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“.

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