Confessions of a Blogger

          At last I have resigned to the fact that I will never make a good blogger! Nearly three years into blogging and the number of blogs much less than what I should have posted, I have realized this sad fact (sad for me, at least!). When it all started, I was thrilled at the prospect of writing according to my whims. My mind seemed to be bursting with ideas.

              Hopefully contemplating that I would blog at least once in a week or more if possible, I started working on my blog site with a very optimistic note. But after the initial few months passed, reality began to set in! Blogging was not made for slow writers like me! It is for people who react instantly on an event, a thought, a piece of news or even on a random comment made by someone they have met. The flood of thoughts, the inspiring moments should be captured instantly!

          After accepting and resigning to this reality, I decided to try and summarize the reasons why I consider myself a failure at blogging and also share my views with my scant readers!

          I am a lazy writer! Although ideas come in a flash, I fail to be as quick to proceed to my computer or at least scribble a few lines in my sketch diary. Incidents, events, a conversation and sometimes even a fleeting thought or memory, opens the floodway to my imagination and motivate me to write, but sadly more often than not, I fail to grasp those precious (and productive) moments. I usually plan to write later, when I will have more time, or when I will further recollect and organize these thoughts or collect the required info about a particular topic, but most of the times the urge to write slows down. The topic doesn’t seem to be as interesting or worthwhile writing about after the heat of the moment has passed. And this sluggish attitude of mine usually nips the inspiring moment in the bud!

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          A good blogger should be more committed to his/ her writings; just leaving aside anything he/she is doing and give in to the urge to write whenever that great moment strikes. It may mean jumping out of bed in the wee hours of the night or abandoning a pre planned activity. And I am sure, those who blog regularly, even daily, will understand what I mean because they must have done this umpteen times, as they keep their writings on the top of their priority list.

          My musings may lead my readers to the opinion that I am a lazy person. But believe me, this is not so! Though age and every passing year takes its toll on my health, I am physically quite active for my sixty plus years. My slow approach to my writings is also because basically I am a family person! Being a full time home maker since the years I was brimming with youth, by nature I am more a mother and a grandmother than a writer!

         Living in a joint family with three married sons, activities with my family take up most of my time. And my grandchildren are the greatest blessing I could have asked for in my life. Alhumdulillah for that! With the eldest being an A level student and the youngest recently crossed his first birthday; they are truly a source of sheer joy for me.

          Caring for the little ones and babysitting them when their mothers are busy in the more hectic house work are the activities which lap up a considerable amount of my time. But these activities are more satisfying for me than writing. And the weekly visits of my only daughter and her four children are something I look forward to every week and thoroughly enjoy.

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        A wail of a toddler who has hurt himself after a fall, or just crying for attention, the bedtime stories the school going kids want me to tell them before they sleep or a demand from a little one for a favorite snack (which he/she doesn’t dare to ask Mom) easily pulls me away from the computer even if I am in a mood to write! Often time spent with my grandchildren is more precious for me than writing something new. So, I am content to be a part time writer as for me (like most women in our part of the world) family always comes first!

         Another reason why I am not getting to blog regularly is my addiction to the internet. Although the initial love affair with Face Book has fizzled out with time and I am not very active and regular at Twitters, talking with my sisters who live abroad on Viber or Skype, or exchanging messages with friends and family on Whatsapp keeps me pre occupied for a good part of the day (which I could have utilized for my writings). 

     I may not make a good blogger, still I have no intention of giving up on my writings (I mean totally). Writing has become an integral part of my life, a source of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment for me! Even if I do not post something regularly, the urge to write persists.  Hopefully my confession will ease the nagging frustration I feel at times. Because instead of beating about the bush and doling out lame excuses, the least favor I can do to myself and to the modest number of my readers and followers is to be honest and truthful in admitting my shortcomings!

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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!

THE AMMEE IN ME!

THE AMMEE IN ME!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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!

Beginning of a New Journey!

 

22nd April……It is four o’ clock in the morning! After tossing in my bed restlessly for hours, trying my best to go to sleep, I give up! Sleep is miles away from my eyes tonight.I finally get out of my bed and switch on my computer. Tomorrow is a big day for me, perhaps the beginning of a new phase of life.

I have often written in my articles, life keeps on springing surprises at me and over the years I have taught myself not to be stunned. But this is really a big one! Often when we are standing on the seashore, enjoying the beauty of the little waves coming in, there comes in a big one crashing down and we are swept a bit off our feet. I can not analyze my feelings tonight. Am I happy, excited or my ego has got a big boost? I scourge my mind and heart but find none of the above emotions. At last, I realize that finally, I am at peace with myself as well as I feel greatly honored!

When I couriered by prize winning book ‘Follow the Light’ (Published by Ferozsons),to Amtul Sajjad, regional librarian, BSS, I had not the faintest idea of what was in store for me. My basic aim was to set up stalls at the different branches of BSS, where I could put up my book for sale at discounted rates, to the school children as well hold reading sessions of some inspiring parts from it.I wanted more and more children to know about this book, read it and further spread the message I have tried my best to convey in it! But being invited as a guest speaker on the World Book and Copyright Day, is something I had not thought about in my wildest dream. Mrs. Fatima Rehman’s invitation was really a big surprise for me; because having no formal education in any form of journalism, I hardly consider myself a writer.

Being an ardent reader since my childhood, my passion for reading turned into writing as my daughter in law Saira Owais, and a friend Faizan Usmani, urged me to start writing. I was surprised, (but this time the wave was small!).  Me? I asked in astonishment! What and how can I write? I have no knowledge about writing. I told them seriously but somehow they did not give up on me, and finally they convinced me to raise my pen!

