Reminiscing The WALL

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“Something there is that does not love a wall’ so wrote the great American Pastoral poet Robert Frost, he thought about the great dividers between neighbors and nations..are walls really so important? I have always wondered. In fact the very word fascinates me. It resounds with great historical significance-walls! OH! No not the Great Wall of China! Nor the Berlin Wall but my historical wall was the cute little two feet highred bricked structure, that stretched straight across from our main gate to the backside of our house, easily climbable easily crossable and utterly comfortable to sit on in the lazy summer afternoons and sometimes so early in the day, but on a holiday; yes that was My Wall..’

Huge lofty shady trees grew in the spacious grounds around the house which was built like a fairy tale cottage and of course a few trees grew alongside this wall ,providing soothing cool shade and shelter.

Memories of childish conversations, greetings. Quick chats and funny exchanges over it, are still fresh in my mind.

Where is she? My mother would ask worriedly Oh she must be on the wall” and so it was in full view of the house.Mother would be satisfied and I would lean against the dark rough bark of the nearest tree, pull a leaf and roll it into a tiny blow pipe( I learnt how to make one from my friends brother) he was a serious looking person and often I would feel afraid when he would appear in the verandah ; his eyes seemed to be fixed on us.

Nature was so near and dear to us the freshness of the green leaves is still vivid and I can hear the pip peep pip peep of the tiny flute;

My friend and I would sit for long hours or so it seemed ; talk and laugh; “ Come to the wall again tomorrow, Nargis” My friend would say; we were never really frightened as we were always close to the main house.Our parents and elders could see us even from inside the house and we could see the whole wide world. The boundless sky changing colors from time to time, the birds gliding and swirling high above, thegently setting golden sun, and not forgetting the tiny ants that crawled harmlessly on our hands and feet, as if making us conscious  “ Lo, its time to go home and study to finish the homework and then to bed” (There was no video monster or ET then)

The small rather low wall was also our great Imaginary Express, sometimes chugging along and sometimes dashing and flashing by-

“Faster than fairies

Faster than witches

Past the hedges

Past the ditches”

It was exciting, passing through dark tunnels , crossing dangerous bridges and blowing the whistle; er..not the realone but across the thumb and forefinger, “ Coo-oo, chhik chhik, chhik;” we never really knew the stations or stops , our junctions on our way – our little express would go on and on till it finally slowed down and came to a dead stop

“good fences make good neighbours” Yes ! Our little fence was never a point of trouble “ What is it that we are walling in or walling out when we build a wall?Nothing!

The whole world was clear as the wide open sky our wall was our astronomical observatory, I say our because I shared it with my sisters and neighbourly friends- during the late night hours in summer we would scan the twinkling sky “ Theres the Great Bear, the Seven Stars and There’s the Belt of Orion and Andromeda.”  All these names, the bright Constellations and theGreat Milky Waywas our fantasy land at night.

I would call my little wall a “KingdomofImaginationand Delight of Enlightenment and joy” but it had its disturbing moments too, Once so engrossed in a story telling session that before we realized , the large dark swarm cast a pall over us.I remember screams and shrieks ensued, as we all ran- Locusts !

They were locusts on the attack, hundreds of them and then they were everywhere- but thanks to the Almighty we were safe, this time inside different kinds of walls- the house walls which should be strong and supportive and so they were for long, till the locusts attack was over.

When summer was over most of the fun would subside winters were usually cold and wet. My little kingdom would be silent for days, empty and lonely, bare but standing like a rock, with all its glory, its dark red colors, its majestic  castle like structure- like a fortress- enclosing the wonderful memories of peaceful times, sounds of giggles and endless laughter, a world of imagination which knew no limits.

“Though wast not made to be broken, cos thou served a purpose of unity and friendship

Thou hast thy music too”

My wall was a bond which brought love and built our character, gave us strength and joy I wonder if my “Kingdom so small and yet so rich , so strong and yet so tender, so silent and yet so vociferous- is still there?????

For a long time ago we left the cottage house for other places which were never the same-perhaps, times have changed   But I know the my “Wall” had no equal would never have one like it and I know that my wall was such that “ to no one would it ever give offence!”.

 

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Tea Time Memories

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Teapot on the top of the gas heater, spreading a strange aroma in the dining room, Oh No! This was no ordinary dining room..it was the pillar of family strength and unity. My father no less than King Arthur and we the gallant Knights would gather morning afternoon and evening at the  wooden table,covered with a multicoloured sheet which inspired us at every sitting….”Honey Tea,  Honey Tea, was King Arthur’s command…(my father was a doctor in the Pakistan Army Medical Corps) Mother would gracefully place the embroidered multi coloured Kashmiri tea cosy, lay the carefully chosen English teacups with the crimson lining, floral pattern and the golden rim, so elegantly royal. Every evening was a memorable occasion.

