January 2008


Every lover’s in arms, and Cupid holds the fort
Atticus, believe me, every lover’s in arms.
The age that’s good for war, is also right for love.
An old soldier’s a disgrace, and an old lover.
That spirit a commander looks for in a brave army,
a lovely girl looks for in a love partner.
Both keep watch: both sleep on the ground,
one serves at his lady’s entrance, the other his general’s.
A long road’s a soldier’s task: but send the girl off,
and a restless lover will follow her to the end.
He’ll go against mountains and bend into stormy rivers,
he’ll push his way through swollen snowdrifts,
he’ll not rely on excuses, like angry northerlies,
or waiting for suitable stars to take to the waves.
Who but a soldier or lover could endure
cold nights or dense snow mixed with rain?
One’s sent out to spy on attacking forces:
the other keeps eye on his rival, his enemy.
This one lays siege to strong cities, that one his harsh friend’s entrance:
one breaks down gates, the other doors.
Often it helps to attack a sleeping enemy,
and strike the unarmed mass with armed hand.
That’s how Rhesus and his fierce Thracians were killed
and forfeited the leader’s captured mares.
Lovers, for sure, will make use of a husband’s sleep
and employ their arms while the enemy slumbers.
Getting past watchman’s hands, and enemy sentinels
is work for soldiers and wretched lovers.
Mars is chancy, Venus uncertain: the fallen can rise again,
while those you think could never be thrown are beaten.
So if you’ve called all lovers idlers, forget it.
Love is all experience and ability.
Great Achilles burns for stolen Briseis –
while you can Trojans, smash the Argive wall!
Hector went into battle from Andromache’s arms,
it was the wife who placed the helmet on his head.
The great lord Atrides, they say, seeing Cassandra
that Trojan Maenad, was enraptured by her flowing hair.
Mars too, surprised, felt the blacksmith’s chain mesh:
there was never a greater scandal in heaven.
I myself was lazy and born to idle leisure:
bed and shade both softened my mind.
Love for a lovely girl soon drove the idler
and ordered him off to earn his pay in camp.
Now see me, active and fighting nocturnal wars.
If you don’t want to be idle, fall in love!

from The Amores by Publius Ovidius

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” Excuse me” someone tapped on my shoulder as I was enjoying London’s Tube.
” Yes?” I turned around and saw an old South Asian lady in saree smiling at me.
” I am looking for this address” she showed me a handwritten slip with address and a map.
“I am not sure if I can help you as I am on visit here” I tried reading the details.
” It says you have to get down at Piccadilly. I am also getting off at Piccadilly. Lets see when we get there” I told her.
” Thankyou. Are you from India?”
” No, I am Pakistani and you?”
“I live here in London so now I am from London” she smiled.
” you have come from Pakistan to visit?” she asked
” No I live in Ireland. It was bank holiday so came here to visit London”
” Do you work in Ireland?”
” Yes I work and am doing my postgrad studies too” it felt good talking to an old lady from similar background after a very long time.
” I heard Ireland is a beautiful place. Do you like it?
” O yes, it is definitely a very beautiful place, seems like a piece of heavens. I love it!”
” and how about the people? we hear about racism?”
” I think Irish are a very friendly and intelligent nation. I have not felt any racism” I disclosed my experiences in Ireland.
She smiled, then said ” Pakistan and India are trying to mend relations now a days. I hope they realize there is much more in this world than their ego.”
” Piccadilly is next. Lets get off and then we will find your location” I said moving towards the doors.
We got off the tube and walked towards the exit.
” so, why do you think it is only ego?. I think it is their identity as Pakistani and Indian which is more important. They are trying to keep their identity to show one is better than the other” I tried to be pseudo philosopher as we got out of the UnderGround.
” what identity are you talking about?” she had a sarcastic smile.
” I mean we put labels to identify ourselves. We feel proud of our identity. Like I am Pakistani, my colleague Rahul is Indian. I think being Pakistani is better than Indian and he thinks the opposite”
” And you guys think that just by having the identity of being Pakistani or Indian makes you better?”
“Well, everyone in this world thinks the same. Don’t you ?”
” No I don’t “ she replied with a stern face.
Looking at my perplexed face she started ” let me tell you my short story. I was born when British were ruling the sub-continent. People were trying to push them out of there. My grandfather sacrificed his life in the war for freedom. He made everyone in the village proud to be Indian.
Then muslims wanted a separate homeland for themselves, Pakistan. My father was an active freedom fighter too and got martyred fighting for Pakistan’s independence. In 1947 we migrated to Dhaka, Pakistan.
Overnight I became a Pakistani. I remained the same person but people’s feelings towards me changed at once. I started the transition from being an enslaved Indian to a free Pakistani.
I got married , we got four children. My eldest son just turned 20 when another war of independence started. He was killed by Pakistani forces. Then one day in 1971, once again in my life, overnight my identity was changed from Pakistani to Bangladeshi. I had to go through the transition of changing nationalities again.
In 1975 my other son was charged with conspiring against the Bangladesh government. We had to leave the country and come here. Since then I am living here. Now I am called a Londoner, the same person that was once Indian, then Pakistani then Bangladeshi. Now I don’t relate to the land anymore…to identify myself. Infact I, as a person, bring the identity to the land. My identity is my character and my personality. I will remain the same person wherever I live”
her eyes were wet and glittered as we reached her address.
I bade her goodbye and left, thinking about my own identity…an identity that I could really be proud of..an identity that makes this world a bit better place for our next generations.

