Elephant in the room?

Why is nothing being done about about population planning in Pakistan? 

Everyone is ignoring the monster of over-population. Our people are producing like rabbits. So, it’s a rabbit in the garb of an elephant in the room!

Nathalene and I are seated here during a session of SDPI at Margalla hotel on 5th December,2019. 

On December 6th I was invited by Nathalene Reynolds of SDPI, to be a discussant at their panel. It was truly an honor to rub shoulders with a panel chaired by Muneeza Hashmi the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz. She has served for many years as the head of Hum TV, Lahore. The topic was Redefining the Roles of Civil Societies in South Asia. All the speakers shed light on various interesting and alarming aspects of these organizations.

The presentations of speakers were extremely interesting and fascinating, dealing with topics like child right protection, hardships of  ‘haris’ in Sindh, and issues faced by Civil Societies in general, the world over.

As I sat listening, I realized, that the reality is that the civil societies emerge due to negligence or inability of government organizations to fulfill the urgent needs of the society. These are organizations made by the people on a no-profit basis, to fill that gap. 

Most of these societies wouldn’t be needed if the government allocated the required amount of funds for health and education in our country. Therefore, the insufficient funds for Health and Education, have resulted in most civil societies, today.

So, the need of the hour is for the government to allocate at least three times more funds for health and education, as compared to what they are allocating now.

All that effort being put for health and education by the Civil Societies, could be put in fields of even more importance.

In Pakistan, at the time of partition, Civil societies helped with resettling of refugees. When that was completed, they started helping women and children, and in health care.

Now, these societies are working to establish orphanages, clinics, hospitals, schools for underprivileged children. Happily, I found out that many organizations are working through out the country. Edhi has worked at a large scale, followed by innumerable others. The list is long. However, this list need not be doing the work of the government. Especially now, when more tax payers are there paying taxes. 

Redefining role of civil societies:

We need to redefine the role of Civil Societies by placing more emphasis on the two factors which could get us out of a lot of trouble:

  1. Family planning.
  2. Research.

Family planning:

Today, the South Asian countries have one fourth of the world’s population. We are busy weeping and wailing about this problem and that one. All of them have the same root cause: over population!

 Let the civil societies handle the monstrous issue of over population and family planning because that is what the government isn’t doing at all. This is the most urgent need of the hour. 

The need for research:

The other element is that of research. There is no authentic source of research in our country. Nothing is reliable. Without research we cannot know the gravity of any situation. Therefore, this is essential. (Here is an opportunity for a new entrepreneur.) 

One follower of mine, shared this picture of me, 
on Instagram, 

As I spoke, I looked at the elder persons in the room and asked them, ‘isn’t it true that the country did aggressive campaigning for family planning, ‘Bachay do hi achay’ (two children are good enough.) Now, the most they can say is ‘waqfa zaroori hai.’(Space between children is important.) They dare not talk about family planning. Why can’t they say that prevention is vital. I do not propagate, nor believe in abortion, only contraception and prevention.  A strict regimen for prevention of more than three pregnancies in every woman in our society is a must. This must be given primary importance.

Here is an amazing statistic that I found online regarding having three-children-families only. Notice, Pakistan’s name is no where here. Let us work towards having our name in this list, with the fastest improvement.

Our society is amazing, they don’t think of Islam while being corrupt right left and center, stealing, murders, child abuse, honor killings, usurping women’s properties, and everything else going on.  But Islam comes in while even thinking of family planning! (I wonder if it would have come into this issue, had the men had to produce those brats, feed and clothe them while being dependent on a stingy husband to deal with too!) This issue has got to be addressed, otherwise Pakistan in particular, and south Asian countries in totality will never get out the dilemma of poverty.

Epilog:

In Peshawar in 1994, I met a doctor while doing research for an article. He told me that he had just completed his degree in Preventive Medicine from England. I was intrigued about this subject. He explained it like this: 

‘Supposing a bridge is broken. Instead of repairing the bridge or building a new one, you say, ‘don’t worry, when someone falls, I’ll pick him out of the river.’ (That is what our Civil Societies are doing right now!) They are saving humanity by getting them out of the water. Then educating them, and feeding and clothing them!’

We have to think that the bridge needs to be built up. Secured. Control the number of population to the extent that is needed. Otherwise, you will constantly be needed to get people out of the river!

So what can be done?

  1. Change your mindset first. Brain storm how you can make a difference in our society. The need is to change the mindsets of people, specially educated and uneducated ones. Each one of my readers is now at a place in society where you can make a difference in one way or another. 
  2. Do campaigning for planned-parenthood at every level. All of you are in contact with people of lower socio-economic groups, influence them to not have more than two or three children.
  3. Give bonus for education of two children only. (That will send a silent message to others.)
  4. Organizations should facilitate parents with fewer children: 
    •  Give warnings to personnel having third child.
    • Facilities of health and education in factories for two children of workers.
    • Schools offering free education of two children to teachers and employees.
  5. Organizations offer good accommodation facilities to employees with two children only.
  6. One or two maternity leaves only.
  7. Health workers and contraception facilities to be offered free of cost to every home in country, whether it is in rural or urban areas.
‘Whenever I walk in a room,everyone ignores me.’

At personal level each of us must convince and facilitate staff at home and in organizations, about family planning. Be totally, unsympathetic to persons talking about having had so many children.

