Friday Feb 15, 2013
Friday Feb 15, 2013
Finally I put courage in both my hands, pushed and nudged and landed myself in my doctor’s office for my routine check ups. And when I came out of his office, ‘unbelievable ‘ was written all over my face.
He said everything was fine. Nothing to worry about. The only minus point was my blood report that shows vitamin D deficiency.
“Why?” was his stern question.
“I don’t know.” My meek answer.
“Living in Florida and you are D deficient? You want medication when you can have it free of charge?” He said, short of yelling at me.
I dared not open my mouth.
“You don’t sit in the patio”
“Sometimes is not good. Go out everyday and spend at least half an hour under the Sun.” He ordered.
“Okay.” another meek response.
” I will order another blood test in a month”
And that was it. So why am I not feeling happy and relieved??
میں تجھ کو یاد کروں اور تجھے سنائی نہ دے
ہے نقص مجھ میں کوئی تو مگر صفائی نہ دے
Iftikhar Mughal – himself a well known, published poet wrote these lines. He loved reading my stories and always had a good word for every afsana I wrote and was published in Funoon. (Qasmi sahib’s magazine) My afsana, ” phool chaand tarey aur drakht” almost catapulted him emotionally. He was always talking, praising, bringing out new points in the story and admitting that after reading this afsana, he simply did not enjoy any other writing. He sang such praises that I myself ended up being in awe of myself, and sitting down to pen a story became impossible. Month after month I would buy bundles of writing paper and throw out half written – sometimes not even a line written, crumpled papers. I talked to a very close, trusted friend about it. He laughed.
“You are terrified because someone ‘zameen aasman key qlaabey mila rha hey aap ki khaaniyon key baarey mein?”
“I do not know anything about qlaabey thing but I feel intimidated and the moment I start writing something, his love of my words starts pouring in and my pen freezes.”
“I do not have a solution”, he said “but you will get over it.”
“You probably want to know when would that happen. Unfortunately, there is no answer to that. What I know is that you will. Just don’t push yourself. If you cannot write so don’t write. Just be patient and wait.”
What a big help he was!! but he was right. I started writing soon after.
Human psyche is strange. Too much praise becomes a hindrance and sometimes someone telling you that you have become senile and writing is not for you any more becomes equally devastating emotionally but a boost to your writing. This happened in 1984. A family friend that we had not met in a long time came to stay with us for a few days. At one point he asked me about my writing. I didn’t want to discuss my writing or not writing with him so I said I do what I can do. He said ” oh I know with time People become senile, you know. That made me very upset. It was like my whole world had gone upside down. I thought of giving him a nice reply but didn’t. He was a guest! But I wrote phool chand tarey …… a couple of years later. Didn’t I?
The couplet that I have written in the beginning is by him – Iftikhar Mughal – who is not with us any more but shall always be with us because of his beautiful poetry. I sometimes feel that he said these two lines for me. Maybe he knew that some day I would need them.
President Obama re-elected!!
We have won.
Our family was sitting in the living room, watching the results. I am sick quite sick and with my pillow and a blanket, was lying on the sofa. How could I not be there to receive the results. Every now and then I would come out of the fog and ask for the results or seeing both the candidates going neck to neck, I would want the family to reassure me. Once satisfied I would again disappear somewhere in that fog. Then there was a loud “Aha! we won, we won!” My family was ecstatic. I opened my eyes and was rewarded with the happy news.
Yes. We have won.
I am still sick but at lease the anxiety is gone.
Now I am sure I’ll get better soon.
I am thinking about Wah again.
It is a feeling, a sensation, a fragrance that follows me around. It happens once or twice – every year. Suddenly I would feel transported to a place called Wah. For days after that I live in a parallel world that once was.
Wah – my beautiful city where I spent most of my formative years.
Wah in Urdu – means Wow, amazing, wonderful, lovely… it means all of it put together and more. To me it also means waking up on beautiful mornings listening to the birds chirping in my mother’s fruit trees. Or coming home after school in the afternoon feeling the cool air on my neck and listening to the rustling sounds of tall slim and handsome poplar trees. And it most definitely means the whole family gathered around the table for the evening cup of tea and spending quality time in each others’ company. Yes, I am thinking about Wah.
