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

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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.

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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?

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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.

I HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS!

I hvA close friend’s mother, who was bedridden for the last two or three years due to a stroke, (and was suffering from multiple health problems) was rushed to the hospital after she had a silent heart attack. When I and a mutual friend went to the hospital to enquire about her welfare, a peep into the ICU was suggestive enough for her fate. Tubes seemed to protrude from different parts of Auntie’s frail body and an oxygen mask nearly covered her pale face. A very active woman in her prime years, she was a fighter by nature, but it was too clear that she was losing her battle for life. To my surprise, I found my friend confident and calm, “Ammi’s doctor says that she will be shifted to a private room in a day or two and go home once she starts taking and retaining oral meals”. Either she didn’t want to share her fears with us or was in a state of denial as the writing was clearly on the wall!

          When I called a couple of days later, for the first time I sensed a note of panic in my friend’s voice, “I am feeling scared!” she said in a worried tone. “The doctor just says let’s wait and see in answer to my queries. Ammi has not been shifted from the ICU yet and seems to be slipping into a coma”. As she kept on sharing her fears and concern for her mother with me, unconsciously my mind slipped into the past and I remembered with pain similar times when the tide of my father’s life was ebbing! I was nearly tempted to say, “I know what you must be feeling! I have been through this situation”, but somehow I bit my tongue before the words slipped out and instead tried my best to console my friend.

          After hanging up I sat in deep thought trying to admonish myself, “This is the moment my friend needs me to share her concern and fears with, and not mine to go back down memories’ lane and tell her about my painful experience. Her grief is the present, what I have experienced is the past. Such remarks had pained and irritated me in my moments of grief and I shouldn’t make this blunder today when a dear friend is going through a similar situation”.

          Auntie passed away peacefully the next day and when my friend’s son called to inform, though I felt sad for her, a sense of relief also engulfed my heart. Thanks goodness that I had held back my words just in time. By lending a sympathetic ear, I had done the best a friend can do in a hopeless situation!

          Often when someone close to us wants to share his woes with us, expecting sympathy or a word of advice, we make the blunder of cutting him short and declaring, “I can understand what you are going through because I have been through this!” or worse still “Someone I know or a friend knows has had a similar experience”. We forget that the person in distress is in dire need of a listening ear, and badly wants to pour out his problems with someone he thinks will be helpful and kind. Or better still, in a totally no-win situation, offer a shoulder to cry on. Hardly can we imagine the feelings of the distressed person, who is cut short with a confident, “I know what you must be feeling. I have been through this!”

More than a decade has passed but the painful memories of the last days of my father’s life is still fresh in my mind. A patient of acute Ulcerative Colitis, he was not keeping good health for the past many years. And finally, he was rushed to the hospital after extensive rectal bleeding. Although Daddy’s doctor tried blood transfusions and the required medications, nothing seemed to work for him and within a week, he slipped into a near comatose state. The doctor was sympathetic but practical, “Take your father home and make him as comfortable as possible, because medically nothing more can be done for him.”

 I can never forget the sense of deep agony and total helplessness of those days. With hearts heavy as lead, I and my siblings watched the tide of life ebbing from our father, day by day, hour by hour!

Relatives, friends and acquaintances came pouring in to enquire about Daddy’s welfare. But it became very frustrating and annoying because most of them had a story to tell. “So and so had similar symptoms in his/her last days!” “I can feel your pain as I have experienced this traumatic situation. My father/mother/spouse/ child/friend died in such and such manner.”

With a heart nearly bursting with pain, I often felt like blurting out rudely, “No! You can NOT understand what I am going through! This dying man is my beloved Daddy, the iron-man of my life who loved me dearly but ruled over me like a tyrant, who made endless efforts, either by bullying or coaxing, to bring out the best in me. How can you understand my agony? This grief is mine and totally different from what you (or someone you know) have experienced in the past! And at the moment, my pain is too deep for me to care about how so and so died! ”

But every time I felt like saying something as blunt, an inner voice told me to keep quiet. These are all well-wishers, only their mode of sympathy may not suit my state of mind! I tried to convince myself again and again.

The pains of those insensitive remarks linger to the day. The painful experience of Daddy’s last days has taught me an important lesson. There is a time to listen and a time to speak. Only by lending a compassionate ear and a shoulder to cry on, we can help a dear one to cope with his pain. I cannot and do not undermine the importance of kind and consoling words, but only when they are uttered at the correct moment! Often while sharing their woes, our friends just need a hand to hold, a sympathetic ear to listen and a caring heart to understand.