Tea time was a religious call..no one could miss it.. it brought us together, it kept us close, it gave us love, comfort and warmth; it was a time of sharing thoughts asking advice telling stories and school tales; it was the best time of my family life. It was always Lipton Yellow Label, our family favourite.

Winters were so special, our hometown being the hill station Abbottabad named after Major Abbott of the British Army the first Commissioner of the town ( in the 1950s) in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Throughout the year tea was the favourite drink. Mother always used the electric kettle for boiling water “It maintains the flavour” she would say. Fresh is the sweet memory of tea with condensed milk which came in tins fromHolland..it was an imported

item..and tea was so special with it….the year was 1962,

unforgettable tea sipping in the mountains of Gilgit(a state in the Northern Areas of Pakistan) when my father was posted there as Agency Surgeon.”Tea is there where ever you go” “Mixed or separate, ma’am?’ Oh my thoughts were broken by the waiters voice.”er no..separate” I never could develop the concept of mixed tea (sugar milk and tea leaves all boiled together) and served so hot..you always burnt your lip at the first sip. I waited, the pages of my memory turned…’I entered the dining room, with a laden heart, some days  after mother passed away , this was November 1997;  giving up her courageous battle with the Big C cancer. My parents no more filling the house with the warmth of love, the table  dusty, chairs dis arranged, my eyes encountered the half empty shelves, but then I saw ..perhaps what I was looking for ..the silver teapot on the gas heater, my soul sensed the familiar aroma ..this time of love , life, and laughter YES. it was tea that had kept us alive and united in the  family bond…”Your cup is getting cold” someone said..” Oh NO, My cup will never be cold…as it was always filled upto the brim..with  the Tea of Life”.I relaxed as I slipped deep into the sweet aroma of Lipton yellow Label……

 

A Day in the life of a literate, married early, woman

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one who can think, luckily but—‘MUMS mine Mums mine’ crying these words my five year old daughter runs upto me and climbs on my lap wrapping her arms around my neck while my son walks up  quietly and presses his face against my arm’ well I belong to both of you now run along and change your uniforms. My understanding husband looks up and smiles…(he seems to understand, at least this is what I feel at the moment) We all belong to each other Yes but wait a minute I belong to something else too…my city and my country and as such I have some duties to perform . You see we all must be useful citizens of society, shouldn’t we?

I always had deep patriotic feelings desiring to do something great. AH! Becoming famous I was always fascinated by men and women too…who stood on the dais taking the salute, Great Leaders…they stood so tall taking the salute while the national flag fluttered gracefully at a close distance. (Quaid e azam his sister Fatima Jinnah,  JF K and Jackie, Eisenhower, The Queen of England and my own Uncle KH Khurshid,)  I can never forget the rides in his blue Chevrolet flag car traveling from the now earthquake devastated city ofMuzaffarabadin the Northern Areas.

My heart would fill up with deep emotions on hearing the national anthem.’Oh I will do something big for my country, I would ALWAYS  say during college days but no sooner had I finished my studies I found myself being given away to the new home.

‘ Education till Matriculation is enough for a girl’ I heard my Grandfather say, a prominent educationist himself , a father of,…let me count..er….er..one ..five ..two..one, well I hope my count is correct , nine daughters from three marriages…hhmmmnnnn, I found later that one  of them qualified as  a doctor the rest were married early , probably never completed school…..

‘well, there go my plans for the time being.

Today I find myself fulfilling to some extent what I always said I would do in the form of joining a local school as a teacher. Teaching seems to be the SS social solution for so many young female graduates. Teach ..like you wish and earn some pocket money…teaching is the safest profession for women….AH, I try not to think of  the complaints my children have against their class teachers.’ Untrained personnel easily employed easily hired easily fired’ I am one of them too, but ……where was I?????

But being a woman …Life is  not that easy. A few years ago it was ..’is life just being a housewife, everyday doing the same work, turning the spoon in the cooker, peeling potatoes or dusting the furniture? Should there be something else? Some concrete creative work, but these thoughts would always be broken by…’OH come on its time to go and buy provisions for the kitchen and essential tit bits and shoes for the kids’ that’s the list for today”

Wrapping a chaddar ( a large shawl) I reach the market, the meat shop is crowded with men as usual’  ‘I’ll have to wait again today then suddenly someone says ‘let Bibiji take it first” I get the feeling of a cripple being given space to move a bit more easily. I wish I was not a woman.As I walk away from the shop I have a strange feeling of being followed by looks. As I wait for the tonga I say to myself’ Next time I will come to market on a bike I don’t care if the people stare or laugh , at least I will save my time. Then I remembered the first time I drove a car in that city called Gujranwala, a heavy industrial one , oily smelly and congested but rich’.

