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!

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

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

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

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

disagree

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

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

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

lets agree

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

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

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

ZEEST KI BISAAT!

Zeest ki Bisaat

Zeest ki bisaat par khaate rahe yun maat hum

Ke dunya waalon ki tarah jeena humein na aayeiga

 

Kis ko humari chah hai, kis ko dikhaayein naaz hum

Jo rooth jaayein hum kabhee, kon humein munaayeiga

 

Kis ko bataoon mein yahaan, is dil pe kitne zakhm hain

Hai kon charagar mera, kon marhum lagaaeiga

 

Raah e wafa kaisi ajab, raahi bhee hum raahbar bhee hum

Bhatak gaye jo hum kabhee saheeh raah kon dikhaayeiga

 

Marne ke baad jo kabhee, zikr chir gaya mera

Mera khayaal dil pet ere eil bojh saa ban jaayeiga

 

Anakahi see eik baat sunne ko muntazir hoon mein

Guzar gaya jo waqt ye phir laut kar naa aayeiga!

DHOKA!

Image

Aaj ghar jo aaye ho ae dost

Chup chup se yoon kyun bethe ho?

Kuch poochna chahte ho jaise

Aankhon mein kyun hai uljhan si

Kuch poochna chahti hon jaise

Kya khojte ho tum yun har su

Aaj aayo dikhaayum mein khud tum ko

Kya mein ne juma kar rakha hai

Ye dil ke mere tukre hain

Wo kirchi kirchi khwaab mre

Kuch umeedein tooti tooti see

Aur ashkon ki eik mala hai

Wo ashaaon ke hain deep bujhe

Aur yaadon ke bikhre moti hain

Kyun aankh hui purnum teri

Chehra kyun hua ghum se bojhal?

Ye mera qeemti sarmaaya

Jeewan ki kumaai ye meri

Tum ko pasand kya aayi nahin?

Hairat se mujhe kyun takte ho!

Kya khaaya hai dhoka tum ne?

Tum dhoondhne aaye thei khushyaan

Kuch khushkun baatein khushkun lamhe?

Kyun dosh tumhein mein doon ae dost

Dhoka tou mera chehra hai

Rehti hai jis pe jhooti hansi

Dard dil mein chupa ke rakhti hoon

Aaj aayo bataaun mein tum ko

Ye roop kyun mein ne dhaara hai

Hai tabyat meri khuddaar bohat

Hamdardi bheek si lagti hai!

Jab jab ye dunya dukh deti hai

Jab jab mein is pe hansti hoon

Mein bant ti phirti hoon khushyaan

Ghum dil mein chupa ke rakhti hoon

Par dard jab hadd se barh jaata hai

Tou chupke se ro leti hoon!

 

 

 

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE!

 

The young woman (a friend’s daughter) was fuming with anger! “Pakistan is not worth living anymore! I will migrate as soon as I possibly can.”

Her agitation was natural! Mugged by a scooter driving youth, she had lost cash, her ID card, credit card and cell phone. And as this was not the first time, the hassle she knew she had got herself into was more frustrating. As she knew from earlier experience that reporting at a police station was futile, she had to (again) set upon contacting the concerned people about her dilemma! Applying for a new NIC and credit card, getting her cell no. blocked until she got a new sim and trying to re-collect the numbers of her contacts was no easy job! And she knew that palms would have to be greased for redressing her genuine distress. And last but not the least, the cash she had lost was no small amount!

I couldn’t blame her as she was sharing the general dismal mood of discontent shared by the youth of our country! But like I always do in similar circumstances, I couldn’t stop myself from quipping back, “What percentage of our population can possibly migrate? Don’t you think that people living outside Pakistan have their own set of problems? And instead of planning to run away, we should firmly plant our feet on our soil and work hard to improve the conditions?”

Conditions in Pakistan are detoriating day by day, year by year! Caught in the clutches of greedy politicians, energy crisis, militancy, religious extremists (whom I refuse to call Muslims) blowing up themselves and innocent people in public places, the ever rising spiral of inflation, lawlessness, illiteracy, corruption and unemployment are only a few of the problems gnawing at the roots of our country.

Tall promises are made before every up-coming elections, pledges are made to solve all the problems in no time at all, but our leaders quickly forget about them and promptly busy themselves in amassing wealth in every possible and unethical manner, visiting foreign countries (with huge entourages), distributing ministries to appease their loyalists (competency being the least consideration), and stooping to any level to keep their rule intact. This is a quagmire we have been stuck in for decades now!

