waves and vibes

Feb.25,10

(MU)

“……. so the good news is … your health is on the mend now. I am happy for you.

I am not trying to please anyone here but the truth of the matter is that you write well. Why did you waste a story like this on some obscure news paper when there are so many good literary magazines. Adabiyat is one of them. Last year Adabiyat translated one of my story in English for its special issue on Pakistani writers living Abroad. There are quite a few good ones coming out of India as well.

I feel that your work deserves to be read widely.

Now about our family friend. Well I don’t have any photographs. Besides, there is no sense in startling someone who just disappeared a long long time ago.

You know the term used in psychology – association of ideas -. This is what it is. You hear or say or read something and your brain immediately starts creating images. My brain did the same thing. Your country name started this and I remembered that that was the place he sent his last letter from. I can very well analyse the ‘why and what’ of this thought but why bother. Its a different world now.

I have traveled a whole lot in Europe, but unfortunately could not make it to Nordic countries. Maybe one day. Who knows!

I will send my postal address on your p.o box. Its nice of you to think of sending your books. I thank you for that.
stay in touch … yahan qeht e rijal he …….

Feb 2010

”  …………..   came back from the Chehlum majlis of Martyrs of Karbala. We commemorate this tragedy year after year after year and yet every time it tears our hearts apart … feels like it happened only yesterday.

I cried over the devastation caused by a killer earthquake in the Northern region of Pakistan. We helped, and did what we could. Then Sonami claimed lives and livelyhood. Now Haiti. But these catastrophies happened now, in our lives. When it is possible for us to come forward and help.

What happened in Karbala, happened centuries ago … and happened to … who? and how? It is mind numbing. And its the feeling of helplessness, not being there to help that keeps us mourning year after year.

Oh yes, we have quite a number of good reciters of Nouhas and Marsias.  There is a doctor who I think is the best of all. I canot explain the depth, the range and most of all, the pathos in his voice. He really makes me cry.

That reminds me of another voice from another time. I have a friend in Chicago who once sent a taped Marsia that he had recited in one of his shiia friends house. The recitation or the reading – you may say, was really good. I thanked him and wrote that he made me cry. He wrote back “I am glad I made you cry”

Now about …….

( To, SQ)

june 2006

” ……my dear friend you’ll have to excuse me. The more I think about teaching in the Madressah the more I get convinced that its a ‘ heavy duty ‘ commitment …. something that needs a younger and more energetic person and here I am who can never be firm and strict with children. I was a teacher in a school, I was a lecturer in a college but it was a long time ago. Times have changed, so have the modes of education. INSHAALLAH my daughter in law will be a model teacher. She is smart and responsible, and have a very pleasent personality. Also, one person from a family should be enough 🙂 .

( NS)

sept 2006

” ………how old are you? thirty? thirty two/ four? Its important to know to know you, though I have known you now for … what? six, seven? eight years? … but of course after that there was no communication for a few years. I’ll not hide it but I was a little upset with you the way you severed the connection. I knew from experience that you were going through the same patch of time every newly wed goes through and I (like a khudaai foujdaar) thought that I could help. My style failed and you disappeared. Now why did you contact me, if I may ask?

Everything you have written in this email has won me over again. For some of us peace and quiet is important and anything that rocks it unfavorably, we, in the same quiet way put some distance in between. Its too early for me to talk about your mother but I will; at some other time. I recently lost my mother. She was in her eighties. I hadn’t seen her in eight years but called her atleast twice in a week. I was devastated. But now I think that in a way it was good. In my memories she is the same regal figure, standing tall with a high brow. Her beautiful face shining with an inner beauty. A pillar of courage. Good that I didn’t see her dead. For me she is still a living memory. Mothers are vital for our existence. Like your wife is for your children. Can you imagine in another twenty years or so, your son’d get married and your wife’d be a mother in law to his wife. ….. here we go again I have again given you the reason to disappear. Haven’t I? ”

( pp)

aug 2005

I am glad you liked my story and I am happy that I am getting the appericiation from friends as well as those who I know casually. When I was getting it ready to put it in the mail, I told murtaza that “this story is my jewel in the crown. If this story is not noticed then I don’t know what will”.

