Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Truth and Light

I searched my life for truth and light,
Searched my whole life, day and night.
But when light shone before me,
I lost me sight, and now I'm blind.
And when truth knocked at my door,
My ears became dumb.
Now I live in darkness and silence.
Now I'm free and happy.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


"That egg is mine!" Shouted Nida.
"The egg with the black spot is mine!" Shouted Huda from the bathroom.
Nida and Huda were my twin cousins, in eigth standard. They were fighting over the eggs in the nest of the little birdy, who have come to stay with us two weeks ago. Nida and Huda had come only last Saturday. I went to the kitchen, and looked at the whole on the roof. There was two tiny eggs, but both were alike.
"Which is the egg with black spot, Umma?" I asked my mother.
"Look closely and you will notice one. Not a black spot. But a gray one. Thats how they differentiate between the eggs." Umma replied and pointed to one egg. I peeped closer to see a light grey spot on the egg. You would need a microscope to notice it! How did they notice it?
"They had never left the nest after they came here." Umma said, as if she understood my thoughts. "They have already spotted some six or seven differences between the eggs." She laughed.
Nida and Huda had come to stay with us for their ten days Onam vacation. Onam is a festival of the people in Kerala. It comes after our first term exams and so its a time to enjoy. Nida and Huda came to our home to enjoy their vacation with fishing and swimming. They don't have a river near their house, and water is scarce there. So usually my cousins from my Umma's side come to stay with us for a good one hour bath, and the fun with the river. But this time it seems they haven't gone out to the river. The birdy and its eggs have kept them inside the home.
Huda came running in to see her egg.
"Oh, Aunty!" She shouted, "The eggs have gone a little bit!"
Umma smiled at her, and gave her a cup of coffee.
"You say that everyday, and I don't find any difference in it!" Umma said.
"That's because you are not exited about the eggs as them." I replied.

* * *
The birdy came there some two weeks ago. One morning when I came to the kitchen, it was sitting there. I tried to shoo it away, but Umma stopped me.
"The bird also have got its right on the earth." She said.
Oh, yeh. I thought. The birds, cats, squirrels, dogs, lizards, ants, cockroaches, bees, flies, bats, rats, mosquitoes, snakes and everything have got their right to live on this earth. Who are we to get rid of them when we are the real intruders? We have cut their forests and pushed them out of their dwellings. So they have come to live in our dwellings. These are not my thoughts. I've read it in the book of the great malayalam author Vaikom Muhammed Basheer, in his short story, Inheritors of the Earth. Umma and Baba ( dad) believes in his philosophy - every animal has got a right to live where ever it likes. I also liked that philosophy, until I saw a snake in the garden. Now I have excluded some animals from the big list of Mr. Bahseer ( sorry sir, but I cannot live with a snake in my garden) - first of all, the snakes, then the scorpions, the centipedes, the big black ants and such insects and animals that are harmful. There was a rat in the house. Every night it will come to eat the food in the dustbin. Once inside it, it cannot get out. Every morning Umma will take it outside to throw it away in the bushes, but it returns to the dustbin at night. I have seen this cycle going on for at least two weeks. Umma won't kill the rat, nor the rat will go away. It seems they have become good friends, now the rat waits for Umma in the morning, to take it out. It isn't afraid of Umma anymore.
Well, coming to the birdy, it has found a nice little hole on our roof. I was not able to put it in a specific species or class, so i just named her birdy. I didn't even know the gender of the bird, but the feminist in me regarded it as a 'her'. But later it came out to be a female (feminism wins!). Sometimes when we sit for breakfast or lunch, we could see small the birdy coming with small pieces of twigs, wires, clothes, cotton, leaves and paperbits. Within days, a small and cute nest came into sight.
"I think we are going to have a new family here." Umma said.
"But Nida and Huda are coming here next week." I replied. "Will they disturb the bird?"
"Well, we can teach them to take care of the birds." Umma suggested. "They will have a fun filled vacation."
We watched the bird. Everyday at sunrise, it goes out. May be, in search of food. By noon it arrives and takes some rest. In the evening it goes out again to return at dusk. The bird became a member of our family, and we became members of her family. She won't fly away when we go near her. We would pat her head, take her in our arms and feed her with some of the leftovers. She never flew away. She would put her beaks on our hands, as if kissing it.
One evening when I came from college, I saw her sitting in the nest.
"Why haven't you gone out in search of food?" I asked her.
I felt she had a happy look in her eyes. I went nearer to her nest, to see a part of two tiny little eggs. "Wow!" I cried to her. "So, you have become a mother of twins!"
"Congrats, birdy!" I said to her. Now she had a thank-you look in her eyes ( or is it my imagination?).
Next day morning my cousins arrived. They were very excited when they saw the bird and the eggs. Umma asked them to be careful, and never allowed them to touch the eggs. They could watch the eggs, and softly touch the bird. That was more than enough for them.

