How do I put such topics together, which are almost poles apart?
For the simple reason that ….
Why not? In life, there are the sad and the happy parts all going side by side. I’m telling you, the happy parts must never be given up due to the sad parts. So, actually, I was caught between two of my resolutions:
- I’m going to celebrate every birthday that Allah blesses me with from now on. (- as if I’ve not done it so far!) Actually, previously, everyone did it for me. Now onwards I’ve planned to do it myself. To celebrate all that Allah has blessed me with all my dear ones.
- Do what your heart tells you to do! (Well, I’ve done that most of my life too ;)) Why not? But this time, the timing was tricky. Ramzan’s sixteen hours of fasting, and summers, it was tough. That done, the four days of Eid celebrations, also tired us out. So, till 20th we were busy with Eid guests, I wondered whether I could do it, because there was this event on 21st, the Eid Party of my Art Group, Generation Rahi at Rahi Studios. (It turned out to be their wedding anniversary.) It was most probably their fifty fourth wedding anniversary. I just love this couple whom I’ve seen to love, cherish and honor each other in sickness and in health for many years. Such relationships are so rare and so beautiful. Their harmony and their love proves that it is possible even in this day and age. May Allah continue to bless them. They are living legends for us and in the field of art in Pakistan. Their relationship is an example of trust, love and harmony for us all.
Every June 22nd is Waliya and my birthday, and I feel it must be celebrated. So, I asked all my writing and art friends in Islamabad to join me in a one-dish Eid party. (I didn’t tell them it was our birthday, just stuck to the Eid part, which was also true.)
Frankly, I thought everyone would be too tired from Ramzan and Eid, to accept.
Surprise, surprise, almost everyone accepted! – Well over forty friends actually turned up. It was so much fun.
We had our literary discussion and specially remembered Mushtaq Ahmed Yousefi, who had passed away the day before. (After all, how could a group of art and literature lovers not do so? We remembered him, Ammar Masood (son of Masood Anwar the great writer of Urdu humorous poetry,) selected a piece from Yousefi’s book and read it out. He shared what he knew about him, as he had met him, and his article was to appear next day in Jang paper. I talked about the event in Islamabad Club which I attended once long ago. The hall in the club was jam packed. Everyone enjoyed each word spoken by him, and the hall was literally rolling with laughter. He was truly a great writer who enjoyed great fame in his lifetime.
Ammar said that ‘Yousefi Sahab even burnt a book of his own, saying ‘it didn’t come up to my standard.’ He was a banker for over forty years. In his office he was a serious person, never mixing up his status as a writer with his work. He made sure he was called by a slightly different name. He had joined the banking business as a clerk, and later became president of the banks. He had served in senior positions in three banks. Truly his death is a great loss in the field of Urdu humorous literature. Today, such writings are irreplaceable. Then Ammar shared some interesting verses:
So, then we went on to asking the writers who are present, to share their poetry:
Shabnam Riaz shared her poetry.
Then Sarmad Sarosh,
Doctor Ehsan who is a photographer of birds in this region and writes poetry about them too.
A discussion also occurred on the typical one where everyone was prone to feeling that the literature of the past was great, and nothing like that is evident now. Ammar Masood put us all right by saying, that there is some great work going on even now. As the anchor person on television and FM radio services, he has first-hand interaction with many. He said, we are recognizing these writers keeping in mind their life’s work, while judging those who are still young in their lives and in their trade. Had we met Yousufi or other great writers at their younger ages, perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to see them as we see them now. So, we have to give time to these literary figures before judging them.
Everyone, appreciated forums like these to give a platform for artists and writers as well as other creative people to be together and polish their arts. Such outlets like the one being put up by this humble author at Shireen’s Studio, and Shabnam Riaz in Islamabad are a good beginning. I know of Awais Khan who has the Writer’s Institute in Lahore, and doing a great job. I know of Bob who is Robert C. Cabel having the Renton Writer’s Salon in Seattle,My first Renton Writer’s Salon Meetup. which has bi-weekly meetings. So, wherever we are, we all need to round up writers and artists and have a platform for meet ups. We all need to do whatever positive work we can, while appreciating each other. We need to help and inspire each other.
Each guest of mine had brought so many tasty snacks and many others brought flowers. Waliya too had got me flowers and gave me cash for my birthday so I could buy anything I wanted! My precious child. Yes, my baby has grown up and is able to fend for herself. I felt so touched, as she insisted on my resting and just relaxing while she did all the things that I had planned to do.
