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Short Story: Shadow

Written by Tayyaba Aziz & Saqib Hussain   After 30 minutes of struggling to focus on work, Moosa finally gave up. He stumbled in hi...

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

What Kids know about Ramadan?

I asked two kids of different age groups to share their views about this month. And I was amazed by what they wrote. Enjoy refreshing perspectives of kids about Ramadan:

Age: 12
Class: 6

What do you like about Ramadan?

The thing about Ramadan I like is that in this month we all human beings stay close to each other. We avoid fights and abusive language to make our Allah happy. We fast also to make our God happy. When children fast first time in their life their parents do Roza Kushai they give them gifts to make them happy. Their parents are also happy that their son or daughter fast first time. We pray to Allah and say sorry to him for our bad deeds we did in our whole life. I like Ramadan because at this time we all are close to our Allah and we pray to Him in every namaz.

We all wake up at the time of Sehri, and then we eat food. After that our fast starts and our fast finishes at the time of Maghrib and our Iftari starts. Till the end of Ramadan we all do Sehri , Iftari and fast. In Ramadan we also give Iftari to poor people and we also invite our relatives to Iftar. At the end when the month of Ramadan is finished we all get a gift from Allah and that gift is Eid-ul-Fihter. On Eid we can eat everything we like. Everyone meet each other and this month comes again and again that’s why we should always say thanks to Allah that He gave us Eid.

Age: 8
Class: 2

What do you like about Ramadan?

I like Ramadan because the people do good work. People do not fight in Ramadan. We all pray to Allah. Men go to Mosque and pray Taraweeh and women pray in home. My mother cooks in Ramadan and I help my mother. We pray to Allah and sorry for our bad things we did. We all wake up at the time of sehri. Allah gives us gift of Eid because we fast for Him to make Him happy. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Put that Phone Down!

Finally hit bed with a constant pain in my shins, worn out to the breaking point. The burned chocolate cake on my right still somehow serves as immense condolence. You know life has changed when this friend you grew up with leaves you hanging on a stranger’s call. She was invited to share old good times. Yes it was hurtful for I had seen her after a very, very, VERY long time. Only to find I was not worth hanging up that endless 2 hours long phone call. I don’t hate the person who invented the mobile phones but I do hate the people who are obsessed with them. Nowadays guests visit each other only to talk to whoever is absent.

They say People don’t change. Their personalities only become more obvious with time. Either they get tired of the mask or we start to see clearer.  Honestly both ways we are the ones to be blamed. Our problem is we always expect the same warmth and love from them under all circumstances. We complain a lot about others behaviors. Never understanding what might have led them to it. Even if it’s none of our fault we don’t have a reason to whine about. We know we love them with or without the masks.

Best thing one can do in dilemma like these is: Keep it sweet and simple. Express what behavior you didn't like and why. Be precise and clear. On the other hand try not to be an addition in their stress. It took me a long week to find a way out of this dubious mess. 
I was a little hesitant at first out of her uncertain reaction. Then again holding grudges was never our thing. They are extremely dangerous and destructive to any good old relation. So I told her abruptly that her cellphone is not allowed at my place. At first she laughed and argued about how barbaric it is, and who does that? I laughed along but I knew she’d listen out of love and respect. And she did. 

This is how it goes; life is dynamic and so is everyone connected to it. Take is easy and say what you need to say. Sometimes your loved ones literally wait on it.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Ramadan & June

Ramadan the beautiful month we all look forward to each year. It’s the month with substantial spiritual, religious and cultural significance. However the cruel harsh weather killed most of our excitement on day one. According to the news, Karachi broke its ten years old records of extremely hot temperature. In just one day 106 people died of heat and now the collective number has reached to almost 500!

Fire spitting sun doesn't seem to care much about our fasts. As it releases all its anger mercilessly on us, in turn people are mad at each other until IFTAR time. IFTAR is only time when are charged back with excitement to celebrate again. 
Heat or no heat Ramadan is an eminent blessing for all. I mean are we not loudly indulged in discussions about HOW NOT TO GAIN WEIGHT THIS RAMADAN? Or low fat healthy diet plans? Just finding a delicious way to avoid PAKORAY but end up eating them anyway?

Not just the food but also the same tradition lame jokes of the year. Growing up proved it just won’t go away so I learned to live with it. The joke, “Aren't you supposed to be chained away this month?” Pokerface

Well one should rejoice all colors of life but sadly we become blind to the real purpose of this important month. It’s not about the jokes or the diet or the IFTAR PARTIES. This month is designed as the best training session for humans. Train you to gain control and be your own fiercely compelling managers. It lets you know how appetite is slave to you and not the other way around. To make us see how our spiritual self can dominate our body. It’s a beautiful test each day with an intoxicating sense of freedom.  

