Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Always Remember !!!!

I don’t know what it is about packing and un-packing which floods you with reminiscence which doesn’t span days, but years into history. Maybe your intangible attachment with those lifeless pieces of memorabilia which each carries a story with it is the reason.

Today is my last day in this office. No I’ve not quit nor have I been given the bullet/pink slip/or the bangalori “haath”.

No, we’re shifting base to a smashing office in Dubai. The entire team will have moved by the time I return from my short vacation. So everything will change when I’m back.

Rewind to the end of Nov 2007, when Mom dad bade me farewell at Doha Intl. Airport, as I took off to come to UAE, for my first job as an engineer. If I remember correctly, I was more or less a nervous wreck as the company was of German origins, and until then, almost all I knew about Germany was that they built awesome cars, got their backsides whooped in WW2 and their men wear leather pants and ladies dress as farmgirls. Oh and the misconception that their old Football goalkeeper was an Afghani Pathan (don’t blame me, the guy’s name was Kahn/Khan)

December 2007 I began my stint with my company, as a learning engineer. 2 and a half years later, I’m still learning, and growing, and yet I haven’t yet had the urge to scream at the employing powers. So not a bad run for a newbie engineers eh uncles?

A couple of weeks ago, for once I was in the passenger seat of my car, (which is my latest possession and means a lot to me) and my cousin was driving through a downtown suburb of Sharjah, called Rolla/Al Jubail. This is where the bus-stand for Sharjah was situated. And this was the area where I began my life in UAE.

I first lived in a hotel for a while, and then got accommodation with a family in Sharjah, which didn’t last long. I moved to Dubai, and travelled between my office in Dubai and Sharjah (about 30-50 kms) by buses,taxis and walks. For 2 long years I’ve done so. Today, after having a car, I’ve forgotten how it feels to be at the mercy of public transport. That day, as I passed by the bus stand, I got thinking of the seemingly difficult beginnings I had.
Of course, I don’t think I will ever work as hard as dad, coz his hard work has reaped rewards for me and my brother where we have an awesome education and jobs awaiting us. But the initial work we did put in, however infinitesimal, is dear to me.

Looking back, my day would begin at about 5:30 or so, when I got up, dressed and walked to the Dubai bus terminal or took a taxi. Then the bus ride to sharjah, after which I took a taxi to office which was on the outskirts of Sharjah, reaching by about 7:30 or 8 am. In the evenings, same routine in reverse, reaching home at about 7 pm or 8 pm, too tired to do anything else. Today, the same route would take me 25 mins or 30 mins maximum.

Is it a feeling of pride? Or a sense of achievement? Is it legitimate for me to be proud?

I abhor pride as it makes men feel like kings. I’ve seen success change people, and I’ve seen success humble people more. I like the latter. And I would like to be the latter. If I can call myself successful in any sense of the word, I want to feel absolutely insignificant. And that is exactly what I felt passing by the Sharjah bus stop. I asked myself who is really responsible for me being where I was….

The primary thanks goes to my lord and master, Allah Subhanawataala, for everything he has bestowed upon me. And I mean EVERYTHING. Even the trials and heartbreaks. They’ve been my toughest and most fruitful teachers.
Then, Mom and Dad, who I am and where I am, is a fact mainly due to their prayers and sacrifices. I’m incomplete without them.
And last but not least, those friends who have slowly owned my heart with their presence and absolutely adorable love. You know who you are.

And this just doesn’t go for me. Look into your lives; you may be a successful super-engineer, hi-fi doctor, jet setting business person or a highly promoted banker or whatever. You will loose all your credibility if you forget where you came from.

I’ve seen people forget their old friends when they get a better position than before. They don’t carry the images of their past into their present. And that’s just plain unfair, because who you are today, is a person made by the person who you were yesterday, and the people who were With you yesterday. Get me?

If there is one prayer I want to make right now, its that whenever I’m out cruising in my lovely car, Allah should not make me forget those long solitary walks in humid nights whence I arrived home with a shirt drenched in my own perspiration. And if there is one request I make of you, it is; do not forget the moments of sheer helplessness you faced once upon a time, be it in your exams, or episodes in your public or personal lives, or just plain moments when you’ve felt pangs of desperation…Remember those desperate moments.

Remember the time when you couldn’t walk because you were too sick
Remember the time when you wanted to laugh but you were busy crying
Remember the time when you heard yourself branded an utter failure
Remember the time when you cried bitterly amidst your incessant trying

Ambition brings you to greatness, but true humility keeps you there long after you’re gone.

As I pack my favourite coffee mugs and look around this old office one last time, I’m filled with awe at the way Allah has led me on this 2 and a half year old short path, how mom dad have supported it, how my friends have cheered it, and how I, with the little bravado I’ve had, have walked it….with never as much as a tear of regret…

The next time you look into the mirror and smile and are pleased with yourself, and the least hint of vanity strikes you, remember the time when your face had contorted into the most vivid expression of relentless pain and anguish, and in that one moment, be thankful you didn’t falter, be thankful you overcame, be thankful for your happiness. If you can master this, you will be ever so close to the closest you can be to a perfect human being.

