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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آئینہ کا سوال…a ghazal from Ankahi Baatein

aainaa

آ ئینہ دیکھتی ہوں میں تو ٹھٹک جاتی ہوں

ایک انجان سی صورت نظر آتی ہے مجھے

حیراں ہو کر میں کرتی ہوں یہ خود سے سوال

دکھی کر دیتا ہے مجھ کو میرا اپنا ہی سوال

یہ جو چہرہ ہے یہ مرا چہرہ تو نہیں

یہ جو آنکھیں ہیں یہ مری آنکھیں تو نہیں

اس نئے چہرے کا تو لگتا ہے ہر اک نقش اداس

دھواں دیتے نظر آتے ہیں نگاہوں کے چراغ

میری آنکھوں میں تو رہتا تھا تبسم رقصاں

لب پہ رہتی تھی ہنسی کھلتے گلابوں کی طرح

خامشی میں مری ہوتی تھیں ہزاروں باتیں

چہچہاتی پھرتی تھی میں کسی بلبل کی طرح

ہر طرف میں تو جلاتی تھی محبت کے چراغ

میں سمجھتی تھی زندگی خوشیوں کا ہے نام

ہر طرف پھول ہیں مجھ کو کانٹوں سے کیا کام

دکھ کتنے ہیں مقدر میں مجھے معلوم نہ تھا

زندگی کا یہ روپ بھی ہے، سوچا ہی نہ تھا

کھائے جب زخم تو زیست ہے کیا، یہ میں نے جانا

پھر بھی تھے عزم جواں، ہر مشکل کو آسان جانا

ہنس کے سہتی رہی جو زخم زندگی دیتی گئی

اپنے اشکوں کو ھنسی میں میں چھپاتی گئی

شکوہ کرنا نہ کبھی دل کو یہ سمجھاتی رہی

کبھی راہ میں ترے بھی جلینگے محبت کے چراغ

وقت بہت بیت گیا تو میں نے یہ حقیقت جانی

اس جہاں میں وفا کی کوئی قیمت ہی نہیں

تلخیاں گھلتی گئیں کچھ اس طرح دل کے اندر

اک اک کر کے بجھے سب وہ محبت کے چراغ

اب ہے آئینہ اور اک اجنبی چہرہ ہے

جس کے ہر نقش سے ابھرتا ہے اذیت کا سراغ

اور یہ چہرہ مجھ سے کرتا ہے ہردم یہ سوال

ہے کوئی جو کہ دے اس کے سوالوں کا جواب

وقت کے صحرا میں کہاں کھو گیا تیرا وہ وجود

ہر طرف جو کہ جلاتا تھا محبت کے چراغ

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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Bonding Times!

The cherished months have finally arrived. It’s summer holiday again! It’s time to laze around and relax from the strict regime of school life, home-work, tests and, for some friends, the additional burden of tuitions too! But it is often seen that after the initial week or two, the excitement and charm of the vacation seems to wear off and we start complaining of boredom.

What should we do? This is the question which you all start asking your mothers and it makes them want to groan out aloud as they wonder how to keep their kids busy, happy and mostly out of their way!

Some lucky ones amongst you may go out of town (or country) to spend your vacation. There are also a lot of summer camps which offer a variety of activities, but in these times of insecurity and inflation, most parents do not find them affordable or convenient.

Friends, instead of getting on our parents’ nerves, we must find such means to keep ourselves busy that are not only fulfilling but also easy on our parents’ pockets!

This summer you can find a very fulfilling activity which will not only keep you busy, it will also provide a sense of immense emotional gratification. These are the months when we have lots of free time at our hands, and we can make this time precious by using it for bonding with relatives, old friends, books, nature and the environment around us!

Bonding with relatives

Often, in the busy school months we have hardly any time for our elderly relatives. Grandparents specially look forward to vacations as they know that you can visit them more often and also spend nights with them. The luxury of Grandma’s delicious pulao, her special cookies and the traditional kheer, which no one can make as perfect as her, are for yours to enjoy.

You can also help Grandpa with his gardening, in rearranging his bookshelf, or accompany him when he goes out for his daily walk or to the mosque. You can also help your grandparents to clean up their cupboards and room, a chore they do not have the energy to do without help. Maybe you will find something interesting like old photographs, grandma’s trinkets which she doesn’t use anymore or old coins and stamps Grandpa once collected as a hobby. They may allow you to keep these with you and they may one day turn to be a sort of souvenir from them.

There are also elderly family members, like your parents’ aunts and uncles or an ageing neighbor. A visit from you or a phone call can brighten up their day as deep down old people are usually lonely! You can indulge them by playing a game of ludo or chess, or reading out to them from their favorite book. The happy look you will see on their faces would make your free time worthwhile.

Bonding with old friends

Sometimes you lose track of close friends once they move out of your neighborhood or change school. In these leisure months it would be a wonderful idea to look them up and refresh your ties with them. You can email them to find out about their whereabouts or call common friends to trace them out. Meeting old friends is often a tonic for our mood and spirits, providing us with a deep sense of pleasure.

Bonding with your books

With the hectic routine of homework and class tests, most children usually like to spend their free hours relaxing in front of the television, texting or chatting with friends and browsing on the computer. Reading good books is no more a favorite pastime for most of you. But you must realize that books are your best companions and there is no better time to cultivate good reading habits than the long afternoons of your summer vacation.

To make your time more productive, look up some good classics, and be sure that every day you spend a couple of hours in reading. In this way you will learn a lot as reading not only broadens your insight, it also provides you knowledge beyond your textbooks — the most enjoyable pastime one can have!

