happy birthday to me …

The second day of December.

kicking, crying, Spluttering and more crying, I said hello to the world on this day.

“Oh my ! Its a girl” Ms. Alexandar – my doctor beamed.
A third girl in a row. But there were also three boys already gracing the family so no one mind this arrival.

So today is my birthday and I am sitting alone at the breakfast table, looking into my tea cup and thinking about my mama. As long as she lived, she never missed nmaz e shukrana and baking a lovely tasting cake for each one of her seven children on their birthdays.

I think I will make another cup of tea for myself.
This one probably tastes salty.

December, 2, 2013
9:14 Morning.

words do not feel …

So the first ten days of Mah e Muharram came and now, are gone. Last night was Shab-e-Ashoor and tonight we call this night “Shaam-e- GhreebaaN”. Can anyone explain, define relate what exactly a Sham-e-GhreebaaN is? No matter how much we try, we cannot – just cannot know or visualize what happened there !! We read, we hear but they are just words. Only words and words only tell what happened. Words do not feel.

On the tenth day we do not eat or drink almost all day, do not smile or greet any one. We spend the day mourning like someone near and dear had died. Our little girl all grim faced and disheveled tells me that today she would not say salaam to me because on this day there was no ‘salaamti’ on earth – because some bad people killed our Prophet’s grandson.

We cry, grieve, lament but what happened centuries ago, happens again – yes, happens each year over again; and Shaam-e-GhreebaaN arrives when all the male members of the house of the Prophet are lying around killed and mutilated. There is the smell of fire in the air – the tents are burning. Deathly silence reigns.

Then we come home leaving some frightened and scared widows and orphaned children, sitting huddled together on the sands of Karbala …

Sometimes the helpless mind stands stunned, unable to decide what is more heart wrenching! A day of killing and plundering or a night when a bunch of destitute women and children – hungry and thirsty, just sit numbed beyond all imagination!

(10th Moharram al Haram)

seeker seeks …

Yesterday, went to a friend’s house on the other side of the town. She was having a Majlis-e- A’zaiy Hussain A.S at her house. Met many good friends after a long time. This is the beauty of these mehfils. They are a renewal of the faith and belief – a reminder to follow the path that the infallibles showed us.  They not only bring us together at one place but also give a feeling of ‘being’ together, closer and bonded.
This was in the afternoon so by the time I came back home it was quite late and I couldn’t go to the Center for the nightly majlis. I tried to find something online to make up for the loss.
I watched two 45 minute each mjaalis in Saraiki – which is a Multan / Bahawalnagar dialect. I love this language. I was just a little girl when I first fell in love with the way it sounds. I remember a zakirah coming to my mamun’s house on Jail Road, every Mah e Muharram and reciting in Saraiki … five mjaalis every year. In Mochi Gate also, in one of the Imam-bargaahs a zakir e Hussain A.S would deliver the Zikr in Saraiki. No one paid attention to a seven year old girl, sitting wide eyed closer to the partition and savoring each word coming out of the zakir’s mouth.
And then I grew up and the magic got lost. Life !!
After listening to these beautiful Zikr, I found another gem.  Ahle-Baiyt TV’s recording of a talk show where Shaheed Sibt e Ja’far Zaidi gave a talk on tradition, mhasin, timings and meanings of soz, salaam, marciya and manqabat and so much more … reciting his own klaam  – a small part of marciya or soz in between.  Listening to him was a kind of ‘gift’- I would say.
When the heart cries out, yearning for some answers, Allah in His own mysterious ways, gives the seeker what he seeks.
11/ 12/ 13
11:08 AM

richer …

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
― Paul Simon

Yes, nothing to do except going through old times, old friends – connections! Its rewarding, its hilarious a little sad, a lot of good will !

How silly one could get! Arguments for no good reason – getting angry, not talking, vowing to never even say hello and then one of the two would relent and send an olive branch. Again talking, sharing… laughing, suggesting. But that does not make it a romantic connection – just something special!. It happens when minds match, eyes look in the same direction- one says something and the other thinks ‘oh, that was exactly what I was going to say ‘ Does it sound all made up? No it does not. Because it happens.

Then somewhere something goes wrong – an unfortunate word, a rash remark, a care two hoots behavior and that brings down everything. The magic disappears. Whatever it was, has run its course.

” We meet, we feel the spell
and linger there
Then by the by …. ”

Got the picture?

