The Cousin Connection

(https://www.dawn.com/news/1321263)

Cousins are to life what colours are to a black and white sketch on a canvas. Just like lively colours make a painting a joy to the eyes, cousins add enjoyment and pleasure to our lives.

They are always an integral part of our extended family. Whether we connect with them day to day, or we meet them after a number of years and whether we live in the same city or continents apart, we share with them a bond which defies age, distance and time.

The best thing about cousins is that you never disconnect with them. Discussions come naturally even if you have met after weeks, months or even years. You pick up a conversation as if you had only talked a little while ago. You talk spontaneously about common interests, your recent activities or important news about the family without any awkward moments.

A relationship with no match

Sometimes cousins are like siblings, sometimes like friends and most of the times, they are someone in between these two. And yes, they can be strong competitors and in extreme cases foes too! But most important of all, they share common ancestry and history. Whatever the status of our bond with them may be, they are an inevitable part of our lives, adding all the flavours of spice to it and making it more enjoyable.


Celebrating the unique bond shared by cousins


Cousins may be not as important a part of our lives as siblings are, but the knowledge that we can connect with them as much as and whenever we want to, brings them closer to us. We can freely discuss our problems with them (without the fear of being reported to an elder) as they will always lend a sympathetic ear and are ready with some good advice.

With a sibling you do not have a choice. Accept them as they are your only option. We live day in and day out with them, sharing strong ties of love, care and sacrifice. But at times it can be a bumpy relationship where you are fast friends one moment and fierce foes the very next. Although instinctively we are always ready to help and defend siblings against all odds, we also fight and argue on petty issues.

With cousins the scenario is totally different. Your likes, interests and preferences match with some of them and you may not look eye to eye with others. This strongly defines how close you are to them or the bond of friendship you share with them. This factor also strongly affects the amount of time or activities you share with them.


Cherish your cousins, they will be one of the sincerest friends you can ever have and the bond with them wouldn’t get weak with time and distance


You can always be yourself and feel comfortable when cousins are around, because you never feel the need to impress them with your looks, dressings or thoughts.

The relationship with cousins keeps changing with time and age, and can be strange in many ways. We grow up together playing weird games, getting in and out of trouble due to our silly mistakes and antics, sharing and fiercely guarding secrets, and loving each other with all our good and bad traits.

But we have differences as well! We can be arch rivals as we strive to compete with them in all walks of life, ranging from getting more importance from elders to performing better at studies or to be more popular among our peers.

Cousins of all ages

The age factor also strongly affects the kind of relationship you have with a cousin. You turn to the older ones for help when you are stuck in a problem, pamper and cuddle the younger ones and build a lifetime bond of friendship with those who match your age group.

Joys of sharing and caring

Cousins are witnesses to our achievements and failures. Always quick to encourage and reassure, they will celebrate with you in happy moments and lend a shoulder to cry on in sad ones. With them you share common family tragedies and take pride in the accomplishments of members.

No family gathering is complete without cousins. Whenever you are invited by an uncle or aunt, you instantly ask if so and so (one of your favourite cousins) is coming. It may be playing in-door or outdoor games, laughing till your stomach aches at something amusing you witnessed or just doing small talk, cousins always make attending a family gathering worth your time.

At weddings or larger gatherings, you find it very natural to sit in a group, sharing a common table, where you can crack jokes, share interesting experiences from your common past, pass remarks on other guests or just share what you have been doing recently.

When we are growing up, we take cousins for granted. Playing pranks at each other, sharing family jokes and laughing at them till tears roll out of our eyes, planning and enjoying get-togethers and overnight stays at our grandparents, enjoying grandma’s cooking and grandpa’s stories of his youth, we spend quality time together which at that stage of life seems to be endless.

And time flies by …

Like all good things, this memorable phase of life flies by with the passage of time. As years slip by and we enter adulthood, the childhood memories of the time we spent with cousins are often the most cherished ones in our treasure box of memories.

I belong to a large family and often share with my grandchildren interesting episodes from my childhood days. We were a big (and mischievous) lot and fell into different groups according to our ages. And each group looked up to the senior ones with respect and awe, as we considered them more experienced, learned and wiser than us. Whenever I had a quarrel with a cousin, I remember turning to our eldest cousin for arbitration, and her word was the final one as there was no question of an argument!

Family jokes, incidents which I would not like to share with everyone, the time I spent with cousins at our grandparents’ place, or the vacations which we enjoyed together, are all important pearls in my chest of memories. At the twilight of life, I often look back on those moments and cherish them fondly.

Marion C. Garretty so beautifully summed up the relationship between cousins, “A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost”.

So cherish your cousins, they will be one of the sincerest friends you can ever have and the bond with them wouldn’t get weak with time and distance.