* * *
"Aunty, when will the eggs hatch?" asked Nida for the hundredth time.
"I don't know honey." Replied Umma, also, for the hundredth time.
They want to see the chicks before the vacation ends. But, there are only two or three days left for the vacation to end! I could have searched the Google or anything like that if I had known the species. But without any specific word to search, how can I search for 'How many days will it take for birdy's egg to hatch?' If the Google search engine was a living creature with hands, it would have slapped me!
Days flew by and it was the evening before Nida and Huda left. They were playing outside when it started to rain. Umma called them inside, because they had to go to school within two days, and fever was the first thing she didn't want them to have. She poured them some hot milk to keep away the cold. I made myself some hot coffee to keep away the cold. We saw the birdy squeezing herself into the nest to keep her eggs warm.
"Aunty, can we give her a blanket?" Asked Huda.
"God have provided them a blanket, sweety." Umma replied. "Her feathers are her blanket. It keeps her warm."
"We won't be able to see the chicks." Sighed Nida.
"Don't worry. May be they won't leave us at all. When you come here in December for your Christmas, they will be flying around. You can play with that time." Umma consoled her.
But it didn't comfort her.She wanted to see the tiny chicks, the process of hatching and their first flying lessons.
The evening became more rainy, and at night, when we were in bed, we could here the storm blowing the trees. It was a scary night, with the rain and storm, and I was grateful when I finally fell asleep. Morning was calm, and the sun looked at the earth to see the damage the storm had brought. I got up and walked into the kitchen. It was a pathetic sight.
The eggs lay cracked on the floor, with the nest. Birdy was flying in circles around the broken eggs. I called Umma, to show her the scene. She asked me to clean the place quickly before Nida and Huda arrived, or they will be very upset at the sight. I cleaned it, with bird flying over my head, and threw the broken eggs into the garden, with a heavy heart.
When Nida and Huda arrived, they enquired about the nest. Umma replied that birdy must have changed her home, as the cats usually do with their kittens. They had to be satisfied with the answer.
The bird flew away when I threw the broken eggs out. It never returned.
We love you, Birdy, and we are sorry for you.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Sparrows

