“Dedicated to you”, A Ray of Sunshine
by Nayyar Afaq
Sat. March 23, 2019
کہکشاوں کے پُل سے
چاندنی کے دھارے پر
کئنات کےسب سے
آخری کنارے پر
روشنی جگاتی ہو
تم جو مسکراتی ہو
Oh wow Nayyar, this is beautiful.
“Dedicated to you”, A Ray of Sunshine
by Nayyar Afaq
Sat. March 23, 2019
کہکشاوں کے پُل سے
چاندنی کے دھارے پر
کئنات کےسب سے
آخری کنارے پر
روشنی جگاتی ہو
تم جو مسکراتی ہو
Oh wow Nayyar, this is beautiful.
This day last year!
An overcast sky is hanging over the lake. Every now and then there is a sprinkle of tiny droplets. It was the same last night. I could hear the rain falling softly. There was no other sound. Being acutely aware of a familiar tug at my heart,I put the book on the table and let myself go adrift on overwhelming wave after wave of times that once were.
I had a long talk with my son before he headed back home. Every week, when he comes visiting us, I always have this special time with him. Family dinner, gup shap after the table is cleared, tea/ coffee. then the girls, their baba and chacha play board games. I still remember the awe on the chacha’s face. When the games ended and saying good night both the girls went into their room for the night, he came and said “she beat me three times! never letting anyone win! what kind of an eleven year old is she” I laughed.
So, everyone calling it a night went to their rooms leaving us two sitting and talking.
We had an enjoyable talk with him, and after he left, brought my book to the family room and reclined with book in my hand. There was no way I was going to read anything tonight. Our conversation had stirred something in my memory and now the old log was open and demanding my attention.
And the rain was falling. Thinking about Pakistan, thinking about Wah and Islamabad, I fell asleep. When I came up again from the depths of a spell, it was three in the morning. I remember the last image flashing before my eyes closed again was my mother,s blooming garden in Wah and someone working in the flower beds. Zarrin Khan, no doubt. Who else could it be?
In the afternoon, I was at Lows garden section, buying flowers, then went to Home Depot to buy more plants, potting soil, special fertilizer for Bougainvilleas. Trellises. And a special something that I had thought about last night … the Daffodil bulbs. We call then Narcissus. They grew in abundance in my mother’s garden!
Yes, Narcissus – Nargis kay phool!!
Is being spontaneous good or bad? Sometimes I want to do something instantly. Without thinking or planning. I mean one moment you think about something and the next moment you are doing it, with full involvement.
Like – want to go some where?
okay, go, hit the road, face whatever meets you on the way. Maybe something not nice, maybe something extra nice… you never know. It’s the surprise element that is exhilarating…. not knowing becomes all the more fun. That used to be me – to some extent – still am 🙂
When I got married, my husband had already planned a honeymoon in Nathiya Gali. I told him I had thought we would cross the country on a motorbike stay at hotels on the way. Have breakfast at the truck stops. Make new friends. No it never materialized. We went to Nathia Gali, alright !
But why a motorbike? Well my older brother – a lot older than me had a Vespa. He once, to celebrate the Eid with the family, came to Lahore from Islamabad on his blue Vespa. He reached Lahore in the early hours of the night and not wanting to disturb anyone, took out his night gown from the bag and pulled the Adirondack porch chairs, face to face, slept the remaining night wrapped in his warm gown, on that makeshift bed. Was it December or some other cold month, not sure. I thought it was so adventurous and romantic. and one day I would also do that.
The following year we went to Karachi. Traveled a thousand miles in our car. It was fun but well planned fun. Then came the children and spontaneity was history.
In my married life, so far I have met just one couple who thought about something one moment and were doing it the next moment. That was another time in another country.
I met them in a party. Nice friendly couple, recently married. I invited them over for dinner the next day. We told them where we lived. I asked the girl wouldn’t she want to write it down? her husband smiled and said no need, we are born navigators. True to his words the next day at the appointed time, the bell rang. The door was opened and there they were. As they told us later , they had already come to our house previous night. At midnight when the party broke, they followed the address they thought they understood from the conversation; and came driving to the door to confirm. They wanted to do that to test their qualification of reading a map – just for …. fun? And then go back home.
The same couple was suddenly missing from the scene. No one had a clue where they were. Finally someone went to their house to talk to the house help. ” I don’t know janab, but they are coming back tonight and want their room cleaned and dinner ready. ”
It so happened that one night they were watching some documentary about Hunza Valley, the people, their way of living, traditions, their longevity, health, food etc. and they became so enamored with what they saw; they just up and left for Pakistan and from there to the Valley, they said.
