Reminiscence: Rain, rain come again (http://archives.dawn.com/archives/69397)

26-8-12…The long awaited rains have finally arrived in Karachi. Its been raining on and off since yesterday.My grand children’s excitement again reminds me of my childhood days, when I myself was a careless (and naughty) little girl, and the way I and my siblings would enjoy the rain in the same manner, having a good time at the swings with my sisters or playing on the terrace with my brothers.
Rain always brings a strange potpourri of emotions for me. I am happy and sad at the same time as I enjoy seeing my grand children having a great time, but a sense of nostalgia also grips my heart as memories of the long past rainy days when my children were growing up and had to be pulled inside after they had been thoroughly drenched in the downpour, (because I worried like my mother that they would catch a cold or fever).

This article was published in The Review(Dawn) a few years back.

RAIN, RAIN, COME AGAIN!

It is a beautiful rainy day. Peals of happy laughter come floating through my window as I watch my grandchildren playing in the rain. My five-year-old grandson calls out to me “Please Amma, come outside, we are having so much fun,” he pleads in his little voice. Rain always holds a strange charm over me. Born and brought up in former East Pakistan, where it rains daily for more than half of the year, it always reminds me of my childhood days and of an era which now seems to belong to another world! I remember many nights waking up to the sound of the soft pattering of rain drops on the roof, or rushing to Ammi`s room for security when a thunder storm struck!

 

I walk out gingerly into the lawn and my grandson throws a ball at me, “Catch it, Amma,” he calls out too late. Always poor at sports, I miss the ball completely even though I make a brave dive. Thankful inwards that the wet ball did not hit my nose I scold my grandson laughingly, “You know that Amma is bad at catching balls”. We chase each other in the rain and are drenched thoroughly as my daughter-in-law comes out of the kitchen. “You will catch a cold Ammi. And children you have played enough in the rain, now come inside”. My grandson pleads for a few more minutes as I go back to my room to change into dry clothes.

 

As I sit in the warmth of my room sipping hot tea, my knees wrapped in a shawl, I am carried away to another rainy day a long time back.

 

It is raining hard and my children are having a great time in the backyard as they laugh and play in the heavy downpour. I glance out of the kitchen window worriedly as my eldest has a weak chest and catches cold easily.

 

Laying out hot pakoras on the table with a kettle of freshly brewed tea, covered snugly with an embroidered tea-cozy, I call out to my children “Now come inside all of you or you will be down with cold and fever”. “Please Ammi thori der aur,” they implore me and I give in reluctantly. After all, rain is not a frequent feature of life in Karachi and I want my children to enjoy every moment of it!

 

The torrent of memories sweeps me further downstream. It is a beautiful rainy day in Chittagong, a lush green hilly town, where my early childhood was spent. Like nearly every Sunday, Daddy takes us to Patenga, the lovely Chittagong beach, with its white sand (free from any pollution) and greenery along the beach. It starts raining as we reach the waves. Daddy perches me on his shoulders and walks into the water. Knowing instinctively that I am in safe hands I just fold my arms round his neck firmly and let out peals of delight as the blue water dances around us. The waves also seem to enjoy the rain as they race each other before crashing onto the shore. Ammi is calling out something but her voice is drowned by the sound of the rain and waves. The worried look on her face and her flailing arms tell us that she wants us back. “Thand lag jayeigi aap donon ko (you both will catch cold), let`s go back and change into dry clothes”.

 

My grandson`s voice pulls me back to the present. He is out again in the rain with his little sister. They plead with me to accompany them. “Ammi please do not forget your arthritis, you act like a child with the children”, my daughter-in-law protests but turning a deaf ear to her warnings I walk out into the rain again. I want this rainy day to be etched firmly in the memories of my grand children; a fond memory to cherish lovingly when they reach my age!

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Ammi Ki yaad mein (Urdu)

Aside

اے ماں ترا خاموش سی ہستی میرے لئے
کسی نعمت کسی دولت سے نئیں تھی کم
ترے سیے سے جو اٹھتی ممتا کی مہک
دل کے زخموں ک وہ مرحم سے نہیں تھی کم

کیا ہوا خاموش اگر تو رہتی تھی
مرے دکھوں کا تھا بوجھ ترے دل بہ
تو سمجھتی تھی مری زیست ہے کتنی مشکل
درد مرا تو سہتی تھی ابنے دل بہ

مرے ہر دکھ کو تو یوں محسوس کیاکتی تھی
دور ہو کے بھی تو دور نہیں تھی مجھ سے
بے زبانی کی زباں میری سمجھتی تھی تو یوں
جانتی تھی تو وہ جو کبھی میں نے کہا نہ تجھ سے

دوریاں تجھ اور مجھ میں بہت تھیں لیکن 
مظترب میں تھی یہاں تو تو بےچین وہاں
ٹھےس لگتی تھی ادھر ٹیس اٹھتی تھی ادھر
زخم لگتا تھا یہاں درد ہوتا تھا وہاں

میں نے سوچا تھا تو جب بھی ملئگی مجھ کو 
ہوئے جو مجھ پہ ستم یہ میں بتاونگی تجھے
ترے ممت بھرے سینے مےں چھپا کہ چہرہ
خوب رؤنگی میں اور خوب رلاؤنگی تجھے

اپنے نرم سے ہاتھوں سے تو پوچھےگی مرے اںسو
یوں بڑے پیار سے دیگی تو تسلی مجھ کو 
نہ رو بیٹی میری ابھی تو میں زندہ ہوں
اپنے ممتا بھرے اںچل میں سمو لیگی مجھ کو 