Summer is giggling at us, with all her teeth out at 50+ degrees. She claps her hand when she sees people rushing to their homes and into the coolness of a/cs. Its difficult to get out for a walk even at night. I wonder how the people at construction sites are going through the day with the hot sun on their back. When sitting in my room, I can see the workers sweating under the severity of the hot sun. Birds are flying in search of a window or a/c hole, to take rest and hide from the sun. A myna came and sat on my rope on which I put my clothes to dry. I got up to shoo it away, but on second though I decided to let it stay there to secure itself from the sun.
I thought of the days at school. When while coming from school one day, a sparrow fell infront of us. It was small and cute, but very tired. I and my brother Nasweef took it in our hands to our home. Umma ( mom) gave it some water. It opened its eyes slowly and looked at us. It didn't try to fly away. Just sat in our hands. Umma broke a small branch from the tree outside our home, and the sparrow perched on it. We took some snaps, and when evening came, Umma took out the branch along with the sparrow. We asked Umma to keep the sparrow indoor, so that we can make a pet of her. But Umma asked us how we would feel if we are taken away from our family by some strangers. At last, we decided to give her freedom. She looked at us thankfully, opened her wings and flew away. The foto show Nasweef with the sparrow.
There was another incident when a parakeet came to our home. It was 10.30 at night and we were cleaning the table after dinner, while my younger brothers have gone to bed. Suddenly, there was a knock on the kitchen window. We got frightened at first, and called Umma. Umma came and opened the window, to see a parakeet trying to get inside. Nasweef got out with a torch. But when he tried to catch it, the parakeet bit his fingers. But it was not able to fly. At last, with some effort and a piece of cloth, Nasweef caught it and bought it home. Umma gave it some water and the leftovers we had after dinner, and we went to sleep. Next morning, we got up early to find the parakeet still in our kitchen. We had a thorough look at her, to see that her wings had some cut. She was a green Indian ring necked parakeet, with red beaks, rose ring around her neck, red eyes and a long tail. We brought her some fruits from the garden and a cage from our neighbor. We put some grains also in the age, as we didn't know what she ate. Someone told us that parakeets eats leafs of a certain plant, so we went in search of leaves in the near by bushes. It was a busy day, running to find out what parakeets eat! But it seemed she didn't like anything we gave her, and she was not able to fly to search her food by herself. Something happened next day. My younger brother, not more than three years old, got angry with Umma for something, and threw his milk over the parakeet. The parakeet, already dying with hunger, now fell down in the cage. There are no veterinarians near by to take her to the doc. We tried to dry her up with a cotton cloth, but she breathed her last after some hours. We all became very sad and even my younger brother became sad. He cried a lot. He loved animal and animals loved him. I remember the goats at my uncle's home, they jumped when they saw him or heard his sound. They ran behind him, tickled him and played with him. And when Uncle sold them, he cried so loudly that the man who bought them asked uncle to give one to Nadeem, my brother. The goat was also very reluctant to go with the man. It came backward to Nadeem several times before finally going away with its new owner. Does animals have a loving heart, bigger than humans?
We also had a pigeon come to our one day. It didn't come, actually. We were playing outside when we saw a group of boys throwing stones at a pigeon. We called Umma. She came and got rid of the boys and took the pigeon, who was very weak, home. We fed it and gave water to it. The pigeon stayed with us for a week, and then when she was able to fly, she flew away to her destination.
There were many other birds too, who flew into our home in search of shelter, food or water. I don't know some of their names. We had a huge tree infront of our home, and so there were many birds on it. Some nests and some small eggs. A small bird, once, made her nest in the hole in out roof. She laid two cute little eggs. We became so friendly that we would pat her head when we pass by that place. She would put her beak on our hand, as if kissing it. She wasn't afraid of us. But one day, when there was a big storm at night, her cage fell down along with the eggs - and the eggs broke. She never came there again.

