September 21st, 2017

Pits.2

Somewhere along the road, over the past couple of years, I came face to face with myself. When the initial shock of the realization that I was in fact staring at myself wore off, all that was left was a bizarre feeling. It was not entirely disgust, nor was it much by way of admiration. It was, however, a feeling I could have done without. It was a meeting I could have done without.

There is that cliche in every language perhaps which talks of mirrors and the disappoinments they hold. If there isn’t one, there should be one. Mirrors do hold disappointments. It is only when we look at them in the light of experience and awareness that we realize just how much disappointment hides in a mere reflection. Right changes places in a reflection. Or Vice Verca.

I was a self proclaimed narcissist, and I went from being a narcissist to being an extremely shy person very quickly after that meeting with myself. Perhaps, I needed a certain level of ignorance about myself to continue to like myself, to admire myself to the point of being a narcissist, of being self assured, of being able to find fault with others and of being able to feel better enough than others to offer advice.  I think my disappointment was tangible, hard and pointy. It broke the mirror; but it left me with that image of myself which is much less flattering than is appropriate for a self portrait.

I am comfortable being shy and not being cocky sure. The extent of my own short comings and the extent of my own weaknesses has dawned upon me, and it has taken away not only what must have been my over-bearing self assuredness, but also a lot of bitterness, pain, self pity and misery which I had built over the years. It sounds quite the paradox, doesn’t it? But it is the honest truth, once I realized I was not as admirable a man as I thought I was, I also realized that the world owed me nothing, and whatever I got from anyone was purely my good fortune, and much more than perhaps I deserved.  It has taught me to cast my eyes down when morality surges inside of me urging me to take the higher moral ground once again, and I walk away, and continue to walk until I get to plains. I have developed a fear of heights I think. How easily we forget ourselves as soon as we set foot on an elevated surface, don’t we? Well, I did. Perhaps, still do, but hopefully we will never have to find out.

I looked myself in the eye, and the past flashed before me. I looked back and all I could see were ruins, and broken hearts, and tears. There was always a reason for me to cause misery, and having a reason made it alright to cause pain and suffering, disappointment and doom. I looked closely and there were some beautiful oases in my past. I pulled out objectivity and looked at the oases through objectivity; it brought tears to my eyes to realize that everyone of those oases was a reminder of the generosity, love and care shown to me by those whom I had wronged along the way. I blinked the tears away, and vanity reared its ugly head to try and convince me that my tears were proof enough that I had my heart in the right place. After all those oases of love and affection, generosity and forgiveness, which I had not played a part in making, what was my one consolation going to be – that I could cry at having been the epic failure I had been?  It still surprises me to realize that when it came to myself I set myself such conveniently low standards.

To think I was oblivious to it all as I caused this mayhem all my life, and to think I had to come face to face with myself to see it all in a short span of time.

And to think I am deep down here.

FB and barjasta tukbandi.0

One of the blessings of the world wide web is facebook. It has put me in touch with countless such people whom I would otherwise quite likely never have seen again. Fine! I will strike the ‘countless’ – I know one can always go and count one’s contacts.

My cousin Raheel is one amongst those people. We lost contact years ago when he was busy conquering the hearts and minds of important people in Islamabad, and I had come here to the UAE hoping to make a fortune in dirhams – a dream I have much given up now. Raheel and I have always been more friends than cousins, so much so that years ago when the family battleground presented a picture of what most family battlegrounds present pictures of – the senile, senseless and yet sombre family feuds, we promised each other that should our two sets of parents decide to raise battle cries and go charging at each other to revive a bit of sibling rivalry moments from their childhood, we would ensure that we continued to be friends even if our allegiance to our respective families dictated that we no longer call each other family. Thankfully, while our families have often hovered dangerously close to altercations threatening to become full blown wars, they have always managed to scale back hostilities just in time to attend a wedding or a funeral together. It is important to be seen together or not seen together at these two functions during family feuds – it lets everyone know where the two warring/not warring factions stand vis-a-vis their reported-through-grapevine differences. Unfortunately for us though life dragged us to two different continents and we were never able to benefit from our families not feuding. Until facebook came along though.

