The boss has a crush on his young, beautiful but married secretary. The girl is tactful enough to keep his advances at bay and still retain her job. Her colleagues have planned a surprise birthday party for the boss which the (unsuspecting) girl discusses at home with her mother-in-law.

On the fateful day the boss is astonished but delighted to receive a card and a big bouquet from her and calls to say thanks. The girl is devastated because she has sent neither of them, but her husband (who is sure to be at home at that particular time) does not believe her. So, a big row follows. The mother-in-law, who is listening to them argue bitterly, stays neutral but the smug look on her face has a lot to say!

The daughter-in-law is not to be deterred and plans a quick revenge. The next day she seems to misplace her wedding ring (a precious diamond one, of course). She hunts for it everywhere and looks visibly agitated. The (seemingly) loving mama-in-law is all sympathy for her as she helps in the search. In the evening the daughter-in-law opens her mother-in-law`s cupboard to get something for her and lets out a scream (of delight). The ring is right there, shining brightly and she turns towards the older lady in disbelief, her accusing look saying more than words.

One has only to put two and two together to guess how the ring reached there.

These are not true stories but scenes from one of the endless (and senseless) soap operas which the ever mushrooming television channels dish out day in and day out! We see people of every age addicted to them. They gleefully watch episode after episode of the plays even though the story moves at a snail`s pace. Why are people attracted to these soap operas? Some people say that these plays are an escape from the harsh realities of life while others argue that this is the best way they can spend their leisure hours, but very few of us realise what harm they are doing to our family values!

The family is the core of the human existence and its members are supposed to provide each other with love and security, to share each other`s happiness, problems and sorrows, and to tend to each other`s needs. The majority of the soap operas have a negative impact on these values. Most of the plays are set against an urban backdrop, about families belonging to the high social strata, where the ladies have nothing better to do than to don expensive dresses, heavy (and unnatural) makeup and jewellery and relax in luxuriously furnished lounges. They have to do no house work, no cooking, no washing or ironing and no looking after their kids. All they seem to do is to plot, scheme and hatch conspiracies against other family members! Back biting seems to be the order of the day as these ladies manipulate simple day-to-day events to their selfish motives. In the above mentioned examples, both the ladies go miles to demean other down, even though their hatred for each other is beautifully sugar coated.

The most important target in most soaps are the in-laws. Marriage is not only a bond between two individuals it is a new set of relationships between two families. This relationship is supposed to be based on mutual love, understanding and respect for each other, with every one realising the others` rights and working together towards a peaceful and loving family. The love for in-laws is not in the blood, as that for biological bonds; it has to be nurtured step by step, day by day after making many compromises and sacrifices.

On the contrary, most TV plays are teaching women to hate instead of love, to doubt instead of to trust, to avenge instead of to forgive and to humiliate instead of to respect. Women are portrayed not as home makers but as home breakers, all out to destroy the peace, tranquillity and happiness from a happy family life.

In the normal life, do we find women as cunning and ill meaning to each other as depicted in these plays? I don`t claim that relationship with in-laws is all bliss but the question is, “Is anyone perfect in this world?” We have to be perfect ourselves before expecting or demanding perfection from others.

The viewers of soap operas, especially young girls, are so taken by the charm and glamour of the characters that they lose the capability of distinguishing facts from fiction and have no idea what subtle change is undergoing in their approach towards family life. These hate-mongers on the idiot box are teaching us to hate, distrust and humiliate the people who should be the most near and dear to our hearts. Shouldn`t all of us stand up against this slow poison to the roots of our being before it is too late?


Like every other mother I simply loved the hold I had on my son’s life, the absolute veto power with which I ruled over his little world. In doing so I felt like a queen, but ALAS! Eventually the day came when my throne was toppled and the one to do so was no one else than my son himself! Wait! You shall better understand my predicament when I share with you the events which led to this collapse of my rule.