And so we go our way, but not empty handed.  A lot richer in many ways.

Sept.4, 2013

stay safe …

” Khamoshi is sometimes the indicative of lack of interest and approaching ‘end season’. After that, still trying to hang on would be called – pathetic. You would need a head exam. So better run in the opposite direction if you wanted to save some shards of self respect.

Better say salaam, collect your things, sling the ‘gutthri’ of your belongings on your shoulder and leave while you can – resp…ectfully. Don’t think that receiving a two liner, a cliché, a blase’ attempt to hint on affection had any deep meanings – ever. Realize and believe this all has lost its ‘sweet nothings’ status. It does not affect you any more like it used to. Forget that you used to read such messages with tears in your eyes. Forget that you used to pray to your Deities for his love and attention.
Stop being a door mat. Stop. Period. ”

This is a very familiar base to build something on it. In fact stories like these are a dozen a dime. I am not a psychotherapist but I Know it when someone needs help. Sometimes I even sat myself up for something that was bothering me and don’t leave till I have some insight into the matter. My mum used to say that there was some ‘khalul of dimagh” that I was suffering from. Rest in peace mama, I think this is the best ability that my Allah make me have it. I am not one of those who start doing ‘ hai, hai, around any problem, big or small.

I wouldn’t say my life was a smoothe sailing. Every relationship has teething problems in the beginning and goes through ups and downs to finally get to a solid ground.

Does infatuation also go the same route? No, I don’t think so. Its totally a different ball game. No reasoning of any kind would work until you yourself would open your eyes and arrive to a place called ‘sanity’ ! and if you have ‘ that’ in you, a cliché, a two liner bakwas, a blase’ attempt to hint on an affection that never was there in the first place – would do that for you.

Stay safe.

August,7, 2013
9:42 in the morning.

for you …

( This post was taken off for a few days.   Posting it again)

Morning of   April, 26, 2013


Where is he?

Where is my souls delight?

My North, my West my South and East?

He is not here amongst you who conceive nothing.

Where has he gone?

He is not here, not here –

Not even the compassing aroma of his presence,

dwells amongst you who receive nothing.

I look here, I look there,

I look up and down, I cannot see even the shadow of his beard.

Oh, believers, speak to me !

Tell me where he has gone, who shone like a blue flame

in my conceiving eye.

Should I be grateful for the incomparable beauty of his face,

or for the sweet severity of his demeanor?

Even if his lucid soul is not sketched

in the memory of his body, it does not matter;

My LOVE revolves like the plants around the storm of his Sun.

Call out for ‘Shams’ my soul requires him,

Chant his familiar names of friendship,

lighten the gravity of our grief.

Divan 1235


‘blasphemy’ victims

Naim sahib – always sharing his selections, sent this to me this morning.  And now I am sharing it with you. There is no ‘bias’, no sensational reporting or any such thing involved. Nothing added by the reporter. Every line based on facts.

Read on!

VIEW : In the name of… — Mehr Tarar

The year is 2013 when a crazed mob of almost 3,000 people torched an entire colony of Christians in Badami Bagh Lahore

The year was 1990. In Lahore, the newly-converted Christian, Tahir Islam, a retired PAF engineer, paralysed, confined to a wheelchair, was easy to target, harass and hate for abdication of his original religion. The reason was found; the accusation was the ‘distortion of the Holy Text’. Jailed, he died a year later allegedly poisoned. The charge of blasphemy took his life.

The year was 1991. In Karachi, a bangle-seller Chand Masih was imprisoned without bail for 15 months despite testimonies of six Muslims in his favour before being acquitted in 1993. The reason was business-related fracas and the pretext of legal harassment was the alleged desecration of Islamic sensibility. Forced due to constant harassment by the accuser, Barkat went into hiding, never to be seen again. The false charge of blasphemy ended his life as he knew it.

In Faisalabad, a eunuch was taught a lesson he lived to mourn his wretched life. Gul Masih along with his brother was imprisoned on the alleged insults he made about the Prophet (PBUH), and despite unavailability of testimony against him, the judge made him the symbol of the machination of blind justice when the plaintiff was “…a true Muslim with beard on his face…” Sentenced to death, Gul was tortured in jail, and as his brother became a pariah in the outside world, a narrow, dark cell refuged him. The charge of blasphemy made his life a living hell.