In “Tuzk i Jahangiri” – the chronicles of Mughal Emperor Jahangir – it is noted that once the Emperor was coming back from Kashmir; it was getting late and the army was tired. They decided to look for a place to put up their tents for the night. A few soldiers were sent on to look for a nice and safe place and report back to the Emperor. In their search, the soldiers discovered a place, all green with lush grass and covered with wildflowers … a valley surrounded by mountains. The soldiers reported back and gave this news. The first word that the Emperor uttered when he reached the place was WAH!!
So this place became Wah for eternity.
Wah had all four seasons. Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer, all so unique and distinct. All of them so beautiful in their own ways. Sizzling hot summers and then the first rains of Monsoon. Fall and forlorn, naked trees. Then winter and howling winds or rain silently falling on the roof, or a thunderstorm like no other with such force and ferocity. Foggy mornings and hard freezes crunching under the feet. And then Spring – the glorious spring. when the whole city would be wrought with all shades and shapes and kinds of flowers. The air so clean, so fresh and fragrant. One had to be there to experience the magical Spring!
I remember waking up in the mornings and tip-toeing barefoot on the wet, lush green grass, towards the flower beds to see and smell the beauty. Have you ever smelled the sweet peas? Seen the variety of colors they have? My mother and our gardener Zarin Khan always discussed and planned before planting the saplings. The neat and disciplined person that my mother was, Zarin Khan would never do anything in the garden without consulting her. It was amusing the way he would come to the back veranda and sit on the stairs, waiting for mother. Meanwhile Rehmat Bi would bring tea and something to eat for him. Then mother would come out holding her cup of tea and sit down on the takht (a kind of a settee) and talk about flowers, seasonal vegetables and if any tree or the hedges around the front and back yards needed trimming, cutting or pruning. The seriousness on their faces was priceless.
My favorite place in our back yard was between the two rows of sweet pea flower beds. Just lying there and watching the sky was soothing. Zarin Khan never liked this. The first time he gave me a warning – “Kho tum achha nain karti. Begum saab hum pe bigarta he!” – “This is not good- the mistress will be very angry!” He’d let me go but the next time he caught me, he complained to mother. I will not say what happened next but I knew I was at fault after all! But this doesn’t mean that I stopped visiting!
Here in Florida, every time I went to a nursery to buy some plants, I would check the seeds racks. In Spring when buying annuals, I would look for sweet pea saplings. It was only this Summer that I happened to see the pea seeds. I thought, once the frost was out of the way, we would plant the seeds. But one afternoon, my dear other half happily broke the news that he had planted the seeds while I was taking my afternoon nap. I was a little apprehensive but they survived the hard freeze!
When they were a feet and a half high, I started looking for the buds. Yesterday I spotted some. They will be blooming by the end of this month. I hope and pray they have the same sweet fragrance.
I love Petunias and Marigolds too. Actually it’s the yellow color of Marigolds and the purple of Petunias that make me happy and feel alive. Have you seen a purple colored sweet pea flower? It’s a beauty! But, here the tampering has perfected the beauty of flowers and fruit, but robbed them of fragrance, and even the taste in the fruits’ case. My purple petunias have no fragrance, they are just pretty. I hope its different with the sweet peas.
Narcissus, sweet peas, marigolds and petunias are a few of my favorite flowers. Yellow of marigold and purple in petunias and sweet peas; I absolutely love them.
And I love the timeless times where memories reside.
Happy is the moment
When we sit together
With two forms, two faces, yet
You and I
We have an unannounced guest. He comes and goes whenever he likes. I am using a male gender, though I am not sure if it’s a he or a she but one thing I am certain about is – it’s a pigeon! A beautiful – all white pigeon. One day I saw it sitting on my window-sill, and on this window-sill he reappears again and again. If it is too windy, then he would seek shelter in the corner of a back door where the wall is jutting out a little. I’ll post the picture on my wall.
We have installed a bird feeder and a bath for him. He can enjoy our hospitality for as long as he wishes to.