Twelve years back…My six year old is sitting at the breakfast table fidgeting with his cereal and fruit. “Come on Son, hurry up! You are getting late for school”, I call out in an impatient voice as I run around the house trying to manage my morning chores. “Mama, I do not want to eat this cereal, I hate it. Why can’t I have ice cream for breakfast”, he asks in his tiny voice. I feel irritated because this is a dialogue we have everyday, “You know very well that you can not have ice cream in the morning, come on finish up the cereal and your banana as well”. “But why should I when I don’t like it”? He tries to argue. How to convince a six year old about the importance of a healthy breakfast? I have neither the time nor the patience to do this, so I simply say, “Because I said so”. My son looks at me with tearful eyes and spoons his cereal half heartedly.

Four years later….. I am clearing up after lunch looking forward to my much deserved afternoon nap when I see my ten year old coming out stealthily from his room. He is trying to hide his ball and bat behind his thin framework!

“Where do you think you are going at this hour of the day?” I ask him in an annoyed tone. “Mama, all the boys are playing cricket in the lane, I am going out to play”, he says in a cautious tone trying to look confident. “No, you are not!” I snap back, “This is the time for your nap! You are not attentive in the evening while doing your home-work if you do not sleep in the afternoon”, I say in a firm tone. “But Mama, all the boys play everyday, why can’t I? Feeling too tired to prolong the argument, I simply say firmly, “Because I said so”. My son looks at me with reproachful eyes but I return his gaze steadily, his eyes falter and he turns back slowly to his room dragging his bat behind him.

Four years later…. We have to go for a dinner party and are getting late. I call out to my fourteen year old who is lazily flipping channels on the television, “Son, Please hurry up! Your clothes are pressed and I am going to change, we have to set out in exactly ten minutes”, I say as I turn towards my room. He gets up from the couch and on seeing his shirt and trousers call out from behind “Oh no, Mama! Again these formal clothes! You know very well how I dislike them. I want to wear jeans and my black t-shirt, they look so cool”. “For Heaven’s sake! You know very well that you can not wear jeans to a dinner party, so many people I know are invited there and you have to dress properly”, I feel exasperated because this a routine clash between me and him. But the argument is not over yet. He says, “Mama, I don’t understand why you are so particular about my clothes, all the boys of my age dress according to their mood! Why do I have wear these clothes when I don’t like them?” As I know it would be hard to convince him, I say in a final tone “Because I said so”. My son stares at me with rebellious eyes but this time it is me who has to look away. He picks up his clothes and as I turn to my room, I hear him slam his bedroom door behind him. “Head strong he is getting, isn’t he? I will have to talk to him” I think to myself as I hurry to my room.

Four years later….I am in the kitchen giving the final touches to the dinner. My eighteen year old enters and calls out “Mama, I am going out with friends”. “But dinner is ready” I protest without turning my back. “One of the boys is giving us a birthday treat so I will have dinner outside” he replies in a careless tone. Before I reply he says, “And please do not call after every half an hour”. I turn sharply towards him and ask, “Why do you think I should not call you when you are away?” This time my son answers in a firm voice “Because I said so !”. I nearly drop the lid of the pan in surprise and am about to give an angry retort when I notice the mischievous twinkle in his eyes and the naughty look on his face.

My little one (no more!) comes awkwardly towards me and putting his arms around me says, “Mama, I love you so, but why don’t you understand that I am no longer a child, my friends laugh at me when you call so many times, I promise you I won’t be late”. He kisses my forehead and walks out of the kitchen. My absolute rule over my son’s life is over! It’s the end of an era. I realize with nostalgia as I watch his turned back but strangely, instead of feeling resentment at being dethroned,I feel a mist in my eyes as a strange sense of pride rushes to my heart.

Reallife: The enviable home-maker by Yasmin Elahi (



lt all started on the eventful day when I decided to watch the television play which was the talk of the town. At parties and get togethers, I felt completely left out as friends and relatives discussed the play with much enthusiasm, and as I had picked up most of the story while listening to their conversation, I switched on the TV on that day.

