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!

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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.

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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!

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!

 

 

 

DHOKA!

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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!

 

 

 

 

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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دل کی آواز

Dil ki awaz

دردِ دل کو مرے کچھ دوا چاہئے

اک نگاہِ کرم اے خدا چاہئے

رات تاریک ہے راہ دکھتی نہیں
کملی والےصل کے رخ کی ضیا چاہئے

اشک آنکھوں سے گر گر کے کہتے ہیں یہ
بس ہمیں دامنِِِ مصطفٰیصلچاہئے

ہے سفینہ مرا بیچ طوفاں گھرا
اب محمدصلکو دینی صدا چاہئے

ملے شہر ِ مدینہ میں دو گز زمیں
اور ہم غم کے ماروں کو کیا چاہئے؟

زیست اک بوجھ ہے ہم سے اٹھتا نہیں
عمر ہو مختصر یہ دعا چاہئے

 

 

AMMI, I MISS YOU!

They say that time and tide wait for none! Life moves on whether we are happy or sad, content or frustrated with life. Yesterday was the 10th of February again. The day Ammi (as we call mother in Urdu) gave me the greatest surprise of my life! And the most painful too! On Eid day she went to bed as usual, but just refused to get up in the morning. Silently she left for her heavenly abode! Without bidding goodbye, without taking her leave from her husband and children whom she loved so dearly, she died peacefully in her sleep. Just like that!

Till my last days, I shall never forget the details of that day. It being the second day of Eid, some guests were coming over. I was in the kitchen laying the trolley with the Eid goodies, Dahi Baras, Kachoris, Sweets and Sheer Khorma. Happy voices of the boys playing cricket in the parking lot came floating into the kitchen as they shouted, quarreled and laughed at every ball bowled and every shot hit!

Suddenly the phone rang. It was my brother in law from Dhaka. Bhabhi ( my sister in law) broke down into tears as she received the devastating news. Someone ran outside and suddenly the cheerful laughter changed into a deafening silence. And then the kids came running inside. I sat in a dazed silence as I tried to allow the harsh reality to sink in! Ammi was no more! No words can describe what I felt in those moments. My heart throbbed with pain but the tears simply refused to come!

The phone rang again and again. We got the details but it didn’t matter anymore! The harsh truth was that Ammi had gone for ever, left me alone in one of the most difficult phase of my life! I felt angry! How could she do this to me? I need you Ammi, my anguished heart cried out in pain, as I watched in silence people started pouring in for condolence, their words falling hollow on my numb ears!

          For reasons unknown, words from a novel ‘Gone With the Wind’ I had read years ago in my college life, echoed silently in my mind,

Just a few days more to tote the heavy load,

No matter it would never be less,

Just a few days more to totter on the road!

17 long years have passed since that fateful day but the 10th of February always leaves me depressed and sad for days. I can not say that I can still feel the excruciating sorrow and the sense of loss I felt on that day, but some pains are so intense, they linger in our hearts for a life time and surface at odd moments, bringing tears to our eyes when we are supposed to be ecstatically happy!

Years after you left me surprised, shattered and heart broken, I still miss you Ammi! Your image is still the deepest impressed on my heart! You are missed Ammi! And I want to tell you if I can reach out to you, I love you dearly! And still feel like a lost child without you! If only life had given me a chance to cry on your shoulder, to feel the warmth of your caring hands like a balm on my wounded heart, my pain would have subsided a bit! But this was not destined to be! You had the quality to accept without any complaints events(pleasant or unpleasant) as they came, so I try to follow what you always taught me! I am not angry with you anymore Ammi! But I still MISS YOU!!

All friends are requested to recite a prayer fro my late parents. May Allah rest their souls in eternal peace in the highest ranks of Jannat ul Firdaus.

 

AEY NAATWAAN MERE DIL…!! (For my readers who can not read Urdu)

 

Aey natwaan mere dil

Himmat naa haarna tu

Do char aur qadam hain

Bas saamne hai manzil

Maana ke raah kathin hai

Lamba bohat safar hai

Par mushkilein ye teri

Ab khatm hain hone waali

Ye maanti hoon mein ke

Maazi tera ajab hai

Haalaat ke sitam se

Kuch dost ke karam se

Sab khwaab toote tera

Bikhra tu reza reza

Khushyon ki aarzu mein

Phirta raha tu barson

Par kuch hua na hasil

Tujh ko in kaawishon se

Manzil na paayi tu ne

Laut aaya raaston se

Halat ko teri chaha

Mein ne bohat badalna

Lekin ye kaam shayad

Tha mere bas se bahar

Par tu bara tha ziddi

Maani na haar tu ne

Dukh she ke muskurana

Har dum tha tere shewa

Bas hansna aur hansana

Har dum tha kaam tera

Phir kyun ye eik thakan see

Tujh pe hai aaj taari?

Maayusyaan ye kaisi?

Kaisi ye beqaraari?

