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!

اے ناتواں مرے دل

اے ناتواں مرے دل
ہمت نہ ہارنا تو
دو چار اور قدم ہیں
بس سامنے ہے منزل
مانا کہ راہ کٹھن ہے
لمبا بہت سفر ہے
پر مشکلیں یہ تیری
اب ختم ہیں ہونے والی
یہ مانتی ہوں میں کہ
ماضی ترا عجب ہے
حالات کے ستم سے
کچھ دوست کے ستم سے
سب خواب ٹوٹے تیرے
بکھرا تو ریزہ ریزہ
حالت کو تیری چاہا
ہر دم بدلنا میں نے
لیکن یہ کام شاید
تھا میرے بس سے باہر
خوشیوں کی آرزو میں
پھرتا رہا تو برسوں
پر کچھ ہوا نہ حاصل
تجھ کو ان کاوشوں سے
منزل نہ پائی تو نے
لوٹ آیا راستوں سے
پر تو بڑا تھا ضدی
مانی نہ ہار تو نے
دکھ سہہ کے مسکرانا
ہر دم تھا تیرا شیوہ
بس ہنسنا اور ہنسانا
ہر دم تھا کام تیرا
پھر کیوں یہ اک تھکن سی
تجھ پہ ہے آج طاری؟
مایوسیاں یہ کیسی؟
کیسی یہ بیقراری؟
یہ خوں جو رس رہا ہے
زخموں سے آج تیرے
کر دیگا یہی رنگیں
کل تیرے گلستاں کو
کر لے یقین میرا
دکھ کی یہ انتہا ہے
ہوتی ہے انتہا جب
پھر ہوتی ابتدا ہے
بس تھوڑی اور ہمت
اے ناتواں مرے دل
دو چار اور قدم ہیں
بس سامنے ہے منزل

 

GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE!

Aside

I have been through good times and I have been through bad times. I have seen the heights of ecstasy and I have faced deep anguish and despair. These are the two faces of life all of us experience at one stage or the other. The ratio in which we experience them may be different, but joys and sorrows, although opposite in nature, mostly walk hand in hand.

This is the bitter sweet beauty of life! We all enjoy and celebrate our moments of joy, but the quality of our lives depends entirely on how we tackle adversities. Firm faith that whatever (good or bad) happens, happens for a reason and an optimistic approach towards difficulties can help one sail through the rough seas of life.

Sehrish, a mother of three, was overwhelmed by grief after the sudden death of her husband. In the morning he dropped her off at her office, but in the evening when he didn’t come to pick her up as was his daily routine, she took a rickshaw and came home.
She was a bit surprised to see him peacefully sleeping in his bed.

She learnt that he had come home a couple of hours earlier than usual and had gone to bed as he was not feeling well. Sehrish tried to wake him up but when he simply did not respond, she called in a doctor who declared that he had died in his sleep as a result of a massive heart attack. She was devastated at the news.

As to how she overcame the trauma, she says, “The following months are still a hazy memory for me. Slipping into deep depression, I gave up my job, stopped taking care of myself and was so engulfed in self-pity that I didn’t even take proper care of my three kids, who suffered physically and emotionally, because of my negative attitude, until the day when their school teachers came for a visit.

“Trying not to sound too harsh, they complained about my kids’ untidy appearance, bad performance and sliding grades. ‘Why should your children suffer for something no one could control?’ they asked me. ‘Death has taken away their father and your depression has deprived them of their mother’s love, something they now need more to make up for their loss’. Their words brought me out of the stupor”.

Sehrish says that she vowed to pull herself back to normal life for the sake of her children. She has been fairly successful as she got herself a new job and started taking interest in her children, their studies and life in general.

People surrounded by difficulties often say that life is not a bed of roses, but being a great optimist I often ask them, “Whoever said that life is a bed of thorns?” I agree that life can be cruel, but it also is kind. So, instead of complaining about life’s adversities, about what we yearned to have but could not achieve in life, just for a change, we should stop and look around ourselves.