Monday, 14 July 2008

The Tamarind Seed

The calender on the wall said three more days. Three more days for the big event, my wedding. But there were a lot of work to do, that I cannot sit and dream about the event. Friends and relatives will be arriving from tomorrow onwards. I have got to clean my room, make it comfortable for my friends who will come on the eve of the wedding, clean my shelf, and a lot of work to do. I haven't got the wedding dress from the tailor. Will go to him today evening, I thought. But now, I'll have to start with some other work. I thought for a moment, and decided to start with the shelf. I calculated the time needed for that job, may be one hour or maximum two hours. That means by lunch time, I can finish the shelf. After lunch, I'll start with the room. Good. I thought to myself.
But when I opened my shelf, I knew my plans were not going to work. The shelf itself needed a
full 24 hours to clean it. There were so many letters which I have started saving form my seventh grade, cards, gifts and the little bits of paper we pass among friends during a boring lecture, all piled up on one rack. The single rack may take my time until lunch, I amused. I wanted to keep all those letters, gifts, cards and all, but I decided to burn the letters. Those letters from my friends have got many of their sighs and giggles that I prefer to keep to myself. I took the pile and kept it on my lap to select the letters form it.
. I smoothed the bit of paper that lay on top of the pile and read.
'Boring class, wou ld you like some fun? Ayathullah'
'Sure, what do we do?' - My reply.
'Draw a funny picture about Sathyan Sir taking the class and pass it to everyone.'
'Ok, you do the drawing, I'll do the writing, and we will pass it.'
I remember the sleepy class waking into a bright day of suppressed giggles when the picture was passed. But, sadly, I never got the picture back.
I put the smoothened bit of paper into a box. Next I took a heap of letters to be burnt, and there was a small piece of rose colored chalk lying beneath it, engraved 'With love, Jeena'. Jeena gave it
to me on my birthday. Next, there was card from Femi, with the postman's notice for not putting the stamp on it. She says she had pasted the stamp, but it must have fallen somewhere 'coz when I got it, there was the 5 Dirhams bill on it for sending it without a stamp. I put that to in the box. There was puppets made of chocolate coverings, given to me by my friend Anitha when I we were in higher secondary. A cute and tiny glass basket, with glass fruits. I got it for my 20th birthday from Sumi, one of my best friends. I kept the basket in my shelf, near to my foto. There was this big gift which I got from my friend's would be, a huge Guiness record book of 1999. I have even got the gift wrappers neatly folded. There was a puppy doll given to me by my friend Shaheena, when we celebrated our christmas friend at college.
A mock love letter given to me by Krishna came next. I was sure the letter was not written by him but his friends for the fun of it, and I kept it among the letters to be burnt. I wanted to keep it, but what if some one who read it never got the fun in it? There was another love letter below it, written by me and my friends for one of my friend, Nadiya. That was during our first year at college, and the seniors, as a part of ragging, asked her to write a love letter to her family friend, our senior in college. We wrote in Malappuram slang which is difficult for many to understand. That letter was a huge hit in our college, and I saved the rough copy. I put that in the box. The cards that came next fell into the box of saved items. There were some more bits of papers, self made cards and some drawings of my friends which was put in the box. A bunch of beautifully drawn cartoons by my friend Mirfath came next. Her letters also had pictures drawn on it. I saved all of them for the pictures drawn by her, when we were in our tenth grade.
When I took the last letter to be burnt, a tamarind seed fell from it.

I have told you about the tamarind seed in the last post. The memento given to me by my friend. We were not very good friends, but just friends who would pass by with a 'hi' or 'hello'. We had nothing in common to share, were very different. I don't remember exactly, but I think we had some fights also. I am very bad at remembering people, and so I would have forgotten her without the tamarind seed. When I picked up the tamarind seed, I remembered the moments when she gave me the seed, and asked not to throw it away. I have kept my word. The tamarind seed was placed at a corner of the box.
I tied the box, plastered it and put it in my shelf, with the memories of my school and college days. I then went to burn the heap of letters, saved during the last 11 years.