Now I am waiting for the next issue of Funoon to read my other friends impressions. Here is what someone wrote in my guestbook :

.”…….wanted to tell you that i have just finished reading your recent story BUNIYAAD in the latest issue of Funoon. its a masterpiece of a story. you do not write in quantity but my goodness, when you give us a story to read, you make sure that it is a story worth reading and appreciating. congratulations ”

(To, n a)

aug,2005

“…… I was going through my mailbox today to bring some relief to my computer by deleting some old stuff. Its very, very hard for me to part with the written word. But at the same time, I know sometimes one has to bite the bullet…..A name caught my eye. A friend was writing telling me to read books to her because babies love listening to words. That six months old is four now. She went to  preschool for a year but then her parents decided to home school her. By the age three she was reading children’s books. Now her reading level matches a seven years old’s reading skills. Its funny seeing her reading books to her two years old little sister and the little one huddled close to her Apa, listening with rapt attention ………

More later.

(To, sis)

2005

.”……………thought about you today ….something that I had not done in a long time. We had a good thing going while it lasted. I still hate summers but love a tall glass of lemonade and wait for the winter and with that my yearly viewing of Dr. Zhivago. And when winter sits heavy on my window sill, I long for Spring to rid me off of my winter blues.

I still like feta cheese, basil and crushed tomatoes on a crisp toast. My marigolds and Sweet Peas still fascinate me. I still look for the first star in the evening to wish my wish. I am sure you are the same too. Same dry wit, same grumpiness…. still enjoy going out for walks. sitting on the balcony watching the world go by or reading a book.. I thought about how we used to talk about books ……good books and not so good books. Your threats of a fight if I ever dared quote bad poetry. ‘ How can you decide good or bad poetry for me’  I would retort.  But then something started happening …  a death in the family, divorces, health issues … what!  Sometimes the devastation they cause is so total. Do you understand what I am saying?  I don’t. I only know that I miss you my dear friend. ”

(To tolstoy)

7.12.05

…. am glad you took the initiative to write on Yousf Masih incident. But you know what my friend , Pakistan’s real problem is ‘people. Its not the mighty mullah, nor the baton wielding Generals and not even shifty politicians. Its people – brain dead by pollution people, with no back bone to stand up and be counted people, with no will or desire to think and decide on their own two feet. They get high on emotions and only time they use their might is when they are deprived of lynching a Yousf Masih. that is the time they come alive and start destroying their own country.

I hope your column gets noticed and Yousf Masih goes home .

5.20.05

All in all it was a good day, yesterday. I got an email from you and a letter by mail from Qasimi Sahib. Enjoyed reading both of them.

Your vacation tour of 2,000 miles sounded very alluring. Maybe one day when the time is right,we’ll also head to Europe one more time. Meantime I’ll keep watching travel chanel with Rudy Maxa. The other day he took me down the memory lane – destination Venice. We were with a group of multi national travellars. Oh and what an interesting group that was!

……Yes; matter of fact I did take care before sending him the story. I dread germs .. almost to the verge of phobia.

Funoon is out but I have not received it yet. A friend from Chicago called to tell me that he had received the magazine. Now I wonder why this shift? I thought I was the one who used to get the first copy! “Aah!! kabhi din chhotey kabhi raat” 🙂

(To, mIs)

12.14.01

…. now you don’t have to tell me, because I know I am good, I know I write good , I do not write anything mediocre. And at the same time I know that I take risks to collect my data. If I have to, I woud go an extra mile to get the story and that is scary. Because while I am in persuite of my subject, it does not – at all – come to my mind that I am putting myself in harms way. like all writers, I am also a patient listener. People give me ideas, stories, thoughts and plots – I mean they don’t hand me these on a platter. Its the observation, a keen eye that never lets anything … just anything slip by. A writer needs three things…experience, observation and inspiration.

Before a story leaves my desk, I have to be a hundred and ten times sure myself that it is good. I have this uncanny, mysterious sense that enlarges even the tiniest flaw in a story for me not to miss it. There are some stories, I can tell where the bigwig writer stumbled or when he lost control and didn’t know when or where to stop …. I have more to say on this subject but first you tell me why you want me to talk about ” why I write” or ” what motivates me to write ” I appreciate your views about my art and I think no matter how much you are in love with modern day English fiction, you must keep in touch with our language……more later, my dear.

(To, P.Ak)

2.18.05

” …. I am fed up with these self styled ‘ yaatrees ‘ who go to Pakistan and come back criticising our literary icons and institutions. They behave like they are the ‘ maaii baap ‘ of Urdu language. The problem is the ‘black sheep’ living in the country who could not dip their fingers in behti ganga and take out their frustration at any given opportunity. Then there are those who left the country for greener pastures and when they had their dreams realized they started throwing their weight around ….

