Dealing with loved ones in pain


Life has a way of testing you in different ways. As they say, “our lives in this world is like an examination, yet  each one has a different paper.” Yes, a different paper, and that paper keeps changing also! “As you get used to one channel, life changes the channel!” Is another one of my favorite quotes.  You can read as many quotes as you like. Take on as much pain on yourself as you can bear. But to watch a loved one in pain – whether it is physical or emotional – I think that is the hardest thing to bear. On top of it, when it is also your responsibility to look after that person, it can be even more painful, yet it is a relief to know you are in a position to do something about it. At least you are in an active position, not a passive one. Putting on a brave face is vital, to be able to relieve your loved one’s pain for a while at least.


So many times I’ve taken my father or mother in almost unconscious state to the hospital. – Hoping that I’m not making any mistake of some sort in the process. Thank goodness, physiology was my favorite subject in school and Home Nursing was another subject which I took in my first and second year in College of Home Economics. All that really helps. Now, on Google you can have every type of information at your finger-tips. Still it is tough. The doctors and staff of hospitals are a real consolation. With a few ‘incidents’ you find out whom to turn to, for which problem. God bless them all.


Love is a feeling we have for so many individuals in our lives, specially our parents and children, then our relatives and dear friends. Frankly, I can’t see a total stranger in pain either. So, how do you deal with it?

  1. Ask the person directly, how you can help. Remember, sometimes the person is too upset to think straight. Then you do whatever you can think of as the best thing.
  2. Get spiritual strength: Say two naffals for the person, specially Tahajjad, (when you are awake at night worrying about the person. Why not put that file on God’s table?)Read ‘Hasbi Allah ho wa nemal wakil’, ‘La haula wala quvvata, illa billa he’, and surah Fateha (which is one of the best for getting well from illnesses), la illahi illa, anta subhanaka, inni kunto minazzualameen. Each of these is awesome to be recited as much as possible to get strengthened.Reading the Holy Quran (preferably starting from one end, and read whenever you get time) is the best. Coming across incidents of stress and struggles of the prophets really helps. You realize you are not alone.  The prayers here and there, sometimes really feel as if they are tailor-made for you!
  3. Get physical strength and energy: Try to get full sleep, six hours straight is the goal – and two more if you are lucky. You’ll need it to be your fittest. – Recitation of simple word Allah helps a lot. Even taking a sleeping pill sometimes is better than staying awake all night. Do some exercise, or walk extra in the hospital. Take proper meals, but focus more on fruits, juices, soups and veggies.
  4. Food is one of the best ways to help. Take along something for the person or their live-in guests. Fruit, sandwiches and soup always come handy.
  5. Perhaps, you can help those who are caring for the ill person. They need a great deal of support also. I remember, when my husband was seriously ill, his friends  taking my children to a restaurant nearby or ordering food for us. We all need a relief sometimes. Especially when tending to long illnesses.
  6. Be careful what you say. Avoid telling them all sorts of similar horror stories, especially with tragic endings. Never use negative words like ‘bechari’ or ‘you poor soul.’ Talking about the weather or any other small talk works fine. Sometimes, say nothing. Just be with them. Keep alert to find out how you can be of help. Also avoid giving unwanted advice. People are intelligent and well equipped now to get any information they need. Unless, it is something really vital for them, and only you know it. Or if they ask you.
  7. It is also important not to impose on the person. Sometimes they need to be alone, or rest. So, keep the trips short and crisp.
  8. Be positive. Pamper and value your own contributions and enjoy the appreciation you get. Also, ignore if your efforts went unnoticed. You are just doing the best you can. That is enough.  We owe it to our own conscience to do our best. Particularly for those who stood by you, in your hard times. IMG-20160817-WA0011
  9. Give yourself a treat to get strong again: Don’t feel guilty … Take a break: listen to music, watch movies to boost your morale. Once you’ve done your bit, it is okay.20160827_182012 (2)

There is an amazing book ‘The Anatomy of Courage’ written by a psychiatrist Lord Moran, during first world war, first published in 1945. Its about Courage – of course!  The doctor says, that when a soldier has just returned from a battlefield, all you need to do is offer that person who is in shock, a place to sit in, give him a cup of tea and soothe him. Help him through the first few moments of shock, sit with him, he will be fine in a while. Its those first few moments that matter.

My dear Reader, we all need each other to ease the pain that we and our loved ones are going through. Stay blessed and very strong to be able to be there for your loved ones when they need you most 🙂

My Dad gets a new life!



Wondering why I’ve been so quiet? I’ve been through the works, last week. Taking care of two elderly parents is a responsibility with its beautiful moments and very difficult moments also.

Last week had the difficult moments….

Remember, when my mother fainted last month, when I’d gone to service my car? Well, this time on March 17th, 2017 it was my dad. I was at my art class when I got the call from Sabir ( my Dad’s domestic help,) around 5 PM;  I went home to find my dad almost unconscious. Ever tried to move an unconscious person into the front seat of your car? Let’s hope you don’t have to … it was tough, in spite of the two helpers.


Continue reading “My Dad gets a new life!”

More respect for the man in our lives…


I know all the feminists would want to kill me, for this blog. But sweetie, I believe in truth. The fact is that people are cruel, whether they are men or women. There are the good, the bad and the ugly among both genders, and I’m sure among the in-between genders too!

About six years ago, I had given a lift to four ladies after our Mashal meeting, in my car. On the way, a weird thing was happening… each lady was talking about the ‘greatness’ of her husband!WP_002249.jpg

I smelt fish.

I mean I really did. Usually, women when they get together, often leave no opportunity to do some ‘husband bashing’, or talking about this or that trait of theirs. Here were all of them saying grand things…. Soon I found out, that they all were widows. So, it turned out ‘that the only ‘good’ husband is a dead husband!’

