Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

the reading

November 26, 2016

the essence of piousness

his beard flowing in the wind

all white with few strands

of black to show

he was once young

and the ustani aunty

piousness epitomized

who took pains with the girls

as much as the bearded one did

with the boys

even the aunties would ask them

to correct their reading

of the book revealed

so long ago

read duly corrected

unfollowed except to the classes

where the show was about

of who had the more expensive one

lucky were the kids they said

whose house the maulana came to

to teach them that which

between bismillah and aamin

was all that would matter

to be forgotten the next day.

and how great the ustani was

to agree to take the girl to teach

and in her own home too.

little did the kids know

these visits by the exalted molvi

always corrected by an elder to

say moulana sahib

as if this made any difference in the

impish minds of the kids.

or the going to the ustani

the elders always adding “gee”

when she would find it convenient

to teach the girl alone

and then one day while

reading the text divine

the teachers reached across

and kissed the cheek

by way of a shahbash

and benignly smiled

or patted the back of the neck

caressing slowly as the boy faltered

in his reading, to the touch

while with the other hand

they made it a point

to openly scratch between the legs

or brazenly expose the top to scratch

and this became the ritual

daily repeated daily forgotten

and then the scratch became harder

and needed the kids hand

to scratch so the teacher

would feel relieved

and then slowly

the itch became a daily matter

and the kiss moved from

the cheek to the lips

and the hands became

demandingly exploring

one day the kid told his sibling

but was hushed and told

that was the way it was

and the kid next door endorsed it

so the next step was but natural

and so it went along

till one day sooner than later

the itch demanded

that the kids hand

go inside not over the dress

do i need to tell you the rest

another conquest and another

childhood lost to the depravity

of what the kid associated

with the reading of the book

now despised and not revered

and since that time

the hatred for the teacher bearded

deep seated within to this day endures

and when the time

for the kids kid came to read

the kid ensured their kid

were not left alone with the teacher

thus four ustanis and many more months

than the two hundred days or so

is what it took

for the reading to be finished

of the great holy words

that if left to their devices

the teachers would have taken

with half of that time

spent on their lecherousness

leaving the kids scarred for life

but then life goes on

not ready to accept that

the teachers of the book can be bad

we end up repeating

the reading and the rituals

not really bothered

how the kid is scarred

how the life is marred.

and life goes on

as it has gone on

for us and for ours before us

not ready to accept

not ready to stand

not willing to say

things can be wrong

for after all

life goes on!

 

*****

read out at Lahore in a session on childhood abuse

written between March 14-16, 2016

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triumph

November 26, 2016

The easiest thing for us all to do is to sit and morosely say I have nothing!

And when I saw Triumph as the topic for The Missing Slate’s open mike session, I said here is a chance to think of the other side of sitting and thinking I have nothing.

So triumph it is!

Let me delve a bit in to the past.

Triumph for ma as a kid was associated with the famous Arc de Triumph in Paris, which was built over a hundred and eighty years to commemorate the French revolution and Napoleonic wars. The tall big gate like structure, on the end of the Champs-Elysée in Paris, which of course any French person will correct you to pronounce as Parree, with its night illumination was more than enough to impress a young tourist kid of the majesty of being triumphant!

Fast forward to final year in school and bicycling to school like most school mates and grudging a couple of school mates who came on Vespa’s, till one day a class fellow came not on a Vespa but on a motor cycle – and that too not just any motor cycle but a brand new shining full of chrome Tiger Cub, yes a Triumph Tiger Cub!

And triumph took on the meaning of a shining roaring beeping motorcycle.

And as is said there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.

These two triumphs were not the end of triumphs in life but as I look back now just the beginnings.

The seasons changing from May to June many years ago in Peshawar was close to unbearable, but I was happy that soon this heat would be lessened by the pleasantness of Abbottabad. And Abbottabad it was; only the regimen made life tough and the weather became secondary to survival.

However the Pakistan Military Academy gave new meaning to life, I found that I could do things better and that gave me an impetus. The desire to triumph this time in perhaps the actual meaning of the word.

And I got down to the serious business of winning. Going the extra mile, working, physical fitness, drill, and what have you led us to the day when we were all gathered in the Ingall Hall to hear our fate, and my name was called out last.

I was to pass out with the top honor.

I had triumphed.

And then life started in earnest. The triumph as is said cost me dear (mehangi pari). The bar had been set high for me by none other than myself!

And everyone expected me to “do better” than the rest. And luck played her innings on my side of the fence, and I did not let myself down.

And then the second call came. I was on the Siachen glacier, and in a glacial valley 18 of my men got buried under an avalanche.

Those of you who remember the Giyari incident, with the search operation undertaken with machinery and implements, can not imagine the back breaking search for the buried men, with each dig with picks and shovels, and often with bare hands almost getting frozen to the point of breaking off form the wrists, the danger of getting buried alive like those we dug for looming on our heads.

And finally on the 14th of August just as luck would have it, I asked the team to change the direction of the search in a 180 degree turn. And 20 yards of tunneling under snow and three hours later we managed hit the feet of the last soldier, another two hours and we had retrieved the last of the bodies; the sky shattering Allah ho Akbar still reverberates in my mind and gives me goose bumps almost 28 years later.

That was nothing but the tenacity of the troops and their will that made us work for over a month in the most hostile of conditions to not leave a fellow soldier behind that led to this triumph. Although it was counted as a notch on my totem pole, this triumph truly belonged to the men under my command.

And I sat and relaxed, having had my fair share of wins, I started to live life as a normal human being occasionally talking of the good and the triumphs, and tribulations of life, I saw myself joining the ranks of the veterans!

Till the 5th of October of 2009 when I joined the ranks of the ordinary Pakistani in the street!

That Pakistani who you see on your television screen after the breaking news flashes and live exclusive coverages of a terrorist attack – standing arms akimbo crying, hurt, not sure what happened to him and why he was one of the people at the venue of another bomb blast!

That Pakistani who you change the channel on.

The loss of a loved one in a suicide bomb attack is something that cannot be explained or talked about. It is something that only the one who goes through the catastrophe can understand!

I felt that all that I had done in life, everything I had worked for achieved and triumphed over, was taken from me in the flash of the exploding explosive of the suicide jacket!

And then I got an opportunity to speak about my loss, and I realized that I had to become the voice of the survivors of terrorism in Pakistan. And I started to look for and meet survivors and talk to them so I could share our grief.

The first time I met a widow, she just sat there and looked at me, I could feel her look pierce my body, go through my heart and reach my very soul.

I sat silent, while all round thee was sounds of sorrow.

Yet we sat silent, shallow breathing and blank stares, as blank as our minds and hearts.

And then she sobbed, and started to speak. Everyone all round fell silent, twenty days she had stoically braved the loss, putting up a brave face, and finally she broke. Her husband was all she had and now she did not have him.

And this started my crusade to speak truth to terror, and try to bring succor to others like me crushed under the burden of the will of God and culture of silence prevailing in our society.

And this ability to emphasize and make people speak of their loss has been my greatest triumph.

Finally as Nelson Mandela said, I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

 

16 -06-2016. Lahore