People stood with their mouths open in awe, I can still recall the shouts and cries of children, running along the car, clapping their hands and jumping as if some act of circus was being performed, ‘woman woman driving a car’ These poor children have never seen a car being driven by a woman , life…it is difficult

The children, my own children, have changed their uniforms, lunch has been taken , my husband is back at the office, now I want to rest for a while but as I lie on my bed, my son comes with his home work’ mom’ I need help with these tricky fractions could you explain them to me, you always go off to sleep , poor child he doesn’t know how much I at this time need that hour of sleep. To him ‘MOM  must be a never tiring person. OK I will try’after some time I am able to make some sense of the fractions though I can see that my son is not satisfied.

How is 2/3 , 9/11= 1 somehow we get the right answer . Home work done its time for the children to  take their evening drink of milk . I wonder what happened to the afternoon.

Now that I am satisfied that I am not just a housewife that I am being a useful member of society I have to keep up my image . When I come home from school deeply tired yet I keep a smiling face( the smile should be though the voice is not  , the throat is hoarse due to the constant chanting of class instructions, ‘sit down stop talking’ and the usual lessons of class drill.

I have a set of thirty young noisy children ; how brave must a teacher be and patient too , my students faces flash across my mind I have to finish checking the class diaries prepare the items for the Scientific Bazaar we are having at school in a weeks time.

I am thus engaged when my son comes up with his shirt’ammi, he says ‘the button has come off this shirt too ‘take the other shirt I say ‘but it is the Other Shirt! You promised to sew it on last Friday now both are without buttons’’well bring me the needle and thread box it is on the dressing table’. My son calls back ‘is it the one with toffees written on it?

The button sewed on , I have just settled down with my pen to finish my article when the horn of the car sounds. My husband is back from work. It is so hot at 5 in the evening , I get up to make cold drinks, the children want some too , so I make some more , as I open the freezer I notice that it needs to be defreezed  I press the ‘defreezing button , serve the drinks ..and think..’there go three hours of cleaning’ I wish I had not pressed it. By now the ice is melting….nothing can be done’ I am proud to be a wife a mother a cook a teacher all at the same time. I have the consolation that I am a useful member of society  I smile hiding the tension that I am beginning to feel in my shoulders now –its time for dinner –I make my way to the kitchen – I hear shouts and screams as the children are watching TV’ mom mom come quickly you must see this…

Before I reach the scene has changed – I rush back to save curry on the stove—the milk almost boiled over—OH Dear I hear someone whisper—OH Can I Be a Bionic woman?

Who knows –some day—OH The Day is over———-

Have We Lost The Purpose

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Deeply concerned about the education standards I am trying to raise awareness of the lost purpose of teaching and learning. Many definitions declare the meaning of the word’education’ but it seems that very little attention is being paid to it.

Educare, Education and The Educated

”education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge skills and values from one generation to another” according to Wikipedia and many other authentic sources education means learning but in Latin it stands for ‘Bringing up’ or ‘breeding’.

To my understanding, education is ‘ any experience that has an effect on the mind physical ability and character of an individual’ Education would mean then’ to develop the ability to  do something which previously or before learning one was unable to do” This proves that ‘Education is surely a Change in behaviour’ A change for the better, for an individual to think better, to make better decisions thus making a better society”

Alfred North Whitehead writes in his article ‘The Aims of Education’

”A merely well informed man is the most useless bore on this Earth”The aim of education would be to produce individuals who possess both ‘culture and expert knowledge”.Culture would be the ‘behaviour guideline and ‘knowledge would bring the expertise’.See the style of teaching and learning as far

back as 1842 in BucharestDoes this style incorporate the culture? The seating the sharing the language listening and reading and then the responding style, all should be directed towards ‘a respect for Teachers, books and knowledge’ RESPECT is what is missing today, Respect for all! and Respect for Law!

Education and Number of Subjects

‘Three Rs’…Oh Dear Gone are the Days of the 3Rs we have all the alphabet today.How many subjects should a child begin with.Who is going to decide? Reading writing and arithmetic ‘are still the basics. A gradual increase year by year is suitable, including science history and technology of the present age.