On my last visit, when he had done his part and had written in my file whatever the doctors write in their patient files, he was ready to go out but I wanted to talk to him about something that was bothering me a whole lot. So I told him I wanted to talk to him in private. Looking at me he told the nurse to leave the room. Then pulled a chair close to me, took my hands in both his hands and waited for me to speak. He listened with his eyes fixed on my face. I told him.
I finished and a smile broke out on his face. ‘You are worried about this? Don’t. This is normal. But if you want I can do something about it. Do you want me to? I lowered my head and thought for a moment and then looked up at him again. No. He patted my hands, looked deep into my eyes where there was a prickling sensation testing my hold. He didn’t say anything. Then pushing his chair back, he stood up, holding my shoulders, pulling me also up on my feet. “You are a brave girl” he said solemnly and hugged me – a tender, caring affectionate hug. I felt like a little girl lost.
He went out and the nurse came in.
There is a lot I like about Americans. They are no-nonsense people. Know their worth. Respect themselves, and do not think themselves any less than the guy next in line. They are straight forward and out spoken. I like that. Very much!!
I am a Sagittarius and I share most of these qualities. Check my star – Dec. 2.
I hate double standards and I would bluntly point out the mistake, the wrong doing, Injustice and treating someone badly. Though, being straight forward and blunt lands me in trouble most of the time. But it is not a Sagittarius if not a stickler for truth. We love independence. unnecessary restrictions make me claustrophobic. I am a free spirit that does not hedge around, likes to say what she wants to say and regret later. That is me. –yes; certainly me. I pity those who when facing trouble, try to pile the blame on others.
I took some time off. Was something bothering me? I guess, yes. It was like some one had stolen my identity. There was this awareness lurking in my mind that something was not right. People just don’t fly off the handle without any reason.
Language mistakes bother me a whole lot too but that has never given me homicidal thoughts or sent me on a lynching spree.
I am cool. No need to fret. But one suggestion though. Watch ET – the movie and learn compassion, friendship and something more.
Read something that is making me sit up straight. “What would you rather leave when you are gone – an empty inbox or a masterpiece that touches the lives of people you will never meet.”
I am thinking.
N.H.Q from Lahore: “thank you – actually I just wanted to explain that this phase comes in every good writer’s career, when for others he / she becomes above the judgment level. Readers simply enjoy reading their creations.”
Mahir Ali emailed. He was concerned about my disappearance. I am so sorry Mahir Ali. I know I should have told you before the hiatus.
Mehreen emailed ” where are you buddy? my days don’t shine if I don’t see you first thing in the morning” Oh my! this is a big responsibility Mehreen. Do not burden me. I am fragile 🙂
Thought about Nigel Pearson and his Morning Flight today while listening to Roberta Flack’s “Killing me softly with his words”
Smokey, my Siamese cat and I used to have the house to ourselves before the house boy appeared for the day’s work. Smokey loved music; sitting across me in a patch of sun, licking his paw or just looking at me with those deep blue eyes. But the moment music stopped, he would sit up and look at the music center twitching his ears. He was funny. Once I requested a song for Smokey. He took that very seriously. Smokey had many songs dedicated to him after that. My family at school and office, I used to feel very lonely. Smokey was my ‘buddy’ who kept me company, trailing behind me where ever I would go in the house. It was hard to decide who needed who more. It was not easy to find a good home for him before coming here. Poor baby! poor me!
Shad Azeem Abadi and Abida Parveen – what better combination?
Mein hairat o hasrat ka mara, khamosh kharra hon saahil per
Dariyaey mohabat kehta he aa kuchh bhi nahin paayaab hein hum.
Here we go again. Rain, rain and some more rain. Hurricane Isaac is in the making. It is tropical storm at this point but once it hits The Keys it will be a category 2 hurricane. Poor Key West, home of Hemingway! I have been to that place and am in love with the city ever since. I hope everything will be the same as ever after the hurricane has come and gone.
I don’t think we will be affected much by its high winds or lashing rains. We, the Floridians are used to it. We get a show of rain, lightening and thunder every afternoon – on a regular basis. We are friends with nature. But still a warning and a list of precautionary measures was taped to our doors by The Home Owners Association, to protect “yourself and your neighbors.” Yes sir, we will do that.
