Extraordinary relationships.

Sharing some amazing stories here… 

All our relationships are in our own hands; The world can say or do what it likes, but how a person chooses to behave with ones’ relations, or one’s situation is purely one’s own choice.

Moral of the story: Your response to any situation depends not on your relationship, it depends on you.

In a nutshell – it is love. Here are some amazing stories I’d love to share with you:

  1. Treatment with non-believers: The biggest example of love is when Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would be going to pray to the mosque, and there was this non-believer, who kept the garbage of her house, in her balcony, only to throw it on his head, whenever he passed by.  She knew, his clothes had to be clean for prayers, and then he would have to go home to change also. One day, she didn’t throw any garbage on him. He became concerned. He knocked on the door, wondering if she is okay? He was told that she isn’t well. So he went in to ask about her and get medications for her. This is how you build a relationship.This is what our prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us. (I know, you are thinking, ‘only a Prophet could be like that!’)
  2. Age difference between husband and wife: Hazrat Khadija (aged forty) was a business woman, impressed by his dealings, (as he was her employee,) she sent a proposal to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (aged 25,) and he accepted it. They had an amazing marriage. Yes, he defied the stereotype of age difference, in his marriage to her. Theirs was a monogamous relationship, which he always cherished.

All right, so you say, my examples are from a prophets life. Let me give some human ones now.

  • Bringing up one’s child in another faith: My mother was a Christian, but chose to bring me up as a Muslim. She would search for the best ‘molvi sahab’ or priest, and made sure I read the Holy Quran with meanings. I often wonder, would I have done the same in a similar situation? Yes, she has been a great mother. She said, ‘I don’t want my child to feel like a different person. Specially, as there is hardly any differences between Muslims and Christians. The Ten Commandments are the same.  
  • Caring for step-mother and step-sister: My friend Raheela – is the daughter of her father’s second wife. Her mother didn’t keep good health. At the age of six, her father passed away. Her mother, decided to leave the house, believing that her step sons, (who were nearer her own age,) would want her to leave. When she told them that she is leaving the house, they refused to let her go. So, she remained. My friends’ step brothers and sisters cared for her and her mother all her life. They educated her, and married her off, giving her her share from their father’s inheritance. When she moved to her new home, she took along her mother. Now, her husband took care of her mother till she died at the age of ninety five years.  I’m a witness to it. She hates me to call them ‘step’ as she says, ‘they have given me even more love than any real siblings could have done.’ Till today she loves and cherishes them. But I insist on calling them what they are, because they are so great. These days, my friend is heartbroken due to passing away of one brother, whom she remembers holding her hand and taking her to school when she was a kid. 
  • Love between two wives of a husband: Another friend Fatima* is daughter of her father’s second wife. Her father was a big industrialist, and when the couple realized they couldn’t have children, his first wife, chose a second wife for him. She chose her own cousin and friend, and they were married. When the second wife, (my friend’s mother,) had her first son, she gave him to the first wife. They lived in the same house, yet, it was a big thing. There were five children. The two wives were on excellent terms all their lives, because the father never differentiated between them. Each one received equal status and love and respect from him and rest of the family. So, much so, that after his death, the two wives chose to live together in the same house. Recently, the elder one has passed away. Now, the second wife has gone into depression, as she finds it hard to continue her life without the presence of her ‘saukan’ (the other wife) in her life. Yes, I’m a witness to this case.
  • Step mother, changing her step-son’s life: You must have heard of Napolean Hill. In his book, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, he mentions how it was his step mother who gave him the confidence to be who he became. She changed his life, by giving him confidence at a young age.
  • Successful marriage between a Muslim and Christian: My father, a Muslim, married my mother a Christian at a time when there was a lot of prejudice. There was total harmony in my home. Their loving relationship has been an example for all in our family.
  • Brother taking responsibility of caring for his siblings: As a kid, I heard of the mother of six children, who committed suicide on the Qul of her husband, in Pindi Gheb. She went into a room and poured kerosene oil and put a match to it, killing herself. It is believed, the couple had been a very loving one. So, it was the loss of her husband, and knowing how people treated widows, and worry about her orphans. So she decided to bail out. The children were divided among the close relatives. (Naturally, a single family could afford to keep all six together.) Some years later, when the eldest son got a job in Pakistan Navy, in Karachi, he applied for accommodation on humanitarian grounds. He got all his siblings together in that house, including a blind sister. I heard about this in 1991, and connected the two stories.  Really wanted to do this piece for Dawn, but my husband got posted out, and we moved to Peshawar. 
  • Brother taking his siblings to Canada for a better life: I know a true story (from my own ancestors,) of a couple who lived in England long ago, then dying of Tuberculosis. Their one son had already run away from home, joined the British army, and gone to India. (He is my great grandfather Fred. ) The eldest brother, after the death of his parents, left England, took his siblings, and moved to Canada for a better life. (Now, out of the six siblings, I’ve got in contact with Dave Schirru who is great grandson of Ruth who was one of the siblings, probably in the early 1900s.) So, this brother, instead of running off to Canada alone, took his siblings along to take care of them also.  
  • Stepmother loves the previous children of her husband as her own: My friend Tehmina*,  found out that her elder three siblings were’nt from her own mother. She was in school and someone told her. She was shocked, she had no idea. Naturally, because her mother and father treated all the same way. Hats off to the mother who loved them as her own.