“Why is this?” I thought?

Continue reading “More respect for the man in our lives…”

Are my children becoming orphans?

  Whether you work or not to work outside your home, this is a possibility.


Calm down please! I know, it is an emotional topic. – But very important.

There are busy spells in everyone’s life. You can get caught up in your job or your husband’s job or it may be a family event, and get into a spin of events. Through all this the children get left out and a bit neglected.

Continue reading “Are my children becoming orphans?”

Caring for elderly parents and parents-in-law.


I have a mentor with a great sense of humor. She said “Why is it written in the Holy Quran, that you must take care of your parents without a single ‘uff’ from your side? – (He never said that for taking care of your children!) Because He knows, your parents will create situations which will make you want to exclaim!” And then she went into peals of laughter. It doesn’t mean the kids won’t be difficult. It means we don’t mind them being difficult. Then, why can’t we be more patient for our parents who have already shown their great love for us?


Continue reading “Caring for elderly parents and parents-in-law.”

 60th Wedding Anniversary.

Here are points for any married couple to learn …….  

My parents celebrated their golden anniversary on June 25th 2016. On that wonderful day, their daughter (that’s me) and granddaughters took them out to dinner, and afterwards my father presented my mother with a beautiful diamond ring.


Every married couple would like to know how they’ve kept their love for each other alive.

“What has been the best thing about your wife?” I asked my father.

He said, “She never asked me for anything.”

When I asked my mother the same question, she said, “I never had to ask, because he always gave me everything I needed.”


She had come from a mother who believed in ‘contentment’, and that is all I ever heard my mother talk about all my life. “The secret of happiness is in Contentment.”

Should I end this post here?

Do you think there is more to it?

Yes, I agree, there is much more to it.


I’ve grown up with parents who always looked out for each other.  I never heard my mother talk back to her husband. (It wasn’t that she never disagreed, she just saw the futility of speaking when he is not in his right frame of mind.) – So she wisely chose to stay quiet. Maybe, days later, she would broach the subject in her own loving way – When my father was in a more receptive mood. It was a matter of wise timing.


So what qualities have I witnessed? Here are a dozen points I’ve collected for you:

  1. Love. Total and complete love, which I’ve seen in every form: there were times, lately when my mother wasn’t too well. I asked my father to get a maid to take care of her. But he refused, saying “She has taken care of me all my life, now it’s my turn to take care of her myself”.
  2. Loyalty. Never letting anyone get away with talking against one’s husband or wife.
  3. Patience. I’ve watched my mother being so patient through situations which would have driven anybody else crazy.  Not her. She sits calmly, finding something to occupy herself with  like  knitting, embroidery, cooking or reading. Lately, she has taken up watching Pakistani dramas on her tablet! She keeps herself busy and stays calm.
  4. Expressiveness. One is never at a loss when one is with any one of them. Each one says exactly what he or she feels. Yet my mother knows when not to express also. When they were building their house, she would keep quiet and let my father make the main decisions. When I asked her why doesn’t she speak to him? She would say, “I don’t think its that important that I spoil our relationship over it.” So, she chose to keep her opinions to herself. This has been her policy a lot of times. She believes that nothing is worth spoiling the atmosphere of one’s home for. So, she kept her peace.20150122-20150122-img_3447
  5. Humor. Laughing out loud and ‘catching’ the humor in situations. In the grimmest of circumstances, I’ve seen them laughing and telling jokes. My father came back from 1965 war, with his funny tales, then after the life in POW camps and even the solitary confinement which is the severest form of torture. He came telling us jokes of his times in the camps. When he sat at the table, he said, “where is my dish? Daal! I’ve only had that all these years!” Then he had everyone in stitches telling us about the radio program of messages which all the prisoners would listen to with great sentiments. Once a person sent a recorded message on radio, of how “Rodu also has failed!” (Baldi has failed in his exams…) Now, what was the need of sending such a message? So it was hilarious. He came back full of stories. One of them was when a Sikh guard inadvertently walked into their make-shift mosque. So, they all gathered around him telling him “How dare you go into our mosque with your shoes on?” The guard duly apologized, but on the side my father told his friends jokingly, “we never go there, why are you going?” There he was, laughing and telling everyone jokes. We all knew the horrors of the experience. He was just trying to make light of it, (what was the point of sharing the horrors?) later on, he did share these with us. But I’m sure, he left the grizzly stuff out.20150114-20150114-219
  6. Financial interdependence. My father has always handed over every penny he had to my mother. She has been his custodian of all important papers and cash. He knew he could trust her. Her amazing memory and skills in mathematical calculations make her the best person for the purpose. No matter how tempting a thing might be, she won’t buy it if she can’t afford it. She has never bothered with what was the ‘fashion’ or ‘trend’. Yes, if she could easily afford something she would get it. She loved spending on her home, husband or her daughter. However, all within limits. My father knew that she would try to keep some money on the side, for a ‘rainy day’, so he could depend on her to bail him out when needed.
  7. Courage. Both my parents have never lacked in courage and valor. Both have been brave and courageous in their own ways.
  8. Caring in every possible way. They both have cared for their partner like anything. When mum was fine, my father was the pampered one. She took care of him like anything. He was the pampered eldest son in his home and the brother of three doting sisters. So, he was used to being given top priority all the time. My mother also saw to it that our household literally revolved around my father’s requirements and wishes. His preferred foods were always served the way he liked them. Yet he too encouraged and supported my mother’s preferences in style of serving food and the English way of laying a table, and having both English and Punjabi style food. Both respected and honored each other’s wishes, so parathas, daal and saag was enjoyed with ‘makai ki roti’, along with soups, stew, roast, and cakes and tarts.
  9. Praising one’s partner. Always blowing each other’s trumpet, both of them have admired each other and do not leave out any opportunity to praise each other up.
  10. Ignoring each other’s irritating habits. Being human, naturally, each one has habits which the other finds difficult, but they will both show so much tolerance for it. Patiently waiting for the other partner to get ready, or any other thing.20150821-20150821-317
  11. Looking out for other person’s interests and needs. Both are interested in sports. They love to watch tennis and keep each other updated. My father enjoys watching cricket. He will be up at all odd hours watching the latest matches. My mother hates the noise in the room, but will patiently tolerate it, while she tries to sleep. Having common interests. My parents have played chess always. Both are brilliant in it. They literally spend hours playing the game.20160625-dsc_0389
  12. Faith. I’ve seen them facing great financial and other life’s hardships with patience and tolerance.


