To Beautiful Memories and Glorious Days

Those little little moments that have a special place in your memories and in your heart. When you have only laughed, without any thought of the world surrounding you, without any stress or worry. When you, for a second or two, just dived into Utopia. Those little little moments that you wish you could snapshot, so later on, they would just not be a part of memory but something palpable; something to be touched, to be hugged.

Those times when you were happy, in every true sense of the word. Those times when you felt optimistic and buoyant. Those times when you either sunk into a glorious, ecstatic trance, or you felt like jumping up and yelling your joy to the world. Those times that are better than the discovery of being in love. Those memories that you cherish. Those moments that are the best incentives of living; because of which, you struggle each day to keep on breathing the fresh air, to keep on living.

Those days when you wake up, with the sun’s rays falling on you, a beaming smile on your face. And you take a deep breath and are in RELAX mood. When you chill, and you love it. When you do not take offence at anybody’s remarks. When you feel that everything is perfect for once, and you do not want to be the one to change any minute detail about Nature.

Those times when, when your teachers compliment you, you feel more loved than you do when your parents do. When nothing matters except inner beauty and love and bliss. When your heart expands with joy and elation even due to small, seemingly insignficant victories. When you attain the maximum level of satisfaction and comfort. When, like me at this moment, you feel blessed and loved and praised and adored and jubilant and content. 🙂

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Reflections: An Amazing Life

It was some 13 years ago that I entered Pre-Nursery as a teeny-weeny child. As my mother tells me I was pretty glad to be away from my brothers for once, and so, I was laughing. But, I expect to leave as a rather chubby teenager, grief-stricken, to leave the best home she’s ever had.

(*A very bored audience…“Another reflection…UGH”*)

I have no such definite recollections of my pre-primary days, expect for the fact that I met two of the sweetest teachers God ever created: Ms. Humaira Shahzad, and Ms. Fehmida Jamal.

As I grew up throughout the Starter and Junior sections, I met some really amazing and some maybe not so amazing teachers, but what’s true is that all of them had a hand in my social, moral, intellectual, and emotional development. Ms. Shahida, Ms. Huma Khalil, Ms. Umbreen, Ms. Rahila, Ms. Khadija Noorani, thank you for being there whenever I needed you.

Then came along another wonderful addition to this very long list: Ms. Humaira Salman, probably the strictest and yet, one of the most loving teachers I’ve had. Ms. Sainora, Ms. Saima, Ms. Nadia, Ms. Farkhunda, Ms Hemani, Ms. Abida were all like precious gems.

Ms. Farida, thank you for initiating that spark of love for one of my most favourite subjects now, which, back then, I loathed.

And Ms. Ayesha Nizami: all the dictionaries of all languages combined together don’t have sufficient words to describe your elegance and perfection!

The Middle Section, I can confidently claim, consisted up of the four years in which I grew up the most. Okay, so nobody in their right senses would call me ‘mature’, but I am relatively more grown-up now than I was back in class VI, and I want to thank Ms. Rabia Jamal for being the only teacher who acknowledged this change. (*I meant this to be serious but many laughed at the mature thingy -_- *)

Ms. Ayesha Muneeb, who taught me the meaning of the phrase ‘motherly teacher’. Ms. Qaisara, who is total sweetness overload! The amazing time I spent with Ralph, Piggy and Jack (Lord of the Flies): I owe it to Ms. Kanwal. And Ms. Beena, for her perfect-o smile, the love for Literature with which she taught ‘Ode to Autumn’ and ‘Macbeth’, and for the admirable ease with which she could handle when I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Ms. Beenish, Ms. Iffat, Dr. Kanwal are amazing science teachers. And special thanks to Ms. Haider for being the most enthusiastic teacher ever! (*Laughs and (pleased) hoots from the audience*)

And because it was under Ms. Nighat Khalil, that I first stopped hating Urdu, so thank you for that.

And now that I realize it, thank you Ms. Sabiha for giving me a reality check and for making me a better person; for changing your opinion about me, because not many people would do that.

And…Ms. Rukhsana…well, what can I say about you? Thank you for assuming that I am a master ventriloquist, while really, I’ve tried and tried and I can’t even whistle! (*My class gets the sarcasm and laughs 😛 *)

Ms. Sadia Abdul Qadir, you are the sweetest, the most admirable (and not to mention the prettiest) person, I’ve come across in my life. Thank you for existing! (*clapping*)

Ms. Amin, thank you for being so sincere and so flawless. (*more clapping –> proof: everybody loves her 🙂 *)

Sir Zeeshan, for being a really amazing Physics teacher.

Ms. Fauzia Samreen, thank you for being patriotic, for making the driest of dry subjects (*she nods sarcastically-at least that’s what it looked like*) so much more likeable (*she starts smiling 🙂 *) and for accepting an apology. I’m not the kind of person who’d normally be associated with emotions, but it really meant so much to me.

