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=) # 2

Here’s a song that fixes any bad day… It always works for me & I’m glad I heard it this morning while coming to work.. guess who’s back to being ‘all smiles’ 😉 =)

What’s worth the price is always worth the fight,
Every second counts cuz there’s no second try..
So live like you’re never living twice..
Don’t take the free ride in your own life…
If today was your last day, tomorrow was too late..
could you say goodbye to yesterday?

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Here goes another one..

What a brilliant reparation for someone who gave up his life – Rs. 500,000. 🙂 No wonder it’s no big deal setting yourself on fire and

fair death compensation

not even bothering to gulp down a few sleeping pills so that you snore through the unthinkable pain. I don’t understand how compensation could even exist for someone who has the courage to do something so audacious. This wasn’t some freaking circus stunt that went wrong for which you paid! It’s was a ‘real’ man’s ‘real’ life – gone. Burnt. How can its worth be tagged a mere 500,000? How do you make this look nicer? Are taxes exempted too? Bingo!

We take note of brothers being brutally murdered to death to the extent that half the world has joined a group on facebook that has been dedicated to this sad incident. Undoubtedly this is an excellent effort; people should in all seriousness condemn such inhumane acts of violence and nevertheless these groups/blogs, if not justice itself, atleast bring about some awareness in our society.

But patting away Muhammad Akram’s story with a mere Rs. 500,000? Is that it? I’ve barely heard of or read anything which debates upon what’s going on in this society with reference to Akram’s story? People are not hesitating to demonstrate such brutality be it on others or themselves. Is this barbarianism becoming an acceptable norm? Are we all so tired of hearing stories about ‘man poisoning himself and family’ and ‘mother committing suicide after slaughtering her kids’ that news of the same genus doesn’t bother us one bit? Do we need not think over what this man actually did? He was not even a resident of Multan; he actually went there not to enjoy a little holiday with his wife and five kids but to set himself on fire!

A similar message was delivered by Norman Morrison in America when he burnt himself alive in 1965 before the Pentagon. Apart from the venue he chose, what drove more attention to his act was his attempt to burn his infant daughter with him. Luckily she was saved from having to suffer such insanity. There have been countless people, such as Morrison and Akram, who dare to take desperate attempts to somehow symbolize the tragedy and distress which prevails around them and much to our aversion, they succeed. What happens to be a greater misfortune is how the symbolism is either misinterpreted or deliberately hushed away.

I, myself, am an optimist and I do not stand by notions of ‘giving up’, but people like Muhammad Akram force me to think over and over again as to how someone can grow this weak and helpless yet have such courage. It is easy to put forward condolences, it is easy to resent and it is easier to hush off such tragic happenings by calling the incident ‘an unnecessary or cowardly’ act or by closing the chapter with the help of monetary compensations. Out of all things, setting yourself on fire is in no way a cowardly act and if someone can easily go to bed at night thinking that they’ve done the best they could by offering reimbursement using a few creased up notes, well then I hope you sleep tight!

God knows what might have been going through this man’s mind. He had a family to feed, five children, no job since more than 2 months, his surroundings flooded, no one who was willing to attend to his and his family’s needs, amazing caretakers who are there for everything/everyone except for those who are calling out to them and moreover, he had no hope. When that last bit activates, one seems to enter into a never ending darkness.

Having thwarted ambitions, intropunitive hostility and a strong sense of being alienated in his own country amongst his own people, I suppose such a selfish act was the best option Akram could think of. Try and picture this man when he must have had his first child. Picture that smile on a father’s face; that willingness he must have had to provide for his children and family in the best way possible. It must have taken months, possibly years of agitation over the escalating war taking place all around this country to result in his self immolation.

There is a good chance that Muhammad Akram was unaware of the generosity which was to be bestowed upon his family after his successful suicide; but he must have known that there was no way he could have provided for a good living for his family in these presiding days. With much indignation I am forced to say, his helpless and frustrated decision might prove to be a wise one for his family’s materialistically upgraded future.