Ye khoon jo ris raha hai

Zakhmon se aaj tere

Kar deiga yehi rangeen

Kal tere gulistan ko

Kar le yaqeen mera

Dukh ki ye inteha hai

Aur hoti hai inteha jab

Phir hoti ibtidaa hai

Bas thori aur himmat

Thora saa housla aur

Do char aur qadam hain

Bas saamne hai manzil

Aey natwaan mere dil!!

Aey naatwaan mere dil!!!

 

Sharing my experiences of 2012 and hopes for 2013!

Aside

2012 is coming to a close! The months just seemed to fly away! Every passing years leave their marks on our lives as memories some pleasant some painful become a part of our past! Thankfully 2012 proved to be a memorable one, so many important events this year…some milestones in life! Yes, 2012 was a very important year for me.

Sunrise

The beginning of the year saw the hectic preparations of my youngest son’s marriage. On February 2nd his bride became the new and welcome member of my small family and I felt that the major responsibilities of my life were over. I pray that my children and grand children are always showered by special blessings from Allah.

Another major milestone of 2012 was the publishing of my first award winning book Follow the Light. Although it is taking time, but slowly and surely my book is getting appreciation. Based on true incidents from the history of Islam, my aim for compiling Follow the Light is to promote good values in children as well as familiarize them with the heroes of our great religion.

As I started working for the promotion of my first published book, I got a good breakthrough as one of the most reputed schools of Karachi invited me as a guest author several times to its different branches. These visits were truly delightful as I shared my writing experiences with the children. Eyes filled with wonder, sweet but a bit shy smiles and innocent questions just warmed my heart. I hope to keep up this inter action with school children in 2013 as well.

Another important happening of 2012 is the setting up of a personal website. But I can not take credit for this, as one of my readers did the whole thing for me. I call her My fairy with the Magic Wand! She has been a great help and has taught me a lot about how to improve my website. Blogging is something new for me and as I am a painfully slow writer, I can not boast of many followers and my site stats are still pathetic! But I am enjoying this new world a lot. Here, I am free to write anything I want and on any topic I care for! With no word restrictions or fear of rejection, I find my blog site a place where my imagination can fly freely! I also found a place where I can share my Urdu poetry with my readers. Sharing Ghazals and Nazms from my collection Ankahi Baaatein is giving me a great sense of satisfaction. And I am getting a fairly good response too.

A new addition to the family is another important event of 2012. On the 26th of May I was blessed with a new grandson. I love being a grandmother and my grandchildren are my constant source of sheer joy! Spending time with them is more valuable for me and I often neglect my writing as I am mostly engaged with them.

This year I have also completed the translation of Footsteps (my second award winning book). With very few articles in The Review and a bit more in the Young World (Dawn in page magazines), I feel I could have done more! But diversions like Facebook, Skype, Twitters took up a lot of my time. But as I write only for the pleasure of it, to be honest with my readers, I dont mind this slow performance. 

And now 2013 is about to start. A new year brings with it new hopes and new resolutions!

I hope to hold my newborn grandchild in my arms in the first trimester of the upcoming year, and the wait is slowly turning into deep excitement. My youngest will become a father! This is like a dream come true, because I had hardly expected to live this long!

My second book Footsteps and Roshan Raahein, the Urdu version of Follow the Light should also hit the bookstalls this year, In sha Allah (if Allah so wishes)! This is something I had never contemplated even in my wildest dreams, but a Divine Hand seems to help me and keep me going.

Another resolution for 2013 is compiling my third book, Lost Legacies. I dont know if this would materialize but I shall try my best! I also hope to pick up my writing speed as well as post more from my collection of Urdu poetry, Ankahi Baatein, on my blog site.

Every passing year has its pleasures, joys as well as pains and disappointments. But as the year draws to its end, I am content with what it doled out for me. Although I can not boast of much, but I have tried to the best of my limited abilities to achieve something and not just wasted my time in futile activities. Readers are requested to pray for me and wish me luck in the upcoming year!

GHAZAL FROM ANKAHI BAATEIN…. (For my friends who can not read Urdu)

Phool se khushboo juda hoti hai faqat eik baar
Ye bikharti tou phir se laut kar aati nahin

Aankh se aansoo jo tapka, kya wo daaman karta tar?
Boond se tou pyaas sehra ki kabhee jaati nahin!

Hum tou thei wo zinda-dil ghum pe kabhee rotey na thei
Ab hua hai kya ke khushyon pe hansee aati nahin

Khud hi phoolon ko masal ke hai ye maali ko gila
Mere gulshan mein na jaane kyun bahaar aati nahin!

Khwaab dekhoon tou ho shayad zeest ki kuch talkhee kum
Kya karun pur neend mujh ko raat bhar aati nahin!

Hai jo qismat mein likha wo pura tou hoga zurur
Waqt se pehle tou kisi ko maut bhe aati nahin!