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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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!

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!

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.

BORN TO SUCCEED (My article in Young World..11th May, 2015)

http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=11_04_2015_371_003

BORN TO SUCCEED!

          All of us want to do something extraordinary in life. We wish to achieve something amazing and want our efforts to be acclaimed by the world. We work hard and put in all our abilities, both physical and mental; to attain the goals we have set for ourselves in life; to prove our mettle to the world. But there are people not as lucky as us! They also have their dreams, goals and aspirations, but severe physical or mental handicaps make the task of pursuing this task more daunting.

Friends, I would like to share with you details about some gifted people, disabled but never dispirited! These are people who won world-wide acclaim in spite of being severely handicapped. With the help of their sheer determination, indomitable spirit and hard work, they have risen to world-wide fame. By refusing to surrender to their limitations, these people contributed positively to the world, making it a better place to live in and proving that they were born to succeed!

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Few of us know that the famous inventor Thomas Edison had a learning disability in his early life and was not able to read till he was twelve! Due to a bout of scarlet fever and recurring ear infections, he developed hearing problems at a young age. This problem further aggravated with time, leaving him nearly deaf. But his disability did not stop Edison from hard work and his iron will earned him world wide acclaim.

Edison has more than 1,000 patents to his credit. When we talk about the electric bulb, his name comes to our mind instantly. The telegraph system and the phonograph are two of his famous inventions which changed the world of communication. He also made significant contribution in improving the X-Ray technology, storage batteries and motion pictures. Girls will be interested to learn that he invented the world’s first talking doll.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Renowned Mathematician/Physicist, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, had a learning disability and did not speak until age 3. He had a very difficult time doing Maths in school and had a weak memory. It was also very hard for him to express himself through writing. It is said that he did most of his experiment in his head, instead of a proper laboratory.

Einstein made many contributions to the field of theoretical physics and completely changed the way we understand the behavior of things as basic as light, gravity, and time.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

FDR, as he is fondly called by the Americans, is one of the most inspiring famous people of the world who had a major physical disability.  Roosevelt was the president of USA who helped and guided the nation successfully during the World War II. Unfortunately, earlier in his political career, he contracted polio after drinking contaminated water at a campground. He was paralyzed from the waist downwards, but for several years, his illness was kept secret from the nation.  During his entire tenure, he used a wheel chair and worked only from his office. But his disability did not affect his services to the USA, which he served in a memorable way!

Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Helen Keller, an American author, political activist and lecturer is a household name worldwide. Losing her abilities to speak, see and hear after an illness when she was only 18months old, she overcame the adversities of her life to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians. Due credit must be given to her teacher Annie Sullivan, whose untiring efforts groomed her abilities to communicate in the sign language.

The first deaf/ blind/ mute person to get a Bachelors degree in Arts, Keller is famous for her campaigns for workers’ rights, for women’s right to vote in elections and many other progressive causes. She was outspoken in her views against wars. With Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller travelled to more than 39 countries and was especially popular among the Japanese

Keller’s disability in no way affected her social interactions. She met every US president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon. B. Johnson and was friends to famous personalities like Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain. She received many awards during her lifetime to acknowledge her great accomplishments.

Two famous Helen Keller quotes are,

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

2… “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)

The man who is better known by children as the ‘Superman’, Christopher Reeve attained fame due to his acting achievements. He was an American actor, film director, author and activist. In 1995, he was thrown off his horse while participating in a horse riding competition and was severely disabled. He needed a wheel chair and was on a portable ventilator to breathe for the rest of his life.

His disability made him a great lobbyist for people with spinal cord injuries and the stem cell research.

 

Ralph Brown (1940-2013)

Ralph Braun was diagnosed with Muscular Atrophy when he was only 7 years old, and in the next few years lost his ability to walk. Doctors were dubious about his spending an independent life, but he and his parents were determined to prove them wrong. From engineering the first battery powered scooter, he went on to design and manufacture wheelchair accessible vehicles. His efforts have changed the lives of disabled people worldwide.