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The deafening sound of silence..

“As a matter of fact, one can feel some respect for people when they suffer. They have a certain dignity. But have you ever looked at them when they’re enjoying themselves? That’s when you see the truth.”
– Dominique Francon, The Fountainhead

“B! Do you mind focusing on what we’re discussing in class or should I move you away from that window you keep

'the endless sky miss.... that's their limit' - B

staring out of?!” – “I’m sorry miss, it’s just that watching those birds is so mesmerizing… I will concentrate now onwards”. In the few lectures that she attended during the four months for which I taught, B hardly hardly ever stuck to her words.

That was my first conversation with B. From the first time that I saw her I somehow felt she was going to be a trouble child; the bully who not only bullies other kids but teachers too, the ‘I’m from a rich family & I’m a hopeless junkie’ sort.  Little did I know that B was more of a ‘troubled child’.

B was hardly ever there for any of the lectures, quizzes or assignments. In fact, she was hardly ever in school for anything, be it regular classes or a social event. So much so that, I thought this child was never going to make it through the term exams. Forget failing she had an even better surprise for me…. she never turned up for the term exams! Apart from my surprise as to why there was no action being taken against her by the school authorities (reason being the incoming cash I suppose) I was confident that she’d never make it through the final exams and even if she somehow passed, she’d need extraordinary grades to get a promotion – it was as if I was hoping to witness a miracle.

Working at this institute was my first ever teaching experience. Being new to the field, I was always too cautious about trying to give my best and prove my capabilities – not to the administration but to the children. Being a young teacher one is always more prone to attacks in terms of teaching style, know-how, experience, grading and even on a personal level. I was no exception. It was always a mission to strike the right balance between being a teacher and at the same time forming a comfort level with the students in order to have the right feedback.

Alot of my ‘much experienced’ colleagues often advised me to keep things simple. Their suggestion was to walk into class, deliver the lecture and walk out. Whether or not the kids followed what I was talking about in class, was not supposed to be part of my ‘job description’ which automatically rendered me as a complete freak if one particular child’s behavior was grabbing my attention.

I was furious the first time B attended my lecture. She kept zoning out, staring at her ‘mesmerizing birds’. She always had that ‘dumb-struck’ look on her face and she never participated in any discussions in class. I have to admit that a few times I deliberately picked on her to answer a difficult question and her ‘spot on’ answers would leave me speechless. When I returned to the staff room after the class that day, the only thing I repeatedly kept saying was ‘What the hell is wrong with that girl?!’. With much consensus all the teachers smiled and gave a skeptical nod. The nicest statement about B from one of her teachers was ‘Oh, she’s just like that’ – the rest went something like, ‘she’s a freak’, ‘she probably does drugs’ & my personal favorite, ‘oh her?! She’s the Project child around here’. Project child?! She was a freaking genius damn it! Oh and did I mention that B was a 14 year old? Yup, all that description and a 14 year old, go figure.

The word ‘Project child’ was in itself an enormous mind-boggler for someone like me who already has a problem of over thinking about things. But thanks to B who was frequently absent from class, my curiosity about this ‘project child’ eventually begun to subside.

In my attempt to understand B’s unusual traits, I visited a close friend a few days ago who happens to be an educationalist and I started telling her about my experience with B. We got talking about children with this certain type of behavior they happen to demonstrate through their capabilities. In fact another friend of mine, who has been closely working with special children told me that some of the most common indicators to look out for are that such kids are either excessively bad at academics or excessively good at it, they are usually quiet, they have lack of focus and they tend to look lost all the time. Kids who are in their adolescence find it difficult to express whatever it is that’s bothering them. Disabilities such as Dyslexia, Autism and the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are some of the most common problems found amongst suppressed children. But those who have a clean medical record yet a disturbed approach towards their daily lives are of greater concern.