Every time a Hurricane heads this way, every one checks a list, just in case.
1 – Bottled Water? Yes
2 – Candles? Yes
3 – Match box? Yes
4 – Non perishable Food items? Yes
5 – First Aid box? Yes
6 – Remove Patio furniture? Yes
7 – Remove garden ornaments? Yes.
8 – Board the Windows? Yes
9 – Unplug Electronics? Yes
10 – Bring the potted plants indoors? Yes
There may be more items in the list but you get the idea.
So now let us wait and see if the Republican Convention on Monday gets cancelled! Monday is the day when Isaac will be passing Tampa.
I saw a picture today. two people sitting to-gather on a cliff hang over, sharing a blanket and looking at a vista of the Grand Canyons. The caption was ‘Friends’.
I looked at the picture for a long time. It was an ordinary snapshot and that – keeping the caption in mind, didn’t need to say anymore. No fanfare, no trumpeting, no loud claims. Just a ‘being there’ in a serene setting.
Why some friendships fail and some last for a life time? When, how, who along the way defaults? or carries it through the turbulent waters to a stable footing again? Whatever it is, is never one sided.
There are so many questions that arise when a friendship fails but being able to give 100% is what carries it through thick and thin. This is commitment – commitment to hold , to never judge, to be there, to not to give in to an argument or to some misunderstanding.
Or maybe it was not worth anything – just walking away was all you needed to do. So what if you had invested years and years into it? If it was not meant to be, so it was not. But I think it is not as simple as that. Some heartbreak, some feelings of loss linger and do surface from time to time.
I was talking to a person who had spent some forty years looking for me, and finally had found me through my website. We talked about our lives and high and low tides of it. At one point she said, “listen to this ” and she recited a couplet. The gist was :
“what caused an old friendship to come to an end is not even worth a mention. (be happy) Now at least you know the true worth of that person”
I said” but you know I am a very complex person .. not normal you may say.”
“If she hadn’t figured that out so far then be doubly sure that this break up was bound to happen; if not now then on some later day but it was going to happen anyway”
Maybe she had a point.
Creative minds have a different way of looking at life. Writers are considered to be a little abnormal people. I do not think they are mad, mad people but they certainly are above average Johnnies and sometimes miss-understood … simple as that.
I remember telling a new indirect addition to our family that if at any time she felt I was not being friendly or avoiding her or being uncommunicative, it would be better to ignore me. I would be back after I had dealt with whatever was picking on my mind, but I would be back; back like it never happened. She laughed and said she would not let that happen. I looked at her and thought oh dear she is in for a surprise.
This is something I really have no control over.
Sometimes I do think that its I who is not capable of giving 100% in the sense that a little of me is always held back , a little reserve, a little space kept only for myself – a kind of refuge to sit quietly and contemplate. Is it bad? I don’t know. But one thing I know is that I am always there if needed, even for people I am not close. I am always ready to listen, offer a shoulder to cry on, hand a hankie to dry the tears, help wipe away the hurt. I definitely not like to interfere in other people’s lives, do not want to know anything about other people’s problems. Some times I do wait quietly knowing that they would come if they needed me. Is it bad? No, I don’t think so. I think it means giving them some space to sit with themselves to find a way out.
Just as I like to deal with my problems privately – my way. Does it mean that I am not giving 100% ?
Well, again – I do not think so.
(An Afghan woman prays at the graves of her husband and son who have been killed by NATO soldiers)
Oh! the killers of my husband and son.
Sitting on the graves of my husband and son,
who fell victim to the savagery of your bullets,
my curse would have brought doom for you,
but the human passion still reigns my heart.
I pray your wives never see my horrible fate,
to shed the streams of tears on your deaths.
I pray your children bloom before your eyes,
you may never suffer the grief of their loss.
I pray God make you leave my land,
and guide you to lead a humanitarian life.
I pray you may never kill an innocent soul,
and save you always from His Divine Wrath.
By: Dr. Mustafa Kamal Sherwani, LLD
Lucknow, U.P, India.
(A note: this poem has also been translated in French)
” I disagree with what you have to say but will
fight to death to protect your right to say it. ”