The play was boring as I had expected it to be, but what caught my attention was the ladies appearing in the (endless) commercials which dotted the play (or should I say the play dotted the commercials!). I was particularly impressed by the appearance of these home-makers, dressed in spotless dresses and singing cheerfully while they served tempting looking meals to their family (cooked in the most health friendly oil) or washing load after load of laundry (displaying a particular washing powder). One of them was happily displaying her microwave oven and her cooking speed could bring to shame the most efficient housewife. All of them looked so attractive, dressed in the trendiest and most fashionable clothes and wearing matching accessories from head to toe!

I felt ashamed of myself as I thoughtfully observed my crumpled dress, disheveled hair and the bathroom slippers I was wearing. All the care I took of myself (when I was not going out anywhere) was a quick shower and change, tying my hair into a joora before they even dried up properly. The ladies in the ads didn`t let their efficiency interfere with their appearance. Why couldn`t I spare some time for myself to improve my looks? I scolded myself.

Making new resolves to improve my appearance, I switched off the TV and proceeded to the kitchen to prepare dinner, but stopping half way I rushed to my room. I must change first, I reminded myself. After a quick shower I dressed in a freshly pressed suit and sporting a light makeup, I rushed to the kitchen. “Where are you going Mummy? I need your help in my Algebra homework,” my ten your old son called out. “No, Sunny I am not going anywhere,” I exclaimed as I switched on the oven. He looked a little puzzled but continued with his homework.

The next morning I was about to hurry to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for my college going eldest. But again I remembered my resolve and taking a shower I changed to a clean dress and quickly dabbed on some moisturizer and lipstick. I was rummaging in the drawers for some matching jewellery when I heard my son yelling, “Mama where is my breakfast? I am getting late for my class.” “Just coming, son,” I called back as I abandoned my search. As soon as he saw me my son let out a groan, “O Mama, please don`t ask me to drop you anywhere, I am already late for college!” Trying to keep my cool I assured him that I was not going anywhere and quickly gave him a banana and a glass of milk (all I could manage in the few moments he could spare).

My daughter stepped out of her room ready to catch the school bus, “Mama where are you going so early in the morning? Please be sure to be at home when I come back from school.” I stared at her in frustration. The children were so used to my shabby looks at home that it was hard to convince them I had no intentions of venturing out of the house if on a certain day I chose to look presentable!

The maasi rang the bell. “Baji tussi kahin ja rahe ho?” she asked in her half Urdu and half Punjabi. I felt like…….never mind what I felt like, as I busied myself with my daily chores. One week passed. I was keeping my resolve and somehow carving out time for myself. My efforts definitely were showing results, and a sense of satisfaction surged to my mind as I glanced at myself in the mirror. But alas! My efficiency at home seemed to deteriorate.

The extra time I spent pressing that extra dress, laying out the matching accessories with it and grooming myself was taking its toll. I had to make compromises in the intricate meals I loved preparing for my children. The house did not look as clean as it used to do. I simply did not have the time to keep each nook and cranny as spick and span as I did earlier on! The pile of laundry was ever increasing as were the dresses needing to be pressed which peeped at me from the closet next to the ironing board.

It all ended on the day my children burst out at me. My daughter complained that she did not feel like eating because the food was not tasty at all, just not like Mama`s cooking. My college going son exclaimed that he had always the uneasy feeling that I would ask him to drop me somewhere, but the last straw came from my ten-year-old son, “I don`t like you!” He said tearfully, “You do not look like my Mama anymore; you look like the aunties on the television”.

Noting my crestfallen look, my sensitive daughter rushed to me and folding her arms round me declared lovingly, “Mama we don`t love you for what you look like, we love you for what you are!”

It was dinner time. With a rueful smile, I glanced at myself in the lounge mirror and trying to straighten out the wrinkles from my dress with my hands and rearrange my hair (again with my hands), I marched towards the kitchen — to serve dinner to my children like a good Mama!


It is a part of human nature that we are never satisfied with our circumstances! We either yearn for the days that are to come or pine for those which have already past.

As a child, my biggest dreams were to free myself from the shackles of childhood, which in those days I considered a sort of prison. ‘Growing up’ seemed to me a solution for all my problems; the end of all the disappointments, frustrations and pains relating to childhood. I soothed myself by dreaming that all my woes would end ‘When I shall grow up’; the golden times when I would have no school, no homework, no don’t do this and don’t do that, eating whatever and whenever I wanted to and sleeping and getting up according to my wish!

