It is easy to love someone you know, or you have formed some form of attachment with. But it is difficult and worthy of applause when we develop ourselves to love humanity. This love can stem only when we detach ourselves from our own tiny world and focus on the bigger picture we are surrounded by. This is probably the driving force behind my company’s latest CSR campaign this Valentine’s day: ‘Celebrate love by donating’ ! My company rarely impresses me by their activities, but this one has truly attracted my heart and soul! It is a very unique and inspiring thought indeed.
U.A.E has declared this year of 2017 as the ‘Year of Giving’. Subconsciously, this thought always pricked me that I am not doing anything for the greater good. My life is so entangled with my own relationships, both personal and professional, that I never really paused to think how my existence could impact people positively. Time and again, I am nagged by my conscience that my life is really unproductive. We love some people in our lives so dearly, we give them our all yet at some point of time, they hurt us. They puncture a hole in our heart every time they do so. And they even walk out without warning. We mope around for a few days, months, or years and replace those people with a fresh set of people. But the cycle of heartbreak repeats. It is a part of life. I have decided that I do not want to replace people with people to attain happiness. I have tried that multiple times and somehow, always failed. I always wondered where I am going wrong. I expected, that is where I went wrong. Now I want to channel all my love, care and attention towards humanity. I want to nurture my soul by giving all I have to the desperate and needy creations of Allah, without expectation of any return from them. Maybe then I can justify my presence in the world. Maybe then I can sleep peacefully at night. Maybe then I can silence the tug of war in my heart between my duties and desires.
I pass by the play room in my home but a strong, peculiar smell pulls me back. I inspect the room and realize that the smell has travelled here from the apartment above that is undergoing maintenance. However, the chemical odour seemed oddly familiar, like some long forgotten friend. My brain processed the mystery quickly and I remembered that my grandma’s tiny house used to smell like that.
The smell pushed over a wave of nostalgia over me. This house was the place most of my childhood vacations were spent in. Although having a small capacity, those days when we used to go for vacation, all my maternal cousins used to join us in my Nani’s house. The fun we used to have playing hopscotch, the thrill of riding bicycles on unpaved dirt paths, the sheer joy of collecting marbles, I missed it all. Early morning, my Nani used to sit on a small stool in the kitchen, beside a gas stove, preparing breakfast for all, tending to each one’s demand. Some of us wanted ‘chai roti’, which is made by breaking down the normal ‘paratha’ into tiny pieces and soaking them in milk tea. But I always wanted Nani to make ‘shakkar ki roti’, a form of paratha with a filling of sugar. I have eaten the best pastries of the world yet I always desire to eat the ‘shakkar ki roti’ made by my Nani. During the monsoons, my uncle used to get hot and spicy savories like ‘mirch pakodas’ from the nearby road stalls. All of us used to munch on these, over lame jokes, rounds of Antakshari (a game where players sing songs from the last letter the previous player ended at) and ghost stories.
I usually move on from things and get bored easily. I am also quite forgetful and absent-minded but somehow my mind never fails to cling on to these memories. Someday, I want to re-create those days with the same people. But people change. I doubt if the attempt would provide the same outcome. Nevertheless, I would try once. To make it all the same again.
Everyday, from a population of 7 billion people, a major fraction wakes up into a fresh morning, some happily, some crankily, some hopelessly and some ambitiously. No matter how lazy and forlorn one feels when they first open their eyes in the morning, their dread and gloom lessen considerably when they step out from their homes and the sun’s rays shine down upon them. Following that, hearts becomes lighter, moods become brighter and thoughts become wiser.
