings! Although elections are just round the corner but the common citizen does not seem to be interested in casting his vote! We have been hoodwinked so many times by the clever and greedy politicians that we have lost all hope that things will or can improve for the better! Tall promises made in the past (and which were never fulfilled) have made us doubt any new claims made by these same faces!

The media is crying its throat hoarse on the intensity (read hopelessness) of the situation. Day in and day out, we witness participants of TV talk shows spell doom. The hosts of these shows invite people at the helm of affairs, people who have influence as well as authority, to discuss on the various issues troubling our country. But these people do nothing except fighting like wild cats, slinging allegations at each other and behaving like a bunch of spoilt brats! No one is ready to come forward and take responsibility, the best that they do is comfortably placing their opponent responsible for the quagmire we are stuck in. Problems are discussed and defined, but no solutions are offered.

I am just a face in the crowd, an ordinary woman in a country of millions. But like every educated and dedicated Pakistani, I feel depressed by the state of affairs and often ponder on means and ways to come out of this situation. I strongly feel that every one with an iota of patriotism should do his/ her share. It may be a drop in the ocean, but with time, effort and dedication, eventually every drop will count! Because every contribution (however small it may seem at the moment), towards a better society, may make some difference tomorrow! According to Shahzad Roy, founder of the Zindagi Trust, “To go big, we must first start small. Alas there are no shortcuts!”

 I and my readers are lucky, in the sense that we had access to quality education. We went to good institutions and had sincere teachers who brought out our abilities as best as they could. We know what our rights as citizens of a state are, and what duties we hold in return. We are leading a relatively comfortable and respectable life and can only imagine the sufferings of the down trodden masses. The current state of affairs strongly demands that it is our turn to pay back to our Homeland and not take our good luck for granted. We must understand that holding discussions over a cup of coffee, comfortably seated in our drawing rooms will not change our lot. We have to do something urgently, nay, on a war footing, to save our country from total turmoil.

The crying need of the hour is to create awareness among the masses. People must learn to identify their rights as well as be aware of their duties! And this mind-set comes only with education. We in Pakistan have a very low literacy rate, although official figures paint a brighter picture of the situation, as they declare near half the population literate. But their criterion is indeed pathetic; as a person who can read and write his/ her name is called literate in Pakistan. We have a dismal education system, teaching a listless curriculum by teachers, majority of who lack any sense of dedication to the cause of “Education for All”. Some of Pakistan’s problems like the rise of the crime graph, unemployment, hatred, intolerance and poor health conditions due to poor hygiene, are created by the lack of education.

Successive governments have failed to work for raising literacy levels in Pakistan (134th position in the 180 countries of the world and 31st out of 35 Islamic countries). Our selfish and greedy politicians realize that mass literacy will give people dignity, self respect and the courage to fight against their oppressive policies. Because with education comes enlightenment and the will to fight tyranny!

In the past Punjab government did come up once with the slogan Parha Likha Punjab. (I beg to state that the name is suggestive in itself of the political motives behind it as Parha Likha Pakistan would have been a more patriotic slogan). But it was rolled back after millions of rupees were misspent. So whatever tall claims they may make, education has never been on the top in the priority lists of our governments.

Whoever is in power, in every budget only meager funds are allotted for education, while much bigger chunks are spent on the luxurious spending of the government high-ups. Although the outgoing government had announced that over 80% literacy would be reached by the year 2015, but with no note worthy efforts in this direction, this proved to be only a verbal claim. We can easily understand how sincere their claims were by the fact that approximately a paltry 2% of the budget was been allocated for the educational sector. (UNESCO has recommended increasing this to at least 4%). In which I call only a vote gaining tactic, a resolution to implement free secondary education was passed in the National Assembly a few months back, but every educated Pakistani felt that this was “Too little, Too late!

In the rural areas, the situation is worse. The influential landlords consider it against their interests that their Haris or their children get educated. They know that their uncrowned kingdoms will have to face a down fall once awareness is created amongst their domains. To keep their powerful tentacles firmly rooted, they discourage their Haris and threaten them with dire consequences if their children are sent to school. They forcefully have schools shut down, using them as their Autaqs, or worst still as their cattle pens. As most of our feudal landlords have a strong hold on the country’s political power, they can easily have their way. So majority of the population continue to live on as illiterates, in abject poverty and unaware of their basic rights to a minimal quality life.