In his autobiography “Rise Above”, Braun describes the challenges he faced as a young and disabled man and the poor regard society generally has for such people. He throws light on how his physical handicap strengthened his determination to be independent; to prove to the world that disabled people can also lead an active and productive life! He created the Braun Corporation which is the leading manufacturer of wheel chairs and accessible vehicles.

For his untiring efforts to make the lives of physically handicapped people better, Braun was named “Champion of Change” by President Barrack Obama.i

Stephen Hawking (born 1942)

A British physicist with a world renowned career spanning over 40 years, Stephen Hawking is regarded one of the greatest scientist of the 20th century second only to Einstein.  He was diagnosed with a rare motor neuron disease (ALS), when he was only 21 and a student at the Cambridge University. Over the decades, this slow wasting disease gradually left him paralyzed as he lost control over his arms, legs and voice. Undaunted by his disability, he kept on his research work.  He is still teaching with the help of a computer which is supported by a word compiling machine. He communicates using a single cheek muscle which is attached to the device.

Hawkins is the author of “A short History of the Universe” and “A brief History of Time.” His Big Bang and Black Hole theories have drawn the attention of the world. He is an academic celebrity and among many others is the recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the USA. His famous words worth quoting are, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

SAIMA SALEEM

 Saima Saleem, the first blind diplomat of Pakistan is often called the Hellen Keller of our country. Due to a genetic disease she lost her eyesight when she was in her teens. But undaunted by this major disability, she struggled to overcome all odds in her path. A gold medalist of the Kinnaird College University for women, she fought for her rights to appear for all her exams in Braille, as she refused to trust a writer’s ability. Saima’s indomitable will and determination enabled her to join Foreign Service, previously out of bounds for the blind. Never looking back, she struggled and succeeded in having a computer based exam in which she stood 6th among all the participants and first among the women.

Topping all training and exams, she went on to getting another gold medal from the Foreign Service Academy and a scholarship to a prestigious School of Foreign Service in USA. After joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saima has been working passionately to improve human rights in Pakistan. She is currently serving as Pakistan’s Permenant Mission to UNO in Geneva and is working on human rights’ issues in which she is considered an expert.

Friends these are facts about only a few disabled people who rose to famous due to their firm resolve and determination to not allow their handicap to interfere with leading a successful life.  The list of such people is quite long. But there are millions of other ones who are not famous, but are still heroes. Heroes, because they live with, fight and overcome their disabilities every single day of their lives.

 

 

WALK LIGHT!

 

          In the walk of life, often there are times when we are disappointed and perturbed because people do not act (or re-act) the way we had expected or wanted them to do! These situations always create negative feelings for those who have hurt or frustrated us. These people may be the relations we hold very dear to our hearts, may be our parents, siblings, spouses, children or close friends. Often in these painful moments, we are so overtaken by our emotions that we forget that we cannot make a person think the way we do, or make him see things from our perspective! And in our agitation we allow the deepest of relations to turn sour! We are so disturbed that we forget that nurturing and harboring depressing and negative emotions are more harmful for our own self than they are for the person we have adverse feelings for!

          We may be angry and aggravated because of the attitude of people who mean the world to us, but if we take a positive stance and think coolly stepping into their shoes, we may be able to see things from their point of view. To strengthen bonds with the ones we love, we must learn not to be quick in complaining. To sustain and deepen a relationship, angers have to be controlled and compromises have to be made! It may not be intentional, but sometimes in a very close bond, mountains are made out of molehills. By blowing a petty grudge out of proportion, we hurt ourselves as well as our loved ones unnecessarily!

          To improve the quality of our life (and also of those around us), it is often better to forgive and forget than to avenge and remember! When we forgive someone for the wrong he/she has done to us, a wound starts to heal and when we (try to) forget, the scar also goes away with the passage of time. Because in the long run, nurturing a grudge harms us deeply as it sucks away the happiness from our lives!

