i love writing …

I love writing.
Once Professor Nagi asked “… what would you be doing if not writing stories? ” I would still be writing stories, I just blurted out. He peered from under his brow but didn’t say anything. Only a girl at the back seats guffawed. I have no idea she laughed at my stupidity or the professor being out witted by a student. I didn’t even ask after the class was over.
Such are precious little memories that hearts cherish.

Writing is my love. And I know that I write well. But I never stop and wait for some applause. Once some one sent a detailed article that he had written about my Kraft along with a letter to – ‘any’ editor, and asking me to send that to any magazine of my choice. No sir, I cannot do that. So it is still with me, resting in my papers. If ever I could bring myself to type that long article in Urdu, I will add it to my website, that I promise, but sending it out does not feel right.
Here is a friend – Nisar Sheikh – who wrote this short piece appreciating two of my stories.

Dear Riffat !

Yesterday my composer sent your both afsanas composed in INPAGE for my proofing of his composed work. I read your both stories in one go and I was very much impressed by your style,the themes the imagery.the situation,The back ground,the dialogues and the Anti-climax of Gunnah.

I wonder how could you visualize such a situation for SAIEY. I too had the opportunity to watch these poor emigrants from the third floor window of my hotel in Dubai,clad in navy blue uniform,walking briskly to a dirty but cheap restaurant at rear road of my hotel, for their lunch . I could only pity them but could not develop a story out of it as you have knitted.The lust for money and hunger of sex has very beautifully been described by you in this story. But I still fail to understand your source of observation.If it is an imagination,it is simply superb.

Again in Gunnah your observation is having unlimited depth and truth.while describing the events and carving your characters.It has a touch of class and only a very mature writer can create such articulate expression. I guess you wrote this story Gunnah when you had just completed your Masters in Urdu. Or you had ample time in your university classes to sit and pen down such type of master piece .. Oh , Yes the Anti- climax is most stunning. This alone is flaggship of your story to distinguish and excel it from others.

Unfortunately I am not gifted with the talent of a critic.So I can not select the right words and the usual appreciation phrases for your both Afsanas.However I can commit that I have never read such stories with such unique plots.and themes.

Thank you for providing me a rare chance to read such wonderful stories.

Thank you Nisar janab smile emoticon


a poem …

Niaz Betab is destined to make a name for himself one day; so I believe.

Creative writing is a craft – crafting thoughts into words and like all crafts, this one also needs dedication, perseverance and hard work. If he can take up this challenge, then the road to success is there, beckoning him

Like all creative writers he likes to have an audience to listen or read his latest piece. A couple of days ago he messaged and sent a link, asking me to read his new poem – “ The Gravedigger” what a formidable name, I thought. But still I read it. The first reading didn’t open anything that would make some lasting impression. I left it on the ‘burner’ to ‘slow cooking’ and the ‘aroma’ started wafting. I picked up the poem again at night and slowly, read it to the end and decided that this definitely is an outstanding poem of resistance.

Like all resistance poetry, “ The gravedigger” tells the reader something ( atrocities in Balochistan) and confirms something (killings and kidnappings) that the reader already knows.

“ ……

I started digging a well out of this earth
To water my village
But each time, every time, I miserably fail
For my tools deceive me (his teary-eyes directing mine toward his hands)
Or perhaps our (Baloch) land likes the opposite
You see, each time I start for a well
I’m condemned to end up with a grave
Thus graves all around!”

“water” symbolizes life and prosperity which is denied to the people.
For my “tools” “deceive” me(his teary eyes directing mine toward his hands)
“hands” is yet another meaningful symbol.
“ or perhaps our (Baloch) land likes the opposite”

All of these in my view are meaningful symbols and tell the inside story of Balochistan. Resistance poetry tries to engage the reader’s mind to think – not just’ thoughts’ but to think in actual, decipherable, easy to comprehend thoughts in words. Words that could be spoken out loud and understood by all; and I think this is what the writer is doing here.

“We turn to poems most urgently, perhaps just when we feel that our choice among course of action(in public matters or elsewhere) is no choice at all, and that nothing we do in a world wholly outside ourselves can resolve the genuine conflict we face “ (Stephan Burt)

There is so much more in this poem and to understand and appreciate that, one needs to read it carefully.

Riffat Murtaza
Orlando, Florida.

In the evening dust It was a heap of shadows But as I approached It rose to an old man His face bathing in tears – big, dark, menacing, droplets Tears of defeat, tears of despair, helplessness…

words cannot die …

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

(Earnest Hemingway.)

I was in high school when I fell in love with his books and to this day, they are a source of awe and respect, for his use and respect for ‘words.’

In those days every month American Traveling Library vans used to visit schools and colleges once a month. It was through those libraries that I was introduced to American Literature. “A Farewell To Arms” was the first book that I was issued by the driver of the van who was also a librarian + the attendant to help around the books. His name was Ken and he could speak in Urdu too. Maybe in their archives, they still have a picture of a young girl checking out a hoard of books from the shelves. On one visit there was a photographer on board who took photos of the students coming in to borrow books. On next visit, we were presented the library magazine with pictures of the students in the narrow space between bookshelves. It was here, in this traveling library that I was introduced to Hemingway.
Even when I had exhausted everything by him, available in that van, my hunger for his prose was not satiated.

Over the years, his style of writing has influenced many writers and it still retains that power. When not writing, he was pursuing some adventure. Sometimes game hunting in Africa or bullfighting in Spain. He also loved deep-sea fishing in Florida. Worked as a war journalist too – He was a reporter on the Spanish Civil War. He lived a life to its fullest – as large as his creative talent was. Here is something I am copying from an old journal that I kept on him adding things that I read and liked about him :

…. “When asked by George Plimpton about the function of his art, Hemingway proved once again to be a master of the “one true sentence”: “From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.”
This was the most meaningful entry in my journal and all through my creative writing time, I have followed these lines as my ‘ mantra’

Now that we were living in Florida, not going to Key West and and visiting the place called Hemingway House was – in my eyes – unforgivable. So one warm morning we started from Orlando and drove straight six hours to the destination. Our hotel was on Duval Street, not far from his house. The house is now turned into a museum and is a tourist destination.