Happy birthday Mummy.

It is about your awesome journey so far… you are 82 years old on November, 7th 2016. 315931_10150796973810171_5378442_n1

Your getting married to a Captain in the army in East Pakistan, made it a news story in the papers. You were so courageous. Your Muslim friend Surraya, had warned you “these Muslims can be quite awful, don’t just marry him without finding out more …” your father GWF Young was adamant. “I trust him” and he never investigated my father’s background. Mom, you had told my father, that you won’t marry him, unless his family agrees to this marriage. So, you married my father after his family’s consent.


You remember your happy early years of marriage in sharp detail. The living in frugal conditions in two rooms while living in Cantonment area of Rawalpindi, has memories you fondly remember till today. No money for fuel and owning nothing. Even the quilt you used was borrowed from friends! Yet you always said “Since God has to give us some problems, so our problem  ‘no money’.”  Your love for each other made up.

You baked that rainbow cake on my fifth birthday and Daddy threw a big party for me. We lived in our little hut in PMA, Kakul. When I was to have my first day at school, I was put on the school bus, to go to Abbottabad and find my own class in Burn Hall. Yes, you believed in giving me full confidence. You knew all about that one. As you had yourself been sent to boarding school at the age of four!

Bringing up your child as a Muslim is something amazing about you.      “Islam is very close to Christianity. It is very similar; I want my child to know her religion.” You engaged the best Molvi sahib in the area, to teach me passages from the Holy Quran with translations daily. (I often wonder, if could have done the same?)  When we did Qurbani on Eid-ul-Azha, it was you who knew how many portions are there for the family, relatives/friends and for the poor. 10550099_10152699340227033_736269574015649571_o1

Yet, you didn’t mix conversion  with marriage. “ I’m not going to my religion  for you.” You told my father. Since Islam has no issue with that, and a Muslim can marry any person of the Books.  It showed how much you valued your faith and God. You grew up in a family who had values and principles.

Living with the Muslims, and being part of this society, Mum you won the hearts of everyone. You made friends, who loved you for who you are. You were good to all relatives of my Dad, cooked tasty meals for them, and looked after them, when they came to stay with us.

In school and with friends, you left me to fend for myself. You never backed me up anywhere, knowing that as an only child, you prepared me well. You  knew, other children had siblings to back them up, but you wanted me to be strong. Being an only child yourself, you knew how it feels. You  didn’t know, however, that in school (and elsewhere,) I invariably had someone who did back me up! 20150821-20150821-450

Your fantastic memory is what our whole family banks on. You remember, names, ages and places of peo14079914_1684742931849821_6135030403363999369_n1ple we met long ago. Even those you never met! You are like a computer. It is this memory of yours, which gave Nadiya the clues she used to find your family tree from the British records. It was amazing. She succeeded in finding your Canadian cousin Robin, just a few months before his death in Mexico. Here is a photograph of you with your father, when you were a schoolgirl.

After marriage, when you came to West Pakistan, from East Pakistan, you knew no Urdu, and found Punjabi mystifying. You were used to wearing western dresses. You willingly, changed your dress, and learnt Urdu, enough to manage very well. When you went to the village Pindi Gheb with my father for the first time … he asked you “How does Punjabi sound to you?”

“It looks as if they are fighting with each other!” you remarked.

My grandparents had held a grand Waleema function for you both in Pindi Gheb. It was such a landmark in your life, that for decades later, you would calculate people’s ages  from that first time!

Though you lived just ten minutes from my college, you insisted on putting me in hostel. You believed, this is essential in life. (I’ll have to agree to that one!) Always a self-less person, you made sure I got the best of everything.

“My mother always taught me ‘the secret of happiness is in contentment’.” Is what I heard from you, all my life. Yes, you’ve always been contented with whatever my father gave you. Of course, he always handed over all his money. You managed everything. You had all his papers and took care of everything for him12042887_1033556840010941_4812420889195803829_n1.

Mum, remember when I was expecting Waliya in Karachi, you and daddy had come to visit us. One day, there was a call from an editor of a new magazine. “Please let us know your terms and conditions, as we want you to write regularly for us.” In those days, my weekly column was appearing in Dawn’s Tuesday Review. I was thrilled, and told you. You looked at me and you started laughing. “Tell her I am ‘full term’ and condition is in ‘full bloom’!”

Mom, you are amazing. I know you could have made a claim to your father’s property in Narrabeen, Australia. But you didn’t. When my maternal grandfather passed away, my step grandmother Mavis was in the home. But when she passed away, that’s when I said to Mom that she could have claimed it. Mom said “She took care of my father, that is enough for me.” My Mummy, you just dont have it in you to go for wealth of any sort. I know you  just leave everything to God. Your  faith has always been unshakable. I can see how God takes personal interest in your wellbeing too.

While having spent a life of being quite hard up, you never minded my father’s generosity to poor people around you, or for anyone else.  Always by his side, always supporting him in whatever he says or does.


