Dealing with difficult people

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Dear friends, we often come across people whom we find different than the usual lot. They can be obnoxious for no reason, can have a bad temper, or they may find faults in others and never agree with anyone.

The kind of attitude they have makes us steer clear of them and avoid them completely. However, there may be some whom you simply cannot avoid and are forced to put up with. What should be your behaviour in this situation? Here are some suggestions to make things go smoothly, even though some people are way too irritating.

Let us call these complicated people difficult ones as they are difficult to deal with. These people can be divided into many categories, some of which are the mean, the bossy, the smug, the show-offs, etc. Then there are those whose personal grooming is not up to the mark and you feel repulsed when you have any interaction with them. The obnoxious are the extreme category and it can be hard to deal with them.

The mean

Some children think that by being mean to their peers, they are proving that they are better than them. They will try to make fun of you, pass unpleasant remarks and degrade you whenever they get an opportunity. The mean person may also be a grown-up and you have to be more careful when dealing with him/her.

Try not to get distraught by the mean person’s negative behaviour. The best policy is to ignore them. If you reply to their objectionable remarks, they will lose no time in picking up a fight with you which can grow from vocal to physical.

Have full confidence in yourself and believe firmly that this disagreeable behaviour is due to a hidden inferiority complex.

Stay polite with your mean peers and do not stoop down to their level by behaving in the same manner as theirs. Your courtesy may have a positive effect and slowly improve their behaviour and make them realise that their conduct was not proper or acceptable.

The bossy

There are children who simply love to boss around, trying to impose their opinion over everyone. Whether you are in the classroom, in the playground or on an outing, they will always want to have their way.

Bossy people also have the tendency to bully their peers, pressurising them into accepting their views. In an argument, they will try to prove that their stance is correct, without listening to the facts and figures the other person is giving. They may harass you, yell at you, or threaten you of an assault.

Bossy peers should be dealt with tactfully. If you defy them openly, they may become nasty and quickly pick up a quarrel. If you tackle a bossy classmate by using a bit of diplomacy and say, “The option you are giving is not bad, but don’t you think this one is better”.

In this way, you can make them believe that the choice was theirs’ and their domineering nature will be appeased. In trickier situations you can just state that “Majority wins”. When a group of your peers vote against what the bossy one wants, he will be more likely to give in.

The smug

Life gives better opportunities to some children. They may be born in an affluent family and have more luxuries than their peers. Some of you may be more intelligent than your classmates and always attain good grades. In the same way, a few of you may be good at sports. All of us have our good and bad traits.

The smug usually have a sense of self-satisfaction which may grow into arrogance. Instead of attributing their achievements to the better opportunities they received and being grateful for them, they develop a sense of superiority and look down on their peers disdainfully. They are haughty and consider the people around them inferior.

Simply stay clear of the smug children around you. They will make an all out effort to shake your confidence, treat you with scorn and always try to ascertain their superiority on you.

The best way to tackle such peers is to work hard and try your best to prove your mettle. Your good performance and achievement will convince the smug that he/she is not the best of all, and make him realise that their attitude was totally nasty. You should firmly believe that your character, education and achievements matter more than the worldly things they keep on bragging about.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

The show-off

Boasting is perhaps one of the most irritating attitudes a person may have. Making tall claims about everything related to them is an unpleasant hobby of a boastful peer and he is usually disliked by everyone. Whether it is his house, his clothes, his car or his electronic gadgets, he will always claim that his belongings are the most superior of all.

Some show-offs even resort to telling lies to support their tall claims. For example, even if they went to a road side eatery on a weekend, without a blink of the eye, they will claim that they went to a five-star hotel. If they are wearing branded clothes which they got from the flea market, they will brag that an uncle or cousin sent it from abroad!

Whether they are telling you the truth or are lying, always make it clear to the show-off that you are not impressed! Give him the clear signal that you are fully content with your life, your possessions and your circumstances. It is your right to struggle for a better life, but do not allow his bragging act as a catalyst for your efforts. Follow your dreams without being impressed by the negative effects of the boast.

You should firmly believe that your character, education and achievements matter more than the worldly things the show-off keeps on bragging about.

The hygiene-ignorant and ill-groomed

Some children have a poor sense of hygiene and do not know the basics of self-grooming. Often they come to school without brushing their teeth or taking a shower. Their uniform may not be clean or pressed, neither their shoes polished. These children are usually shunned by their peers who feel repulsed by their foul breath or the reek of perspiration coming from them.

Tackle your hygiene-ignorant and ill-groomed peers with kindness. Instead of humiliating them in company, talk to them when you are alone. Explain to them politely that personal grooming is very important to make friends.

Maybe they live in an area where there is a shortage of water, you can advise them to brush and wash properly and use deodorants and talcum powder. Tell them that keeping their uniforms clean and crisply pressed and their shoes polished, is not an impossible task. Your compassion/tolerance can save them from embarrassment and improve their quality of life.

This topic is so comprehensive that I could go on and on. In the end, I would like to remind my young friends that no one among us is perfect! It is humanely impossible to be so. We all have our shortcomings and good traits. It is very easy to overlook our short comings but quickly pounce on our peers’ bad traits. Be careful before judging anyone or giving them a negative label.

By nature, there is also an in-born element of self-righteousness in all of us. Always be on your guard and do not let this element grow out of control, so that you become an unpopular person. Before pointing fingers at someone else, carefully look for your own flaws.

Do you have any of the above mentioned attitudes? Be honest with yourself and if you find yourself on the wrong end, try to correct your weaknesses. If you find them in your peers, try to help them with compassion and a positive mind-set. You may not realise it, but your kindness and patience may change someone’s attitude (and life) for the better.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 30th, 2019

Advertisements

Manners Matter!

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Fareed walks into the lounge where his dad is absent-mindedly flicking through the TV channels.

“I want the remote,” he says as he holds out his hand.

Dad looks at him thoughtfully for a moment and says, “Wouldn’t it sound better if you say, ‘Dad, may I have the remote please?’” Dad’s tone is more of a reprimand than an advice.

Fareed gives his father an embarrassed look and says, “Sorry dad, I will be careful in the future. Now please may I have the remote?”