We Visited the house the next day. Earnest Hemingway house in Key West where he lived and wrote his novels. Wow!! Reading his books, in my high school time, I never in my wildest dreams, dreamed that one day I will breathe in the same space, he once owned and lived – his home! It was an experience to remember for all times. I went to his study which was on the second floor, his writing desk and chair – a wooden chair. A serious writer never goes for comfortable, cushy chairs – I know that. There was a book display showing the books that were owned by him. Our guide explained that there was a second story walkway connecting the study to the Master bedroom. It was not there anymore. She did explain why it was not there any more but I am not sure about the details.

We saw the six and seven toed cats. These are the descendants of of the cats owned by Hemingway. They are a big tourist attraction. They live on the premises, roam around the grounds where tropical trees and plants are growing and they are protected by Animal Protection Agency.

The most interesting feature of the house is the swimming pool with a shiny penny embedded in concrete near the pool. The story goes like this that Hemingway wanted to have a swimming pool in the house, but it was just an idea when he talking to a reporter who was interviewing him. It was during the time he went away, as Spanish Civil War reporter, that his third wife Pauline had it built. It cost a huge amount of money for those times. When Hemingway came back, he was not happy to learn how much money Pauline had spent on it. He gave her a penny saying “well, you might as well have my last cent.” That penny is now smiling there, embedded in the cement and bringing smile to every face listening to this story.

After the tour, I sat in the porch for some time. That was an intense existential moment. But a cat peacefully, was sleeping under the shadow of a low tree. Another, a little further down the drive way was licking her six or seven toed paw and tropical plants still were growing on the far edge of a lush yard, swaying in the Tropical breeze. There was also a book lined shelf in the house behind me, only a master story teller’s vacant chair, pulled near a writing desk, was reminding, that the story teller had long gone.

But then there was also a penny holding that moment it exchanged hands and went down the immortality rout. People coming from far away lands, when see the shining penny, they smile and they think about this larger than life man. That is the moment he comes to life. And when they go back a living memory goes back with them.

Am I trying to appease my angst? No, I do not think so. Because there are words I am talking about. Yes. Words.
And words cannot die.


a compassion called agony …

A friend from Pakistan screamed. The scream was loud enough to reach from across the oceans to the shores of Florida without any telephonic help.

“oye, stop writing about your American holidays. Stop confusing my clueless ‘hum-watanon ko… you are doing a huge dis-service. Making them act like headless – clueless – directionless robots.”

“ What happened?” I asked, wincing at that shrill voice boring in my ear, “and calm down… stop shouting. You would even raise the dead with your shrieking.”

She calmed down.

“Okay, what have I done this time that has agitated you so? “ I asked

“ Look my bholey bhaley humwatan are already confused about their identity. These ‘shaitan and shatir shit-bag politicians are also playing tug of war with their sensibilities. Poor dears have been fooled many times and are still being fooled by the likes of Zardaris and Sharifs. Now with Qadri and Imran Khan joining hands and showing already victimized public the new ‘sabz baaghs’, things are not getting any better. So why confuse them further?”

What have I done – you didn’t answer that”

Mr. St.Valentine has already landed here. Ab koun poochhey in mindless logon sai keh yeh Valentine tumhara chach, mama thha kia? I am asking why insert alien customs in our tradition? Its people like you living in amreeka , in wilaiyat who are sending wrong vibes to my country. “

“ You are rambling.”

“ No I am not.” she thundered again.
“ Chalo maan lia… there is no harm in celebrating a mother’s day. Celebrate this day the year round – each day and every day. Not just one day in a year. But a Valentine’s day?”

“ No, I do not do that. Not Valentines day.”
“then why feed it to my people?”
“ No, I never did that either.”
“ Why not?”
“ A strange question coming from you. Love is not for advertising. It’s a bond between you and the person you love. You show it with your actions, honoring the person, treating with respect and compassion, understanding. Love is not just leading towards the bedroom … which has become the sole purpose of this day.”

“Hmmmm, yes, true.

“If only I could tell my fellow citizens that Valentines day does not suit you? You are used to raping, abusing, burning and mistreating women, why make a show of a fake emotion? First learn to respect a female. Otherwise this would be just one more venue, opened for the predators to operate from. We do not know what love and compassion and respect is. So why bother? Right?”
She took a big gulp of air to fill her lungs.
“ But no, if it’s not you then there is someone else oohing and aahing about your amreeki stuff.
“ Are you done?” I squeaked?

“ No, I am not yaar, or maybe I am. Everyday I die a little more. Every day a new wave of dishonesty, maltreatment,bigotry, killing of innocent and Mulla geeri lines up for inspection… See, look, yes look at us, I am your Watan that people died for… Your Pakistan – the land of pure.”

“ Yes, I am sorry, things are tough. My voice was a bit stronger this time

“So stop contributing to this sorry state of affairs. One more word about your next  eid called  Thanksgiving and I am banishing you from what little circle of friends I keep.”

“ But it is a purely American tradition, my dear. Nothing to do with your azeez ham-watanou! Aren’t they already thanking Almighty five times a day?”

“ That is exactly the point.” She thundered again.
“That is exactly the point. These badesi traditions and myths are cluttering our culture – not that I am demeaning your tradition. But my people, taking some from here and some from there are fast forgetting their own tradition, their myth, their identity. With the rate of following other cultures, my people are losing their ‘Shanakht’ – self respect. Do you understand what that means?”

“ Yes I do. But you are also missing my point. This is just a historic, American Christian tradition that people celebrate. It was the year 1623 when the crops were harvested and they were found to be in abundance. So the Governor of Plymouth Plantation proclaimed a day in November and told every one to gather at the Meeting House to listen to the Pastor and show the Thanksgiving spirit to God.
That is the ‘myth’ the honorable tradition we remember and honor by celebrating the spirit of welcoming and sharing and thanking.”

“ So if it is a christian tradition then why do you follow it? “

Well we have so many names for Almighty. Haven’t we? So keeping with the American tradition we Thank Almighty Allah for His Blessings on this historically documented day.

“It’s all nice and lush for you.” She paused.
“ I am tired.”
And with that she went off the line.

I am not callous, I have a compassionate heart. I understand her agony.


weekend musings …

Weekend Musings.