What are you waiting for? Call them and text them the moment you put this magazine down, go and meet them this weekend and make memories that will light up your life when you all are living separate and busy lives.

Published in Dawn, Young World March 18th, 2017

THE MULTI TASKING WIZARD!

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 7th, 2015

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

It’s 6 a.m. and mum sleepily reaches for the alarm to snooze it for a couple of minutes. But the baby is quicker than her and gives out a loud wail.

“He must be hungry,” she thinks, still half asleep, as she heads for the kitchen to fill the milk bottle. On returning she thinks about snatching a few more minutes of sleep but realizes it’s almost time to make the breakfast and pack the lunch of the school-going kids. To get rid of the grogginess, she splashes some cold water on her face.

Running between the children’s bedroom and the kitchen, she manages to shove them towards the entrance door as the school van toots its horn.

“There are still two hours before the maid arrives,” she tells herself with satisfaction as she heads towards her bed to catch up on her sleep. But the baby is crying again as he doesn’t want to sleep anymore. His diaper needs to be changed too!

With a sigh, mum lifts him from his cot and shelves her plan of lying down again.

At 10 a.m., the milk on the stove is just about to start boiling. The phone and the door bell ring at the same time. The baby is wailing for no particular reason (maybe just for attention). She lowers the flame of the stove to the minimum, attends to the door bell, letting the maid in and scooping the baby in her arms, she picks up the phone. It’s her mum (or a neighbour, friend

or sibling) on the line and she quickly finishes a little chat and hangs up as so much still needs to be done.

Come afternoon and there is more to deal with. The older ones are back from school. The eldest is in a bad mood because she has not got good marks in algebra.

“I told you mum that I have a test, but you went away to the party at Salma aunty’s place,” she complains.

Mum sighs … and with a quiet smile declares, “It was important as she was celebrating the recovery of your uncle after a major surgery.


But the teenager doesn’t appear convinced. The school-going son has his own story to tell. He is brimming with excitement as he has been selected for the school cricket team. He wants mum to listen as well as watch, when he shows her his actions in the trials, ball by ball, and feels annoyed when she nods absent-mindedly while putting the lunch on the dining table for the hungry kids.

Evenings are as hectic as ever. The teenager wants to be driven to her friend’s place for combined studies. The second school-going child needs help for his science test. The baby is wailing again, maybe just for attention this time.

Dinner has to be prepared, the table has to be set and the uniforms need to be pressed. And for mothers who drive, there is sure to be something needed urgently which they have to get from the nearby store!

She also has to attend to daddy when he comes from office, he needs some refreshment and also time to talk about his day. There may be discussions regarding family matters, an upcoming event or the children’s progress in school.

Dinner is served quickly as the kids are sleepy and need to go to bed so that they wake up fresh in the morning. After tucking them in bed, mum wearily puts off the lights and heads towards the kitchen to clear up after dinner.

Working mothers have a tighter schedule as they have to divide their time between their home, children and job. Even when they are at their job, they are thinking about their children and home, and how they will manage to cater to their requirements once back from work.

If a baby is left at a day-care centre or with an elderly grandparent, she worries for the welfare and calls many times to make sure everything is fine.

Even, at times, if mum pinches out a short time to relax during the day, goes out to visit her parents, a friend or goes for shopping, her mind is occupied in thinking about her children and still scheduling her chores when she gets home.

Friends, these are only some of the physical activities of your mother. Mentally and emotionally, she is as active! She worries for you, plans for you and is always concerned about your welfare. If you hurt yourself, while bandaging bruised knees or elbows, she may be scolding you for your carelessness, but if you watch carefully, you will find a mist in her eyes as she feels your pain. She stays up at nights when you are ill and all her activities are planned taking your needs into account first. And nothing can match her silent tears and prayers when you are in any sort of trouble.

Children have you ever thought of how you can repay for all that your mother has done for you? Most kids think that by celebrating Mothers’ Day, serving her breakfast in bed, or giving her a surprise gift or her favourite flowers is enough to repay for all her efforts. But this is a very misguided notion. We celebrate Mothers’ Day to pay due homage to our mothers, but nothing we can do or say can be enough for her selfless services.

I do not suggest that you should not celebrate Mothers’ Day, because your mum will surely feel pampered and happy if you shower her with your love on that day celebrated annually. My point is, nothing you can do can be enough to repay your mother’s love, selfless devotion and the way she toils for you without complaint seven days a week, 12 months a year, and, of course, throughout her life. She never asks for or even expects a leave and enjoys her taxing job with all her heart and soul. A mother is a multitasking wizard, who performs day after day with no complaints of weariness or boredom.

You should make sure to always reciprocate your mother’s unconditional love, try to meet her expectations and help her out in every way you can. Always cherish her, make her comfortable and do your best to make her proud of you. Only in this way you can, to some extent, repay your mother for all her efforts!