Now our families might not be feuding, but our friendship is peculiar in that all we ever have are altercations. One of the recent ones we had was interesting enough for me to want to share it with you.

I had updated my FB status as “waits”. It is a perfectly innocent and vague update. It let me state my hope and longing a little without disclosing anything of substance. Except, I had not factored in Raheel.  Raheel stepped in and had in time turned the whole status update on its head. Being blessed with the kind of friends I am, it was only to be understood that matters would get out of hand, and I would have to step in myself and delete the update and the accompanying 45 comments to restore sanity. After which I made it clear though my status update that no further status updates barring the current one would be coming along for sometime. Except, I could not resist, and put up another update in under 12 hours. After which the following exchange took place:

Raheel: Ek kahani, Abdul Hameed Addum ke zubaani:

Aap (at 0000 hrs):
“Shayad meiN Addum ub na kharabaat meiN aaooN
Ub baada-ghussaroN say meirra zikkr na karna”

Hum (between 0000 hrs and 1330 hrs):
“Tehqeeq ho tou rooH-e-do-aalam tarrap uthay
Itna teirray baghair parayshaaN raha hooN meiN”

Aap (at 1330 hrs):
“DostooN kay naam yaad aanay lagay
Talkh-o-sheerieN jaam yaad aanay lagay
Khoub-soorat tohmatein choubhnay lageiN
Dill-nasheem ilzaam yaad aanay laggay”

Shukkar hey kay aap mehfil mein waapis tou aaye! Hum tou samjhay thay kay aap Shirri Raam Chandar Je kee oor 13 barras kay bunn-baas per nikkal gaye hein. Shukkar Khuda ka, aap Hanooman Jee kay bhaghat niklay aur Tarzan kay doost Munkoo kee tarrah turrant waapis aan lapkay. :-) :-) :-)

Knicq: Khoobsoorat tomhatein and dil nasheen ilzaam indeed!

Aik maulvi kee deewar par shirkiya kalimat raqam karne se ehtiraz baratiye go iz raah-e-tafannun hee sahee. Shukriya. Main sirf Allah ka bandah hoon. :)

Raheel: Yeh “Maulvi Kee Deewaar” bhee barra khoob kaha aap nay. Tou arz kiya he:

“Maulvi Kee Deewaar”

Kyon iss per chHapti rehti hey ye toHmattoN kee bharmaar
Ye maulvi kee deewar hey loogo, maulvi kee deewar

Ye “uss galee” ka daakia hey, ye banda barRa fraadia hey
Na karna koi aitbaar oo loogo, na karna koi aitbaar
Ye maulvi kee deewar hey loogo, maulvi kee deewar

Ye jitna maal bhee aaya hey, sub chooroN say he churraya hey
ChadDi-banain say lungi-dhoHti au rub kurta-shalwaar
Ye maulvi kee deewar hey loogo, maulvi kee deewar

Kuch qabbaz kee khubrain, chund hikmat kay ishtihaar
Ye Persoon ka akhbaar hey bhai persoon ka akhbaar
Ye maulvi kee deewar hey loogo, maulvi kee deewar

Yaad rakhiye – Kalaam mein wazzan ho na hoo, dalleel yaqeenun wazi hey ;-)

Knicq:

“Raheel kee daleel.”

Wazn main feel hai,
Kaat main keel hai,
Fitratan zaleel hai,
Ye nai ik daleel hai,
- Baani is ka Raheel hai,
- Yeh daleel-e-Raheel hai.

Mantaq se choor hai,
Mizaah bharpoor hai,
Sharafat se door hai,
Sarasar futoor hai,
- Baani is ka Raheel hai,
- Yeh daleel-e-Raheel hai.