The year was 1992. In Karachi, an award-winning 82-year-old anthropologist, active social worker, was arrested for blasphemy after an interview with an Indian paper. Later, he was accused for one of his stories (that turned out to be a political satire), giving him the title of a blasphemer. The unproven charges of blasphemy tagged him as an outcast for the rest of what was left of his life.

The year was 1992. Buntu (80) and Mukhtar (50), both Masih, were stabbed to death (in a police station) and tortured to death in jail respectively. The accusation was lethal and the poor Christians had no one on their side. The unproved charge of blasphemy became the cause of the severance of their lives.

The year was 1993. In Lahore, three illiterate Christians — Salamat (11), Manzoor (38) and Rehmat (44) — were arrested for writing derogatory things about Islam, and jailed despite no evidence against them. All three were shot at in 1995; Rehmat died, the other two were injured. Three Christians who could not write were persecuted for writing objectionable material. The flimsy charge cloaked in blasphemy took the life of one and ruined the other two’s irrevocably.

The year was 1994. In a strange twist, a hafiz was stoned and then burned to death. Farooq Sajjad, a devout Muslim who had devoted his life to memorising the Quran, was killed when a copy of the Quran caught fire in his house. Thinking it was the doing of a Christian, the vigilante mob, acting as God’s faithful, ended his life. The mistaken blasphemy charge killed a hafiz-e-Quran.

The year was 1997. The High Court judge Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti was assassinated in his chambers. This was the same judge who had cleared the names of Rehmat and Salamat Masih and he paid a fatal price for acquitting ‘blasphemers’. This was one false charge of blasphemy that took lives of one accused Christian and one Muslim judge who was human enough to be fair.

The new millennium began and life in Pakistan for many remained carved in the dark ages.

The year was 2000. A Muslim lecturer Younis Sheikh was sentenced to death on the testimony of his students when he remarked about the Prophet’s (PBUH) life before Islam. The remark was historical in context and the intent was taken as blasphemous. The charge of blasphemy made him flee into exile after being acquitted.

The year was 2002. A Sipah-e-Sahaba militant shot to death Muhammad Yousuf Ali, a Muslim cleric who spoke against religion-motivated violence. The irony of fate: what he spoke against was used against him. The alleged charge of blasphemy took away a noble man’s life as he fought for others like him.

The year was 2003. Samuel Masih was killed by a policeman who hammered him to death doing his ‘duty as a Muslim’. The poor Christian was accused of desecration of religion for alleged spitting on the wall of a mosque. The unproved charge of blasphemy killed another Christian.

The year was 2007. In Faisalabad, another Muslim — Muhammad Imran — was apprehended, tortured, and detained in solitary confinement. The allegation was the torching of the Quran. The charge of blasphemy marked him for life as a religious leper.

The year was 2008. In Karachi, a Hindu factory worker was bludgeoned to death by his colleagues. The accusation was blasphemy and the penalty was death.

The year was 2009. Seven innocent Christians were immolated when 75 Christian residences were torched as a reaction against the acquittal by the LHC of two elderly Christians — accused of blasphemy — from Faisalabad.

It was year 2009 when in Sheikhupura, Aasia Noreen got her name written in history for being the first Christian woman who was arrested and sentenced to death. The charge was blasphemy. Aasia, who’s still in jail, faces death by hanging after being accused of blasphemy as a result of a fight with some women in her village. Despite the vehement international uproar, the poor Christian woman languishes in jail, with no hope of pardon in a Muslim-dominated Pakistan.

The year was 2011. And one of the most prominent politicians of Punjab was killed at point blank range by a volley of shots by his Muslim guard. Salmaan Taseer was the most vehement voice against the sentencing of Aasia and his request to revise the blasphemy law (which was used as an instrument of persecution against minorities) earned him the ire of the radical many. He was assassinated in Islamabad. The man who was fighting to have the blasphemy law not used as a weapon was killed because of it.

The next victim was the federal minister for minority affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti. The PPP minister who echoed Governor Taseer’s stance was silenced by unknown assailants in Islamabad. The blasphemy law should not be abused for reasons unrelated to religion, Bhatti said, and soon he was killed.

The year was 2012. In Rahimyar Khan, an unnamed ‘psychologically unbalanced’ man was immolated by a ‘self-righteous’ mob of do-gooders. The accusation was of the desecration of the Quran, and the punishment was death. The charge of blasphemy did not need a trial and another life was lost.