From Six to Sixty-Five!

SunriseI have only recently turned 65, and in reflective moments, feel a bit amused when I remember the times reaching sixties, or for that matter, even 40s or 50s seemed a far cry for me! I distinctly remember the day when a distant uncle tried to apply his newly learnt palmistry on reading what the lines on my little palms were predicting! Cupping my palm in his hands, he peered down at it intently for quite some time; then shaking his head sadly declared in a solemn voice, “Yasmin, your age line shows that you do not have a long life. I fear you may not be even able to cross thirty.” “How insensitive of him!” I often think now, but at age six, dying at thirty years seemed too far off to worry (or depress) me and I just wanted him to leave my hand so that I could go back to play with my elder twin sisters.

But my uncle’s prediction lingered in my subconscious until I had crossed forty and learnt to scoff at it. At every illness big or small, I would tell myself, “This is it. My end has come!”  But by the grace of The Almighty, at 65 I am still around and also not in a too bad shape. Life is still worth living and there is yet a lot to look forward to. To be honest, I do not feel old inspite of my years. Even now I am thrilled when it rains suddenly, enjoy the morning breeze, love the fragrance of flowers and still feel enchanted by the bright light of the full moon. Surprise gifts and a compliment on my writings (and yes, looks also) still bring a rush of adrelin! I love to go out and visits from friends and relatives and above all my daughter and grandchildren are always exciting.

As I look back on my life, I have a lot to reminiscence about. Having a secure childhood with very caring parents and loving siblings, the early years of my life form a valuable part of my chest of memories! Married at a rather young age, my prime years were the hectic ones when I was busy raising up my children. I am thankful that I had a life long enough to sit back and reflect on the past years, congratulate myself on the areas I feel I have been successful and admonish myself on where I have made mistakes, or could have done better. Life is always full of Ifs and Buts! But I am lucky that I have no regrets or resentments. Living in a joint family system with my married sons is a great blessing for me. With all my children happily settled in their lives and having families of their own, the focus of my attention has shifted from them to my grand children. I hope I live to see them achieving their goals and fulfilling their parents’ dreams!

I have had my share of adversities but with the passage of time and the wisdom only years can bring, I have realized that they come with the package of the roller coaster ride we all call Life! In the bumpy road of the years I have lived, I have learnt a lot of lessons, some sweet, some bitter! But I have refused to be disillusioned by these lessons. I have also had my share of successes and failures!  Successes have encouraged me to strive for even better results, while failures have taught me to struggle with more vigour. The perfectionist in me is never satisfied and I am always my own best critic!

At age 65, I have more to look back at, than to look forward to! Life is drawing to its natural end! But there is a wish list which keeps getting longer by the day! I want to note down these wishes and checkout on how many of these are shared by my readers!

I wish that I am never a burden for my children, physically or financially. Not hampered by diseases old age brings, I wish to remain active and self sufficient till the end comes.

I wish that my children pass on to my grandchildren the religious, social and cultural values I have tried to instill in them. I have always taught them “To live and Let Live.” I wish that my children and grandchildren cherish the legacy of love I have strived hard to pass on to them!  I wish (and pray) that they remain a closely knit family and always be out there for each other, in good times and God Forbid bad!

With my eldest granddaughter beginning her medical university this year, and the younger ones still to begin school, I wish that my grandchildren attain success both in their academic and personal lives. I have high dream for them and I wish to live long enough to see at least some of them fulfilled. 

 I wish that, when the time comes to go, I accept death serenely and am at peace with myself. I wish I die a content woman who does not want to cling on to life unnecessarily.  I just want to move on to another world, which I pray and fervently hope, would be better than this one!

I wish to die peacefully at home, in my bed and with my children around me. No heroics for me, no rushing to the hospital and unnecessary (and painful) medical procedures. I wish my children let go with acceptance that there is an end to every being in this world. I wish that they accept my loss with grace and with no prolonged mourning after I have left. By God’s mercy, I have lived a full life and always struggled to keep my children happy. In death also, I wish that they are not saddened!

I wish to be remembered with love, tenderness and respect! I wish that my memories bring a smile to the faces but also a faint mist to the eyes of my family members and friends! I wish that even when I am around no more, I continue to live in the hearts of those I love so dearly!

My mother is around no more!

             blog


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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRIME TIME…an old article published in Young World

Aside

PRIME TIME!

         Mummy has been busy all the evening preparing a special dish for dinner. She has recently attended a friend’s party and got this recipe of a mouth-watering Italian dish from her hostess. Although she is feeling tired, she is looking forward to an excited response from her family, who she expects will praise her culinary art after enjoying the delicious dish.