My friend shared a few essays of two of her students (both boys aging somewhere between 14-18 years) and I’m quoting a few lines from their essays… have a look at it and think about what might be going through in their young minds..

‘I feel left out, outcasted. I know this is harsh and people might think I’m being insensitive but the day I lost my mother, I lost both my parents.’ – this boy’s mother died of some natural cause and only 10 days after this tragic incident, his father remarried.  He probably was too busy preparing for his marriage and didn’t have the time to sit and talk with his child.

‘I feel terrible. I know I’m being very wrong but I’m so confused. I don’t know who I should love as my father – the man who left me or the man who’s trying very hard to be there for my mother and I? I feel as if I’m hurting my stepfather as a response to all my anger for my real father. It’s so unfair but I can’t help it.’ – this boy’s parents had a divorce and his mother later married someone who was doing his best to make his place in the kid’s heart. This boy, in his brilliantly written essay, later went onto use the famous phrase ‘to be or not to be’ as a metaphor and offered an impressive comparison between his and Hamlet’s life.

To read something of such caliber is as much a source of pleasure as it is of despair. These kids are so fragile when they choose to express themselves anonymously, through indirect means. One cannot directly confront them and if you do, then you have to be very careful not to hurt their self-esteem in any way. Sadly, a few ‘experienced’ colleagues of my friend referred to children at school as ‘clients’. They are the source of business. Teachers aren’t getting paid to tell a child how important he/she is or sit and have a casual talk with him/her or to nurture them. They are supposed to come and teach, read an assignment and grade it – period.

Following the usual mundane the final exams approached. B was present for my subject’s exam. ‘God help her…’ – I couldn’t think of anything better than that when my eyes met hers. I still remember the calm, charming look on her face and the warm smile she had. I smiled back with a slight nod, a whisper of ‘Good luck B’ and moved on.

Later on, while sitting in my staff room, I got into a little conversation with the English Language teacher. I asked her how she graded compositions and how she set a benchmark for herself in order to mark all the essays. After explaining whatever bit she could, she handed over a graded paper to me so that I could have a look at how things were done. Coincidently the name on top of that exam paper was of B’s.

I read her essay and I was taken aback in awe. No wonder she had scored an A+! That essay was simply brilliant. In fact, brilliant isn’t a good enough adjective to define how well written that essay was. I looked back at the Language teacher to cross check certain facts; ‘Is this the same B?! The girl you guys call project child?’. She smiled and nodded and I was left in disbelief.

The kids had to write a story making use of a given phrase. Something like, ‘That’s when I realized it was too late to go back’. When I had read the question I was expecting some sort of a ‘I got lost in the jungle’ or ‘I was going to get eaten by a shark’ kind of story. But B’s essay completely took me by shock! She had written about what went inside a person’s mind. Someone who once had everything and suddenly was left deserted. She spoke of someone who was once happy and was now shamelessly questioning God’s existence. And it didn’t take me a moment to realize that that ‘someone’ was B herself.

That project child was once a normal, focused and happy child. Unfortunately, she came from a family where issues of divorce were mere incidents instead of being incidents that need to be properly dealt with, especially when kids are involved. This kid was fighting a storm that existed within her. She clearly had a communication gap with whichever of her parents she was living with. She had no help at home and she could not ask for any outside. This 14 year old wrote phrases that moved me for the entire day.

After finishing her essay and confirming that it was the same project child, I set out to find her. I was desperate to see her and talk to her and hug her and ask her what it was that troubled her so much. After much running around I saw her sitting in the basketball court with her friends. I called her over and suddenly I was out of words. That look on her face and that warm, warm smile again. How does she carry this mask?! I know your story B. I know about the storm in your head and even though that character in your essay was anonymous, I know it’s you.