I know of the village of Tamman where people have few children. They are conscious of this fact, and it is done for many generations to reduce division of agricultural lands.

Stay blessed, my wonderful reader, we’ve got to stop producing like rabbits and think at a national and international level now. 🙂 

Closure


A closure helps you to move on….

‘Ever tasted a bad-tasting chalghoza (pine-nut) – or any BAD nut for that matter?’

What do you do? Keep it in your mouth to savor the flavor, or quickly spit it out?’

Spit it out!

What actually happens, is that you tend to keep it in your mouth longer. You can’t believe it isn’t that tasty nut that you were getting earlier. The previous ones were really delicious. This one isn’t.

You are wondering if I’m talking about that bad nut – or that bad thing that happened in your life.

Both!

It’s about that shocking development in life, it may be getting downsized from your job, or ending a relationship. I’m talking about the closure that is necessary to move on in life, and how to do it. It is usually, a loss of some sort.

Whatever!

Treat your wounds:

Ever been injured? You have. So you know how it is: you need to recuperate. You go into hospital, get treatment and also get a lot of attention.  So, what do you do with an emotional injury? Do the same! Take a break. You need time to recuperate from it.

So, try to treat it like a wound, and treat it.

Look,  I don’t know your problem. But I do know the process of closure to move on. This is how you do a closure:

It is a simple ‘one, two, three’ process:

1.     Face it and accept it:

 Once you have recognized it and realized it, please do not stick around there for too long! (Or you can damage yourself in the process.) Then take the steps needed to close it. Take out your personal journal and write down, all the points which have convinced you where you are. Please do not get carried away. Try to keep it crisp and short. I know it is hard. The point is to get out of it,not get more into it!

2.    Learn your lessons.

Sit down again. Write down what you are going to take away from this experience. Yes, you are going to come out brighter, shinier and wiser. Believe me, there was a reason why Allah Mian put you through this process. Say two naffals and ask God to to show you why He made you go through this experience. If you can’t understand any of it now. Still do ask Him. It will come to you in time. Write now, you just have to sanely walk away from this pain-zone. 

‘Pray that you may find out what it is that Allah is trying to explain to you through this experience.’ My friend Seema always says. Good point!

3.     Fill in the gaps in your life.

Always when suddenly, you find yourself out of a job or out of a relationship, you realize how big a chunk from your life, you were giving to it. Now, there is this huge gap in your life where that ‘chalghoza’ stood! Ummm lets call it something bigger…. What can it be? An Alien.

Of course, it was an alien, because actually, it didn’t belong in your life, and you had given it that space. So, all those times that you gave to the alien will now need to be filled up with some other wonderful activities. Make a list of all the wonderful things you will be able to do now. Starting with all the friends who were getting neglected, all the trips you had not gone to, and all the parties that you couldn’t attend earlier. Look at the bright side, now you can finish that book and watch that movie!

See?

Not so bad at all!

Remove the debris:

All those things, which remind you of –you-know-who just chuck them out. Give to a charity, or your staff. Or go and return it to the person or organization. Remember it is all now a debris of all that it was in your life. So, when a building falls, you remove the debris, to build a new house there. Simple! Right now, you are ‘removing the debris.’ Do it ASAP.

Do, not be condescending of all the good times. Don’t. Keep your perspective. Remember the good times as good times, and bad times as bad times. It was great when it was great. Now, it is bad.

So make a quick closure and get on with the rest of your life. I mean we don’t have much time to waste here in this world. Hurry up and get on with it!

Recovery process:

  1. Recognize the five stages of grief: Whenever there is a loss of any kind, one is bound to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, blame, depression and finally acceptance.  Try to start with acceptance. (Then you can skip the rest, hopefully.) By the way, these stages aren’t always in the same order. It is different for everyone. But starting with acceptance makes you go through the rest very easily. ‘Allah ki marzi thi!’ (it was God’s wish!)
  2. Say a big ‘Alhamdolillah’ and ‘Thank God!: Count your blessings.  Just count everything you have. You can stop at five, ten or twenty. Hurry up. You have things to do…
  3.  Go out and give something to a less fortunate person: Do it with your own hands. Don’t just sign a check, or give online. Okay, do that first, then take a meal and go and give it to someone yourself. That will give you the greatest happiness. (It will give you the greatest happiness even when you are already happy!)
  4. Meeting with yourself: You are now ready to embark on your new life! Jump up and down and do some exercise, then get that journal, and plan your whole life out, (without the – you-know- who-or whatever-organization- it-was). Remember: it has now got to be a BETTER life for you! Also, pray for the well-being of the unfortunate organization or the you-know-who, too. We are being very magnanimous here now!) jokes, aside, this is important also. 
  5. Decide to do no foul mouthing: You cannot go fast out of that zone by talking against the person or management. Remember, it was never all bad. So, keep it that way. Go out into your new life, with your honor, dignity, grace, poise, peace-of-mind, happiness, all intact.

I’m dying to say something that I said when I was very small and my mum gave me a good beating.I said, ‘phoo makhi baitha!’ – apparently, someone had taught me that. So, I got another whack for that! Now we sit and laugh about it. I’m sure I didn’t find it funny then, at the age of four!

Now, I do.

So, a time will come when all this will be a thing of the past. You will be into your future.