Weather has changed. While other parts of US were shivering, we the Floridians were still enjoying our warm weather, with pristine white beaches. Warm waters and screaming greedy seagulls. But now it’s getting cooler. Mornings and evenings are quite Winter like. Only last night I woke up to find that the blanket I was sleeping in was not enough so had to get up and pull an extra blanket from the linen closet. In another two weeks, it would be Thanksgiving and all the snowbirds from up North would come swarming warm Florida but poor babies would be disappointed if the cold trend persisted.

The other day my family went to cocoa beach for the day to enjoy the Florida sun and sand and
had a wonderful time there. They sat there to watch the sun setting on the ocean before heading home. They came home after night fall. The next day at lunch I saw all of them were tanned. It was not that bad though. All of them looked rosy cheeked

There is something I have noticed this year, that people are not into holidays mood as they used to. Halloween came and went away quietly. There were not many witches and gnomes, fairy tale characters or other spooky population coming to the doors asking for trick or treat and mostly looking for a good treat. People kept their porch lights on to welcome the night people but the candy bowls were left half full.

And now thanksgiving being so close, no decorative lights have been put up. Come the beginning of November, every family would be busy buying new light, new decorative styles, colorful or all white lights and decorating their houses like new brides. Or, building the nativity scenes in their front lawns, all illuminated and decked up with bright colored lights. Now Thanksgiving just around the corner and houses in our neighborhood are mostly standing naked! Our neighborhood is considered an up-scale community. Recently many homeowners moved out and are either selling the house or the house has been foreclosed. It’s economy. Yes. Though it went belly up a few years ago, but now things have improved a lot. But still paying a huge mortgage on the house is not easy. In many cases being late in paying the installments or some other defaults make the bank seize the property and put it in the market to recover their funding. Sad, so very sad! Letting go of a house you called home is not easy … not easy at all.

And our ducks and Sand hill cranes don’t come this way anymore. The lake looks so lonely, so forlorn. My family suspects that someone is catching them and roasting them and feasting on them. Oh I hope not! But it could be true though; because they are not on protected animal list. So, anyone can have a go at them, I guess. Sand hill cranes on the other hand are protected. Anyone harming them would pay the price either in fine or jail – depending on the nature of offense. This is their nesting time so maybe they are somewhere else , getting ready for the little ones.

A news item – actually a story of a liyari woman, published in dawn , sent to me by my dear Naim sahab.

A woman married to a cousin when she was 12. In 11 years of her marriage to the man called ‘ husband” she was beaten, abused verbally and physically, twice he tried to kill her by poisoning her then by putting a pillow on her face to suffocate her. She bore him eight children of which only four survived. She brought her younger sister to help around the house and her husband and the sister started having an affair. Now she tried to kill herself by putting herself on fire. Someone rescued and took her to hospital. She survive then the divorce came. Two of the children were sent to grand parents and two he took with himself to Karachi. House sold and this woman thrown on the streets. But she came back with a resolve. Found work as a tassel maker, sleeping on pavements or at shah Ghazi shrine, she saved enough money to travel to Lahore to get her children and came back. Working day and night she put her life together. One day one of the sons who his father had taken with him, came back. She even sent them to school. Now they are all grown up and living peacefully. One of them is married. She herself is now working from home – a rented house!

Aah, what a story! A brave woman standing up for herself and for her children, building her life , making living an honorable act. And what happened to the rascal? He married some woman who left him and now he is living all alone! It was really excruciating to read it but in the end I was happy that she made it. It’s a good example to all those who put up with abusing husbands and keep living being treated like dirt. Get up fight for yourself. Abuse is not just beating up. There are other kinds too – equally bad. Emotional, verbal, sometimes ending in murder!

Kudos to that brave woman!!

Someone please go and buy pine nuts “chilghozey” and when cracking them to get the kernal think about a ‘pardesi woman’ who loves this – nature’s parcel of goodness. We get them in the Middle Eastern groceries here but they are shelled and packaged …. and stale.

I remember quite a few years ago at the customs where we had gone to receive a friend coming from Pakistan. The woman at the counter had one question for every one “are you carrying any item not allowed under US customs regulations?” about six of the passengers declared “no, only nuts”

After a while the woman could not take it any more. She called across the isle “ hey Bob, guess what ? “
“What? “ he asked.
“ too many nuts are coming from Pakistan !” she said with a straight face.
The man was more gentlemanly. He smiled, shook his head and didn’t say anything!



Ali Imran Zaidi likes this

and then love will return …

I want rains, lots of rains – non stop rains. On my roof, against my windows, and hear it falling; falling  beyond the glass doors. Looking –  just looking at it falling. Lying still – under the blanket – just looking, just listening – not thinking. But what is there to think? All the words wrapped in a bundle, have long left.
There is nothing happening – waiting to happen but not happening. So there!!

This year the famine in Damishq was bad. So bad that people even forgot love … لوگ بھول گئے ۔۔۔ محبت کرنا بھول گئے   who said that? Who was that sage? Sa’adi? Oh yes Sa’adi.

They have forgotten, they don’t care what love is, he laments. What life is without love ۔۔۔ اب کے برس دمشق میں بڑا کال پڑا، اتنا کہ لوگ بھول گئے ۔ محبت کرنا بھول گئے۔ محبت کے جیسا لطیف جذبہ؟ محبت کی باتیں ، محبت کی نظر ،محبت سے گلے لگانا ٓ بھول گئے ، سب بھو گئے

And across the oceans, the story continues. They have famine for years now. But this famine is of a different kind.
Every morning they bring out their hope, wipe its face clean, and holding it close to heart they go out looking for life and come back at night. Hope dead, darkness another shade darker and they silently descend in their dark holes, avoiding hungry eyes, burning – burning white, burning wide, staring in the darkness, bulging out of sockets. Another hungry night before another day of famine sets over the towns – fangs,teeth,claws,talons and shrieking contests.
What is one supposed to do if not ….