So, every Cinderella story isn’t true. In fact, you can make sure it isn’t true. It takes a very special person to make such decisions in life, and act that way too.

That special person can be you too. In today’s changing world, where there are so many divorces, and changing decisions, it is important to open one’s heart and home to new scenarios. Love can conquer all, if you are set on doing so.

All you need is a forgiving and loving heart.

I’m sure, you too would know many cases like these. The point is, do not be influenced by ‘log kiya kaheingay’, ( what people might say,) or the toughness of circumstances. Failure is not an option. Work things out, the way you want. Most important of all, have faith in God, Allah or whatever you call Him.

 Go on and do what you feel is the right thing, deep in your heart.

That’s all!

Stay blessed, my Reader. 

Note: All names with * are not real names, to protect identities. All photographs have been taken by author. 

Holidays – opportunities for bonding with children.

If life is difficult for us in these times, consider how hard it is for our children. Remember ‘for love, you need time’. When you get the time, don’t throw it away, by putting children into ‘summer classes’ and ‘winter break activities’. Spend the time with them. Otherwise, later on don’t wonder why there is no bonding, no caring. How can it be when at every opportunity you are looking for ways to get the children out of the way?

Come to think of it, how much time, do we have with our children? Most of the time, one is telling them, ’get up’, ‘get ready’, ‘have food’, ‘time for school’ ‘Finish your homework!’ So, after all that is done, how much time is there? Even when it is there, we are busy with something or the other.

So, while making the weekly, plan during summer or winter vacations do plan for activities with children. Cook nice dishes for them, arrange fun activities. Let them feel important.

Remember when you have guests, then you are with them, your children are not getting your attention. So, when you give time to your children, it means giving your full attention to them also.

Every summer, I’m being asked about classes for art or other activities, where mothers can put their children. Why?

Why not take every vacation in school as an opportunity to bond with your child at home? In fact, many times, I’ve taken the children with me by taking leave from school. I believe, our children learn more through travel. 

One of our most memorable holidays in USA, here we are at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. 

Lots of time, I’m asked how have I got such lovely daughters, well it is because I had special ‘family time’ on a daily basis with them. During vacations I planned out lovely outings and activities for us to do together. Even on weekends we went on outings. Such outings and activities are important for bonding among family members.