Tohmat ka bazaar hai,
Haqaiq se bezaar hai,
Maqsad sirf aazaar hai,
Ba’es e nang o aar hai.
- Baani is ka Raheel hai.
- Yeh Daleel-e-Raheel hai.

Kehne ko aur bhi hai kuch,
Abhi zer-e-ghaur bhi hai kuch,
Khayal ka daur bhi hai kuch,
per bhaijna filfaur bhi hai kuch.
- Baani is ka Raheel hai
- Yeh Daleel-e-Raheel hai.

Raheel ibn-e-wakeel hai,
Khoon main iske daleel hai,
Aankh pe is kee neel hai,
Yeh padash-e-daleel hai,
- Baani is ka Raheel hai
- Yeh Daleel-e-Raheel hai.

This is too much fun. :)

Raheel:

Tum itna jo muskara rahay ho
Kiss marraz ko apnay chupa rahay ho?

Ho gee tumheiN jo bhe ho gee “khurrak”
Meirri taaNg per kyoN khuja rahay ho?

Pehlay bachoN kee maaN ne jhaara hey aur
Unn kay maamoN say ub maar kha rahay ho

Bulla ker maseetee meiN mullooN ko subb
Pechay say kyon unn kay ghar jaa rahay ho?

I know this is silly; just a bunch of badly written rhyming garbage – out of meter and out of order. But it’s fun.

Knicq:

Seriously, I expected better than this from you Raheel.

It was only the second sh’er which was enjoyable.

Khissiyane ho kya keh khamba nochte ho?
Sar khujatey ho kyun, tum kia sochte ho?

Fikr-e-sukhan main abhi darak aur chahiye,
Baghair matlab ke tum qafiya dabochte ho?

Kaha tumhara hee hai ya anwar masood ka,
Kis haq se akhir dosron ka kalam “poach-tey” ho?

Maza to jub hai, keh do harf jor bhi lao tum,
Aur mizah kee hudood ko bhi pohonchte ho.

Hah! That felt good.

Raheel:

LOL! Acha Sahab Aissa hee sahi:

“Muzzir hey teisha-e-khoonein liye huay koi shakhss
Kay goor-kan ko bhee ubb koh-kan kaha jaye”

Knicq:

“Gorkan bhi gar kohkan kehlai to kia bura hai
Jo baharkaif chooha nikal lai to kia bura hai.”

And that was that. We stopped after this for fear I might be hauled away by the Halqa-e-arbab-e-zauq for public flogging or some such punishment.

Of realizations late…1

Evenings, rains and my reflection in the mirror often make me melancholy. What is surprising is that this is a rather recent discovery. Up until now, I had been convinced that I loved the three – though perhaps not necessarily in the order I have mentioned them in. I love trees too, and babies as well – but they do not make me melancholy. The human heart is such a strange organ. It conceals much and betrays little. It plays games which amuse none but itself. Then, one fine morning, it ceases to find itself amusing, and decides that it finds evenings, rains and a certain reflection in the mirror, any mirror, a tad less pleasant than before.

The tragedy perhaps is compounded by its complete callousness towards the three objects, and the drama heightened by the wailing of the said objects. OK, may be not all the three objects – but one can serve as a spokesman for others. After all, there is no evidence to suggest that collective wailing is more reliable a form of lodging a complaint with the powers that be as compared to an individual (and less ambiguous)… well… wailing. Wailing is wailing. If one does not serve the purpose, pluck at the strings of the heart, literally so in this case, with its soulful retelling of the wrong one has been done, chances are many won’t either. There is quite likely something wrong with the strings, which makes them un-pluck able; Urdu poetry is replete with stories of such hearts which have faulty strings, too many strings, not enough strings, and so on and so forth.

