A PEN FOR YOUR THOUGHTS..an old article in the Young World

Most of us think that writing an article is a very difficult task. I also had the same opinion, that is, until I decided to try my hand on it.

It is true that some people have a natural talent for writing. They can raise their pen on any given topic and express themselves beautifully, while others have to struggle with words to make their concepts clear. But creative writing is not as complex as we think it to be. We only need to have an idea about the required guidelines and keep on practicing, because we all know that practice makes a man perfect.

To create a good piece of writing, you must first choose your area of interest. You are bound to write better on topics which are appealing for you. Use a very catchy title, one which draws attention as well as gives the reader an idea about what you want to write about. You can also choose your title or heading after you have finished writing as it is only then that you will have an idea of what you have produced with your pen.

Organise your thoughts and pen down the facts you already know. For further information, check out on the internet, but be sure to surf more than one website. By browsing on different websites you will be able to find out which one has more authentic facts and figures.

If your school has a library or you have an access to one in your neighbourhood, you can also read books on the relevant topic and note down important information. To be a good writer, you must cultivate a reading habit. Reading a lot keeps you more informed, improves your vocabulary as well as gives you new ideas about writing.

Keep a pen and paper handy, even by your side when you go to bed. Ideas and notions often come in a flash in the most unexpected moments. Don’t rely on your memory, as these ideas may slip away as easily.

Sometimes we grope for subjects to write about, so when inspiration strikes, scribble it quickly in your notebook. You can also make a list of topics you want to write about and then keep working on them.

Give time to your idea. It is not always advisable to start writing as soon as you chose a topic. Think about it for a few days and keeping noting the supporting points which come to your mind. In this way you will not struggle to complete a piece after you have started it.

Reread an article many times before you send it to a publication. Often, we tend to overlook small spelling or grammar mistakes. Rearranging or adding a few words here and there may add to the value of your writing. According to Mark Twain, “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you
begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say!”

Every article should be divided into three distinct parts. Start with a good introduction, so that the reader can understand what you are writing about. Remember that the first few sentences are very important. If your opening is interesting, the reader would like to continue, but if it is dull and drab, he would skip it and move on to some other story in the magazine.

The middle part of an article usually gives information and facts and figures about the topic you have chosen. The conclusion should be interesting as you logically wind up your article in a way that the reader can understand your point of view and relate to it.

Keep your word count under control and try to be precise! Repetition always tends to bore and sometimes even irritate, so try to get your point through in a crisp manner.

Keep your language simple. A short article written in simple language is more interesting than a long one in which you have used difficult language and uncommon words. Remember that no one likes to reach out for a dictionary while reading, because it breaks the tempo and pace of the topic.

Let your imagination go wild! Experiment by using different styles until you develop a distinct style which becomes your identity. There will be times when you feel stuck and are unable to finish a piece you have started. Instead of trying to force words and thinking hard, just do something that you find refreshing. Go for a walk, play your favourite game
or just relax for a while. More often than not, you will find fresh ideas rushing to your mind.

Use quotes by famous authors or relevant persons. They add to the value of a piece of writing.

You can start your writing career by contributing for your school magazine and then go on to the children’s magazines of most newspapers. Don’t be disheartened if your writings are rejected. You may not succeed in the beginning but hard work and perseverance eventually pays. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, short story writer Isaac Bashevis Singer says, “The waste basket is a writer’s best friend”.

A writer who chooses to remain anonymous, says, “The best compliment I have received is from a fan who said, Once I start reading your article, it is difficult for me to put it down before I reach the last word”.

This, in my opinion, is the best description yet for a good piece of writing.

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!

DO MORE! MR BARACK OBAMA!!

DO MORE, MR. BARACK OBAMA!

Words seem to fail me these days! I have tried to write this blog many times but after finishing and re reading, I find my vocabulary too weak and inadequate to express my sentiments. The agony, rage and a sense of helplessness and despair that I am feeling are common to the majority of the two billion Muslims around the world! Like all Muslims (and even sensible non-Muslims), I heard with indignation and disbelief that a video clip called Innocence of Muslims in which an attempt has been made to degrade our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. has been posted on the YouTube.  So much has been written on the issue, initially I wondered whether I should write anything more or not. But my conscience keeps me restless during the days and sleepless during the nights. My share may be only a drop in the ocean, but I feel compelled to share my sentiments with my readers because whether they express it or not, I know that they all must be going through the same pain and frustration (how could any Muslim not react to such venom and insult to the person we revere and respect as the Messenger of Allah).