          Grow up I did, but alas! None of my dreams were fulfilled. The problems were still there, only they had changed their faces. Although I was free from the shackles of childhood, free from the clutches of Ammi and had stepped into a married life, I found out that after tying the knot, I had also assumed a new set of responsibilities.

House-work took the place of home-work, and I found running a home, looking after my children and making ends meet, more tiring and demanding than going to school or college. The do’s and don’ts were still there but the end receivers had changed. This time it was me who was the admonisher and my (poor) children the admonished.

And Oh! All the chocolates, cakes, ice creams and cold drinks I had once intended to devour, after I got out of the watchful eyes of Ammi, seemed to beckon to me whenever I opened the refrigerator! The urge was still there, and I was free to eat as much as I wanted to, but this time my enemy was the pointer on the weighing scale and an ever increasing waist line.

          My dreams of sleeping and getting up according to my mood were also shattered. Back in my childhood days when Ammi came to my room in the morning, scolding, switching off the fan and pulling back the curtains she seemed to me the greatest of all tyrants. Why couldn’t I sleep for an extra hour or stay up late at night if I wanted to? These were the rebellious questions that crossed my mind. Lights had to be put off at a particular hour and being a book worm, I often had to hide in the bathroom with my un-finished story book.

After marriage, I was blessed with children and life as a mother became more hectic. I had hardly any time for myself and sleep became a very precious commodity! The youngest didn’t want to sleep when I was sleepy or he was hungry at the oddest hours in the night! At dawn, when he finally decided to call it a day and go to sleep, it was time for the older children to be sent to school. Mornings always seemed a race against the clock, as my ears strained for the dreaded horn of the school van as it hit the kerb. Since I was a full time home-maker, even on holidays it was impossible for me to get up late; the never ending ringing of the telephone and door bell had to be attended. This much to sleep according to my mood!

          Memories of a particular Sunday when I failed to get up when the Maasi (maid), rang the bell are like a nightmare. Presuming conveniently that I was not at home, she left and I had to do all the additional work myself. After washing the nappies and doing the pile of dishes, I picked the garbage bin and stepped out to empty it. But the sight which welcomed me at the entrance of my apartment made me feel like cursing myself. I had missed the milkman too! And he had left packet of the milk at the doorstep. The silly cat, taking it to be her breakfast, had dragged the packet all along the entrance. I had lost the milk as well had to clean up the mess she had created!

I felt like crying out aloud but had to remind myself that I was no more a child and could not give way to my feelings whenever and wherever I wanted to do so! Picking up the bucket of water and a brush, and pretending to ignore the amused eyes of my prying neighbour, I started to scrub the floor viciously as if venting out my anger at my adulthood and the hardships it had brought with it.     

In the days when I was busy rearing children there always seemed to be a race against time. I consoled myself by thinking that once the children grew up and settled down in life, I shall have a lot of time for myself. I shall catch up on my reading (which had always been an obsession with me). But, with the passage of time, I have learnt otherwise.

With married sons living in a joint family, and a very good relationship with my daughters in law, life still doesn’t seem to give me the respite I had looked forward to! Although the daughters in law want to take over the running of the household I do not want to let go! Hasn’t this house been my domain for a good part my life? I simply can not bring myself to relinquish the power I have enjoyed for such a long time. I may have a passive role, but I want to keep my interference and opinions (read final word) in all matters, small or big.

The nights are usually restless, sometimes due to my arthritis and others due to bouts of insomnia, and my doctor says I should watch my intake of sugar as I my blood glucose levels are on the border line of diabetes and excess weight could worsen my arthritis! So, though a good figure is no more a priority for me I still can not have the cakes, chocolates,  ice creams and cold drinks which always have been my Kamzori (weakness)!

          There are days when I plan to relax with an interesting book and as I settle down in my couch to spend a quiet afternoon reading, the daughter in law peeps in. Would I look after the baby while she is going for shopping (or visiting an ailing relative or any other outing where the children can not accompany her)? She asks with a sweet smile.

