salman haider

Face book daily question :

“What is on your mind”
Well who is so interested about what is in my mind?
Why would anyone be interested about what I have been holding or hiding in my mind. And even if there is something on my mind, do I have to tell everyone ?

Truth of the matter is there are a lot of things on my mind but not all for sharing. Remember ” keh ek baat batani haiy ik chupani haiy ” though there is nothing worth hiding. What is bothering me is Salman Haider’s disappearing. He was a face book friend and soon found out I did not agree with his thinking so the distance crept in. There are two things/ ideologies that I love with passion.

One is my love of Allah and his Prophet
And second is my love for Pakistan

There is no way I would bargain on any of the two.

I hope and pray that he comes back home, all safe and sound. My heart goes out to his little son Sarmad. When it comes to children, I have totally old fashioned views on the subject. When we bring a child into the world, we sign an unwritten bond, a commitment to give the child a safe and happy childhood.. give them all the love we have and thus raise someone mentally and emotionally balanced, without any feelings of deprivations and who would rightly be an asset to family and the society ,and to make all that a reality, parents are obligated to keep themselves safe, healthy and happy. You either can be an activist or a parent.  A childhood of deprivation is no childhood. You have to be there for their happiness and their heartbreaks – no matter how tiny and insignificant in your eyes they may be.

Please, please whoever you guys are, set Salman free and then sit with him and ask him what you wanted to know.


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…

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

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)

fighting for a cause …

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

winter in Sochi …

Life is standing still, not that I mind this inactivity. Sometimes I welcome this respite and take it as a long overdue interval of rest and to rejuvenate. Especially when 2014 Winter Olympic is going on in Sochi, Russia and My Man Putin is there. Yes, he was there with… I do not know who and why they were looking so stern like a heavy set and squarish school ma’am and headmaster saab!

I was being told over and over again, being reminded like three times in a day that Friday night is the Olympic Opening Night and we are going to watch that. Okay !!. Actually this – in a subtle way – was being reminded me that we would be watching only – mind you – only Winter Olympic, nothing else. Now note this that apart from a half hour or sometimes a full hour of watching some Pakistani drama, I do not watch TV at all. I have an old, rather a chronic feud with this anti social machine, though its time, I had let it go because a far more potent, anti social “elements “ have taken over and changed the World. And those political talk shows? Oh God Almighty!! But, …I should be fair because they also need to eat something! Though that is a different issue altogether that their hunger pangs for $ s are never satiated. I read online news papers and that is good enough for me So where was I? Oh yes the reminders.

So on this holy night of Friday we sat down to watch the Opening Ceremony in Sochi, in Russia, on our television in our family room. The Ceremony was good, it was impressive. I specially loved Team America – young, happy, carefree, exuberant, contestants, full of life. So we started watching the ceremony, enjoying, commenting, even suggesting < > But slowly, the verve started to diminish. First yawn, soon a second one, a sudden grunt, a … nah why say more but fact of the matter is at 10:pm, , the ceremony that was supposed to start at 7:30 but didn’t because of commercials – was still keeping the World watching, and doing oohs and aahs – I was the only one in my house, left watching. Rest of the family was fast asleep in la la lands!

Okay, no sweat ! I made myself cozy on my recliner and watched. It was a beautiful experience… and I like quiet anyways! Since a family member’s flight to Canada was leaving very early in the morning, I got up right after the ceremony was over and left imam e zamin along with Quran on the table near the entrance door, leaving the rest to whoever was up at that time to say Khuda Hafiz, I hit the pillow around 2: in the morning and went to sleep instantly.

Today at 11:30 in the morning was women’s figure skating. I absolutely love figure skating. If I was born in a different culture, I certainly would have gone for that. But then I also like ballet and Indian classical dances and Opera singing? I cry buckets listening to a diva. Once I spent a whole night listening to Umm e Kulsum, singing only one line and that too – of course in Arabic. But the way she played that one line in a variation of notes, of different moods was amazing. … I am side tracking again!

Why I had to watch figure skating today? my lovely little granddaughter has a class assignment to watch, design, and make a dress just like worn by these figure skating females. And guess who is supposed to “HELP” ? So loaded with paper, pencil, camera and serious professional expressions on our faces we watched the event.

We took pictures, discussed dresses worn by these skaters, suitable fabric glitter and sequins. Also, appreciated their moves their power and vigour and guessed how many points some wonderful performance had reserved for the performer.

We haven’t decided if we had decided on anything, but when ever we decide, design, and cut and sew it, would love to share it with you,my friends.


romance …


My mother used to read A.R Khatoon and Fatima Surriya’s novels. Novels dealing in love, romance, home politics, mischief makers, misunderstandings. Then problems solved, wrinkles ironed out , shaadi, biyah and  happy ever afters.  She absolutely loved them all.

There were two times in twenty four hours when she was sure to be found on her huge four poster, reclining against two big bolsters, a plush throw in winter, a light, cotton chaador in summer covering her. A book in hand she be deeply engrossed. There was never a “do not disturb” sign outside her door but every one knew that if she was reading a book,  then that was certainly not a good time to disturb her. Her hero and heroin might be entangled in some family web and suffering. Or some khudaaii foujdaar throwing his weight around making life miserable for these two love puppies.

A happy ending always brought a lovely smile on her face. Satisfied she would take a deep breath, like sending good vibes to all the dimensions of her inner world.  Next day a new book would be sitting on her bedside table.

Romance was still alive and kicking when we grew up. Shaadi biyah mein we were allowed to have make up.  bn-na  sanwarna  acha  lgta  tha. Cousins ka tarrna and shrarti seetiyan bjana was endearing.  Their looking for any silly excuse to come and talk was also a feel good feeling.  This was our romance.   Innocent and silly !