The brain drain from Pakistan towards the West has been continuing for the past two or more generations and is one of the reasons for the unfavorable conditions we are facing today. Qualified, young, talented, hardworking and honest people realize that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. A better paid job, much improved basic amenities, an atmosphere of general security and stability, bright prospects for their children’s future, more stable economic conditions and over all a more comfortable life style, attracts them so much that they opt for the greener pastures.

But as the saying goes “Everything comes with a price. Everything! Some things just cost more than the others.” The economic and living conditions may be much better in the greener pastures, but life is not all bliss in an alien land. Adapting to a foreign culture and still retaining one’s national identity is difficult for most people (and more so for their children) and safe guarding their religious and cultural values is an uphill task! Compromises have to be made, as leaving behind one’s roots, parents and childhood friends is always painful.

The most important negative factor is that these people are forced into raising a confused generation, which is neither Eastern nor Western, but a misfit in both cultures! Many a parents have to go through a nightmarish phase when they can no longer control their adolescents, who are attracted by the so called freedom of their native peers. Protecting their children from the culture of drug abuse, extra-marital sex and violence becomes a difficult task for them. The children who have been brought up in a totally alien culture, feel all these are normal part of life and often clash with their parents when the older generation tries to impose restrictions on them!

Sadly, inspite of these difficulties, most people who move out of Pakistan, think it is better to cope with these issues rather live in the difficult conditions back home. And so in their quest for greener pastures, they leave behind their culture, their values and a motherland which is bleeding to the core!

But I say again and again that to run away from problems is not a healthy way to solve them! We must not behave like ostriches who bury their necks in the sand! We have to face our troubles and overcome them, catch the bull by its horns and try to control it with all our might! Fighting the problems by finding out solutions and trying our best to implement them inspite of the odds is the only way things can improve!

Pakistan needs fresh blood more than it ever needed before! Dedicated, talented, hard working, honest and educated youth must come forward to control the helm of affairs! We need them in every field of action, bureaucracy, politics, military, judiciary, education and governance! Personal gains must be sacrificed for national causes! Our youth may be disenchanted and angry, but their angry outbursts show that they still care! And they know that all is not lost in Pakistan, as deep down they also feel that it is high time things should change for the better. I am not supporting or opposing any political party, but to prove my point I must remind people about the steep rise in the percentage of voters especially the young ones, when in the recent elections hope for a change was offered!

 There is always light at the end of the darkest tunnel. We must move forward, even if we are on our hands and feet, to reach that end! We have to start at the grassroots and corruption has to be eliminated at all levels. Awareness about striking the perfect balance between rights and duties can only be achieved through improving the literacy rate. Each and everyone has to put in his/her share. The effort may be small and seemingly insignificant but when a major change comes, every small endeavour will prove to help in making the difference!

Only then the plight of or Homeland can change!

I know and accept that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Life in the conditions prevailing in Pakistan is not easy! I fear for my children when they go out (and quickly recite a prayer for their safety), get panicked if one of them is late in coming home or  responding to a call on his/her cell phone, worry day in and day out how to stretch the household budget to make the ends meet, cry when I see the pictures of innocent children killed in terrorist attacks, rant and rave at the conditions in Pakistan when I read the newspaper or watch the news on the TV, but if given the choice of moving out, without even thinking for a moment, my answer would be “No thanks, the grass may appear greener on the other side, but inspite of the difficult conditions here, I still prefer my side of the fence!”

 

 

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! 

RAMZAN AND PAKISTAN ( Musings of a true Pakistani!)

 

We have been blessed by the month of Ramadan again. This is the time of the year to re-learn lessons, to stop and think; and to act for a better life and a better future! As I repeatedly say, Ramadan is not about refraining to eat and drink from dawn to dusk as this only the physical requirement of this month. Neither is it only about preparing and shopping for Eid, something we all spend a major part of the month in. The message of this month goes much deeper! If we think a bit profoundly, we will find that this is a month to change ourselves for the better, to improve in all aspects of life.

We all know Pakistan was created on the 14th of August 1947, but maybe most of us do not know that this day coincided with the 27th of Ramadan 1368 Hijri. If we truly realize the real lessons of this month, and apply it to our behavior and attitude as citizens of Pakistan, we can make a drastic improvement in the future of our homeland. All of us have to play a role and change ourselves to contribute towards this goal.