You will look back at this time, and thank Him for His blessings. So, Stay blessed, my dear one. You are great. 🙂

Over three trimesters of life.


 Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Ever since Prime minister Mahatir became the head of state of Malasia, I’ve been pondering. I mean, he is ninety three years old, and is elected as prime minister for four years? Till the age of ninety seven? (He was born in 1925!) 

Here is a man who has completed three trimesters of life and now starting out as a prime minister?! He is on to his 90-plus years already – along with his wife. He isn’t existing , he is living it out! 

I’m wondering if it can be like the nine lives of a cat?  With each ‘life’ a decade?

All my life I’ve been reading books and taking support and guidance on many topics including ages and stages of one’s own and children’s ages. I noticed that there is  a lot of  guidance and support in early stages and adulthood. Later on, we are left on our own.

First trimester of life – 1 to 30 years:

One to ten years:

Each and every month and year has loads of books written on every stage of these ages.

Ten to twenty years:

Lots of books and videos would be around for how to care for teenagers, and their social, emotional and physical needs.

Twenty to thirty years:

This one is considered to be the peak of life, and has a great deal about becoming an adult. There are many books on how to take care of yourself, and your body. Your social, emotional life is also dealt with, and specially finding the right life partner. All data is freely available. All fiction, movies, and videos are full of this prime time of life.  (As if no other life is really worth having, or worth documenting!)

Second Trimester of life – 30 to 60 years

Mixed ages here!

Thirty to forty years:

Most of us dread turning thirty. As if it is the end of youth or something. Once over the tip of 29 into 30 years, one realizes it isn’t bad at all. The starting years of career, ending of education and specialization in fields of interest, and the growing family are all well documented in books. You still feel great. You feel physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually fine, actually, quite on top of the world!  (I discovered I could write in my early thirties.)

Forty to fifty years:

Bilal on the right turned forty, and has worked in Microsoft. Loves music, books and inventing. 

Suddenly, with a bang you are forty!That is quite shattering, but then, you again realize it isn’t bad at all. All that ‘propaganda’ wasn’t correct. Forties can be pretty cool too. You are beginning to get a bit of a paunch, but never mind! You’ve most probably found your life partner and are well adjusted in career and children who are well settled in schools. Life is really good. You are getting to middle and senior posts in your job scene. Yes, books are getting fewer now. More books are there about illnesses and ‘how to reduce’.

Fifty to sixty years:

Every decade of life you enter with apprehensions, as it is a ‘no-mans-land’ with few well known personalities to help you through them. Thanks to internet, now we know ages of most actors and we know Ellen, Opera Winfrey, Bushra Ansari, Saba Hameed, Humayun Saeed, ShahRukh, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and many others are in this range too. Look at them, they are amazing!

Mostly, one is at the peak of one’s career at this time of life!

Third trimester of life – 60 to 90 years.

Now, its beginning to get scary, isn’t it? All those folds cannot be hidden anymore. You realize, you’ve got to move those muscles or else! Either ‘move it, or lose it!’ So, stay active and do everything that you’ve always wanted to do now. 

Sixty to seventy years:

I’ve known of Kentucky chicken guy who began his first franchise at the age of sixty two years. I’ve known of a publisher beginning her business at sixty five. Also of an artist who began painting at this age, and continued till she was over a hundred. Sixty has been the ‘retirement’ age too. You turn senior too. If it gets you to the front of the queue, then its okay! Also, it means you can be your own boss now on. 

Seventy to eighty years:

Mansoor Rahi and myself the instructor at the studio. He is a living legend in the field of art today in Pakistan. 
Hajra Mansoor and myself in her art gallery and studio. 

My mentors Hajra and Mansoor Rahi are in this age group. Both are blooming with good health. They are living legends in the art scene of Pakistan, and live in Islamabad. They are living in their own home, running their own art business, travelling abroad and within the country. They regularly hold exhibitions and hold art classes twice a week. They have a daily routine of working on their art work from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily. I find them going for walks, drives, traveling, and leading an active successful life. Only last week they went over a thousand kilometers by train to Karachi, for an art exhibition with their students. 

Eighty to ninety years:

My mentor Shahida Azeem, a great philanthropist lived to eighty-eight years of age, working on her organization Mashal, for the under privileged children. I’ve written about her in this blog post. She walked independently right till the end. In fact, I could hardly keep up with her activities. All the time she was organizing private or Mashal functions and inviting me over. I’d often have to excuse myself from her programs. (So, she would send me my share of food, if it was a dinner at her place.) She was just lovely. 

There are no books to help one through these years, today. You are on your own.

Ninety years onwards to hundred!

My father literally walked out of the ICU last month. 

As I write this blog post, and reach this point in my writing, I want to share these current personalities:

  • We all know of Dr. Mahatir Mohammad (ninety-three years old,) the current prime minister of Malaysia, and his ninety-one year old wife.  He recently took office, so he is looking forward to taking care of his country for four years at least.
  • Then there is this 106 year old blogger in Sweden who lives alone and takes care of herself.
  • I know a Ninety-five year old lady who lives alone in F-10 Islamabad. She invited me to tea with her literary friends. Loved it. She has a staff who takes care of her, a driver who drives here around too. She moves around with the help of her walker.
  • My own father was driving around till age eighty-seven years, here in Islamabad.  
  • Ninety-eight years old yoga instructor:

Just remember, all these are persons who did what they wanted to do. They stayed involved with activities and kept their minds (and bodies) active in constructive ventures.

