Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Most Understated Human in the World.



All praise is to the Almighty in whose hand rests my soul, and the dominion of the heavens and the Earth.

Of all of Allah’s magnificent creations, one of the most misunderstood creations is The Father.

Yup, in continuation of my last post, this one is to the Man of the house. The Captain of the ship, the Commander in chief of the Space Mission called Family life.

My dad, to begin with, is amazing. The only regret is that I realized it pretty late. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him a lot. But admiration of someone comes out of the deep thought and understanding in what that person does. You will never respect a car unless you understand how a car should behave. Similarly, you will never understand family life unless you understand how the Father behaves, and once you see a fine example of a house, look at the paternal leader and you are sure to find (8 out of 10 times), a disciplined, principled and magnanimous face lined with seriousness towards the emotion known as Love. (Feminists who are reading this chill out, Mothers play an equally important role and I understand that ;-) so put away your pitchforks.)

Fathers, unlike mothers, have a very short lived span in which they can love a child without any barriers. This lasts from the teary moment they first hold their baby in their arms, or in some cases, from the first instance when they know they will be Dads, and it culminates on the most impressive and lasting step of the child, The First Step.
That is, more often than not, the last time a Father will show his emotions of love, pride, joy and thankfulness with absolutely no barrier. Holding a child’s hand with his fingers, he’ll guide it to take its first unbalanced step, and hold up the childs entire weight so that the kid doesn’t have to balance its lard, but just move those chubby squiggly feet in a walking fashion. This is the beginning of the end so to speak.

From here on, as fast as the child learns to walk and run, the father understands the need to regulate where the learning feet wander. And slowly begins the masking of that display of love and affection which until now was filled with kisses, childish screams with the kid, hugs and night long vigilances humming songs so that the apple of his eye can fall asleep.

My Father, was out of the country while I was preparing to touch ground in Bangalore.

He spent the last few days before my birth in teary prayers for mom’s health and my safe arrival. He didn’t know what he was getting, but he prayed that it comes safe. I’ll confess that during my high school days in Mysore, I chanced upon his old collection of personal diaries. And the suspense was too much to push away. I picked up the brown one with the leather engraved numbers 1985. And turned to November. I could see the entries of 13, 14 and 15 were besought with prayers and hope and small details of his job where he probably had no focus. And then I turned to November 16…..He had written a small paragraph stating how the delivery had gone fine, and that entry ended with one line…

“I HAVE A SON.”

I could imagine his eyes welling up in tears, his dimpled cheeks in a gratitude filled smile as he bowed his head and made dua for my entire future to be blessed. To this day I pray and hope that someday, I can do the same for my kids.

Again, its sad that I have no memory of the way dad first held me in his arms, how he carried me around and sung me to sleep. I saw it all when I was 4 years old and my little bro was born. But I still missed the memory of the time he pampered me, bought toys for me without me asking them, laughed with me and tried to understand me when all I could babble from that toothless mouth was phenomenal amounts of gibberish.

If only that memory had sustained, I would probably not have cribbed the dad didn’t love me, or didn’t buy me stuff, or laugh at my jokes, or even the classical, YOU DON’T TRY TO UNDERSTAND ME DAD kind of lines.

The moment he held my hands and taught me to walk, he morphed from Mother part 2 to Father, where it became his foremost duty to make sure I didn’t run around too carelessly, didn’t speak out of turn, learnt manners of sitting and talking to people, learnt the duties of being a man in short. Mom would teach the same, but bringing the authoritative and proverbial iron fist down on our stupid little craniums is not what moms are built for.

But the entire disciplinarian deal goes pretty long way. They mask the love they wish to show to their kids at special moments. This kind of hampers the growing child in a way. At first I thought it was wrong on their part, but then, watching my dad I learnt that it wasn’t his fault, he was programmed that way.

His Father, my granddad, who fathered 10 kids (8 sons and 2 daughters) had to have a strict outlook to keep the brood contained. So all the kids grew up with a level of discipline where they have NEVER looked their father in the eye while talking. His way of showing affection was different. If ever he scolded one of the kids, that evening, that kid would be treated extra specially. Grandpa would ask him to sit next to him at dinner, a place of honour. And he would explain a simple philosophy which my dad resonates to this day, he would say, “Son, I had to correct you today and get angry at you. Because what you were doing was wrong. I had to show anger because that is how I love you. You will not understand this today, someday, when You are a Father, you will.”