Discipline, obedience, punctuality, compassion for those less blessed than us, sharing and caring and a sense of accountability are all feelings which can go a long way in improving our lives as well as the situation in Pakistan.

My readers may be too young to realize the intensity of the dire state of affairs we as a nation are stuck in, but you are enlightened enough to know that all is not well in Pakistan. The newspaper and the electronic media give us disturbing news every day. Your parents fear for your security when you go out. Illiteracy, crimes, corruption and greed are gnawing at the roots of our beloved homeland. If we as a nation resolve to apply the true spirit of Ramadan to our conduct and outlook as a nation, a positive change in the situation is bound to come.

Ramadan teaches us the lesson of obedience. We know that we have to go without food and during during a fast. But we can easily sneak a snack or a glass of water when no one is watching us. But none of us would even think of doing so because we all firmly believe that a Divine Eye is watching us! Why is it so that we take a pleasure in breaking rules and disobeying laws? Sneaking a flower or two and walking on the grass where it is clearly written “Do not walk on the grass or pluck flowers” give us a sense of adventure. Breaking traffic signals and over speeding on roads are not even considered a crime by most people. Pushing and shoving each other instead of making a queue at public places are all national habits with us. These are small crimes but this frame of mind gives rise to a disregard for law at all levels. If we learn to obey and respect the law at a young age, a far reaching change will be seen very soon.

Ramadan is the month of punctuality. We start and break fasts according to the fixed time and not according to our mood or whim. But as a nation we totally lack a sense of punctuality. Students submit their work late, government officers generally do not care if they do not reach their offices in time; we seldom follow the timings when we attend a wedding or any other invitation. And often I have found patients waiting and suffering in pain because the doctors do not turn up at the exact time they have given to their patients. Time is a commodity which we love to waste although if we study the cases of developed nations we shall find that punctuality and valuing time is one of their foremost qualities. So, this Ramadan let us resolve that we shall value our time and try to do every thing according to a set routine.

When we give out Zakaat in Ramadan, we come in contact with people less privileged than us. This creates in us a sense of compassion as well a will to share our blessings with the needy people around us. Feeling the pangs of hunger as well going thirsty makes us realize what the poor people go through the year around. If we nurture these feelings and keep them alive around the year, a large number of people from our circle will benefit. Giving away clothes, toys, books and other personal possessions which you can comfortably do without may bring joy and content to those who can not afford to buy these things. Frustrations and deprivations usually give rise to crime. The crime graph in our country can come down sharply if the affluent change their attitude of amassing wealth by using unfair means and depriving the worthy of their share, but these qualities have to be learnt from a young age.

In the end I must say that Ramadan gives us a general sense of piety, an urge to do good deeds and shun bad ones. Lying, cheating, selfishness, greed and back biting are all qualities which are causing the detoriation in the conditions our country is facing. While fasting we have a natural urge to keep away from these ills. Why not resolve firmly to make this a national habit? Even when Ramadan is over and we are not fasting truthfulness, honesty, patriotism and discipline can go a far way to guide Pakistan towards the road to development.

So, enjoy the delicacies Mummy cooks for Iftar and Sehar but do not fail to lend her a helping hand wherever you can. Shop for your Eid preparations but do not forget those who are less privileged than you. But foremost of all, this Ramadan let’s resolve to make Pakistan a better place to live in. When we all join hands and make firm resolution things will improve Insha Allah. Because as an optimistic I firmly believe that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel! A change (for the better) in our values and preferences is the need of the hour.

Ramazan: Care and share!

The holy month of Ramazan has arrived with its endless blessings! These are strange and blessed days as we all feel a change in ourselves, a change for the better. We find ourselves more inclined towards good deeds; more compassionate towards the people around us and witness a strange urge to share our blessings with those who do not have the privileges we enjoy (and sometimes take for granted).

 

 

Those of us who (unfortunately) are not regular in their prayers, promptly get up for ablution and proceed to pray as soon as we hear the Moazzin’s call. The sound of the Maghrib Azan is perhaps the most welcome sound of the day. After the long hours of hunger and thirst, our fast comes to an end and we enjoy the endless mouth-watering goodies mummy so lovingly prepares for us.