Evenings are beautiful, and if I were blessed with the gift of articulation through verbal imagery, I would have sketched to you the many shades, smells and sounds of evenings for you. But, you do not need me to sketch an evening for you – evenings are amongst those of Allah’s blessings which have been for the most part available to mankind (and all His other creation) in abundance and free of charge. Too often though, many of us take such blessings for granted, and while we toil away at the other often menial and meaningless aspects of our lives, we let these blessings sneak past us without ever noticing them. Evenings are short, and if it were up to me I would make it mandatory on myself and every one else to drop whatever it was they were doing when evenings approached, and witness the miracle of Allah’s creation and beauty which evenings are.

Aren’t we humans, perhaps, the only beings who do not stop for the evenings? Who do not come out to meet and be a part of the evenings? Nonetheless, it is not mankind’s callous attitude towards the daily opening of this beautiful, mystical and heart-rendering window in their lives that makes me melancholy. Perhaps, it is the knowledge that this evening too, like all the others before her, will desert me and leave me to my devices to grapple with the silent and suffocating darkness – the darkness which inevitably follows in her footsteps. Or perhaps it is the painful fact that I get attached to my evenings – savor every moment of their existence. Quite possibly though my sadness is rooted in something intangible and obscure – something more like my intellectual faculties the very existence of which is the subject of many a heated debate.

Do you know what makes the evenings ever more enchanting? Trees do. Trees prepare to welcome the evenings long before anyone else even starts thinking about the imminent trickery of twilight. They invite all kinds of birds to their branches, then they spread their leaves far and wide to hide the birds from view, in the process also partially obscuring and lending an even greater beauty to the setting sun,  and partially basking in its soft parting light. Then arrives the evening to a rousing welcome, with the chorus provided by all the birds hidden from view and the orchestra played by the rustling leaves.  Does it not feel at these times that time must learn to stand still, even if for a short while?

Who then could not love evenings?

My love for rains is deeper and more real. It is deeper because unlike the case with evenings I do not have the luxury of knowing that if I miss rain when she comes thundering, threatening and prattling, I can always meet her again same time, same place the following day. We live in a desert. All year long we brave the sun’s cruelty, its wrath, its suffocating watch during nights, its scalding reminders pouring out of our taps, and its altogether over-bearing presence pretty much all the time. Rains are scarce, and even when it does rain, it hardly ever pours.

Our lifestyles are ill equipped to even handle rain. As soon as the first showers arrive, the general public loses all sense of objectivity on roads, (and we all know that the general public spends a large percentage of its waking time on roads in this country) or perhaps fails to acquire the new and different levels of objectivity required on the roads now. This fact is plainly reflected in the number of accidents we have during rains every year. There are quite likely people out there, who do not even know what the windshield wipers are  installed on their cars for, and still others who are perfectly aware what the wipers are for, but for the life of them cannot figure out which of the many switches in their cars turns them on.  At least this is the only plausible explanation I can offer for the ten-fold increase in the number of accidents on the roads with the arrival of rains.

Then there is the more sinister matter of the road system’s capability to put up with water of the non-bottled kind, or lack there of. Last year, we had rains for only three days, but for the three days we had actual rain. What do you think happened? The word puddles had to be dropped in favor of pools. On the Emirates road, the erstwhile crown jewel in the Road and Transport Authorities’ (we have more than one, quite likely seven of them) crown, there were cars submerged in water! By the third day, the roads network was not visible and many people were actually stranded in their homes, since they could not get to their cars.  Yet, I reckon there is hardly a soul in this country who does not harbor an unconditional love for rains. The minute the clouds begin to gather, the various radio stations dig out their rain songs collection (Cue “hai hai yeh majboori” on all desi stations), people make plans to head out – to the neighboring state or own balcony – and facebook status updates quite unanimously announce the profile owners’ unbounded delight at the advent of showers.