‘Yes miss?’ – and the silence broke. ‘You called me? Did I not do well in your subject’s exam?’ She had scored the highest in my subject and I knew her grade in English Language too, but I just kept staring right back at her. ‘Why do you find birds mesmerizing B?’ I probably sounded like a complete retard because that’s how she looked back at me. ‘Sorry?’ she said. I repeated my question, this time with the addition of ‘I just want to know, just like that’.

Standing in the middle of that basketball court, she looked up at the sky with that smile again and said; ‘I like how these birds fly into the endless sky – the endless sky miss .. that’s their limit – I envy yet enjoy their freedom’.   Once again, her answer left me speechless. I had nothing to say to her. I just smiled at her and told her that she was one of my best students.

While walking back I whispered to myself; ‘Thank you B. Thank you for making me realize how much I am blessed with and how much I should be thankful for. And know this B, you are important and there’s someone out there somewhere who is watching over you – just hang in there and the storm will come to an end one day – it will have to surrender before your strength and beauty. God bless.’

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The ‘Actual’ Hello

‘There’s nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.’

I have always been bad at being able to express my thoughts. Not that I can’t compose them but I find it intricate to put them forward in the right form. I have tried to sketch, to debate and I’m still trying my luck with being able to speak my mind through my music – but seldom do I find my restlessness at ease.Having said that, there are times when I see the rush in mind neatly arranged before my eyes, in properly formed lines; through my words. I write. Informally, aggressively and at times with sentences that are incomplete – exactly the way that they were conceived as mere thoughts/ideas. Most of my random rambling of words transform to take the shape of either poetry or articles or what I like to call ‘general write ups?’.

My name is Nazan Mehar (yes, somewhat to my dismay, I’ve never heard that first name before either. But my grandfather wanted my life to begin with a uniqueness I suppose – I consider my name as his gift to me). I was born in Al-Kharj, a small town near Riyadh and lived in Saudi Arabia for about 19 years of my life. My family moved back to our home country, Pakistan, in 2005 and despite all my childish resentments I had to move with them. If I go back to the time when we moved here and the circumstances in which we moved, I realize how there was always too much to do and too little time. There were always too many errands and too few hands. There was always too much loss and too little hope. Life seemed to be a complete mess. Which is what, I believe, turned me into an optimist, a hopeful. Before I had moved to a country which has traffic issues, law violation, crimes, pollution, load shedding, mosquitoes and what not, coupled with the sarcastic fact of it being ‘home’, I don’t think I understood the real meaning of life. Things were way too idealistic and simple when the only thing that lay on my life’s agenda was to go to school. Like my best friend puts it, “Our biggest worry was our math homework!” – and after moving to Pakistan, I couldn’t agree less with what she had to say. My experiences so far have turned me into this person who seems to have borderline personality issues, who has a head where someone is always either screaming or is completely blank. Never before the past few years did I experience the emotions of rage, frustration and helplessness so strongly and yet today when I stand before the mirror, I see someone whose disposition has outgrown her age. I see someone who looks into life with more hope and greater expectations. Despite of closely witnessing how ugly things can get when they are at their worst, I have turned into an idealist. I consider myself lucky for being on this roller coaster ride because it made me emotionally stronger, it diversified my vision along with my approach and most of all it brought me closer to God.

Writing is more than a mere hobby to me. It is an outlet where I feel rewarded for doing nearly no hard work. It’s my escape where I feel warmly welcomed; thoroughly understood. I remember the first time I penned down to write a piece of poetry; I was 9 years old. The product had predominantly emerged out of sheer boredom in my history class at school but it cheered me up for the rest of the day atleast. Whatever that first poetry looked like, I had found a new asset to hold on to.

Ever since then I have been frequently writing. I regularly write for poetry competitions that are held on an international level and my poetry has been shortlisted for the finalists thrice. At the age of 15 I had my first article published in the Saudi Gazette – one of the leading newspapers in Saudi Arabia. During my second year at Law school, I volunteered to write an article on the “Infringement and Violations of Intellectual Property Rights” for Unilever Pakistan Limited, which later went onto getting published in the Anti Counterfeiting and Infringement Forum’s (ACIF) newsletter.