“chunaN qehet saale …. ?
framoosh kerdand ishq ? “
بھول گئے ، محبت کرنا بھول گئے؟

I want rains. Rains, up the towns, down the vales – rains. To wipe clean the dirt hanging in the air, the blackened hearts, the soul dredged with soot,  making them sparkling clean

And then love will return.

kitab e zindagi …


کون؟ کون ھے؟ اس نے سر اٹھا کر کمرے میں پھیلی مدھم روشنی میں دیکھنے کی کوشش کی مگر کمرے میں تھا ھی کون۔ اس نے پھر تکۓ پر سر رکھ دیا اور سونے کی کوشش کرنے لگی مگر نیند ایک بار اچٹ جاۓ تو پھر دیر ھی سے آتی ھے۔ کچھ دیر بعد اٹھی اور پانی پینے کے لۓ چلی گئ ۔ ۔پانی کا گلاس ہاتھ میں لے کر کمرے کی طرف آتے ھوۓ دروازے کے اوپر لگے شیشے سے آخری تاریخوں کا چاند نظر آ رھا تھا، آدھا اور کسی بوڑھے کی مانند کبڑا اور جھکا ھوا۔ پھیکی ، بیمار چاندنی کی چادر میں لپٹا ، شرمندہ۔ کچھ دیر کھڑی وہ اسے ھی دیکھتی رھی پھر کچھ ہنس کر سر جھٹکتی کمرے کی طرف چلی گئ ۔نیند اب پوری طرح غائب ھو چکی تھی ۔ پانی کا گلاس اس نے آدھا پیا اور میز پر رکھ دیا اور کتاب اٹھا کر پھر کمرے سے باہر چلی گئ ۔ مگر کتاب میں بھی دھیان لگ نہیں رھا تھا ۔ جانتی تھی ، نیند اچٹ جانے کی وجہ جانتی تھی مگر جان کر بھی کیا ، کچھ ھو سکتا تھا ؟ بالکل بھی نہیں ، یہ وہ جانتی تھی ۔۔۔ اچھی طرح سے جانتی تھی ایک وقت آیا تھا جب اسے اپنی کوششیں کامیا ب ھوتی لگی تھیں مگر بات صرف اُسی تک تو محدود نہیں تھی اس رستے پر کسی اور کی بھی نظرٰیں لگی رھتی تھیں ، منتظر ! مگر وقت آگے جا چکا تھا۔ پیڑوں کے نیچے اب صرف خاموشی تھی اور ہوا ئیں سر برہنہ خاک اڑاتی پھرتی تھیں ۔ ایک وقت تھا جب اس نے کچھ لفظ اپنی ہتھیلیوں پر رکھ کر اسے ہدیہ کۓ تھےجو اس نے بہت خوش ہو کر اٹھا لۓ اور اس کی خالی ہتھیلیاں واپس کر دیں۔ اپنے روزمرہ سے کچھ لمحے اٹھا کر ان خالی ہتھیلیوں پر رکھنے کا اسے خیال بھی نہیں آیا یا شائد آیا مگر ۔۔۔ شائد عافیت پسندی نے اسے آنکھیں چرانے کے لۓ کہہ دیا۔ کسی کو کیا معلوم !۔

اس نے کتاب بند کر دی اور آنکھیں بھی بند کر کے وقت کے تعاقب میں نکل گئ ۔ آج کی رات کہیں کوئ بہت بے چین تھا ۔ مگر اب اسے خود
سے کۓ وعدے یاد تھے اور یاد رکھنے تھے ۔ یہ وعدے کسی سکون کا باعث ھوتے ھیں ، نہیں ھوتے ھیں ، جاننا بھی نہیں تھا

تمھیں یاد ھے وہ لڑکی جس نے سکول آڈیٹوریم کی سیڑھیوں پر چُپ بیٹھی لڑکی سے کہا تھا “کبھی ایسے مت کرنا” اور ھوا میں ہاتھ
اُٹھاۓ چٹکییاں بجاتی برآمد وں میں کہیں غائب ھو گئ تھی” ۔۔۔۔
( کتابِ زندگی سے ایک اقتباس )

more …

Back Porch Musings

It was only last week that I thought, my life was like a stagnant water pond. Just collecting algae – that my thoughts were like dead fish that even the birds would not touch … and talking about birds, I would say that they migrated to other lands and forgot the return home passage.

I felt alone and lonely for no apparent reason.

Then I hurt my ankle and my world became even more lackluster. A limping gait is not a very pleasing sight. This also bites a big chunk of one’s confidence and self esteem. A will to communicate dies. Going through Rumi thoughts didn’t help either. Reading friends old mail sent me on a guilt trip. I hadn’t replied many of those … old messages tasted stale, and what not !

Kia cheiz zindgi sai minha ho gai hai? I kept asking myself.

Reading this some might say I am a drama queen.

A couple of days ago, I hurt my ankle and now I hop around the house or just sit and mope. My night time walk is canceled and my twenty minute meditation routine is on hold and I have noticed that I have started giving a lot of my time to my desk top computer and when I am in bed, I open my tablet and start surfing or visiting. I hope I don’t make it a habit. Though I have been hinted at many times that it has already happened. I used to read and enjoy it so much but now poor kindle is buried somewhere under the clutter on my desk, holding a total of 18 electronic books I so lovingly ordered from Amazon. I have read some but most are still waiting. I was also working on a collection of my afsanai, that were published in different literary magazines over time. That too has been pushed on the back burner. Irshad sahib is not happy because I was supposed to send the promised essay … yesterday!

I am restless too. Sad? No I don’t think I am. A little ‘knotted’ – may be , but certainly not sad. For a moment I thought about ‘bewildered’ but I am not sure it applies. I am certain about one thing though. I am an ordinary person who appreciates ordinary people who talk straight, act straight and are honest in their everyday dealings. You can call me a boring person if you like. Also, honest does not always mean being honest in dealing with money. It also means being honest with yourself. Honest with others. You didn’t like something I did or said then coming forward and telling me. If it needs explaining, I will explain it. If it hurt you, I will apologize to you. But you have to step forward and say it, air it and not just keep it shut in your rib cage. If it is personal and you do not want to share it, then don’t but don’t advertise it on your mug. Just keep it to yourself !. Only, I do not like to see a scowl on your face and keep wondering.

So this is about some one? I do not know. Really , I cannot say.