A TIME FOR REFLECTION (My Article on Ramadan in Young World, Dawn 20th June)

TIME TO IMPROVE OURSELVES!

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      Friends we have been blessed again with a very important month of the Islamic year. Ramadan is the month when Allah gives us a new chance to become not only better Muslims, but also better human beings. This is a month which inculcates in us the good qualities of obedience, compassion, discipline and piety.

        We all are aware about the physical requirements of fasting. In the wee hour of the night, although sleepy, we get up for the Sehr meal.  But as soon as we hear the Muazzin call for the Fajr prayers, we immediately stop eating and drinking, even if at times we have to leave our meal unfinished. In the evening, we wait patiently for the Maghrib Azaan (although the Iftaar table is full of our favourite dishes) and start eating only when it is time to break the fast.

          We do all this is to comply with the requirements of a fast, because we all know that we have to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. In this way, fasting teaches us the importance of discipline and punctuality in life.

          But friends, have you ever pondered on the spiritual requirements of Ramadan and what is the true message of a fast? If we ponder upon the good qualities we can learn in this month and try to adopt them, we will avail of the full advantage of fasting. This will not only help us to lead and a better and content life, but also make the people around us happier.

Be Compassionate:

         Compassion is one of the most important lessons of Ramzan. Only when we go without food and drink for long hours, we can imagine the sufferings of the poor who often have to sleep on an empty stomach. Our abstinence is a choice, but they have no other option as their meager income is not enough for three square meals every day. When you sit in the coolness of your fans, try to imagine the hardships of laborers, fruit/ vegetable vendors and other daily wage earners. In spite of the scorching heat, even though they are fasting, they have to work hard just to make the ends meet.

Share your blessings:

       We are seldom aware of our blessings unless we witness a lack of them. During Ramadan, when we ponder on the lives of the people less blessed than us, we will learn to share our blessings. Your extra things can be very valuable for a poor child. Rummage your wardrobes for the clothes you seldom wear, the books and magazines you have already read, the extra toys you can do without! Donate all these plus a part of your pocket money in charity. The sense of serenity you will get from this act is too great for words.

Let go of all negative feelings and traits:

         Holding grudges or nurturing hard feelings only draws us towards negativity. This Ramadan, lets resolve to purge our souls of all ill feelings. If you have had a quarrel with a friend or sibling, try to sort out differences by giving a second thought to their point of view. Maybe you both perceive an issue from different angles. Discuss with them with an open heart whatever is troubling you. You can agree to disagree but still remain on good terms.

          Often children are envious or straight away jealous of their peers who are more intelligent in their class or more popular among their teachers and elders. Instead of harboring these negative feelings, try to find out the reasons behind their success. May be they are better in studies because they are more responsible students and do not waste their time in unnecessary activities. Some of them may be more popular because of their cheerful or helpful nature. Let go of negative thoughts and ponder on your own shortcomings.

        Resolve that you will never back-bite, lie or cheat. You will find yourself a much improved person by the end of the month.

Be kind to the young and polite to the elders:

         Humility, kindness and politeness are the important teachings of Islam. Remind yourself in this month how far we all have moved away from these valuable teachings. You must realize that your younger siblings and other children in your circle need your care and attention. Treating them with love will go a far way in inculcating positive traits in their personalities. It will also strengthen your bond with them.

            Resolve that you will always talk politely with elders. Being considerate and helpful towards them will not only make them happy, it will also give you a sense of satisfaction. Those of you who live in extended families should try to pay extra attention towards your aged grandparents and help them when they need your assistance. Running an errand for them, helping them use their cell phone or reading out a book or newspaper to them may take a few minutes of your time, but it will definitely make them happy.

Learn to control your temper

        A fast should be considered an exercise in self-restraint and patience! We all tend to fly into a rage more easily when we are fasting, as the hunger and thirst make us irritable. A very important lesson of a fast is to learn to be in charge of your feelings. Even if you are angry at something or someone, remind yourself that you are fasting. This may seem difficult in the beginning, but as the month will draw to its close, you will have improved your temperament to a great extent.

Do random deeds of kindness:

      Vow to be helpful during Ramadan to lighten the work load of people around you. It may be helping out the maid in her daily chores, making your bed and clearing up the clutter in your room, laying and clearing the Iftaar and Sehr table to make Mummy’s work easier or babysitting your infant sibling so that your fasting mother can have a short nap in the afternoon, offering a helping hand will make you a better and more compassionate person.

        Offering a plate of Iftaar goodies, dates or even cold water to the guard in your lane, people gathering in the mosque for food or even a stranger passing by your home are deeds of kindness which will give you immense satisfaction.