Apart from bringing thoughts to paper in a much sophisticated manner, I enjoy scribbling around every now and then on my scrapbook. I have been thinking of starting to write a blog since a few months and the only reason I didn’t start any sooner than this was because I do not plan to waste time. I was waiting to be too sure of what I would want to write about ‘if’ I decided to start a blog. I read other people’s blog everyday – there are a few that I read with religious fervor because of the brilliance with which they are presented whereas, on the other hand there are loads who simply come and go or some who write daily with futility making a reader like me grow apathetic towards them. There is no way I could promise to be a provider of appreciable reading material but I can state with surety that seldom will I have complete nonsense to offer.

After somehow surviving all the hype, anxiety and frustrations that law school threw in our faces I am currently retracing my steps back to a ‘normal’ life. It’s been about a year and half since I started my career as a corporate lawyer and it is nothing short of an adventure in itself! (that’s some raw material for another day’s blog hmm..). After stepping into practical life I realized how one can continue to walk on long after they think they’ve had enough, long after they believe that it’s time to surrender. I know for a fact and I believe that life only works in two ways – either you take charge of what you want or you have to accept whatever is headed towards you. Whoever said this said it right, ‘Nobody promised you that life was going to be easy, they only said it will be worth it at the end’ – and I’m living each day to make sure it’s worth it at the end!

Some of my much respected acquaintances think of me as ‘impractical’, some call me ‘bookish’ and there are few who probably think ‘oh it’s all easy said for her’. But everyone you or I happen to know has a story; every one of us has our own war to fight. I have my share of both good and bad and I know there’s still alot more to come. But one thing that has kept me going and that I will not let go off is my my belief that time shall eventually pass. Nothing stays the same forever. Trust me, this one belief does wonders. It’s like my magic wand 🙂

We have countless articles and notes on topics such as politics and self centered politicians, controversies regarding constructing/deconstructing religions monuments, the surge of Anti Islamic sentiments, racial wars, natural catastrophes, corrupted sportsmen etc you name it and it’s all out there! I may end up mentioning and debating about these topics too but I will try extracting some positivity out of this chaos that exists today in almost every aspect of our lives and how these could fit into a normal person’s life – someone like me perhaps. Someone who goes to work everyday, comes back home, watches movies, plays some music, reads some news, takes her siblings out for a drive, sing along with whatever song’s playing in the car, comes back home, prays, eats and goes to sleep. How are the tremendously worrying events taking place across the globe affecting me and my life in a positive way or even better, affecting my life at all? Is there a change I see in myself? Or the way I perceive facts? Or my approach towards the most common of all chores? Are these experiences helping me grow as a person? Do I now truly fear and realize that disasters and accusations see no caste, no class and that everything that we feel sorry for or strongly disapprove of could happen to us too? Do these thoughts just come and go or have I made them an integral part of who I wake up to be every morning? I ask myself such questions as frequently as possible – they help me to judge my acts. When I repent something that takes place, I make sure I mean it or I’d rather just overlook the incident in its entirety and move on. It’s a harsh statement to put into my very first post out here, but accept it or not, we have proudly welcomed hypocrisy to become an essential part of who we are today.

I tend to take note of small things because they mean the most to me. I enjoy spending time thinking about the little things that go around in our daily lives which most people subconsciously overlook – and those are the things I intend to write about. The small instances that continue to add color and flavor to my life.

I made a list, about 5 years ago, of all the things I want to do. Some of them I have already accomplished and there’s a whole lot more to do before I kick the bucket. Some of my major goals in life are: a) to paint something… anything…one day 😛 (painting and I don’t get along too well) b) to travel as much as I can and c) to inspire someone’s life with what I write.

“Faith is a funny thing; it tends to kick in when it’s the least of all that you are expecting.”