The year was 2012. In Islamabad, the teenaged girl, Rimsha Masih, was beaten and arrested on the accusation of blasphemy for allegedly torching pages of the Quran. Amidst national and international censure, the girl was jailed and trialed before being released on bail. The false charge of blasphemy ruined the life of a girl, almost a child.

The year was 2012. In Rajo Deero, the mob attacked a police station, beat a man locked on charge of blasphemy. The 35-year-old man was beaten to death and the rage yet not defused, torched his body. The ‘protectors’ of religion did what is forbidden in the Quran on an unproved charge of blasphemy.

The year is 2013. The SC, acting as a trial court, admitted a petition against Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman. The complainant was Akhtar Gill of Multan whose sentiments were ‘hurt’ when Rehman on TV in 2011 had asked for a revision in the laws that were used not to protect the sanctity of religion, but mostly to settle personal scores. In addition, Rehman had tabled a bill in the National Assembly endorsing the abolition of death penalty on a blasphemy charge. The blasphemy case registered in February, which, unfortunately, has gone unprotested by most big legal names in Pakistan, has become another huge question mark on the imposition of law in situations that do not even warrant any protection, and the inability of the SC to act as a final arbiter instead of becoming a primary court.

The year is 2013 when a crazed mob of almost 3,000 people torched an entire colony of Christians in Badami Bagh Lahore. The images of the mayhem in Joseph Colony — men cheering, rioting, torching of property, throwing a crucifix in fire — are a stark demonstration of how an unproved charge of blasphemy against one man can unleash violence against hundreds of innocent people.

1,274 people charged, 51 killed before trials, and General Zia’s blasphemy laws in 1986 as an addendum to “Pakistan’s Penal Code [which] dates back to pre-partition India when it was introduced in 1860. Section 295, better known as the Blasphemy law, deals with religious offences and was meant to prevent religious violence….” What is wrong with this picture?

All I can think of right now as a Muslim in Pakistan is of this verse of the Quran, the book that is my guide to life:

“There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in God (or Allah), then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And God is All-Hearer, All-Knower” — 2: 256 The Quran.

The writer is an Assistant Editor at Daily Times. She tweets at @MehrTarar and can be reached at mehrt2000@gmail.com

night …

This winter night is long

Sit down beside me,

hold my cold hands in your hands.

Let me lean my head on your warm shoulder

and tell me my story.

Hidden deep in the crevices of my soul

Where there was no separation once.

I hear the time

Tip – toeing away into nothingness

Before the darkness, dropping its final curtain, prevails,

Burning embers turn to soot, I look at you

My heaven! to take the image with me.

Hold my hand and cross the night with me

this winter night!

I cannot do it alone.

March, 06/07, 2013

1:48 pm.

dear day …

It is so bright and sunny today that I just want to go out and sit by the water and NOT THINK ABOUT ANYTHING. I need to go somewhere and hide from myself. No matter how much I try to discipline my thinking, I fail miserably. M.Z Iqbal, my classmate once pointed at a beggar woman and said ” we talk about contentment and happiness .. look over there, you would see that .. in person! “. At that time we thought he was so right but today, if I saw him I would tell him how wrong he was.

I read some poems. They fluster me. But no, no reading for me today. I am going to clean the mess on my desk and start all over again. I was told to do what I desired to do. This is what i desire to do today. This should be a daily business. Ask the day every morning … dear day what do you want to do today and then do it.

Stark heartlessness!!

Those poems once again – they seem to be talking to whoever is reading them. And why I have this sneaking feeling that many fluttering hearts would swoon !!

ساعتیں وِصال کی

جانے کب پلٹ گئیں

دور جاتی آہٹیں

ہوا میں دور تک گئیں

خوب تر تھی خامشی

چاہتوں کے باب میں

اُس کا ساتھ ،ساتھ تھا

روح کے مِلاپ میں

چُپ کو اوڑھ کے شب بھر

انتطار کرتی تھی

رات کے سفینے میں

بادلوں پہ چلتی تھی

آرزو کی سنگت کیا

خواہشوں کی وحشت کیا

کچھ ادھورے خوابوں کے

خواب د یکھنے میں کیا

اک کتاب چہرہ تھا

رحل دونوں ہاتھوں کی

لو اگر لرزتی ہو

کون کس کو پڑھتا ھے؟

3 مارچ 2013

چھ بجکر تین منٹ