Today again I started going through Deosai page and just kept going, mesmerized … watching, looking, appreciating and reading comments left by all those people who visited that place and are yearning to go back again. Deosai plains, Sheosar lake, kalapani, Barra pani, the snow clad mountains and green meadows. Wild flowers and wild life … a real wonderland. Looking at all those places reminded me my time in Skardu and all those friends who made that time memorable. With my seven month old first born in my arms, I would go from room to room, and tell him stories about what ever was there in the room – wood for burning – why we have a roomful of it. Abdullah our house keeper sitting near the fire pit cooking bread, busy and happy with a crinkled face and that serene smile when we came in the kitchen. His baby talk to my son. Some days when it was not snowing, we would, bundle up and go outside, spread a blanket under the lone apple tree and watch people slipping on the snow and laugh wildly. My baby wouldn’t know what was going on but he would look at me with those lovely baby eyes and laugh with me any ways. Some days the people living next to our house would bring kashmiri chai in a kettle and some kind of savory dumplings and order this ‘little’ mother with her baby son to get inside immediately before the cold gets to the bones to make the two of us sick. And once in the room she would stoke the fire in the ‘ bukhari ‘ call out to Abdullah to bring the cups and make me drink a hot cup of kashmiri chai. Old man Abdullah too would join us. Kashmiri chai, any time!

Last night I saw and read about nomads and their life, too. They do not belong to anywhere – or any land. Always on the move. I liked what I saw and read about them and wondered how I would love to join them. … go with them where ever they go. Could I still join them? tell them that I was left behind or got lost and could not find my way and now I was here and wanted them to take me with them. It would be tough but I know I would get used to it.

Do you think they would believe me ?

And I want to say to the one moping around … dragging his feet, that if life is tough, then face it like a man. Life is not always a joy ride or a smooth sailing. Come, I will wipe your tears and promise to be there for you, always. Believe me when I say that to you, my innocent, pure and uncut diamond that came one morning and went straight to my heart.

Sometimes there is no gender bias in love. It is just … love. Pure, sparkling, untouched love.

So do I feel any better now?

Maybe yes, maybe not.

My ankle still hurts !


( Note : this is from last year)

4 aktubar …

ہفتہ 4 اکتوبر 2014 جب موسم بدلنے کی خبر آئی

آج چاند نہیں نکلا

کل روشندان کے عین اوپر کھڑا جھانک جھانک کر دیکھ رھا تھا ۔ میں نے پیچھے ہٹ کر دیوار سے لگ کر سر اوپر اُ ٹھایا ، بہتر نظارے کے لئے تو وہ مسکرا دیا اور روشنی کی ایک کرن میری طرف پھینکی جو شیشے سے لگ کر وہیں ٹھہر گی ۔ وہ چھچھورا یوں ہنسا جیسے بڑا لطیفہ ہوا ہو ! ایسے چھچھورے کھیل اچھے نہیں لگتے مجھے ۔ جی میں آئی کہ ڈانٹ دوں مگر میں ایسا کیسے کر

سکتی تھی ۔۔۔ چاند کو ڈانٹ دوں تو پھر باقی کیا رہ جائے گا تنہائی کی رتوں میں پھر کون باتیں کرے گا ، دِل بہلائے گا اور اپنے چوڑے چہرے پر محبت کا چشمہ لگا کر ہنسائے گا کون ؟ وہ پھر کھلکھلا کر ہنسا اور اوپر اُٹھتا ہوا آفاق کی نیلاہٹوں میں گھرے گھر روشنی کی کرنیں لُٹانے چل دیا ۔ میں نے دیوار کا سہارا چھوڑا اور اس کی حرکتوں پر چپکے ، چپکے مسکراتی اس کے پیار کے پیار ے

احساس سے خوشبو کی طرح لپٹی وہاں سے ہٹ گئی

آج آسمان پر بادل تھے اور افلاک میں کہیں روشنی کی کوئی کرن تک نہ تھی آج میں وہاں دیر تک اُس کی راہ دیکھتی کھڑی تھی مگر سوائے تاریکی وہاں کچھ تھا ہی نہیں ۔ نہ کوئی روشنی کی کرن ، نہ شرارت کی ہنسی اور نہ ہی گول چہرے پر ٹکا جھوٹ موٹ کا چشمہ ۔ اداس دل،

بوجھل قدم شام آہستہ سے گزر بھی گئی۔

موسم بدل رہا ہے

بالکل تو نہیں مگر بدلا ضرور ہے ۔ کل رات کے کھانے پر علی اوسط نے کہا کہ صبح جب نماز کے لئے اُٹھیں گے تو درجہ حرارت ساٹھ ڈگری ھو گا

او ھو ، پھر تو اچھی سردی ھو گی ، علی اول نے کہا ۔ دوسری پریشانی علی اول کو اس اعلان سے یہ ھوئی کہ صبح میں عید کی نماز میں کُرتا پاجامہ پہن کر جانے کا اِرادہ تھا اور اس درجہ حرارت میں ایسے لباس میں سردی لگے گی ۔ اب نئے سرے سے سوچنا پڑے گا کہ کیا کریں ، کیا پہن کر جائیں کہ سردی کا سد ِ باب بھی ھو۔

عید کی نماز کا وقت بھی تو صبح کے آٹھ بجے رکھا ھے دور سے آنے والوں کے لئے سہولت کا وقت نہیں ھے یہ ۔ علی آخر نے کہا ۔ میرا خیال ھے میں اپنے گھر سے سیدھا وہاں چلا جاؤں گا۔ ۔ تھوڑی دیر سوچنے کے بعد علی آخر نے اپنی بات پوری کی۔ علی اول اور علی اوسط کا خیال بھی یہی تھا ۔ ویسے بھی ان دونوں کا خیال ھے کہ علی آخر سوائے ، اگر کوئی جہاز پکڑنا ھو ، کبھی ، کہیں وقت پر نہیں پہنچتا ۔ خیر ہر کوئی رائے رکھنے کا مجاز تو ھے نا؟

مجھے سردیوں کا موسم اچھا لگتا ھے ۔ بہت سی بُھولی بِسری یادیں لے کر آتا ھے۔ جیسے گھاٹ گھاٹ پر رکتا ٹھہرتا مسافر کہانیاں ، قصے باتیں اور بولیاں جمع کرتا ، سب ایک پوٹلی میں باندھے