Times have changed! So have the values about a lot of aspects of behaviour. In this fast paced world we are living in, most of us are in such a hurry that we have no time to meet the demands of good manners. An attitude which was totally unacceptable a generation back, is not even given a second thought by youngsters today.

My dear friends, I definitely do not want to imply that your generation is ill-mannered or discourteous. Actually, there is a very thin line between appearing ‘cool’ and being insolent. I feel that your concepts are a bit confused. The manners or behaviour you consider as old fashioned, are true for all times and all people, young or old.

On more than one occasion you must have heard from your parents, “Would you please mind your manners!” Maybe this is one sentence which, though short, is common to all parents all over the world — and perhaps very irritating for all children!

Often, unintentionally we make some lapses in our behaviour without meaning to be impolite or rude, but a timely correction from parents and elders goes a long way in laying the foundation of good manners.

A beautiful quote says “A parent can give a child no greater gift than beautiful manners.”

Let us discuss some basic principles of good manners. I am sure most of you follow these rules, but a reminder now and then helps in refreshing one’s behaviour. I assure you that practicing these simple guidelines will go a long way in guiding you towards a successful life.

First impression is not the last impression

It is often said that “The first impression is the last impression”. People usually agree with this saying, but I have a different view. Suppose in a party you meet a person for the first time. You are impressed by his looks and dressing, and want to be friends with him. But when he starts talking in a loud tone, boasts about his education or wealth or is rude to someone, you are bound to change your opinion at once.

Always behave in a dignified manner when you are in company. Never try to show off or impress others. When you are gentle, kind and polite, your actions will speak louder than your words.

To put it in a few words, “A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait” said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German literary figure.

Politeness is the foundation of good manners

Showing respect to the feelings of people around you, valuing their opinion and trying to be helpful, are all the qualities of a polite person. When an older person enters the room, stand up to greet him/her and offer your seat if there is no place to sit.

Hold the door for the person behind you when you enter an elevator/room. In a supermarket, if you see an elderly person or a young mother with kids, struggling with his/her heavy trolley, offer to help by pulling their trolley for them. In a queue, never push or try to move up in the line.

Keep a smiling face and a cheerful disposition when you are in company. Always be quick to give a compliment where it is deserved. Your kind words can make someone’s day.

Use the magic words often

‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Sorry’ are the magic words which are sparingly used by people with good manners. Some children think it is not cool to use these words nowadays, but I assure you that using them often will help you throughout your life.

If you get a gift, do not take it for granted. When you say thanks or write a thank you note, you give the message that you appreciate the gesture and thoughtfulness of the person who has given you the gift.

Suppose you push someone by mistake in the school line or at a park. Instead of just walking away, don’t you think the shoved person will feel better if you say sorry? Try to put yourself in the other individual’s shoes and think what you would expect in such a situation.

When you ask for a favour, always begin your sentence with ‘please’. Even if you want a sibling to get a glass of water for you, don’t forget to use this magic word. Your words sound more like a request than an order, when you say please before asking for something.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Respect and love your parents and elders

Respect and love for our elders is an essential part of good manners. Never talk back to your parents, grandparents or teachers and listen politely when they are speaking.

Our parents are our best guides and mentors. At every stage of life, they endeavour to bring out the best in us. This may mean reprimands, scolding and punishments too, if we behave in an improper way. Often children feel resentful and sulky when they are scolded, but as they grow up and have to face the world on their own, they realise that their parents’ advise was for their own good.

Be thankful to your parents for their tireless efforts for your well-being and always be quick to lend a helping hand whenever you can. Try to the best of your abilities to make them proud of your appropriate behaviour, both at home and when you are in company.

Grandparents usually love you unconditionally and think that giving their advice or views on matters related to you are their right. Don’t be impolite if you have a different idea about something. At times you may not follow their advice or instructions, but never forget that they are much senior to you, both in age and experience. Even if your opinion is different from theirs’, don’t challenge them in company. You can discuss the issue later on and explain your point of view on the matter.

Teachers play an important role in our lives and lay the foundations of our future. Always be respectful to them and value the hard work they put in to your education.

Be kind to younger ones

A very important component of good manners is to be loving and kind towards your siblings, friends and cousins. Help them when they need your assistance and try to settle disputes amicably. Children are often confused when the word respect is used for those younger than them, but every human being deserves respect. Remember that all of us, young or old, have an ego, which is hurt by rude or unkind words and behaviour.

Your younger siblings often idealise you and feel proud in following in your footsteps. Be a good example for them and pass on the good values you have learnt from your parents, without being harsh. Often, a loving advice goes deeper than an inconsiderate reprimand.

The way you talk is a mirror to your manners

The way you speak in company is a reflection of your upbringing and background. Keep your tone polite and courteous and make eye contact when someone is speaking to you. Always make the person you are conversing with, feel that you respect him. Never interrupt when a discussion is going on and if you have to say something, always use “Excuse me please” before starting to talk.

While talking to someone, try to stick to topics which are of common interest. Don’t keep bragging about yourself, your achievements or your family, as these are not a mark of good manners. Holding your temper when someone is rude to you proves that your manners are much better than the offender’s.

The right way to argue

Disagreements are a test for our manners and upbringing. Respect for the opinion of the participants in the argument proves that you know proper etiquettes.

Never raise your voice to prove your point, because this would in no way support your opinion. Nor make it a matter of your self-esteem and move away from arguments if you cannot win. Remember that participating in debates/discussions is a way to widen your concepts on different issues and also increase your knowledge.

Table manners are important

Very little importance is given to table manners these days. My parents had very strict rules for me and my siblings. Here I shall relate a few of them:

• Never complain about food, even if it is not your favourite.

• Never bring a book, toy or other unrelated things (there were no cell phones in my childhood) to the dining table!

• Wait for the elders to start before you fill your plate.

• Don’t try to grab the best portion.

• Stay on the table until everyone has finished eating.

• Always make light conversation while eating.

• If something serious has to be discussed it can wait, till after lunch/dinner time.

I feel that writing about good manners is like trying to fit an ocean in a cocoon. I could go on and on but have to stop somewhere!

I would like to sum up with a saying of Hazrat Ali R.A, the fourth caliph of Islam “Good manners are your beauty.”