Remember the ONE who created you knows how long it would take a human to get rid of a bad habit. And time we need to adopt a good habit. Let’s promise ourselves to leave one bad habit and adopt just one good habit this Ramadan. No matter how small it maybe, like avoiding such bad jokes.
This time we take this training program seriously. And at the end of the month, may we walk out as a better person. Ameen

Monday, 15 June 2015

Oh, How We Forget!

Note: Article sent by Anonymous volunteer.

I wish I was a bit taller, Ughhh I hate my hair. I wish I had straight hair!!! If only my nose was a bit smaller?? How busy we are pointing out imperfections in others and ourselves. Let alone being grateful at times we don’t even acknowledge the thousands of blessings bestowed upon us.
Accompanying someone to the local hospital for a checkup we made our way in the sea of people moving around in a haphazard manner. Most of them lost in the maze of corridors unable to even read the sign boards. We finally made out way to the orthopedic ward and waited for our turn.

Sitting on the bench looking around at people, I saw sights which were playing in my head for the whole night. Amputated limbs, rods sticking out legs and arms, the mere sight of it sent shivers down my spine. Sitting there I felt lucky and terrified at the same time. Terrified of how fragile the human life is, how one wrong move, being at the wrong place at the wrong time can turn your life completely upside down.
When all is well in our lives we stop appreciating the things we already have. Health and loved are one the most prized possession a person can own. Sadly in the hurricane of our petty concerns we forget to appreciate what truly matters instead we focus on what we don’t have. I am not saying not to strive to achieve what you desire, but don’t let it consume you. For possession of material riches without inner peace, is like dying of thirst while bathing in a lake.

 As the Chinese proverb says “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw man who had no feet”. Always remember what we have can be taken away from us in an instant. We realize how priceless it was when we don’t have it anymore.

So appreciate the small pleasures of life, a smile on the face of a loved one, a cup of tea, a delicious meal, a beautiful sight, health. Smile more, laugh harder, love with more intensity, hug tighter, and hold a little longer. Hold the moment live it, enjoy it, cherish it for change is guaranteed and nothing lasts forever.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Hanging out with Family...

It was the first break through of cool winds in the blistering heat of June. All of my cousins decided to hangout. We reached the mall and younger ones left for the game-zone. I might be too old for the games but my bestie and kids only need me there to win stuff. And I did win stuff. BOOYA! Cheering and going nuts. Few minutes later we left the kids with the couples and left for shopping. The weather was awesome and being with loved ones felt great.

After all that girly-freaking out on all of the stuff we liked and bought. My bestie and I went to watch the crazy winds. That’s when all of a sudden her SELFIE-BEAST gets unleashed. So we started from the place we were standing to each and every corner of the mall! The tables, the shops, the gaming-zone, the crazy cartoon at the gaming-zone entrance! Snapshot by the decor of the mall, the coffee stall, the brand promotions. With everything that came in the way while all of us walk towards the elevator. Until her older brother reaches to stop us, for obliviously we started to get all of the stares. So we quickly took a disturbed SELFIE while listening to his order and followed him.

Now while all of us were waiting for the elevator. We started again with Selfies at another lift’s door. ‘Cause the doors had beautiful stickers on them. The lights were so bright that we took five selfies there. Still at the door yelling at her for more selfies when I heard a guy say, “Excuse me!”
 I look back and see a bunch of angry people staring right at me from inside of the elevator. It took me a few seconds to figure I was blocking their way. Extremely-awkward-moments are mandatory for me even when it’s someone else’s idea! 

Then I slowly walk forward faking confidence looking at my family. While my brother looks at me moving his head from left to right in slow-motion. Sheepishly reached my bestie and we laughed under our breaths. Final selfies were inside the elevator like spies. We saved the rest of the craziness for the restaurant.  

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Love: We Break It Down For You

Note: Thanks to Mr. Walnut for participating.

Q 1. How do you define love in one word?

Girl: I define love as "RESPECT". It’s easy to say you respect someone but hard to keep your word. Respect enough to listen and to be with them when they freak out. Respect, to never lie, never sneak out on them. Any break-outs from this respect bubble are only a game losers like to play.

Guy: In simple terms “NO SCREWING AROUND”! To elaborate I define Love as to be committed 100 percent to the person under all circumstances. And yes respect is the core ingredient. Any deviation cannot be justified the simple fact is we guys are full of crap.

Q 2. Do you think of “LOVE” as an overrated delusion?

Girl: I don’t think so. Yes, it can become a delusion if you get obsessed with it by watching too many Rom-Coms. Like a guy falling in love for the 12th time… is an idiot or a player. Not a real thing.

Guy: That is a matter of reference for me; a parent’s love for a child is not over-rated. If we put a lens to love between couples then I’d say yes it is an over-rated delusion in comparison to the true definition of love.