You never liked jewelry, and never bought any. The few trinkets handed down from your parents and your grandparents were all you had. Life in the army took care of the rest. Living an honest and hardworking life, my father couldn’t afford to give you any more. Yet, you never demanded either. You never looked at others, nor compared. Yes, contentment is all I saw. You didn’t mix around much, nor had many friends. Just a few sincere friends, whom you’ve had all your life.

Your cooking was always amazing. The food in our home was awesome. The dinners you gave, your black forest cake, your walnut cake and your chicken roast were out of this world. I specially loved the stew you made. The fresh juices with carrots, oranges, and honey are still remembered.

You were always as good in Math as I was bad in it. That’s why you always lost your patience while teaching me Math.  Whack!!!!

One day, several years ago, in your home in Safari Villas, Daddy and I were planning our Haj trip. You asked, what about the children? “Mom, they will be with you…” I said. “But I’ll be with you both, I’m also performing Haj!” you said. That was it. You had decided to covert to Islam. It was a great moment. We wanted to share the news with relatives and friends by having a gathering. But you are a very private person, and didn’t want us to make a big event of it. We respected that, and were thrilled. A conversion should not be from convenience, but from conviction. It’s a very private and emotional moment.

We also respected the fact that you didn’t want to change your name. “It is the only thing I have, which was given to me by my parents”. Rosemary is a beautiful name, Mom, we love it. Just as we love you.  Most folks often like to call you ‘Rose’ which also sounds great.10478219_739215312787040_8676699203763179237_n1

Over  two years ago, when you and my father, sold off your home, to shift in with me, you adjusted so well. A few months after the move, I asked you, “how do you feel leaving your own home, and moving in?” and you made me so happy when you said, “I’ve forgotten it all, I’m here with the ones I love, I’m happy.”

You were always the techno person in our home. When the VCR came, it was you who knew how to record programs. You even learnt to use the computer.  Now, at 81 years, you have your own Ipad, watching all your favorite films. Your latest craze is watching the Pakistani dramas on your ipad. ‘Humsafar’ beats all!

“There is only one person more handsome than Fawad Khan,” I heard you saying “That person is your Dad.” With a dreamy expression you told me “If you could have seen him, at that age, he looked so dashing, always well dressed, and used a  cigarette holder, for his cigarette .”

When I ask her “what was it about daddy that made you fall in love with him?” instantly the reply is “His polished shoes!” That’s her humor all the way.

When I’m out, you are the one who is monitoring all my movements. The moment I step out of my art class, your call comes, “is your class over?” and then “Can you get me some croissants from Tehzeeb?” you know, that once I step into that bakery, I won’t come home without several other goodies either!”20140114-img_7273

When we went to PC Rawalpindi for brunch and you and Daddy and entertained some friends. When we came home and you had gone to rest. Waliya and I sat on the sofa, daddy sat across from us. Daddy started saying something… we could barely understand, (I looked down at my phone, where a call was coming from Nadiya. Waliya, was looking at me, her look said ‘pick it up!’, I was ignoring it, I texted Nadiya, ‘l’ll call back’, I whispered to Waliya, ‘daddy is saying something important… and this is what he was saying… “you know, as time goes by, I love your mother more and more!”

What more can I say…..!  Except, Mum I love you too, more and more each day. Happy birthday and may you have a long, healthy life. Ameen.

Stay blessed, my dear reader. Wishing you beautiful relationships with your loved ones.  🙂



My Mentor and My Ideal: My Father.

 I had to share  my thoughts with you  now, when I found out that you are unwell and I was missing you so much.13495156_1190013564365267_6315996434889720542_n

You have always been such a central part of my life. I don’t like knowing you are lying in hospital now, and I’m here across the world from you. I’m a little comforted to know you are getting better now, but I can’t tell you how helpless I’ve felt knowing I can’t be with you. It was good to know Waliya was handling things so well. Also  my uncle Jafar and cousin Hasan there too.   Nadiya has also joined in from Lahore, so I’m content, you are in good hands.

Alhamdolillah, you are better, and back from hospital after three days.  I want to share my feelings. You know, as a child, I was a little scared of you.  Though, you were always loving, yet you had a temper to contend with – one can see traces of it even now. Well, one had to have that temper, as you stood alone by your principles and standards among so many who didn’t.You don’t suffer fools gladly. Yet you are one of the most loving persons I know.


Never compromising on your standards, you’ve looked towards Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and Hazrat Umar or Allama Iqbal for reference.  You live by their principles. Last year, Brig Mumtaz came to meet us. He told me that he has seen you in the battlefield and you fought fearlessly. He told me, “Your father is the bravest person I’ve ever seen.” So, I know, you were a brave and courageous officer, as you fought in 1965 and the 1971 wars. Those who were near you watched you make tough decisions and you had the backing of your officers .  You’ve been a great commander and officer of the army. No wonder you were the recipient of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (M). Your experiences in 1965 were an example, and in Runn of Kutch where you fought, the land remained with Pakistan for the longest time – over six months. You were among the officers who took over the Monabao Railway station. Your 1971 battle fought in North of East Pakistan is already written, and I’ll be putting it up soon.


During martial law in 1969 (in Lahore) and later in 1977 (in Rawalpindi) you were given duties to deal with the civilian matters and you became very popular. Your sense of justice in dealing with matters became a yardstick for many. Once an officer came to meet my mother to tell her how honest you are. He told her how he witnessed a scene when a man came to you offering you the keys of a house, (in those days officers’ didn’t get houses after retirement) but you were furious with him, and turned him out of your office. This is why you were given the most challenging cases, and this is why you sometimes faced consequences also. However, nothing deterred you from your honest handling of affairs.