ایک دن چپکے سے آ کر دروازہ کھٹکھٹا دے اور سب جنے لحافوں میں لپٹے اپنے اندر کی حرارت سے آسودہ ، اس گٹھری سے نکلتے ایک ایک موتی پر سے وقت کی گرد جھاڑتے اسے پیار کے ہاتھوں میں پرولتے ، کسی دوسرے وقت کے لئے پھر احتیاط سے واپس رکھ دیں۔ میرا لحاف بنفشے کے رنگ کا تھا جس کی گوٹ کاھی رنگ کی تھی ۔ رنگوں میں میرے پسند کے رنگ نیلا اور زرد رنگ ھیں مگر لحاف کے لئے یہ رنگ میں نے اماں سے ضد کرکے خریدوائے تھے ۔ سردیوں کا نام آتے ھی نگاہ میں بنفشے کا رنگ کاہی رنگ کے ہاتھوں میں ہاتھ ڈال کر مسکرانے لگتا ہے ۔ ہمارے گھر کے باہری گیٹ کے پاس گلاب کا پودا کئی برس پہلے لگایا گیا تھا جو اب ایک جھاڑ بن چکا تھا اور اس پر تمام موسم سردی کا ، گہرے بنفشئی رنگ کے گلاب آیا کرتے تھے۔ جب اماں نے مجھ سے رنگوں کی بات کی تو ہرے پتوں کی قبا اوڑھے یہی گلاب سامنے آئے اور میری پسند بتا دی۔ اب سردیاں آتے ہی جب لحاف نکلتے میرے بدن میں گلاب کھلنے لگتے اور ہتھیلیاں اس کی نرمی کو محسوس کرتیں تو اُنگلیوں کی پوریں روشن ہو جاتیں

سردیوں میں رات کے کھانے کے بعد ,گئی رات تک میرے سرہانے کا چھوٹا لیمپ جلتا رہتا اور میں اپنی ٹھوری تک اپنے لحاف میں لپٹ کر کتاب پڑھتی رہتی ۔ کوئی دن ایسے بھی آتے کہ سرہانے کا لیمپ جلتا رہتا اور میں جانے کیا سوچتی رہتی کچھ تو سوچتی ہوں گی ۔۔۔ ایک حیرت ، انجانے کا خوف ِ یہی ہوگا ۔۔۔ اس عمر میں یہی تو ہوتا ھے سوچنے کے لئے

آتی سردیوں کے آنے کا انتظار ، اگست کا آخر آتے آتے خود بخود شروع ہو جاتا ھے ۔۔۔۔ جب سائے لمبے اور نرم ہو جاتے ہیں اور دھوپ پیار سے لپٹ جانے کا کھیل شروع کر دیتی ھے ! یہ آنکھ مچولی اکتوبر تک جاری رہتی ھے اور اکتوبر کے آتے ہی سردیاں کسی بھی دن آنگن میں اُتر آتی ہیں۔ ہفتے کی رات کو اگر علی اوسط نے فجر کا درجہ حرارت ساٹھ ڈگری ہو گا ، کہا ۔ تو یہ آتی سردیوں کا پہلا دن ہی ہوا نا ؟

مگر یہ فلوریڈا ہے _ کچھ تھوڑا اکھڑ اور من مانی کرنے میں اُستاد! موسم کا مزاج ؟ گھڑی میں تولہ

گھڑی میں ماشہ ۔ ہمارے گھر میں سارا سال ایر کنڈ یشنرز چلتے ھیں ۔ ہلکے کمبلوں میں مزے سےسوتے ھیں محکمہ موسمیات والے رات کی خبروں میں اگلے دِن کے لئے جو بھی کہیں اس پر پورا یقین کبھی نہیں کرتے۔ عقلمندی اسی میں ھے اپنی عقل استعمال کی جائے اور بس ورنہ بارش کا سن کر نکلیں گے اور سارا دن چھتری اُ ٹھائے پھریں گے ۔ یہاں کا موسم ایسا بے ایمان ھے کہ دسمبر میں جون کا مہینہ بھی چکر لگا لیتا ھے کبھی کبھی۔ اور کبھی تو کرسمس کے موقعے پر سردیوں کا فریب دینے کے لئے کھڑکیوں کے شیشوں پر روئی چپکا کر ماحول تیار کرنا پڑتا ہے ۔

سردیوں میں ھمارے ساحلوں پر ایک مخلوق اور اترتی ھے۔ یہاں کی زبان میں انہیں “ سنو برڈ” کہتے ھیں ۔ یہ بیچارے ریت اور دھوپ کی تلاش میں نارتھ سے ساؤتھ کی طرف پرواز کرتے ھیں اور پورا ، پورا دن مگر مچھوں کی طرح ھمارے ساحلوں کی ریت پر لیٹے دھوپ کھاتے رہتے ھیں مگر موسم ان کے رنگ میں بھی بھنگ ڈالنے سے باز نہیں آتا اچانک کسی دن سا ئبیر یا کی ہوائیں فلوریڈا کا رُخ کر لیتی ھیں اور نارتھ کے برف کے طوفانوں سے بھاگ کر گرمی کی تلاش میں آئے سنو برڈ ادھار کے گرم کپڑے پہنے ،کمروں میں بند، انگیٹھیاں تاپتے ہیں۔ غالبا” یہ 1997 کی بات ھے کہ ھمارے اُ س وقت کے گھر کے قریب کے مڈل اسکول میں رات میں گھاس اور پودوں کو پانی دینے کا سسٹم چلا تو صبح میں درختوں پر آئیسیکل لٹک رھے تھے۔ یعنی رات میں درج حرارت نقطہ انجماد سے بھی نیچے چلا گیا ہو گا کہ جہاں جہاں پانی گرا، برف بن گیا اور اس پر اور غضب کہ شام تک کے لئے بجلی بھی غائب ۔ وجہ ؟ گھرے گھر ہیٹر چلنے کی وجہ سے ٹرانسفارمر اُڑ گیا تھا ۔ فلوریڈا زندہ باد ۔

اب کے ایک بات یہ ھو گئی ہے کہ سردیوں کی باقاعدہ آمد سے پہلے ہی اس کے سواگت میں کبھی ناک بند ہو جاتی ہے اور کبھی بہنے لگتی ھے اور کبھی ایک ہی وقت میں چار چار چھینکیں آ جاتی ہیں ۔ چھینکوں کا کہتے ہیں کہ ایک چھینک آئے تو بس ایک چھینک ہی ہوتی ہے۔ دو ایک ساتھ آجائیں تو کسی نے آپ کے بارے کوئی بات کی ھے – اچھی ، بُری – بس کوئی بات۔ تین ، ایک کے بعد ایک آ جائیں تو کسی نے آپ کو یاد کیا ھے – بہت پیار سے یاد کیا ھے ۔۔۔ یہاں زیادہ زور پیار پر ہے ۔ اور اگر چار چھینکیں ایک ساتھ !! تو جناب آپ کو نزلہ ھوا ہے یا ہونے والا ہے ۔