لیکن ایسا نہ ہوا تو بھی مجھے چھوڑ گئ
دھوپ عم کی ہے کڑی اور ترا سایہ بھی نہیں
ترے جانے سےزخم مرے یوں چیخ اٹھے 
ان دکھن جو کرے کم کوئ مرحم ہی نہیں

غم کی راہوں میں کو ئ اور سہارا تو نہ تھا
تجھ سے ملنے کی امید ہی کافی تھی مجھے
زیست پہلے بھی مجھ کو کوئ اسان نہ تھی
ترے جانے سے یہ مشکل اور بھی مشکل ہے مجھے

میرے اشکوں کو ہے حاجت ترے دامن کی
دل کے زخموں کو ے ممتا کے مرحم کی طلب
یوںمصیبت میں تنہا مجھے کیوں چھوڑ گئ
کچھ تو بتلا مجھے یوں موںھ پھیر کے جانے کاسبب 

درد سہہ کر مجھے ہنسنا تھاسکھایا تو نے
ہر قدم پرمیری ہممت کو بڑھایا تو نے
سر اٹھا کے مجھے جینا تھا سکھایا تو نے
بن تیرے کیسے جیوں یہ نہ بتایا تو نے

 

THE FINAL GOODBYE!

 

                    Nearly two decades have past since that eventful day; but even today I can vividly recall the minutest details! I was coming back home (to Karachi from Dhaka) and she had come to the airport to bid me farewell. Those moments are firmly imprinted in my memory, her beautiful face looking drawn and exhausted; and her lips moving silently, as if in an intense prayer. After embracing her one last time, I tore myself away from her, and trying to hide my tears, turned to enter the departure lounge. I remember looking back over my shoulders after every few steps, just to catch one last glimpse of her. Just the knowledge that she was there and praying for me, was in itself a great solace!

                When I was married in 1970, it was just that I had migrated from one part of Pakistan to another, i.e. from Dhaka (East Pakistan) to Karachi (West Pakistan). But as destiny would have it, only after a year, Bangladesh was created and I found myself a foreigner in the city I was born in, had spent my childhood days and my school and college life; the city which I loved dearly.

                  With the passage of time, requirements of passport and visa, the ever rising cost of traveling with a growing family and my commitment to my children’s education, made my visits to my parents further and further years apart.

               On that particular occasion, I had gone to Dhaka to visit my ailing father and due to some personal circumstances my visit was a very tumultuous one. And the last night of my stay was particularly heart breaking! I could take the tension no more and broke down in sobs in my mother’s arms. My marriage was on the rocks and I could easily read the writing on the wall. And Ammi, (to whom physical touch simply did not come easily), just held me gently and lovingly murmured soothing words in my ears. And inspite of the heartbreak and the fear of the unknown, my taut nerves calmed down for a while and I dozed off in her loving arms.

            With a heavy heart, I boarded the aircraft trying to keep the thrill of her touch alive! Since my childhood days, it had always been a precious and cherishable moment, whenever Ammi hugged me tightly to her bosom or kissed me lovingly.

            It was not that she did not love me or my siblings! Ammi was a very caring mother in every way, but she was just different from others in every thing, trivial or important. If we go by the institutional standards, she was not educated, but her insatiable thirst for reading, gave her the vision and knowledge most woman of her generation lacked. A staunch Muslim she taught her children to have a firm faith in Allah! A fierce patriot, she had instilled in us a deep love for Pakistan, a love which keeps me restless to this day!

          Popular equally among her family and in-laws, Ammi’s wise and practical advice was sought and respected by all the people around her. She was a perfect home- maker as well as a very social person, juggling her time between her children, home and her social commitments.

           A few weeks after my return, the inevitable happened. My marriage, which had been shaky for years, ended in a divorce. Though I was shattered and heart broken, somehow that last night in Ammi’s arms helped me face this harsh stage of life bravely. I took my grief with pride, my head held high, refusing to give in to self pity (or allowing anyone else to pity me!). I must acknowledge that my children and family gave me unquestioning support which made that stage of life bearable. 

              After the initial pain had died down, I resolved to start my life all over again. Thinking that the worst was over, I started picking bits and pieces of my broken life. Though outwardly I tried to appear calm, I was just waiting for Ammi to come to Karachi. I could show my raw emotions and my anguish only to my mother, shed my tears hiding in her loving bosom!

          And then the tsunami came crashing down upon me!

          The innocent sounding ring of the phone bell on that eventful morning on the second day of Eid, brought devastating news from Dhaka. Ammi, who had talked to me only the day before, had consoled me with the news that she was coming to Karachi the following week, had past away peacefully in her sleep! All her life she had loved to be different, and in death too, she had chosen to stand apart from others. No serious illness, no doctors, no rushing to the hospital! No, she would have none of these! She had gone to bed as usual (the Eid Day) and just refused to get up in the morning.

               And never in my life had I needed her more! All the tears that remained to be shed, the anguish that remained to be expressed, just died down deep inside me.

            Memories of that day are like a hazy nightmare! Friends and relatives were surrounding me, offering their condolences but I just sat there wordless, numb with pain and trying to fathom the cruel reality. A dull throbbing pain kept tearing my heart to pieces, my eyes burning, but the tears just refusing to come!

            How can you let go of someone so dear to your heart… let go without even saying goodbye? When you live abroad away from people who are an integral part of your life, how can you even say whether you will ever see those beloved faces again? For months, I was overwhelmed with grief, as memories of that last night in her arms tugged at my heart and kept me awake and restless at nights. Ah! Only had I known that it was the final goodbye, I would have clung closer to her that night and not wasted even one of those precious moments in sleep!