          Dinner is laid out and everyone is called to the table. But what happens is disappointing for the mother who has toiled a good part of the evening preparing it! Daddy is busy on the computer and requests for his plate to be brought to him saying, “I have to reply urgently to an important e-mail and can not leave the computer. You never know when we will have a power breakdown”. The eldest son comes out of his room, and hurriedly piles the pasta and the gravy on his plate, pours the sauces and heads back to his room. Mummy protests, “Where are you going”? He replies, “Mummy I have to give a presentation in University tomorrow, and my friend has come to help me, so I will have dinner in my room”. The daughter is watching her favourite soap on the TV. “Mummy can I take my plate to the TV lounge”, she announces more than she seeks permission, and off she goes too from the dining table with her share of the meal. After the long and tiring preparation of the special dish, a frustrated Mummy is left on the table with her youngest one. She eyes him musing thoughtfully, “Maybe in a couple of years he too would find activities more interesting than the family get together at dinner”.

This is a normal scenario in nearly every household. Dinner time was once considered the most important time of the day, when the family got together each night. It was the time to rebond, relax, communicate and build a stronger and healthier relationship with each other, and the members actually looked forward to it, considering it the ‘prime time’ of the day. Jokes were cracked, memories were shared and favourite family anecdotes told and retold. Many times small problems were discussed and solved. Children learnt table manners from their elders. They also learnt to share responsibilities, as they helped out Mummy in laying the table and clearing it up. The elder ones took turns at washing or drying dishes. It was the time to care and share. But gradually all of us have become too busy in our personal activities to enjoy this family get together any more. We consider it a waste of time because we usually take a longer time at the table when we are having dinner together and we can hardly afford this extra time more than once or twice during the whole week.

The trend of running back to whatever we were doing before dinner was laid out, with our plates loaded with food, is a very unhealthy trend for family life. During the days we all have to follow our own routines. Daddy is busy with his job (or business) and the children have to attend their educational institutions, and most of them come home at different times. Mummy is busy in her daily household chores, and if she is a working mother, she has to manage her job as well. Having lunch at the same time is not possible. Every one of us takes his/her meal according to his/her own convenience.

Dinner is the time to be together, when, at the end of the day, all of us should suspend our personal activities and carve out an hour which is only meant for the family. While sharing a meal we are usually talking to each other, thus relaxing and building a better communication. The main advantage of having dinner together is that we all remain in touch, have knowledge of each other’s activities and problems, seek support and give out friendly advice to our family members. It gives us a chance to share our views on current issues and receive encouragement on our achievements. Dinner time is also the best time for making plans for up coming family events or for the weekends. It is also the time to share the events of the day, news and ideas and best of all, just to be together and enjoy each other’s company.  So, whether Mummy cooks something special for dinner, or it is just the good old Aloo Gosht for the main course, be sure to make dinner time the ‘Prime Time’ of the day.

 

 

 

 

Bonding Times!

The cherished months have finally arrived. It’s summer holiday again! It’s time to laze around and relax from the strict regime of school life, home-work, tests and, for some friends, the additional burden of tuitions too! But it is often seen that after the initial week or two, the excitement and charm of the vacation seems to wear off and we start complaining of boredom.

What should we do? This is the question which you all start asking your mothers and it makes them want to groan out aloud as they wonder how to keep their kids busy, happy and mostly out of their way!

Some lucky ones amongst you may go out of town (or country) to spend your vacation. There are also a lot of summer camps which offer a variety of activities, but in these times of insecurity and inflation, most parents do not find them affordable or convenient.

Friends, instead of getting on our parents’ nerves, we must find such means to keep ourselves busy that are not only fulfilling but also easy on our parents’ pockets!

This summer you can find a very fulfilling activity which will not only keep you busy, it will also provide a sense of immense emotional gratification. These are the months when we have lots of free time at our hands, and we can make this time precious by using it for bonding with relatives, old friends, books, nature and the environment around us!

Bonding with relatives

Often, in the busy school months we have hardly any time for our elderly relatives. Grandparents specially look forward to vacations as they know that you can visit them more often and also spend nights with them. The luxury of Grandma’s delicious pulao, her special cookies and the traditional kheer, which no one can make as perfect as her, are for yours to enjoy.

You can also help Grandpa with his gardening, in rearranging his bookshelf, or accompany him when he goes out for his daily walk or to the mosque. You can also help your grandparents to clean up their cupboards and room, a chore they do not have the energy to do without help. Maybe you will find something interesting like old photographs, grandma’s trinkets which she doesn’t use anymore or old coins and stamps Grandpa once collected as a hobby. They may allow you to keep these with you and they may one day turn to be a sort of souvenir from them.

There are also elderly family members, like your parents’ aunts and uncles or an ageing neighbor. A visit from you or a phone call can brighten up their day as deep down old people are usually lonely! You can indulge them by playing a game of ludo or chess, or reading out to them from their favorite book. The happy look you will see on their faces would make your free time worthwhile.