اب میں کیا کروں ؟ چار چھینکیں تو آگئیں۔ تین آ جاتیں تو کس کا کیا بگڑتا تھا !! اب صبح میں دوائیوں کا ڈبہ کھول کر دیکھنا پڑے گا کہ علاج کس سے کیا جائے اگر علی اول سے بات کی تو جوشاندہ پینے کا مشورہ ملے گا اور یہ بھی کہا جائے گا کہ ایک کپ مجھے بھی دے دینا ۔۔۔ آخر ایک کمرہ ہے اور بستر بھی ایک اور تو اور ٹی وی بھی تو ھم ساتھ بیٹھ کر دیکھتے ہیں ۔ بھئی ایک کپ جوشاندہ بنا دینا یاد سے ۔ گویا چھینکیں ائیں مجھے ، ناک بند ہو میری ، ناک بہے تو وہ بھی میری مگر علی اول کے لئے اب جوشاندہ بنانا واجب !! ٹھیک ہے جناب ، بن جائے گا ۔

آجکل مجھے چاروں طرف سے گھیرا جارہا ھے کہ فلو شاٹ لے لوں۔ جہاں بھی جاؤں فلو شاٹ کا تذکرہ۔ علی اول اور علی اوسط عہد کرچکے ہیں کہ میرا کھانسنا چھینکنا بند ہوتے ھی وہ مجھے زبردستی فارمیسی لے جائیں گے اور فلو کا ٹیکہ لگوا کے رہیں گے۔ لو جی ، اچھی زبردستی ھے ! ٹھیک ہے، ہم بھی دیکھیں گے ۔ سچ پوچھیں تو پچھلے برس جیسا کولڈ ھوا ، میں نے جبھی عہد کر لیا تھا کہ آتی سردیوں میں ضرور فلو شاٹ لوں گی مگر اب کے اس نے بہت جلدٰ کی اور اس سے پہلے کہ فارمیسیوں میں ٹیکے آتے، مجھے ہی نزلہ ہوگیا ،اب کم از کم ایک طرح کے وائرس سے تو، میرے امیون سسٹم کے اندر مدافعت کی قوت پیدا ہوگئی آئیندہ کو آئیندہ دیکھ لیں گے ! مگر ہر کوئی میری طرح سوچتا بھی تو نہیں ۔ خیر ھم بھی دیکھیں گے ۔

مجھے چہرے اچھے لگتے ہیں۔ چُپ چہرے مجھ سے باتیں کرتے ہیں ، میری باتیں سُنتے ہیں ۔ چاند کے جیسے طباق چہرے ، کھلی کتاب چہرے ، کسی آیت کے جیسے نوری چہرے ۔ اپنے میں آپ چہرے ۔ مطمئن ، سوچ سے آسودہ ۔۔۔ اچھے لگتے ہیں ، ان پر لکھی تحریریں آسمانی صحیفوں کی مانند میرے وجود کی شجرکاری کرتی ہیں ۔ یہی چہرے ہیں جن کو روز ِ ازل اللہ نے خود اپنے نوری ہاتھوں سے بنایا اور محبت کے اس لمحے جب اُس نے رو ح پھونکی تو ساتھ میں اپنی خوبیاں بھی دے دیں، تخلیق کے سارے رنگ ودیعت کر دئے ، پھر اپنی تقویم پر پیدا کیا کہ اس چہرےکو دیکھو تو اس سے محبت کرنا واجب ہو جائے۔

عید ِ غدیرآئی اور چلی بھی گئی ۔

جب میرے رسول نے حج سے واپسی میں غدیر ِ خُم پر سب کو روکا اور میرے مولا علی کو کندھوں سے اونچا اُ ٹھا کر کہا “ جس کا میں مولا ، اُس کا علی مولا” تو اس چہرے کو دیکھنا اور اس سے محبت کرنا واجب ہو گیا۔۔۔۔ مگر پھر جس نبی اللہ نے ہر طرح کی سختی اور مخالفت برداشت کی اور کسی دشمنی کرنے والے کو بُرا نہ کہا، اب پہلی بار کسی کے لئے بد دعا کی جب کہا کہ” جس نے مجھ سے دشمنی کی اس نے خدا سے دشمنی کی اور جس نے علی سے دشمنی کی اس نے مجھ سے دشمنی کی اور ایسے لوگ تباہ اور بدنام ہوں گے اور کوئی انہیں اچھے نام سے یاد نہیں کرے گا ۔ “ اس کو پروفیسی کہہ لیں یا کچھ اور مگر آج کی صورت ِ حال ایسی ھی ھے۔

اگر کوئی اپنے مدار سے ہٹ گیا ھے تو وہ میں ہوں۔ بہت عجیب کیفیت ہے ۔ جب میں ایک جگہ پر بیٹھ کر کوئی کام جم کر کر نہ سکوں ، کبھی کلازٹ میں ، کھڑی یہ سوچوں کہ کیا کرنا تھا؟ کبھی پودے، جن کو کل ہی پانی دیا تھا پھر گلاس بھر پانی انڈیل دوں ۔ مکئی دانوں کا پیکٹ پینٹری سے نکالوں اور اسے مائکرو ویو میں ڈالتے، ڈالتے ارادہ بدل دوں تو ضرور میرا کوئی پیچ ڈھیلا ہو گیا ھے ۔ مگر سب جانتے ہوئے بھی میں خود کو یقین د ِلاتی ھوں کہ سب ٹھیک ہے ، سب با لکل ٹھیک ہے ۔ اپنے اپنے مدار میں ھم سب اپنی زندگیوں میں مصروف ہیں ۔ ایک دوڑ دھوپ، ایک تگا دو ۔۔۔۔ سب چلتا ہے۔ آپ کے پاس وقت نہیں، میرے پاس وقت نہیں ھم وقت کی رسیوں میں بندھے ، ایک ہی سمت چلے جارہے ہیں قدم ، قدم، ایک پیر کے پیچھے دوسرا پیر ، چلتے رہئے، بس چلتے جائے۔ ذرا کوئی اِ د ھر سے اُد ھر نہ ہو۔ بالکل نہیں ۔