          Often the miseries we are complaining about are self inflicted. By keeping our expectations high or unreasonable, failing to create a balance between what we give out and what we want in return and refusing to let go of a misunderstanding or a trivial quarrel, we make our lives unhappy and also of those whom we claim to love dearly! So, instead of stifling our dear ones with our over-demanding love, we must learn to give them space. We must understand that we cannot force anyone to live up to our expectations and in the same way we shouldn’t allow them to make our lives miserable by enforcing their expectations on us! Live and let live is a motto which is a key to a content life.

          We must remember that life is not like a tailor-made dress which fits a person to perfection. We all love roses, but we can enjoy their beauty and fragrance only when we learn to endure the thorns which come with them. 

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        There is always a dark night before every bright morning! Only a positive approach can keep us happy, as life always comes with stark contrasts. Happiness and grief, smiles and tears, success and failures, fulfillments and frustrations all go hand in hand! We have to learn to take these opposites with a positive attitude.

          Envy, grudges, resentments, hatred and anger are all emotions which clutter our souls and deeply and adversely affect the quality of our lives. In the difficult times we are living in, life is full of tensions. But we can do away with some of these tensions if we shift our attitudes towards positivity. Why not get rid of all unnecessary baggage which makes travelling in the path of life more tedious? Let’s decide to shed the extra burden and walk light! Only then can we tread the walk of life with comfort and content, even if we are not blissfully happy!

 

 

 

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

          Rain has always held a special place in my life! It mesmerizes me, enchants and takes me way back down the memory lane. It reminds me of the happy and carefree childhood I spent in my parental home with my siblings.

          As it rained more than half of the year in East Pakistan (now Bangla Desh), rain was a part and parcel of our lives. The staircase to the upper floor of our cosy little house overlooked a long alley. After lunch, I and my siblings would sit one child on one stair and watch with delight as rain came lashing down on the pedestrians. Some had umbrellas, other used large sheets of polythene to protect themselves and a few were seen running for shelter if they possessed none of these.

                    After nights when the thunder kept rolling, the clouds clapping ominously and rain pouring down as if it would never come again, I remember calling school expectantly. “Is the school off today?” And the predictable answer came “Why do you think the school would be off today” I would be counter questioned. The voice sounded irritated as if tired of answering the same question repeatedly. “It has been raining so hard all night” I would try to argue although I myself could feel my voice grow weaker. “Do think rain makes any difference to life in this part of the world?” and the phone was banged angrily.

          Rain made literally no difference to normal activities as schools, offices and markets opened as usual and everyone seemed to be carrying on his/her work as usual. Heavy downpours recorded in inches, were a part and parcel of life and there were no traffic jams, electric failures, overflowing storm drains or stagnant water on the roads. All that could be seen were small puddles in which children loved to splash around, but with a well maintained drainage system, these too disappeared in no time.

          Apart from natural calamities like floods or cyclones which were a normal feature in that region, little or no news of suffering of the low income class was witnessed after the routine heavy rains.

          Rain meant enjoyment to me and my siblings. If the rainy day was a holiday, picnic baskets would be packed immediately and we would set out for an outing to any of the green spots in Dhaka. Otherwise, Beisan or Potato Parathas would be cooked, to be enjoyed with Ammi’s unmatchable sweet mango chutney and ripe mangoes in plastic buckets were set out in the open courtyard to be cooled by the falling rain.

          I distinctly remember the long drives with friends after a rainy day, dashing to the famous Ramna Park of Dhaka for Chatpatti (Chat) and Puchka (Pani Puri) and the treat finished off with a Meetha Paan at the renowned pan shop outside the Dhaka Stadium. Traffic moved a bit slow but there was no disruption to its flow!

          After I migrated to Karachi, I used to miss the rains as these were limited to a couple of months only. As clouds came in, I would look expectantly towards the sky and pray for them to burst into a downpour. Until I witnessed the other side of the coin, i.e how rains could play havoc with the lives of people! To my dismay, unlike my birth city Dhaka, rain always brought misery to the lives of the residents of Karachi, especially those who reside in low lying or slum areas. Every year after the monsoon rains hits, life seems to be paralyzed as the roads are turned into rivulets in no time.

          Although in the four decades plus that I have been living in Karachi, I have seen that rains always disrupt and paralyze life in the city, I feel that things are getting worse with each passing year.