(To, JM)

2.6.05

“…… my mother passed away on Wednesday morning, in Lahore. She was in her 8os. She lived a long life. Her sons and daughters were ever ready to take care of her, and they did. She had a heart condition but she didn’t die because of that. She had developed dementia and it progressed so rapidly that in no time she even forgot how to eat or swallow food. One night she went to sleep and didn’t wake up. Did she forget how people breathe or wake up in the morning?

My heart aches ….. she just went away leaving this heartache and I don’t know what to do. I am not a small child, so then why do I feel all this pain?

Last year a friend lost his mother. She was a hundred years old. All of a sudden he was not the same person anymore.I don’t know how this loss is going to leave its mark

My telephone woke me up in the later part of the night. I was reaching for it but the extention was picked up in one of the rooms. I slid back in my bed pulling my blanket up to my nose and told my enquiring husband that we would know in the morning who called at this hour. Then there was a knock on the door. I almost jumped out of my bed. It was my son. I looked at his face. It was so calm that my heart sank. He pulled a chair, put his hands on my shoulders and made me sit down. Then calmly broke the news: ” ammi, it was mamun from Lahore.He said that Nani amman passed away,” She passed away leaving this heartache … and its sitting there – heavy. I don’t know what to do.

(To S s)

“…..when we share our life’s ups and downs with someone, we are actually honouring that person …thats how I felt while reading your previous email. In so many years that we have been in contact this was the first time you shared a little of your life.

I hope you have regained your strength. Both the times your body fought back and won and thats a good news. Problem of dampness in the garages is a tough one though. Handymen love such problems. I’ll certainly read the reviews on your book. Actually I had asked my brother in Pakistan to get that book for me. I had given him the address too where he’d find it but then misfortune struck and his wife had a stroke. I didn’t ask him about the book after that.

Have you read Rohinton Mistry’s novel ‘A Fine Balance’ ? A good read, no doubt about that. On a friend’s insistance, I am reading Angela’s Ashes these days. Reading this book is an experience in itself…. I cry, I laugh …most of the time, at the same time. My other half thinks I am losing my mind.

Good luck with Ulysses. My countless efforts failed leaving me no choice but to put the book back on the shelf and never try reading it again ……”

(To Kms)

“……Yes, it is sad….. two older childern are studying in the US and a ten year old daughter was suddenly left without her mother’s care and support. My brother took leave from office to stay home. In feb. all three of them went to Uk where I have a younger brother who is an orthopedic surgeon and it was on his advise that they made this trip. She benifited a little from the treatment and the therapy. Now they are back at home after spending six weeks in England …..”

(To Ibra)

“…….and please tell the Prof. and some others like him to mind their own country. They are always on the look out for all things negative about Pakistan, Pakistani politics , Pakistani people – basically anything Pakistani. Say something against India and there’ll be ten Indians standing up at once, defending their country and not leting you be uless you either take back your words or apologize. You’d never hear them criticising their leaders or their policies with non Indians. They love their country and they are proud to be Indians inspite of knowing the fact that they have more problems in their country than Pakistanis have in Pakistan. Shame on all of those who call themselves Pakistanis but never come to the defence of their own country when non Pakistanis start talking against Pakistan like they are the know alls. Instead, they join hands and start bashing their own homeland. Please – I say, please say something positive for a change ….. ”

(To Ibra)

” …. and if I close my eyes, I can see the ATTOCK RESTHOUSE and its well tended gardens – beautiuful flowers and flitting butterflies and all – sprawling grounds and meandering pathways. If I inhale deeply I can smell the fragrant air. And how can I not feel the warmth of March Sun on my young arms ? not hear the soft hum of ATTOCK river flowing languidly down below ?- not see a fisherman’s boat anchored on the other side of the river?

We sat under the trees and told jokes and laughed young, carefree laughter of youth. We danced and sang songs and clapped….. I shall tell you about other times too – times in WAH GARDENS and TEXILA EXCAVATION site where ….

Where are all those people, those places , you ask. Well there is a special place in my heart and they all live there…. ”

(To Riaz)

” …. I had a fall. No serious injury but I am bruised all over.Cannot give you a detailed accound of the party. Cannot sit. Everthing went well….. no one suspected my discomfort….. but I was thankful when the last guest left. I’ll write to you in detail some other time…. right now I am more concerned about my aches and pains……

(To, Ibra)

Dec.1.03

“…… well, I want a car, I need a car…anything that has four wheels and does some decent miles on a gallon. Is SANTA listening?