Bonding with old friends

Sometimes you lose track of close friends once they move out of your neighborhood or change school. In these leisure months it would be a wonderful idea to look them up and refresh your ties with them. You can email them to find out about their whereabouts or call common friends to trace them out. Meeting old friends is often a tonic for our mood and spirits, providing us with a deep sense of pleasure.

Bonding with your books

With the hectic routine of homework and class tests, most children usually like to spend their free hours relaxing in front of the television, texting or chatting with friends and browsing on the computer. Reading good books is no more a favorite pastime for most of you. But you must realize that books are your best companions and there is no better time to cultivate good reading habits than the long afternoons of your summer vacation.

To make your time more productive, look up some good classics, and be sure that every day you spend a couple of hours in reading. In this way you will learn a lot as reading not only broadens your insight, it also provides you knowledge beyond your textbooks — the most enjoyable pastime one can have!

Ask your parents or elder siblings to help you in the choice of books. You can visit old book shops or the Sunday markets where you can get good books at affordable prices. Create a chain by exchanging books with your friends. This way you will be able to read more while you spend less. Soon you will realize that reading is the most enjoyable pastime one can have.

Bonding with nature

Bird watching, going for walks and gardening are all means to bond with nature. Place small pots of water and baajra (millet) in your garden and you will be delighted to see the sparrows specking at the food and drink!

Bread pieces leftover from the breakfast table, a spoonful or two of cooked rice can also go into these pots and don’t be alarmed if crows also come in for the treat. After all they also help to clear up the environment and we can set out a morsel of food for them too.

Gardening is also a very fulfilling activity which will bring you closer to nature. You can set out small pots in your garden or balcony and nurture and water your personal plants. The tinge of delight at seeing your plant grow will make your time rewarding as well as give you a sense of fulfilment.

Bonding with the environment

This summer vacation set a goal for yourself to make your surroundings better. You can organize a cleanliness drive with the help of your neighborhood children. Clearing up your lane and going from door to door to ask people to help you by not throwing their trash on roads will create awareness and a better civic sense. You will also immense satisfaction of seeing your surroundings cleaner and more hygienic.

The list goes on and on. These are only some suggestions for your summer holidays, but I am sure that my little friends are intelligent enough to take their initiative from these activities and plan a number of positive ones themselves! Happy vacation!

 دنیا میں تیرے جیسا کوئی دوسرا نہیں ہے

Aside

My darling Grandaughter has finished school today with flying colors! She has made the family proud with Straight As Ma sha Allah… the best time to re blog the poem I wrote for her when she was a child!

Time flies!Its been nearly three years since I posted this blog with my poem.  My darling has made the family proud again! Alhumdulillah for the happy moments.

دنیا میں تیرے جیسا 
کوئی دوسرا نہیں ہے
مرے دل کو ہیں لبھاتی
ہر دم تری ادائیں
 
  ہنستی ہے جب بھی تو تو
  لگتا ہے مجھ کو ایسا
  جھونکے ہوا کے جیسے 
  کلیوں کو گدگائیں
 
  رونا بھی تیرا مجھ کو
  لگتا ہے اتنا پیارا
  شبنم کے قطرے جیسے 
  پھولوں کا منھ دھلائیں
 
ہے نیند میں بھی تیری
ایسی ادا نرالی
جنت کی حوریں جیسے 
لوری تجھے سنائیں
 
آنکھوں میں تیری گڑیا
ہے ایسی اک چمک سی
سورج کی کرنیں جیسے
پانی پہ جھلملائیں
 
ہو ماں کا سایہ سر پہ
پاپا رہیں سلامت
نانی تری خدا سے
ہر دم کرے دعائیں
 
پھولوں کے پالنے میں
گزرے یوں تیرا بچپن
پریوں کی رانی آ کر
جھولا تجھے جھلائیں
 
تو خوش رہے ہمیشہ
دکھ جھیلنے کو میں ہوں
لے لوں اے سعدیہ میں
ساری تری بلائیں
 

AN ANGEL ON EARTH (MY ARTICLE IN YOUNG WORLD)

 