You were outstanding in sports, and worked with the legendary Brig Rodham, as a Captain in the army, in Rawalpindi. You were also a good athlete. Later, as DG Punjab Sports Board, you took the sportsmen and sportsgirls of Punjab to unprecedented heights. You introduced men like Sultan Golden to the arena, and he was able to break records.

You retired, after serving more than three decades of service in the army, you spent the next three decades being in contact with your regiments and brigades. You were selected to be the Col of 16 FF, 33 FF and 8 FF for many years, till you yourself made way for others.  You are loved and admired by the officers of the army even today. This year the 8 FF regiment celebrated your eighty ninth birthday and asked you to cut the cake.


Till quite recently, you were driving your white Toyota Altis 2014 model. You made sure the number plate was made up of numbers of your two favorite regiments: 8 and 16! Driving has been one of your passions. You always drove very fast, and very few had the heart to sit next to you in the passenger seat without cringing at your high speeds! Your knowledge of the mechanism of the car has been great. Your dear friend Brig Jawad was the one who inspired you to do all the ‘mechanical’ work yourself. Many times I’ve seen you and my husband busy with car maintenance.13096333_1156932007673423_354163363943312771_n

Born on March 2nd, 1927 in Surag you were the eldest son of Major Malik Muzaffar Khan Gheba, and the grandson of Malik Gulsher Khan Gheba. Your grand-father received the title of ‘Shah Sawaar-e-Hind’, due to his outstanding horsemanship. Naturally, you were an expert equestrian and enjoyed the sports of tent pegging and horse riding. Your grandfather was the one who had performed in front of King George the V on his Coronation celebrations in Delhi. He was given the spotlight and was seen by everyone as climbing a stairway to a great height. He was later invited to London also.

As the eldest of eight siblings you have three sisters after you, then four brothers. Here is 20150120-20150120-img_3170a picture of Sargodha where you spent a large part of your childhood with your siblings. I invited all of those ones living in Pakistan in 2001 to come and revisit you all’s childhood places. It was a memorable occasion.



You were a very good marksman and wrote a book on pistol shooting. You were the recipient of the silver bullet more than once, which is the highest award for a pistol shooter. During the 1965 war, you managed to hunt over 67 bucks. However, you gave up this sport as you realized how cruel it is for the animals and birds. Now, your favorite past time is to watch the Animal Planet.

What I love most about you is the fact that one knows exactly where one stands with you. You only say what you mean. You are not afraid about what others might think. Your own mind is clear and you make it clear to others also. It really feels good. Perhaps, because I not only am used to it, but admire it too. It is not easy to be like that in our society. Now, you are all grown up so no one will object to whatever you say, but I know as a young man too, you were always straight forward and true to your word.


Your love is unconditional. Perhaps it is this quality of yours which impressed my mother who married you and gave up everything for you. She left those whom she loved, for you. She found you worthy of her love and devotion. You too, always said “She has given up so much for me, this is why I must do everything to make her happy and not regret her decision.” You have supported her in her decision to not give up her own religion. In Islam, no one is to be forced to change their religion and a Muslim is free to marry a person belonging to the Books. She didn’t do purdah like the other women of her times, and you supported her in this also. You took her with you wherever you went, just as Quaid-e-Azam took his sister with him wherever he went. When my mother converted later on it was only by her own conviction.


As a father, you were happy and satisfied with your one daughter, in a society like ours. When you lost your son, born after me, you said that your wife is not to suffer again. You told me that I’m equal to seven sons for you. Now-a-days you say “You are equal to a hundred sons for me!” Naturally, your saying such words mean the world to me.  This is why, during my hard times I looked at you and my mother as my role models. I’d always seen how you both have had complete faith in Allah’s support and were never shaken by circumstances. Patience is yours and my mother’s  greatest virtue.

When I fell on bad times, everyone was after me to shift in with you. There was a portion of your house which was for me. Yet, when I asked you, “What should I do?” Your answer was straight: “Do what your heart tells you to do.” That is exactly what I did, with your blessings!

You never push your opinion on anyone. Yet, you give all your support and blessings. This is a rare quality.

Always a generous person, you’ve given more than what you could afford. Yet, while earning you have always been careful to make sure it is only with your own hard earned and halal earnings. My whole life, we had enough to get by, but it wasn’t an extravagant life.

When my cook Abdul Rahim was facing financial hardships, it was your generosity which finally helped him in getting the house which he wanted, but couldn’t afford. His wife had died, just dreaming of a home of her own, and you knew that he was a very committed and honest man who had always worked hard. In the same way you have helped anyone who has asked you. You also got a house for the Christian maid who worked for you. Many times you have helped in building a roof, wall or room whenever they had a problem. You’ve often financed your staff for their weddings or illnesses.


This is the secret of your good health. Once I was reading that those persons who give the most charity are the ones who have the best health in later years of life. You have proved this. Another thing I really admire about you is the fact that you don’t take your health issues lightly. Even a slight indication means that you will drop everything and go to the specialist.


You love entertaining and meeting friends and relatives, and you make a point of always welcoming them and seeing them off yourself. Whenever I went to visit you, you were always there, waiting at the gate to receive me. Now, as many of your friends have left this world, you are close to their sons and daughters also.


Your love for your grandchildren is great. When the first one came, you called her your ‘Princess’ and treated her like one. No matter how tired you were from your day at the office, you would play with Nataliya, sitting on the ground, going along with her make-believe games. It was the same with Nadiya and Waliya.  Now, with your illness in my absence, Waliya has taken care of you. Previously, you called her ‘Chief’. Now, you say she is number one.  Naturally, your grandkids too are crazy about you. Nadiya also came from Lahore, and shared the caring of both the grandparents, in my absence.   By the same token you really care for Bilal and Haaris both my sons-in-law and their respective families.