(To Ibra)

Aug.19.03

“…. I enjoyed your lovely email – specially the so true account of Pakistani Begmaat. Al – Fateh is a new name for me but H.Karim Bakhsh is the place my family’d rush to whenever there was some important TAQREEB in our KHANDAN. I was in my second year of college when my older brother got married. I insisted on wearing a saree and I bought my first saree (chiffon, yellow) from Karim Bakhsh. I don’t know if Suba Khan, the tailor is still around but that was the place where Begmaat’d go with their silks and crepe de chine and such and leaf through the fashion magazines to select the pattern and oh my Lord, the ‘galla’ of a shirt was so important …. my goodness, Bibi, you have reminded me a time I had long forgotton…. One of my cousins was ditto of Saira Bano – the actress – and took great care to dress like her. Obviously her tailors adored her. The fact that her father (my mamuN) was the Finance Secratery of Pakistan had also something to do for this adoration…. oh, those were some days

(To,S.Meh)

Oct,15,03

“………. my back is a lot better. Getting up in the morning is still painful. Long walks are restricted too so instead of going for a long stretch, I just walk back and forth in front of my block. Weather is getting better so maybe I’ll try doing that twice instesd of just once in the morning. Were you serious about the ‘totka’? what kind? I’d love to hear about that.

…. and I heard you were taking her to UK for treatment. I hope and pray that this move brings health to her and happiness to all of you. I am glad that you are taking the little one with you…she’d miss school but being left behind with relatives’d be traumatic. She is too young to go through this …”

(To,JM)

Sept. 30 . 02

Well, good for you… what do you care if it was rainy or sunny. You enjoyed your trip, had a great time with your friends – saw the places worth seeing ..drove around… maybe the good friend even fed you on Pullao and Briyani and halva…what more one’d want. I am happy for you.

As for me, life is the same, and I thank Allah for that. I am getting ready for my brother and his family – they are in Chicago right now. I hope they’d spend a couple of days with us. Then a day after they leave,my sister and her husban’d come. They are in Toronto right now, getting their son settle down in his new university.

Our house is on sale and so far there isn’t even any nibbling worth amention. Its a big house, beautifully built, only four years old. Whoever comes to see it falls in love with it. But – – “its too big for our needs” – – is what we hear later on. Why we wanted to build a big house? Maybe it has something to do with the way of life we were used to in the country we left behind. I think, things that exist in material form are easy to let go, but it is hard to escape something that one has no control over… something ingrained in one’s nature. So we’d just wait.

Today I was invited to two birthday parties. A friend and her son celebrated their birthdays that happen to be just two days apart. Second party was a friend’s granddaughter celebrating her third birtday. And then there was something that I wouldn’t want to happen to anyone. My daughter in law’s friend lost her two pre mature, identical twin boys.

Life.

Highlight of the day : “What is there in a woman’s life except remembering birthdates?”

Enough to plant homicidal thoughts in a peace loving, friendly person.

( To, N s )

5.4.01

Aap ka kia haal haiy?

These days this is how the younger generation, growing up here in America is writing urdu. In Muharram I heard two teenagers reciting a beautiful “salaam”. Later on when I complimented them on reading so well, they said good Salaams and Marsias written in english are so hard to find and then they showed me their “Biyaz” where everything was transliterated.

So sahib, what do you say about the future of urdu language here in the west? I have two sons. they grew up in the west and had their education in English and American schools. I tried to teach them urdu. Arranged for a teacher to come and help them learn the language at home. Both of them are in their twenties now.

Can they read and write urdu? no they cannot. Is it my fault? no,I do not think it ismy fault. Sometimes someone – my generation – would ask me why I didn’ teach them my language. I find this question very sad and sometimes distressing. I usually give them a nice, polite smile because I don’t know what to say. I did what I could but things didn’t turn out the way I’d have liked them to.

About Nayyar Masoud, I think it is his naration that makes an ordinary, everyday incident into something extraordinary. I totally agree with you that writing a good, straight forward story, is a lot difficult than writing something abstract. But here, in my opinion, it is just the style of his prose, that keeps one engrossed. While you are reading, you anticipate that something out of the ordinary is about to unravel. In the end, you just get what you get. well, I may not be clear in what I am trying to say, but really, it is just his craft which is quite impressive. Thats how I take it.

