belief, hope, memories

saying too much

I walk the road with strangers

And unravel their traits with all my wise

Yet they trick me almost always

Probably because I say too much

 

I sit with a cup of tea and intimacy

I share my secrets and let them confide

Little did I know the truth always slipped from in between my toes

Probably because I was busy saying too much

 

I smiled through everything that seemed a bit odd

Patience and compromise had to be the key

Naked eyes refused to see that the hearts were already preoccupied

Probably because the lips have been saying too much

 

Distances meant nothing when I had to caress a relationship

And conflicting views had no effect on me

But who after all dwells in such selfless love these days

And probably I have just been saying too much

 

I sit in wonder riddled by my interpretations

When will all the actors come bare foot?

I wait for them now to share their jokes and secrets

For probably I have been saying too much

 

I empty my heart in a crimson abyss

Although I know they are all privy to cynicism

Standing on the brink of sanity I ask my soul to hush

Perhaps I realize that I have been saying too much..

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belief, childhood, happiness, memories

What father’s do best

Image

He’d tip toe into my bedroom every Thursday morning and slowly pull down the comforter from my face, brush his hands through my hair and whisper ‘wake up princess’. Then he’d tickle me for a bit until I’d be sitting up on the bed staring at him with my big curious eyes wondering what he had planned for this weekend – we’d either go out for a long drive by the sea and have ice cream or I’d tag along with him to his office and feel smart because I knew how to use Microsoft Paint. As a kid, I absolutely loved my Thursday mornings.

We live in a cruel world where who and what changes when is absolutely unpredictable. As much as parenthood took me by surprise when I began to realize what parents were all about – the idea of being a father daunts upon me even more. I sometimes, quite often actually, don’t understand this selfless way of living life. I know for sure that I’d be an epic fail at fatherhood.

Fathers teach us well. They tell us how to use a dictionary. They help us write our essays and teach us how to tell the time. They are always standing right behind us while we try riding our bicycles & every time we ride a few steps forward we turn back to make sure that they are there – and they are always standing there telling us how great we’re doing. They give us the push while we’re on the swing and we feel like we’re almost going to kiss the sky fearlessly because our dad is right behind us to catch us if we fall. He’s that silent voice in the back of our minds telling us constantly ‘I know you can do this!’.

They taught us to sneak candies from the jar when our mums were busy washing the dishes. They took our pictures when we were caught hiding under the table hurrying up finishing off our junk food right before dinner. They would get us the latest Disney movie and watch it with us until we fell asleep in their arms. They pushed our hair out of our faces while we’re busy setting up our doll house or coloring our minds out. They would walk past us and rustle our hair when we’d be done with the task of our day. They would stand in front of the stove on Friday mornings and cook like they’re our heroes while we would sit on the kitchen table, swinging our legs back and forth  admiring how cool our daddies are! Right from giving us a ride on their shoulders to cheering for us on our graduation day – they’ve always been there like our backbone. And most importantly, they never say ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I’m worried’ or ‘I’m nervous’ – and we never think they are.  =)

But one day, we grow up and we become all smart and we have a fancy degree and a flashy job title – ‘We know the world  better than you dad’. It just makes me smile. Because fathers..? They were always our role model – always our heroes. We grew up feeling safe and warm because we believed that they knew it all. Nothing could touch us because our dad was on the watch all night while we slept under the glowing sticker stars that he put on our bedroom ceilings. Yet sometimes today, when we ‘know-it-all’ and we know that something is bothering them, they just pat our backs and tell us to ignore the damp corners of their eyes – ‘It’s nothing, don’t worry your little head, everything’s just fine princess!’. It makes me smile over and over again. They always told us that their 5 hours sleep was all that they needed and it was absolutely fine to drive a hundred kilometers back and forth to pick us from one place and drop us to the other and then pick us up again. It makes me smile today thinking that back then I had no idea how much a kilometer was and it all looked so easy to do..

And so it makes me think that all of that since forever and what’s their reason??

