Bricks make houses, bones make homes…

‚ÄčAbout 50 years ago my paternal grandfather decided to build a house in Karachi, the next big city and urban-hub-to-be for his wife and four kids. He and my maternal grandmother saved and saved for this house. My grandfather spent his entire life away from his family in Abu Dhabi to earn for the house. Finally a three story “grand” house was build.

They had four kids, my father being the eldest, and then three daughters. These kids spent a good time of their early years of life in that house till they all got married. My brothers and I were born in that house. My grandmother passed away in that house. Then my dad left for America. My aunts got married. My brothers, mother and I were the only left in that house with my now retired grandfather. Then we moved to the states and he refused to come with us to stay with his house that he worked for all his life. He refused to sell the house, and distribute its shares to his dear four children. My father and him picked a fight about it and they never talked again because shortly after my dad got Alzhiemer’s.

Recently I got a chance to hear from my grandfather and he said he gets very lonely and talks to the walls and ceilings of that house in his loneliness. All the kids are grown up and busy making houses for their kids.

My father lives in his house and sometimes I catch him blankly staring outside his room’s window as if he’s wondering what was his life’s gain?

And I look at him with a very little girl inside me shrieking what am I? Another pawn in this game of houses and walls? How long before I will be talking to walls and ceilings? How long before my kids will leave to make houses for their kids and who will be the last pawn to fall in this game? Who will they blame for this vicious cycle of making houses instead of humans? Ironically though all the houses and humans that leave these houses have one thing in common. They are, and always will be, empty.

Ease of peace…

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Every day there comes a time where my patience starts running extremely short and my mind is so exhausted that all I want to do is nothing. Think about nothing, act on nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. In those moments I crave peace. The kind of peace that I feel can only come from a cool ocean breeze blowing in my face on a remote tropical island, or the sound of rain would bring while I watch it snuggled in a blanket on a comfy couch looking outside a window with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, or when I drive on an empty highway without worrying about reaching on time or destination.
To keep my cool during that time seems to be the most herculean task in life, especially because this time usually arrives right before the kids’ bedtime where both of them are crankier than usual and pulling on each arm of mine to get a piece of whatever’s left from the day. I still have two or three errands to run after putting them to sleep yet when I lie down besides them all my body says is don’t move now that you are here.
What is it that makes me calm and decide to get up from bed then? I do it every day yet never thought about it without a hint of sulking and envy from everybody else who is asleep at that hour. Its the faces of my husband and kids peacefully sleeping away, the rhythm of their slumber slowly getting deeper, away from needing me and getting lost in dreams. Dreams they run after in their sleep. But for me that right there, looking at their faces brings an immense peace and tranquility, the kind that nothing in the world could bring. And I close my eyes and slowly thank Allah for Blessing me with the opportunity to experience it.
Family is the most underrated and taken for granted treasure bestowed to us in this world, I feel. We only cherish it when they are no longer there, and we mostly only value it after its worth has been shown. All the cheesy one-liners about family that I read throughout life now make solid sense. It is also the only thing that ties together every human emotion and relationship in one bundle thus being indestructible and unmatched when strong. The kind of peace and ease having a complete family brings is unmatched with any riches of the world. So I remind myself that, “Verily, with hardship comes ease.(94:5)” This little Ayat, to me, is applicable in every hard moment of life no matter how small it is. The ease following any hardship is what makes it worthwhile. Families are made with the ease that follows endless hardships but in the end they are the greatest blessing of all.
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Falling in love…

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Love is something that never grows old in that, as long as there is life, the notion will remain as intriguing and attractive to everyone as day one.

I’ve always found it absolutely, mind blowingly amazing that each and every soul in the world falls in love at least once in their lifetime. And this falling in love defines who they are at the core. This fall makes them unique and precious. Sometimes it lifts them while at others it lets them remain fallen. Nonetheless, it is this fall that gives everyone wings. Wings of expression, breaking norms, being unconventional. And when two souls fall in love together then the outcome is nothing but divine. I mean I don’t even have words to explain that feeling and sense of belonging that starts in the moment one realizes their love is reciprocal, as well as moments that follow for a lifetime thereon.