Maturity and Reading Readiness

What I wish to stress is that ”all education must lead to the three aspects” as stated by ‘T.S Eliot in his Essay on ‘What is a Classic’ For any country for any people of any caste or creed, it is a known fact that all types of education teaches the finer lessons of Truth Honesty Forgiveness Sharing and Respect. Based on these fine Values of Character we need to redefine the purpose of Education which must lead to

Maturity of Mind , Maturity of  Language and  Maturity of Manners. These three aspects are related to ‘behaviour modification and thus ‘education , learning and teaching must teach all people the quality of the best language acceptable in society, the best manners of regard and respect and a mind which ‘thinks’ on the personal and global level.A conscientious citizen aware of not only the rights but also the duties and obligation towards the society he lives in.

Education and Inert Ideas

Education and learning should be connected with reality and practicality.Whatever is taught should be taught well and should be useful for the learner.Ideas should not be disconnected , they should be a ‘joy of discovery’

A child involved in the world around him will definitely show a behaviour pattern much more serious concerned and responsible than a child whose work is done by others.

”Learning how to learn’ is the new motto’ Here I rest my case till further discussion

 

 

Why do Clouds Cry?

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Full of life and water
Do clouds cry?

‘Clouds are lonely’ I guess poet William Wordsworth believed as such for he wrote his famous line’ I wandered lonely as a cloud’ .

We think of clouds as lonely because they appear high up in the vast boundless sky, they float and fly , sometimes appear so thin and light, yet sometimes dark and angry, loud and flashing fire and roaring deafeningly away” If I say that is not the truth many would say yes and no…

How would this question be a ‘thoughtful line and help us to remember, is the question.

We are human beings, natural and relate everything to Nature.Everyday we talk about the sun moon stars water rivers and Earth, the first thing we do is to go for food, buy vegetables, cook and share meals, and then enjoy the cool evening, yet not all people are so fortunate to have  a routine like this. Have we ever thought of how some people can  only think of food and water, like the people who are starving in Africa,they have not seen a single cloud for days, and may not for many more or ever again’ I believe the clouds cry for them.

 They are commanded to send down water on another part of our homeland.

Sometimes clouds just visit us.They watch us from above.If you look closely at this image you may see someone sitting gracefully inside, very strong in attitude and very firm in purpose.Maybe he is a regular visitor , but invisible to us.

Clouds bring floods as they  shower water heavily-but the same clouds bring the much needed water for Life itself…water to make the plants grow, water for the animals, water for all living beings, water to fill the rivers and the ponds, water to quench the thirst of drying parched fields and water to wash away the filth and clean the atmosphere…

When do the Clouds cry then? Ah, they cry when water is not used as it should be, it is not saved, it is not stored, it is ignored, it is wasted…day by day, when it is polluted hour by hour, when it is stolen moment by moment , drop by drop and when it is controlled by selfishness and possessed by power, when it is allowed to flow away, when it is a cause of quarrels and used as means of showing aggression to the weak.

Clouds cry then…should we try now to wipe away the tears…

Let’s Think ,Smile and Say ‘Good’

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‘A smile and a hearty handshake‘ leads to a ‘cool glass of banana..er..mango..er..apple milkshake’ in this hot weather, a smile wins it all’ I was thinking about the ‘good’ words that we read in the past month and I wondered how steadfast we will be? I was thinking of the friends that attended the sessions , sat while there was no electricity and listened to the ‘good words ‘ and then when the fans would start off with a loud ‘buzzing brrr’ there would be ‘smiles’ on the faces all around and the ‘good word’reading would continue till it was time to stop.’Till tomorrow-God willing”It was ‘good’.Then I would call my friend and ask” I missed the class today how was it what did you learn?’ and she would say’Oh it was ‘good’ we learnt about the ‘believers and the good deeds and the good rewards and the prayers and the fires that turned to flowers with faith”, ”yes, yes, keep telling me I’m listening and I would smile and at the same time feel afraid also, but I felt good’.

I also felt that I had wasted so much of my precious lifetime, in worldly pursuits but then…life is strange, we must think…we must continue to read about ‘the good and the true’ and listen too’’

Its 2.am. I wonder what my dear son would be doing in these small hours. Lying on his stomach, exhausted, his face on the side, a half smile on his face, or hunched over his laptop reading only ‘emails’ , his woolly cap pulled over the ears. He reads a lot on the internet and research is his favorite occupation-‘he is not a facebook fan’ ‘no more faces, lets have some manners and graces’ he says. He is the serious type but has a sense of humor and always has a good anecdote to share and make us smile.