If such times are not planned properly, I knew we would mostly get on each other’s nerves. (That doesn’t mean we never got on each other’s nerves. We still did some times.) So, it was best for us to balance it all. If there were ten days of winter or spring break, I’d make a plan for activities for at least four to five days. If possible, we would bring their father also into our plan. Otherwise, we went on our own. I’d get a tourism department brochure on places to visit in the city. (Remember, it was the time before internet.) Then I’d check out the activities and events in newspapers. Most of the time I knew what was going on, as I was writing about many events, in magazines and newspapers. So, we’d mark out what we wanted to do:

Yes, they are rather grown up now, but this is how its always been – right from the time they were babies. Here we are in Nathiagali when we went for two days, and stayed at this beautiful and charming place. 

Before leaving:

  • Just get the house tidied up, so we come back to agood neat home.
  •  I’d make sure there was food in the ‘fridge. Mostly, I’d take along snacks, or even a meal to be taken as a picnic.
  • We would often use the opportunity to eat out.
  • Usually, I’d have the food cooked a day before.
  • Water, (yes, there were no mineral bottles then.) Juices, and we were ready.
  • Sometimes, we’d take our pets along too, if it was an outdoor location.

Where to go?

  • Art gallery.
  • Zoo.
  • Puppet theater.
  • Funfair.
  • Fun land.
  • Museum.
  • Science museum.
  • Folk heritage.
  • Have a picnic in a beautiful spot.
  • Watch movies.
  • Take them for theater plays.
  • Specially, take them to book fairs.
  • Take them to literary festivals, and get them books.  

Points to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and crisp, if needed. Avoid dragging an event. This will make them hate such outings.
  • Keep it fun.
  • Have their favorite snacks hidden in your purse, to give when their moods get bad.
  • I’d ask you to keep your personal calls and smart phone time, totally limited. (I’m being realistic enough to not ask you to avoid altogether.)
  • Do not take your maid with you. Do everything for your children yourself.

Indoor activities:

Of course you don’t go out daily. So, have indoor activities too. Let them help with household chores too. Then all of you can do something together. It can be any of the following:

  • Reading out the holy book, (one person reads andeveryone listens.)
  • Cuddle up on the carpet to watch a movie,
  • Play a game.
  • Sing songs together.
  • Dance together with music on full blast.
  • Just talk for hours, if you feel like it.
  • Share important events in life with each other.
  • Cook their favorite meal with their help in the kitchen. 
  • Throw a party, with party games in it. Let it all be a family event, where each person does something. (Instead of leaving all the work for you alone.) Remember to give them full credit during the party. One child can lay the table, other can make the salad and sweet dish. One of them can serve the cold drinks to the guests. Everyone can help clean up afterwards.
  • Cleaning up, or sorting out clothes, cupboards and drawers.
  • Planning and doing a new setting of lounge or the kid’s bedroom.

There are times in life when you do not have to play your role as a parent too much. Just be a friend to your kids, play silly games with them. I tell you, laughing together is the best medicine for all.

Having a favorite breakfast together. 

Stay blessed, lovely ones. Parenting can be so much fun, if you let it be so. 

‘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. 

November 2018: Happenings and Reflections.

 

Salaams to everyone! Hope you are enjoying this lovely November.  I get very reflective in November. Is it the same with you? What with the year-end nearby and the changing season,  the leaves turning to gold all makes one ponder about life!

After November 20th 2011, my life changed. It happened, when I took my husband to the hospital for a headache. Then my world started falling apart. Fast forwards this November 19th, 2018, I took my father to the same hospital in an unconscious state. I felt this was the end.  But, yesterday, I brought him back fully recovered, I’m so happy. I realized, sometimes we have apprehensions which are baseless.

In hindsight:

Seven years back today, it seemed as if there was no ‘waking up’ from this cold, dark place of earthly hell.’ Somehow, we managed to keep our faith alive, and survived  with the help of our friends and total strangers. You know, all of us need to accept offerings from helping hands. It is vital to remember  Who has sent these hands to help.

All this comes from keeping a hotline with Allah during good times. So, when things fall apart, you two really know each other! (Remember the spirituality part in this one? Yes, the weekly plan.)