I have added a story in my “favourits” section. Name is “just a story” written by C. M. Naim. Please read it. I am sure you’ll enjoy it. In fact this book is a treasure trove of good prose. If you know someone in Pakistan, who could buy this book for you, maybe you should make a request for this favour.

About your character in your book that you are skeptical about – I would say go for it. It is not unusual. Human mind is a very complex thing. One can be a religious person and skeptical about his practise of religion at the same time. I think I like this chracter already.

I recevied a book from Karachi. The name is “Khana Badoshe” and it is by Mustansar Hussain Tarrar. I have started to read it and I intend to read the whole book but I really feel like pulling my hair whenever I try to read it. Why this mega use of adjectives, mataphors, similies etc.etc? Seems he does not believe in the beauty of simple prose. Have you read anything by him. I heard he is popular.

( To, M.s )

“…..I hope you’d visit us there when we move there. You were worried about my car? Please don’t because it’d have been a headache to transport three cars accross the country. Besides, I have been promised a new car once we go there. We’d have a house there – right on the Gulf – atleast this is what I’d like. This is life! my dear – and if you don’t mind the use of a cliche – who said life was easy. But, we’ll have some fun there togather….. even more if the rest of your family could join us.

….was there for a week to be with mother. She is getting frail. Most of the times she is sharp and alert and makes jokes but then sometimes she stops in the middle of a sentence and a confused look crosses her face. I hope this is not what we think it is. I don’t think anybody in our family had this condition….”

( To, A.N )

5.17.00

….. baba, Ienjoyed your letter. I think your mom is one lucky lady to have a son like you. It was mothers’ day on sunday. Did you get her something? like a poem said just for her! My sons cooked me an excellent meal. They also gave me some books. Isn’t it wonderful?

There is nothing to your “hummm”. I am not some corrupt politician who fled the country when the going got tough. I got married and moved out of the country. Most of my family still lives in pakistan. Mostly in lahore. Oh, I miss Lahore!

How is your foot? did you sprain it ? You can say that you can learn to live with your condition. But, in my opinion, it is like accepting the defeat without putting up any fight. You have an excellent tool called internet. Why don’t you try to find out for yourself? I shall also try to look for some information on this affliction. Fresh fruit is good. Take vitamin C and vitamin E. they help fight infections. Air pollution in pakistan is the worst kind I have ever come accross. I was so upset the last time I visited Lahore. I kept saying ” yeh to mera lahore nahin “. some people were annoyed at my wailing. Not their fault, I agree, but I saw one woman in a luxury car, rolling down the window and throwing out a babana peel and an empty bag of chips on the road. This eye opener happened right on the mall road. I saw piles of rubbish rotting on the roadsides, I saw…I can go on with a list of heartbreaks but what is the use! No wonder people as young as you are, are chained down with ailments caused by polluted air. So you do write. Would you like to share some of it? The expression, “loam faces” caught my attention. Can I read some? I loved the line “umeed meri bohat achi doust haiy…”. I don,t know why but reading it made me feel sad. I hope you are happy and life is good to you. Did you go to any of forum meetings lately? I do not know how much time you can spare, but it would be nice if you could expand the page a little more. But, please dont’t pay attention if you think I am being a busy body. Now, I must go. I have to say my zohur prayer, then I am going to the library. My book shelves were overflowing so now I am donating about fifty books to our local library – fiction and non fiction. It is a long letter – sorry for that. But I think you’d enjoy it. . ……..could not send this yesterday. I read an article on sinus problems today and thought to share it with you. People with your condition should drink a hot cup of tea first thing in the morning, without getting out of bed. ( bed tea? )This will clear the previous nights’ build up in the nasal passages, the article says. Want to try this?……

( To, M.T )

3.31.01

Has spring arrived yet? Over here the sun is out after three days of rain and thunderstorms. No complains though. We needed that rain.

It is nice and bright outside and some very colourful butterflies are flitting around in the garden. This is Florida, where, before all this urbanization, travellers used to come in search of the Fountain of Youth. Now all the “snow birds” from up north come in search of sun and sand!

Just a while back, I pulled out your three emails and read them again. You are such a dear really. No wonder everyone I know, and knows you as well speaks highly of you.

I appreciate your asking me for one of my stories for your webpage. I’ll send one soon. Is there anything I should keep in mind before I select one? I just try to portray life as I see it. I don’t write ” see, this is what happens if you do or don’t do this or that”…No political agenda … no moralization… no telling off . As I said; my subject is – as they say – ‘ the man next door ‘ and the life he he was given – if you know what I mean. Let me know if you have anything in particular in mind.