I thought and thought and thought .... What to write on blog today? Seems I've got nothing to share with you all. I started reading other blogs. Beautiful Muslimah has put a nice cream costume on her blog. I just stared at it, 'coz I'm sure I cannot wear it. My hubby will never allow it. There was some nice articles in Shuhaib Webb's too. I read Asad123's Nitrogen Cycle Poem, but didn't get the whole of it. Just understood its a nitrogen cycle, but I felt there may be something else in it that I didn't get. There wasn't any new posts in the other blogs, so I did not open them. There was not much to do at home, as my co-sis said she will do the cooking. I tried to concentrate on the cleaning, but I couldn't. So I thought I would come back to the blogging.
Hubby, me and my in-laws planned for a Umrah during August first week. But when we inquired the fee for stamping our visa, they said it was AED 500. Last year it was only AED 300 for a person. 500 per person meant 5*500 = 2500 in all. Return flight tickets costs
around AED 1000 for a single person, 'coz we have got ID tickets. So the sum get 7500. Food, room and other costs extra. So , we just dropped the plan. How can a normal family live on with such a high rise in prices? My MIL once said, when she joined as a school teacher in 70s, her basic salary could buy around 100 grams of gold. When she retired in 2003, with increased salary and other allowances, she could buy only around 10 grams of gold. Such a big difference within 30+ years! In 2006, when I came to Dubai, the rice ( palakkadan matta rice) cost only AED 2 per kilo. Now its AED 5.50! We eat it twice daily. Whose fault is this? Who should we blame? To whom should we complaint about this?
I was thinking about all of these when my Uncle, living near by, came to see me. He came from India yesterday. He had my mom's letter for me. I was glad to get it. I haven't seen anyone writing letters except me and my mom, and sometimes my brothers, Nawaz and Nasweef. My hubby and in-laws sometimes make fun of me, but there is that special letter bond between me and my family which is maintained through letters - and only through letters. There are so many things special about a letter, not found in emails or any other type of communication.

  • Letters always start with "Endearest" or at least a "dear' while emails start with a 'hi' and phone calls with a 'hello'.

  • The handwriting of our loved ones is so nice to see. Ok, I agree with you - the voice of our loved onces is also so nice to hear.

  • When you are on an international call, there is no time to go to the less important details. Letters bring you all the details aat home, however minute they are.

  • Letters end with a "loving,..." while emails usually end with "regards" and phone-calls with a "bye".

  • There will be many prayers to God, for me, in my mom's letter. She gets no time for that while on phone.

  • Letters will be written when you are free, and so i will be stuffed with the writer's love. You don't know when and where you are answering your phone to stuff your sentences with love.

There are many more reasons to which I love letters. I can read them again and again. I can keep it as a treasure in my personal drawer. I can kiss the letters, it gives a feeling of kissing the person who wrote the letter. I hold it near to my heart when I feel lonely, sad or nostalgic, it would bring an unknown strength. I had all the letters sent by my family and friends, till my marriage. I burnt it before my marriage, 'coz it contained the woes, tears, smiles, laughter, frights, romances, life and love of my friends, which i decided not to share with anyone else. But I still have got the little bits of papers we passed in our class, the cards sent by my friends and their presents. I value them more than anything. I have with me a seed of tamarind which a friend gave me when we departed from school. I haven't heard of her since, but I know she is thinking of me when I take the tamarind seed in my hand!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

From Dubai to AbuDhabi

Yesterday we went to AbuDhabi, a trip we have been looking forward for a long time. There were five of us, as usual, a big and happy family. The trip was to meet our friends, living in AbuDhabi, whom we haven't seen for years. There were hubby's friends, whom he was meeting after 10+ years. I wanted to see the places more than meeting with the people, but hubby insisted on seeing the friends. He asked me about a Hadith which asks us to keep our relationship with friends and relatives active. So, I gave up about going to places. But when I reached AbuDhabi, I prayed let hubby get the road wrong, so I can just see some places, from the car. Naughty of me, nah? I was happy when he got through the wrong way once or twice, but that didn't last long.

A view of AbuDhabi from the creek. 

A major difference between AbuDhabi and Dubai is the peacefulness and cleanliness of AbuDhabi. The streets are clean, with plants and tress on either side of the road giving the whole city a green look. I saw dates on date-palms, but hubby didn't allow me to pluck them. Some are ripe and brown in color while some others still in their red and green color. In Dubai, I haven't seen dates on any date-palms, and they look like they haven't got a drop of water for a long time. And greenery in less in Dubai, because all you see is the concrete buildings.
Deira seen from above, with the creek included.