Writing about love is like trying to count the number of breaths from birth to death. It is immeasurable and impossible. Love is perpetual because if it stays, it leaves a lasting impact, and more so if it leaves, it stays forever too. There is no escape from it either way. Wherever we stand in the walk if life, whenever someone asks us if we have ever fallen in love, the first name to pop in our mind, the first face our eyes imagine at that moment, the first scent that we recall from the fog of memory, the first voice that rings in our ears, and the first smile and tears we think about, all in the first thirty seconds when someone asks this question is what is love.

It is incredible though when you fall in love yet it makes you rise no matter it stays or leaves. It is up to us how we handle its capacitance and voltage. Love has the power to burn or build. Those who get burnt eat nothing but dust, but those who build are the ones that leave behind legacies. For love only creates more love and it always wins.

Here’s to love’s victory for the good and the bad. May love rule forever.

Inspiration #1

I have been meaning to start writing short accounts like this one for a while now. Up till now managing time has been my greatest issue so I am unable to allocate time, let alone ample time, for writing. But yet again I vow to not slide back into oblivion and keep writing regularly. Let’s see how successful I am this time with two little monkeys sucking the very last droplet of energy and sanity out of me every day! (Also, I just realized this is my very first post of the year so maybe this will keep motivating me to write more…its a thought heh.)

These accounts I want to start writing are about people who have inspired me throughout my life. People who probably do not even remember me or know me at times. People who I feel need to be reminded how awesome they are and need to continue to be. These people are family, friends, acquaintances. These people are you, and because they inspired me, they are me.
The very first person I want to write about is very special. She was my very first tutor that my brother and I used to go to study from after school in middle and high school. She was a young, focused, and extremely talented young girl (I am sure she still is). She was studying architecture as far as I remember, and I was fascinated by her drawings and intricate assignments. She was an excellent teacher too. Problems that I got stuck on for hours, she would resolve in a matter of minutes.
Her family lived¬†in a small apartment with three bedrooms. The apartment was like another home. I always felt at peace as a child in it. This was also because her mother was one of the warmest women I ever saw and knew. She was extremely supportive and caring of my mother when my father was working abroad and could not return for eight years. The scent of that apartment, and my teacher’s mother’s bright smile still lingers in my memory.
It is amazing how when we grow up and look back we are able to find things in the cluttered room of our memory, things that we do not even consciously remember or know exist. During my adult life I have more than often found myself standing in the middle of my memory room and finding all sorts of things that give me inspiration now. My dear teacher is one of them. Her smile, determination to make her parents proud, her confidence, the charm in her simple life, even the way she dressed and carried herself, all created an aura around her that I still admire and remember. Perhaps it her inner warmth is the reason that to date she still looks like the teenager who tutored us, not a day older.
She inspired me to be confident, keep working hard, and be a good daughter and sister. She was the eldest sibling of three, like me, so maybe that is why I resonated with her as well later in life. I just want to thank her, and let her know that I pray her children get to cherish her as a person and more just like I still do. May she continue being an inspiration forever.

Enough…

Anyone remember Elan Kurdi, the 2 year old Syrian boy whose dead body washed ashore in a foreign land? The day I saw that photo I hugged my two year old a little longer and a bit tighter because as a mother it gave me the chills and made me want to throw up looking at that innocent child who tasted the absolute worst and ugliest tragedies of life at such a tender age. I can’t let go of my child for more than a minute and Kurdi’s father had to let go of his hand and his brother’s in the middle of the ocean, knowing the waves would eat him up.

You want me to believe that Elan and the thousands of others like him, and their parents, who are fleeing terror and war themselves are the cause of everything wrong and malicious with the world? As a mother I find it beyond appalling. As a human being I find it beyond common sense.