But even in these moments we do not forget our maid, driver, cook or the chowkidaar and make it a point to lay out plates for them with all the things on the Iftar table that we will be having!

Friends, Ramazan is a month of great rewards as Allah has promised to bestow His grace on us manifolds for all the good deeds we perform. So, when you are fasting, instead of taking it only as an abstinence from food and drink, try to ponder on the importance of fasting. The hunger and thirst we experience make us realise the hardships of the people who are not as lucky as us!

So, think about ways to help people around you. Try to reflect on the plight of children like you who have been pushed into child labour due to the poverty of their parents. Although they deserve education just as you do, they cannot go to schools because their parents cannot afford the expenses. Instead, they toil in the heat to earn the extra money their family needs to make both ends meet! You can make the days of Ramazan more valuable by sharing your blessing with these children.

Scan your wardrobe for the clothes you seldom wear but that are still in good condition. Empty your shoe rack and put back only those you really need. Sort out your toys, stationery, story books, etc, and give away what you think is more than your requirements.

These extra things you keep on collecting (but hardly use) can make Eid happier and brighter for your less privileged peers. When you go out for Eid shopping, don’t forget to remind mummy to get some new stuff for the maid and her kids too.

This year you have the extra advantage of summer vacation, so you do not have to brave the heat of the scorching sun during the fast. You can also get up later than your normal routine. This Ramazan make your time precious by sharing your free time. Help out at home to lessen the workload of your mother and maids too. 

Clearing up your rooms, making your beds, laying the table and clearing up after Sehr and Iftar, can be positive steps on your part to relieve those who keep on toiling endlessly to keep you comfortable.

Be prompt to get up at Sehr. In most homes, we see mothers running frantically from room to room, trying to pull out sleepy children from their beds and making them eat and drink enough to pass the long hours of fasting with more ease. But often in this chaos, they hardly get time to have a proper meal themselves, although to be fair to them, they are the ones who need a proper diet the most!

So instead of making Sehr an exhausting experience for mummy, get up early and help out in laying the table and carry out the eggs, milk, cereals and whatever else she is serving you for Sehr. Make sure that she finishes her glass of milk, just as she wants you to finish yours.

When Daddy comes home from his job, try to help him in relaxing after he has braved the heat of the day. A gentle massage of the neck and feet will help him to relax and beat the fatigue of the long fast. Be sure not to quarrel with siblings, make unnecessary noise or put on the TV on high volume, so that he can snatch a nap before it is time for Iftar.

Friends, caring for people around us and sharing our blessings with them should be your motto this month. Ramazan is a month of obedience, sacrifice, discipline and devotion. You feel nearer to Allah and a softening of the heart.

Compassion is the key to a positive and better life! Let’s vow to practise this positive emotion not only in this holy month but the whole year round. You will be amazed by the sense of peace of mind and tranquillity you will feel engulfing your heart!

In the end I would like to quote a famous Hadith. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Allah says, ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting; it is for me and I shall reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield. If any one of you is fasting, let him not utter obscene talk or raise his voice in anger, and if anyone insults him or wants to fight, let him say: I am fasting. By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better before Allah than the fragrance of musk. The fasting person has two moments of joy: when he breaks his fast he rejoices at breaking his fast and when he meets his Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, he will rejoice at having fasted’.”

Happy Ramazan and a happier Eid to all my friends!

 

 

WELCOME, BLESSED MONTH OF RAMZAN

WELCOME, BLESSED MONTH!

          10th July 2013

            Its nearing the time for the Maghrib Aazaan. The blessed month of Ramzan is about to begin. I feel a sense of relief that I am still around! Although I feel a bit apprehensive as the fasts would be long and the days hot, but I believe firmly that the strength to abstain from food and drink for the long hours is granted by the Almighty Himself!

Every year I say goodbye to Ramzan with a heavy heart. Nearly 335 days before this month of infinite blessings comes again! Will I be able to make it to next Ramzan or is this the last I am witnessing of this lovable month? This question tugs at my heart as I try to busy myself for the Eid morning preparations. The happy faces of my grandchildren, who excitedly pull out their dresses from their wardrobes, lay out their shoes, socks (and matching accessories for the girls) fail to revive my spirits as I seek corners to wipe out the stray tear which keeps on blurring my view.