          NGOs, philantropists and private trusts are working in the education sector and doing a lot to provide free or affordable education to the poor children. The parents are urged to pull their children out of child labor and sent to schools; something they are often reluctant to do, as the children help out their parents by bringing in additional income. But the problem is so enormous that these efforts can not be enough to tackle the situation and bring our country out of this culture of chaos, corruption and confusion. Each and every educated person in Pakistan should come forward to do his/ her share.

My slogan is “Each One, Teach One”. If each educated Pakistani vows to impart education to only one illiterate person, young or old, soon we will see winds of change blowing. By adopting just one person as our student, be it our maid, chowkidar or their child, the boy selling tidbits at traffic signals or the Chota at the motor mechanics or Pan shop, we have to coax and urge these people and take them under our folds. By sparing a couple of hours of our free time and making all out efforts to impart education from the basic level, we can change the destiny of at least one person, as our student will not just learn to read and write his/her name to be called a literate, rather would have the awareness and vision only education can create. Making only one person literate by the educated ones, will double the literacy rate of Pakistan in no time. And the only repayment we may ask from our student is to ask him to pass on his knowledge to someone else in his circle.

Being a firm optimist, I believe that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel. Every educated Pakistani must come forward to light the torch of literacy and to make sure that this torch keeps on burning. It may take time, patience and endurance but in not- too- far- off days we shall see hands coming out of the darkness; hands which shall pick up this lightened torch of education and awareness and march ahead, spreading the light of literacy to each and every part of our country! In Sha Allah!

 

MAA KI DUA! (For my readers who can not read Urdu)

Maa ke daaman mein hoti hai wus’at bohat

Daal do meri jholi mein jo tum ko hain ghum

Chun loon palkon se raste mein kaante hain jo

Paas aane na doon mein tumhare ye ghum

 

Ji rahi hun mein sirf tumhare lye

Tum pareshan ho ye mujh ko gawara nahin

Tour laon mein taare jo ho bas mein mere

Kya karoon mere bachon ye mumkin nahin

 

Meri Jan ye is dunya ka dastoor hai

Jo bhee darta hai aur us ko daraati hai ye

Hans ke har dukh ka saamna tum karo

Ke jo bhee rota hai aur usko rulaati hai ye

 

Mein ne maana ke waqt ye hai mushkil bohat

Rakho himmat jawaan, aage barhte raho

Mushkilein saari aasaan ho jaayeingi

Tum duaaen meri sath le ke chalo

 

Naao aaj beech toofan ghir gayi hai tou kya

Na khuda hai Khuda mera rakho yaqeen

Ik din sahil pe pohncheigi kashti zurur

Apni maa ki duaaon pe rakho yaqeen

 

Daur ye sakht jo hai ye guzar jaayeiga

Chumeigi eik din manzil tumhare qadam

Ke hai dua maa ki jis ke bhee hamqadam

Uska Haami hai Allah, khud Us ki qasam!!

 

BETWEEN THE LINES!

When out of the blue, a friend created a personal blog site for me, I felt thrilled! Ah! Finally I have got a place where I am free to write whatever and whenever I like! Finally I can share on my blog, my experiences, my joys and dreams, my pains, my fears and frustrations, my anger and disappointments! This was a place where I could boast about my achievements, a place I could consider my domain. No deadlines any more, no more frustration of rejected pieces! No more long and tiring waits for approved articles to be published! I could write on any topic I felt like writing about and just post it on my blog!

In the beginning I was flushed with ideas! My mind seemed to work overtime, not giving me respite even when I went to bed. But after the initial excitement abated, and I started to feel the toll of long working hours tapping at the keyboard of my computer in sleepless nights, the reality started to set in! I came to realize that I was mistaken in my excitement or to be more precise a bit carried away!