Her touch soothes! Her voice consoles and her soothing murmurs drive away all fears. For her children, her loving arms are the safest place in the world! Research has proved that a child recognises the voice of his mother even before he is born. Her loving face is usually his first memory and deeply etched in his mind.  Mother day 2013 inside
She is the most selfless creatures on earth. On duty 24 hours of the day, seven days a week and round the year, and she actually enjoys her job! And for this tough job, the only pay she gets or expects is a sticky kiss from her toddler, a big hug from her school-going kid, or a grudging grunt of appreciation from her teenager! Or a rare “You look tired! I guess you need to rest,” from her husband. And strangely, most of the time she is happy and content with just this pay!
Without demanding or expecting a break, a mother cooks, cleans, looks after the requirements of the kids, often drops and picks them from school or tuitions. A caretaker, nurse and teacher, she keeps on switching roles until she feels like dropping dead at the end of the day. But the next day brings the same chores which she is ready to do again with the same amount of enthusiasm and zest. After snatching a few hours of sleep, she is ready to repeat her busy schedule.
And her life is tougher if she is a working mom. Racing against time, she has to juggle between her job, her home and her kids. And she has the additional worry and responsibility to make sure that her kids are in safe and reliable hands when she is away.
Spending time on herself is usually the last option for a mother. Whatever she wants or needs to do, her priority is always her children. She may be planning to visit a friend, go out for shopping or have an appointment with her beautician, but the minute her child comes up with his lesson diary, declaring he needs her help, or she find a child is not feeling too well, without a second thought she changes her mind. All the activities she was planning earlier suddenly become unimportant for her as she lovingly turns all her attention to the child’s requirement.
It may sound strange, but my experience has taught me that the feelings children have for their mothers change with every stage of childhood. They tend to find her absolutely adorable and fascinating when they are toddlers, nursery going kids may find her a bit strict and rebel from her rules occasionally. The pre-adolescent and teenagers are the trickiest stages of life of her kids that a mother has to tackle. Their moods swing and so do their feelings for their mum. Loving her one moment and defying her the next. Arguing on each and every possible matter, they nearly drive her out of her mind!
These youngsters may proudly introduce her to their friends, but all of a sudden she does or says something which they find embarrassing. This is the toughest phase a mother goes through as she finds herself walking on thin ice, one wrong move and her children feel annoyed or displeased with her! But as they cross the vulnerable teenage, their emotions for their mum become more stable and they overgrow the volatile behaviour which is perhaps a part of growing up.
There are issues on which mothers disagree with their children. She has her own way of protecting her kids from harm. She can be as soft as silk and as tough as steel where the welfare or safety of her children is at stake. In rebellious moments, they may call her tough, strict and not understanding their point of view. But it takes years, and sometimes decades, for them to realise that she was right! This is because the rules she wants her children to follow strictly are for their own good. Children may feel that their moms are sometimes harsh on them, but this is only to teach them lessons they will find helpful in their future lives.
There are days when the long working hours and lack of sleep get on her nerves. She may be irritable and moody. But these moments pass quickly and they are the main test of our love and respect for our mother. Instead of talking back to her or replying in a rude manner, we should try to understand her feelings and try our best to soothe her temper.
An anonymous quote so beautifully says, “At the end of the day I love my mom regardless of how much we argue, or whatever we go through, because I know she’ll always be there for me.”
It is an undeniable fact that mothers love their children more than anything in this world. We can never fathom or understand the depth or intensity of her love for us. Friends, our mother is our most valuable asset, to be cherished and loved each and every day of our lives.
Instead of waiting to show your love for her once in a year on Mother’s Day, you should realise that she deserves much more! Help her out wherever you can so that she feels relieved and can rest for a while. Give her a small gift now and then, even if it is only a bunch of flowers picked from your garden, a chocolate or a small pack of her favourite cookies.
Once in a while, surprise her by serving her breakfast on her bed, or helping her in the kitchen. If you are not allowed to use the stove, just serve her a glass of milk, cereals or fruits neatly arranged in a plate. You can also add a ‘I love you’ note on the tray. Believe me, it will make your mother’s day and give a great boost to her spirits.
As life moves on, we often move away from our mothers, but their heart is tied to ours in such a way that it doesn’t stop loving and caring for us any less. The unconditional love she showered on us when we were too weak and vulnerable to take care of our needs, demands that we try to reciprocate in the best possible manner. It is impossible to pay back a mother’s love but we can try to keep her happy and content when she grows old and needs our care just as we needed hers.
In the end I would like to add this wonderful quote from Sunita Sharma “The palm on your fevered brow, the soft kisses when you need them most, the grip that steadies you on rocky roads, the hand that feeds and nurtures you, the shadow that walks besides you unconditional and enduring, is a mother’s love !”

REVERSED ROLES!

 

In a softly lit room, a little girl sleepily reaches out for her father. Her eyes open wide when her outstretched arm can not feel him. Realizing that she is sleeping in a separate bed, she creeps out of it stealthily and tries to climb her father’s bed. But it is a bit too high for her. So, placing her head on Daddy’s pillow, she goes back to sleep in a standing position.

Daddy wakes up as he feels the familiar scent and soft touch of his little girl. He sweeps her up into his arms and as she snuggles close to him, both father and daughter go back to a peaceful sleep!

When Ammi decided that I was too old to sleep with Daddy, for months this was a ritual followed on a daily basis. She would tuck me in my little bed at night, but find me peacefully sleeping in Daddy’s arms in the morning.