My dad drops me at work almost every morning and as I jump out of the car and say ‘bye abbu!‘, he reminds me every day not to forget to text him when I reach my desk and I’m all settled in to start the day. Every day when I text him ‘I’ve reached. You have a good day and take care and please smoke less today!’, he replies ‘You take care too and have a great smiley day’.

That’s all that he asks for. That’s all that they all ask for – stuff like ‘take care’, ‘text me and let me know if you’re okay’, ‘call me when you reach home safely’, ‘have a smiley day’ –  Thinking of what they want in return does make me smile.

Love you loads Abbu..

I may be fairly good at vomiting the random ramblings of my mind in words, I may have a degree and I may be good enough to go get another one, I may think I know today’s world better than you but I could never be as good as you are and have always been if I were to be a father. You are and will always be my hero Abbu! Love you loads! =)
Happy Birthday!

belief, dreams, happiness, hope, memories

3 months down, a lifetime to go..

Whatever the days are made up of, I can’t deny that some of them are pretty hard to pass. Some days I uncontrollably slide down a downward spiral of memories that I wish to erase now; some days I just fall flat on my face unable to pull myself up together and the rest of them? They’re not too bad I guess.

It’s been 3 months since then and although things are much more stable now, I still tend to zone out of the human time frame occasionally. Occasionally – definitely sounds reassuring; good that the frequency has come down to ‘occasionally’.

During those days I had gotten into a habit – one that I found great difficulty fighting later –the habit of killing time. I’d wake up every morning with the same agenda & prayer for the day – I hope it passes quickly. It was pathetic. It still feels pathetic to have lived months like that. I had no direction. I was just waking up every day with a red marker in my hand waiting for the 24 hours to tick by so that I could decorate my calendar with another cross – That.Was.It. – My life, my days, my hours and everything in between, were only being lived so that they could pass. There was no aim for the present, no time to cherish anything about the past and no dream for the future because I was too busy counting the seconds as I swung back and forth with the red marker in my hand.

When it all ended – I woke up with a void. It was as if I had nothing left to do. I didn’t need to pray for the day to ‘just pass’ anymore – it didn’t really matter now. So initially I used to just walk around with a blank mind. I had no clue about what I should or I could do. My path had changed but I still had no direction. None at all. Pretty pathetic, yet again.

But time waits for none and it didn’t wait for me to figure anything out either. It’s been 3 months now and I actually feel better. Great family, a handful of amazing friends, decent job to keep me busy all day and a Masters degree that I am looking forward to – can’t thank God enough. Last week I was talking to my best friend and she asked me what plans I had for the next day. It took me less than a minute to blurt out my to-do list to her and once I was done, I realized.. that felt great! Although things have gotten better now, I still keep giving myself daily lessons about what really matters and what’s the truth in today. These are the few things that cross my mind almost everyday:

1.      There has to be a purpose in every minuteIrrespective of how many times I’ve already said this; it’s absolutely pathetic to wake up each day just wanting it to be over! We are all breathing as humans for a purpose – it’s better to move towards finding it. I tell myself everyday that I must have a reason to wake up in the morning – a reason that tells me why I am created the way I am and the reason better be convincing!

2.     Work ≠ life. If you’re waking up every morning because you have to work and if you’re working 5 days a week because that’s what gets you your paycheck – something is majorly wrong! I was thinking about this the other day that I am kind of growing old now and all my life has been about moving a step up – achieving whatever’s next and its sad that up till a few weeks back, I felt like my life had lowered down to the point where it was all about getting a paycheck at the end of every month – period. Thinking about it makes my stomach tie up in knots – what if there was no need to spend money anywhere tomorrow? What if I woke up in this completely new system one day where every necessity came for free? I wouldn’t care less about my paychecks then right?

3.       Seldom does it turn out the way you expected it to be. Just the thought of how MANY examples I can mention in this section makes me smile. You can plan all you want and know even more but it’s reality’s next unfolding that dispels all you thought you knew in a second. I once read somewhere that if you want God to smile, make a plan. I can’t stop nodding my head to that statement.