Thank you Ms Noreen, Ms Khadija for being super-cool sports teachers. Despite your fearful anger, Ms. Noreen, you rock when you’re in a good mood. (*The moment where I started laughing so hard onstage that I couldn’t speak*) And thank you Sir Asim, for forever calling me ‘Chota Huzaifa’! (*Huge Applause*)

Ms. Razi, for adding fuel to my hatred every Literature block! (*It was Staff APPRECIATION Week and I did not have the liberty to insult people, so I never said this either*)

Ms. Uzma Shakeel, though you haven’t taught me ever, but you have taught my brother. Jazak Allah for being a very supportive class teacher. And Ms. Asma (*she looks really bewildered at me mentioning her*), despite the first impression I got of you being so very strict, you are actually really sweet.

Ms. Farzana Sarwar, thank you for never handing  a tardy slip if we ever were late after the Opt. Subjects. Thank you for loving Biology and for making me love it too. Is there any way, we can book you for next year??

Ms. Farzana Aziz, you don’t believe us when we say this, but you’re sooooo cuutttteeee! (*Audience laughs hysterically, claps AND hoots 😀 *) Thank you for making History bearable and for all the not-possible death threats. (If you don’t stop talking, I’ll throw you out of the window!)

Ms. Farah Bukhari: thank you for always being generous with compliments.  Ms. Gul-e-Zehra: your awesome style of teaching Urdu, your smile and your always matching bracelets are something I’ll never forget! And lastly, if I haven’t missed out anybody, Ms. Uzma Khan: You are perfection personified!

So, thank you Generation’s for giving me such an amazing life, and HAPPY BIRTH-WEEK (belated now 😛 )!!!

Media Influences the Youth in an Adverse Manner: Oh really?

A famous man, known to many as Malcolm X, once said: “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, and that’s power, because they control the minds of the masses.”

Most people do believe that media, in any form, is negative. It corrupts the ‘innocent’ minds of the younger generation. Vulgarity, violence, and hatred are all that are depicted nowadays. The teens choose to follow the latest fashion trends, at the expense of their innocence and purity. The gap between them and their parents is an ever-widening one. The media definitely influences the youth in an adverse manner.

Nonetheless, as Aesop declared: “Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both before we commit ourselves to either.” I, thus, believe that media is not always a bad influence. If we look at the flip-side of the coin, it is pretty beneficial to adults and to youth.

Everyone is aware of the daily happenings in the city, the chaos and turmoil that is prevalent since the start of 2013 and people are taking the necessary precautions. My question is, what made them aware of all this? It was the media. News channels keep us aware of not only local happenings but global issues as well. People rushed forward to donate when the Japanese tsunami was projected by the media. News of inventions and new technology is brought to us by none other than the media.

People highlight that media entertainment is not age or culture appropriate. But I say, watching movies like ‘Taare Zameen Par’, which focuses on dyslexic children, is an excellent and very informative way to spend quality family time. I can vouch for current Pakistani drama serials at least, that they are a very accurate mirror-image of daily life. They promote many priceless messages, which are necessary, especially for teenage girls. While advertisements may be irritating, the PSAs-about issues like smoking, frequent mobile usage, conserving water and electricity and common diseases-that pop up from time to time, between shows on television, are helpful and enlightening.

Moreover, cooking shows, such as those aired on ‘Masala TV’ are useful for new brides, or brides-to-be. Watching healthy sports like cricket, football, hockey and the Olympic games encourages the youth, and especially the boys, to live a healthy, playful life, because we all know that: “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”

Besides television, cell phones and the internet are also advantageous, if used suitably. Cell phones connect you to your family and friends, and ease contact within times of emergency. Social networking websites, like Facebook and Orkut, can help establish connections with family members abroad. Other websites like LinkedIn can assist in finding jobs. Tutorials on YouTube, such as those for software like Adobe Photoshop and Flash, are very handy and instructive.

Therefore, the media will always be an influence, but it cannot control us unless we ourselves hand it over control. In essence, there is a vast difference between influence and control. The media can be a good thing-if we let it be so.

The Spoiled Birthday

“Hmm…All of you are invited to my 6th birthday party, held on the day after tomorrow. There will be cakes, and ribbons, and balloons. Please wear blue-and-white clothes like Cinderella and do bring my gift along. Entrance by invitation only!” jotted down my sister, in her loopy, scrawling handwriting, pronouncing each word carefully with her little tongue stuck out and her dark-brown bangs falling over her face.

“Hey girl! What are you doing?” I said as I walked in the room.

“Writing out invitations to my birthday party on Saturday,” she replied. “Will you please, please, pretty please post these for me today?”