In urdu it went like “…..Kisi din jab aap sahib-e-aulaad banoge, tab aap samjhoge…”

Those words are etched in my heart so deep that I understand how hard it is to be a Father.

Being strict is pretty easy, but being strict for the right reasons, with the right intensity, that requires character and a persona reeking with selflessness.


A Father will scold you, beat you, yell at you in front of others, for a reason. He wants your perfection. He knows it comes at the risk of the child losing his love and grumbling at him even though it is for the child’s own good, yet he does it unwaveringly.

This has a domino effect. The child grows up fearing things which he/she has been taught are wrong. And the deeper this lesson is taught, with the catalyst information of Why somethings are wrong, the longer the lesson’s effects remain. This in turn results with the son becoming a better father tomorrow.

A father has to buy stuff for the family, and there are times when he has to reject the wants of his kids. Because he understands where to draw the line between pampering and making absolute spoilt brats.

They say that to learn swimming, you have to jump in the water first. A Father is a launching mechanism which throws you in the water.


My dad made one tough choice back in 1999. To send me away to India, far away from him and mom, to study and learn to swim the seas on my own. All I had were his prayers, a few of his habits and his love for reading.

Those three combined to give me an understanding of him in specific and Fatherhood in general over 8 years, that he would never be able to put in words over 80 years.

That’s the thing about Fathers, they are hopeless with words. They show their love in the most un-expected of manners, and they don’t feel heartbroken that we don’t pick up the signs. For them, its enough that they love us and they know it. They live with this firm belief that someday, we will understand what it is like to be in those tough shoes.

I admire this generation of fathers a lot though, they are slowly moulding in the fact that saying I LOVE YOU SON does not make them sound weak. And here’s a standing ovation for my dad who’s said it so many times to me, and so many many more times to himself. For making an effort dad, Thank you.

All in all, as you grow through teens and even later, you will resent your dad a lot, and he knows this. Oh he knows it wayyyy to well. But mark my words guys, someday, when you have a toddler just 5 minutes old yelling at the highest shrillest note its brand new voice box can manage, you will know exactly how your old man felt.

Fathers don’t cry, not in front of their kids, but I know for a fact, that there are innumerable moments when a father, hidden away from the entire world, including his wife, sits in front of Allah, head bowed, hands raised, tears welling up in his eyes and quivering voice….asking for his child to pass his exams, to make it through his tribulation, to get well from an illness or simply, to be happy.

Sit back, close your eyes and think about the awesome times you’ve spent with your dads. They are rare, but each one of them has a fragrance which will last hundreds of years to come. Think about the times he has beaten you or slapped you, and try remembering why he did that, 9 out of 10 chances are that you behaved like a stubborn ass. Try remembering the astounding amount of pain he's borne to put you all through your education and manage the entire family. The sacrifices he's given to pay for your small happinesses, and the unaccountable times he's fought for you. Be thankful for them today, else your kids will not be thankful for your efforts tomorrow. And then, call/msg/write or face your dad, look into those eyes which have been so understated, look into the experience they have accumulated, and just say, I love You dad. For all I know, he’ll feel like he has been hit by a thick pillow, will stumble upon a few words and mumble an I love you too ;-) And that’s what makes such a dramatic effect. That he makes the effort to say that.

Mom always told us, that Jannah (Paradise) is at a Mother’s feet, but she always used to add, That door to Jannah is locked, those keys are at your dad’s feet. ;-)



Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Jannah


I don’t really know what prompted me to write this. Maybe the recent trip home.

I’ve been away from home for a decade and a year almost. But even today, leaving home makes me the same 13-14 year old nervous wreck. Except that I controlled the goodbye tears. But the lump in the throat just never leaves.

And the entire journey I think about the first lady in my life. That big chubby angel of purity and love who loved me before she could see me. Mom, or Mamma as I call her.

Lemme introduce my mom to you, anyone would tell you this line, “My Mom is the best in the world, no contest.” And well, I am no different.

Mammas of the world are really smashing humans Allah created to be classified as All heart.


I guess the recipe of a MOTHER looked something like this.