Ask your parents or elder siblings to help you in the choice of books. You can visit old book shops or the Sunday markets where you can get good books at affordable prices. Create a chain by exchanging books with your friends. This way you will be able to read more while you spend less. Soon you will realize that reading is the most enjoyable pastime one can have.

Bonding with nature

Bird watching, going for walks and gardening are all means to bond with nature. Place small pots of water and baajra (millet) in your garden and you will be delighted to see the sparrows specking at the food and drink!

Bread pieces leftover from the breakfast table, a spoonful or two of cooked rice can also go into these pots and don’t be alarmed if crows also come in for the treat. After all they also help to clear up the environment and we can set out a morsel of food for them too.

Gardening is also a very fulfilling activity which will bring you closer to nature. You can set out small pots in your garden or balcony and nurture and water your personal plants. The tinge of delight at seeing your plant grow will make your time rewarding as well as give you a sense of fulfilment.

Bonding with the environment

This summer vacation set a goal for yourself to make your surroundings better. You can organize a cleanliness drive with the help of your neighborhood children. Clearing up your lane and going from door to door to ask people to help you by not throwing their trash on roads will create awareness and a better civic sense. You will also immense satisfaction of seeing your surroundings cleaner and more hygienic.

The list goes on and on. These are only some suggestions for your summer holidays, but I am sure that my little friends are intelligent enough to take their initiative from these activities and plan a number of positive ones themselves! Happy vacation!

Comment: The pampered generation By Yasmin Elahi . .http://archives.dawn.com/archives/69149

The other day my daughter-in-law requested me to get her a packet of diapers as I was going out to the store for some medicines. The gentleman at the store was busy with other customers and as I waited, I glanced around I was surprised to see so many brands of disposable diapers lined neatly on the shelves.

 

When I asked for the required brand my daughter in law uses the shopkeeper asked in a matter of fact tone “Basic or dry?”. I had not the faintest idea!  “Beg your pardon,” I said, feeling totally confused. “Madam, I mean which diapers do you want, basic or dry?” he repeated his question.  Feeling a bit foolish I mumbled something like I would be back later and quickly left the store.

 

This is an age of baby products. From diapers to toiletries to feeding bottles to baby foods to bed accessories there is no limit to the choices one has. We seem to shower our babies with luxuries, things unthinkable about a couple of decades ago. Designer clothes, branded shoes, expensive toiletries, electronic toys and ready to serve food are becoming an obsession with most mothers.

 

I wonder if any of the young mothers have even seen the glass feeders with nipples at both ends (except perhaps in some old Hindi movie) which were used before the advent of the unbreakable feeder. It was weird how the bottle always chose to come down crashing at the oddest hour of the night. After many sleepless nights trying to console the wailing baby, glancing endlessly at the wall clock which strangely just did not seem to move, and waiting for shops to reopen did I have the sense to keep an extra bottle handy. These days every baby has at least half a dozen feeders of various shapes and sizes to choose from.

 

The cloth nappies, which had to be washed daily, have become a nuisance for the modern mothers and disposable diapers are an easy solution for them. I remember the days when the maid chose to take off and come what may the nappies had to be washed and dried. On rainy days, I checked out constantly on how many dry nappies I was left with and sometimes had to use an iron to dry them. Disposable diapers were used only when I went out and considered a luxury for the baby (or me?). I remember feeling a pang of guilt every time I threw a diaper in the dustbin as if I was throwing good money away!

 

Talking about baby food, I toiled endlessly to cook, mash and blend fruits, khichri, suji and vegetables when my children started solid food. Now store counters are overloaded with endless varieties of ready to serve baby food and juices. Restaurants, specially the franchises, serve special meals for children (at hefty rates of course), and to lure parents they offer play areas for children to keep them relaxed while eating.

 

In the (should I dare to say) good old days, the ailing child was taken to the doctor in the neighbourhood, who prescribed mixtures with pills to be powdered for easy administration, and the child was hale and hearty in a day or two. A child specialist was consulted only when the problem got out of control. Now we find paediatrics divided into many branches and different doctors for different health problems the children have. (Come to think of it, has anybody noticed how the terminology related to kids has changed? The child specialist is now a paediatrician, a cot is called a crib, a pram is now a stroller and the ayah has been renamed a nanny!)

 

Gone are the days when grandmothers saved pieces of cloth to prepare clothes for their expected grandchildren. The economical home made Jhablas and caps are considered totally old fashioned now. Mothers prefer to buy ready-to-wear children`s clothes (prices depend on whether the product is `local` or `imported`). Home made `bedding` with washable covers is a thing of the past as babies are pampered with fashionably designed sleeping bags, wrapping sheets, comforters and carry cots (rates depending on the embroidery, trimmings and accessories chosen).

 

As for colours, now it is blue for boys and pink for girls and mothers-to-be are eager to find the sex of the yet-to-be-born baby to make the right preparations. Even for school going children, in buying clothes, joggers, school bags, water bottles and other accessories the modern mother is careful about the pink and blue factor. Bedroom furniture specially designed for children with cartoon figures or shaped like huge toys is every child`s (or parent`s) delight and the colour scheme speaks for itself whether the room is for a boy or a girl!

 

Raising happy and satisfied children has always been the primary concern for parents, but somehow modern mothers have mixed up this concern with loading their children with every possible luxury. I call this generation `The pampered generation`. Much ado about the kids. As the parents are putting in so much effort (and money!) for their comfort, we can definitely hope that when they are at the helm of affairs, the little ones of today would make this world a better place to live in. Considering my age, I do not expect to be around until then, so I can only wonder and hope!

Confessions of a Grandmother!

The perfect day to reblog this one… dedicated to my Grand daughter Sadia… on her Birthday

Yasmin Elahi

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…

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WHEN I SHALL GROW UP!!

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!