I sometimes imagine how life would be without the sun and shudder at the thought. Just contemplating upon this creation of Allah makes me feel so grateful to Him. It also amazes me how a celestial body, around 145.6 million km away from our planet, has the potential to change one’s outlook towards life so substantially. This morning sunshine radiates positivism and propels one to outshine everyone in the dark struggles of this life. It inspires one to engulf others in affection and spread love, joy and happiness. It makes one believe that no matter how bad last night was, we still have today to make things alright. We still have a day to make the world SHINE, even after the sun sets. This sole belief gives life what it usually lacks- a direction. And when one has a purpose, life becomes tolerable to a great extent. Then, all you need to shine is love- give it, receive it, share it- just do it!
Most of what I see on the news these days, makes my insides recoil in shame, pity and anger. The mounting tensions all over the world, the pools of blood formed everyday in the name of God, the false hypocritical talks of a certain Drumpf (and similar prototypes budding in every country), the advancement of vulgarity labelled under ‘freedom to live as one wishes’, the consecutive invasion of once-revered morals, the violation of souls whose bodies are raped, the ever-growing gap between the poor and the rich, all of it hurts me and shatters my illusion that humanity will embrace peace someday. I disagree with what the world has become. I disagree that good times are soon to come. Yet, a tiny hopeful part of me disagrees with myself, and argues. That it is all for the good. That the human in all us of will outperform the devil. But I won’t be deceived again. I disagree until I witness that sheer moment of unparalleled brilliance.
When a person with a sedentary lifestyle decides to embrace an activity, pain is an unwelcome accompaniment . Waking up in the morning with a sore body is one thing, but when those pains remind you that you have to eat clean for the task to be fruitful, it is another blow to the mind of a foodie like me. Yet, I continue to tread along this new path I caught on to almost a month ago. Keeping aside the positive impact on my physical aspects, this has also been therapeutic to my mental well-being. You want to ask what triggers my endorphin secretion these days? The park.
So this park is my new-found happy zone. The place where I walk and walk and walk and think and think and think. As my body warms up, my ears are abuzz with colorful sounds, children playing gaily on the swings, women chattering away to their delight, ‘Turn up the music’ playing on my Galaxy and the much quieter chirping of the insects in hiding. As I cross the first 100 meter mark, I see the guy in the orange t-shirt, sitting on the same bench where he always sits. I pass by him and feel his eyes on me. I ignore and walk on. I wonder whether this guy does anything else in the park besides staring at every woman who passes by. I walk on and I see a cute African girl with hair in piglets, running towards me, her mother chasing her. I pause to avoid the clash, put my hand on her little head, smile at her and resume my walk, agreeing that beauty knows no race or color. This girl looked just as cute as the creamy Filipino kid on the bike and the brown dimpled girl cradled in the arms of her Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi mom. I realize my thoughts have slowed down my pace, and I gear up to cross the South Indian man who is talking a bit too loudly on his cellphone. It is a relief that I do not understand a bit of it, because his face has an unpleasant expression which means its no good. I turn my head to the left and see the ‘Yoga Group’. It seems to have grown in number courtesy to the kind couple who first initiated the free classes in the park. I ponder that how a small thought channels so many thoughts and unites people. I start walking faster because I see a slender figure in black shorts and a purple Nike jersey jog by. Motivation? Nah. More like envy, 😛 . I cross the 800 meter mark which is covered by dead leaves of the trees above. Its so humid that I begin to smell salty. When I reach the 900 meter mark, I inhale and exhale in joy, because I love how my nose is treated to a variety of fragrances here. Reminds me of Lily, Jasmine and some scent I had first encountered during my trip to Singapore. Lovely.
I finally complete one round. There are 3 more to go. But I know that I won’t be bored. There would be new faces to see, new perfumed bodies running beside me and new lovey-dovey couples who walk hand-in-hand on the jogging track in a most annoying fashion. When I am done with my last round and I sit finally, I notice a white cat with specks of brown on its fur. It looks a lot like my Simba. I tear up a bit. I try calling it to me. The cat meows softly in response and walks away. Sitting alone on this bench, blood pumping across my veins faster than ever, I realize how our ecosystem evolves constantly. Diversely. At times, for the worst, but mostly for the best.