Now, get ready to make your new-year resolutions, keeping all this in mind. Plan out your life like the nine lives of a cat! Lots of love and best wishes to all of you, my amazing readers. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!

Car maintenance tips for girls!

Hi my delicate drivers! Most of us  want to drive a car, so let us be responsible for maintaining it too. I’m telling you, it is not that big a deal. Watch the guys … do they repair the car themselves? No, they don’t! Precisely, they get it done.

So, can you!

Here is what you do:

  1. Always go to a recommended place. Get a reference from a good friend..
  2. Be courteous, and not condescending. If you don’t know something, just ask or Google it. There are YouTube videos for every problem under the sun, (and under the bonnet too!) You can ask the person frankly. Also, write down what work he did on your car. Let each experience be a learning experience. 
  3. You can go with someone in your family first, just to get ‘acclimatized.’
  4. I’d suggest, you dress with least make up and accessories, and in grays and browns, so you just blend in with the environment at the workshop. 
  5. Try to get the work done when there is least rush at the workshop (and in your life too!) This time can be coordinated with the workshop owner or mechanic.
  6. Generally, you can get your car service, oil change, tires’ repair or change, and minor repairs done yourself. Most of this work can be done at the petrol stations.
  7. Going to the big workshops of known companies is very easy. I’ve been to Toyota Motors in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, they are good. I’m sure it is the same for Honda, Suzuki, Audi, and others. All you do is wait in an air-conditioned room, sip a cup of coffee as you browse through that book you wanted to read.  – Don’t tell me you forgot to bring the book along? Okay, then you can read my blog posts, on your mobile phone, as you wait! 😉
  8. Smaller workshops are fine too:
    Just cut out the ‘air conditioned room’,  so be ready to rough it out. (Even in the heat of summers, and cold of winters – kutch nahi hota! Good for the skin pores.)
  9. You will find the courtesy of the workshop owners is here too. 
    • I’ve got maintenance done by a small workshop owner named Rashid who was also the picture of courtesy. He would come to the home too, to do my car repairs. Also, if I had a car breakdown, he would come over to help wherever I was. So, this was in Dhok Choudhrian, near Safari Villas, Bahria Town, in Rawalpindi.
    • The other was in F-10, a very good denting painting guy, Imran. Later, I heard he had moved to Saudi Arabia.
    • There was Muhammad an expert electrician in F-10 (he is now in Peshawar.) He would even go to my daughter’s college, get the car, then return it after repairing it.
    • Farhan, of Chaudhry UPS shop in F-10, has helped me with all my battery problems, even with UPS at home.
    • I’ve had these young men coming over to my home to repair the car even at eleven pm. Our people are amazing, may Allah bless them.  

I’m not saying, ‘don’t take help from the men in your family,’ just that when they are busy, you can do it too, and not bother them. Frankly, I’d started repairing my car, even when my husband was alive.Since he was an engineer and brilliant at this work, it really tickled him. But as he became very senior in his office, I knew he was getting too busy. I didn’t like using the official drivers to do my car either. (As a writer, I enjoyed doing anything outside the box anyways.)

Warning:

Car maintenance takes time. 

Time spent on repairs will be a lot more than you expected. Do, keep asking, but be prepared for delays. Last time I went, every half hour the guy would say, ‘half hour only!’ – It actually took several ‘half-hours!’ So, cool it! No point in being flustered. You also want the work to be well done. So, take more time than expected, with you. It also makes you realize when the men folk go to get the car done up, why they take so long! Do go in the first half of the day, for car repair work.

Daniyal Waqar’s office in his workshop. 

 You know Daniyal Waqar who is an auto engineer, he had this garage. Now, he has a new garage with his own name called DW Garage, since October 2017. 
It was a very pleasant surprise to meet an educated auto engineer, in his workshop some years ago.

I’ve seen him working there with BMWs, Audie and Mercedes too, and why not? He was the supervisor at Toyota Motors . He has studied about automobiles and has done courses from Dubai, which includes special courses on Audie cars. He is paying special emphasis to the high tech maintenance requirements of the modern cars. He regularly trains his workers about new technology and methods of car repair.

At this young age, he is a young and brilliant entrepreneur with his own business. His workshop is on the road to D-12, after E-11, Islamabad.

I’m not saying, ‘don’t take help from the men in your family,’ just that when they are busy, you can do it too, and not bother them. Frankly, I’d started repairing my car, even when my husband was alive. Since he was an engineer and brilliant at this work, it really tickled him. But as he became very senior in his office, I knew he was getting too busy. I didn’t like using the official drivers to do my car either. Simply because I don’t believe in using government equipment or personnel for one’s personal use. (As a writer, I enjoyed doing anything outside the box anyways.)

December 16th 2018

Did you think of it like this?

This date should make every Pakistani contemplate for a while. Just as we celebrate our good times; a wise nation also ponders over its failures and mishaps. A wise nation learns from its mistakes, and makes sure these are never repeated in living history again.

In today’s world it is enough to be progressive and economically strong.

Let me share with you some things that I really want to share, it was the darkest night of my life:

Flash back to December 16th 1971:

It was the darkest of dark nights, even though, the full moon shown brightly outside. I ran out of the room which was very dimly lit.