Well, when there is a will, there always is a way.
All that we need is a will.
Got it ?
Yes. Got it.
Oh, I didn’t mean that if you have got THE WILL. I meant did anyone get what this story is saying ? Or maybe it is the same 🙂
I hope mood improves tomorrow.
A real sad, melancholy day. I stumbled on a page and froze.
میں اک شہاب ِ شکستہ تھا ا فتخار مغل
بجھا ضرور مگر خوب جگمگا کے بجھا
Because of him I could not write for one whole year.. He liked my stories, claimed that he always read my story before looking into other writings. But about one story he wrote that it just blew his mind and heart away and after that one story, it had become hard for him to appreciate stories by other people. I had never met him, not even seen his any photo anywhere but this claim and then in each issue of Funoon, he would talk about it. I was happy, I liked what he said but then I developed a kind of احساس ِ کمتری .I started doubting my ability to write. Every time I started a story, I just panicked, and threw it in the bin. I finally Wrote about this ابتلا to Nadeem Qasmi sahab . He published that letter in اختلا فا ت . I don’t know what made him to publish it but that became the turning point and I slowly came back.
The year I was planning on going to Pakistan, I had decided to see him in Abbottabad where in a monthly mushaira he used to go to recite his poetry.
I called to find out when were they having mushaira and make sure Iftikhar Mughal was there. There was a long silence and finally. ” I am sorry Riffat, but he is no more. He passed away two weeks ago
ہمارے دل میں کہیں درد ہے؟ نہیں ہے نا
ہمارا چہرہ کہیں زرد ہے ؟ نہیں ہے نا
سنا ہے آدمی مر سکتا ہے بچھڑتے ہوئے
ہمارا ہاتھ چھووؑ، سرد ہے ؟ نہیں ہے نا
سنا ہے ہجر میں چہروں پہ دھول اڑتی ہے
ہمارے رخ پہ کہیں گرد ہے ؟ نہیں ھے نا
this ghazal is written in his own hand and looks like it was not complete yet..
I spent my day just reading him the more I read the more heart broken I felt.
A profound feeling of loss. A regret and so much more!
Rest in peace Iftikhar Mughal Your words would keep your name alive.
My silence is not silent.
Haunted by images,
feelings and fragrances
words and their meanings
I am silent.
Teary eyed I look into my cup half full half gone and I have no recollection when did it happen there is no taste of tea on my tongue. I had dropped some tears in it and am looking for them. My heart is heavy. I want to lie down, curl up into a ball and vanish. I think that is how mothers feel when their sons leave them. One day they just pick up their things and following their dreams they leave. Now I know how my mother in law must have felt when I let her son go in search of a better future and when he secured it, I joined him along with our first born. But we helped her improve her life , made it comfortable for her. At that time ,that was all I thought was important. Emotional side of separation never came to mind. Now I know. I know the taste, the heartache it causes.
My tea is cold. Who added salt in it ?
Earlier when waiting for the kettle to boil for tea and I was standing against the wall, looking outside at the lake. This lake is my retreat. It has seen me happy and laughing, seen me basking in the love and attention of my children. birthdays, anniversaries and just family evenings with fun and games. And it has seen me shedding tears, talking to myself, grappling with memories I would rather not remember. not sharing my grief with anyone except this calm and reassuring water body.
I was standing and looking out. Water was still quiet in the kettle. On the far side of the lake some 20 0r 30 little duck babies were floating in a tight cluster. Suddenly one of them would break away and start gliding in the opposite direction and with a flurry of movements all of them, in a formation, would follow the one that got away. The chase ending in getting together again. On this side of the lake a lone star is pecking in the water, God knows what. He is not bothered about the group. Just pecking away, whatever it is
I heard the kettle whistle. Tea on the table., boiled eggs in their cups crisp toast and jam or cheese on the side. Butter knife, small spoon, salt and pepper shakers … robotic work
but I must hide what is going in my mind and what my body is going through.
It didn’t hurt me when I had that bad fall in their parking lot. Everybody saw my bruises – black and blue . I am more blue, more achy now but I keep reminding myself over and over again –
No tears, no emotions, put your best foot forward, show a happy face, be normal, talk normal. Depression and distress are infectious. Keep them at bay.
Just remember that you are a mother. And mothers always want their children to be happy and contented.