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 27th, 2018

Attitudes: Insensitive sympathies…http://dawn.com/2011/12/18/attitudes-insensitive-sympathies/

The only predictable fact about life is that it is totally unpredictable! Consoling (or trying to do so) people who have lost a near and dear one has some norms. But often, in our eagerness to ease their pain, we forget these norms.

Yasmin Elahi

Death has different ways of striking and carrying away the people we love dearly. Sometimes it comes on tip toes from behind, taking us by surprise, hitting like a tsunami, destroying our peace of mind and happiness in just a moment and leaving us agonised and dazed by the intensity of the pain it creates.And on others, we watch in despair and anguish the ebbing away of the tide of life from a cherished person, hoping against hope that some miracle would stop it from striking.

When it comes to the passing away of our loved ones, the sorrow it causes has the power to sweep off the feet (though momentarily) even those of us who are emotionally strong. Only time can heal the heartache we experience. But this is also the time when we expect and need maximum emotional support from friends and family, and more often than…

View original post 661 more words

A Simple Guide to Popularity

All of us want to be popular among our family, peers and teachers, but very few of us know the simple tips which make us better-liked than others. We usually look up with admiration to people who are more popular than us and sometimes even envy them.

It may interest you to know that we only have to follow some simple rules to gain popularity. Read and follow this simple guide to popularity and gain admiration within your social circle in no time.

Share and care

Generally, people who have a high graph of popularity are quick to share their blessings with their acquaintances. Whether it is a book, a gadget or a meal, they like to share their belongings with people around them and even happily give these things away, whether as a gift or a loan.

meal, they like to share their belongings with people around them and even happily give these things away, whether as a gift or a loan.

Popular people also love to share their joys and sorrows with friends and family. They are sympathetic when they find their friends in a problem and always try to be first to congratulate others in their moments of joy. They are quick to show people in their circle that they are an important part of their lives.

Caring for people around us endears us to their hearts. A kind word, a sincere advice and a helping hand in difficult times, and sometimes even a gesture as simple as offering to carry someone’s load, are small acts which have far-reaching effects.

Try to visit the aged in your family, especially when they are not well or at least call them from time to time. These small acts will make a special place for you in their hearts.

Always remember that a soft voice, which expresses a logical view, is more effective than a loud one. Soft-spoken people are usually popular as everyone feels more comfortable in talking to them.

Politeness always pays

Being polite is the easiest way to win over someone. It may be holding the door for the person who enters a room or car, offering your seat to an elderly person who cannot find a place in a bus or standing up when someone older than you enters the room. These are endearing gestures, which people do not forget easily.

Always try to be the first to greet friends when you meet them. Take interest in their activities and ask simple questions to show that you give importance to them. Listen politely and never interrupt someone when they are speaking. Always wait for your turn when you are in a discussion.

Remember, ‘Thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘sorry’ are magic words which are a mark of politeness and good upbringing. Using these words habitually will add to your popularity.

Be a good listener

Most of us seem to be in love with our own voice. Instead of listening attentively to what our friends or peers have to say, we like to speak non-stop without caring whether people around us are interested in what we are talking about or not!

Most of the times, it is better to take interest in what people around us are discussing. When we listen with interest, we are bound to gain knowledge and learn to perceive things with an angle different from ours. When friends are talking about their problems, only if we listen attentively, we will understand their troubles better and be able to give out a word of advice where needed.

While discussing a current issue or a hot topic, we usually get over excited and raise our voices to try to drown out those around us. Always remember that a soft voice, which expresses a logical view, is more effective than a loud one. Soft-spoken people are usually popular as everyone feels more comfortable in talking to them.

Light the world with a smile

Have you ever wondered why you take an instant liking to a new teacher if she enters the classroom with a smile on her face? Often we have to go to a party or wedding where we know very few people. On entering the venue, as we look around for a seat, we are instinctively drawn to a person with a smiling demeanour. We are more comfortable with a doctor who wears a smile on his face.

Remember that a smile has a magnetic and endearing power. It is also highly infectious and has the power to cheer up people around us. Learn to smile even if you don’t feel like doing so. All of us have problems, but wearing a sulking look will not solve them in anyway. People who have a smiling face are definitely more popular than those who habitually wear a frown.

Be helpful

Helping out people around us is a very endearing habit. You may help a classmate in subjects he/she finds difficult, help your mum by sharing her workload, take care of your younger siblings or run an errand for your grandparents or an elderly neighbour.

You may be better than your parents or grandparents at computers, tabs or cellphones. Never complain if they ask for your help repeatedly. Consideration for others with a quick helping hand is a simple quality which makes one popular.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Kindness is cool

Speak lovingly with your younger siblings and cousins, and be kind to them. Take interest in their activities in order to show how much you care for them.

Never be harsh or rude to your maid, driver or any other person employed by your parents. Listen with sympathy if at times they discuss their problems with

you. Help them out whenever you possibly can.

Give away your extra toys, clothes and books to the needy people around you. They will be more than grateful for your compassion. Remember that kindness always pays back positively.

Personal grooming is paramount

At first thought you may feel that this tip is not related to popularity. But in my opinion, a person looking fresh and neatly dressed is always better liked than those who do not care about their personal hygiene. We usually shun people who smell of perspiration, have a foul breath or are generally untidy.

Keep your nails trimmed neatly and hair properly brushed. Shower daily, brush your teeth twice a day and be sure to use a deodorant when going out. You do not have to spend a lot on these things; only adopting healthy habits will make you well-groomed and attractive to others.

Try out these simple and easy tips to be better liked in your circle. I am sure you will find your graph of popularity rise in no time.

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 7th, 2017

You are a murderer!