4.       As an extension to the last point – stop expecting rainbows! As difficult as it may seem but the fact of the matter is that learning only begins when all your genius is trashed away by nature. When fate kicks in, that’s where we get our reality check. What we believe to be the ultimate truth today might totally shift its axis depending upon what tomorrow brings with it. It’s scary. And scarier is the fact that not only our beliefs may change course but along with that the intensity and proximity that we attach to those beliefs shift as well. It’s so important to know what you’re expecting tomorrow to be like and yes, it’s a good thing being optimistic but being realistic is so much more important.

5.       There are a few core facts; and the most important one is – you are worth it all. Regardless of whether we accept it or not, everyone has this benchmark in their minds after which they believe they shall be branded to be taken seriously. For me, I thought that would happen when I finished law school. My degree was some sort of a reassuring license to the idea of actual existence. But when I began working and all that didn’t happen because I still had a long way to go and I still wasn’t tall enough to jump my imaginary line – I decided to go out and make it happen myself. I had to make sure that I was taken seriously and not treated as someone who you could cut off in between the line. Some days I get there, some days I don’t but every day I wake up with the decision that if it has to happen I have to make it happen.

For as long as things were easy and smooth I obviously had no clue how bad they could get. It’s been hard. The past few months have been downright difficult for most of the time. And I write it out because it’s hard to explain the feeling verbally. I’ve held this inside because I thought my strength lies in pretending to be fine whenever anyone asks how I was handling life as opposed to actually handling life. Change scares me. I find changes difficult to accommodate to. Always. And sometimes blurting it all out makes me feel good.

The one thing that continues to intimidate me is that there is so much of so much to let go, to forgive and to learn. I always say that this life is temporary but who knows how many years you have left. However, I guess what’s important in the middle of this chaos is to hold your ground to the few core facts – facts like, everyone deserves to be happy… at least happy. I will always be in the position to define what’s ‘fine’ in my life even if it doesn’t work for anyone else and its experiences that make us capable of controlling our lives a little more. Some experiences are not just a result of a good or a bad choice that you made; they become intrinsic to who you are – they become part of your core. So much so that whatever else around that shifts its axis or evolves, it doesn’t affect your core, it only causes amendments to how you would have responded and how you choose to respond today. I guess it wouldn’t be so complex if every feeling, every dream and every hope were tied together to a common ground of self-love, pride, faith and the power that vests in each one of us. Maybe then the world wouldn’t be such a scary place to live in afterall.

dreams, happiness, hope, memories

Break through

You saw a bird and you liked it. You gave her a cage made of gold. A cage it was after all.

For a while she loved her new apparently luxurious home but then her loneliness began haunting her. You used to shake the cage up vigorously and swing it around in huge circles. You didn’t let the bird hold on to a corner; you didn’t let her get some sleep. At first she thought you loved her and maybe this was one of your ways of expressing your love. So initially she smiled and believed that you were playing around but then she began to worry a little because you never seemed to stop and eventually the pain became unbearable. Annoyed of all the disturbances and anguish that you bestowed, the bird began to put up her fight. She fought to shut you up for a while. She fought to make you realize. She fought to get some mercy. She screamed at and wrestled with the iron bars of your golden cage; she screamed and wrestled in despair. None of those bars ever moved an inch. They all just teased the bird who was locked in their painful embrace.

Pleading for mercy was her next resort. She cried and begged to get some peace or be set free but nothing, nothing melted those iron bars. Nothing melted your heart either. You seemed pretentious but you showed no sympathy.

Then one day the cage stopped shaking. The noise and the screams and swirling around in circles – everything just stopped. All the chaos had suddenly vanished. And just when the bird slightly peeked out of its wings, the iron bars began to slide sideways. Quickly she hid behind her wings again, scared of what might be coming towards her. One minute passed -two and then three. Nothing came. Nothing hurt her. The serenity was creepy but it prevailed.

As careful as she could be, the bird dared to peek once more. Her vision of the world was for once, not hindered by the iron bars. She saw right through the open door of her cage and the world was so endless, so clear that she almost wanted to jump forward and take a bite of it. After all, this was so close to the sense of freedom that she had been longing for.