Even 105 years were not enough to achieve women empowerment. That is what I think when I am greeted a ‘Happy Women’s Day’ by my colleague. I reply back with a warm ‘Thank You’, and I think all this internally. I don’t want to be a cynic around people but this is the space where I am brutally honest. Because I have to be. Isn’t that an essential part of women empowerment, freedom of speech?
Not that I don’t appreciate the thousands of women who have carved a niche in what they do. I admire each one of them for standing up for what they believe in. But figures, ratios and proportions still let me down. When will the ‘thousands’ convert to ‘millions’? Will it even happen before the world ends? I cannot tell at this point.
In our global society, where on one hand we have one Malala, we saddeningly have hundreds and thousands and millions of women who are deprived of what Malala stood up for. Not only deprived of education, but deprived of respect, equality and freedom in all aspects of life. And this is a phenomenon, in all classes of society- lower class, lower middle class, upper middle class, super class (if such a thing exists), royal class and any other shit classes that exist. I just talked about equality and am now mentioning all these so-called social classes, ironic huh?
So I do not know what I have to celebrate women’s day for. For being one of the most brilliant creations of God that is still a victim of infanticide? Or for having unique multi-tasking abilities not common to most men, yet trampled upon (quite literally at times) time and again by ‘superior men’? For our innate affection that we shower upon our families, which becomes burdensome at times and is sold in marriage? For being an attractive commodity of a huge ‘trade’? For upholding the honor of the family at all times because honor is an exclusive responsibility entrusted to us, and not men? For sacrificing what we love, always, every single time, every moment of the day?
These campaigns, these celebrations, the pledges, these are all efforts. Good efforts. Efforts taken since a century. Maybe more. With little or no outcome. And we won’t be witnessing much change for ourselves until the tired,hopeless women in each house speak. Speak, fight, defend and do everything they can to be happy. Stop giving in to something that you know is wrong. Stop expecting change. Be the change. Listen to your soul.
I am Blessed to be born in a family that raises girls to be confident, strong women with the power to decide how their life has to be. Maybe you are Blessed too. But there are still many out there who aren’t. Figures. They still don’t make me happy.
It’s Sunday and unlike most countries around the world, this day marks the beginning of the week in U.A.E. So the last two days were weekend, and the popular topic of discussion in my family was ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’! My siblings start school today and the weekend was utilized in buying stationery, school bags and uniforms for them. When I went to the mall, I realized how much difference there is between my school days and my siblings’ time.
Thanks to excessive marketing and advertising, going back to school has become another reason to go on a shopping spree. School shopping was a necessity back in the late 90s and the past decade. It has now become more of a trend, another asset to flaunt. The concept of branding has influenced adults so much that even kids like my 9-year old sister want a ‘Hello Kitty’ than an ordinary pink-colored bag. Would you believe it when I say that we spent 4 hours at the mall to buy these goodies for 3 of my siblings? The place was sickeningly crowded and all around me, I could see innovative school merchandise. ‘The Avengers’, ‘Hellboy’, ‘Captain America’ bags, tiffins, water bottles, stationery for young, naughty boys and Cinderellas and Hello Kitties for the chirpy and excited girls. There were bright colored, beautifully designed notebooks that make you feel like writing all the time. There were cute pens, pencils and pouches that made me consider buying them just because they are cute. Deep down, I was actually harboring a bit of an envy. I was almost irritated that I didn’t get to choose from this much of a variety when I was a kid.