These were ‘black out’ nights.

 Appropriately so.

 While sitting inside, it had got unbearable for me to sit and watch the picture of Gen. Yahya on the black-and-white television set. He was announcing the surrender of Pakistan to Indians, in East Pakistan. Tears poured down my face as I rushed outside. I ran in to the shadow of the moonlight, next to a wall. I sat down on the ground, my legs unable to carry me anymore. I lent against the wall and cried my heart out.

From the shadow where I sat, I could see my cousins, coming out of the room calling out for me.

I didn’t answer.

Totally heartbroken, I knew my country had broken into two.  Though a school girl still, the enormity of those moments were too hard to bear.

How could I not feel it? My own father was in East Pakistan.  He was in the throes of it. My maternal grandfather was in Dhaka. The city had been under air attacks for days. My Dad’s younger brother Jafar Khan was in Jesore. My Bengali best friend Naheed Rehman was in Dhaka too.

 There was no communication with anyone.

Were they alive ?

We were living a nightmare….

It took months for my mother and myself to find out finally, that my father and uncle and my grandfather were alive. What we went through those months can only be felt by anyone who has gone through it.

I hope no one ever knows how it feels.

Alhamdolillah, my loved ones made it. But many others didn’t make it through that terrible night.

The night my country broke into two!  December 16th,  1971.

Fast forward 2014, Islamabad, Pakistan.

I’m driving home from my day at the job in Finishing School,  next to Fatima Jinnah Park, Islamabad. I put on the radio as I drive home. A man is talking about something bad that happened to some school boys … I reach home wondering what?

As I put on the television, bit by bit the terrible news keeps trickling in.

Another nightmare is unfolding.

This time:

My heart broke into two. 

Why? Because my heart is in those bodies of young children brutally killed.

Today is December  16th , 2018.

I’ve prepared a blog post to upload, but can’t.

Not today.

Not on December 16th 2018. There is too heavy a load on the hearts and bodies of every Pakistani today.

If this pain isn’t there, then it should be.

Alive nations remember their faults and follies, and learn from them. Otherwise, such things can happen again.

Alhamdolillah, my parents today are living to a ripe age, having given their best years and their loyalty to their land. 

History has a way of repeating itself.

So, what can we do?

Firstly:

Never forget the sacrifices made for us. Many families are still bearing the brunt of those sacrifices. May Allah give strength to the families of the ones affected by the APS tragedy

We can do this:

  1. Become the best version of yourself, to help our country become strong.
  2. Stop arguing and criticizing each other.  (for arguing only weakens a team,) and do our bit to build Pakistan into the strongest economy.
  3. Be the most honest and bravest form of ourselves.
  4. Use all talents and creative ideas for progress and development.
  5. Even if you live abroad, do something for your home country which no one sitting here can do.

I know, you are capable of all these things. Whether you are living abroad or in Pakistan, please do whatever you can to pay homage to the suffering that your forefathers did for this land. We owe this much, to the sufferings of the families of APS students and teachers killed during that ill-fated attack. Let us pray for their strength. Find some way to make this country a developed one. 

Today, I sit here in the winter sunshine, enjoying the fruits of sacrifices of our forefathers. Let us do our bit to leave a legacy for our coming generations too.

I was really happy to know that Alhamdolillah Pakistan is one of the happiest countries in this region,( according to a recent survey.) I’m sure we can make it one of the strongest and most progressive country in the region too.

Stay blessed! Freedom and progress are two priceless commodities. Both come with a price tag. Yes, each one of us has to work hard for it, on a daily basis 🙂

‘My baby is mine!’

 It is the burning issue on my mind these days.  I agree that life is challenging. Yet, it doesn’t give one the right to walk away from one’s own helpless baby. You are the only person on earth who can give him the greatest love on earth. You are choosing to deny your child this right to your love?

That clasp is enough to hold you on …. 

 

You can want to leave for any reason, please hold on. Don’t do it. Your child needs you. 

By the way, if you are doing it for another man. He too will reconsider going for a woman who can walk away from her own baby!

Do the right thing now:

Keep your baby. Most probably, if you are walking away without your baby, then you are walking towards another set of greater problems. It won’t get any easier by your leaving your child.

Once you keep your child, and decide to stay, you will definitely have more confidence knowing, you have done the right thing. That alone, will make you stronger.

A real life story of giving up one’s child:

Let me explain why I’m saying these things:

Over three decades ago, Tania (not her real name) decided to give her child to her childless eldest brother, (on the insistence of their father.) I had known the wife of that brother too. (I also knew that she didn’t want to take a child from the family, (as there would be too much interference,) instead she wanted to adopt from an orphanage.)

Young mother and newborn baby in white bedroom

Anyhow, I was in Karachi in those days, when I heard about it, I decided to call Tania and her bhabi to talk them out of it. In those days I was close to Sara, a friend in Karachi, who was childless. So when I told her I want to talk Tania out of this, she convinced me to stay out of it.  ‘Did Tania ask for your opinion? So, she convinced me to stay quiet. But I knew they weren’t doing the right thing.

Many years later, after the baby had been given to the brother and his wife; One day, Tania confessed, that she never knew how painful it would be to let go of her baby. By then it was too late. There were the congruent issues of who would be the grandparents of the child now? How were the real grandparents to feel about the child?