          This year, the 3rd of August began as a usual day, but before nightfall tragic news from all parts of the city came pouring in, as fast as the torrential rains we witnessed during the day. In all the years I have been living in Karachi, this was perhaps the worst rainy day I had witnessed.

          Loss of 16 precious lives was reported and all the major roads were flooded heavily. Most of the city was plunged into darkness as power went off as soon as the rain started lashing the city. Some areas, (like mine) had to go without power for nearly 24 hours or more! Emergency was declared in the city and army had to be called in to drain the stagnant water. As usual, action was taken too late as the CM dismissed the Karachi Administrator, as well as the Director Municipal Services from their respective posts. But could these belated steps bring back the precious lives or heavy loss to property? the question hangs heavily in the air.

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          But the depressing part of all the sufferings is that we Karachiites could have been spared this gloom. Although there was a forecast of a monsoon more severe than is usual to Karachi, the City Government had simply taken no steps to prevent the dwellers of the mega city from the misery it had to face.  Storm water drains (which are getting narrower each year due to encroachments) were not cleared up in time, and as these are usually clogged with the garbage slum dwellers throw in them, they overflew in no time, spreading stinking water on major roads and alleys.

          The poor dwellers of the areas lining the storm water drains were the worst affected as their homes were totally inundated! After the heavy downpour, although I was dreading the bad news, I had no idea it would be worse than my imagination. The domestic helper who has been cleaning my house for years, came frantically banging the door as the bell was not ringing. Her eyes burning with tears she was trying hard to control, she said in a voice lined with despair. “Ammi kuch nahin bacha, sirf badan pe ye kapre hain!” (Ammi, nothing is left except the clothes that I am wearing). She had lost the entire ration she had got from different affluent people (remember it was Ramzan), as well as her meager belongings. “Shukar hai, Bachon ki jaan bach gayi”! (Thank God, the lives of my children were saved). She said in a resigned tone. Such depressing stories came pouring in from other quarters as night fell.

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          There was a forecast of more rain for the next two or three days but it seems nature was also moved by the misery the heavy downpour had caused! Although the weather remained cloudy for the next few days, fortunately we only witnessed drizzling after every few hours!

          There was a time when I looked up at the clouds expectantly, praying for the rains to come. But after decades of living in Karachi, I mutter a prayer when I see the ominous clouds coming in. Rain, Rain, Go Away! We are not prepared yet to enjoy you! The burst of clouds which meant enjoyment and relaxation in my childhood days causes pain, anxiety, sorrow and darkness in this city of lights!

 

Relationships: Mending fences

Mummy looked up from her cup of tea and cast a worried look at Umair. He was not his cheerful self for the past few days and seemed to have lost his appetite. Lost in thought, he sat at the breakfast table nibbling at his French toast.

“What’s wrong son, you look so glum and depressed. Tell me if there is anything I can do for you,” mummy asked.

Umair looked up from his plate and burst into tears, “Mummy I had a fight with my best friend and I feel that I was too harsh on him. I don’t know how and when things will again be the same between us. I feel so guilty.”

Umair went on to tell his mother how Ali had borrowed his science journal to complete the work he had missed during his absence due to fever. While returning the journal, Ali apologised to his friend that accidentally he had spilled some ink on it.

As Umair was very particular about his books, he flew into a rage and picked up a quarrel with his friend, accusing him that he must have spoiled the journal on purpose and that Ali was jealous of his good grades.

“We are not on speaking terms for a week, but I want to be friends with Ali again. I realise that I was unfair and I don’t want to lose a true pal,” confessed Umair.

None of us can claim that we have never had any differences with people who hold an important place in our lives. We have quarrels with siblings, friends and classmates; sometimes on minor issues and sometimes on major ones. But it is not possible for most of us to stay away for a long time from the people we love dearly. Even if we stop talking to them and do not communicate in any other routine manner, i.e., text messaging or interacting on social forums like Facebook, Skype, we cannot keep them out of our thoughts. And a yearning to mend the fences keeps us restless and unhappy.