YOU ARE A MURDERER!
You are a doctor, and yet you let someone die…just like that!
All you cared for was your fees… You were only bothered about your bloody fees…
You should be ashamed of yourself. Your degree should be torn and then burnt into the fire and your PMDC registration should be canceled right away and you should be hanged till death…because you were part of this murder!
I am a Pakistani and these above lines are wrenched from the bottom of my heart. I just found out that a woman died in a hit and run case yesterday, in Karachi, near Sea View. I am sure you all must be aware of this tragic incident; I am not going to focus on the mad driver who didn’t stop his car and instead, ran all over her and didn’t even stop for one second to look back at what he had done … He’s a murderer and he will rot in hell…
I am not going to comment on that bloody desperate thief who came forward to see the severely injured woman on the road…And in the pretense of providing a helping hand, he STOLE her mobile phone…without even thinking for one second that her phone could have been used for locating her family…or her family would have died a thousand deaths when they would have tried to contact her and her phone would have been turned off because that’s what thieves do, right? No… I am not commenting on this either…
I am commenting and condemning this DOCTOR who refused to treat her when the eye witnesses and some police constables took her to the nearest medical center. This DOCTOR had the audacity to refuse any kind of treatment because all she was worried about was the fact that the woman’s family was not there and her main question was that “Who would pay my fees?” That patient was dying… I am sure no one could have saved her…but at least some HUMANITY could have been expected from that DOCTOR…right?
My hands are cold right now, my eyes blurry with tears…I am mourning the death of humanity in our nation… our nation has stooped to the lowest levels and I really don’t know what to do now…my head is pounding with the images of this accident site and some flashbacks of the sanitary worker that died when THREE DOCTORS refused to treat him in Umerkot few months ago…but above all…my heart is HURT at the inhumanity of all these doctors… It’s killing me because I am a Doctor myself and we take OATHS to protect people. We have pledged to keep people’s safety and benefits before our own…and in cases of emergency…we are bound to come up front and take control…without thinking about money or any other superficial things!
It is my humble request to all, who read this post… Please do something… This nation is dying… Please please please become someone’s light instead of prying it away from them…
To all the doctors out there, don’t forget that YOU were bestowed with the power of healing… YOU were entrusted with the amanat of taking care of people before your own needs… YOU are going to be held accountable too!
Think a thousand times before you refuse treatment to any patient next time…
Dr.Ayesha Ansar Khan

From Fantasy To Reality (http://www.dawn.com/news/1283186)

In our part of the world, weddings are the most celebrated occasions, not only in the lives of the prospective bride and groom, but also the immediate family, the not-so-immediate family and the circle of friends.

The excitement starts when the boy gives a go-ahead to his parents to find a suitable girl for him. From then on mothers and sisters begin a frantic search, rejecting or approving girls over a tea-trolley. She is examined from head to toe, irrelevant / embarrassing questions are thrown at her and she can be rejected at the slightest pretext. If she passes the test, a formal proposal is sent to her parents. This in turn starts another frenzied activity. Heads are joined to make a decision and the boy’s looks, height, income, whether he owns a house or not etc are taken into consideration. As soon as the proposal is accepted and the time for the grand occasion is decided, the wedding fever sets in.

Selection of the bridal outfit, the matching jewellery to be ordered, sandals and handbag to go with the shaadi ka jora, are all matters of utmost importance. The best beauty studio is booked for the bridal make-over and the best possible venue is selected for the functions. Every minute detail has to be chalked out — from invitation cards, the bride and groom’s entry in the wedding hall, the decoration of the stage, the flowers, lightning, cake, the menu, token gifts for the guests, the list seems to be endless.

There are non-stop shopping sprees for clothes, shoes, furniture and crockery for the dowry and gifts for the bridegroom and the in-laws. These frenzied shopping trips leaves the bride and her family exhausted as the Big Day approaches.

The groom’s house is also buzzing with pre- wedding arrangements. Along with the dresses, jewellery and accessories for the bride the house needs to be renovated, re-painted and sometimes re-furnished. The couple’s room is given extra attention. The bride usually brings in new furniture but the carpet and curtains have to be changed. Bathrooms are re-designed to complement the new look of the room. Everything should be picture perfect when the bride arrives.

The fantasy which begins with the shopping, the pre-wedding merriments, friends’ gatherings, dholkis, mayoon and mehndi reaches its peak at the grand wedding and valima receptions.

But in all these feverish activities, the groom’s parents who were so choosy about the prospective wife of their son and the bride’s parents who were so particular to find out every detail about the person who had proposed for their daughter’s hand, completely forget to teach their offspring what marriage is really about.

Parents, who spend so much time, energy and, of course, money on their children’s weddings, don’t deem it important to guide them about the responsibilities which come with a married life and the facts regarding the rights and duties concerning their future spouse. Things which should be the foremost on the list of wedding preparations are totally ignored or given a back-seat. So, most couples enter into matrimony only thinking about their wedding and not marriage, totally confused about the demands of this new stage of life.

Both husband and wife have a different set of problems. The girl ties the nuptial knot thinking that life after marriage is one long honeymoon, where you live in grand houses, shop till you drop, eat out in expensive eateries on a regular basis and your spouse does nothing except pampering you, and even at home you are dressed in designer clothes and wear full makeup and expensive jewellery.

Once the post-wedding partying and enjoyments are over and the bride is expected to slip into the role of a wife and home-maker, reality starts to set in. Most girls fail to realise that they should leave behind the fantasy which was only temporary. The groom has lots of more important things at hand, other than complying with her moods and whims. She cannot expect him to leave a ‘I love you’ note when he is getting late to office, neither to bring her roses every day, and surely not on the days when he has had an extra tiring schedule or problems with his boss.

The groom has his own set of disappointments. As the bride slips into the role of a home-maker, she may also want to go back to her job. When he comes home, she may also be tired after a hard day’s work, so he cannot expect her to be dressed up as a doll, starry-eyed and swooning over him at the slightest pretext. And if she has been cooking or cleaning or dusting, she will not emit the fragrance of roses.