Do you want to be remembered for what you are?
Then make sure, you do not forget what you were !!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Before We Fade

If you get a knock on ur door,
And you open to find the angel of death.
Sullen in face with a sad job to do,
His work at your threshold is anyone's bet.

Would you turn to your safe, full of gold
Or turn to your sleeping child and wife
Would you go all nervous and cry so hard
Looking into the mess you called your life

Would you look back at the tears you caused
Would you look back at the smiles you creased
Would you look at the moments you remained true
Or look back at all the wrong people you pleased

Some lives are designed to make a difference
Some lives will eventually into oblivion fade
All lives are witness to learning and practicing
But all lives come to end with a digging spade.

Standing on the brink, would you regret it all?
Would you turn your head and tell the angel NO!
Would you run from death, like we always do
Or would you bow your head, and calmly Go

Make a difference, to even one life if you can
On the last day you will have a watering eye
A small flicker of light, makes a dark cave bearable
Even one voice by your grave,is a sweet goodbye

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Forgiving Tides

I don’t know what it is about walking on a beach
That most profound thoughts drift within immediate reach
The midnight air must be the intoxicant de nonsense
Each small wave makes me loose a little of my balance

Each step in the cool sand sinks a little bit deeper
I reach into the depths of my life’s memory keeper
I recall each moment of sadness, each moment of joy
I rewind back from a young man to a young little boy

I yearn to reach out and right all the wrongs
I wish to rewrite my life’s most painful songs
I wish to erase all the wounds and the scars
I raise my eyes and look at the dancing stars.

I forgive all the ghosts which haunted my childhood
I forgive all the storytellers who made them come alive
I forgive all the pranks my elder friends played
I forgive all the failed attempts at swimming pool dives

I forgive my relatives for not believing in me
I forgive the hatred which said I was worthless to all
I forgive all the teachers who called me a fool
I forgive every prank and every insulting call

I forgive the taxi drivers for not picking me up
I forgive the restaurants which served bad food
I forgive the richer men who belittled my existence
I forgive the songs which always made me brood

I forgive the people who laughed at my good ideas
I forgive those who agreed with my bad ones
I forgive the stones which made me trip and fall
I forgive the bad jokes made, and all the bad puns.

I forgive my friends for hurting me by mistake
I forgive my enemies for hurting me by purpose
I forgive the bad luck episodes which lasted forever
I forgive the entire world, like every mature one does

The waves splash at my feet as I turn to walk back
And I see my footprints chart the way I came along the shelf
Wave after wave washes the deep prints away
I smile…as for all the mistakes, I forgive myself

Arrivederci !!

The smiles are hard to come by,
Harder they run away, the harder I try.
Moments locked in time seemingly fade,
Resonating in my ears are the goodbyes I bade.

Life would come inevitably to this, I knew,
The many years passed seem but so few.
Seems just like yesterday that a veil was raised,
And everything just passed by, as I sat and gazed.

The walk towards me seemed uncertain and slow,
The walk away was as certain as the morning glow.
Many days have passed, months and years as well,
Yet the waves keep on rising, the more i try to quell.

I look at the dropping sunset, another sign of passing days,
Must be the mist that blurs my eyes with another teary haze.
I tear the letter into tiny bits, and fling it in the deep blue,
And turn my back on the only time, I'd sincerly said I Love You.

To my 20 Year old Duck

(Originally Dated 25th May 2010)

2 Decades ago, around this time, I was being shepherded into a small ward in Shankarambal nursing home near Bangalore’s St. Mark’s Road. I remember vividly that I had dressed in one of my favourite deep blue jeans and possibly a blue shirt, as 4 and a half year old me walked into the ward ushered by my Grandfather (maternal), who was grinning under his thick handlebar moustache. Inside, my mom lay on the bed, with one arm extended sideways. Under the arm, there lay a small package, bundled in blankets. I was told that this was my brother.

This is more or less what I remember of this day, 20 years ago, when Faiz, my younger brother hatched.

I say hatched, and not born, because as one of our favourite uncles (Dad’s friend) described him at birth, "he was like a Baby Chicken hatchling", hairless and shrivelled and so white that he was pink (if you know what I mean)

First few months, I remember not being allowed to lift him coz apparently he’d come with a dismantled neck, which required 6 months to assemble itself. By the time he was 7 or 8 months old, he’d become pretty heavy to lift, so I guess its safe to say that I probably only cuddled him when he was asleep or in someone’s lap or in his favourite place, the hammock. I remember dad singing him to sleep, and mom having a couple of bottles ready for when he woke up with a shrill scream. I mean, the guy had a siren in his throat, more effective than most fire engine sirens, and its always been used for conveying one state of his being --- HUNGER!!! (This holds true even today ;))

As Faiz grew up, so did his cheeks and I could see that he was going to be the cute one, but at that age, I didn’t know what that meant, except that most of my cousin sisters preferred to cuddle him than me. I was losing the ladies (again, if u know what I mean) to my younger sibling.

