The Sparkle in One’s Life

-Brought by valuing relationships with our land and loved ones.

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So wonderful sharing a meal at the same table.

It rained yesterday. We put off the air conditioner, opened the windows to let in the wind and the sound of pouring rain into the lounge. Yes, a typical downpour of Islamabad. The curtains moved with the wind. Irresistibly, Nataliya was drawn close to the window as she eagerly breathed in the rising fragrance of earth mixed with splashing rain in the raging downpour outside.

“This is the smell that I’ve craved for!” She said with an expression of ecstasy.

Continue reading “The Sparkle in One’s Life”

Weathering the storms in married life.


When married life becomes rocky…

You know what? There is nothing better in life, than a good marriage. So, when it goes bad, – there is nothing worse . The good news is: all marriages are a bit of both types.

So, when the ‘bad’ patches happen, what do you do? How do you survive through these?

The funny thing is, no one will understand.  So, the best policy is to stay quiet. . (Remember, that “you are a raiment for each other” – which means, to conceal each other’s flaws from public eye. People may condemn you for your silence, but in fact, you are mostly on your own here.)

Continue reading “Weathering the storms in married life.”

 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.


The ‘W’ word


When a wife turns into a widow.

My husband and I would visit ladies who had lost their husband. Going for ‘afsos’. Never in our wildest imagination could one think that it could happen to us too. It was always something that happens to ‘other’ people.

So, when the ‘W’ word happened to me. It was the greatest shock. The realization comes much later. One is not able to get in sync with the loss of one’s husband. It is extremely hard to realize and adjust to. I won’t even try. Because only a widow can know what it means.

In Pakistan, it takes on another whole dimension of horror upon horror. On the other hand, great consolation and help is also given at the same time. You find so much help, empathy, and sympathy that it does help you get over the initial tide of it. All the minor and major aspects of details are totally handled by one’s near and dear ones.

“Bhabi, just tell us what you want, then leave it all to us!” Was what I heard from my husband’s close friends. They just took over everything. Qasim bhai,  Hamdani bhai, Naveed bhai, Ehsan bhai, Shehzada bhai, Ishtiaq bhai, and many others. My uncle Jaffar was everywhere, helping me in any way he could.  Whatever was left out, was taken over by my neighbor, and total strangers. All I had to do was meet the people who came to hug me and give me support. All my friends were with me all the time. My daughters, were there to lean on, and take over. My close relatives were there too.

It was all like a haze, yet I realized, there were too many issues on hand. So, here is what I’ve learnt through my experience:

  1. Be calm and collected. Accept it as Allah’s will. After all, death is a reality. My friend Tahira came and gave me this advice, which helped me immensely. “Do not question Allah’s verdict. Just ACCEPT. Do not question His decision like “Why?” Nor think in terms of “If only….. “ or in urdu we say ‘Kaash” or “I wish….”  Remember, whatever happened, when it happened, and how it happened, did so by the will of Allah. If you can accept everything then this is your first major step taken. This advice  helped a lot.
  2. Make your own decisions yourself. You can consult, whom you want. But do not let people decide anything for you. Decide not to ask anyone’s help.
  3. You would be faced with a barrage of problems and issues. But stay calm. Go with the flow. Accept all people’s help. But nothing beyond the call of necessity.
  4. Just look up at Him, who took your husband, He will certainly have other things planned for you too. Wait and do whatever He wants for you. Remember, He lives in your heart. As Bulle Shah said: ‘Rab dilan wich rainda.” God lives in one’s heart. So, find out how to do what your heart tells you to do.
  5. There would also be a barrage of ‘similar’ incidents that will be related to you.  Hence your well wishers will be after you to ‘do this’ and ‘do that’.When people advise you, listen to all. Remember, times have changed, from what they were ten, twenty or thirty years ago. (when the advisor’s incident took place.) Remember, we are in a better world today. A thing which was impossible twenty years ago in Pakistan, is more than possible today. It will get even better tomorrow.
  6. Yet, be appropriate in your dress, mannerism and behavior. Do whatever you want to do. Yet, be realistic and practical.
  7. In Pakistan, all assets of a person are frozen on his/her death wherever they are. So, now, you are totally without any help from whatever, your husband did for you. All that saving you did, to help your husband in running your home, is all gone now. As it was in his name, and you cannot have any access to it. You can get it, if you are lucky, but everything will take a lot of time. First the ‘succession certificate’ will have to be made by a lawyer.
  8. Try to get back to your normal home routine as soon as possible. Your family has its own way of living. Make sure you get same foods cooked, and timings of meals, and living style should all be getting back to normal. Your children have lost their father, let them not lose their mother, their home and family as well. Only you, the homemaker can make sure their home is not lost also. Remember, you will have to set the environment of your home.
  9. Try your best to have your own place, and to be independent. So that you and your children can continue to live your own lives with no interference from anyone. Nor would you be a burden on anyone. Once you decide, the next steps will follow. Don’t say ‘I can’t do this or that.” Ask yourself “how can I do this?” Even start the family outings within a few months.
  10. Remember, concept of ‘mourning’ is un-Islamic. It is natural for a woman to feel like grieving and you must grieve. However, let it be in private or with very close associates and family.You don’t have to show your sorrow. If you feel like crying, go ahead. But mostly, be cool and calm. No need to let people feel that you are bewildered and upset. They will consider you  “weak and incapable”.