The bubble of fantasy may have all the colours of a rainbow, but bubbles are bound to burst. Instead of feeling disappointed or disillusioned, the couple could have coped better if their parents had guided them correctly. The early months of a marriage are usually the make or break ones. For dreamers, this journey can be a survival in an unhappy marriage and for the more extreme ones just begin and end with a big jolt. More sensible couples, after the initial disappointment, adapt quickly to the demands of a married life. But the truth is that this journey from fantasy to reality can change lives, for better or for worse.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 11th, 2016

 

میں ایک باغی ہوں

میں ایک باغی ہوں!
آج معاشرے کے سامنے میں اقبالِ جرم کرنا چاھتی ہوں۔ میں ایک باغی ہوں۔ میں اس نظام سے بغاوت کا اعلان کرتی ہوں جہاں قدم قدم پہ ہمیں دوہری قدروں کا سامنا کرنا پڑتا ہے ۔میری بغاوت کے بہت سارے اسباب ہیں اور میں ایک وقت میں ایک ہی سبب پہ روشنی ڈال سکتی ہوں۔ آئیے آج میں آپ کو اپنے باغی ہونے کی پہلی وجہ بتائؤں۔۔چاہیں تو آپ بھی اس بغاوت میں میرے قدم سے قدم ملایئں ۔ چاہے مجھے قابلِ سزا قرار دیں۔
میرے باغی ہونے کے اسباب کو سمجھنے کے لئے آپ کو زندگی کے سٹیج کے چند مختلف مناظر کو دیکھنا ہوگا۔ آپ میرے ہم سفر رہیں اور میں آپ کو ماضی کے چند لمحوں کی سیر کراتی ہوں۔
پہلا منظر:
اسپتال کے بستر پہ ایک نازک سی عورت لیٹی ہے اور اس کے پہلو میں ایک گڑیا جیسی بچی۔ ماں کبھی ممتا بھری نظروں سے اپنی بیٹی کو دیکھتی ہے اور کبھی ملتجی نظروں سے اپنے شوہر اور ساس کو۔ ان کے چہروں کی مصنوعی مسکراہٹیں ان کی مایوس آرزوئوں کو چھپانے میں قطعی طور پہ ناکام ہیں۔ شوہر کو
بیٹے کی تمنا تھی اور ساس کو پوتے کی آرزو!

مبارکبادی دینے کے لئے آنے والے بھی اپنا کردار بھرپور طور پہ ادا کر رہے ہیں اور اس طرح اپنے خیالات کا اظہار کر رہے ہیں!بھئی مبارک ہو۔ فکر نہ کرو جس اللہ نے بیٹی دی ہے وہ بیٹا بھی ضرور دیگا!۔ ساس کے چہرے کی مسکراہٹ اور پھیکی پڑ جاتی ہے اور وہ چمک کر کہتی ہیں۔ بات تو سچی یہی ہےکہ پہلوٹھی کے بیٹے کی خوشی ہی کچھ اور ہوتی ہے۔ خیر ہم کوئی ااپنے للہ سے مایوس تھوڑی ہیں۔ آپ دیکھئیگا اگلی دفعہ بیٹا ہی ہوگا۔