The first article I wrote was in Urdu and a daughter’s loving tribute to her father. I wrote an article about my late Daddy for our community magazine (Shamsi). And when I started to write, I got so carried away, I just couldn’t stop myself, resulting in a 2500 words article. The editor of the magazine Qaumi Gazzette said, “Cut down on the words”. I re wrote and this time ended with 2600 words! This is only an amusing start of my writing career which I would like to share with you, my little friends at BSS.

In those days, having no knowledge of Urdu composing, I hand wrote and rewrote the article many times, trying to improve it as I felt that whatever I wrote, I could not do justice to my Daddy, nor could I express my intense love for him! Some day, Insha Allah I shall compose that hand written article and share it with my little friends here!

I also want to tell you that in those days, I had a single computer at home, which I shared with my three sons, and except writing e-mails to my sisters abroad or chatting with them on Yahoo,I thought I had no other usage of a computer.

How wrong I was!

‘Confessions of a Grandmother’ was my first article published in the ‘The Review’ of Dawn magazines, which appeared in those days in a booklet form on Thursdays and was not merged in The Images on Sunday. Articles appeared from time to time as I kept on struggling as a writer, pouring my heart out on each and every word I wrote, happy when a piece was approved and disappointed when it was rejected! During bad patches, when one after the other article was turned down, I often became shaky and started to think about giving up, thinking that I was only wasting my time as well of the time of the editors of the publications they were being sent too! But somehow, the inborn fighter in me refused to give up!

How I compiled Follow the Light is also an experience worth sharing and I shall definitely do so one day in a separate (bashart e zindagi!) blog. The only thing I want to say today was that a ‘Divine Hand’ helped and guided me throughout, and my children, grandchildren and friends went all out to help me. With hardly any knowledge of how to use Microsoft Word and the way the electricity kept on playing hide and seek with me, it was an uphill task. But with the help of Allah and a deep determination, I compiled this book in nearly a fortnight. And today, I am thankful to Mrs.Fatima Rehman who has deeply honoured me by inviting me as a guest speaker to talk to the children at BSS Primary 4.

With still more than four hours to the time I have to reach the school, I feel happy and at peace with myself. My mission is to bring our young generation closer to Islam, make them understand what our great religion is really about, and I feel that it is moving in the right and satisfactory direction! And I can not thank Allah enough for this.

The Moazzin has already called for the Fajr prayers, so I must stop myself now, say my Namaaz and try to catch up on my sleep! 

Subhan Allah i Wabee Humdihee Subhan Allah i Azeem! 

11Am 23rd April. I am back from the BSS Primary4 after a delightful interaction with the sweet children and with a big, fragrant bouquet!The staff (from the Principal, the Co-ordinator, the Librarian, the teachers and even the peons) was very polite and I specially found Ms Fatima full of warmth and very co-operative! And she gave me many helpful tips as well.And,last but not the least, I can never forget the smiling faces,the eyes shining in wonder,as the children listened and their little minds tried to grasp and understand each and every word I spoke. Thanks again BSS Primary 4 for this great boost to my mission!

How I became a writer

I can hardly call myself a writer in the true sense of the word! A readaholic since my childhood, I would gleefully read anything and everything I could get my hands upon! And my Nana often used to say fondly (and sometimes a bit angrily when I paid him less attention than my book or magazine)… is ke hath mein to phatte hue kaghaz pe bhee kuch likha hua aajaayeiga to parhne beth jaayeigi!!!

This love for reading was inculcated in me by my parents.. I remember that before I and my siblings had even learnt to read, they subscribed to a number of children’s magazines with strict orders to everyone around that no one would read them out to us! In those days, it seemed as if we had a treasure to which we ourselves would have to find the keys! So, I, my twin sisters (who are only a year older than me), our eldest brother (one year their senior) and the youngest of us ,my (one and a half years) younger brother struggled together to read the books and magazines we found around us, and with each others help, we learnt to read at an early age.

We siblings did not have a considerable age gap, so we shared our hobbies and games together with no communication gaps. The love for books and reading developed with our growing ages and we spent a considerable parts of our pocket moneys in buying new books.

Time flew and we moved on to our new lives and three of us moved out from our childhood city Dhaka.Life had its new challenges, surprises, joys, fears and pains for me, but the love for the printed word survived all the adversities! It was only by chance that I stumbled upon the writer dormant in me. After the death of Daddy (to whom I was deeply attached) I wanted to write something about the great person he was and  and I have to pay credit to some well wishers for their encouragement to start my career as a writer. My first article about my father appeared in Qaumi Gazzette, a magazine of the Shamsi community and Alhumdulillah was widely acclaimed. It was re printed in Shamsi Awaz, a magazine from Muradabad India. And from there, the journey began.
Although I was a bit nervous, and had no idea whether my articles would be approved, I started sending them to The Review (in-Page Magazine of Dawn). Confessions of a Grandmother was my first published article, slowly and steadily my writings kept on appearing in Dawn. Being a slow writer I take a lot of time on each piece, pouring out my heart on each sentence and re reading and writing many times before I am satisfied.
The big break through came when the National Book Foundation announced a writing competition and my son’s freind Faizan Usmani and my daughter-in-law Saira Owais( Both of them writers) urged me to participate). I agreed after a lot of convincing from them. And Alhumdulillah, my entry Follow the Light, which is based on true stories from the early history of Islam got the first prize! The next year I participated again and my second book Footsteps, which is compiled on the same pattern, bagged the 3rd prize.
Although I have been writing for more than four years now, but with no formal education about writing, I still feel that I have to learn a lot and still a far way to go!!

Hum chal to dye ae jazbaa e dil jaana hai kidhar maalum nahin

Aaghaaz e safar pe naazaan hain anjaam e safar maalum nahin!!!!