Some of us maybe too stubborn, making the difference a matter of our ego and waiting for the other party to make an advance to normalise the relationship. But more often than not, most of us are too soft-hearted to prolong a fight. We know that making up quickly after a quarrel brings in peace of mind and a sense of serenity as we realise that a relationship is too strong to be adversely affected by a petty difference.

How do you mend fences with a near and dear one after you have had a bitter argument, called each other names in a fit of anger or, worst still, brought up past and long settled issues? Instead of sulking, spending restless nights and worrying your parents by refusing to eat properly, try out the positive ways to make up with your near and dear ones. Although it may take a lot of courage, the best option is to admit that you were wrong. The easiest (and for some the most difficult) way is to go ahead and say ‘I am sorry’. These are the magic words which often and easily settle petty quarrels in a moment and you retrieve your cherished relationship.

There may be some of you who find it hard to apologise but still you want to show your regrets. There are many simple and warm gestures which can help you out in this difficult situation.

Write a note

If you can not directly say that you are sorry for losing your temper and picking up a fight, just send a handwritten card. You can make a simple card yourself or buy an easily available one. You can quietly slip it into your friend’s schoolbag or place it on his desk, and in the case of a sibling, keep it silently in his/her room.

Say it with flowers

To make up with a friend after a quarrel, you do not need to send an expensive bouquet. A single flower picked from your own garden and neatly tied with a piece of ribbon or a colourful string can prove to be a gesture which will salvage your friendship.

Send a gift

A gift is a caring way to tell a person that you want to be friends again. A friend’s or sibling’s favourite chocolate or any other small gift can do wonders to melt the ice between you and your cherished one. They would understand that you feel sorry but cannot muster enough courage to say so!

A positive gesture

Sometimes a warm smile, a hand extended for a shake or a hearty hug does the trick. The person you had differences with gets the message that you want to make up for your rudeness or insensitive behaviour.

Tempers usually cool down quicker than the speed with which they flare up.

At the end of the day, you come to realise that a relationship is more important than your ego and losing a close friend on a petty issue is much worse than losing our pride!

I SHALL LIVE ON!

A proud day for me today! My grandaughter has finished school with a grand result! May Allah bless her and all my grandchildren…today and always! Ameen

Yasmin Elahi

I SHALL LIVE ON!

          My three year old grand daughter came running into my arms, not taking the trouble to remove her unruly curls which streamed down to her sparkling eyes. My sister who had come from abroad after many years remarked laughingly, “Why! Your grand daughter is just like you. Just see how she tosses her head naughtily to remove her locks from her eyes as she peeps from behind them. I just hope she has not inherited your temper”, she said in a teasing tone. On any other occasion, I would not have tolerated such a remark and immediately picked up an argument with my sister, insisting that I was not as bad tempered as she was suggesting! But as she was comparing me to my grand daughter, which in itself was a big compliment for me, I chose to ignore her comments.

As a grandmother, I…

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WHITHER, GOOD MANNERS?! MY ARTICLE IN YOUNG WORLD

Whither… Good Manners?

          (Before coming to my point today, I would like my young readers to know that I do not mean to offend or charge them. I have great faith in our young generation and consider them more enlightened and intelligent than ever before. Our children are the architects of a better tomorrow. But, just in good spirit, I would like to point out to some short comings which they and their parents are overlooking).  

We are living in an era where life is moving at a fast pace. The world has changed into a global village. Lots of things are changing around us.  Being a grandmother, I have observed five generations; two senior than me and two who came after me. I feel that a lot of our cultural and moral values are not keeping up with the fast paced life and without realizing it, we are simply leaving them behind. Norms and mannerisms, which were considered totally unacceptable a couple of decades ago, have stealthily crept into the behavior and attitude of our children.