 In Islam, the child’s real father’s name should be kept with his name, so how would that look in the school records? So many other issues also kept happening with time.

Now, I know, the child doesn’t really care about his biological mother, even though he knows her. The actual father of the baby, poor chap, never had had any choice!

So, I kept realizing, why I should have listened to my heart (and not my friend) and gone ahead with that phone call. It would have saved them a lot of pain. Also, perhaps an orphan would have got a home. At least I would have done what I thought was the best thing to do.

Now, I’m listening to my heart and writing this blog post, saying what I’m thinking, about something so important.

People ask you for your child:

When a grown up like a parent of yours, or anyone else, is trying to push you to do it, refuse to listen. Tell them to mind their own business. This is your baby, and you decide about her. No one else has that right.

By the way, I too was asked by my father-in-law to give away my child. (If his other son was childless, was that mine or my child’s fault? Why should my baby and I have to pay for their misfortune?) I flatly told him, ‘If she was my tenth child, I wouldn’t give her away!’ (I said this, in spite of the fact that I had great regard for him.) But giving away a child is another matter.

Of course our society condones adoption of this type, and talks as if something ‘great’ has been done.

It isn’t great. Also, it is mostly, to get a hand on some wealth lying around!

Coming back to the Tania story; in hindsight, the child is better off with his other mother. Allah compensates in His own way. But his mother has definitely regretted that decision of hers!

It is now too late for her. 
But…

It isn’t too late for you!

Adoption is discouraged in Islam:

Much later in life, I understood the nuances of it all- the mehram aspect and what not. An adoption isn’t an answer for a child who has both parents alive. There has to be a better solution.

In the end, you realize, Islamic concept of things are actually right. We have to go through the whole process to realize some facts.

Exceptional situations are exceptions, but do not make a normal case into an exception.

My silent plea:

While counseling, and observing things happening,  I want to make this silent plea to all mothers of small babies:

Please, never ever let your baby go, under any circumstances. Just don’t.

Have faith in Allah to provide for you and the baby. You will manage. Why don’t you just surrender to Him who knows best?

Things change, have faith:

Today, I sit here under a roof that Allah helped me have. Seven years ago today, I didn’t know where my next meal would be coming from. Today, I’m not only taking care of myself, but others too. Grown men come to me for help. Can you believe it? You cannot imagine the forces that were going against me just seven years ago.

Just have patience.

Some success stories:

I know of many cases where a mother has held on to her children in the toughest circumstances. Several of these cases happened in front of me.  

  1. Two cases I personally know whose, husbands died in plane crashes. Later, a couple of great officers proposed to them, and now, they are leading happy married lives. The new fathers have adopted the first children too. 
  2.  There is a very well known, personality, in government service now, who came to Islamabad with almost no money, after her divorce. She left her parents, in Karachi, and moved to Islamabad, with nothing but her determination to make her own life. She had a two-year-old daughter and her faith in herself. Today, she has a prestigious job, and her daughter is a lawyer.
  3.   There is another friend of mine, who had a baby and divorced her husband. Later, she married a wonderful air force officer who adopted the baby. They have a wonderful life together. The young girl dotes on her dad.
  4. They are fine, in this ‘society.’ (Believe, me it was a far worse society then, when these ‘examples’ took place.) You are in a far better society today.
  5. There was a mother of a one-year-old-son, and her husband suddenly divorced her. After a couple of years, she received a proposal from a wonderful young man. Soon they got married, and he was thrilled to have a ‘ready-made-son’ to call his own. Afterwards, they’ve had two more children of their own. They are living happily near my home. 

Look at your recent past:

Just look back five or eight years ago? How was life then? Yes, things change,  you change, your circumstances change. So, why are you upset at today’s situations? Who knows, all this can change too! 

Why just chicken out of a situation with the worst possible ‘solution?’

Listen!

Take one step at a time. Do you believe your baby would rather have anything else, rather than you? Tell me? Your baby isn’t even old enough to say anything!

This is more important if your baby has some health issues. More reason for you not to abandon your child. If you fool yourself into believing that your husband will take care of the baby. Forget it. He will just remarry, and get on with his life. He cannot take care of your baby as you can. You can go to court and get financial help from him, but don’t let your baby go, please.

Leaving your baby means: 

You leave your child, then, you leave her open to situations of child abuse, kidnapping, and lack of faith. The most terrible thing is that she will never have any faith in another human being.

Once she grows up, she will know, there must be something wrong with her, that’s why even her own mother gave her up! How is this child to understand that it wasn’t anything to do with her? It was all about you?

All I want to say is this: when you are blessed with a child. It is the most beautiful blessing of all. To give away this beautiful gift is not the right thing to do.

Believe me you will never regret your decision. 

Thats all! 🙂

Be brave and stay blessed, my lovely one. Allah will reward you in ways that only He can! 

(I hope to meet you one day…. ! In a much happier state of mind and heart.)

Note: All these beautiful photographs taken online from ‘free online images’ and shutter fly with great appreciation. 

Truth about Lies

The journey from lies to truth.

How do you feel when someone lies to you? How do you feel about that person? Yes, awful. You dislike that person!

Next question: how can you do your business like this? (Is it halal if your income is gained through lies?)

Why do we trust people abroad, more than Pakistanis? Why is online shopping in Pakistan today, nowhere near what it is in the rest of the world? Yes, because here people lie a lot. You cannot trust a person or nation that lies. So, lies and cheating go together, just as Truth and Trust do.