I am peering hard at the screen of my laptop, a Toshiba Satellite 2002 model, my son left at home, thinking about the ‘good that needs to be done’, with so much shooting and killing happening constantly day by day, where are we going to start the ‘good work for peace’ I think about it. I also think about the half support we sometimes have and not enough resources. My better half would always say’ its not enough so I …’’ now I keep telling him to change the statement’ One should say ‘its more than enough, however little it may be’’ Again I think of the words ‘mom, its enough, more than enough’’ and I would give him more than he had asked for’’ but that was my son, what a difference of generation in thinking’ ‘Is there more positivity in today’s youth? I think for a moment again…

I smile now as I think about what I have seen and read,  I would be relating facebook news in the morning ‘ you must call and find out , your cousin’s son fell from the horse while playing polo-it’s a week now since this happened, facebook says so’ ‘ok , ok , I will’’my husband answered. He is not computer friendly at all, I guess its good for he does the cooking while I do the ‘surfing’ otherwise we would be like the Earl of Sandwich, but even for that one has to make an effort… so cooking problem solved, ’Good’ and ‘Thank Goodness’…

Yes, I think it will be good if you call today’ and so it goes on- I am thinking something else…

I received an email today informing me that someone had clicked like on my blog, I smiled and was happy ‘Oh Good’ I said and quickly shifted to find out who it was. Then I spent quite a while going over my blog. So many days had gone by and I had not posted any ‘words’ for my readers…I smiled for I knew I had been writing poetry on My Poetic Oceans’blog, but then I said I must pen down my thoughts here also. I  talk to my readers and visitors and share with them the true saying that ‘thinking is all that is to be done but thinking ‘Good’ and ‘Smiling’ must be added …

Not always’’ why? Well, my neighbor had asked me to help her with her sons homework which she found a bit difficult.I did most of it and handed it over, and then forgot about the chart for Road Safety’ …probably she has made it by now…Oh No dear , the doorbell rang and my neighbor stood at the entrance ‘Oh I wanted to ask…’ Oh , well, can you give me about an hour? The smile vanished from my face…she had no pen or paper to write with …and I was thinking’ what responsibility, what timing’ tomorrow is school’ and…me…well, ‘OK I will do it’’ My neighbor smiled and I felt in my heart that she was saying’ Oh Good’’… I guess neighbors have some rights too…

So lets smile and say ‘Good’ and think… be happy…spread happiness around…happiness will come to you’’.

Waiting for emails that bring smiles…

 

Murree Memories

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Dear Readers,

Murree. It carries sweet loving moments of time, lost, yet precious, incidents, happenings, tours, travels, visits, picnics-the uphill  mall road with closely lined shops made one breathless but so free on the way back that all load would become light. Murree, I miss you…

I was still lost in the enchanting world of this hill station , my first real life station, where I opened my eyes heart and soul to a new country and fell in love with it, when tremors of terror , whirring whispers of swirling machines , unheard sounds of shots fired , touched the trembling spirit to the depths of silent helpless sadness- the remnants of war hover dangerously around getting closer step by step, incident by incident, forcibly probing the unknown kingdom of fear- why? when we all have to leave this world one day, why, when we all have to die anyway, why ?why is this machine age so disturbingly destructive?

Murree! I wish it was the same and I were young and happy-like I see myself in this picture, with my sister and a friendly uncle-my sister is now far across the continents and oceans, in a land of the free’ but I cannot go there, it is too far away and I have no way, and also no one will let me go -I cannot see my sister now, nor meet her, sit with her, talk to her, …share …and I know if I leave this world, she will not come…

Murree is a place.It has a strange aroma, a romantic scent of pine trees, rising tall and high in the sky, it has a soft grassy touch and a cool sense of the breeze, its winding ways bring the movements of the  renaissance overture waltzing over the hills, the cones would burn and sizzle and so thoroughly enjoyable would be the ‘roasted corn on the coal’, dipping the hand in the coat pocket would fill up with fresh walnuts and never does the warmth of the teacup become cold …cold only to enjoy , sitting in the front side of the Lintots Cafe watching people passingby and sometimes waving to a friendly face or two-

Murree-you are safe I hope-your hills be free and green always, I cried today because I saw a ripe field of wheat destroyed by some trespassers in the night.How much of hard work, time and effort must have been spent …food is already scarce and expensive… and I remembered the words’ fire and ice’, this time it was just ‘fire’ and ‘fuel’ -we need fuel , we all do but for different purposes. Oh Murree, my story begins to slow down as words become less- I liked a phrase I read recently that ‘lets gather words’ and perhaps this is what we need to do, not only gather words but gather our thoughts feelings , ideas, and gather our love and care and try to share it around the world-gather the courage to drive away the fears…gather…ourselves as good human beings…gather the flowers…while Spring is visible…gather

all that is good…help me …to remember…help me to be good…