Your sense of humor and your laughter is something I’ve always cherished. Your keen eye always enjoys the humor in most situations.

I love and admire you today more than ever before.  You are a great human being and one who is cherished, admired and loved by not only myself but all those who come in contact with you, in any capacity. May Allah bless you with a healthy long life and with all the happiness on earth. Ameen.


Stay blessed my dear reader, enjoy and cherish these priceless relationships that we sometimes take for granted. 🙂





Nadiya, Happy Birthday


“I think God changed His mind right at the end.” My Mom said to me when you were born. While expecting you, I was sure you were a boy, as you were very active.  It seems she was right. You grew up to be a real tom boy, your favorite dress was tee-shirt with shorts. Most of the time, you were playing games with boys outside. As you grew, your interest in sports grew.

You loved playing tennis with your Papa in the  Sargodha Officer’s Mess lawns. Later when he became deputy DG at AWC, you went along to play tennis with him and other officers. In college you played tennis at the Federal Board level. Along with tennis, you also played table tennis, cricket, basketball and any game being played by the kids outside our home.  Now, all grown up, you got married last year, and I feel happy to know that you are playing tennis every evening in Lahore. Allah has blessed you with a wonderful husband, and mother –in-law, who care for you and your interests and love  sports themselves.

As a kid, you were my accident-prone one. The one, who experimented with everything and who broke the maximum number of bones. Once, I called the doctor at the PAF Sargodha M. I. Room, when I told him “I’m Mrs. Najib speaking…” He said , “Oh, the one whose daughter keeps getting  fractures!” I was not surprised to have been recognized like this.

As a two-month old baby, you could out-scream anyone, till we would beg you to stop. Later, you were the untidiest one, and your room was a mess. Today, you are an expert on being organized.  In your studies, you were all the time being compared to your elder sister who usually topped. So, one day, you told me that I need not worry that my pride may get out of hand due to Nataliya, she said, I’ll make sure it is cut down to size!

Your sense of humor has always been one of your best assets. Finding the humor in any situation is your forte. You will have us all in stitches within minutes of meeting you. When you were in Bahria College, we all would wait eagerly  for you to return. You would act out the lectures of the day, and the funny incidents would be shown with great detail. Of course, you are a master at acting out scenes in our home as well, taking the part of your Mom, or sisters! Day before yesterday, when you came from Lahore, and I found it hard to drive, because you were sitting in the back seat, entertaining Waliya and myself with your jokes. Most of them were at your own expense, telling us how, there seems to be a gender problem in Lahore. All the guys at the tennis court just keep playing among themselves, and try to palm you off to play with those young boys who have just learnt how to hold the racquet. They don’t know yet, that you’ve been a Federal Board player in your college days and been used to playing with professional men all your life.

When we had to go to the courts, (no, not tennis courts, the real courts!) you would walk with me, being my strength for me. Once when we were going there, I told you to put the doputta on your head. When you put that shocking pink doputta on your head, you looked so stunning that I told you roughly “go, sit in the car, I’ll be back in a while.” It was actually because you looked too good. Anyhow, remember the day, when that lawyer suddenly started being rude to me? I was so shocked, and then you gave that man a piece of your mind. You told him flatly he better stop saying anything to your mother in your presence. That he better learn how to speak to a lady first, before getting into such a profession. I loved you so much, I felt like hugging you there and then. There you were my fragile little girl giving that lawyer hell.

Your Papa was specially missing you for so many years. He even offered to get you a ticket so you could be with us for a while at least. It ended up by you coming to meet him after five years, when he was on his death bed. You came with your smooth calmness, taking over everything, when Waliya and I were in pieces. In hospital your Papa would call out for you, even when you hadn’t yet reached. When there was any decision, he’d say “I’ll do what Nadia says.”

That is the kind of feeling you give to those around you. – A feeling that one is in capable hands. You do your research, and are so very organized, and competent. That moment when your Papa left this world, I had just stepped out, and you were with him. When we realized what had happened, I just lost my nerves completely. I tried to call my parents – I couldn’t remember their number! It was you who calmly phoned all our friends and relatives to inform them. You and your sisters were a pillar of strength for me. Every help that you could give us, you competently did. It was you who found out exactly what your father had. The doctors were so vague about it all.

We were all so shocked by the hardships that came our way. Somehow, Allah gave us the strength. Later, the same year, you had to face another major setback. We became each other’s strength. It is so true, that Allah prepares you for the hardships that He is going to test you with. I don’t know from where He provided. He promised in Surah An- Nashra, “with every hardship there is ease….” ‘Har mushkil kay saath asaani hai.” It was true. He helped even when  helplessly, I watched you in pain  of another kind.

I saw your faith, your dignity, and your grace through it all. While undergoing such a painful time in your life, you came and organized my whole home. You helped with files and papers, organizing my whole kitchen, and specially with parents’ move into our home. It was a massive project to help close down Mum and Dad’s home, decide what to give away, and what to keep. Pack up the stuff to be transported to our home. You made this whole process so much easier for your grandparents and myself. You would be staying in your grandparents’ place, and I’d be arranging things at our home’s end. Chacha Jafar brought his vehicle to transport the furniture items and other luggage that belonged to them. You were there to support your grandparents through this difficult process. Naturally, they too have done their best to support you in yours. Your grandfather financially supported my project of renovating our home, to include a room of your own. Later, he also got your own car, so you are not dependent on anyone.

Allah rewarded your patience, your resilience and your faith. Allah helped by blessing you and us in ways, we couldn’t imagine.