Thankyou! Imam Hussain ( AS ) and companions, you did for Islam and muslims what no one with 72 men and 51 children can even think of doing for any nation.


سبھی مسلم ہیں مقروض حُسین ابنِ علی کے
جاں ہاری ، باطل کے یزیدوں سے نہ ہارے

Translation

All muslims are in debted to Hussain Ibn e Ali ( AS)
Who lost his life but did not bow down to falsehood of yazeeds

From the dawn of mankind on this planet everyone of us is in search of tomorrow…so am I. While keeping my yester years in mind and believing that I can only live in today I have always wondered what does tomorrow hold for me.
Future has always intrigued men but past has provided an anchor, sometimes a hinderance … sometimes a safety. Can we really be safe and satisfied?? …I think not…satisfaction comes from thrill….and thrill comes from insecurity in the risks that await us out there.

بہاروں کو نہیں روکو
بہاروں کو تو آنا ہے
تمھاری آنکھ کے کاجل
سےکچھ موتی چرانے کو
تمھارے زرد چہرے پہ
ذرا لالی لگانے کو
تمھارے بند ہونٹوں پہ
کہیں مسکاں سجانے کو
تماری زلف کے سائے میں
اک دنیا بسانے کو

تیرے ہر خواب کی تعبیر کو
یاں سچ ہی ہونا ہے
تمارے ان کہے لفظوں کو
یاں گیتوں میں ڈھلنا ہے
روشن راہ تیری کرنے
یہاں سورج نکلنا ہے
تمھارے دل کے ہر گوشے کے
سب پھولوں کو کھلنا ہے
تمھارے ساتھ چلنی ہر
دعا کو مسکرانا ہے
بہاریں رک نہیں سکتیں
بہاروں کو تو آنا ہے

یہ دنیا خوبصورت ہے“ سے ”

Translation

Do not resist the spring
Spring will come
To steal some pearls
from the kohl in your eyes
To bring some freshness
on your pale face
To put a smile
on your closed lips
To build a small world
in shadows of your tresses

Your every dream
will come true
Your unsaid word
will turn into songs
To lighten your path
sun will rise
In every corner of your heart
flowers will bloom
With your every step
prayer will smile
Spring can not be stopped
Spring will come!

fromYeh Dunya Khubsoorat HaiCopyrights Reserved

I have always found Sun flower very interesting. It knows its focus; does not care about anything in the world but the sun.
When I look back through the fifty three years of my life I realize that many of us humans too are very similar to the sun flower, in our daily life, in our life long goals and even in our relationships too.
Now I find it very interesting to look back in my life and analyze it.
It was summers of 1960 in Lahore,the first day after summer vacations and we all were just chatting and sharing our vacations stories while waiting for our teacher. Sikander, Shazia, Khalid and I, we all were excited.
You know I spent a whole month with my dadi (grandma) in the village. It was sooo good..and you know what I like the most?” Khalid stopped and looked at us to guess his mind.
I have never been to a village so I don’t know” Sikander didn’t want to try.
Your dadi’s cow?” everyone bursted into laughter as I tried to make fun of him.
yea that too, but it was yellow flowers in lush green fields” he did not seem to lose his concentration.
You mean Sarson (mustard) ?” Shazia always had better observation than us three.
no, the big ones, they look so good. I wish I had camera” Khalid seemed to be still in the fields.
oh the sun flower!” Shazia finally guessed it.
and right then a new face entered in the room
whuhoo!” I exclaimed as I saw the new girl.
What was that?!!” Shazia looked at me with surprise in her big beautiful eyes.
whats in her that made you say wuhoo” Sikander was suprised too looking at her.
well..because she is new in our class…thats why” I tried to come up with some reason.
Shazia went to her while we three kept on looking. Then she came back with that girl.
Guys, she is Nisrin” she introduced her to us. We took our turns to introduce ourselves to her.
From that day on Nisrin became a part of our group.
Her father was major in the army and they had moved to Lahore just a month ago. She did not have anything that boys could find attractive though she was a nice company. Later on, we found out that she was not bad in studies.