The cities of AbuDhabi is well-planned and well maintained. The buildings are tall, roads are wider and the parking lots are surplus. In Dubai, roads are narrower with twice as more vehicles in AbuDhabi, and only a few free parking lots are available, making it difficult for people to use cars . Roads are smoother in AbuDhabi than in Dubai. As the airport is far from the city in AbuDhabi, building tall apartments is not a big issue there. In Dubai, the airport is in the heart of the city, making it difficult to make buildings with more than seven to ten floors.
The 'Don't litter here' boards everywhere on the road is a very good idea of the AbuDhabi municipality. I've seen people in Dubai throwing away cans and plastic glasses on roads, which I think is unseen in AbuDhabi. And yup, the anxiety of a free parking in Dubai is ten times more than in AbuDhabi. Its difficult to get even a paid parking in Dubai, sometimes.
The Sheik Zayed Mosque in AbuDhabi, the second largest in the world. Bigger than Masjid Al Nabavi, im Madina. Still under construction. The only monument we visited in AbuDhabi.

Well, there is one thing I liked about all these rush in Dubai. Nobody likes to come to Deira, the most populated area, in Dubai. And so, no hush-hush about making the home clean for guests, cooking for them and all that host-activities. We invited all our friends we visited in AbuDhabi to our home in Dubai, but we got a pleasent "NO" from all of them. The reason - the traffic in Dubai!
Traffic in Dubai.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Who do you want your child to be?