( To, M s )

“…… and yes, thanks a bunch for the books. I’ll read them one by one.. and it’d take some time before I finish reading them. I have a strange habbit. I read four, sometimes more, books at a time. Force of habbit – that is all I can say. I like keeping myself occupied. Knitting, sewing, doing crochet, trying my hand at painting are all my pass times. Cooking is one thing in life that I find very tedious and boring. But writing is what satisfies me the most. If I am stuck at some point in the story I am writing, I’d read whatever I had writen so far , then pick up my knitting basket and go to some other area in the house and start knitting. I do not force myself to think about the block….just occupy myself with something else.

I cannot promise, but I’d try my best to write something about your work. Writing a critique is not my forte….

( To, S. A )

“……. I guess after a certain period of time people come to know who you are.

I dont know why but from the time I was just a little girl every one thought I could solve their problems – Sometimes serious stuff othertimes simple,child like insecurities. Its not bad but I dont find it funny either. In my college days I was ” the wise one’ amongst my friends. There is one funny incidence though, which I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I came back home from college one day and found my mother sitting on a chair in her room which was strange because it was her afternoon nap time. I said salaam and she talked to me about my day in an absentminded way. Later when I was eating my late lunch, she came to me and said “Riffat, eik baat to bataao” I looked at her and my heart sank and mind raced – what have I done? did my teacher say anything?- last week we, the friends snuk out to see a picture – who told her about that – oh God! “Ji, poochheye?” I said . ” Rehmat chhuttee per gaee he meiN aaj kiya pakauN” I almost choked with relief …..(never take a deep breath while you are eating and a very serious faced mother is hovering over you.)

…..they come and dump their problems on me – open their hearts and talk about their fears – hope that I would hand them a ready solution. I do the best I can and then pray some.

Anyhow the name of the show was “cultures around the world” There was a miss Egypt, miss Saudi Arabia, miss Tanzania, miss India, miss Spain, miss Japan, miss China and miss Indonasia. All of them did very well and it was very hard to pick the winner. Miss Egypt won. Miss India was the runnerup. Their dresses were beautiful, their introductory speeches were full of information, and they presented them confidently. The whole program was a huge success. There were two more judges besides myself. One of them has a computer whole sale store and the other lady also is a working women. I am not sure what her field of work is….

( To, N.K )

“…. I have not written anything in a long time except a few letters to friends. Sometimes I start something and manage to write a few words or a few lines but then discard everything. Nothing makes sense to me anymore. A new world is emerging right in front of me and I find myself in a sudden state of uncertainity. Nine eleven has caused nothing but unhappiness all around. I know people who have lost their jobs – business is at the lowest ebb……What about those who lost their loved ones and their lives changed for ever!

I am unhappy because I am about to lose my car.( I don’t think I can explain what losing a car means )……

Was he really a muslim who masterminded this devastation? ”

( To S.A )

“……aji wah, you have not seen Come September? I think it came out in 1965. Every college student had to see it – in Pakistan, at least. It was one of those romantic comedies with lots of songs and dancing and all that. A Rock Hudson/Gina lolobrigida (I hope this is how the spellings go) and Sandra Dee/Bobby Darin film. I fell in love with Rock Hudson – hook, line & sinker. He was so good looking, so handsome – how could this not happen? I think every young, healthy red blooded girl was. And then one fine morning I found out he was gay!!

Oh please, if your liberary has a copy of this film, you must see it. Talking about it has made me also want to see it again. But, after watching it and before saying anything, just keep in mind that those were the days when we were young and fresh and life had just begun…….

( To Ns)

“……Thank you very much for your kind wishes . I guess we will be going to Kissimmee tomorrow. Some important stuff to take care of… there is always somebody’s daughter or son getting married, or some one moving to a new house etc. To be more accurate, I have to do some gift buying and in that area, there are some quality outlet stores…

I had a big headache today so smiling was just not in my daily forcast. Later In the evening, Murtaza hauled me up in the car and drove around the quiet streets of the town with car windows down, not saying a word – just being there for me. Night air and peace and quiet brought me back to life. Peace and quiet is all I want when the monster strikes. What else you call a migraine headache if not a monster?