نوعمر ماں کی آنکھوں میں نمی تیر جاتی ہے جس کو چھپانے کی کوشش کرتے ہوئے وہ بے بسی میں اپنی پھول جیسی گڑیا کی طرف متوجہ ہو جاتی ہے۔ ابھی تو وہ تخلیق کے کرب کو بھولی نہیں ہے اور موت کی دہلیز کو چھو کر واپس پلٹی ہے۔ ابھی سے اگلی دفعہ کی باتیں شروع ہو گئیں۔ صرف اس وجہ سے کے پیدا ہونے والا بچہ بیٹا نہیں بیٹی ہے۔ کوشش کے باوجود دو آنسو اس کی آنکھوں سے ڈھلک کر تکئے میں جذب ہو جاتے ہیں
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام اور سوچ سے جہاں بیٹی کو اللہ کی رحمت نہیں خوشیوں پہ اوس ڈالنے والی ہستی سمجھا جاتا ہے اور بیٹے کو مسرتوں کا پیامبر۔
دوسرا منظر
کئی سال گزر چکے ہیں اور وہ نو عمر ماں ایک ادھیڑ عمر کی عورت بن چکی ہے جس کو اللہ نے ایک اور بیٹی کے ساتھ دو بیٹوں سے بھی نوازا ہے۔ حیرت کی بات یہ ہے کہ اب اس کے سوچنے کا انداز یکسر بدل چکا ہے۔ آج کے منظر میں ہم دیکھینگے کے ماں کچن میں کھانابنا رہی ہے ۔بیٹی جو اب تقریبآ تیرہ چودہ سال کی ہے اس کے پاس آ کر کہتی ہے، “امی مجھے حساب اور انگریزی کی ٹیوشن لگوا دیں۔ امتحان سر پہ ہیں اور ان دونوں مضامین میں میرے نمبر بہت کم آ رہے ہیں”۔
ماں ھانڈی سے نظر اٹھائے بغیر لا پرواہ انداز سےکہتی ہے ” بیٹی جیسے بھی کوشش کر کے خود ہی امتحان کی تیاری کرو۔ تمہارے ابو دونوں بھائیوں کی ٹیوشن فیس ہی بڑی مشکل سے ادا کر رہے ہیں۔ وہ اس مزیز بوجھ کے متحمل نہیں ہو سکتے۔
بیٹی جھنجھلا ئے ہوئے لہجے میں کہتی ہے ” میری سمجھ میں نہیں آتا کہ ہر معاملے میں بھائیوں کو کیوں ہم پہ اتی فوقیت دی جاتی ہے۔ ان کی تعلیم اور کھانی پینے کو زیادہ اہمیت دی جاتی ہے! کل ہی ناشتے میں ایک انڈا تھا میں نے پوچھا تو آپ نے منع کر دیا اور بعد میں وہی انڈا دونوں بیٹوں کو آدھا آدھا کھلا دیا۔ کیا ہم آپ کی اولاد نہیں؟
ماں۔”بیٹی تم تو پرایا دھن ہو! آج ہمارے پاس کل سسرال چلی جائوگی۔جتنا تمہاری قسمت میں ہو لکھ پڑھ لو۔ لیکن ان بیٹوں کو تو میرے اور تمہارے ابو کے بڑھاپے کا سہارا بننا ہے۔ان پر خاص توجہ کیوے نہ دیں؟
آج بیٹی کی آنکھوں میں آنسو ہیں۔” امی اگر میں بیٹی ہوں تو اس میں میرا کیا قصور ہے؟
ماں کے چہرے پہ لمحہ بھر کو پشیمانی کا سایہ لرزتا ہے۔ پھر وہ بیٹی کو معصوم سوالوں سے بچنے کے کئے جلدی جلدی رات کی روٹی کا آٹا گوندھنے لگتی ہے۔
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام سے جس میں رزق کی فراہمی کا بھروسہ اللہ پر نہیں اولادِ نرینہ پہ کیا جاتا ہے ۔ بیٹوں کے مقابلے میں ہر معاملے میں بیٹیوں کی حق تلفی کی جاتی ہے۔ ان کو پرایا دھن اور بیٹوں کو قیمتی سرمایہ سمجھا جاتا ہے
تیسرا منظر
مزید چار پانچ سال گزر چکے ہیں۔ آج کے منظر میں ہم دیکھینگے کے کل احتجاج کرنے والی بیٹی اب جوان اور شادی کی عمر کو پہنچ گئی ہے۔ ڈرائینگ روم میں کچھ مہمان خواتین بیٹھی ہیں۔ بیٹی نظریں نیچی کئے ہوئے شرمائے ہوئے انداز میں چائے کی ٹرالی لے کر داخل ہوتی ہے اور ادب سے سلام کر کے ایک طرف بیٹھ جاتی ہے۔ ماں دل میں پریشان ہے کہ کئی دن کا بجٹ آج ٹرالی سجانے میں صرف ہو گیا لیکن خندہ پیشانی کے ساتھ مہمانوں کو پھل، کیک اور مٹھائی پیش کر رہی ہے، جبکہ ناشتہ کرتے ہوئے خواتین لڑکی کا بغور جائزہ لے رہی ہیں۔ آپس میں کچھ کھسرپسر بھی ہو رہی ہے۔ ٹرالی کے ساتھ پورا انصاف کرنے کے بعد وہ منھ پونچھتی ہوئی اٹھتی ہیں اور ماں کو مخاطب کر کےکہتی ہیں “بہن آپ لوگ ہمیں بہت پسند آئے،آپ کی بیٹی بھی خوش اخلاق اور سلیقہ مند لگتی ہے لیکن کیا کریں ہمارے بیٹے کو گوری دلہن چاھئیے اور آپ کی بیٹی سانولی ہے! آپ کا گھر بھی کچھ واجبی سا ہے، رشتہ والی نے تو آپ لوگوں کو خاصہ پیسے والا بتایا تھا! “
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام سے جس میں بیٹیوں کو چائے کی ٹرالی پہ گائے بکروں کی طرح پرکھا جاتا ہے۔جہاں اچھی لڑکیوں کا معیار ان کی تعلیم، سلیقہ اور اخلاق و آداب نہیں صرف اچھی شکل و صورت یا دولت ہے!
جہاں بیٹوں کے کئے چاند کا ٹکرا ڈھونڈھنے والیاں یہ بھول جاتی ہیں کہ ان کے گھر بھی ایک سانولی، یا موٹی یا چھوٹے قد کی بیٹی اچھے رشتے کے انتظار میں بیٹھی ہے
چوتھا منظر
مزید دو تین سال گزر چکے ہیں۔ بیٹی کا رشتہ آخر کار طے ہو چکا ہے۔ لیکن والدین پریشان ہیں۔ جہیز کی تیاری، مایوں مہندی کی تقریبات، باراتیوں کا کھانا، دولھا میاں اور ان کے عزیزوں کے لئے تحفے تحائف! ایک کمانے والا اور اجراجات کی نہ ختم ہونے والی فہرست! رات کا وقت ہے اور ماں باپ کمرے میں بیٹھے یہی باتیں کر رہے ہیں۔ ماں کئی چیزیں گنواتی ہے جو ابھی خریدنی باقی ہیں، ہال والے کو بھی پیشگی رقم دینی ہے۔ باپ بوجھل لہجے میں کہتا ہے،”آکر یہ جہیز کی لعنت کب ھمارے معاشرے سے ختم ہوگی؟ کیا یہ کافی نہیں کہ ھم اپنے جگر کا ٹکڑا ان لوگوں کو دے رہے ہیں؟ اور سسرال والوں کو اتنے تحفے دینے کی کیا ضرورت ہے؟ ہم نے تو ان سے اپنی حیثیت نہیں چھپائی تھی! پہلی بیٹی کی شادی پہ ہی اتنا مقروض ہو جائونگا تو دوسری کی شادی اور بیٹوں کی تعلیم کا کیا ہوگا؟ وہ یوں بول رہا ہے جیسے اپنے آپ سے ہی یہ سوالات پوچھ رہا ہو۔ ماں جواب میں کہتی ہے،” جیسے بھی ہو یہ سب کرنا تو پڑیگا ورنہ ہماری بیٹی کی سسرال میں کیا عزت ہوگی؟ اس کو طعنے نہ پڑینگے کے تمہارے اماں باوا نے جہیز میں دیا ہی کیا ہے؟
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام سے جس میں استطاعت نہ ہونے کے باوجود فضول رسم و رواج پہ مجبورآ پیسہ خرچ کیا جاتا ہے۔ جہاں بیٹی کی سسرال میں قدر و منزلت اس کے حسن سلوک، اعلی اخلاق، تعلیم اور سلیقے کے بجائے وہ ڈھیروں جہیز ہے جو وہ اپنے ساتھ لائی ہے،
آج میں نے معاشرے کے سامنے اپنی بغاوت کے اسباب پر روشنی ڈالی ہے۔ میں ایک باغی ہوں اور اس فرسودہ نظام کے خلاف بغاوت کا علم بلند کرتے ہوئے فخر محسوس کرتی ہوں۔ آپ چاہیں تو مجھے سزا دیں، چاہیں تو اس بغاوت میں میرا ساتھ دیں اور ہم چراغ سے چراغ جلانے کے مصداق ایک نئے دور کا آغاز کریں!

Living within a budget

yw1

Dear friends, most of you are too young or inexperienced to be aware of some harsh realities of life. Maybe you have no knowledge of the difficulties your parents must be facing. In the times of the ever rising inflation we are living in, it is becoming harder and harder for most people to make both ends meet.

Running a home comfortably, ensuring that the requirements of all family members are fulfilled to their satisfaction, providing quality education to their children and striving to save some amount for the rainy day, is becoming a daunting task for your parents.

Has it ever occurred to you that there are many different ways in which you can help your parents out to handle the expenses better. Here are some tips which could serve as tension releasers for your parents and help them to manage their budget in a better manner.

could serve as tension releasers for your parents and help them to manage their budget in a better manner.

Be realistic in your demands

Often children pester their parents with unnecessary demands, asking for things which they can easily do without. There is no need to change the school bag every year, get a new dress for an upcoming wedding or buy a gadget a friend had recently got.