Ammi told this tale often, with a (false) reproachful look still on her face. I and Daddy would laugh, although both of us felt a mist in our eyes!

As was the norm in 1940-50s in Indo Pakistan, Ammi was married at the tender age of sixteen and became a mother at seventeen! Twin daughters followed a year after her first born son, and I came only a year later. Weak and exhausted by the unending demands of motherhood, she had her hands too full with her two year old and the frail twins to look after me. And this is how I developed a special bond with Daddy. From the day I was born, he took me in his special care.  I was his pet, his little girl!

Ammi and I shared the mutual love normal to all mothers and children. But with Daddy it was something different, a feeling too great for words! My most cherished childhood memories mostly revolve around his devoted love and care. He happily carried out all the chores which mothers usually do. Helping me to get ready for school, wiping away my tears when I was afraid of the dark, bandaging my bruised knees when I fell, helping me in doing my homework, he was always there for me. As I grew older, he coaxed me, encouraged me and sometimes even bullied me to bring out the best in me. He was my mentor, who firmly holding on to my hand, taught me how to live in this World with a head held high and how to face adversities with a straight face.

Life moves ahead and times change! After my marriage in 1970, I had to move away from my birth city Dhaka (then East Pakistan) to Karachi (West Pakistan). I missed all the people I loved so dearly, my mother, my siblings, my huge family and childhood friends, but Daddy always remained on the top of the list.

Only a year later, Bangladesh emerged on the face of the World. East Pakistan was no more! This is no place to discuss the political reasons for this breakup, but I must declare that apart from a political tragedy, it also was the cause of deep heartbreak for a lot of people whose families were divided among the two countries. I was deeply saddened to find myself a foreigner in the city of my birth, where I had spent my childhood , my school and college life, the city where my loving parents still lived and the city which always remained home to me.

Years flew by and I was preoccupied in my new life, the demands of an extended family and challenges of motherhood taking up most of my time and thoughts. Those were the busiest years of my life as (like most mothers) my priority was my children’s well being and education. My life had its own set of problems which I tried to sort out as best as I could. Moreover, visits to Dhaka were not easy due to the ever rising cost of travelling and the hassles of the necessary documents.  As a result, meetings with my parents were often years apart.

And then tragedy struck like a tsunami! Ammi, who had been suffering from depression for years, suddenly died in her sleep. With a heart heavy with pain, I proceeded to Dhaka to meet my saddened father. But the brave man that he was, he tried to cope with life without the woman he had shared the prime years of his youth, middle age and fast approaching old age. But deep down, he was a broken man.      

Years passed and Daddy’s loneliness took its toll. An urgent call from my brother gave the heart breaking news that Daddy had a mild brain stroke and was not simply himself. With Ammi no more there to take care of him, I felt that this was the time when Daddy needed me the most. Completing the travel requirements as soon as possible, I took the first possible flight to Dhaka. When I look down memories lane, I can still feel the deep pain I experienced when I met him.

Daddy seemed like a shadow of the great and intelligent man he was, had lost a major part of his memory and was confused and disoriented most of the time. Like a lost child striving to find his way back home, he shuffled restlessly around his sprawling house. Gone was his booming voice and his strong temper which often made me and my siblings scurry to remote corners of our big house. And there was no more the sense of humour, the naughty glitter in his eyes when he teased me and my twin sisters, whom he loved dearly! The lengthy after dinner discussions which we used to have (on any and every topic in this world) had become a distant memory.

Every moment of those painful months I stayed with him, I tried to follow him like a shadow. Holding his hand when he walked around in faltering steps, helping him to eat as his trembling hands could no more balance a spoon properly, putting him to bed with a kiss on his forehead, coaxing him try to sleep and stop his unending rambling, and on extra bad days, helping him to bathe and change.

Strangely, in those days I felt more like a mother than a daughter. I often felt that I although I did not remember it, Daddy must have done the same for me when I was a child. And this was my time to try to repay (however partially) for the care and attention he had given me when I was a vulnerable little girl. Time had only reversed the roles!  

Although, I did not want to leave back my caring father, my personal responsibilities forced me to come back to Karachi. I and my siblings took turns to take care of Daddy and tried our best to make him as comfortable as we possibly could! And with the grace of Allah and our unending efforts, he slowly improved. But sadly, he could never be the same genius of a man he originally was!

Daddy has long left for his heavenly abode, but the memories of those days are still precious for me. Although I could not do even a fraction of what he had done for me, I can not thank Allah enough for those months and the time I spent caring for him!

Even today, if I could reach out to Daddy, I would like to tell him that only after he became as vulnerable as a child, did I truly realize what and how much he had done for me when I was growing up! I know that I could not do enough to thank or repay him for all he did for me, and all my life, I will remain grateful to him for his unending love and care!