This is why it is important for every woman to do the following, though some of these  I wasn’t able to do. But I want the women of today, to learn from other’s experiences :

  1. Have property and assets in your own name in your husband’s lifetime. This is why, those people who put property in Haq Mehr, do a wise thing. If its cash. Invest it, and DO NOT TOUCH IT. It is meant for your security.
  2. Have a bank account in your name. Make sure you keep a sizable amount in it. Also, have joint account with husband. (While you do that, make sure the ‘either or survivor’ is ticked).
  3. Remember, Islam allows a woman to keep 100% of her own income in her own name, to be used as she wishes.  DO IT.
  4. Also remember, if you have children, your share will be 1/8 only and ¼ if you have no children. That is your status. So, much for all your investment in your husband’s accounts, and assets.
  5. In your husband’s life-time, avail every opportunity to be active in management of finances and property belonging to both of you. Prove to your husband that you are capable and interested. When he asks you to pay attention to your lifetime investments, do so. Leave everything and give full attention. Mostly, men do not involve wives, as they think they will not understand.  Prove to him, that you are capable of resisting financial temptations to handle future of investments for you and your family.
  6. Read up books by Suzy Orman ‘The Money Class’ and others, and books like ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, in order to learn good financial management.
  7. No one is bothered about the Islamic injunction of taking care of a widow. If they do, watch out, they may have hidden agendas.  Though, if you are very lucky they will help you genuinely.
  8. Pakistanis’ interpretation of Islamic Shariah law is all about grabbing. The parts where the woman owns her own property are conveniently ignored by all. Be firm and determined to hold onto all your assets.
  9. Show everyone that you are calm, and fully capable of handling your issues. Do not take anyone’s ‘help’. There are many people who will take advantage of this situation..
  10. Don’t trust anyone, especially when a person says “I’ll handle things for you, how can you go to courts, and get this work done.” Why not? There is nothing wrong in going to courts, or meeting lawyers, or getting work done. All you do, is keep an ‘abaya’ at hand. Don’t you go shopping? Don’t you get stuff done for your children and husband in your normal life? What’s wrong with doing your own thing? Nothing! Believe me, I got used to it all. It is not so bad. In fact, quite interesting.
  11. Give Sadqa at every step.  Do it in Allah’s name daily for your husband, and for yourself and your family. Sadqa can be in form of food given to the needy. Also, it can be in the form of doing something useful for someone in need. Look around and find someone worse off than you, and go out of your way to help that person.
  12. Read Holy Quran’s Sipara daily. Read the translation only, if you don’t get time. You will get great peace after reading how the prophets handled their own problems. You will read lots of beautiful prayers too.
  13. Remember one thing: all  your life, when you thought it was your parents or husband taking care of you? Well, even then it was God taking care of you through them. Now, He will just continue to take care of you, as before. Things will change, but your Source will remain the same. Have complete confidence in Him, who has taken care of you all your life. You think He won’t now? – When you need Him the most?
  14. Take care  of yourself, as you took care of your husband. Use the extra time on your hands, to spend it on looking after yourself. Exercise, diet, and well being is important – otherwise, you won’t be able to take care of everything and everyone.
  15. Remember, you are still a complete family  – just a single parent one now.
  16. Read these three ayat, regularly:
    • La Illaha Illaho Anta Subhanaka Inni kunto min azzualimeen.
    • La haula wala Quwata illa billa he
    • Hasbi Allah o wa nemal wakil.


Dealing with the ‘D’ word – Divorce.


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How to go about it without mudslinging.


When divorce became legal in Islam, it is believed that it is the worst thing that became legal. -Naturally, because it is the breaking up of a home. However, if staying in it becomes worse than breaking it, then it needs to be done. However, there are nice  ways to go about ugly things too.

In the Holy Quran the word ‘ahsan’ (favor) is used, while talking about it.  Meaning, that when something as unpleasant as divorce is being considered, do it with gifts, favors and with fairness. So, I’ll leave out the ugly parts. I just want to say that naturally, feelings are bruised and hurt all round. At such times it also becomes natural to want to say bad things about ‘the other party’. This is where I disagree. Here, I really believe that no bad words need to be said. Mudslinging is not the way to go about it. Frankly, it is no one elses’ business, why it happened. It is a painful enough thing for the families concerned, without involving others in it also.  When people ask you “oh, but why?!” Just say “it seems it was not meant to be.” And pick up another topic with that person. Avoid saying bad things about anyone. Those same people who were ‘perfect’ and ‘wonderful’ are suddenly the meanest, nastiest, cruelest and worst people on earth!

Continue reading “Dealing with the ‘D’ word – Divorce.”

How we survived our ordeal


Four years ago, I lost my husband to cancer. It was the most horrendous experience of mine and my daughter’s lives. Losing a relationship spanning three decades is tough.

 Tougher to bear was the behavior of three siblings of my husband who didn’t leave out a single chance to bring more pain and unhappiness into our lives. Also, the silence of the third one, who was a party to it all. The fifth one at least gave us verbal assurances, even offered to help, however, didn’t do anything concrete. However, he at least gave peace to my husband, when he was in hospital, his children came for ‘dua’, and family has contact with us.

Continue reading “How we survived our ordeal”