I suppose, that is why you managed to get such a good job. Today, in a country like Pakistan, you work from home, three weeks in the month and in office for one week. It came from the fact that you helped organize an international conference in Lahore, for cardiologists. You managed the whole thing. It is a recognition of your expertise and trust of the management in you. It also, shows what wonderful bosses you have.

Allah has tested you and tried you and blessed you. You have flown through all your hardships and tests. You have so many of your Papa’s traits; your total involvement in details of doing anything, keeping files, organizing, habit of going into the nitty-gritty details of things. You have many of my traits too, being artistic and a good writer/blogger.  I’m so proud of you, because you have evolved into the lovely, intelligent and competent person that you are today. Your hobbies of scrapbooking, stamp collection, truck art, painting and family history are unique.

The best thing is that you are always there to help your family and friends also. You share your expertise to improve the lives of those around you. You are thinking with empathy from others’ point of view also, which is a rare quality. So, you are involved in whatever your loved ones are doing. Everyone can think for themselves, but very few can think with empathy for others. I’m so proud of you.

There is so much more to you, like your love for animals. I’ve had you bringing in stranded puppies and kittens. Your friends are another important part of your life. You are always there for them. Your love of travel, luckily you have literally travelled the world. Meanwhile, you love travelling in Pakistan and go on the adventure trips organized from Islamabad, often. All these are now matched by your love of reading which emerged just a few years ago.

Your relationship with your siblings and grandparents is an awesome one. The way you make sure to help them in ways, that only you could have thought of. Your way, is a very unique, caring and loving way.

Today, I just thank God, for the greatest blessing of all -Haaris – the ideal husband whom only Allah could have chosen for you. Complete with a package of a sweet, very understanding and dynamic mother, sister, brother-in-law and niece. They are an awesome package to be loved and cherished.

I love you so much, my Nadiya, I pray for your health, happiness and long life always. Happy birthday, my janu. Stay blessed.



Happy Birthday Waliya

for June 22nd, 2016….


You came into our lives, and broke all rules. With your elder sisters I was a strict mom, but with you, it didn’t work. – You had your two sisters and Papa’s support. – your grand parents’ too. Your Papa spoilt you hollow. I’m glad I never came between you two. How was I to know, he had little time left, that he had to fulfill his lifetime wishes for you  within  these few years? You and your Papa had such a cute relationship. Once, at age six, you went with him to get his birthday gifts for him – he had to pay! 

Your curly top was your identity. On your fourth birthday, your Papa got two black frames made of pics of you and family one for each of us, since we share the birthday. His interest in photography was always there. He loved taking photographs, and I would arrange them in albums. Our home was full of photographs, albums and paintings. You were surrounded with art. Wherever we went, our camera went with us. Every happy moment was caught on camera.

We never slowed the pace of our lives because of you. We just added you to all that we did. Our picnics, outings, my writings, teaching (after you joined school) and travels continued in full swing. Life in the Air Force, keeps it that way too. You would be the darling of whichever neighborhood we lived in. Wherever I went, people seemed to know you.  

When you were just three, my friend Seema got a special  ‘pata-pati gharara’ made for you. Every morning, you would put it on. Then go running to the end of the street or climb the gate, or whatever else you had plans to do. Nataliya would be shocked!

I was a computer teacher, in a school in Karachi,  when I started expecting you. I left the job, to give you time. So, I started my job again when you were to join PAF Montessori, Sargodha, at age three. At the school gate, we would say ‘bye’ to each other as Mum and daughter. I had asked the administration to not put you in my class. They also allowed me to go twice a week to the Special School nearby, to teach art to the children there. One day, as I went to the Principals’ office, we realized, we had got bolted in! We could see a curly top outside, who had slid the bolt in. The Principal and I couldn’t help hoping, no parent comes to witness this embarrassing scene!  That the principal and a teacher has been locked in by a three-year-old student! From outside you were saying loudly “Will you go to the special school again?”

That was the end of that!

 Another day, I was teaching in the Yellow class, when Mrs. Rubi Zafar- the principal walked in, holding your hand. Her eyebrows going up in helplessness, saying “Shireen, I think you have another student!” You were determined to get your own way. You were so good in extra-curricular activities too, really good in sports. At four years, when you received the cup for racing, you lifted the lid, and was surprised there were no sweets inside! You could sprout out Allama Iqbal’s poetry of the ‘Bulbul and the firefly.’  I had taught this poem to the whole class, and you were very good at it. In school you were good in studies till grade three, in Connoisseur Grammar School Sargodha.

You had changed  eighteen schools by the time you reached A levels. In most  schools, you were up to pranks. You were always, full of life, friends and mischief, I was often called by the administration, sometimes with complaints. I’d tell them not to spare you,  if you deserved punishment they, must go ahead with it. It would sometimes end with them defending you! When there was a parent-teacher meeting, you would conveniently forget to inform me till the last minute. When I’d be furious, you would look at me innocently, and ask “Do you honestly want to go?” I’d often shake my head! My life was hectic enough without having to listen to all those complaints.

You became the pet of your Islamiat teacher in Bahria School, Islamabad, in grade six. Your ‘Talawat’ was very good, so you would often be asked to recite the verses from Holy Quran during assembly.

On top of it, just before A level exams, I took you off to Seattle. The Roots School, Principal was shocked, (it was just two months before A level final exams.) I told her, that on one side is my daughter, and on the other side is my daughter too, I can’t leave any of them. My husband was busy building the house, so he couldn’t join us. Anyhow, I took full responsibility. Nadiya joined us in Seattle from England, and she taught you your subjects. It was a great time for all of us. In Seattle, I took over the kitchen, and you Waliya, took over the cleaning and washing chores, of rest of the house. You did these in a very responsible way. At the same time, you prepared for your exams.