The years passed with us playing games, me learning and teaching him quite a few, and he always winning them after learning from me. Although I must say, apart from chess, all the other games, he won by crying. I, being the elder one, was advised by my parents to concede to his whims. So in carom, I would pocket the coins, and it was payday for him. In cricket, he never got out, and he never bowled or fielded. In tennis, the ball was always IN. As of now, he'd prolly whip me in any game I guess...sigh, the changing times :P

Sadly our parents didn’t let us play boxing as a sport.

Needless to say, being the younger one, he was the more pampered one of the family. And he had a sharp tongue, yes sir, when he learnt to speak, he shut everyone else up. When my friends would tease me, he has taken it upon himself to get back at them, coz back then, I was as talkative as a boulder.So snappy comebacks were as much a part of me as morality is a part of our politicians.
I can proudly say that he alone is enough, to literally shut every relative of mine. If you ever are lucky enough to witness him taking on my entire extended family, in a battle of wits, you will probably see the wit-war equivalence of 1 man invading the Normandy coast and bringing the Nazi empire to an end. And No I am not exaggerating.

Sad part is, I am not allowed to let him loose upon them.

Btw, Faiz, if you’re reading this, you are not allowed to gloat. :P

As I said, he was the most pampered one, which made him quite a bit stubborn. Dad called him a Bengal Monitor once. (Google it)
The stubbornness got him in trouble with mom more than once. My mom believed in the idiom, “Jab Paap ka ghada bhar jaye, toh phoot jata hai” (When the Vessel of sin is filled, it will Break)

So Faiz & I, whenever we screwed up, it would register itself in mom’s head. She wouldn’t do anything except give us “The Eyes” (An eye stare that even makes her family members go “OH DEAR LORD HALP!!!”)
And getting the eyes meant 2 things
1. We’re Dead
2. But not today.

Coz the register was like a ticking time bomb, the more screw ups we did, the faster it ticked. Until one fine sunny day, the fuse would reach culmination, fizz and silence…………AND KABOOOOM !!!
Weapons included belts and hangars and rulers. And she would do the American Police thing, she would recite all our crimes as she whooped our sorry backsides. Things we’d have forgotten, she’d recall n go, “On so-n-so date, at so-n-so’s house party, you just HAD to touch the glass jar when I told you faiz NOT TO TOUCH the glass jar”. Before he could think “Which Glass jar??”, his ear would have been twisted like an old Fiat car key where the engine refuses to start.

First he’d scream and yell and beg mercy, and once the spank took place, I’d hear his tears break out. That was when my brain would scream, “INTERVENTION”.

And I’d run and stand between him and mom n go “Nooo mom Noooo he’s sorry he wont do it again.” I remember mom would try to hit him from around me, I’d feel him cringe behind me n hold my shirt as a human shield, and I’d get the whoop on my arm.

This always worked ;-) Atleast one way it did. Coz when I was getting whooped, Faiz would probably be hiding under the dining table or in the closet, thinking, “I hope she finishes with him and forgets what I did at last week’s party, else I’m dead too.”

He’s grown into a major Pain in the backside for people he likes and doesn’t like equally, into a funnyman who is the live wire of almost all of his social gatherings, and into a cuddly buddy for young kidos (which we both inherited from dad)

He also invented his own language, for more info on that, you should contact him, for I fear I will be killed for revealing it here. :P

If you don’t know yet, he is one helluva talented chef, and has surpassed his teacher (mom) in preparing the most amazing Grills you will taste.

His passion is Aeroplanes. Name a plane or a type of plane or a function related to it, and chances are he will talk to you about it for hours together.

He loves listening to stories. He was the first person who listened to my stories, and requested an encore every night. He is a person who seldom expresses his feelings...but if he really loves you, trust me you will know it.

As we grew up through our teens, I’ve seen him go from silly and childish to crazy and angry to calm and flamboyant in his ways. He’s still a Bengal monitor at times, but then...we all have our flaws.

Looking back now, those were some real crazy times I had with this li’l tyke. 11 years ago I left home to study and have been out since, so interaction with him has been limited, unlike most siblings. Yet we love each other to death. I remember the first time I felt really proud & sure of him was when he exhibited maturity beyond his years in 8th grade. Before that I just loved him, but after that, I’ve come to respect him too, in a way a younger sibling should be.

For those of you who have younger siblings, if you already dont respect them, start right now, trust me it makes a world of a difference.

I’ve lived a life where I’ve had friends walk in and out of life. Having a brother means having a friend who wont walk out on you, no matter what the circumstances. He is a shadow of mine who knows my darkest secrets and my deepest fears, and yet will not cease to love or respect me. He is a confidant I can share anything with. A partner in crime with whom I can plan to perform evil tortures on annoying people as well as pull of pranks on unsuspecting friends. He is that companion in boring parties, with whom I share amazing ROFLing moments with our inside jokes about everyone concerned.

He is a mirror image of me, opposite in almost every manner of being, yet someone I can love from the bottom of my heart for all his zaniness.

More than anything else, he is a 20 year old personality who fills the character gaps I have, someone without whom my parents would probably have half a son, someone who simply completes me.

Happy Birthday Li’l Brother…. BarakAllah Feek. May Allah Bless you with a long, prosperous and happy life in both this world and the next.

Love you !!