Envy aside, I also felt nostalgia hit me really bad as I realized I missed my school days. School was a place I loved, even when I was a kid. I remember that my friends would hate the thought of going back to school after vacations, but I actually used to count down the days when I would go back to school and read new stories in English class, visit the school library, eat the mini pizzas from the canteen and play dodge ball with friends in break and P.E. I loved (still do, as a matter of fact) the smell of new books and I always promised myself at the beginning of the year that I would write in them neatly (handwriting has been an issue for me all my life) and maintain my books really well. Promises would break but my love for going to school never faded. I am working as a full-time employee now and am at the brink of my career, but part of me misses the school and college days. Part of me thirsts to be back in a class, learn something new and make up for the time my teen ignorant self so foolishly wasted. I also miss how carefree I was back then. I was known as the ‘joker’ of my class in school. I had a weird habit those days that whenever I used to be scolded by a teacher or fall in any kind of trouble, I always felt like laughing. It was like an immune response. I was immune to scoldings and lectures. I never felt really bad, although I did feel embarrassed. But I always took comments from others in a positive way. I can’t say whether I really worked on my weaknesses but I never used to maintain an enmity or emotions like hatred towards anyone, teacher or student. I still try to maintain this habit in my daily life, but being a kid is simply less complicated I guess. The adult mind does not think so simply, it has a whole lot of influencing factors.
Another part of my brain is haunted by memories of a particular teacher of Mathematics I was taught by in Grade 6. She was evil and made my life hell for a year. I remember her curly hair adorning her face that always had a sarcastic smile on; I remember her soft, threatening voice, cold and terrifying and I still feel the chills down my spine and I ask myself, ‘do I want to experience that again?’ Haha, I guess not. Definitely not.
So, I come back to reality, thank God for wherever I am right now, and complete this post and get back to work.
There are relations we are born with such as those of family and there are ties we create of our own accord which are categorized under a term called ‘FRIENDSHIP’. So today celebrates this bond and I became aware of that only when one of my Whatsapp contacts wished me a ‘Happy Friendship Day’. I am not one who is against celebrations or oppose tying friendship bands or such but I guess my negligence could be due to the fact that I celebrate friendship everyday. In fact, I would not like to call it ‘celebrate’, rather I ‘live’ by friendship every single moment of every single day. Although I may not be one who has a very active social life but I can be proud of my tiny and precious collection of the friends I own. When someone asks me who my best friend is, I really am put in a dilemma because I am the type of person who forms bonds that are really strong, each with their own touch of magic or I do not form them at all. Ofcourse I am cordial and approachable to people in general but I may not make the effort to call everyone of them. And that, according to my mother is a quality I possess that is actually my weakness.
There are many people I am close to, whom I can count on anytime of the day. I have a soul sister who can relate to every emotion I feel because our fate has somewhat been intertwined since we met. We go through the highs and lows of our life almost always together. When her life is taken over by a storm, I always know by intuition that its going to rock my boat soon. That is something I have never experienced with anyone else. Then there is a very dear friend of mine who is the most mature of our group and makes sense of things when everything seems hazy to me. I also own a sweetheart who always sees the best in me and uplifts me literally to cloud 9 by her almost diabetes-inducing words of praise. Then there is this childish, stubborn girl who has a very loving and caring heart for those who dig in through its crust. She makes me feel responsible for her and even though she is just a year younger than me, I always feel concerned and protective about her. The last piece of my treasure box is a physically distant yet heart warming girl who is one of my oldest friends. I am sure she has her own collection of friends, but no matter many days,months or years space our conversations, I am sure I am the crux of her collection, just as she is mine. We always know what to say to the other when we need each other.
As you see, this post was dedicated especially to my friends. The ones who have sailed in the same boat as mine, those who have sailed adjacent to me, providing me the luxury of companionship amidst the staggering waves of time and also those who continue to journey alongside me despite their own priorities and struggles. I thank Allah for these blessings. Happy Friendship Day!!!!!
They say the only thing that one can be certain of facing is DEATH. Yet when it strikes your loved one, why does it shock you and traumatize you beyond repair? We watch the news and see millions of people departing from the world due to poverty, sickness and terrorism but that barely manages to move us for a minute but when a dear one of ours passes away, we feel like its the end of the world, not only for us, but for everyone. The world becomes eclipsed by an unseen phenomena. We wail and cry till our eyes can no longer support us. We struggle to breathe through that constricted, suffocating windpipe. We feel that we have the right to demand everyone’s sympathy and compassion towards us. And when people do not reciprocate in the expected manner, they become cruel? What we fail to question ourselves is, ‘were we any different’?
