From Fantasy To Reality (http://www.dawn.com/news/1283186)

In our part of the world, weddings are the most celebrated occasions, not only in the lives of the prospective bride and groom, but also the immediate family, the not-so-immediate family and the circle of friends.

The excitement starts when the boy gives a go-ahead to his parents to find a suitable girl for him. From then on mothers and sisters begin a frantic search, rejecting or approving girls over a tea-trolley. She is examined from head to toe, irrelevant / embarrassing questions are thrown at her and she can be rejected at the slightest pretext. If she passes the test, a formal proposal is sent to her parents. This in turn starts another frenzied activity. Heads are joined to make a decision and the boy’s looks, height, income, whether he owns a house or not etc are taken into consideration. As soon as the proposal is accepted and the time for the grand occasion is decided, the wedding fever sets in.

Selection of the bridal outfit, the matching jewellery to be ordered, sandals and handbag to go with the shaadi ka jora, are all matters of utmost importance. The best beauty studio is booked for the bridal make-over and the best possible venue is selected for the functions. Every minute detail has to be chalked out — from invitation cards, the bride and groom’s entry in the wedding hall, the decoration of the stage, the flowers, lightning, cake, the menu, token gifts for the guests, the list seems to be endless.

There are non-stop shopping sprees for clothes, shoes, furniture and crockery for the dowry and gifts for the bridegroom and the in-laws. These frenzied shopping trips leaves the bride and her family exhausted as the Big Day approaches.

The groom’s house is also buzzing with pre- wedding arrangements. Along with the dresses, jewellery and accessories for the bride the house needs to be renovated, re-painted and sometimes re-furnished. The couple’s room is given extra attention. The bride usually brings in new furniture but the carpet and curtains have to be changed. Bathrooms are re-designed to complement the new look of the room. Everything should be picture perfect when the bride arrives.

The fantasy which begins with the shopping, the pre-wedding merriments, friends’ gatherings, dholkis, mayoon and mehndi reaches its peak at the grand wedding and valima receptions.

But in all these feverish activities, the groom’s parents who were so choosy about the prospective wife of their son and the bride’s parents who were so particular to find out every detail about the person who had proposed for their daughter’s hand, completely forget to teach their offspring what marriage is really about.

Parents, who spend so much time, energy and, of course, money on their children’s weddings, don’t deem it important to guide them about the responsibilities which come with a married life and the facts regarding the rights and duties concerning their future spouse. Things which should be the foremost on the list of wedding preparations are totally ignored or given a back-seat. So, most couples enter into matrimony only thinking about their wedding and not marriage, totally confused about the demands of this new stage of life.

Both husband and wife have a different set of problems. The girl ties the nuptial knot thinking that life after marriage is one long honeymoon, where you live in grand houses, shop till you drop, eat out in expensive eateries on a regular basis and your spouse does nothing except pampering you, and even at home you are dressed in designer clothes and wear full makeup and expensive jewellery.

Once the post-wedding partying and enjoyments are over and the bride is expected to slip into the role of a wife and home-maker, reality starts to set in. Most girls fail to realise that they should leave behind the fantasy which was only temporary. The groom has lots of more important things at hand, other than complying with her moods and whims. She cannot expect him to leave a ‘I love you’ note when he is getting late to office, neither to bring her roses every day, and surely not on the days when he has had an extra tiring schedule or problems with his boss.

The groom has his own set of disappointments. As the bride slips into the role of a home-maker, she may also want to go back to her job. When he comes home, she may also be tired after a hard day’s work, so he cannot expect her to be dressed up as a doll, starry-eyed and swooning over him at the slightest pretext. And if she has been cooking or cleaning or dusting, she will not emit the fragrance of roses.

The bubble of fantasy may have all the colours of a rainbow, but bubbles are bound to burst. Instead of feeling disappointed or disillusioned, the couple could have coped better if their parents had guided them correctly. The early months of a marriage are usually the make or break ones. For dreamers, this journey can be a survival in an unhappy marriage and for the more extreme ones just begin and end with a big jolt. More sensible couples, after the initial disappointment, adapt quickly to the demands of a married life. But the truth is that this journey from fantasy to reality can change lives, for better or for worse.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 11th, 2016

 

AN ANGEL ON EARTH (MY ARTICLE IN YOUNG WORLD)

 