Usually parents and other older people are quick to point accusing fingers at the children and state that this was not the way we behaved when we were young. We can not (and should not) blame children for this change. We must realize that they have been born and brought up in a world totally different from our own childhood days. Children of today are overloaded with information. They have access to the computer, the internet, e- mail, text message, I phone and the television churns out information round the clock. They have the world at their finger tips. Interaction with human beings is on the down slide as children are happier to spend time with these gadgets

          In the 1950s 0r 60s people usually lived in extended families, with three or more generations under a single roof. Children had a lot of time to interact with their grand parents and other senior family members. Like today, parents usually were pressed for time, but the grandparents played a great role in the character building of the little ones. Through stories, anecdotes and sharing the wisdom they had gained from their experiences, they instilled good values in the children. They were often the role models which the children idolized and followed with great zeal.

          A grandmother (who prefers to remain anonymous) shares her views “Back in the sixties, when I was a schoolgirl, there was a firm set of rules for children which we were taught (and expected) to follow firmly. There was long list of does and don’ts. Never talk back to your parents and elders, do not interrupt when a person older than you is speaking. During a discussion, although we were encouraged to give our views, we had always to wait for our turn to speak our mind. Not only the elderly family members, but older siblings were treated with respect and sometimes when the parents were not around, they easily slipped into the role of the caretaker and the person in charge.”

She adds, “When a Buzurg (an aged person), entered a room and there was no empty seat, we were taught to try to be the first to offer ours. We were expected to stop our chatting and laughter and change the topic to something interesting to the newcomer. Keeping our voice and tone soft, sitting in an upright position whenever our parents or elders were around, were all considered parts of good manners. But now more often than not, the children do not even notice you, they keep on doing whatever they were busy in, whether it is surfing on the internet, chatting with friends, listening to loud music, watching the TV or just lying down.”

          Where can we draw a line between appearing ‘Cool’ and being insolent? This is the question where I find our new generation a bit confused. It is good to stand out in the crowd, but the difference should be in a better performance in all fields of life, rather than being ill behaved and bad mannered.

The world has changed but the relationships remain the same. You may not live with your grand parents, but they deserve the same amount of love and respect that they did three or four decades back. At times they may sound ill informed or old fashioned, but this does not mean that you should ignore, or worse still, ridicule them. Inspite of all your knowledge, they are still wiser because of the experiences they have gained over the decades.

Parents often complain that their children feel offended when they are asked where they are going, with whom and when they will be back. The new generation find the “Ws” (who, why, when) very irritating. Shirmeen, a teenager says, “Whenever I plan to hang out with my friends, my parents act weirdly. I am bombarded with questions! Why don’t they trust me? Parents should have faith in their children.” Her mother on the contrary says, “With the insecure conditions in the city, I want to know where and with whom my daughter is going and when would she be back. I simply don’t understand why she gets mad when I ask her a couple of questions.”

Most children take the parental intervention as a big obstacle in their enjoyment, as they feel it is an invasion into their privacy. Instead of being irritated by your parents’ questions, you should realize their concern for your safety. Communication gaps always lead to misunderstandings. If you sit down with them and discuss politely why you feel annoyed by their queries, you will be able to explain your point of view, as well as understand what they want or expect from you in return.

A mother of three kids, Hina Nauman says “Manners of our children have changed drastically as we have confused “badtameezi” (misbehavior) with confidence. And parents to an extent are to be blamed for this attitude. They often ignore children’s wrong manners saying that they do not want them to lose their self-confidence. What they don’t realize is that to discipline your child doesn’t mean you are making him under confident. The standard of being cool today is to stand out in the crowd at the expense of hurting or belittling others, others could be the parents themselves, the older members of the family or friends. I often get shocked when people are actually happy when they see their kid answering back to elders, which is not confidence but plain insolence. We can wrap it the way we want to, but this is not right for the character building of children. We are looking at a confused value system all together.”

In the end I would like to quote my late mother who was a woman of great wisdom, “Your behavior, speech and body language is the mirror to your family”, she used to say, “Wherever you go and whoever you meet, people should realize that you come from a respectable background. And respectability is by no means related to wealth! The way you have been brought up, the values you learnt in your early childhood and the role models you follow, strongly affects your personality”.

So, my friends beware of all things which may appear ‘cool’ today! Tomorrow, even if you realize that they adversely affect your personality, you may be so much addicted to the bad behaviour that you may not be able to shake it off even if you want to do so!