Be moderate in spending:

     The most enjoyable part of Ramadan for most children is shopping for Eid ul Fitr, the Muslim festival at the end of the fating month. You definitely deserve new clothes, shoes and toys after you have fasted for the whole month. But please do not get carried away in your expenditures. Spending in moderation will help you develop a lifelong habit which will also facilitate you when you start your practical life.  

Be regular in Namaaz and Ponder on the Quran during Ramadan:

        This is a month when we all feel naturally inclined towards prayers, good deeds and meditation. Offer your Namaaz on time and invite your siblings to do so. Often people get into a regular habit of praying five times daily during Ramadan. Set out time each day for reciting the Quran with translation and ponder on the verses you have read. You can also discuss what you have read with your parents/grandparents so that they can explain the meanings in a better way. In this way you will have an improved knowledge of the message of the Quran.

     We often witness Cleanliness Drives in schools, offices, hospitals and on a larger scale in cities. This month why not resolve to purge our souls of all impurities? We must realize that cleaning our souls is as important as physical cleanliness. We just have to ponder on our lives, our attitudes and our concepts and resolve to improve ourselves in all walks of life! This Ramzan lets resolve to make our World a better place to live in!

My mother is around no more!

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One of the most precious memories from my early childhood is something which often brings a mist to my eyes and a sad smile on my face! But in those days my feelings were totally different; I felt a bit astonished and looked up at my father with a wee bit of amusement! Whenever he was sad, distressed, ill or stuck in any such difficult situation, he would declare with tears in his eyes, “With whom should I share my woes? Alas, my mother is around no more!”

          And I distinctly remember that my instant response to this statement was surprise! What need has a grown-up man like Daddy for a mother? I wondered silently! Moms are for kids like me, to look after us, tend to our needs, comfort us when we are sick, console us when we are frightened! Though I must admit I wasn’t old enough to think about all this as clearly as I am writing today, but thoughts like these fluttered across my little head as I disdainfully ignored Daddy’s misery and turned back to whatever I was doing!

          In all fairness to him, I must mention here that my father was not a weak man! With a strong will power, (and temper too) and a cheerful personality, he was a highly intelligent and wise man. Perhaps the master-mind of a huge family, his advice was sought and followed by even those older than him. And he also had a very strong relationship with my mother. They had a bond of deep love and understanding and always shared/ discussed their problems with each other.

          But tears always came easily to Daddy, something not considered proper for men in our part of the world. I realized later on in life, those tears were a sign of a sensitive heart rather than a weak personality!

          Sadly, it took me nearly a life time (or a good part of it) to understand why my Father always yearned for my Grandmother in his moments of distress! 

          After I was married, I had to move away from my family and settle in a new city, with an entirely new family. I was young and inexperienced and life did not turn out to be the fairy tale I had dreamt it to be! Problems which are usually a part of the early stage of a married life confused me.  Not knowing what to do in which situation and no one to turn to in an alien city, there used to be times when I simply wanted to run into the comforting and safe haven of Ammi’s arms. I yearned for her advice, her love and for the sense of security which we all feel when our mothers are around!

          It was in those days that I began to understand my father’s feelings and realize what he meant when he missed his mother in hard moments. No matter how old we get, we always want our mothers to be at our sides. Both in difficult times and in happy moments, I felt that life is not complete Ammi’s presence and loving support. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of my father’s deep love for his mother. My grandmother had died young, in fact before my parents got married, but even decades after her death, Daddy never ceased missing her.

          As life moved on, I settled down in the new environment and got busy with my children and family life. Meetings with my parents were often possible after years. I still missed Ammi, but finally I got used to not having her around whenever I needed her. Whenever stuck in adversities, I tried my best to hide my yearning for her presence.

          Unfortunately, married life was not smooth sailing for me. After fighting tooth and nail to overcome the problems which multiplied over the decades, I finally realized that the writing was on the wall. In those painful days, I found myself too tired to struggle anymore. And then the inevitable happened and my marriage ended in a divorce!

          I fail to describe the anguish and the deep sense of insecurity of those days. Nightmares! Fears lurking in the dark! Dazed with pain but too proud to show my grief, I shed silent tears when no one was around. I silently mourned the death of love and the security which I had once thought was an inevitable part of married life! Thinking that times couldn’t be any worse for me, I had the solace that soon Ammi will come over and I shall find peace after crying my heart out in her arms.

          Little did I know that the worst was still to come! Although the back count for Ammi’s arrival had begun, but she (or fate) had other plans! Going to bed one night, she passed away peacefully in her sleep!