I am as fearful of my children’s lives and futures as the average person. My life, and my family’s future is as much at stake as everybody out there being fed with lies and fear mongering. I’ll get one thing straight out. My religion does not even allow stepping on a spider because it helped our Prophet escape assassination. It does not allow cruelty to animals, and excused a prostitute her previous sins because she gave water to a thirsty dog in scorching heat. My religion gives as much rights to neighbors as it gives to one’s family, regardless of whatever religion or ethnicity they belong to. My religion propagates peace. Peace and peace alone. Humanity and humanity alone.

I cannot and do not want to stay silent anymore. I cannot afford to. My life is as much at stake as yours, probably even more because I cover my head and “look” dangerous. I cover my head because Mary covered hers, because Khadijah covered hers, because I feel precious and protected when I do so. My husband has a beard because Moses, and Abraham, and Jesus, and Mohammed PBUH are all respected and honored and loved by him. The reason we look different is because we love our peaceful religion. We’re different than those posing to be us, trying to make the world believe we’re dangerous just because we look different.

And just to reassure you, here are some ways we are exactly like everyone else:

-We love icecream
-We love reading books and long walks in fall
-We love bbqs with friends and beach days in summers
-We hate shoveling snow and every year have car trouble during winters
-My husband and I have a love marriage our parents were forced to arrange cuz we were just so madly in love!
-I crave sleep just like any sleep deprived new mother
-My father has Alzhiemer’s and it affects our family just like it does any other family
-My brother has Down’s syndrome and is like any other DS kid out there, loving and pure
-We cry and we laugh and we get frustrated, and we cry and laugh some more

I’d make this a long, long list but I think I made my point clear.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, please know that I am speaking on behalf of the majority of Muslims who wake up worrying about breakfast and what to make for dinner, to what to wear to work, and go to bed with the same worries; work 9 to 5 yet still live hand to mouth; love our families and friends to death; and also have personal faults like grunting instead of laughing, or having really bad sense of humor as anything related to farts or poop makes us laugh.

We need to use our ears and eyes more, and our mouths less. We need to think before we type/talk or even think. We all have the same colored blood in our veins. It doesn’t matter whose is shed in the name of what. In the end it will always be red, and the ones shedding it will always be driven by hatred and lies. Acts to widen the divide between humans will continue. What we can do is overcome them by showing them we are united. If we don’t act now there won’t be a world for our children to enjoy. Heck, there won’t be any children for the world to enjoy.

Truth always wins. Humanity breeds love. Knowledge overcomes ignorance. I’m human and I’m Muslim, and I have had enough. #notinmyname #islamispeace # children #forourchildren #enoughisenough

Fathers and daughters…

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I am at my parents’ for a day and I am yet again reminded of the unfathomable love my father has for me. He suffers from Alzheimer’s and cannot even remember the last time he ate or used the restroom yet when my mom asked him to come have lunch he asked her if I had eaten or not. I was busy with my toddler at the time who was shouting to inform me of a diaper change or something yet when I overheard my dad it made me stop and appreciate this blessing-a father’s love for his daughter.

This is one thing that always takes me back to being a little girl and an endless array of childhood emptiness.

As I walked out of the shower a little while ago I saw my father standing up in front of the living room sofa where I had placed my 3 month old while I went to shower, away from my 2 year old peacefully napping away in the other room. I was worried she would start crying and wake her brother up but she was laughing and cooing as my father kept her busy by playing with her. Someone who is incapable of taking care of his own self was busy comforting his grand daughter so his own daughter could peacefully have some time on her own.

Parenthood amazes me. The love it entails blows my mind away. It does not matter whether we have children or not, we are all children when it comes to parents. So guys with daughters, needless to say, love them, hug them, praise them, enjoy their company, just a little bit more because one day you will have to part with them for whatever reason, not necessarily marriage, and that day you and her both would wish you had some more time to spend together. Daughters are those that the Prophet PBUH stood up in front of his own just to show his respect. May Allah Bless all daughters and their fathers, Ameen.