But doubts and fear incapacitated her sense of being. She couldn’t help but ask herself over and over again ‘Could this be another trap? Will I be fooled again that this pain is an expression of love?’. Despite the world calling for her to step out and fly away, the bird quietly crawled backwards and refused to escape. She had the opportunity all along but she had deceived herself way too much to risk any further damage. What fate had to bring to her, she couldn’t deny so she sat back quietly and became fate’s most loyal spectator. She cautiously observed her surrounding and then her eyes would come back to the open door of the cage. She looked around at the iron bars waiting for them to snap back at her with one of their ugly tricks. But nothing happened. She looked again and again but they seemed to have fallen asleep. It was as if someone had pulled the plug out and everything had come to rest.

She still didn’t believe this calmness. She tried to listen to every molecule that swung around her head. She waited patiently – one breath at a time – always ready for the next attack – always letting fear prevail; the fear of not knowing why you are getting hurt.

Days passed by but the iron bars didn’t close back. The cage still did not shake. Nothing hurt her. There was complete silence all around. Her eyelids began to close – perhaps they were too tired of staying awake; of staying alert. She took a restless nap but even that felt really good. Tranquility coupled with consistency – just the thought of it seemed absolutely magical!

So have I been finally heard? Are the iron bars telling me that I may leave? I don’t want to believe in what is being shown to me so just tell me will you, am I free??

One step at a time and every step was marred with intervals of the fear of being drastically hurt again. Just stop me now if this is a trick. Please God just stop me now. Her heart was beating in her throat and finally after days of observation, she crawled towards the open door. Tears rolled down her face once again… but this time not out of the misery – this time it was out of a bittersweet pain.

How I had loved this golden cage of yours. I loved it with all my heart. How I would have sung in it happily for all my life. How I would have embraced you as my master. But today, in her state of half-consciousness she has one question for God, for all the people who witnessed her agony, for the friends that she had left outside and for him – she only asks ‘why?’.

She finally stood on the edge of the cage and looked outside from its open door. She stared at the world for hours and she still can’t believe her eyes. Is it really over? She breathes once and once again and once again and then she sighs. She wouldn’t look back into the cage and she’s too weak to fly off tonight. So she just stands there waiting for the incessant deception to end. She waits there until she truly believes. She waits to be able to fly again. Because when she does, just wait and see – she’ll take off faster than any shooting star and disappear in the deep thick clouds for a long, long time. You’ll never be able to trace her again and she’ll never look down to see .. your cage of gold that she thought was her home to be.

leaving everything behind…
childhood, culture, happiness, memories

Green Forever!!

I ripped a square patch from the bunch of coupons that was with my ticket and I got myself a cup of coffee to soothe my aching throat. My friends and I had been jumping out of our seats, screaming as loudly as we possibly could with both our hands stretched above, throughout the first innings of the World Cup 2011 semi final match played between India and Pakistan. As much as our throats were sore from screaming, our palms were red because of all the super powered high fives that were part of the celebrations. But the silence that took over the crazy euphoria amongst a nation of cricket lovers in the second innings was eerie.

For most of my life I’ve lived outside of my home country and as much as I remember, I didn’t enjoy spending my summer vacations in Pakistan. As a child, to live in Pakistan meant to be surrounded by mosquitos, to embrace the idea of load shedding with open arms and to not open the door of a room when the ‘AC’ was on otherwise ‘cooling nahi hoti’. Survival in this part of the world seemed impossible after you’re used to bouncing in between luxuries.

I can still recall my last day in Jeddah. That day is etched in my memory and is crystal clear even though it’s been around 5 years now. I was too busy making sure everything was in place – I couldn’t take any chances because I was travelling with my uncle and paternal grandparents; both of whom were partially immobile and severely ill. I hugged my dad and sister goodbye at the airport and marched towards the boarding lounge holding four tickets carefully tucked into each of the passports. That was it. I had no time to process the fact that I was leaving the place where I had lived all my life only to go to a place that I never really liked. All that I knew was that staying optimistic wasn’t going to be easy.

Five years flew. Literally flew. Today, I don’t remember how it felt to be 18. Today, I don’t remember what exam stress was all about. Today, I don’t have childish wishes to go back to where I came from. Today, I only wait to explore what else the future has to unfold.