1 Cup Chocolate

¼ Teaspoon Anger

1 Universe load of Unconditional Love

Equal amount of Forgiveness

2 Glowing moons which will always look at you in a way no one else can

1 Big bucket of Tears (serve all purposes)

10x Normal Human’s Pain-bearing-capacity

10 Million Zillion Hugs

Unlimited Smiles & laughter

1 spoon Natak and Nakhra (to taste)

Mix it all into a smooth batter, add 4 Drops of unique fragrance. And mould.

It’s a sad sad thing that most of us have no memory of the times when we were loved beyond our own meddling control. When we were infants. I can only imagine how much she must’ve showered me with kisses, hugs, spent hours with me in her arms just looking at me and seeing daydreams 20 or maybe 30 years into the future.

Before that, I can imagine how much she already loved me and had to control herself immensely to wait for my arrival in those gruelling 9 months of labour. Not to mention the time I did make a landing. I don’t believe any amount of empathy can make anyone of us imagine how that must’ve felt for her. And then, as we were helpless little munchkins who knew nothing but how to eat/drink,cry, sleep, cry, poop and cry, she seemed to love every bit of it. For her, every day began with all of us screaming on our top decibel ranges to announce our hunger or wet nappy. And it ended with us getting so restless to sleep that she had to hold and rock us till we zonked out. Amidst those two extremes of the day and night, she would’ve said a million I love yous and smiled at every smile, giggle, turn, tear and better believe it, even at our farts and burps which at that time sounded like a palm size balloon going out with a short SQUEEE or BRAPPP

I can imagine the peace she felt when she held us close to her heart, amidst 2 strong arms giving out the most gentlest of hugs.

I can imagine her just sitting n resting her forehead n nose against mine n thinking, “Life just cant get any better than this.”

I can imagine her looking at my squiggly laughter and thinking, “I’ll just blow up the entire world if it ever makes that laughter stop for ANY reason.”

I can imagine her putting me in my stroller or my high chair, keeping me up on the big table (locked into my seat’s harness) and making real conversation with me, and me stuffing my fingers up my mouth thinking where the heck in the pacifier. And whenever she would say something a bit high pitched, I would probably reply with a “EEEYAAA?”

I can imagine her unadulterated delight when I’d making gurgling and laughing noises and wave my hands up n down as a thank you for the fresh diaper or possibly for no reason at all.

I can imagine her first tears when I might have cried through the night from a fever or tummy ache which I could only convey by wails.

I can imagine her going all ALLELELSHUNUGOOPUSHUFARRUFARRUMELABETAAAAA. Of which I would understand nothing but would still show the toothless grin, which would brighten her day more than 20 suns working together.

I can imagine her singing or humming me to sleep

I can imagine her trying to make me talk, to repeat ALLAH, or MAMMA, or PAPPA even though she knew I wouldn’t speak for a long time. (Time is proof that the day I did start, I wouldn’t stop….Sorry maa)

I can imagine her tears of joy when I took my first unsteady steps and rushing towards me when I’d loose balance n land on my knees and palms, or more safely, My cushioned bum.

I can imagine a million other moments which are etched in her mind forever, which are invaluable to her, which she will share with my children inshaAllah, and then I will see them for real.

But there is one other thing I can imagine, the deep longing in her heart whenever I leave home. Or the deep longing in every mother’s heart when their kid grows up and starts thinking that that display of affection is “embarrassing” or “Eww”. Or when hugs are not reciprocated like before. Or when she realizes we cant be kissed or cuddled. When her most awesome display of affection would be a stroke of our big head. I probably can never tell the amount of regret she would be having which goes like, “I should’ve loved n cuddled him more when he was younger.”

Mamma, this is me, saying Thank you for every ounce of love, every tear, every hug, every comfort and absolutely everything that you have done for me. What I am, is because of you. And I know I don’t say this enough, but I really really Love you. And I am infinitely indebted to Allah for giving me YOU !! I beg forgiveness for all the times I’ve let you down, or hurt you. I am sorry. And I know that my thank yous and sorrys do not register in your all loving and all forgiving heart. InshaAllah I promise not to break your heart, and be everything you hoped and dreamt from me on 16
th Nov. 1985, and ever after.

May Allah bless you with a really really long healthy and successful life in both worlds.