Where on one hand, death’s hand cruelly takes away a part of us, its intensity of pain can re-unite ties that were severed long time ago. Its ominous presence ironically shines light upon the path of forgiveness, love and care between bitter relations. A whole lifetime does not suffice to teach us the importance of love, friendship and unity, the way death so brutally does. And for those who still ignore its teachings, death renders them with nothing but regrets. Regrets for not making up when there was time, regrets for acting so foolish, regrets for acting so selfish, regrets for not regretting earlier.
Although, as much as we loved those who pass away, we learn to cope up with their absence over time. We begin to smile, laugh and even love again. I wonder how those up in the heaven feel when they gaze down at us, laughing and loving again, without them. Do they think, ‘after everything I did, this is what they do’? Or do they really feel selflessly happy for us? Does the goodness of heaven diminish the worldly attribute of jealousy?
There is no doubt that life is short. Whether you live for a staggering 100 years, a strong 50 or an innocent 15, as they always say, its not the quantity but the quality that matters. Why do we spend so much of our life struggling with hatred, jealousy, greed and enmity when we can spend the same time with love and compassion. The answer is because we somehow believe that we are immortal. We believe that our healthy diet, exercise and our fixed deposits are going to be our everlasting elixir of life. Just embracing the fact that this world is temporary and that we have to leave everything behind one fine day is a powerful factor to keep us grounded. This is the solution to every fight. Yes, this is what we need to ultimately achieve what is called World Peace.
A few days ago, I was coming back home from an outing and my eyes fell upon the door of our neighbors. Theirs is the apartment just opposite ours. A blue balloon and a ‘It’s a Boy’ door hanging caught my attention. Naturally, I understood that the couple who got married last year now have a baby boy. I say ‘the couple’ because I don’t know their names. In fact, I don’t know anything about them except their physical appearance. Actually, I am not sure if I can remember how they look really because I happened to see them not more than 5-6 times in the span of a year. Funny, isn’t it? I know what my fellow bloggers/Facebook friends do, where they live, where they went on a holiday, what their last post/status was about but I don’t know the same about my neighbors.
Being a 90s kid, I understand that this was not the scenario a decade ago. Those days, neighbors were the closest group of people after one’s family. They were always a part of a family’s joy as well as sufferings. Those were the days of petty arguments followed by apologies and promises of everlasting friendship. Those were the days when kids were more interested in whats cooking in the house of the aunt who lives next door. In fact, probably most of our free time was spent in our neighbor’s house than our own, or in playing ‘London statue’ and ‘catching cook’ with the society kids in the building compound.
But technology again has intervened like a jealous, stubborn girl who does not like sharing her friends with others. People are no longer a part of a neighborhood. Playgrounds lie in desolation with an exception of a few lonely kids once in a while. Today’s children have virtual friends called Angelina, virtual pets like ‘Talking Tom’ and a motion-sensored Xbox 360 to play games like tennis and football without actually going outdoors. I asked my kid sister if she knows how to play hopscotch, only to get a devastating reply, ‘what is hopscotch?’
While adults of the house spend much of their free time in stalking people on Facebook, checking out (and burning in jealousy, ofcourse) holiday pictures of high school batchmates they haven’t probably met since farewell. But ask them about their neighbors and you would probably be informed that they are not nosy neighbors.
I don’t know how many of you all would agree but I really miss those days when I could get a ready solution to any problem from my neighbor. There wasn’t any need of joining any kind of support group then. Although the idea of virtual friends is interesting and the benefits of social media probably outnumber the drawbacks, I believe once in a while we need to be grounded to reality. We need to retain the good practices of our ancestors to ensure that they are not lost forever in this digital era.