Apart from the electricity woes and zebra like mosquitoes that gave me dengue, this country has given me a new spectrum to look through. Had it not been for this place, I might have never driven a car. Had it not been for this place, I might have never become half the doctor that I feel I am. Had it not been for this place, I might have spent the rest of my life wearing jeans n t-shirts; refusing to look anything like a girl. Had it not been for this place I might have never found the strength to hold myself together when everything around me would be doing its best to shatter me into a million pieces. Had it not been for this place I might have never found a way to tame my temper. Had it not been for this place, I might have not lost a friend I thought I’d have forever. Had it not been for this place, I might have never ran into some people I will hold onto forever. Had it not been for this place I might have never learnt not to take every single relationship too seriously. Had it not been for this place, I might have never realized how patriotic I can get sometimes. Had it not been for living in Pakistan for the past 5 years, I might have not evolved as much as a person that I have.

I am not at all a sports lover but I have always enjoyed watching cricket. Cricket, especially when one of the teamsplaying is Pakistan. Cricket, more especially, when the other team is India! But then again, not until last Wednesday, I realized that I am not a huge cricket buff but that I am, without a doubt, a huge Pakistani supporter. A part of me laughed at myself for holding onto that hair thin string of hope until the third last ball of the match, waiting to witness a miracle and cheering for Pakistan’s victory. Such patriotism might seem ridiculous but I’ll tell you what, it was there. It was there in each and every person who watched the match with me that day. Uncles, aunties, boys, girls and even the children who gave us a migraine by having their own ‘whistle competition’ would jump up screaming whenever Pakistan would take a wicket or strike a boundary. I don’t know why this match was so much more than just a match; maybe because our country has been tagged with enough negativity in the past few years that we needed this win to prove ourselves or maybe because the game was against India? Either way, every Pakistani, living in Pakistan or abroad, would have taken that breathe of relief if Pakistan won that day. The win would have been our silent scream to the world that we are resilient, we can be winners and that corruption and terrorism do not define us. But some people fate had other plans perhaps.

I was too shocked to acknowledge how patriotic I felt that day. Two strokes of green and white on my cheek had managed to engrave the ‘go green’ spirit in my heart. With every breath, I prayed for our team to win, for our nation to hold its head high amidst all the accusing fingers. But I was in greater shock when I didn’t feel too upset at our loss. I was certainly disappointed; for all that matters I still don’t understand what was wrong with Umar Gul’s arm that day and whose wedding reception was Misbah taking a walk in?! I felt angry for the first 15-20 minutes of our announced loss after which I was as happy as I could possibly be after an extremely eventful day. Here’s why..

During the first few overs of the game, my friends and I took turns to get our face painted in different patterns of green and white. It just brought us into the whole ‘crazy cricket fans’ character 😛 All of us, guys and girls, got the paintings done and posed around like the rest of the crowd. All but one; this friend of ours refused to get his face painted. Nevertheless, he was very enthusiastic about the game and he screamed and danced like everyone else in the hall but he just wouldn’t get the flag up on his face. We watched the second innings rather quietly, with occasional jumps and high fives whenever a player would hit a boundary but when Pakistan lost its 6th wicket and when the last 10 overs or so were left in the game, each person in the hall knew what was going to happen. I rocked back and forth in my seat with both my hands clipped together, hoping to witness a miracle when our friend nudged me and another friend and said ‘hey lets go out for a walk’. We told him to shut up because he had been taking his so called ‘walks’ (cigarette breaks) much too often as the game became critical. After insisting that we accompanied him, which we didn’t, he left the hall alone. Five minutes later when he came back to his seat we asked him ‘karliya sutta?!’. He smiled at us and turned his face so that we could see his cheek and there it was – the green and white flag twinkling with the help of all the hope in his eyes! We exchanged high fives and got back to watching the game but something was stuck in the back of my mind. There was an unknown excitement, an unexplainable zest running up and down my spine. Despite of having to watch our team lose, my heart was full of an alien ‘happy patriotism!’. The green flag – on T-shirts, on faces, on hands, on his face .. it was celebration in itself.

