memories …

Riffat Murtaza
July 1, 2014 ·
My day and the faces it bears

Twisters in Nebraska, scary sights and all the well wishers messaging to stay safe – don’t go out – find a shelter near you. Message after message from good people not even knowing who in particular they are talking to; just sending good wishes to total strangers. I have seen the same thing happening when tornadoes hit Florida. The support pouring out from all over the country. Not just stay safe messages but actual help with money, necessities, clothing, sheltering homeless families …. total strangers !

But are we really strangers? Doesn’t humanity bind us to each other. One person in distress in any other corner of the world and a chain of human links suddenly comes alive. But if we as humans are linked then why this is only limited to the western countries? Aren’t we humans or human enough in the East? I have seen a man in the East going out of his way – I mean really going out of his / her way to help, to accommodate someone with white skin and golden or brown tresses, and if the eyes are blue, then it is like ‘ wajib qurbatun…’ to be a carpet for that ‘god or goddess’ ! Well if we go to the north of our country, we would see plenty of green and blue eyes, fair skin and golden tresses . So? Is it because they are usually in tatters? And we take them as poor brats, fit for a noukar /noukrani job in a SAHAB’s posh home and God forbid – if breaking some crystal vase then getting hacked or burnt alive !! Once I even read a semi famous poet writing about his wait for his ticket in a foreign transit lounge, like he already had a long standing love affair with the woman at the ticket counter. He was almost feverish with anticipation that soon he would be talking to the “ma’shooq”

Oh, I was on twisters, and sirens. Basements and shelters and human chain. That day has passed. There was no news of any big damage. Relieved to read that!

The next page! “ Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Ferozsha Baag “by Rohinton Mistry – the best fiction writer in present day writers.
________ “ The World can be a bewildering place and dreams and ambitions are often paths to the most pernicious of traps “ Mistry writes in … Ferozsha Baag. I have to have this book, I wouldn’t rest till I have this in my hands and with a pillow behind my back, reclining on my recliner, lost in its pages. My friend Parvin and I meet once a month and talk about books we have read, book we are on and the new addition in our list of books we plan to read one by one. She thought I was an “ aflatoon” in the world of lit before we met. But now I think she is even a bigger “aflatoon” Our love of Rohinton Mistry bonded us right away.

I march from room to room … my little girls are off to Canada, visiting their nani and khala.
I do not like an empty house where every little sound makes an echo and silence stands still. I like peace and quiet, – specially at night; but love and enjoy their playful talks and peal after peal of laughter resonating in this big house during the day. Sitting in my far side of the house, I am always aware of their lively chatter, their laughter, their playful teasing of each other or running around on their soft , padded little feet! I think there is something magical about little girls.

Another page.

Sometimes ago I ‘LIKED’ a page. It is “ Rain Gutter Grow System Group Page “ because I love plants and trees – fruit trees , vegetables , herbs, flowers and shrubs. Love of greens is in my blood; inherited from my mother. So I liked this page where everyday people show their daily crop of tomatoes, peppers , buttercup squash, berries. They even grow herbs in water bottles. They cut the bottle in half, fill it with soil and ….

Ah the soil!!

And one afternoon, forgetting my ordeal – five years ago – with a certain skin problem, caused by rain water collected in puddles and I stepping in that, I dirtied my hands with potting soil. Now I am paying the price for being lazy to fetch my garden gloves. My hands are itchy; sooo itchy! I wash them with dead sea salt mixed in water, dry them, put medicine on them and then pull on cotton gloves; in this Florida heat! Even my soap is some special kind for washing them. PLEASE HELP ME ALLAH. I cannot go on like this … I beseech Almighty day and night …. medicine does not seem to work – yet.
I got this gardening bug from my mommy dearest. But then she went a step further and gave me a soft, delicate and extremely sensitive skin. Thanks mama and now I can only say – rest in peace!

A page ahead is Kafka casting a shadow on my day.

“No” said the priest, “you do not need to accept it as necessary.” ”Depressing view “ said K . “the lie made it into the rule of the world “

So true and I still have not finished the essay I promised I would write. Problem # 1 is my hands. I cannot write even a page in one sitting.. My poor fingers start itching and if I make the mistake of scratching even a bit, there will be no end to it

Problem# 2 is – I am losing my Urdu vocabulary.
Why so?
Because !.

Criticism is not bad. It actually helps people learn or improve; sometimes both. But when criticizing is just for criticizing , its not beneficial to any one. Its called bashing. Bashing for some hidden agenda.

Pakistan is going through a very hard time and this, in my opinion is the time to help this ailing country but I see people just sitting on the sidelines, watching and issuing political fatwas and the nincompoops they have collected around them, doing wah, wah at every absurdity that is uttered. These are no friends of Pakistan. One of my friends thinks they are the worse kind of enemies ….

” jis plate mein khatey hein osi mein sorakh krney mein lgaiy hein … jis darakht par baithey hein osi ki jarren bhi kat rahaiy hein …”

The energy they are wasting; bad mouthing the people in the government or some – not in the government but a political figures none the less. Any mention of any name and their hate machines would come in action. Other days, they would just ridicule just about any body and anything ; heck they never are supportive of anything..

So I turned away and started growing organic herbs. I know working with soil is kind of risky for my hands but if I be careful the soil will become friendly too. Soil is one’s destiny. We grow roots in the soil we live on. Wouldn’t it be better to nurture than hurt those roots.

I hope one day their conscience would question did they do anything to help build the country? Did they do anything positive? Making fun all the time, of everything is so easy but getting off of the haunches and extending a helping hand needs effort and a will to help move forward. Don’t tell me that your fore fathers sacrificed their lives to make this country because in turn I would ask you to think that their sacrifice made sure you had a safe and secure independent place to live and raise your children. What are you making sure for your children and their families?

Please don’t take this country for granted!!

July,1, 2014
Orlando.

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