Lately, I’ve been deeply pained by two things. One was the suicide of a twenty-two year old girl on  November 28th in Lahore. It is extremely painful. The second one was the burning alive of a Hindu girl by a mob in India, for attending a church. I just cannot get that vision out of my mind. What is even more painful is the mob watching while doing nothing.

Listen to the silent plea for help:

When I learnt about the girl who gave up on life in Lahore,  I wished someone had tried to reach out to her when she openly mentioned taking her life on Facebook. We all need to look up from our phones sometimes, to look into the eyes of each other. Or even when looking at the phone, to read that plea and do something about it.

I’ve read books on suicide. (I did it when a student had made an attempt. )I learnt that the person says such things casually. It is a silent plea for help. Please take such remarks seriously. Do whatever you can. I’ve specially written this blog post on suicide, and this one on depression which usually leads to it.

You have the power to save lives. Use it.

My father got admitted in hospital again:

On 19th Novemeber  Hasnain (my domestic help), urgently called me, my father was seriously  unwell. I dashed to his room to find him unconscious. Immediately, I drove my father to PAF Hospital nearby. As I was parking the car, my daughter Waliya went in with my father, to the Emergency. By the time I reached the Emergency room, my father was already in bed, connected to the devices indicating his condition. His BP was 77/40. They admitted him in ICU within a couple of hours, and after two days, he was moved to a room.

As I write, he is back home after nine days in hospital. He is mentally and physically  so much better . He was saying to me, ‘I don’t know how to thank you, I have no words….’ I smiled and thanked Him, who had given him another life, (once again.) Specially, I must say the PAF Hospital is very good. Here, you see my parents meeting when he returned. 🙂

I’m also grateful for the help of my two doctors; Dr. Mehmood, a gastroenterologist and Medical specialist at Ali Medical Clinic, and Dr. Fayaz Bangash the urologist at Quaid-e-Azam Hospital, who monitors my father’s UTI.

Shahnaz Jafar’s paintings exhibition:

 

On 17th and 18th of November, there was an exhibition of water-color paintings by Shahnaz Jafar and wood craft art works by Saleema Hasan. It was held in their family home in Islamabad’s F-6/3 area. The exhibition was exclusive, and by invitation only. The informal display of art works was attractive.

The water colors by Shahnaz, showed charming aspects of old Rawalpindi city. There are parts of the city, which are still alive with their old charm. Shahnaz has immortalized scenes of inner city. The hustle bustle, the people living there is charming. The intricate details are done with great skill.

Knowing how busy Shahnaz is in real life, the work reflects not only her skill in water colors, but the skill of time management as well. How she manages to do all this work in spite of her busy schedule shows how well she balances life and her passion for art. A skill we all need to learn. We all need to make time to do what we love within this life..

Saleema is a young girl and niece of Shahnaz who is a keen photographer and

 

her work is refreshing. The love for her country and its woodcraft is evident in her work. Really liked her innovative style.

 

The young Entrepreneur named Habib:

My meeting with Habib two years ago was interesting enough. We had met when he and his beggar friends were after me, while I was parking my car in front of D-Watson shop. I had gone to get urine bags for my dad who wasn’t well. I wanted the ones, which can get attached to the leg, plus some other medications.

As I got out of my car, I realized that I’d left my purse in the bank which I had visited earlier. I was standing talking to Hasnain, to get it from the bank. I knew I’d have to go home now to get my wallet. These boys were listening. Do you know, they actually gave me their days’ earnings! All of it. And, do you know, I actually took it too! (I’d return it later, due to the urgency, I accepted their help.)  I took Habib’s mobile number and went to the shop. I found out these weren’t available, so, I returned their money.

During this process, Habib told me he is seventeen years old, washes cars for people, and is going to get married to a girl. I told him he is too young. He said that her father has remarried and the step mother is very cruel. So, he is going to get her out of her situation.

He would call and stayed in touch; I knew when he married, and when his first child arrived. Whenever I could, I’d help him. Last week he invited me to the ‘opening of his shop’.  So, I decided to go.