Sikander was a boy with an average physical appearance and abilities but hailed from a rich family. He used to read all kind of books and was so much affected that he knew life only through books. Rarely did he use his own thoughts as everything he would say was from one of the books he read.
Khalid was a happy go lucky kind of person who wanted to be a very successful banker. His father was working in Interior ministry. He was my buddy in cricket,hockey and all outdoor boys activities.
Shazia was a very attractive girl from every aspect. She was pretty, lively and belonged to a well off family.She always cared for me and was my best friend.
I, Asad, was considered one of the most intelligent boys of school. I was known to be a witty boy with many talents. I was there in every major sports and extra curriculum activity, centre of attention in a co-ED environment. I came from a family that was always short of resources, one that could hardly be called an average. I had to fill in that gap with my confidence in myself.

Days went by with all of us enjoying that period of our lives. I felt that I was getting interested in Nisrin more than a friend and she somehow knew it. In the case when we two were left alone, she would try to find a reason to go away; When in group she would try to ignore me.
I kept wondering about our behaviour with each other. I was a boy who was center of attention for so many girls who were nice in every way and here I was trying to get attention of someone of no importance. To me it seemed that she is interested in Sikander and yet again I could not figure out why. His bookish knowledge and money seem to attract her and her plain personality was doing same to me.
The day had come when we said good bye to our school and moved on to the college. As girls and boys colleges were separate , we were not able to spend as much time together as we used to.

Years passed by, step by step finally we entered in to our professional careers. Khalid and I Joined the leading bank, Sikander joined his father’s business , Shazia became a dentist and Nisrin went to administration.
We started meeting more often, hanging out together whether it was a movie or a theatre or a ghazal evening. My relations with Nisrin remained the same but her attitude towards me started to change to a more relaxed one. I thought it to be the outcome of growing more mature. Shazia, however, seemd to be more concentrated on me. She would join me in everything that I did. She would always agree with whatever I would say and admired my thoughts.
It was an evening of chilly November as I had to go to the Ferozsons bookshop. I was searching for a book by Faiz when I saw Nisrin.
Hey Nisrin, how are you?
I am fine thanks, how are you
I am good, just wanted to buy a book
ok” she smiled
Nisrin
Yes?
Listen I have been trying to tell you something but did not get the space and time”
What is it?
Well…” I cleared my throat ” ..I have started liking you and was thinking…
look Asad, I know that, but I am interested in someone else and you know that, right?
Sikander? but you don’t know him…he only likes…” I could not complete my sentence that he only likes pretty girls.
Excuse me Asad, I have to go. You are a good guy and nice friend. You will be better off with someone else. I am just waiting for him. Will see you on wednesday at theatre

I think I felt a bit hurt but I knew Sikander very well. He was only interested in very pretty girls and we have talked about it many times. Khalid and I was also certain that he would marry a rich girl. Nisrin lacked either of the qualities. That made me think that I still stood a chance.

On the following wednesday we were supposed to go to watch theatre. I was the first to reach, Nisrin followed.
You know exactly 9 years ago we met for the first time” I said when Nisrin and I were waiting for others at the theatre.
ok, I don’t know. I don’t remember the dates” she said dryly.
Good for you but I have good memory. I remember most of my dates in my life” I replied ” should we go for tea till they come?
No. I am waiting for Sikander..”….” and Shazia and Khalid” she added.
Hey guys, sorry I am late” Sikander was the first to arrive “ I have headache, I have to have a tea. Anyone?” he asked
ok, I will join you” Nisrin’s imemdiate response turned my head.
You are not coming?” Sikander asked
No, you two go, I will wait for them here” I said looking at Nisrin who was avoiding eye contact.

Shazia and Khalid came soon and after few minutes we all went to the theatre.