I am feeling better now. But no reading/writing for tonight. So I am off to bed. Good night , my friend ……”

( To M.L )

“…….Please don’t worry about my publisher. I have a little niche now for my name and my publishers listen to me. Just an example for your peace of mind- Qasimi saheb had to redo the page numbering of his magazine all over again just because I told him that I wanted to rewrite a part of my story. I always make two copies of the original story. I keep one , the other goes to one of my publishers – in this case to you. In your letter you have mentioned that you will have to “make” space for Idemall. Is it good or bad? and how long will be “not very soon”? So you think Idemal is a beautiful story. I am glad to know that. You wanted me to write a ‘romantic story’ for your magazine so I complied. It took me almost a year to think about what and how to write on these lines. I do not write romantic stories – you know that. But to be honest, I enjoyed writing this one …….”

( To Ys )

It , kind of, bothers me that we talk about your accident and your recovery, and the fact is that I do not know what kind of accident and how severe the injury. It is not that I am being ‘nosy’ or something. It is just that when I am talking about something, I like to know what I am talking about. Sometimes I think in pictures, sometimes in colors. And, sometimes I need to visualize to think. Do I make any sense? ”

( To Sj)

” …… It was really good to hear from you. I was scared when I first heard about the riots and people, burning people alive. Thought about you and your family and prayed for your safty. What is wrong with us? Why are we turning into senseless, blood thirsty plundrers? Is it polution making us insane? toxic poisoning turning us into killers? or just man’s instinct for survival in a world that has suddenly become a dangerous place to live in. Sometimes some people that I talk to, sound confused and scared. And I tell you it does not feel right……”

( to Ns)

“……Yes dear, you are right. Life is what we make of it. Still one has to strive to achieve ones goals. Sometimes it is easy, othertimes tough. But, in the end, hard work and perseverance always pays.

Your next observation that really got me was your bigotry against pakistani society. Only one year in a foregin land and you are already bashing the society you left behind. Have you ever asked yourself what was your contribution towards building a better society there? And what is society? just a word? I am sure you know that it is the members of a society that make it or break it. Why did you leave the country? if I may ask. Why didn’t you stay back to give a helping hand to build a better Pakistan if you were so disgusted with the state of affairs there? Did you try to change anything?

We all of us who migrated to other lands for various reasons, have no business calling names, my friend.

I am sorry I am being very critical but next time think twice before saying anything against your homeland. You don’t show your love for something by abhoring something else.

I have been living abroad for some twenty odd years now. Here There are organizations that collect/contribute/ donate whatever any one can afford, to help build schools/ hospitals/dispensries in rural areas there… try to educate children hoping that one day they’d help make world a better place to live. Over here people work hard to bring everyone on one platform to have a collective voice. And no one waits for applause. The idea is to do what is right and constructive for the society we live in and for the home we left behind. Making a new country our home does not mean that we forget our heritage and not forgetting our heritage does not mean that we don’t love our new home….

. So now, what were you saying?

.( To C.D )

“……… I was still wondering at your first message when the second followed – and what a wonderful Eid gift this message brought for me! I am going to add all of them to my screen saver. Thanks again.

I was thinking about you because it has been a while since we exchanged emails. But, you know how it is during the month of Ramadhan. You want to do this, that and some more but hardly ever manage to do even a fraction of it. I am not a very rigid, fanatic, mullah type person, but still there are some things that I do because they give me strength and inner peace. Daily A’maals of this month and the A’maals of odd nights of the last ten days make me feel so good. Then we commemorate the shahadat of Imam Ali. All these things are in my blood – a part of who I am. But there is also something else running in my blood and I cannot help myself when it strikes. I must write if I want my brain to function normally. I came back from our center on the 19th night and went straight to my desk and wrote something that I had been trying unsuccessfully for the past two months…. I am sorry, I talked too much about myself.

( To Mj )

“…….Life is such a delightful experience. Sometimes it is a rough ride, sometimes it is smoothe sailing. But, along the path there is so much to see and behold that it is simply amazing! I never knew I was such a strong person. Never had any reason to test my strength. Now I look at myself and wonder if lt was really me! Am I talking to myself? Maybe I am. We do it all the time. I am sure you know what I mean.

My husband is getting better. He had this degenerative artheritis in his knees. It runs in their family. He was suffering a lot but was not ready for the surgery. Finely last month he decided that he wanted to go for knee replacement surgery. It was done last thursday on both his knees. Now he is learning to walk again, to put it simply. About six/seven years ago I wrote a story about a couple in almost exectly the same situation. I didn’t send it to any magazine because I have little patience to write the same thing again neatly. A couple of days back I took it out to read. I can only say that I was amazed. There is no way I can even think of sending it to Funoon or to some other magazine for that matter, now.