Q3. Why do you think Love fails?

Girl: I believe love never fails. What fails is our fantasy for it. Wondering why didn’t it turn out to be like in the movies? We are brainwashed blind people seeking love in all the wrong places and ways. Perception is hard to change when you keep missing out on the real picture.

Guy: I believe it fails for a number of reasons and to varying degrees to lay out one. The excitement and romance of the unknown is dead. The problem being not much left to the imagination. Why does one ponder over past flings the simple reason because they never happened it’s what keeps them exciting? But yes I firmly believe that even if love has faded you still care for that person with the same intensity forever. Secondly maybe he/she is not the one; I believe friendship and brutal honesty in a relation as right behind respect.

Q4. If love is different from the cliché, how would you know it is love?

Girl: For us women, God made it pretty simple. Any fool can make you cry but different is the guy whose presence makes your eyes dampen out of happiness. It will be rare and larger than life.

Guy: You will know its love when hard times are upon you and you can only think of that one person. The person you will stand with, and stand for against the world. One who is a part of your day from dusk till dawn. The problem is we confuse infatuation with love far too often.

Q5. What about falling for a person you've never met or the long distance relationship?

Girl: Well I believe we fall for the personality and not solely the outer look. Good looks are only a bonus. What we humans really crave is someone who understands us and except us just the way we are. I’d say yes.

Guy: No I don’t think so; the true test of love begins after you have lived with a person for a considerable amount of time and been together through rough patches.

Q6. Do you think of LOVE as a curse or a blessing?

Girl: Ah…Well it depends on how it goes. Even when they fall back for you it’s not all a cheesecake. So yeah it’s a beautiful blend of all colors of life at the same time.

Guy: I think love is the most beautiful feeling in the world, to me one cannot define love in a few simple terms, and it’s a mix of biology and our perception of love.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Compassion: An Unfortunate Evening

Note: Article sent by Anonymous volunteer.

The child in panic desperately looking for help, his grandmother instantly realizes that something is wrong the only words the child can utter are AMI!!!! She quickly marches and finds his mother in bed crying and shivering complaining of palpitations, she tries to get her up and take her to the hospital but she refuses to be taken to the hospital saying I don’t want to end up like HER!!!!

But who is the SHE in question? She was sweet, kind hearted, funny, and full of life yet to begin the best years of her life. On a reunion with friends my phone beeps and the words left me in utter shock. “She is in a comma!” I excused myself and moved to a quieter place trying to make sense of what was happening. I stood there in silence thinking about how? When? Why? She was perfectly OK the last time I saw her not long ago.
I left in a hurry and started the long drive back to my hometown. The next day I went to the hospital to offer whatever little help I could. What I found out filled me with an even deeper sadness and anger. It was gross negligence that had brought this beautiful person into the clutches of death. Something that could have been so easily avoidable was the reason that a life full of prospects came to a tragic and sudden end.

Diabetes ran in the family and as to why all the apparent signs were ignored is beyond me. And perhaps should be left alone as it will only inflict more grief upon the family. Before the night in question 2 am at night she became extremely uneasy, stressed and had a panic attack. What her family did next was what anyone would do to get help and took her to a hospital. The doctor was informed that her sugar level was very high as revealed by the test conducted a day prior.
Lack of competence, lack of compassion or maybe just to get her off his hands at 3 AM at night the doctor told the family high sugar level has nothing to do with it and it is just plain old stress. He pumped her with a vial of valium pushing her into the beyond. It was indeed the last nail in the coffin, as what little strength her had left to fight was taken away from her and she succumbed to sleep.

Her brother picked her up and took her home into her bed, the concerned mother stayed by her daughter’s side the whole night and dozed off next to her. Her eyes opened at 5 A.M and noticed her daughters lip color to be a horrifying blue shade. She rushed to wake up her son and they rushed her to another hospital this time. Even over there she did not get the required care and our country being our country. She only started to get the required care when phone calls were made by someone who knew someone. Alas it was too little to late even though the best doctors tried continuously the next 48 hours but they eventually had to pull the plug. As what was left of her on that bed was only a body full of tubes surrounded by the beeping sounds of machines. What made her truly is she was dead.

Why has life become so cheap in our country? Why do we have to use contacts to even get the most basic of human rights? I often think to myself if we can’t even trust hospitals and the doctors in them, what are we to do if tomorrow some other loved one needs desperate help. It is indeed a sad state of affairs; I can’t understand why we as a nation lack compassion. We gobble down a 5000 rupees meal at a fancy restaurant and feel so mighty upon giving the poor waiter a 200 rupees tip. Maybe it is not only the doctors that are to be blamed. Maybe it is all of us. Maybe it is the whole nation. Maybe we all could contribute to make someone else’s life better in some way but are we to self-centric to think outside our little bubble?