“Sure I will!” I ruffled her hair playfully, and took the pile of brightly coloured envelopes from her. My sister could be a total brat sometimes, but she was, after all, my younger sister and I was almost always ready to do anything for her.

It was thus, that I made the biggest mistake of my life. I forgot! It totally escaped my mind that the invitations had to be posted today, and it was not until the next day that I remembered that I had yet to post them. As soon as I did remember, I rushed to the post office and completed my task, heaving a sigh of relief. Thank God I remembered, otherwise, my sister’s anger could be a really terrible thing to face.

The house became a zoo, as we started the decorations for the party. My mother, brother, father and I worked endlessly to hang up the never-ending bunch of ribbons in exactly the ‘right’ places, as our little Ms. Bossy birthday girl, stood supervising, hand placed on her hip, and ordered us about. Our lungs hurt from blowing up the millions of balloons that we had to, just because the birthday girl wanted them.

Even the menu had to be perfect! “I shall want pizza, lemon slush, strawberries with chocolate fondue, chips, brownies, oh…and gingerbread men, and your chocolate chip cookies, Mama,” she ordered, as we stared at her helplessly. “And, I want my birthday cake (and it should be Cinderella) from you!” she turned on to me.

The day arrived, as our tension mounted up to the peak. However, I could not help smiling as she pranced about in her gleaming, white Cinderella costume, while I layered the blue fondant onto the magnificent two-tier cake. It had hundreds and thousands, edible fairy pearls, and an edible Cinderella figurine on top. It was my best creation so far, and I could not wait to show it off!

Time ticked by, but the doorbell never rang. My sister had resorted to sitting glum on the sofa, awaiting her guests, but they never came. We were all pretty disappointed. I could sense danger approaching when I saw her lips quivering, her cheeks bright red, and her pupils getting all watery. It did come! “Nobody likes me!” she wailed out. I tried consoling her but in vain. Upset, we left the decorations as they were, deciding we would take them off the next day.

But, the next day turned out to be a bigger surprise for all of us. As the clock struck twelve in the noon, voices started singing “Happy Birthday to you!” outside our home. As I went to open the door, a flock of Cinderella-idolizing girls rushed in, with a couple of mothers following behind. The Birthday Guests were here!

My sister, who had till then been sulking around in her pyjamas, was dumbstruck. We later discovered from one of the mothers that they had received the letter only two days ago, and thus they assumed that ‘day after tomorrow’ was today. “Oh My God! I forgot!” I cursed myself, praying at the same time that nobody would question me. But, the Truth had to come out, and it did. My sister glared at me with a look of murderous rage in her eyes, as I stood, blushing furiously with embarrassment. The rest of the people were laughing so hard that they were unable to speak. As we later termed it, it was indeed an amusing misunderstanding. But not so amusing for me, because I was the one who had to face the brunt for my carelessness and my sister gave me THE silent treatment for weeks after the incident. Never am I, ever, going to procrastinate again!

The Corniche of Yanbu

The city of Yanbu, especially the Royal Commission area in Yanbu al-Bahr is quite well-known for its beautiful, awe inspiring Corniche (Cornish). Located in Saudi Arabia, Yanbu belongs to the coastal region and the Corniche of Yanbu is its beach, which has been divided up into different parts.

When I visited my brother and his family, who reside in Yanbu al-Bahr, this summer, the Corniche was one place where we made regular visits to. We drove there under the sweltering heat of the scorching late noon sun (Yes! The sun became unbearably hot as early as 8 am and it remained horribly hot till near evening. Even the nights were warm and it was really difficult for a person adapted to Karachi’s climate to adjust there. Thank God, it was not as dry as Riyadh was!), as well as in the calmer, warm and silvery nights.

Daytime brought around extreme heat due to which the beach was always less populated. Even in the early evenings (which are comparatively cooler), the swings and slides were too hot to sit on. If you did make the mistake of sitting on the swings, you ended up jumping, screeching with pain, and with a (slightly 😛 ) burnt bottom.

However, on the weekends (Thursdays and Fridays), despite the harsh weather, the beach was still crowded with people. Recreational facilities like motor-boats, jet skis, and even scuba diving kits were available (if you could afford them) at almost all the places which had beach resorts. (You got to see real green and pink coral reefs if you hired a motor-boat and a tour guide!!! :D)

Kids ran around barefoot, often collecting mud and water to build magnificent sand castles and other such sculptures. (Oh, and I forgot to mention: the beach stank of seaweed…badly. The smell was so strong, especially at night, that it made want to throw up.) People went chest-deep into the vast, shimmering sea. Tide breakers had been installed which did not let the water go higher than that level.