( To Ms)

“……. Good to hear from you again. No, you didn’t bore me. In fact I had just started to enjoy it that it abruptly ended. I am a good listener. I watch and I listen…and then I listen some more. Also, it was your turn to talk about yourself.

I checked out The Interpreter Of Maladies from the library today. So far I have read the first story. Good story, no doubt. But it’ll take me a while to read the whole book because of my husbands’ condition. Funny thing is that I am even watching tv programs with him because he does not like to be alone. He can walk around with his walker. Also, he can raise himself to stand but for that he needs some help. Physiotherapy is doing wonders.

( To Ms )

“………How are you? haven’t heard from you in a long time. Is everything allright? Did you get that little mag I sent to you? I was waiting to hear from you.

Busy writing? Well I am sure you are. Writing a novel is a serious matter. I have not written anything worth mentioning in a long time. For me, weather is very important. I wrote my best stories in fall. There is something about fall season that makes me create some bygone times in distant places…some times that once were. And, there I bring some characters togather for a while and a round of events begins. But, this fall season I didn’t write anything. Too busy with other stuff. Oh well.

( To Ms )

“……Good to hear from you. I recevied all your delightful emails – the one sent from India including. I am sure you have brought a lot of story ideas with you from this trip.

.I haven’t read Margaret Atwood much. Just a couple of books, and that too a very long time ago. She is a good writer, no doubt. I enjoy reading biographies and auto-biographies more. But it does not mean that I do not read anything else. For me time is a big issue. Unfortunately, after coming to this country time has become a very rare commmodity. I do not write as much as I used to . Qasimi Saheb is not very happy with me as I did not send anything for the last two issues of Funoon. This reminds me to let you know that your article on Anjum Saeed is very well written. Really nice of you to honour a friend who happend to be a fellow writer as well. The story you have mentioned was the one that drew my attention to this website. I kept thinking about that story, on and off, for days. There is also one story by S.S that I really liked. I don’t remember the title right now. I’ll let you know later. This one is also on their site. It sounds a little autobiographical. …..”

( To Ms )

“…….. so good to hear from you. yes, I have been noticing lately that I am beeing lazy and late in catching up with my correspondence. I am not saying it just for the sake of saying something but the truth is that I was thinking about you hardly ten minutes before I recevied your emessage. we had invited some friends over for dinner and while I was getting things ready – you know how the mind works – so many memories and images were racing through my mind. One very vivid image was you, yasmin and childern, sitting here in our house – the most recent and pleasent memory! after I finished my work I came to my room and logged on to write an email to you. and just could not believe my eyes! was it just a coincidence?

well, yes. I should have acknowledged the lovely B-Card. No explaination except – forgetfullness maybe? Anyway thank you very much. Its just that having a birthday is not as much fun anymore. It feels like looking at Dick Clark standing on a high podium in time square, counting for the ball to drop. Oh, listen to this – there was a woman who, on her 70th b-day decided that since she had lived one happy life of 70 years, she would “re-age herself”. so, she informed everybody she knew that she had decided to be 45 years old. “kindly come to my 45th birthday party on so and so date, next year” she wrote.

I think it is a very good idea. maybe we all should “re-age” oureslves because if only I decide to follow her suit, I would be my younger brother’s younger sister! What fun!

( To J.M )

“…….read your message a while ago. feels so good to know that all is well now on the job front……he wanted to talk to you also but there were cleaning ladies all over the house and in that whirring and burring of machines, would have been impossible to hear a thing. but before leaving for office he told me to let you know that he is happy for you. Now about my wish to do some research work. After your last letter I thought about it some. But realistically speaking, who is going to house me for three months? There is no way that I come to lahore and stay in a hotel or, some hostel for that matter. Three months is a long time! It would have been ideal if I was able to work here and after completing the research, submit it there. but I guess it is not the way it is done. Also, apart from a couple of – not so important – articles, I have not written any literary criticism or book reviews. I write short stories and people recognize my name as a shortstory writer. I used to write radio programs for urdu service. I have judged debates, fashion shows, have given introductory speeches, taught in a college, given lectures on ghalib, etc, etc but does it count? I guess not. So, what do i do now?

I am glad that you finally met Dr. Sohail and discussed this matter with him. You tell me that he knows me very well through my writings. Nice of him to say that. Now talk to him again and see if he has any other options.

Hope everything is well and good at your side of the world and always!

( To J.M )

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