دوری کی چادروں میں فاصلوں کو لپیٹ کر بحر ِ اوقیانوس بُرد کر دینا اچھا رہے گا
ہجر کے سب مسائل حل ہو جائیں گے۔ سب طرح کی “فہمیاں “جان کو عذاب سے نکل جانے کا پروانہؑ راہداری عطا کر دیں گی
یہ قطرہ قطرہ مرنا نہیں رہے گا ، مگر یہ سب ہوا کب اور کیسے ؟ کس بیابان یا نخلستان یا گلستان سے اس نے ورود کیا اور اپنے سیدھے قد سے سامنے کھڑے ہو کر اپنی حاکمیت کی مہر لگا دی ۔ کچھ پوچھنا ، اجازت لینا ، مرضی جاننا جب مشرب میں ہو ہی نہ تو کوئی کیا کرے گا اس تولے اور ماشے کے خاموش اور معصوم جدال کو کوئی جنگ کا الزام بھی کیسے دے سکتا ہے بس ایک قطرہ قطرہ موت ہی مقسوم رہ جاتی ہے ۔
سوچ ہاتھوں سے نکلی جاتی تھی
خیالات میں روانی نہیں تھی
کوئی ہے جس سے پوچھا جائے
یہ سب ہوا کب اور کیسے ہوا
کبھی راستے کا تعین کئے بغیر آگے بڑھتے جائیں منزل کہین نہ کہیں آ ملتی ھے ۔ میں بھی کام میں تھی اور منزل ڈھونڈھ رہی تھی ۔ وہ دور کھڑا مجھے دیکھ رہا تھا میں کب ہار مانتی ہوں ، کب اس کے پیروں میں بیٹھ جاتی ہوں۔ میری شکست کے میرے اعتراف کے لئے اسے انتظار تھا اور کوئی ایسی جلدی نہیں تھی
ایک بار میں نے اپنی نگارش کا جائزہ لیا اور کتاب بند کرنے کو تھی جب ایسا لگا کسی نے میری گردن پر چٹکی بھری ہو ، آہستہ سے بالوں کو چھوا ہو
میں سیدھی ہو کر بیٹھ گئی شا ئد دیر سے جھکی بیٹھی تھی اور یہ گردن اور کمر کا اعلان ِ احتجاج تھا
گردن اوپر کرتے ہی، سامنے روشندان سے لگا وہ کھڑا نظر آیا۔ روشن چمکتا ہوا آدھا چاند – روشنی کی کرنیں اُچھالتا ، ہوا میں سر اُ ٹھائے اسی کو دیکھتی ، اچانک ہی اپنے اندر کی تبدیلی سے آگاہ پیار کی امنڈتی لہروں میں ہلکو رے لینے لگی
پوچھو گی نہیں اتنے دن کہاں رہا؟
تم سیاہ ماتمی لباس میں بہت تنہا اور خاموش تھیں میں نے احترام میں تمہیں تمھارے حال پر چھوڑ دیا ۔ اُس وقت تک کے لئے جب تم واپس آنے کا فیصلہ کرو ۔
ہاں معلوم ہے ، جانتی ہوں مگر پھر بھی ایک رات میں نے تمہیں ڈھونڈھا تھا اس وقت تمہیں آفاق کو روش کرتے ابھی دس راتیں ہی ہوئی تھیں پھر کہاں تھے تم ، میں دل گرفتہ تمہیں آوازیں دیتی رہی تھی مگر تم کہیں نظر نہیں آئے۔
جانتا ہوں ، معلوم ہے ۔ تم نے تمہاری گاڑی کا شیشہ نیچے کیا تھا اور سر باہر نکال کر حد ِ نگاہ مجھے ڈھونڈھنے کی کوشش کی تھی مگر میں تمہیں نظر نہیں آیا
کیوں ؟ بارش بھی تو نہیں تھی
مگر دھندلے اور ملال سے میلے بادل تو تھے۔
ہاں شائید ۔
مگر کسی نے ہماری بات کاٹ دی ۔ اس کو جواب دے کر واپس آئی تو وہ روشندان کے شیشے کی حدود سے کہیں پرے جا چکا تھا ۔ کچھ دیر اور ٹھہر جاتے ، میری بات تو سن لیتے۔
تمہیں پتہ ہے ایسے نہیں ہو سکتا ، اس کائنات کو کوئی اور چلا رہا ہے ۔ تم اور میں اس کے کارندے ہیں اور بس ۔
اس کی دور جاتی آواز قطرہ قطرہ میرے اندر آبشار بن کے اُتر گئی۔
ایک بات ملال کی مجھے بھی تم سے کرنی تھی ۔ لگتا ہے زندگی کو زندگی نے چھین لیا ہے ۔ زندگی جو ٹھہرے پانی کی مانند پرسکون تھی ، زندگی نے اس کی پرسکون سطح پر سلوٹیں ڈال دی ہیں تمہیں بتانا تھا کہ زندگی کو حیران چھوڑ کر ، زندگی ، زندگی کے ہاتھوں سے پھسلتی کہیں اور جا نکلی ہے بتانا تھا یہ سب ، پوچھنا تھا تم سے۔۔
۔کہ زندگی اب اس کے کاندھے پر بیٹھی ہے اور وہ زندگی کی دلداری میں زندگی کو آزاد بھی نہیں کرتا،
اب مگر میری بات کا جواب آ یا نہیں ، وہ جا چکا تھا اور آفاق پر کوئی تارہ بھی نہیں تھا جو اُن راستوں کو اُ جا لتا مجھے اس تک لے جاتا ۔
شائید کل پھر آؤ تم
میں رستہ دیکھتی بیٹھوں گی تمہارا۔
روشندان کی تاریکی میں ایک تارہ آ کر بیٹھ گیا مگر وہ میرا ستارہ نہیں تھا۔
Riffat Murtaza .