Personally, however, I happen to be the person who lived, merrily and deliriously happily, through five monsoons in Pakistan, enjoyed every day and every night of rainfall, and welcomed every inch of rain with open arms – literally. There is something about rains which echoes in the very depths of my soul, something about water falling from the high skies which has no parallel in the many miracles that surround us. Rains come with the promise of washing away all sorrows and doubts which weaken the heart. They are such a beautiful and apt reminder of Allah’s bounty, His mercy upon mankind, His  blessings and His promise to provide for all His creation. It has, therefore, come as a surprise to me – this realization that rains make me blue – metaphorically speaking.

The reflection I can understand.

Rub Raakha te Jee Aayan Nun.17

People are interesting. Often people are endearing. Very rarely, people are hurtful. Because of all that people are, and can be at different times, people watching is an interesting pastime. It is primarily this interesting pastime that keeps the blogosphere/blogistan/blogworld going. What is it after all that entices us to go read another person’s blog? (apart from leaving our own URL there of course!) Blog-hopping is a new way of people-watching. We land at a new blog, and find out what another person thinks, does, or does not think or do in his/her life. Virtual people, contrary to what the term suggests, are real people.

Thankfully (and hopefully), the world has not yet got to a point where obscure computer programs have blogs they masquerade as people on. Thankfully again, all we have is still people masquerading as programs, and that too a select minority; what is, after all, a virus/worm/Trojan but a malicious person inflicting himself on people he/she can victimize. While it is easy to assume that people have a virtual persona which they allow to reflect in their blogs, it is worthwhile remembering that such virtual persona is still a part of who they are. Quite often, it is more honest a representation of a person than one he portrays in his everyday real life. Often enough too, a virtual persona is a caricature, or a self-portrait gone horribly wrong. Rarely, a blog persona is a totally different person, far-removed intentionally from the real life person. When we see these virtual people, we might find them interesting, endearing, hurtful or even abhorrent, but our findings are always tainted by doubt, because of the virtuality factor.

People are more interesting in real-life. It struck me when I was at the airport recently waiting for someone. The flight was delayed, and for once I was early. I have always found the arrivals area a far better and more delightful place as compared to the departures area. There is a merry atmosphere about the arrivals lounge which is in stark contrast to the melancholy that pervades the departures area. The UAE’s demographics, much like those of the other GCC states are peculiar in the sense that approximately 70-80% of the total population (if not more) is comprised of expatriates; I do not know what the term expatriate means according to Merriam-Websters, but over here the term defines people who live and work here for years, and if they can afford it, visit home come yearly vacations – for most people taking a vacation and visiting home are synonymous, as ironic as it may seem to some – and this is why one sees less of the melancholy about the departures lounge here in the UAE than does one back home in the sub-continent.

Back home, one of the most common sights in the departures area is the elderly mother crying her eyes out when bidding her saat-samandar-paar bound son farewell, and one of the most constant features of an airport departures area is the sadness and the melancholy as a dear one leaves the country with explicit promises to write and implicit promises to send back the much needed dirhams, riyals, dinars, yens, dollars, pounds or whatever else it is they get paid in.

In the GCC countries, being in the departures lounge often means one is headed home, pockets bulging with money saved over the previous months, or borrowed hastily over the previous couple of weeks, and bags full of gifts for all and sundry – including the siblings, cousins, friends, their in-laws, and the nephews and nieces of the brother-in-law’s sister-in-law. More than that, it means being happy at finally going back home after months and often years of toiling in the petro-economies. Contrary to the general rule, the departures area is less melancholy and more merry.

Perhaps the only sentiment common to the departures areas in the gulf and those back home is envy. The difference of course lies in the factors that drive that envy. Back home the departing son, and by extension his family are viewed with envy because of the ‘opportunity’ they have been blessed with. Over here, friends come to airport to see off a friend send him with love and perhaps a little envy at him for getting a chance to get away from the slave life and get to his nears and dears.

Wasn’t I supposed to tell you about how I indulged in a spot of people watching?

I will. Promise.

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