I would like to clarify first that by no means do I favour or defend the violence and unnecessary loss of precious lives and property, in reaction to the blasphemous video, especially here in Pakistan. We had every right to protest, but I feel ashamed and disappointed that we did not do so in a civilized and dignified manner. Precious lives were lost and property was burned and raised to the ground by unruly mobs.

The Government of Pakistan made a great blunder by calling Friday (the 21st September) Yaum e Ishq e Nabi, the day to show love for the Prophet PBUH a public holiday. Making decisions in haste and not taking into consideration the consequences it will lead to, have cost us a lot in the past. Making no proper security arrangements and ignoring the religious fanaticism with which the video has whipped frenzy into the life of an average Pakistani, Mr. Zardari our (un)popular President conveniently flew off to England on a private visit and the more (un) popular Prime Minister did not even have enough courage to venture out to the Convention Centre in Islamabad to make his speech in the announced seminar. The country was left in the hands of miscreants and mischief mongers who (in the name of love for the Prohet PBUH) took the law into their hands. The rangers were conspicuous by their absence and the police was not at all prepared for the free show of anger and violence.

But in spite of all this which I do not defend, I must lodge my protest against the so called ‘Freedom of Expression’. Every civilized society gives freedom of expression to its members and it is one of the basic rights in a democratic nation. But where do we draw a line between this freedom and pure venom, unasked (and intentional) provocation of the religious sentiments of billions of people around the world? We claim that we live in a civilized world but have we proved that we are a civilized generation? Trying to defame and insult the Prophet Muslims love and hold in high esteem, is just an act of snobbery and hatred, something which no one can get away with the so called right of Freedom of Expression! In his criminal act of releasing the video Innocence of Muslims via YouTube, Sam Bacille has thrown all norms of civility, ethics and morals to the air! 

The President of the United State of America, Mr Obama in his speech in the General assembly has tried to pacify the Muslim sentiments of indignation by declaring that USA disowns the movie and has nothing to do with it. He has urged the entire humanity to reject the disgusting video which has sparked outrage throughout the Muslim World. He is right in most of the things he said as he also criticized Muslims for causing loss to lives and property and reacting violently to the hate movie.  

 But, I disagree with you Mr Obama when you declare, (quote) “As president of our country and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so” (unquote). With due respects Mr. President, I must remind you that you may be the President of The United States of America, but please do not forget that you hold this post for only five or at the most ten years. Comparing criticism on yourself with the downright insulting and blasphemous video about the Prophet of Islam is simply outrageous! Hazrat Muhammad S.A.W. is a personality who is loved and respected by Muslims and (although grudgingly) by sensible non-Muslims as well, since the advent of Islam and will be done so till all times to come! If you are criticized, this is the price you have to pay for reaching the highest rung of the ladder of success. In no means can this justify a madman’s sickening and malicious endeavor to try to insult our Prophet PBUH.

This is not something which you can call Freedom of Speech or Expression. It is downright provocation and can be likened to pouring petrol over a flame. For years, USA has been mounting pressure on Pakistan to ‘Do More’ in the War against terrorism. We as a nation have suffered a lot because of this war. Lives (most of them innocent) have been lost, our peace of mind destroyed and our economy is on the down slide! Now this is the time for Pakistanis and all the Muslim Ummah to ask the USA and President Barack Obama to ‘DO MORE’!

According to the laws of The USA, a person can be sued for causing physical or psychological damage to some one. Don’t you feel that Bacille who made the hate movie, should be brought to court and given exemplary punishment for hurting and enflaming the emotions of more than two billion people. Muslims may be held responsible for the loss to lives and property but the root cause behind this outrage and fury should be dealt with an iron fist. Instead of declaring your inability to ban the disastrous video and attributing it to freedom of expression, you Mr. Obama should ‘Do More’ and deal with the issue more effectively by not only slamming an immediate ban on it but also amending the laws which have rendered you helpless inspite of the outcry and protests all over the world.