Her touch soothes! Her voice consoles and her soothing murmurs drive away all fears. For her children, her loving arms are the safest place in the world! Research has proved that a child recognises the voice of his mother even before he is born. Her loving face is usually his first memory and deeply etched in his mind.  Mother day 2013 inside
She is the most selfless creatures on earth. On duty 24 hours of the day, seven days a week and round the year, and she actually enjoys her job! And for this tough job, the only pay she gets or expects is a sticky kiss from her toddler, a big hug from her school-going kid, or a grudging grunt of appreciation from her teenager! Or a rare “You look tired! I guess you need to rest,” from her husband. And strangely, most of the time she is happy and content with just this pay!
Without demanding or expecting a break, a mother cooks, cleans, looks after the requirements of the kids, often drops and picks them from school or tuitions. A caretaker, nurse and teacher, she keeps on switching roles until she feels like dropping dead at the end of the day. But the next day brings the same chores which she is ready to do again with the same amount of enthusiasm and zest. After snatching a few hours of sleep, she is ready to repeat her busy schedule.
And her life is tougher if she is a working mom. Racing against time, she has to juggle between her job, her home and her kids. And she has the additional worry and responsibility to make sure that her kids are in safe and reliable hands when she is away.
Spending time on herself is usually the last option for a mother. Whatever she wants or needs to do, her priority is always her children. She may be planning to visit a friend, go out for shopping or have an appointment with her beautician, but the minute her child comes up with his lesson diary, declaring he needs her help, or she find a child is not feeling too well, without a second thought she changes her mind. All the activities she was planning earlier suddenly become unimportant for her as she lovingly turns all her attention to the child’s requirement.
It may sound strange, but my experience has taught me that the feelings children have for their mothers change with every stage of childhood. They tend to find her absolutely adorable and fascinating when they are toddlers, nursery going kids may find her a bit strict and rebel from her rules occasionally. The pre-adolescent and teenagers are the trickiest stages of life of her kids that a mother has to tackle. Their moods swing and so do their feelings for their mum. Loving her one moment and defying her the next. Arguing on each and every possible matter, they nearly drive her out of her mind!
These youngsters may proudly introduce her to their friends, but all of a sudden she does or says something which they find embarrassing. This is the toughest phase a mother goes through as she finds herself walking on thin ice, one wrong move and her children feel annoyed or displeased with her! But as they cross the vulnerable teenage, their emotions for their mum become more stable and they overgrow the volatile behaviour which is perhaps a part of growing up.
There are issues on which mothers disagree with their children. She has her own way of protecting her kids from harm. She can be as soft as silk and as tough as steel where the welfare or safety of her children is at stake. In rebellious moments, they may call her tough, strict and not understanding their point of view. But it takes years, and sometimes decades, for them to realise that she was right! This is because the rules she wants her children to follow strictly are for their own good. Children may feel that their moms are sometimes harsh on them, but this is only to teach them lessons they will find helpful in their future lives.
There are days when the long working hours and lack of sleep get on her nerves. She may be irritable and moody. But these moments pass quickly and they are the main test of our love and respect for our mother. Instead of talking back to her or replying in a rude manner, we should try to understand her feelings and try our best to soothe her temper.
An anonymous quote so beautifully says, “At the end of the day I love my mom regardless of how much we argue, or whatever we go through, because I know she’ll always be there for me.”
It is an undeniable fact that mothers love their children more than anything in this world. We can never fathom or understand the depth or intensity of her love for us. Friends, our mother is our most valuable asset, to be cherished and loved each and every day of our lives.
Instead of waiting to show your love for her once in a year on Mother’s Day, you should realise that she deserves much more! Help her out wherever you can so that she feels relieved and can rest for a while. Give her a small gift now and then, even if it is only a bunch of flowers picked from your garden, a chocolate or a small pack of her favourite cookies.
Once in a while, surprise her by serving her breakfast on her bed, or helping her in the kitchen. If you are not allowed to use the stove, just serve her a glass of milk, cereals or fruits neatly arranged in a plate. You can also add a ‘I love you’ note on the tray. Believe me, it will make your mother’s day and give a great boost to her spirits.
As life moves on, we often move away from our mothers, but their heart is tied to ours in such a way that it doesn’t stop loving and caring for us any less. The unconditional love she showered on us when we were too weak and vulnerable to take care of our needs, demands that we try to reciprocate in the best possible manner. It is impossible to pay back a mother’s love but we can try to keep her happy and content when she grows old and needs our care just as we needed hers.
In the end I would like to add this wonderful quote from Sunita Sharma “The palm on your fevered brow, the soft kisses when you need them most, the grip that steadies you on rocky roads, the hand that feeds and nurtures you, the shadow that walks besides you unconditional and enduring, is a mother’s love !”

specially for you Hibiscus Rosa Noor, Greetings from England; and all of my readers who do not understand Urdu. as i do not write poetry in English, please do not mind my crude translation,
Regards,
Yasmin Elahi

Yasmin Elahi

Aa  gayaa hai

Khuda ki rehmat ka tohfa

Ye yaqeen dilaane ke lye

Upar eik Zaat hai

Jo ghum ki andheri raat se

Eik nayi subah tulooh kartee hai!