We grew up, got married, raised families. Made new friends, many acquaintances. New places, new people. In my case, this ‘ new places, new people ‘ scenario was repeated many times. I always take it as a learning process – a gift from life itself.

In one of the places my next door neighbors were an older, Indian couple. Their daughter-in-law was a very quiet, reserved type young girl. Hardly ever made any friends. I was the exception. In fact she once confessed softly that she loved talking to me.

Once, she talked about a girl she knew in college who , when her time for marriage came, told her parents that she had some condition for her future husband. Like :

‘ he should not be the oldest or the youngest son. What ever I cook, he would eat without any objection, he would not force me to wear usski psnd ka color or clothes. If I wanted to see a movie and he did not. I will not force him to come with me. I will go alone or with a friend. He will not object to that. He should be either a doctor or an engineer and he would  never leave India for any other country, no matter however much big a salary he would draw.’

There was no mention of love or romance or some measly flirtation in this list. We both agreed that that was just plain madness.

Years passed. We entered a new phase.

Now things seem to have moved in another direction. Recently I came across a young girl in a party. She was on our table and was friends with one of the people on this table, who I knew. During this small talk hour, I got another enlightening revelation. The girl was talking to her friend but speaking loud enough for all of us around the table to hear.

“ … oh who has time for romance? Friends get together in a restaurant or a movie theater and have fun. Enjoy the company. Now who wants to be tied down so early in life? Who likes commitments and duties and blah, blah, blah. No madam, no sirree – not me. Definitely not me. She laughed then with a serious face – continued,

Roses, and love letters or mushy poems? No, no, no. Actually if anyone did that to me, I would report him to the authorities that some psycho is stalking me.

No love? no shaadi? I asked. But  please don’t think I am a match maker. I quickly added.

“No I will get married when I am ready to settle down.”

“Ready to settle down, how about love, romance?”

“Who said that for getting married you have to have a love affair first? Actually that is the worst time to get married because  both the parties are going through a sickness – hormonal sickness. Their brains are mushy, their thinking is all wrong.

Marriage is a serious matter and a life partner should be decided with caution and care. A well placed, person, a well planned family.  No one in his / her right mind would want to see their children deprived of anything. Heck no one would want the children to be the outcome of your personal, sexual gratification. Period.

There you go!!  Mama are you listening?  Romance just flew out the window!!






september …

I love the month of September. There are birthdays, anniversaries, important landmarks and the start of fall season! What more one would ask for fun and happiness?

This ninth sign of the Astrological year is Virgo and when I think of a Virgo, I always think of Sapphire – a gem that is said to represent the purity of the soul – that happens to be lucky for those born in September

I start this month celebrating my younger son’s birthday…. I sometime wonder what did I do that was extra good to be rewarded with him. He has a gentle soul with much charm. If you bring ” quiet dignity, appetite for learning, being stylishly unassuming and concern for health and fitness in one person, you would be looking at him.

There are more birthdays – that is – two nephews, a daughter-in-law, a dear friend’s daughter and then three wedding anniversaries – including mine phew !! quite a busy month to make one bankrupt!

Be happy and healthy and enjoy your day!
I love you all !

September, 1, 2013

hope follows …

 Angry times are here.  Yes, these are angry times.  and I do not see them leaving any time soon.  Judgmental rulings are passed freely. If I say that every one thinks that what he/she is saying is the only truth, then I too would be joining the ranks of those so called self righteous   ‘personalities’. No sir. I am pretty sure I would be the last person standing who would do that. I read such writings and break into hives.  I mean why judge others instead of saving your breath for a better cause. Sitting down and issuing “fatwas” is easy but getting off your rump and going out, doing something nice and constructive and not for showing off purposes is what leaves a lasting impression and infuses goodwill and a desire to do the same. Criticizing others has never been constructive.  It breeds resentment that later is let out on some other easy target and so this vicious circle or chain comes into being – becomes endless! 

Do we love to hurt others?  Well that’s not good if we do. It should be love, love and love.  Spread the message of love and hope will follow. I know in present day scenario, it sounds childish. But why not. We all love children … ours as well as others. Don’t we? why do we have to prove that we are this and that know all people.

A friend’s mother-in-law once said something that has stayed with me ever since.  She said, ” people are like children.  If you respect a child – no matter how small he was –  you will be doing a favor to yourself – yes; to yourself. Because tomorrow he is going to grow up and be strong and mighty. It will be his time … a payback time in the nicer sense of the words. He will love you, if you loved him.  He will respect you if you treated  him with respect; and he will always come to you for your ‘words’  if you had paid attention to what he wanted to say or tell you.

whenever I see a large body of people, listening to the speaker, I think  I am looking at a group of children, only they are a little bigger but their needs are the same. They need respect, they need love and if they have that and not just empty words, hope is sure to follow. These are three factors that bind us to each other.

I am sure all this sounds childish to you – well, maybe.  But I know one thing for sure that this is what I have practiced all my life.

a story emerges-2 …

” I am severed from a world where words were never spoken, fingers never touched and eyes never locked. It thrived on sensibilities and mutual awe.

I tried to be brave and stay calm. I tried to go with the benefit of the doubt argument. But I also was aware that deep down, in my heart, I was sad. I was aware that my soul had suddenly grown a hump on its back – it was unable to walk straight because the hump of grief was weighing it down.

How do you feel when you suddenly find yourself alone on a deserted road – all by yourself? I ask. No one to share your pain with.
What Kind of a person would do that to you? I ask.

I dare not give the answer! “