Over the months I have come to realize that freedom of speech comes with its own set of rules! I can definitely write whatever I want to, but this freedom also comes with a sense of responsibility. Although there is no one to censor my writings, there are definitely some considerations which eventually prove to become restrictions for my pen (read keyboard)!

Most of the times, small incidents spur our imagination and creativity. Writers are usually inspired by these incidents and feel the urge to catch those moments forever in their writings because emotions are often the major triggers which enable us to pen down something new. And interesting as well! Joys are easily shared but when it comes to an emotion which is negative, the problem arises!

Let me tell you how it goes. Being a newcomer to the world of blogging, my family, friends, acquaintances and people from my immediate circle make up the majority of my readers.  (With innumerable people taking to blogging and as I can not claim to fame yet, why would a stranger like to waste time on an unknown writer like me?) So, when I want to share something personal on my blog, pour my heart out in moments of anger, frustration, disappointment or anguish, what would be the reaction of the people who know me personally, becomes a sort of editor for my writings!

Often angry outbursts bring up issues ling settled, differences we had sorted out or else carefully brushed under the carpet (if we agree to disagree) pretending they simply did not exit. But tragically, when these issues resurface, they bring with them pain, frustration and a sense of deep anger! While going one of these phases, I want to get rid of the negative feelings through my writings, the channel which I have always found helpful. But strangely, my fingers do not tap the keyboard as fast as I would like them too. I feel restrained because I know deep down in my heart that expressing what I am feelings openly would only aggravate the situation.

While trying to relate a personal experience, I feel I am treading on wary grounds where every step is to be taken with utmost care! Because there are times, when someone who loves me dearly spurs these negative feelings by hurting me or making me angry. I know that he/she did not mean ill, nor was the harm intentional.   But if I am hurt I want to cry out and if I am disturbed I want to relieve myself! Writing for me is a way out, a way to express my feelings, bring out anything which is disturbing me or making me unhappy!

I feel restrained because I feel that being outspoken or blunt in expressing my emotions could hurt the feelings of people I care for! Or they may accuse me of washing my linen in public! Some issues are better left behind the curtain, some emotions are better off if they are not shared openly. This feeling causes the slowing down of my pen as I try to carefully sort out what I can and what I can not share with my readers!

I have finally learnt over the months that freedom of expression comes with its own norms. I may be free to write on my blog, but I must know where to draw a line between what I can and what I can not share with my readers!

So, often the only option I have left is to try to write between the lines! I firmly believe that the people who mean the world to me, who are close to my heart, who know me in and out and who care for me would easily read those unwritten words. It only needs a loving and sensitive heart to understand what should have been said but has remained unsaid!

ماں کی دعا


ماں کے دامن میں ہوتی ہے وسعت بہت 
ڈال دو میری جھولی میں جو تم کو ہیں غم
چن لوں پلکوں سے رستے میں کانٹے ہیں جو
پاس آنے نہ دوں میں تمہارے یہ غم


جی رہی ہوں میں صرف تمہارے لئے
تم پریشان ہو، یہ مجھ کو گوارہ نہیں
توڑ لائوں میں تارے گر ہو بس میں مرے
کیا کروں میرے بچوں یہ ممکن نہیں


میری جان یہ اس دنیا کا دستور ہے
جو بھی ڈرتا ہے اور اس کو ڈراتی ے یہ
ہنس کے ہر دکھ کا سامنا تم کرو
کہ جو بھی روتا ہے اور اس کو رلاتی ہے یہ


میں نے مانا کہ وقت یہ ہے مشکل بہت
رکھو ہمت جواں، آگے بڑھتے رہو
مشکلیں ساری آساں ہو جائینگی
تم دعائیں مری ساتھ لے کے چلو


نائو آج بیچ طوفاں گھر گئی ہے تو کیا
ناخدا ہے خدا میرا رکھو یقین
اک دن ساحل پہ پہچیگی کشتی ضرور
اپنی ماں کی دعائوں پہ رکھو یقین


دور یہ سخت جو ہے، یہ گزر جائیگا
چومیگی اک دن منزل تمہارے قدم
کہ ہے دعا ماں کی جس کے بھی ہم قدم
اس کا حامی ہے اللہ، خود اس کی قسم