You were very quiet yesterday, is everything ok?” Shazia asked me next day.
O yes I am fine, just had headache
You know I am your friend and I know you. Sometimes it is better not have what you want. I just don’t want you to regret one day” her eyes were sad.
what are you talking about?
You are not a good actor. You know everything what I said. I better go now” She stood up.
I stood up and looking in her eyes said ” Thanks Shazia, I know I have a very good friend to count on
Anytime!. ” She said and left.

Life was going good but then the country went in to darkness. We lost half of our country and the rest was in a chaos. People were uncertain about the future. But as they say, neither good nor bad days are forever. Life started to move on. I was tranfered to Karachi and Khalid to Rawalpindi.
I kept in touch with Shazia and Khalid. Time passed by. I went back to Lahore for our bank’s annual meeting. Khalid had come too. We all got together again for dinner.
Main topic was marriage. Everyone was interested to know who is getting hitched.
I am getting engaged to Hina next monday. This is arranged by families” Sikander broke the news.
o yea, I know we met her with you at Intercontinental few years ago, right?” Khalid seemed to reminded me too.
Nisrin looked shocked by the revelation turning her head towards Khalid and Sikander.
I always knew you would go for some real beauty and daughter of some tycoon” Khalid was all laughter.
No…umm…I mean it is family decision” Sikander could hardly say anything
Yea Yea, we know you too well Mr., I knew it very well that you liked that girl from school” Khalid did not want to accept it.
oh well, I wish someone was interested in me during school time” Shazia made innocent face.
You are so pretty. I know many boys were interested in you but you never liked them” Sikander said.
well, they were not my kind. I like different kind of guy who offers everything” Shazia said while looking at me.
what are you looking for?” She asked me
Nothing” I laughed looking at Nisrin who was staring at me “I am heading to US in March.”
Are you still interested?” I was taken by surprise as Nisrin asked me while we started walking towards our cars.
well…
Here is my number… call me when you have made up your mind” she handed over a slip to me.
None of the other guys seemed to notice as they were walking ahead of us.
In the morning, I came back to Karachi. I kept on thinking. For so many years I was waiting for this girl, she was the centre of my attention even with all her rude behaviour.And now she was interested herself. I felt happy. A sense of achievement swept me over.
I started to analyze and decided to think for few weeks. After a month or so I got call from Shazia.
Sikander has broken his engagement” she told me.
what!, why? so soon!” I was surprised.
I don’t know. But what I know is your slip is useless now
what slip? what are you talking about?
Stop acting Asad. I saw it. She is back with him
But she asked me herself!!
Move on Asad, don’t waste your time. we all have weak moments and that was hers
Thanks for making me understand. I will call you later” I could not believe.
Days passed by and I got busy with my plans for US. In March I moved to New York.
Life got real busy. In short time I was known as a succesful banker. I made lot of good friends but I could not find that one person I could say entirely mine.
Every month I got a letter from Shazia. Khalid had moved to London and called me whenever he got a chance.
After 7 years oneday I got a letter from Shazia. At the end she wrote “Sikander is getting married…with Hina. You can imagine Nisrin is devastated. She loved him so much. He was to her what Sun is to sunflower. Whole of her life rotated around him but he used her to have good time. When she insisted on getting married he told her that she will not be acceptable to his family as she is neither rich nor pretty. I have seen many men like that but Asad, you are so different. You were a sunflower to her as she was to Sikander. I wish you were here Asad. Your jokes may help her.
I thought about it. After two weeks I was flying back to Pakistan. After one week in Karachi, I headed to Lahore. On the way I kept thinking of the sun and the sunflower.
Ah! what a trip it was that changed my life forever. Well, I should say our life forever. Finally we both became sun for each other. That trip to Lahore made me realize what true and sincere love is.
Shazia was right, every sunflower is also a sun. It took me years to correct my direction to her.

Twenty years have passed , Shazia and I live in New Jersey with our two kids. Our love still grows for each other. Her head still turns wherever I go.
We always tell our children “We all have our sun flower somewhere but only fortunate ones recognize and make them their sun too“.

May the new year 2008 be better than 2007 for everyone on this planet and anywhere in this universe.
May we strive more on the right path, a path that makes us more humans
May our positive efforts bring more fruits this year
May our happinesses and laughters outnumber our sorrows and tears
May we find peace in happiness that Allah bestows on us
May our sorrows strengthen our faith
May we have vision to recognize the opportunities that Allah sends our way
May we have power to make full use of these opportunities

May the new year 2008 turns out to be the best in our lives till now.

Ameen!.

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year 2008!!