The school going children are having there afternoon nap and would have to be served milk and biscuits when they get up, and I have to make sure that they finish their mugs. My heart sinks as I hold the bundle of mischief which comes tumbling down into my arms, but keeping my smile as sweet as her’s, I say, “ Sure darling, take your time, I will look after the children”. As she leaves the room, I sigh resignedly and put away the book I was planning to read. I may adore my grand children, but at my age, having them to myself for a good part of the day, can be quite tiring for me.

 On the threshold of old age, I have finally realized that responsibilities and restrictions are part of a healthy and fulfilling life; they are always there but only change faces with the passage of time! What a fool I was, not to make the most of the golden days of my childhood; the days when the only responsibilities I had were going to school and doing my homework and Ammi took care of the rest!




Confessions of a Grandmother!

REFLECTIONS: Confessions Of A Grandmother

Yasmin Elahi writes on the joys of becoming a grandparent

There are some sentiments in life too great to be described in words. We search for them but find them too weak to express our feelings. Holding your first child in your arms, or for that matter just knowing that he or she is on the way, is one of those sentiments.

When my eldest daughter was born, I thought that no happiness I shall ever witness in life would be greater than this one, but oh, how wrong I was! Pure ecstasy was still in store for me and I learnt this when my first granddaughter was born.

To this day I cannot analyse my feelings when I first saw her. It was joy to the limit of agony, awe, a strange sense of nostalgia for the time which had flown away so quickly. All these mixed emotions gripped my heart when I set my eyes on her, all wrapped up in a big green blanket. I laughed and wept at the same time, while the little darling, my granddaughter, gazed back at me with a triumphant look in her eyes. It would not be wrong to say that she came, she saw and she conquered. From the day she was born, my granddaughter spins my heart around her little finger.

The confession that I have to make today is of the change of heart as soon as I became a grandmother. Gone were the rules and principles, which were strict and inflexible, according to which I had raised my children. I was surprised to see myself helpless, giving in to the whims of my granddaughter. With the passage of years, a silent war began between me and my daughter. She was sometimes amused and sometimes annoyed by my interferences in the upbringing of her child and reminded me time and again how strict, as a mother, I was with her.

There are times when a rush of guilt seizes me and I think that if I had the chance to live my life all over again, I would be more lenient with my children. But in my heart of heart I know very well that I would be the same firm mother that I was, with my unbending rules. But to be a grandmother is something totally different!

How can I bear to see someone scolding my darling on trivial matters? (even if the person giving this scolding is the darling’s mother!). To me she is the prettiest, the best-behaved and the most intelligent child in this whole wide world, who needs to be pampered and cuddled all the time. No! Scolding is not for my granddaughter –– she is too sensitive for them.

As the issue does not seem to settle down with time, I have decided to set up a Grandmothers Action Committee, The GMAC, to safeguard the rights of grandmothers. The rights are as follow:

1, It is the basic right of all GMs (grandmothers) to spoil their GCs (grandchildren) to their heart’s content, and parents, especially mothers should not deny them this right. Complaints that we, as GMs, have changed should not be entertained as everyone has a right to change his or her opinion at any stage in life.

2, GMs should be given the right to interfere, whenever they want, in matters relating to the discipline of their GCs, after all they are more experienced than the parents, therefore their opinion should be valued.

3, GMs should be given the above mentioned rights because they have no idea of how much time in life they have left to follow these delightful pursuits!

All GMs who agree with me are invited cordially to join my committee, but if some of you do not share my feelings, please be kind enough to keep your thoughts to yourself, or you will be guilty of accelerating the silent war going on between me and my daughter for the past many years.
Attention, all grandmothers! A meeting of the GMAC is about to be held at Hug House, Love Lane, Mohabbat Nagar… all the GMs who want to attend plz join my Committee… those who do not want to join (for fear of their daughters), can come as guests. GMs can bring along their GCs, but their daughters are strictly not allowed:)))))
N.B. The GCs will be served with ice cream, cold drinks, chocolates, chips etc. i.e. all the junk foods they love but can not eat to their heart’s fill under Mama’s strict eyes!!!