I didn't recognize this thin, pale woman when she said 'Salam' to me. I answered her 'salam', but still I didn't get her. I gave her a questioning look.
"Hey! I'm your friend at school!" she said.
Friend? But I don't remember this girl. She was not a girl, looked some 30 years! How can she be my friend at school? I looked at the two kids staying close behind her and the kid in her hand.
"You must have mistaken." I said.
She looked at my face.
"Are you not Najeeba?" Sha asked.
I was surprised. She knows my name. But I didn't recognize her. 'Oh! God, please help me get this women!' I prayed but without success.
"I'm Seena, your classmate at higher secondary." She introduced herself.
"Oh, My God!" I shouted. "What a pleasant surprise!" I could not believe it. "You hav echanged a lot." I told her.
"You haven't changed a bit!" She responded. I know I haven't changed a lot after school days. Everyone tells me that.
"These are my kids, she is 4 years old, her younger one is 2 years old and the baby boy is six months." She introduced all of them.
"That's great! So many kids around you! Hope you have a busy and happy time with them." I said. "And your hubby?" I enquired.
"He went to that shop to buy milk for the kids." She pointed out a shop.
"My hubby has gone to his office. So I thought I would buy the vegetables today." I said. "We live in the next flat. Would you like to come for a coffee?" I asked her.
But I think she was busy, because she declined my offer. We exchanged our numbers and said goodbye. I felt very sad when I saw her get into her car and go with her hubby.
She was my friend in our higher secondary school, a two year course after the high school. We
were in the same room for that two years, with another 20 to 25 of us, I don't exactly remember the number ( but I remember all of them - in the order of their bed. Too lazy to count now), and so almost all of us were like sisters - so close to each other. The years at school were the happiest years of my life, with so many friends always around you. The daily comers usually fight with their parents asking for permission to stay at their friend's home, but we were lucky to get friends all time. At that stage of your life, you rely on friends more than your parents for everything except money.
But how much she has changed! She was an enthusiastic, fair and well build girl when we were at school. A person who was careful about her looks. She used to jog and take exercise in t he morning to keep herself fit, when most of us took the granted time for a one hour sleep until the bell for the study time rings. She was sweet in her nature and beautiful in her looks. She had nice soft and silky long black hair. I remember her combing her hair carefully without breaking any hair, which took almost half an hour, while I took only less than five minutes to do with my hair! Now her hair looked like a thin coir piece! I wondered, how much does time change the life of a person?
She had good skill in writing. I sometimes envied her at her skills in writing. During school festivals, I used to get prizes in versification, essay writings and story writings in both English and Malayalam until she arrived. From then on, it was her chance to win the prices, and I had to satisfy with the second or third prizes. But we were very good friends, and had lot of similarities. She was also a quite girl like me, with little sound for the world to record. Both of us liked writing, drawing and making handicrafts. We used to create our own cards and presents together for our roommates and friends for their birthdays. We were well known among our friends for that. That was a beautiful life for both of us, or so I thought.
It was the inter-school essay writing competition that changed her life. The competition was held in a far school, which took us a whole day's journey to reach there. We missed 3 to 4 days of our class at school. But who minds that? As usual, she got the first prize for the competition. We were so happy and were shouting and enjoying ourselves on our return journey. But when we reached school we found her father waiting for her.
"Where were you?" shouted her father. I understood Seena was going to have a bad day.
"T-o the c-o-mp-eti-tion..." she stammered.
"Who let you go there?" Shouted back her father.
Seena stood silent.
Her silence made him more angry. He hit her hard, and our teachers came for her rescue. Her father started shouting at them.
"I haven't sent my girl to this school to take her to silly competitions. I am spending money on her to make her a doctor so that she can return the money back to me." He was shivering with anger when he was saying those words.
"Damn you all. Sending her around and missing her classes!" He did not stop shouting.
We were all dumbstruck. The whole kids of the school were watching us.
That night I was sitting near Seena, who was crying. Her trophy lay on the floor beside her bed. She looked at me.
"Najeeba, is it that every Papa's are like this?" She asked in between her weeps.
What do I reply? My Papa is not like that. But will that answer make her happy? No way. I don't know any other Papa's who acts like her father. But she didn't wait for my answer.
"Najeeba, I wanted to be a writer. Not a doctor." she said.
"You can be a doctor cum writer, Seena." I replied. "There are many doctors who are writers. Haven't we read the novel MindBend, its author is a doctor."
"But Najeeba," she said, "I wanted to be a full time writer. A journalist."
I sat silent. What to say?
"I wanted to be journalist from the first day at my school, when my teachers clapped after I told a story to them...." she trailed off.
"... I wanted to be a journalist when I bagged the first prize at the All-India junior essay writing competition held at Delhi when I was in my fifth grade."
She sat silent , immersed in the thoughts of those days. I felt sleepy, and so went to my bed.
Days, weeks and months flew. Before we knew, our exams approached and we became busy with the records, practicals, labs and also the exam. With the exams, our school life was also put to an end. We were departed to a whole new world of college, with new faces, new experiences and new friends. I tried to keep in touch with her for a long time. I came to know she got admission in a medical college through her letters, and then her letters stopped. I wrote to her a number of
times, but without replies. I tried to call her, and get in touch, but were always unsuccessful.
After my college, I got married. I tried to find her and get in touch to invite her for my marriage, but it seemed she had disappeared from the world.
A friend of ours who came for my marriage, said the remaining part of story I haven't heard.
"She got married some years ago." My friend said. "She was so upset in not being able to make her loved career. Her depression took away her studies, and she started taking medicines. She discontinued from her studies, and got married."
"Her father...?" I asked. "He wanted to make her a doctor, isn't it?"
"Yeah,"said my friend, "he is angry with her for not becoming a doctor that he won't call her or talk to her."
I cursed him for doing that.

Now it was that girl who have just walked away from me, downtrodden, with no hopes in life. My friend. A good writer. The society would have got another well-known writer if her father had an understanding heart, and less greed for money. But who cares? Isn't this also a part of child labor? Don't people realize that their children are not them, but a different individual with their own likes and dislikes? Why do they push their children to extremes to make them fall off the cliff?

Do you think we are oppressed?

Did you say we are oppressed,

When in our veil, we are dressed?

When we cover ourselves from wandering eyes,

And keep our decency in front of guys,

You want to say that we are oppressed?

Women are oppressed, when you say,

I’m sure you are in ignorant way.

‘Coz my dad kisses me sweet, everyday

And say, ‘To paradise you are my way’,

For those who care for their little girls,

Allah assured them a heavenly home of pearls.

Yet you say, in Islam, we are oppressed,

When in decency we are dressed.