Even the cake I didn’t make as my friend Aania called and told me she and the other art friends will bring the cake! So, I didn’t bake a cake, but when the time came, I found two cakes with my name on it, one from my art group friends, and one from CSS school from Usman. Can you believe it? Wow. I mean, all these years, I’ve spent preparing birthdays for all the three daughters of mine.
I realized, that being my ripe age is just BEAUTIFUL! So, I rested as each friend who called said, ‘oh you must be so busy!’ and I told them, how everything was just happening on its own as my Waliya and my able staff was doing the good deeds. Abbas Husain called and said ‘I’m sorry I haven’t got into writing blogs, but really wanted to wish you on your birthday. His call, along with several from my other friends, and specially my precious Nataliya and Nadiya just made my day.
So, finally, we squeezed in everyone into my studio for our literary session then, we went up and had the delicious snacks brought by all. Everyone took pics, and Waliya had arranged the photographer too! Yes, with my track record of amazing birthdays, I thought it wasn’t possible to have another wonderful birthday. I was so wrong. This too was an amazing day. How can I not be grateful to the Master Planner of All? So, a big ALHAMDOLILLAH and a SUBHANALLAH!
Of course with Facebook around, there are no secrets. Those who knew, spoilt me hollow with very thoughtful gifts which I really loved. Specially the latest book by Mohsin Hamid, ‘Exit West’, the bath room set and the beautiful suit. The huge bottle of scented candle and huge chocolates were wonderful. Yesterday, a gift arrived by post from my sweet friend Fairy. A beautiful suit!
Yes, I’m totally overwhelmed.
So, this is how my Waliya and my birthday went. Waliya’s birthday lasted over three days, as usual. She went with her friends to Nathiagali, got beautiful gifts and was taken out for dinner.
I wake up the next morning to find this: A blog by my sweet friend Stephani Larkin who is an author, publisher and member of Renton Writer’s Salon where we met. The blog just blew me over. Here is the link to it. ____ Do read it and you see what an amazing writer she is. She has recently started blogging, I know her as a person to be very committed, sensitive and wonderful human being. She helps refugees who go to settle in the US, especially in Seattle area.
Nataliya, my eldest daughter dug out so many old pictures of ours. She took us down memory lane. As photography part of our lives, we have a lovely collection. My husband would take the pics and I’d organize them into albums.
Nadiya wrote a blog on all that I’m up to in my Studio, in this blog of hers:
Can you blame me for being so blown over by my birthday? Most folks thought that it was my birthday only! I can’t blame them, Waliya was all over, managing everything, God bless her.
The International day of the widow:
As far as I know, this day was completely ignored by the media. To tell you the truth, even I’ve been ignorant of it! I found out through Stephanie. I had met Stephanie Larkin in Seattle, when I went to the Renton Writer’s Meet up there. .I woke up on twenty third of June to find this:
Somehow, Stephanie and I never got the time to exchange notes on our experiences to that extent. (On holiday, you feel like brushing all that crap under the carpet and fly away.) After all, a holiday is only to give ones ‘self a break. It was a great break specially from my girls to me. Nataliya helped pay for my ticket, while Nadia and Waliya took care of my parents, so I could be away, without any worries.
Actually, Stephanie, I too faced the works in Pakistan when I became a widow, in January 2012. In the following four to five years I’ve faced great hardships. Too many to be written down here. To give an idea, I’d just like to refer you to this blog here Flashbacks and Important details . Sufficient to say, that you can’t imagine the kind of hardships that are faced by widows here in Pakistan. On the other hand, because of it, you also cannot imagine how much everyone does for widows in Pakistan, because they know, that if they don’t, no one else will! All thanks to Allah, I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends and relatives as well as total strangers, who went out of their way to help me. Hence I’m so fine now.
Actually, I was too exhausted from partying the day before, to have the energy to write about this important day. The fact remains that widows have a very hard time in life. Specially in Pakistan, and actually everywhere in the world. This is why taking care of orphans and widows is considered to be very important.
During our PANA meeting last time at Serena hotel, my new friends (both Europeans) made it clear to me that things aren’t so honky dory in Europe either. So, a lot of work needs to be done in this field, in every country. Therefore, we all have to highlight this day consciously every year, remember now: it is June 23rd.
In my life, I’ve learnt to ignore the ugly parts, cherish the beautiful ones, (- you can say the same for the people in one’s life too!)
So, my dear Readers, do stay blessed and make the most of this precious life gifted to each of us. Thank you for reading my long blogs! You are great, and I love you all.
Note: Photographs and videos by Aania, Yasmine, Waliya and her assistant, and Najib Khan.