          The tragic news of her sudden demise hit me like a bomb shell! As if hit under the belt, I felt stunned with pain, the tears just refusing to come! Totally shattered, I just sat in a state of disbelieve, staring blankly at people pouring in for condolences. “How could she do this to me?” I asked myself in anguish and somewhat anger. “Didn’t she know how badly I needed her?”

          And then, for the first time in my life, I fully realized what Daddy meant, and also my foolishness in not understanding his feelings! Mothers are needed for a life time! They do not only care for their kids when they are young, the solace of their presence is needed at all ages. They do not only bandage bruised knees, they soothe bruised souls too! Their arms not only shelter their young ones against the fear of darkness, they allay the fear of the unknown in grown up children too!

          And in those moments of excruciating pain, as I sat in a stony silence, I heard a voice muffled in tears declaring, “With whom should I share my woes? My mother is around no more!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Blogger

          At last I have resigned to the fact that I will never make a good blogger! Nearly three years into blogging and the number of blogs much less than what I should have posted, I have realized this sad fact (sad for me, at least!). When it all started, I was thrilled at the prospect of writing according to my whims. My mind seemed to be bursting with ideas.

              Hopefully contemplating that I would blog at least once in a week or more if possible, I started working on my blog site with a very optimistic note. But after the initial few months passed, reality began to set in! Blogging was not made for slow writers like me! It is for people who react instantly on an event, a thought, a piece of news or even on a random comment made by someone they have met. The flood of thoughts, the inspiring moments should be captured instantly!

          After accepting and resigning to this reality, I decided to try and summarize the reasons why I consider myself a failure at blogging and also share my views with my scant readers!

          I am a lazy writer! Although ideas come in a flash, I fail to be as quick to proceed to my computer or at least scribble a few lines in my sketch diary. Incidents, events, a conversation and sometimes even a fleeting thought or memory, opens the floodway to my imagination and motivate me to write, but sadly more often than not, I fail to grasp those precious (and productive) moments. I usually plan to write later, when I will have more time, or when I will further recollect and organize these thoughts or collect the required info about a particular topic, but most of the times the urge to write slows down. The topic doesn’t seem to be as interesting or worthwhile writing about after the heat of the moment has passed. And this sluggish attitude of mine usually nips the inspiring moment in the bud!

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          A good blogger should be more committed to his/ her writings; just leaving aside anything he/she is doing and give in to the urge to write whenever that great moment strikes. It may mean jumping out of bed in the wee hours of the night or abandoning a pre planned activity. And I am sure, those who blog regularly, even daily, will understand what I mean because they must have done this umpteen times, as they keep their writings on the top of their priority list.

          My musings may lead my readers to the opinion that I am a lazy person. But believe me, this is not so! Though age and every passing year takes its toll on my health, I am physically quite active for my sixty plus years. My slow approach to my writings is also because basically I am a family person! Being a full time home maker since the years I was brimming with youth, by nature I am more a mother and a grandmother than a writer!

         Living in a joint family with three married sons, activities with my family take up most of my time. And my grandchildren are the greatest blessing I could have asked for in my life. Alhumdulillah for that! With the eldest being an A level student and the youngest recently crossed his first birthday; they are truly a source of sheer joy for me.

          Caring for the little ones and babysitting them when their mothers are busy in the more hectic house work are the activities which lap up a considerable amount of my time. But these activities are more satisfying for me than writing. And the weekly visits of my only daughter and her four children are something I look forward to every week and thoroughly enjoy.

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        A wail of a toddler who has hurt himself after a fall, or just crying for attention, the bedtime stories the school going kids want me to tell them before they sleep or a demand from a little one for a favorite snack (which he/she doesn’t dare to ask Mom) easily pulls me away from the computer even if I am in a mood to write! Often time spent with my grandchildren is more precious for me than writing something new. So, I am content to be a part time writer as for me (like most women in our part of the world) family always comes first!

         Another reason why I am not getting to blog regularly is my addiction to the internet. Although the initial love affair with Face Book has fizzled out with time and I am not very active and regular at Twitters, talking with my sisters who live abroad on Viber or Skype, or exchanging messages with friends and family on Whatsapp keeps me pre occupied for a good part of the day (which I could have utilized for my writings). 

     I may not make a good blogger, still I have no intention of giving up on my writings (I mean totally). Writing has become an integral part of my life, a source of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment for me! Even if I do not post something regularly, the urge to write persists.  Hopefully my confession will ease the nagging frustration I feel at times. Because instead of beating about the bush and doling out lame excuses, the least favor I can do to myself and to the modest number of my readers and followers is to be honest and truthful in admitting my shortcomings!