Birds have disappeared, ducks are not to be seen anywhere and the Sand hill cranes who love to come and knock on the windows and then retreat further down to the lake and jump in the air flapping their wings like they had just cracked some joke, flew into the setting Sun yesterday. A steel grey sky is hanging low spreading anticipating quiet every where.
There is no sound. Humans are inside their homes. Windows boarded, doors locked, watching news channels. Where is Matthew now? what country it hit and mutilated; turning it into a twisted and chopped corpse. Haiti, Bahamas and now Florida shores.
And oh yes, taking stock of valuables too. Bring in the plants, prepare a shelter, beware of tornadoes …. a doomsday scenario.
No cars on the roads. All the humdrum of life just wrapped up it’s show and left. Curfew in two counties.
In the Atlantic arena, Matthew is raging, raving mad. A mindless energy. Like a carpet snake, that just came to life – Blind but focused. Untangling it’s coils and ready to pounce and devour.
Sometimes in the early hours Matthew would have a landfall near the Florida coast.
WTSP’s meteorologist Bobby Deskins keeps us up-to-date on the latest Hurricane Matthew forecast as it roars towards the U.S.
No matter how close the center of Hurricane Matthew gets to the U.S., the southeastern coast can expect to feel the effects Thursday through Sunday with fierce winds, driving rain, possible power outages and drenching floods, forecasters say.
on Wednesday with 120-mph winds, is forecast to approach Florida as a stronger Category 4 hurricane with 130-mph winds Thursday. Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for the entire east coast of Florida.
The worst conditions should be late Thursday and throughout Friday in eastern Florida and Saturday and Sunday in coastal sections of Georgia and the Carolinas.”
Everyone looks a little lost. First it was adjusting routines, making room in tight schedules welcoming a guest who would stay with us for a month. And now when he has left after being with us for a month, eveyone looks a little lost, unsure of where to start or readjust the altered routines.
My husband and my sons went to the airport to see him off. They were a little quiet when they came back. I know we all are going to miss him.
He was my husband’s younger brother – my brother in law. One of his friends, living in Chicago wanted him to come to attend his daughter’s wedding. A visitors visa from Pakistan, tickets, confirmed seat etc. everything was done in almost no time. Bottom line is he was destined to visit this place so everything was easily done and achieved.
My children were happy that their chacha was coming, my grand daughters were excited that they would see their chhote dada for the first time. My husband was happy and getting things done to welcome his younger brother. Once he was here, both the brothers spent hours reminiscing their long lost times and I am sure they still were not done when he left after all this time. I mean here I am a quiet person by nature who loves peace and silence and avoids crowds; and there they were never getting tired of talking. It was good to see them enjoying eachother’s company but I would excuse myself when the talking would turn into hours of non stop …”remember that ….” “oh remember what happened …”
Another funny thing about them was their similar looks. They are brothers.True. But such resemblance one only witnesses in identical twins. My granddaughter asked her father the next day on her way to school .. .” baba are you sure my dada and chote dada are not twins? ”
I love and value family and family reunions even if it was just one more person joining. There was a time when we used to go to Pakistan every year to see our families. My children loved to visit their grandparent’s house because apart from being pampered by dada abba and dadi amman, there was their chacha – a hero with his wonderful motorcycle who would take them out on a spin every afternoon after coming home from his office.
I am sure every one of us is a little sad in some private corner of our hearts because he is not what we all had in our memories.
How time cheats on us!