In the fast paced life we all live in, the months follow each other quickly and sooner than we can imagine, people start reminding each other; “Can you believe it? Only 6 months left for Ramzan! And it seems only yesterday when we were braving hunger and thirst during the long hot days.”  Hope keeps whispering silently in my heart, “Perhaps I shall be around after all!” and with the advent of Rajab I start my preparations for Eid. I have to shop for dresses for all my children and grandchildren, a ritual which I follow religiously and enjoy thoroughly! But all the shopping must be completed before Ramzan begins! This month is too valuable for me to waste my time in shopping centres and malls. The last errand to the tailor completed before the blessed days begin, I am looking forward to relaxing at home during the fasts

Not that I pray a lot (I am afraid to admit)! But for me this month means strengthening my bonds with Allah, pondering on His unending Blessings, trying my best to recite the Holy Quran as much as I can! I am lucky to have got another chance to repent for my wrong doings, to seek Allah’s forgiveness, to try to wash away my sins with my tears! I feel a strange softening of my heart, a compassion for people less blessed than me and above all I feel nearer to The Almighty.

In addition to these feelings Ramzan is also the month to enjoy the mouth watering goodies at Iftaar! I am a food lover and thoroughly relish the Cholas, Pakoras, Samosas and Fruit Chats every day at. Not to forget a tall and chilled glass of my all time favourite Rooh Afza!  Every year I and my Bahus try to keep the Iftaar simple, declaring that we shall spend more time in our prayers, duas and reciting The Holy Quran. But strangely when we lay out the Iftaar table, it seems to overflow with Allah’s bounties! For this is a month of abundance, as Allah puts Barkat in everything we make!

And before we know it the month starts drawing towards its end. As I wait for the Maghrib Azaan, I look forward towards the yearly exercise of the cleansing of the soul. The love of the World and its endless attractions pull at my heart and every year I feel I have moved away from Allah and the teachings of Islam! But thankfully, Ramzan comes back every year to revive my faith, soften my heart so that I want to repent for my wrong doings, strengthen my belief in Allah and His endless bounties.

11th July-2013

Yesterday I stopped writing this blog as a strange frustration set in. This was not what I wanted to write! There was much more to my feelings about the Blessed month. I stared at the computer screen for some time and then decided to quit! And then as if in the form of Divine Help, a text message from my best friend Nusrat came through! Just as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle suddenly fall into their respective places, I could pin point my thoughts easily. The message read, “This is a month of soul searching, reconciliation and mending yourself. A month of returning to your core, surrendering and submitting yourself to your Creator. A month of self-recognition, supplication and salvation. May this Ramzan bring peace, happiness and change (for the better) in our lives. Ramzan Mubarak!”

The first day of Ramzan already gone and the Fast easier than my expectations, I cannot thank Allah enough for blessing me once again. Alhumdulillah!  

A very Happy and blessed Ramzan to all my readers! May we all be granted this precious month again and again in our lives Ameen!

THE AMMEE IN ME!

THE AMMEE IN ME!

I started my journey as a writer at an age when usually people are at the peak of their respective careers. Although my first article was published in Dawn when I had already crossed 55, slowly and steadily I have worked hard to carve out a name for myself amongst the regular contributors to the Inpage magazines (The Review and Young World) of this reputed newspaper. With only scattered articles in a number of other newspapers and magazines, I cannot boast to be a top achiever, but as (by nature) I am not a very ambitious person, I am fairly content with what I have done.

The other day, while searching for something totally different, I accidentally stumbled on this definition on Wikipedia and it set the ball of thoughts rolling. Can I call myself a late bloomer? I wonder!

According to Wikipedia, “A late bloomer is a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual. The term is used metaphorically to describe a child or adolescent who develops more slowly than others in their age group, but eventually catches up and in some cases overtakes their peers, or an adult whose talent or genius in a particular field only appears later in life than is normal – in some cases only in old age.”

People often ask me why I started writing so late in my life! With a smile I reply, “Things were destined to be this way”. The truth is that I myself have no answer to this question! Hailing from a rather conservative family and being a full time home maker and mother a major part of my life, I had never imagined even in my wildest dreams that I would write articles at any stage of my life and that my compiled books would be published by a very reputable publisher (thanks, Ferozsons!)