Continue reading “Truth about Lies”

My Work life balance

How I became an artist, educationist, and writer.

 

In this post I’m showing you how I did the ‘work-life balance’. My childhood was fully inclined towards art. My parents didn’t let me go to NCA for its ‘open’ environment, and my mother put me in College of Home Economics. I was the typical daughter who studied there, on the promise that I’ll go to NCA, after graduating. That didn’t materialize. I ended up with an MSc degree in Related Arts, and got married to a PAF aerospace engineer.

 

Do a job which you love:

As far as my husband was concerned, he left it to me to decide whether I wanted to work or not. So, I did a job when I was in a position to give it my best, and didn’t do it when my family commitments were more. I believe that when you do a job, and it should be what you love. Only then can your work can be good.  Also, one shouldn’t work when you are already under pressure when the children are too small, or any other reason. So, when my children became school going, I’d work only if I liked the job. Believe me, when you are going for that interview, it is not  only them sizing you up, it is you  sizing them up too! It has got to be a mutually beneficial situation, otherwise, it isn’t worth it.

Continue reading “My Work life balance”

Caring for Elderly Parents

Dealing with issues while caring for your elders.

Very few of us are blessed with the responsibility of caring for one’s parents. I cannot express the rewards and blessings that I enjoy just due to their presence in our home.

My parents have been with me for five years now. It is heartbreaking to see one’s parents getting  weaker day by day. Yet, being with them at this time in their life is the greatest feeling.   It has been a time full of ‘raunaq’ and lots of fun too. Our times have been difficult, happy, rewarding and wonderful. I’ve written in detail about almost every aspect here. Now that they are older, I felt that a brief updating is needed.

In my blog post on weekly planning  here, you will notice that it is best to plan one’s own week from physical, social/emotional, intellectual, financial and spiritual point of view. So, while caring for one’s parents too,  it should be the same .

Physical caring:

 

  • Clothing: Make sure clothing is comfortable and easy to change. Get new clothes for them, especially every season and on special occasions. (You can give away another dress with their permission which can become charity from their side.)
  • Get as much help of manpower as you can afford. Train them and motivate them well. Do, give surprise checks. Yet, keep their morale high, by appreciating their efforts. We know, it is a tough job. So, be kind to them. Yet, they must realize that they have to be efficient. Your surprise checks and vigilant care must be there also.
  • Equipment: Use the appropriate equipment available in medical shops. This  could include hospital bed,  wheelchair, walker, special chair for bathing, and the one for the WC is also good.
  • Dealing with incontinence: Remember your parents can become incontinent, (you don’t remember a time, when you used to be that as a kid, so stop turning up your nose.) If necessary,  pampers and catheters can help. Make sure rules of hygiene are followed. You can find water proof slip covers for mattresses, also  smaller water proof sheets to protect the place they sit or sleep in.
  • Family doctor: Have a good doctor on call nearby, whom you can consult on your phone also, preferably who is willing to visit your home. Otherwise, do take your parents to hospital on time. I’ve found that responding to first signs of problems is better than waiting for things to get worse, and then going in an emergency. On the other hand, after some time, you realize, you can handle at least fifty percent of the issues on your own. You learn from every hospital experience. Soon you can reduce trips to hospital.
  • Laboratory Tests: Let me tell you one secret. Every doctor is made to advise you to have so many ‘tests’ taken. (This is all cash income for the hospital – believe me, my ninety year old dad has been tested for fertility!) This is not a laughing matter, so do counter question the doctor about each and every test that he prescribes. Ask if it is invasive and what it is all about. You will find, half of them are unnecessary. I’ve realized some counter questioning can make a big difference. Of course, you cannot do this in an emergency, but you can be vigilant on normal visits.
  • Emergency services: Do proper emergency services research, to find out which hospital is best. In Islamabad, Quaid-e-Azam hospital is the best these days. Do find out what is good for which type of emergencies.  Going to the right place for the specific emergency is vital.
  • Healthy foods and their intake: As far as food is concerned, sometimes the intake is restricted due to dental problems. In that case, getting good dental work done is essential. My father got a set of teeth put in, which is the full set. Due to that he looks good and also can eat well. Now, he is having problem in swallowing. So, now we just liquidize the food, and make it into a porridge so he can have the food. Make sure their nutritional intake is good. Fruits and vegetables are a must, as is meat and milk.
  • Herbal and natural treatments: Try to use herbal and natural treatments as much as possible.
  • Safety: Have handles placed in washrooms and preferably soft flooring, to avoid slipping and falls.