His pregnant wife, and his cute child were there with him. It was a pleasure meeting them. As you can see I’m munching a ‘ras gulla’ from the box of sweets which he had got for me.  His ‘shop’ was a make shift ‘room’, in his house. He is planning to support himself and his little family through it.

Sometimes, It is good to have such reality check meetings.

Happy Blessed Friday:

We all know it was Black Friday. I think for the first time I enjoyed it. I’ve never been a person for sales or shopping. It has always intrigued me why people go crazy about it. Waliya, my daughter and I managed to squeeze in two sessions in Centaurus, the most popular Mall in Islamabad. I realized I need to shop like this:

  • Be VERY CLEAR about what I want.
  • Buy the most expensive stuff, which you normally can’t afford.
  • Time it well. Stay focused and don’t overdo it.

Screen writing group meet up:

Now, I’m getting interested in screenwriting and directing too. The other day, Faheem Azam, had a mentoring session in my home. He  is the one who wrote the first eight episodes’ scripts for Teeli . It was a very informative session and we received an offer for future mentoring by him too. He gave us a glimpse of the world of script writing, and how it works.

Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones. Life can be great, and the show must go one. 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2uomqCdOH0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Marriage Safety Valves

It is about making your story as ‘Happily ever after’ as possible.  

 

(Warning: This is my longest blog post –  why not grab that cup of tea or coffee you’ve been wanting to have?  It is can important topic, almost as important as life itself.  So, here goes: )

I asked my eighty-four-year-old happily married mother what she had to say about married life and she said,

‘Married life is what you make it!’

She said this, after sixty-two years of married life, and her husband is crazy about her. They cannot live without each other even for a minute. Each one looks out for the well-being of the other all the time. Of course they still have their little skirmishes and let each other have it. The fact remains, they cannot be without each other.

Isn’t that what marriage is really all about?

Once I was going through a bad patch in my married life. (My close friends were convinced it was ‘jadoo’ or ‘nazar’, as we were the envy of everyone. Our parties, home and family were looked upon as an example by all. As you can see from my husband’s round up of our home and family here. Anyhow, I didn’t believe that one. )

I went to a mentor of mine. After I told her my (sad) story, she said, ‘you know, everything that you have said, sounded like my own story!’ I was shocked. When we compared, there were a few major common factors.

‘If that is true, then how is it that you are counseling me, and I’m so upset?’

She said, ‘I turned to Allah.’

 

Continue reading “Marriage Safety Valves”

What to look for in a Life Partner.

The scary business of choosing a life partner.

Making the decision to choose a life partner is the toughest decision of one’s life.   It has to be a decision which is straight from the heart – preferably, keeping both head and heart in sync. It is even tougher if you are choosing one for your child, or helping your friend in the process.

Continue reading “What to look for in a Life Partner.”

How I brought up my three daughters.

Today I’m sharing my parenting style with you.

I’m gaining fame these days. Not because of myself, but because of my daughters. Yes, I’m the proud mother of three star daughters.

They are all grown up now. Nataliya has a photography business in Seattle, and was the first blogger in our family. She is married to a brilliant software engineer. Second one Nadiya has recently moved to Halifax. She is a blogger, career-girl-turned-homemaker. She is married to young multi-talented aero-space engineer who is into data analysis these days. Then there is my youngest daughter Waliya who is a photographer in Islamabad, she runs a successful business of her own.

All three are independent, strong and confident.

Masha Allah!

Continue reading “How I brought up my three daughters.”

Maintaining Relationships

“Love your relations” Said General Jilani to my father, then he added with a twinkle in his eyes, “ – but only from a distance!” General Jilani, was my father’s senior, when he joined the army. Later, he became the Governor of Punjab, however their closeness continued.  By the way, his home was always full of guests and relations. So, don’t take these remarks too seriously.

There is a lot of wisdom in this remark too. 😉 It just means, ‘be in contact, but give space to each other!’ So, that is what I’m talking about….