Yes, I was good at writing essays during my school and college life, often getting a grudging praise from our very strict English teacher at school. Sometimes I cannot help smiling when I remember how I dreaded her! Having a great proficiency on English language and excellence in Grammar, she was the best teacher one could wish to have. But her sarcastic remarks when I (or my peers) made mistakes drove me mad! But today I am thankful to her on the way she grilled in me the rules of Grammar, taught me how to expand my vocabulary and instilled in me the writing skills which I haven’t forgotten to this day (although decades have passed to that stage of my life.)

Sorry readers, I have meandered away from what I actually wanted to write today. Maybe one of the disadvantages of blogging is that you are less focused, even more so when you are maintaining a personal blog site. No editors, no words limit! You just allow your thoughts to flow as you keep on hitting your keyboard!

As I read the above mentioned definition of a late bloomer, an incident from my early childhood came to my mind. Ammi often used to relate it laughingly. I was hardly six when a visitor asked me fondly “Baby aap baree ho ke kya baneingee?” (Baby what do you want to be when you grow up?) Without looking up from the doll I was playing with, and without taking a moment to think, my instant reply was “Ammee” (a mother). I looked up in surprise when the visitor and my mother burst out in laughter. “Adults are so weird! Now what is the joke in my reply?” I am sure I must have thought to myself as I went back to my toys!  

And Ammee I became at a rather young age! As fate had planned, or may be a passing angel had said Amen to my innocent childhood goals, I was married when I was in my late teens and became a mother just after I crossed my 21st birthday! For years, my life revolved round my four kids, who are dearer to me than anything else in the world.

I tried hard to be a good mother and shape the personalities of my children to the best of my abilities. Coaxing them, urging them and at times bullying them to bring out the best in them, the Ammee in me was vigilant and active throughout the years they were growing up! At times, I longed for some respite, for a few hours which I could devote to myself, but more often than not, my kids kept me busy round the clock! Maybe the mother in me, the perfectionist who wanted to settle for nothing but the best for her children, kept me on the go throughout that hectic but enjoyable part of my life. Every milestone that my children crossed was like a personal accomplishment for me and every compliment they received brought a rush of adrelin!

Years fly and time moves at a fast pace! As life moved on, the children grew up and settled down in their lives, I found myself free with long hours to spend according to my whims and moods. But strangely, instead of a sense of relief, I was surprised to find a feeling of loneliness silently descending upon my heart. I had no idea about what to do with this extra time I once longed for!

And this is when the breakthrough came! My daughter-in-law, who is more a friend for me than a Bahu suggested, “Ammi, why don’t you start writing?” I was surprised and a bit flattered too! Writing for magazines was something I had never contemplated I could do. Although I wrote poetry on and off and maintained my memoirs in which I shared my life’s moments of joy, excitement, anguish and despair, this suggestion was something  totally new for me. A field which I had never explored or even thought I would at some stage of life!

But her suggestion excited me. Why not? I thought to myself, I have nothing to lose except the disappointment of rejection. I started sending in articles to various publications and to my delight (and surprise too), my submissions started to appear at fair intervals in the magazines of a leading daily Dawn.

Maintain a blogsite was the next step which I found more fulfilling. This is my domain, a place where I can struggle to improve, experiment, create! Just as in the by-gone years I worked hard to bring out the best in my children, I coax, prod, push and sometimes bully myself to do something positive, I write and re-write, try my best to keep on improving what I have initially written. I want to express my ideas and inspirations in the best possible manner.

Over the years I have been working as a writer, the Ammee in me is never completely satisfied or fulfilled! Creating something new gives me a strange sense of joy mixed with pangs of pain. I do not want to confuse my readers, but I think only a mother or a true writer can understand what I mean!

Just like the tough task of raising children to be good and positive adults, and the satisfaction which followed after I found myself fairly successful, writing is not something easy for me! I sometimes feel I have to pour out my heart’s blood to create something worth reading. Every new experience of writing brings a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, but it also leaves me spent out, exhausted and a bit dazed after the endeavor.

As a mother, I remember never being satisfied with my children’s performance, always wanting and expecting them to do better. In the same manner I am never content after writing something. Always a bit shaky, I read and re read what I have written, making changes here and there to make a piece more powerful. Bekaar hi hai! (It’s worthless) I tell myself after posting a piece. But I must admit feeling a rush of Adrelin when likes and comments on my writings start coming in!

The urge to write something new, to create, to improve keeps me on the go! The strong and inborn maternal instincts in me have helped a lot as a mother and a writer too! The Ammee in me lives on! Alhumdulillah!