At night time, the scene was totally different. The Corniche at Royal Commission was swarming with people, usually teenage boys (known as ‘Shabbab’ in Arabic), the whole week round. The main street which led to the Corniche (at least the route we used to take) had oyster pearl shaped lights on the sides, and the trunks of the date palm trees, which grew alongside the road, were wrapped in nets of tiny, glorious, breathtakingly marvellous strings of white bulbs. However, the beach, which stretched for miles, was dark. With only a few street lamps, placed at a distance of about a kilometre from each other, it often became to dark to see clearly. Despite this fact, the sea was still filled with people wading in and even small kids, learning to swim.

At night, a variety of activities took place. Boys roared around on ‘Dabbabs’  (local name for quad bikes), pressing the blaring horn to warn people to get out of the way. In the family-allocated areas, plump little Saudi kids and kids of all other nationalities swung on the swings, and took turns to go on the slides, while the husbands and wives chatted with each other, enjoying the much-awaited ‘alone’ time.

Well…this isn’t actually Saudi Arabia..It’s Doha, Qatar
And this is definitely not a beach..It’s a desert
But that is what a ‘Dabbab’ looks like

It was still warm at that time, as I mentioned earlier, though there had been a drop in temperature. The atmosphere, despite the presence of locals and tourists, was so serene, so peaceful! Most of the kids were not rowdy, for one thing (I am not talking about my own nephew here). Shining silvery stars dotted on the jet black sky, were a treat for the eyesight.

Whether day or night, the place is amazing to visit with family and friends. Truly, Yanbu is the ideal place to go on a vacation, provided you can get there (oh..and you shall have to bear the climate as well)!

The Loss

Ever since I was born, I have had four mothers. One, my biological mother, was ‘Mamma’; the second, my aunt, was ‘Ammi’; the third, another aunt, was ‘Maa’; and the fourth and the best was ‘Amma’.

Me in my ‘cradle’
LOL…I was so ugly 😛

Amma was a kind of a far-off relative, but, as they say, people you live with are often dearer to you than people with whom you have family ties.

Despite the distance in relation, I was closer to Amma, as a child, than I was to my own mother. Before my schooling started, nobody used to be at my home in the mornings, so I was sent to my aunt’s house, where Amma also lived, and babysat me.

Me at Ammi (my aunt)’s house, where Amma also lived

She was the one who used to defend me when my strict aunt scolded me; who consoled me when I cried. She taught me the art of storytelling and even more, the art of listening to stories. Her stories were the wackiest, most unimaginable, yet truer than life and full of morals. The characters ranged from elegant princesses, to gigantic giants, to crows and twittering birds. The scenario was so fairy tale-like and yet, so familiar.

She was one of the best cooks in the family. My mother tries hard to recreate her ‘kaleji’ recipe every Eid, but despite her being a good cook as well, she is never successful.

Amma’s death in 2007, as an old, white-haired woman nearly seventy years of age, punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. She had been there for as long as I could remember, and it seemed unbelievable and almost, silly, that Amma would die one day. I later discovered that she had been suffering from cancer. But back then, I was unaware of this. Though, I always knew that death is inevitable, but I never, in a hundred years, would have expected that Amma would die so ‘early’. Her death was the biggest loss I had to face, and not only for me, was it the loss of a priceless, amazing person; it was a loss for the world!

Bhoja Air Crash: Heartbroken

The catastrophic event of 20th April, 2012 was enough to dampen the spirits of the entire nation. 127 innocent Pakistanis lost, millions heartbroken. Tears in the eyes of family members who desperately prayed to Allah SWT as they searched for the names of their beloveds amongst the dead.

When I heard of the crash, naturally, I was very shocked and saddened. When I got to know that four of the children in the airplane (the Chugtai family) had been my fellow-Generians, all of them much younger than me, the world came crashing down. May Allah SWT grant them ‘maghfirat’ and the highest ranks in Paradise, and may their souls rest in peace.

But what hurt me even more was the heartless and indifferent attitude of the newsreporters. I was, literally, crying when I saw a video on a famous news programme’s website, which was basically about the reactions of the family of the deceased.

In the video, the newsreporter kept going to the weeping , depressed family members who were going to collect the bodies and kept asking them extremely cruel and pitiless questions like: “How do you feel?” I mean, is the answer not obvious? They have lost their family, for God’s sake! How do you think they feel?? And, asking them if they wanted the matter to be investigated is even more mean. It will just discourage them even more if you remind them again and again that nothing is actually investigated in this country.

There was this poor guy who had lost his wife in the Crash and he was crying so hard that he could hardly speak. And the in-human newsreporter just asks him about his future plans without his beloved. I was so stunned that I do not even feel that this is worth commenting upon.

It was not a good experience at all. I request you to please, please stop bothering the families of the victims by asking them meaningless and hurting questions. Please change the nature of your inquiry. They already have so much on their minds. Why are you disheartining them even more?
This is the plea of a 15 year old, and I request you: Please listen to it.

May Allah reward them with Jannat un Naim.

All credit to Generation's School...