Eating out is often expensive and you can refrain from pressuring your parents to take you out for dinner every weekend. A few hours spent in a park or by the seaside (with some homemade snacks) can be more relaxing and entertaining.

Most children ask for or do things out of peer pressure. You don’t have to do what others are doing or have what others have. You shouldn’t follow the crowd or the fad, follow your family’s instructions and be mindful of their priorities.

Learn to understand your parents’ financial situation and limitations and do not ask for things which may prove to be an extra burden on their budget.

Differentiate between needs and wants

Often we cannot draw a clear line between what we want and what we really need. You may want a new pair of jeans or joggers, but you may not actually need them. You may be asking your parents for a new rug or wall hanging for your room, but if you think rationally, the old one is good enough!

These are things that we ‘want’ but we don’t really ‘need’. So if we don’t have these things, it really will not make a difference to who we are as a person, but getting them can mean that parents have to spend the money that could have been spent on a household need or saved for the future for us.

Cutting down on your wants will go a long way in releasing the pressure on the family budget. Never buy anything in a hurry. When the urge to get something new hits you, take some time to think. And ask yourself these questions before insisting on getting something new: “Do I really need this”, “Can I do without it” or “Is there an alternate already at home”.

Shop wisely

When you do need to buy something, especially if it is expensive, spend some time in searching for it in different shops and you are sure to find cheaper options for the things you need. Some shopping centres, specially the fashionable malls, are more expensive and you can get the same things from other markets at much cheaper rates. Don’t feel shy to ask around, and always try to get a good deal for the things you need to buy.

There are also factory outlets of different products and brands, where some products and designs are sold at discounted rates. There are also wholesale markets of most things where you can buy things at wholesale rates, that are much lower than the retail prices of the same products.

All of us like to use branded stuff, but often we can get nearly the same quality in other brands in much cheaper rates. And if you really want to buy expensive brands, wait for their sales when you can get your required things at a reduced price. If you plan your shopping well in advance, you can always get the things you need at cheaper rates.

Be both penny and pound wise!

Only because a burger/pizza jaunt or a famous garment outlet is offering a “buy one get one free” deal, you needn’t rush to it. The shops are charging enough from the sale of one to give the other free to customers. Remember that you have to pay for one and even that can be an extra burden for the family budget.

Soft drinks slash their prices many times a year, this doesn’t mean that you must have them on the table all the time when the prices are down! These deals and advertisments misguide us into thinking that we are saving money when buying something, while actually you are being lured into spending unnecessarily!

Also remember that home-cooked food, plus homemade lemonade is always a better, healthier and cheaper option. The same rule applies for school lunch. Snacks made by mummy are always much better, healthier and cheaper than what you can buy at the school canteen.

Help out wherever you can

Be sure to switch off the lights and fans, when you are leaving the room. Keeping the television on the stand-by mode is unnecessary and it increases the electric bill.

If you help out a younger sibling in subjects he/she is weak in, your parents will not need to acquire extra help for them. This will be supportive as they will not have to pay expensive tuition fees which are always an extra load on the budget.

If you press your own clothes, make your beds in the morning, polish your shoes, assist mummy in laying and clearing up the table, you can help her in cutting down on the household help she employs. These small tips will prove to be both financial and physical relief for your parents.

Learn to save

Learning the habit to save money early on in life will go a long way in helping you in the later years. Small amounts you save from your pocket money, or the cash gifts you get on your birthdays and Eid, or even the loose change you throw about carelessly, can build up into a considerable amount. You can use this money to get things you may need without burdening your parents.

Be happy with little

The key to a happy life is contentment. Once you learn to be satisfied with the best your parents can afford, you and your parents will both feel happier and satisfied. Competing for material things with your friends or classmates will only enter you into a rat race which has no ending. And the end result of this race is frustration and problems for your parents and later on for yourself when you grow up and start earning.

Be grateful for what your parents can provide instead of grumbling about what they can’t! Leading a simple lifestyle and curtailing your wants will make you happier. Remember, every advertisement is just a ploy to make us spend our hard-earned money on something we don’t really need. Even the latest and most expensive thing and gadget can only give you pleasure, not happiness.

Over the years when you look back at your childhood days, you will be surprised at how these simple tips made life easier, happier and more relaxed, both for you and your parents!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 19th, 2015

Lets agree to disagree but with due respect to each other!

Lets agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other!

In the times we are living in, discussions and arguments have mostly gone online. The debates which once were a part of the drawing-room culture have become an integral part of the electronic, print and social media. The options for people to comment online on news, blogs, posts and write-ups etc, have opened up new opportunities for the readers. There were times when after reading something of importance or interest in the newspaper or a magazine, I would discuss it with the people around me. We would talk about the issue, argue, agree or disagree, but never in a manner where the other person would feel that his opinion has been brushed aside, or he is being demeaned for his views. Maybe being polite in a face to face discussions was not only an important requirement of a debate it was considered an essential part of good upbringing, and no one wanted to seem rude or disrespectful to each other.

But the huge swing of technology and the easy access to it, has changed people’s attitudes and also the way they discuss issues these days! As a regular visitor to the blogs of reputable publications, I have noticed how ugly a discussion can become. It may be about politics, religion, a social issue or even a game! Most people with differing opinions mock, insult and in extreme cases verbally abuse those who have a different way of seeing things. This I-will-punch-you–in-the-face-if-you-dare-to- disagree-with-me approach is on the rise by the day.

disagree

People make an argument an ego matter, and win they must, either by hook or by crook! Instead of making it a means to a better understanding of a controversial issue, and trying to see things from the other one’s point of view, they prefer to belittle or mock those who do not agree with their way of perceiving an issue. The use of profane words is on the rise and some people really think it is “cool” to use these words in their comments. The words which once no gentleman even dreamt of using in public, have become so common that even our children are using them! While reading comments I often come across words like absurd, shit, nonsense, unintelligent, ridiculous, repressive, trash (just to mention the softer ones) etc. Some call the other’s views silly, illogical and appalling! All barriers of civility are broken and we seem to forget that there are always two faces of a coin.  