           

 

 

Communication: For your own good

Children often complain about their parents asking them too many questions. And of course, most questioning words begin with W, such as where, why, what, who, which, etc., — making W the most hated English alphabet by kids and the most controversial as well!

Where are you going? When will you be back? Who is going with you? Why are you watching television at this late hour? Why didn’t you clear up the mess in your room? Whom do you keep text messaging to? Why haven’t you started to do your homework yet? When will you start preparing for your exams? These are only some of the most common questions asked by the concerned parents. And the list goes on and on!

Youngsters usually feel offended by these queries and the replies are usually like, “You do not trust me”, “I am not a child any more”, “Why can’t I have more freedom”, “You are nagging all the time” or in worse cases, “For Heaven’s sake! Leave me alone!” or worse still “It’s my life, yaar!”

As life has promoted me from a mother to a grandmother, I often reflect at this conflict between parents and children. When I decided to talk to some of them, I got a lot of responses, but the most interesting and common feature was that all of those who gave their input wanted to remain anonymous! I take it as a positive sign and as a respect for each other’s feelings. Here I would like to share a few examples of what the two parties had to say.

A teenager who is a student of O Levels in a reputed school says, “After just a few minutes of talking on my cell phone or when I exchange a few messages with my friends, my mom starts casting questioning glances at me. And then she starts her queries, ‘Who are you on the phone with?’ and after a few minutes, ‘Why are you talking with him/her for so long’. Or, ‘Why don’t your friends call on the landline’.”

She clarifies, “I use my cell more as I like to remain mobile while I am talking to a friend. Often we are discussing a project/assignment or helping each other in problems pertaining to our studies and I need to consult a book or notes while talking. Using the landline means remaining seated on the lounge chair with distractions, as my younger siblings make a lot of noise and often the television is on!”

Her mother retaliates, “I wonder why she gets so irritated when I demand to know who she is talking to on her cell! After all the landline is more economical than the cell, and I also feel more comfortable when she is within my earshot when she is talking to friends. As a mother, I feel it is my duty to keep an eye on her activities. She is so naïve; I fear that wrong friends would harm her and also adversely affect her studies.”

Another teenager shares his woes, “The minute my mom sees me in my jeans and joggers, she showers me with questions ‘Where are you going?’, ‘When will you be back?’ and ‘Who else is going with you?’. And the query I resent the most is, ‘Why don’t you respond when I call on your cell’.

“For Heaven’s sake! I am not a child any more. I want to venture out into the world with a bit of independence. She must understand that the time to cut off the apron strings has past! My friends laugh at me when she calls after every half an hour. Her never-ending questions get on my nerves!”

His mother defends herself, “I cannot understand why he gets mad when I ask him where he is going and by what time he would be back! I feel it is my right to know about his whereabouts and the company he keeps. With the uncertainty prevailing in the city, I fear for his security and get nervous when he does not respond to my calls.”

A mother of four shares her irritation, “Why do they create so much mess when they know that I cannot stand a messy room?

When I demand to know when they will clear up the clutter, they just shrug and move away, or worse still, accuse me of nagging!”

Her 12-year-old daughter says, “Mama is a cleanliness freak! How can she expect me to study with my books packed in my bag or neatly lined up on the bookshelf?”

Her younger brother says, “I need some place to play with my toys and video games and there is bound to be some amount of untidiness when I am playing.”

Another 16-year-old says, “If I ask permission from my dad to go out for lunch with friends (dinners being strictly not allowed!), or just for window shopping to a mall, he will ask every time, ‘What is the purpose of such outings? Instead of concentrating more on your studies, why do you waste so much time and money on such useless activities’.”

His father says, “I spend so much on my children’s studies. Often I and their mother cut down on our own needs in our budget which we consider less essential. We expect our kids to be more responsible and dedicated to their studies and not waste their time hanging out with friends.”

Friends, speaking back to parents and being irritated by their never ending questions may be something you may regret later on in life. Their questions are only their way of showing how much they care for you and how concerned they are for your wellbeing! If you think with a cool head, you will realise that all these Ws are for your own good and out of love and concern for your wellbeing. So, instead of feeling that their questions are an intrusion into your privacy, or just plain nagging, try to understand what they want to convey!

Next time, when you are barged with these Ws, instead of getting annoyed, sit down with them and discuss your feelings.

Communication gaps always lead to misunderstandings!

By talking with your parents about what are their expectations from you, you can also explain your side of the picture and let them know why you react negatively! Our parents are much wiser and experienced than us! Their questions are their way to guide us on what should be our priorities in life and what things we should avoid.

In the end, I would like to quote Losivale Vaafuti, “Your parents will always lecture you, hit you, ground you, make you do chores, embarrass you, etc., but just know that they will always push you harder and harder to make you do the right thing, not to make you seem that you are a disappointment to them, but to prepare you for the reality. In other words, being successful in the future!”