To all Muslims, I would like to appeal, show your love for Hazrat Muhammad Sallaho Alaihe Wasallam by trying to ponder how he would have reacted in such a situation. He preached humanity and compassion, forgave when he could avenge and always refused to be provocated in the most sensitive situations. Instead of walking in the trap deliberately set up to further derogate the Muslims we must exercise restraint and lodge our protest according to the norms of a civilized society. This is the time when we can prove to the world that barring a minority of religious extremist, Muslims are a peace loving and disciplined people. This is what ISHQ E NABI (the love of our Prophet) demands from us!

 

 

LEARNING TO SAY NO! (http://dawn.com/2012/06/03/attitude-learning-to-say-no)

There are times when you feel stressed and despite feeling bone tired at the end of the day you realise that you have not managed to finish the tasks that you had planned for the day. To add to the stress is the feeling that you are not giving due time to your family or even yourself. This is because a lot of your time is spent in activities that you undertake only to oblige your friends, colleagues and relatives who take advantage of your gullibility and make you do things that are not your responsibility; and this you do at the cost of your personal activities, leisure or recreation. If such is the case then it’s time that you put your foot down and start saying ‘no’, loud and clear.

It may not be easy in the beginning, because all of us want to be popular and fear that by saying ‘no’ to people asking for favours, we might not remain in their good books. But in an effort to please others, we are not being fair to ourselves as we are putting our personal pleasures, hobbies and commitments at the bottom of our priority list, and sending across the
message that we do not give priority to ourselves and our activities.

Rumana remembers the initial months of her married life. “I was young and eager to please my in-laws. My sister-in-law would come almost every other day and handing over her children with their school bags to me, she would ask me to help them complete their home work, while she went out shopping or just relaxed with her mom. After a few months, I started resenting her visits as they put me under stress. I had to give up my afternoon nap, my evening walk and often my favourite TV programmes. My husband started complaining that I was getting moody and irritable.”

She reminiscences with a smile, “I finally mustered the courage to tell my sister-in-law that I couldn’t carry on with this routine any more and it was her duty to supervise her kids’ homework. For a few days she was upset with me but finally realised my point of view. We share a good relationship and help out each other when need arises, but she does not take me for granted any more.”

Beverly D’Souza, a working woman, says, “Helping people in their hour of need is a natural human instinct, but when others start taking undue advantage of our kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity it is clearly time to pull back and say ‘no’. It is our moral and ethical responsibility to say no to acts which may contribute towards a callous attitude and lack of accountability in the life of any person.”

Anisa Zia, a home-maker, says, “The more you allow people to shun responsibility by agreeing to take their burden off them, the more relaxed they become, leaving you over-worked. If the practice continues, resentment sets in. I think it is better to politely (and firmly) excuse yourself, rather than mince your words. If a relationship is meant to go sour even after you have toiled unnecessarily, it is better for it to end as soon as possible. Because if a person is unable to realise that we all have our own commitments and are pressed for time, he/she is not a sincere friend at all”.

Nusrat Awan, another working woman, recollects the earlier days of her career, “I always found it difficult to say ‘no’ to anyone who asked for a favour, and friends and colleagues cashed in on this weakness. I often brought home my office work as I had spent my working hours helping out a colleague. I compromised on my sleep and time with my daughters because of my inability to say ‘No’!”

She adds with a wry smile, “When I decided to do my Executive MBA, students younger than me would come up asking for help and I never had the heart to say no. After decades of a demanding job and the sudden death of a very loving husband, going back to student life was like a breath of fresh air, and I did not want to lose my new found friends. I remember paying a heavy price for helping a fellow student with his individual presentation. He looked so desperate that I just couldn’t turn him down; as a result my presentation suffered. Even today, although I know that if I want personal time I must learn to say ‘no’, I find it difficult to bring myself to do so.

According to American humorist Josh Billings, “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying ‘yes’ too quickly and not saying ‘no’ soon enough”. To improve the quality of our lives, we all must set boundaries on how far we can go to oblige family, friends and colleagues. Otherwise we must be ready to be exploited by them at the cost of our personal activities.