O humankind! Be in awe of your Lord and Sustainer, He who created you all from a single soul, and created from it its mate, and from the two of them brought forth many men and women. Be in awe of Allah and of the wombs (that bore you). Surely Allah is watching over you. - Surah an-Nisa : Ayah 1

P.S.

Shahjahan Mamu, the love bitten emperor of India, said once that Paradise on earth is Kashmir.

I beg to differ old fruit, Paradise is At Mamma’s Feet…..Period….



Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Jewelery Nightmare

((Written On 24th February 2010. Posting Today))

The thing about love that stands clear from all the other aspects it has, is the willingness to do anything for the one you love. And I mean anything.

Not being new to this aspect of being a sentient being of emotion, I began this day with a lot of excitement to the forthcoming events in my life. All beginning with Today, mom and dad’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. The Silver Year.

To say I was on top of the world would be a slight understatement. Sure I was up on top, sitting way up on the apex and smiling at the world below, and at times during the day, cursing others in this world. Nevertheless, the evening had a different agenda. I had to shop. For mom and dad’s gifts. And I had planned what they would each get.

I wanted to get Mom a nice piece of jewellery, and Dad was going to get a swiss watch. The latter part of the task was the easier of the two. Quite simply as I was shopping for something I understood about. Picking out a sapphire crystal swiss watch for dad was a fun experience, not to mention it took me not more than about 17 minutes to enter the shop, run through the options, select one which said CLASSY and MODERN at the same time, smiled at the knowledge that dad would love it, swipe the card and get outta there. 17 minutes. Heck I was a swiss watch myself.

But the OTHER part of the endeavour. Hoo boy. I was sure I wanted to get Mom jewellery. And that’s a big deal. Simply coz My mom is a connoisseur of Jewellery. It was the equivalent of picking out a car as a gift for Micheal Schumacher, picking out a punching bag and gloves for Muhammad Ali, picking out a suit for SRK…..you get the picture don’t you? My brother warned me against it. But me being ME, I had to go do it.


So with a lot of apprehension and a face oozing confidence, I stepped into Al Fahidi Street, which is the Commercial Street of Dubai to many people. Filled with a lot of Gold Shops, most of them branded stuff. Name a gold designer and chances are they’re there.
I was petrified.

The only times I’ve been to a jewellery store, I’ve been under the wing of mom, my aunts or cousins or sisters in law etc. NEVER ALONE. This was my Normandy. Except, this was all alone. Imagine one Allied forces soldier standing on the beaches of Normandy alone, looking around at Zee Germans and getting stared back at. Pretty much the same scenario took place with all the ladies around the gold market staring at me. I wish I could tell you how I looked into each of their eyes with a confident look. Oh hell No. This allied soldier had his head down, guns behind my back, walking through the lines with a “Excuse me, Pardon me, Sorry don’t mean to intrude, KLANG!! (Hitting a signpost is inevitable when you walk with your head down right?)”


But nope, I love you maa. So I braved the first onslaught and went up to the counter, blabbered something about diamonds and the yellowy coloured metal which ladies find so fascinating. Hooo Boy…. I first saw Pearls. Who the hell first came up with the idea to say, “Hey lets dive so deep into the oceans that our lungs burn and find those clammed up shells, pull them to the shore, pry them open with a mallet and a nail, and voila, round white thingie which shines !!” I mean seriously, how the heck did that happen?

Then moved to the diamonds. Found one I liked, and the shopkeeper blabbed about cents and carrots and Belgian cuts and I was thinking, this guy’s a chef who turned jewellery salesman. Then I saw it. He called it the MOM pendant. The name sounded perfect. And when I laid eyes on it, it looked it too. It is a tear drop gold outline with the Arabic word UMMI or MOM, set in calligraphy and lined with diamonds.

A few deliberations and a few conversations with my Bhabi, and yup, the pendant adores a black velvet box on its way to its recipient. I just hope she likes it. If not for the design, atleast for the sheer guts it took me to walk up among that horde of chattering females and staying alive and awake through the entire experience, walking out with a smile.

Love you Mom.

Love you Dad. Wish you both a Happy Married Life for another 25 years inshaAllah. And furthermore may Allah bring you together in Jannah for all eternity.

I guess its true then, Diamonds are forever. **SHUDDER**