It is perfectly okay to disagree, because it is our basic right to have our own opinion on different matters. But the point we often overlook is that each and every individual has a different view, which depends on his/her social and cultural background, religious beliefs and the moral values which run in a family! And education, though last mentioned, should be the on the top of this list.

Why is this new approach getting so common? What are we teaching our young generation? Have we becoming more egoistic by the day and feel it is our right to thrust down our opinion down our opponents’ throat, least caring that we may even choke them with our efforts? Why is our society becoming so brutally intolerant, with a total disregard for a difference in opinion? Where will this frame of mind lead us too? Why are all barriers of civility broken when we do not see eye to eye with someone?

lets agree

All these are disturbing questions that I ask myself! There is already too much hatred and dissent in our world. Instead of being judgmental, raising accusing fingers and resorting to mudslinging, let’s try to create a more tolerant world through discussions and trying to understand differing views. Or else, we should be prepared to hand down a legacy of hatred and contempt to our younger generation.

In Pakistan, the illiterate have no access to newspapers, magazines or the social media. The less affluent, even if they have a formal education, are too busy trying to make the ends meet to spare time reading and commenting on posts and write ups.  So only the educated middle and upper class are among those who take interest and can take out time to participate in these virtual discussions. Education brings with it tolerance; a respect for the views of someone who sees things from another angle or perspective. And keeping in mind the class who has an access to the social and print media, I think it should try to be more open-minded and flexible. Instead of making our comments sound like a slap on the face, we can make them polite and respectful. Mocking, insulting or ridiculing someone who does not see eye to eye with us, only proves that we are educated illiterates!

Let’s agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other’s opinion. Proving yourself right and the opponent wrong should not be important, a debate should be a means to hone the mind and bring a broader perspective to one’s outlook on controversial issues!

THE TRUE SPIRIT! (My article in Young World on 25th September)

Eidul Azha is just round the corner. As I step into my terrace with my evening cup of tea, I hear happy shouts of children. I peep out of my front door and see a few children of the neighbourhood having the time of their lives, as they race their goats in the lane. A group of those who haven`t yet attained this honour are participating in the celebration by running along, clapping, shouting and urging the goats to run faster.

Some have even managed to sneak twigs from their gardens and are offering it to the goats in the hope that the proud owner will allow him to race the goat for a while.

The most frequently asked questions among the children these days are, `Have you been to the mandi yet?` `When will your dad get the sacrificial animals` and the most troublesome of all `Howmuch did you (or your father) pay for this goat (or cow)? Eidul Azha is steadily becoming a competition, a rat race to acquire the largest or most expensive animal in the neighbourhood, whether it is a goat, a sheep or a cow. Those of us who have paid a hefty sum for their animals display them around proudly, grabbing every opportunity to mention the price. The people who are regular in performing the yearly sacrifice but cannot afford very expensive animals, feel a bit let down. Although they are sure to join the daily ritual of walking and racing of their goats, the feeling of embarrassment is written loud and clear on their innocent faces.

Is this display and competition the real spirit of this festival? Let us remind ourselves about the true spirit of Eidul Azha. This great Muslim Festival, which is second only to Eidul Fitr, teaches us great lessons every year. It is not about boasting how much we can spend or showing off how rich we are. On the contrary, it teaches the lessons of obedience, sacrifice, compassions and how we should share our blessings with those who are not as privileged as we are!

Apart from the religious aspects of the lessons we learn and relearn every year (total submission to the Will of the Almighty), Eidul Azha revives in us social and moral values. The lesson we learn from this festival of sacrifice is universal and applicable to all mankind. It reminds us of our blessings and kindles feelings of compassion in our heart for the poor around us.

Last year, just to check if the meat seller in my locality was charging me the correct rates of beef and mutton, I asked my maid at what rate she was buying these commodities. She looked at me with a rueful smile, “How do I know baji? It is difficult to manage daal roti (lentil and bread) for my big family, I can’t afford to buy meat. We have beef and mutton only at Baqr eid when people like you give us some, or sometimes when a baji like you gives away her leftovers.”

My maid’s reply taught me a disturbing lesson. We have more than one dish at our table each day and one of them is sure to be of meat, whether it is mutton, chicken or beef. But if I look around with a compassionate heart, I feel that I have more of everything than what I really need. And I always took this blessing for granted.

Dear friends, this year when your parents are distributing the meat from the sacrificed animals, urge them to give away bigger packets to the needy. Instead of stuffing our fridges and freezers with the meat, let us think about those who have not been able to afford sacrificing an animal and will so happily and thankfully like to receive some meat from others. These people cannot afford to buy meat otherwise the rest of the year too. Let them have a hearty feast with their families and enjoy the meat for a few days. If possible, make some extra place in your freezers so that you can store small packets for your household helpers, which they can take away after a few days.

Festivals are happy occasions meant to bring people together. They revive in us the spirit of sharing and on Eidul Azha we are taught to do this by sharing the meat from the sacrificial animals so that there is a feast in every home, regardless of status. And you can share your extra clothes, books, toys and other items of daily use which are more than your requirements. Spread happiness among the less fortunate by sharing your blessings with them because, in the end, the spirit of sacrifice, compassion and love for humanity counts, not the size, health or price of the goat, sheep or cow we sacrifice on Eidul Azha!

Two of the main lessons we learn from this occasion are obedience and sacrifice.

Obedience: Most of my young friends know that the sacrifice of animals Muslims make from the 10th to 12th of ZilHaj every year is to commemorate the great sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim A.S. He dreamt that he was sacrificing his only son Ismail as Allah had ordained him to do so.

Both father and son had no second thoughts in complying with this Divine Order, but Allah in His infinite Mercy, replaced the little boy with a ram. The lesson we learn from this great sacrifice is universal and applicable to all mankind. We should obey the Almighty without arguing or complaining. Our parents and our teachers are our greatest well-wishers in this world. Often young minds cannot contemplate what they ask or expect from us, but obeying without complaining always brings good results for us.

Sacrifice: Children are the most valuable assets of every parent, who leave no stone unturned to keep them away from all harm. Prophet Ibrahim’s A.S readiness to sacrifice his son on Allah’s command teaches us an important lesson. When we observe Eidul Azha and sacrifice animals, we part with a good amount of our money, but we make this sacrifice to help the people who are not as privileged as we are.