Continue reading “Maintaining Relationships”

Eid Preparations’ check list.

 

No matter how well organized you are, Eid comes as a bit of a surprise. As I write, Eid hasn’t been announced even at 11.00 pm Pakistan time, on June 14th,2018. So, obviously, Eid won’t be on fifteenth June here.

A couple of hours ago, as I was busy doing up the home for my last minute preparations for Eid. I thought why not share this experience with you? I just love doing up the home for Eid. Here is a checklist:

1. Clean house properly. I’m sure you have checked the house from inside out. Got every room properly cleaned. Specially the fans. Made the gardener prune the plants. Shifted the indoor and outdoor plants a little. Removed all burnt out leaves and got the place fully cleaned.

2. The clothes are all ready and hanging in the cupboards. You must have done them up two days ago. Yes, couldn’t get the right shoes, but there are so many in the cupboard, I’m sure at least one pair will do fine. Check out the accessories, handbag, perfumes etc.

3. Food is the main concern: So, the menu has to be good enough for snacks and a meal, if some guests decide to stay, because you can’t resist insisting! Haleem is a good one, as it goes for a snack as well as a meal. As far as proper lunch is concerned, I love Chinese food, as it is light. Hope you got it ready or can get home delivery.

Check out from the restaurant, if they do home delivery. Otherwise, a good old pizza is also good enough! Just be kind to yourself and avoid last minute cooking and being in a hot kitchen. Fresh fruits are the best, as these are healthy and wonderful. If there are lots of guests in house and more are expected, then something wholesome like biryani, karahi or haleem would be good. Please be practical. Please do not insist on people having the food if they don’t want to.

4. A touch of panache: Tea-candles, sparkly lights, and lots of plants and flowers everywhere, really make a festive look. If you don’t have enough fresh flowers, put some artificial flowers into the different arrangements. So, your one bouquet of flowers can go a long way, if you use it smartly.

5. Set your own mood first: I know you are a bit nervous, wondering if the food will be enough, if the house is looking okay or not, perhaps angry with your tailor for messing up your clothes a bit. No one will notice if you keep that blazing smile of yours full on. You were too busy with your job/activities/praying and taravia routine/ daura-e-Quran/ social work. Now, with Eid on one’s head, only one day to go you are wondering where to start. Set the mood of yourself and your home in order. It is time to relax and enjoy it all.

6. Visiting list: Do visit all those family members or friends who lost a family member during last few months. So, this is their first Eid. You can start your visiting session from their home. Also, if there is a person who is alone, because his or her children are abroad, or has some problem, you can invite the person over for lunch. In short, be kind to someone.

7. Gifts: Getting nice gifts for family members with cards is a very good gesture. No matter how much you can afford or be able to do for them, it is the thought that counts. Have nice games, and favorite dishes cooked so everyone feels loved and happy.

8. Sharing joys of Eid: I’m sure you gave new clothes to all your staff, and also to others in your community. Keep things within limits. Do not get pestered by bullying beggars and staff members. Remember, the ones who are silent, may be in greater need.

9. Be kind to your staff: If you are lucky enough to have them with you, plan in such a way, that they are not put through too much stress. Ease the systems in your home. Have self-help table arranged, so everyone just helps themselves. When you go visiting, let them have leave, so they too can go visiting. Lock up the house, put on your alarm system.

10. Texting and phoning loved ones and acquaintances: Try to call your close friends and relatives, if possible. Send a text if it is inevitable. Preparing a special text which you can share them with almost everyone is a good way to manage.

11. No phone: Please give more attention to your loved ones sitting next to you. Put that phone aside, and have eye contact while talking to your friends who have come all the way to meet you, rather than with your phone!

12. Have a blessed Eid: Do say the Eid prayers in the mosque or at home. Make it a special Eid, life is too short to be wasted, sleeping it out. Eid Mubarak!

Note: Photographs by author of house of Haroon and Uzma, and her own home.