Who deserves the chocolate first,

If not his girls, and only then, the rest.

That’s how the Prophet did

First to the girls, and then the other kids.

But you look at our dresses

And decide, the women, Islam oppresses.

The paradise, to you, is not further

Than under the feet of your mother.

And straight to heaven, angels drag her

When in her delivery, death finds her.

Still you say, we are oppressed,

When women in Islam are greatly blessed.

Don't you know in history, when women lead war,

And they traveled fearless, near and far.

It was Islam that gave them a dignified self,

And made her proud of herself.

But you shout women are oppressed,

When in truth, in Islam, women are blessed.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Accident

We were having coffee from our balcony in Dubai, when Jasmin asked me a question.
"Najeeba, have you ever had any experience, or anything in your life, that you were never able to explain?"
"Not able to explain?" I did not understand what she was asking.
"Yeah, never able to explain. Some mysteries or something like that." She explained that.
I love mysteries. But so far, my life has been just like a plain sand you see on the beach. I would like to be an ocean of mysteries. But not even the drop of water on me.
"No." I said. "Did Jasmin have any such experience?" I asked.
"Can you tell that story to me?" I begged her.
"Sure." She assured me.
I sat a little closer to her, with the coffee and snacks on my lap, to hear her story.
"We were traveling from Abudhabi to Dubai. Myself, hubby, Arif and our 1 year old son Amal. Arif was driving. I was 4 months pregnant with my now 2 year old daughter Ameena. I was sitting in the back seat of the car, with my son sleeping on the seat. I asked Arif to change the A/C ventilator to my side, and he turned to change it. Suddenly, he lost control of our car, and the car went to the left side. He turned the wheel to the right side, and the car went turning to the right side, into the ditch below. It must have rolled for several times, I got unconscious before it stopped. When I regained my consciousness, they were pulling me through the window of the car, which was upside down. After I got out, I searched for my son, but he was no where to be seen. I started shouting when Arif came near me. He hugged me tight, but I did not stop crying. I wanted to see my baby. A Pakistani truck driver stopped near us, to help us. He pulled the car door open, to look for my baby. But the baby was not seen inside the car!

I started looking the surrounding places, when at a distance I saw a piece of dress flying with the wind. I jumped and ran there. MashaAllah, he was sleeping peacefully there, with no injuries. Only the thorn of the desert plant has pierced in his dress. I hugged and kissed him and held him tight. I thanked Allah, for keeping my child safe. I don't know how he reached there, several meters away from the car, without any injuries." She paused, "That was the first mystery on that accident day."
"Wonderful. I said. "May be he was thrown out of the car into the sand." I tried for an explanation.
"Yeah, but it was hot sand at noon, but he didn't feel it. And how can he still go on sleeping when he was thrown some 10 meters away?" Jasmine asked me.
I found no solution for the problem.
"Well, what was the second mystery?" I asked, as she said that was the first.
"I will tell you. After I got Amal, I looked at my injuries. Arif had only a small cut on his nose, but I had a long cut on my arm. The broken window glass has cut my left arm when they pulled me through the window. The pakistani driver took us to the near by clinic. The doc there stitched my cut, and plastered Arif's bleeding nose. We left the clinic by dusk on that day." She stopped.
"So, what is mysterious about it?" I asked.
"Nothing mysterious about that," she answered. " The mystery is coming," continued Jasmine, "Last week, when I was bathing, I found something sharp on my left arm while I was applying soap. I tried to pull it out, but nothing happened, except a severe pain there. That evening when I looked in the mirror I found a piece of glass protruding on my arm. I pulled it again, but it didn't come out and I felt pain. Next day morning, while changing the dress, a glass piece, about 1 inch long, fell from my left arm. No blood or anything came from the hole that now appeared where the glass piece fell." She stopped.
I was so amazed to speak.
She went on.
"The same thing happened to me day before yesterday. The glass piece, now half an inch long, fell off today morning!"