Aa gaya hai

Khuda ki rehmat ka tohfa

Zindigi ki andheri raahon mein

Eik chota sa dyaa

Jis ki nanhi see jout se

Jagmaga uthi hai mere dil ki dunya

Dard ke sehra mein jo hai

Thandee hawa ka jhonka

Aa gaya hai

Khuda ki rehmat ka tohfa!

Jis kea a jaane se

Aa  gayi hai mere gulshan mein bahar

Rukhsat ho gaya

Khizaan ka mausam

Jis ke aane ka tha

Mere dil ko yaqeen

Jo ke hai

Meri duaaon ka jawaab

Aa gaya hai wo

Khuda ki rehmat ka tohfa!!!
The gift of Allah’s blessing has arrived to further confirm my belief that there is a Divine Being above us
Who has the power to draw a new morning from…

View original post 268 more words

Parenthood: The ideal gap (http://dawn.com/2012/08/26/parenthood-the-ideal-gap/)

“Mummy, please help me prepare for my test. These spellings are so hard to learn,” my six-year-old pleads as he looks up from his English reader. “These Algebra equations are totally confusing!” my 12-year-old daughter sounds distraught. “Mummy will you please drop me to my tuition class? These two will have to wait as I have a test tomorrow,” The 17-year-old brushes aside his younger siblings’ pleas as unimportant.

“With the considerable difference in the age of my three children, I often feel dizzy by the diversity of their demands!” Ayesha Riaz, a stay-at-home mother, confides.
After their marriage Ayesha and her husband decided to plan their kids at least five years apart, so that they are able to give quality time and attention to each child. But at 42, she sounds totally exhausted and often wonders if this decision was wise. “I often feel bored with my monotonous life. After tending to the totally dissimilar activities and requirements of my kids, I feel I have no time left for myself.”
Asma, a working mom, made a difficult choice. She says, “In the early days of our marriage, we decided that completing our family would be our first priority as I had to go back to my career. I had three children in the short span of five years! It was a tough and very busy period for me as the physical and emotional demands of motherhood were like an unending roller coaster ride! However, those joyful but also extremely tiring years of sleepless nights and hectic days were finally over and now I feel that we made the right decision. After my youngest joint pre-school, I still had enough stamina left to pursue my goal to specialise as a gynaecologist.”
Saira, a home-based writer says, “I personally think that one should complete one’s family in the first ten years of marriage. The ideal gap, as I perceive is around three years between two children and if a couple plans to have a big family they should plan accordingly. I firmly believe that after completing their family, couples should strive for the best possible upbringing of their children, give them quality time and teach them to cherish the family bond which is one of the most valuable assets in life.”
Is there a perfect age difference between siblings? The answer varies from couple to couple. Personal choices, financial considerations and health concerns deeply affect the decision. Parents usually plan to have children three to four years apart. It seems easier for them to look after their kids one by one. But sometimes, it is too late when they realise that the prime years of their lives have been spent in raising their young ones. When they finally have time for themselves, the tide of youth is ebbing. With approaching middle age, and sometimes a failing health, they (especially mothers) often have to give up the dreams they had hoped to pursue once the kids grew up.
Saira discusses this phenomenon from the child’s point of view, “I am strictly against the ‘one late kid’ phenomenon, who ideally would accompany the couple when the older children would be busy in their lives. Often, this poor kid is bound to live in isolation, with his/her interests totally different from that of the siblings and has to grow up with already exhausted and aging parents.”
Dr Moin-uddin Qureishi states, “Where the health of the mother and child is concerned, a gap of minimum three years is ideal because in this period the mother regains her health and the calcium content of her bones is restored. The child also starts school and begins to manage a few things himself. But no rules can be set as there are many other health, social and economical issues e.g. working women or those who tied the knot a bit late in life prefer to complete their families in a shorter span.
Rukhsana Iqbal, a homemaker says, “In my opinion, there should be a gap of three to four years between siblings. Being a mother of three boys, I realise today how difficult it was for me to manage the house and the kids, not to forget my parents-in-law, which was compounded by the fact that all three births were through C-section. The gap is ideal for the simple reason that the child should be at least of an age where he/she understands that the love and attention he/she gets would have to be shared with the newcomer so that instead of a sibling jealousy, the child begins to look forward to the new arrival.”
There can be no set rule for the perfect age gap between children which would be the best for each family. It is a decision which is deeply affected by the spouses’ priorities in life. Although I firmly believe that there is a Divine Hand which can topple all human plans, once couples settle down after the honeymoon period is over, they should openly discuss with each other what they want from their future lives and go ahead with their plans in compliance with their dreams.