We will find people less blessed than us, people whose lives are much tougher than ours. For a positive approach towards life, the first step is to count our blessings and forget (or at least try to do so) our deprivations. In his famed classic, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy beautifully writes, “Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy”.

Like most people I have also had my share of hardships. But I have my own way of coping with problems. When I can find no way out of despair, even if only for the time being, I try my best to keep myself busy during the day, not allowing myself time to be depressed. “Cool down”, I keep on reminding myself, “There has to be some way out! It may take time but the solution will come”.

The rising sun brings new hopes. I leave my bed and pull back the curtains. ‘Thank God for another day’, a voice inside me whispers. In spite of the tough times, I can still feel the coolness of the morning breeze on my face, see the butterfly fluttering on the flowers in my little garden and hear the birds happily chirping away.

I draw back the curtains further to allow the sunbeams come dancing down on my bed. ‘Good Morning Sunshine!’ I exclaim with a smile as I brace myself for a new day with a renewed hope that today things might change for the better. I love to remind myself of what American journalist and author Mignon Mc Laughlin said, “Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent!”

Emotion: The winning curve! By Yasmin Elahi | From InpaperMagzine | 24th October, 2010

The little boy’s smile was as infectious as the flu. Squeezed in the narrow bus seat which I shared with his mother, he gave me a bright smile every time our eyes met. And his smile was as full of life as could be! In spite of my bad mood, I could not help smiling right back at him.

It was one of those days which begin on a wrong note. I had invited some guests for dinner, and also had an appointment with my dentist. To my dismay, the maid failed to turn up. Hurriedly finishing the extra work, I stepped into the kitchen to prepare dinner. But to my disappointment, I found myself short of a number of ingredients for the dishes I had planned to serve. After making a list of the things I had to get from the superstore on my way back from the dentist I started out.
The buses were all overcrowded and after a long wait in the hot sun, I was able to board one of them. So, I was not in a particularly good mood but the child’s innocent smile somehow did wonders for my spirits. On reaching my destination, I tenderly patted his cheek, “You made my day!” I told him as I got up from my seat. Not understanding what I meant, he gave me another of his lively smiles.

A smile is the most positive emotion we possess. All of us have our share of bad days, days when nothing seems to be going right. We cannot control what is happening around us but we can control our reactions to these circumstances. A smile eases many a difficult situations. They say that it takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown. So, why waste that extra energy on a negative emotion which would do us no good. In fact, it only helps to worsen the situation. Instead of feeling blue and giving in to depression, isn’t it better to face the circumstances with a cheerful demeanour?

Reminiscing on the powers of a happy smile, I continued my day in a much better frame of mind. Getting over with the dentist, I reached the supermarket and quickly loaded my trolley with the grocery I needed. The line at the billing counter was moving at a snail’s pace, as the lady at the counter was very slow. I waited impatiently in the queue for my turn, my mind full of the undone chores I had left behind at home.

The woman behind me seemed equally restless. Shuffling on her feet, she bumped her trolley into me. Irritated, I turned around and was about to say something rude, a frown of displeasure on my face. But I bit my tongue just in time. My anger disappeared as the middle-aged woman smiled apologetically and said sorry. Strangely the smiling face of the little boy in the bus came to my mind. Almost grudgingly, I found myself smiling back at her and nodding my head as if to acknowledge her apology.

A smile is a curve which is the shortest distance between two persons. It is a language which is not spoken anywhere but still understood all over the world. It costs nothing but gives away much. A balm for a weary soul, a ray of sunshine for those who are surrounded by the dark shadows of depression, a smile is a message of cheerfulness for the gloomy. It is a magic potion which can heal many woes and soothe many troubles. Sometimes when we cannot express ourselves properly and we grope for words, a smile comes in to save the situation.

We may not have the teeth fit for a toothpaste ad, or be as good looking as all of us would love to be, but a smile is the cheapest and most readily available option which beautifies the most ordinary looks. It does to our face what the best beautician in town and the most expensive cosmetics cannot do.

According to Dale Carnegie, “A smile costs nothing but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever”.
So, the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, try to keep your smile intact. Things may work out better and the winning curve on your lips could set a lot of things straight.