Social and emotional care:

 

  • Home environment: Keep a happy environment in your home, and in their room. Try keeping their familiar things with them.  
  • Take them often for outings: Do make sure the outings are within the time slot of their waking hours, and smooth and well planned. Do not tax them too much. Never be out too long.
  • Encourage visitors: Having visitors over to meet your elders is the best thing. Specially persons they love. Such moments are cherished by all. When visitors come you need to inform them about your parent’s routine. Be vigilant about their sleeping and eating hours. Encourage guests to adhere to these hours. Otherwise, take the parents in to rest, and entertain the guests yourself.
  • Mood swings: Take the bad moods with humor and patience. It is okay. Remember, as kids we would bellow our heads off? So, it is okay if they want to do it sometimes. Even now, we all have our moments.
  • Love: Plenty of love and care is all that they need. Hug them tightly, and sing their favorite songs for them too. Otherwise, keep the I-pad handy.
  • Psychological issues: Just be happy and keep them happy eighty percent of the time. Be patient and loving. However, if you feel that your parent is being too aggressive and impatient, know that it can be a medical condition, not age related at all. Perhaps there is another issue: As Dr. Shahid once mentioned, a problem can be due to any of three  following factors:
    • Age, 
    • Illness.
    • Medication. It could be the reaction of two types of medications that you are giving, causing this side effect. Only a doctor can find out, and monitor this situation. Preferably a good psychiatrist.
  1. Intellectual care:

  • Use intellectual triggers of memory and learning to keep their minds active. Use of color and sounds also help. Put on their favorite music for them by using the Youtube, and help with finding whatever interests them. Get new gadgets like mobile phone, ipad and computer for them, help them in getting comfortable with these.
  • Reading of books and magazines is very good. If they can’t read themselves, you can read out. You can see what they like and make sure you help them attain it. I know my father loves Allama Iqbal, Ghalib and Mian Muhammad Bukhsh, so I often read their poetry out to him, and his face really brightens up. He even fills in with verses that I cannot remember. It is a wonderful experience.
  • There will be times when he or she is disoriented. Just go along.  You will notice, most of the times they are perfectly fine and fully alert.
  • When you speak to your parent, look in the eye, speak slowly and slightly loudly. Keep your expression pleasant and listen when he speaks. Be patient and repeat what you understand. (Another point suggested by Dr. Shahid. He is a consultant at IDC F-8, Islamabad.)
  1. Financial care:

  • It is essential to let them enjoy the fruits of their lifelong hard work. Their property and wealth is theirs. Help them benefit from it. They deserve to enjoy and have all the comforts of all that they own.
  • If they aren’t financially stable, then do give them all that you can.
  • Unfortunately, I’ve come across very ugly scenes where on the death of the father, the children are talking of ‘distribution’ in the lifetime of their mother. How can anyone even think of such a thing? If only one parent is left,  let him enjoy his wealth till the end of his life. You didn’t make it, it is theirs.  Your parent deserves to use his or her wealth to be financially independent .
  • Remember, when you were young, your mother could have got many jobs, but didn’t take them for your sake. Now, when she is old and feeble, you want to deprive her of her own and her husbands’ belongings in their lifetime? I’m really shocked.
  • You are young, robust and strong. You cannot even imagine the hardships your parents suffered to bring you to this strong position that you are enjoying today.
  1. Spiritual care:

  • Reading out Holy Quran to them, is a good way to start the day. Do it with meanings in the language which they understand best. Your voice will be like a tonic for them.
  • Help them in saying prayers.
  • Give sadqa and charity for organizations from their side, or get food distribution in soup kitchens etc.

Take care of your parents with love, and you shall certainly be blessed.

 

 

My Visit to Citizen Service Center.

It is a 15 Police Facilitation Center in F-6/1 , the heart of Islamabad.

It is great to see improvements in different organizations in one’s country. Islamabad has usually had an edge over the rest of the country. The latest improvement has been in the establishment of this Citizen Service Center. It was good to hear that it was Ahsan Iqbal the Interior Minister, and Sultan Azam Taimoori IG Police who initiated the establishment of this office. This center was opened in May 2018. It is the first of its kind, (I certainly hope it isn’t the last!)

The Sub-inspector Abid Mehmood was incharge there, and gave me all information needed. He was extremely cooperative. Once he learnt I was a writer and blogger, he personally gave me a round of this office and gave permission for me to take these photographs.

So, if you have any problem, you can come to inform the police here.

Facilities at the Center:

The best thing is that it has a one-window operation.

They settle almost all issues for you. If you have been to your local police ‘thana‘, and they aren’t filling in the FIR, then you can get it done here. The renewal of your driving licence too can be done here. If you are going to buy a car or vehicle, you can get it verified here, to check for any police record against that vehicle.

One very important thing that every one of us must do is, E to give CNIC card photocopies, and details about all domestic help working at their residence, here.  Even the part-time help and their work and timings need to be given here. This is a very important security thing that each of us must conscientiously do.  I suppose it also includes all the times that you fire a servant, cook or driver, so you inform them. This will make sure the person isn’t on your list anymore.

On the photograph you can find all the different problems that are solved here. As you can see it is a varied and long list.

All foreigners and Pakistanis are facilitated here.

How you can go about solving your problem:

As I said, every ‘problem’ is an ‘opportunity’ to learn.  I learnt that if you lose a passport, (or any important document like your degree or any such thing, )  you have to make an affidavit (from any nearby stamp paper office,)  they have the format requirement with them, then take it to this Citizen Service Center of Police to get an FIR and Registration of case done. Hopefully it will just take around ten minutes (depending on how much rush there is.)  It is done quickly. In my case, once the registration was done, I had to  take this paper  to the passport office. The rest will be done by the the passport office.

This service center is where you come and register any contract you make with your tenant, or notify how many domestic help personnel you are keeping. Give the details here.

Finally, you will have a proper police protection if a tenant is misbehaving or not cooperating with you.  They will support you in eviction process if needed.

Continue reading “My Visit to Citizen Service Center.”