It was indeed a very tragic evening and even though our interactions had always been very formal yet it moved and affected me in a way I would not have expected. Maybe it was that she was yet a child. Or maybe it was because it was something so very avoidable. I will never know. All I can do is hope for a better future for me and for everyone everywhere. As tragic is it was and when all is said and done I find solace in the verse.
“Surely to ALLAH we belong, and to him shall we return”

Monday, 8 June 2015

Stuck with Fashion Freaks!

At a family gathering, this girl shows me a yellow summer dress on her profile of so and so ‘good-for-nothing-ridiculously-expensive’ brand. While munching on my vanilla-cake I pretend to look all interested, like “Nice”. Yep, not a good faker, neither she cared. Then as usual she told me how badly she wants that dress but can’t afford it. Then to make her feel better, I am like, ‘Who wears countless enormous laces in this heat’. That wasn't a sour grapes strategy, I was just being honest. Funny how two days later I see this girl wearing the same fancy YELLOW DRESS! Wow… so much to learn.

New summer dresses would come with a change you can hardly see. An addition or subtraction of a tiny little lace from the dress and BAM! Now it’s brand new and twice the price it was last summer. Shucks why didn't we chose to be a designer! But then again you and I wouldn't have been that mundane. Plus for hard working people like us it would be sad to put all our creativity in one dress. In which dress someone else can just change a button and wins the race. How frustrating!

More frustrating is being around Dresses-maniacs and fashion freaks. Whatever name you call them they’d still consider themselves more superior and ‘Fashion Aware’. Which is a good thing, I agree. It’s just they take it beyond sanity level. People who would spend hours surfing brand after brand, learning new trends, bothering everyone around and what happens next? They go to the market place, find a better dress of another unsearched brand and buy it. Oh give me break!

And then I get a phone call from a far away city, “Tayyaba, what do you think I should wear for the wedding next week?” My response?  I just bang my head on the wall.

With all due respect fashion freaks, keep you freakiness to yourself. Not every girl has a complicated relationship with their clothes. Some keep it sweet and simple.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Different Cultures, Same Goals

Note: Article sent by volunteer, JAVIER from Mexico

It’s amazing how more differences people have from one another in relation to customs we are still the same. The interesting and beautiful thing is that we pursue the same goal: HAPPINESS
For now I’ll give you a hint: “to love, be loved and to be happy”. Moreover we purse all under the same premises, I mean we all fall in love, don’t we? We all make mistakes too. Then we either learn from them or maybe go back to commit them again. I think the only thing that sets us apart from each other is the motivation to do things.

The reasons are many, yet very seldom we do something that ‘WE’ like or desire. As very often we chase dreams only to seek the approval of others. It seems as we live in what other people think of us. We lose our desires, our dreams, everything to others. Leave our burning motivations and passionate dreams in the hands of other people. Who neither matter nor care.

The secret to happiness is we have to decide and we have to act. We must do what we like. What we want to do. We have to find our mission in life, in our life, and not of the others.
I leave you with this phrase my friends, “Work and discipline conquers all.” Have the courage to have discipline. Any goal you have you have in life. No matter how small the goal is, it is still a goal. Your challenge is to finish it. For solely your pursuit of happiness! 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

You Keep Running Away...

Today the dream seems so distant and lost in the abyss. The bubbly aggressive soul with the vision is now tired. You confront the unpleasant transfer of leadership to a forever mute servant. With a heart lacking wishes, desires or need. How it holds the burden of the largest graveyard on earth. Buried alive, suffocated or killed, you don’t care anymore. The fear is still worse than the shovel in your hands.

Seasons sink you in the dust of delusional fleeting happiness. Wounds turn to scars. Then again scars are only the wounds we eventually become used to.
One day that lost desire knocks on your door. You bang the door on its face. However the call won’t stop. They keep coming in all possible forms, vivid enough to make you pounder. Badly disrupts your comforting layers of calmness and leisure.
You figure it’s time to run, but unfortunately away from it. For you still see it as tiresome efforts down the drain. The sky-high depression GIANT still keeps you surrendered sign after sign. The war started long time ago. Sad fact, this time you stand tall, next to your fears... and against yourself.

The height is when you literally see your fear stand there with a smiling twisted handlebar mustache. And you lie on the railway track with a calm heart. The one person you always had the support of is nowhere to be seen. Wishes, hope, faith, grudges, all starts to fade with the increasing sound of the train.  
Midst all that craziness you’d find, life never cease to surprise the exhausted soul. That long forgotten tiny spark ignites an endless adrenaline rush. Numbness is there for your defense. Imagination is a gift you were made to control, stop using it in reverse. This rush is inevitable regardless of the constant denial.
Like that one rain in scorching heat is enough to turn around the entire season. Stop looking for it in others. For you are that First Summer Rains!