This freak got his face painted when the whole world knew Pakistan would lose the game! The thought of what might have been going on in his mind makes me smile. His face beaming with all the hope and all his expectations pinned onto 11 players makes me smile. We always have hopes and fears for our cricket team. Even though we topped our group before the Semi finals, everyone knew that Pakistan was an underdog team. And given the unpredictable nature of our players and the game of cricket itself, no one can say what would happen.

Yes we lost. Yes a lot of things went wrong in that game. Yes we all know what some people fate did. Talk shows and newspapers were full of derogatory statements about the players of both the teams and the speculations seemed to be never ending. But facts remain facts. And the fact is that we lost a game. The fact is that some people got a good deal by crushing the hope of 180 million Pakistanis. The fact is that we reached the semi-finals by exceeding everyone’s, even our own, expectations. The fact is that our captain did not give a single immature statement against India or the Indian team. The fact is that our players kept their calm and did not see this game as ‘war’ with India. I once read somewhere that pictures speak louder than words.. and to watch moments when Afridi, the Pakistani team’s captain – my captain, patted Sachin’s back and when Wahab Riaz fell to the ground in prostration… now those are some hardcore facts! I couldn’t stop smiling and gazing at the crowd before my eyes when stuff like that was happening on the big screen – elderly men and women would be flying kisses towards our players, guys and girls would be dancing in celebration and the children.. well they just blew their stupid whistles harder *eyebrow raised* 😛 But jokes apart, the feeling was unexplainable;  it was magnanimity at its best. We lost a game but the nation came together as one. Hopes were shattered but dreams continued to run wild. I felt my patriotism for my country touch unbelievable proportions. I feel so proud to own the green flag! We Pakistanis are way too stubborn to settle down as losers because of one cricket match. We will not be bogged down by this. We will play again and on one of the days, the game will be ours!

30 day Letter Challenge, memories

Beyond the boundary of memories 2

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
~T.S. Eliot

Dedicated to all those people who have to watch a loved one live the Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)..
Love you Dadi

Here you are, my sweet grandchild..
Wrapped in your blanket, like a freshly bloomed rose..
My smile is endless as I celebrate you..
Your tiny bubbly feet and a perfect pink nose..

Is it too soon for me to say all this?
To dream of how you’ll grow up to be,
To pray for your life being full of bliss
It probably is too early you see..

But even if I don’t say it all.. I’ll just admire you today..
Let me build my dreams and hopes about you..
Let me build your future starting this day..

I adore you more than words can say..
The way you move and all your smiles..
Let me capture everything before I’m gone..
I want to be with you for a little more while..

As I stifle with a million fears ..
Worrying to protect you and to always be there..
You see I just want to be sure that life is kind
For I won’t be there forever; one day at rest would be my soul and mind..

But no matter where I am
Whatever the time or place may be
One thing that I’ll always keep..
are all your precious memories..

Yes my dear, of that I’m sure
I am as confident as I can be..
I only pray that the AD doesn’t find me..
for if it does.. it’ll take away my most treasured keep

What would I do if it steals my mind from me..?
Would I remember you.. would I even know me?

I don’t want to part from you..
not now and not ever..
I can’t think of losing your innocent giggles..
but if I’m ever made to surrender ..

Promise me you won’t stop..
Promise me that you’ll carry on
Promise me you’ll become the brightest star I see..
because that’s what I dreamt of you, in dreams that once belonged to me..

Promise me you’ll get by
Promise me you’ll stay..
Promise me you won’t be weak..
Not before anything that comes your way..

My sweetheart, I didn’t mean to make you cry,
Here take my hand and listen to me..
I’ll always be with you..nothing can part us..
I’m right there, in your heart you see..

My time has finally come.. but as I drift away..
Promise me that you will always remember all the I had to say..

Be thankful for your life and for the gift of memory..because this is true,
For I can’t tell you how painful it is to not remember who are you..

Promise me that when you look up at the sky you’ll always find it blue..
Promise me that even if the AD creeps into your mind,
You’ll never forget how much I loved you..

Mehar