There is an aura of sad resignation around him. Has it something to do with the loss of his wife who passed away two years ago? Yes. for sure it is. She was a simple, high school graduate woman, least bothered about the world affairs or local politics. All her interests revolved around her family. A good natured, happy go lucky type.
I remember way back when we were visiting Pakistan, my father in law saying ” dulhan, I want to talk to you. I said yes babu ji what is it? suddenly his face was red, ” talk to this stubborn, mule of a boy. There is this nice girl from a good syed family – we know the family, she comes and recites the majlis when ever we are having one. very nice, very respectful, very religious minded. She will be good for him, for the family but no, this high and mighty would not listen. Talk to him. Put some sense in his head. Okay babu ji, I will try. was my meek response. So one afternoon after lunch when the table was cleared, I told him that I have a message for him. He sat back lowering his eyes. ‘Babu ji’s message? is it? I said yes. So you know. I heard she is nice. You have seen her. She comes here all the time. Is there something you want to talk about? like some one else you like or something? There was nothing or no one. He assured me. After some more talking, suddenly he said okay, I am ready. I was silent. Didn’t know what to say. I remember saying a prayer silently; For him and his wife to be, their future togather. For myself , being responsible for helping this happen. I called out. “time for celebration!! ” Everybody came running, smiling, laughing. Babu ji just put his hand on his son’s head and went out of room, probably to thank Allah in the privacy of his room.
They were happy. They had a good life togather. And now when they had fulfilled all their obligations and responsibilities and were looking forward to being togather for hassel free, twilight years, she died. She had a heart condition that she was born with. She held on to life bravely all through this time raising a family, their education, getting them married, grandchildren and when she was sure everyone was settled and didn’t need her help any more, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
A friendship for keeps:
by Riffat Murtaza
Weather has changed. Sun is still warm and pricks the skin but it fills my heart with a sense of renewal! Sun is hot but shadows are soft and holding a promise.
M.N sahib, as usual keeps sending important / interesting / some times funny links my way. How long have we known each other? Oh a long time! He is my dearest, dearest friend. Anything that I have difficulty to know or understand, I run back to him. He always has an answer to satisfy my quest.
I had just arrived in Florida from across the ocean. I do not like having too many people around me and rather prefer peace and quiet and be alone. But still the place I had left behind was a busy and lively place. Though not being directly involved I was always aware of life’s goings on around me. Here I was suddenly alone and lonely. A friend introduced him and slowly my world started to look brighter. I can do away with anything but not without books, papers, pens, reading and sharing ideas. And he was always there for all this and more. There are a whole lot more of such people out there and some times you like them and want to have them in your life like a precious find – a link to hold you close, but along the way you become aware that the connection has a fault line. Its not going to grow. Agendas, misunderstandings, other people with other interests come in and the connection snaps and you are left wondering where what went wrong. You mope around for sometime, even feel depressed, cry some too, but slowly things get back to normal and soon you become aware that .. but no, sometimes letting go is the best decision made.
This man is – let me call him a rock. Solid. Authentic. One of a kind. Knows how to enjoy a good joke. Read a bad she’r to him and you are in for trouble. “quote a one bad couplet and he is ready for a fight. he once said exactly that. I laughed but didn’t dare do any such thing. Pretended to be brave and spoke airily about my likes and dislikes, good tastes and bad tastes. Once I called him a grumpy old man. He shot back “what do you think? I was a grumpy young man too ”
My first Muharram in Orlando was lonely and too sad. A very small
community – the first generation – trying to get some foothold in a newly adopted home. I would spend most afternoons reading Mir Anees. That same month he recited one of Mir Anees Marsiya “kis sher ki aamad he keh ran kaanp rha he” at one of his shia friend’s house and sent the audio to me to listen to it. He emailed ..
“ I am sending you an audio tape. A cheap man that I am, I am sending it by ordinary mail and if you have some good deeds in your namah-e- aamal, it will reach you safely.” He had recited the marsia with such feeling that it brought tears to my eyes. I emailed him and told him that. His answer arrived immediately “ I am glad I made you cry”
In all these years we had one fight. A real serious fight … but that is okay because now when I think, I feel that was not a fight, not even an argument. It was just drifting apart for a while. It was a test . An evaluation. It was like a tide that recedes – pulled back in the ocean only to come back in and stay close to the shore. Even the closest friendships have boundaries and need to be acknowledged and respected.
This is a friendship for keeps. I love him. I am not talking about some romantic love. Certainly not. He is a very dear friend and I love him the way you would love a dear friend who happens to be a man of letters, learned, well informed. A scholar, a critic. Straight forward with no hang ups of any kind.
Long live the friendships that pass the test of time !