On our return to Islamabad, we were so excited about our trip. It seemed that no one was much interested to hear our tales. We realized that things are not too good. The house project seemed to have come to a stand-still.  After the exams, you decided to take a break from studies for a year. Meanwhile, life carried on … Your Papa got you an expensive camera as a gift. That started you out as a photographer, but only as a hobby. I realized that your pictures were so good, that when you accompanied me for an interview for my column in Dawn newspaper, I would ask you to take the picture of the personality. Soon Dawn asked you to take photographs for them too. Nageen Hyat of Nomad Art Gallery, says that your photograph of hers was the best one ever taken. Many of your photos were later printed in my book published in USA, in 2013.

It was in October 2011, when suddenly, your love for photography mushroomed, and you made your page on Facebook.

Both your sisters were abroad, and us living in Islamabad, when suddenly your Papa was diagnosed with cancer in November 2011. Waliya, I remember that nightmarish evening, when I had gone alone to Rawalpindi, and the doctor informed us about the cancer.  I said my Maghrib and Isha prayer and drove back in a daze. I wondered whether to tell you or not. But realized, I had to share this heartbreaking news with you. You were so amazingly brave. As I just crumbled with grief and guilt for not knowing earlier, you are the one who shook me into reality. You made me realize that how could I have known symptoms of something we have never heard of? You became my pillar of strength. In the next few months, as literally the ground from under our feet started slipping, you were my anchor.  We both became a force to fight for Papa’s life, our home and possessions. As we both realized the cruelty of very near relatives, we also accepted the generosity of our loved ones and strangers. You were like my right hand at all times. I could safely leave you with your Papa in hospital, so I could go and handle the multiple issues all over the twin-cities. I had taken over the construction of the house too.

“Did you ever for once believe, that I wouldn’t be able to make it?” I asked you one day.

“No, not once!” was your prompt reply. Your faith in me, your complete trust and support in whatever I did was my strength. I just had to mention something, and knew you will do it. You are very sharp and very intelligent.

You are the one who taught me to laugh at ‘bad people’ on their faces. (I used to cry…) I tried, it and found it works far better than all that weeping. It certainly floors your enemies.

You would read out Ayat ul kursi and other prayers, as I would be driving at all odd hours. You were the one who would bring me back from the brink of crying. (- you still are an expert at that!). However, we were both at the edge of our nerves, by the time your sisters arrived and took things over. Alhamdolillah.

Somehow, we all dressed well through it all,  and appeared our ‘normal’ selves, so that your Papa feels that things are normal. We laughed at silly things, we made jokes and digs at each other. We created a ‘happy’ environment in front of your Papa, so that he can heal well. We also, made a pact between ourselves, to not discuss unpleasant facts after five pm.

You made sure we stuck to it.

Recently, Sungho asked me, “During tough times, you were brave. Do you think, your daughters, would be as brave?”

“Yes,” I answered. “I know, my girls would be very brave and courageous.” I know you are fearless, strong, clear headed and very intelligent, just like your other two sisters, Nataliya and Nadiya, – even though you are the youngest. Yet, we know, you have seen the most, in your young life.

Your Papa had made you an expert driver by the age of twelve. You can cook up a tasty meal, or clean up a place or pay the bills, or get the car done up at the mechanics, or look after elderly grandparents and keep them very happy. All these talents and so many more are part of your nature.

You can also ‘chill out’ very well. You have a knack for fun and frolic. Your photography is awesome, because it comes straight from your heart. You are so good at expressing the  pain, joy, charm or even horror of living in your photography. You can create beauty and spark in a moment. Your computer expertise is natural, after all, your father was one of the best computer experts of the country. How could he not have a ‘techno’ daughter?

A short spell in Hunarkada, and a photography course there in Photography, made me realize that neither my finances, nor your interest nor any institution was ready to teach you right now, not for your needs. You had already become way ahead of others in the field. There was no place ready for a photographer of your caliber to go for further studies. I offered you a degree in a London based university, in Islamabad. The English Principal was kind enough to offer very attractive package. So, I got excited too, though I wasn’t sure how I’d manage the funding of it all. You said, “During my two years here, I’ll have to give up my photography. After completion of studies, I’ll be trying to start my business all over again. Why should I give up a running business?” That made a lot of sense. I was teaching about Shakespear to my students in Sheikh Zayed International Academy in those days. You know, he left school at the age of 15 years? Got married to a 24 year old girl at 18, and lived happily ever after. So, that did it. Look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, just look at them! So, I decided, that for now, I’d back you up. 

You were probably still nineteen when you were invited to conduct a workshop on photography at Ghulam Ishaq Khan University, for their students. I’m sure all the ‘students’ were older than you. With great confidence you conducted your multi-media presentation and answered the technical questions of the would-be photographers. You have been interviewed by the media for your photography several times. Your workshops on photography are very popular in Islamabad. You have people coming from USA, Lahore and other cities to be photographed by you, today. You are also very popular among models and film stars for their shoots by you. Mawra and Urwa Husain are two recent ones. Designers love you to take photographs of their latest line of clothes. Your demand is increasing by the day. Rimmel and other great photographers on the scene all are looking at your work also. There is a mutual admiration.

Today, you earn more in two to three days, than I could dream of earning in a month! I’m so proud of you because, this fame and fortune hasn’t gone to your head. You are the same, (because I treat you the same too!)

I love your grip of any situation or discussion. When all ‘grownups’ are talking, you listen in and when you speak, you can shake everyone up by one sentence of yours. – I’m so proud of you!

Yes, I’m so blessed by my Allah, for giving me such a great birthday present. Happy birthday, my Waliya, I love you.  May your wishes come true, and may you have a very long, healthy, prosperous life. May it be the life you desire, with Allah’s full blessings. Ameen.