بعض اوقات آسمان بہت محدود دکھائی دینے لگتا ہے جیسے ایک پیالہ او ند ھا پڑا ہو اور ہم سب اس کے اندر بیٹھے، کھڑے، چلتے پھرتے اپنی اپنی دوڑ دوڑ رہے ہوں۔ ؐمیں اس وقت بی جے۔۔ز کی پارکنگ میں بیٹھی ہوں ، تا حدِ ، نظر نیلا آسمان اور اس گول پیالے کے کناروں پر دھنکی روئی جیسے بادل ! بادل نہیں ۔۔۔ جیسے نیلے پیالے کے کناروں پر سفید رنگ سے بنایا جالی کا ڈیزائین ۔ مگر پیالہ اوندھا ہے اور ہم جو بھی دیکھتے ہیں اندر سے دیکھتے ہیں ۔ دھوپ تیز ھے ، کبھی آتی ہے ، کبھی جاتی ہے ۔ میری دائیں طرف ایک بائیکر اپنی موٹر سائیکل سے ٹیک لگائے اپنے فون پر کسی کو ٹیکسٹ کر رہا ھے دونوں بازوؤں پر ٹیٹوز کھدے ہیں ۔ کیسا تکلیف دہ شوق ھے! جسم ، کوئی بھی ، کسی کا بھی ، اللہ کی نعمت ہے اس کو یوں کسی سوئی ، سلائی سے گودنا ، کھودنا ، کس لئے؟ جانور – گھوڑے ، بیل ، بھینس کو داغنا ، مالکانہ حقوق کا اعلان کرنا ھے، حفاظت بھی کہ کوئی چُرا نہ لے ۔

مان لیا ، مگر جسم تو اپنا ھے ،کون چُرا رہا ھے اس کو ؟


پھر رات میں وہ اُس کی کمر پر اپنے ہاتھوں سے گودے شاہکار اپنی اُنگلیوں سے محسوس کرتا ۔ پھول ، پتے، وہ دریا سے اُٹھتی دھند میں کسی خواب کی مانند اُبھرتا پُل ، زمانوں میں قید عمارتیں ، یہ سب اُس کا ماضی تھا جو اس خو بصورت ، دودھیا کمر پر زندہ ہر شب اُ سے کچھ اور جی لینے کا حوصلہ دیتا تھا ۔ پھر وہ سیدھے ہو کر اپنے دونوں ہاتھوں کے پیالے میں اس کا چہرہ اپنی طرف

جھکاتی اور اُس کے ہونٹوں پر ایک بوسہ رکھ دیتی ۔ باہر رات مُسکراتی اور دونوں کو اپنی چادر میں چھپا کر مشرق کی طرف کچھ اور جھک جاتی ۔


میرے گلابوں میں کلیاں آ رہی ہیں ۔ گاڑی گراج میں لے جاتے ہوئے نظر آئیں تو میں گاڑی سے اُتر کر اُسی طرف چلی گئی ۔ باہری دروازے کے آگے ایک قطار میں اُگے گلاب گرمی کی شدت سے نڈھال رھے تمام موسم ۔ پچھلے ہفتے اُن میں ایپسم سالٹ اور میگنیزیم ڈالا تو اب جیسے چونک کر اُٹھ بیٹھے ہیں آئندہ دِنوں میں بہت پھول آنے کی اُمید ہے ۔

موسم بدل رہا ھے ، سردیاں آ رہی ہیں

میں خوش ہوں۔

on March 2014 …

On principle I do not believe in hunger strikes or putting oneself on fire in protest. It is like a tmasha for the passing by who would stop, watch, shake their heads say a few hai, hai and be on their ways again to where ever they were going. No one would give two hoots, life would go on and it would be business as usual,

killed by a fly by shooting is unfortunate. It was not planned or for seen so we are not talking about that. A Passive / planned death is beyond human dignity. Shahadat / martyrdom is attained while fighting for your rights, not by not eating and just getting weaker by day till the day you are no more.

Fighting for the cause and do logon ko mar kr mrna is shahadat, otherwise it is suicide. yes, suicide. period. I am not a mulla, or a religious authority but if you are a Muslim, You should know It is not a favorable act.

Tipu Sultan, a pious , devote Muslim, fighting for freedom from the British, chose death over a life of subjugation. He knew that once he was out of his fort, he would die but he also knew he would die defending the rights of his people. He killed many before he was martyred. We celebrate his death, his courage and his stance on principles. Before stepping out to face the enemy, he said

” Sher ki ek din ki zindagi, geedarr ki sou din ki zindagi sey behtar haiy.”

This is not 1930’s time any more. Gandhi and his “barats” (hunger strikes) were noticed then but now are meaningless. Such passive protests are injurious not only to the person himself but to the organization as well because a man lost is the organization’s loss. Living, one can use his faculties to further help the body of resistance but dead he is only a heap of flesh and bones. The oppressor would welcome your death because he knows, one man dead is one man less demanding his rights.

Sitting high up he wouldn’t give a damn. You live, you die; what is it to him? He is safe in his ivory tower.

I like Johar and absolutely love his innocent smile and those big black eyes that now look like two saucers on his thin face. With what information on his health I am getting, I am not sure he would live long now. Only the other day I was discussing his health scenario with a Baloch friend and he said that that was exactly what the doctor says. I listened to the video I was sent. What the doctor was saying was common sense / plus professional opinion but he didn’t say what would happen if Johar goes into a coma, if he is revived, and if he becomes brain dead. What would he do then? He would not be able to take care of himself so he would be dumped in some khairati idara or he would become a burden on his parents. Has johar thought about that? He wouldn’t have a healthy, thinking brain to decide for himself then. So?

I am not a prophet of doom, I want him to live. I want to see him have a meaningful life. I would love to see him happy that he attained what he was struggling / working for . And That would be a happy day when some friend would tell me “johar got married and now has many little proud Johars to love and serve the free country he worked for.

5/31/ 2014