Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Tag Archives: Family

Thoughts on love…

It’s windy here in Karachi tonight and as I sit here in my room, sipping hot milk and taking a short break from the books, my thoughts gently drift from one idea to another. It’s quiet and peaceful in my room and, after a fun and busy afternoon with my sister’s friends coming over, it’s nice to have some alone time.

The rest of my family is in my parents’ room, watching some light comedy show on TV. It makes me smile thinking of them all together, enjoying themselves. That’s because I know there’s contentment and love there. It makes me feel relaxed too, knowing that I can retreat to my room and study with a heart that’s at peace. Life has its ups and downs, for each one of us, and I know cracks and fissures can appear in the strongest of relationships. That’s why, I cherish these moments of comfortable companionship even more… knowing how trying it can be when things go sour, when people are hurt or wouldn’t talk to each other.

There’s so much to learn from watching other people, especially close family, and how they interact with each other. I’m the eldest daughter so I’ve naturally been witness to many incidents, scenes and changes in people around me and not just my own parents. I’ve been through times where things seemed difficult and didn’t make sense either. Why did she do that? Why did he have to say it that way? Then, over time, things started to fall into place. Childish notions of what ‘relationships’ meant were replaced by a different understanding – that each human being has some weaknesses, and that’s fine. It’s impossible to expect people to be perfect. Rather, the reality is that there are amazing people, each with their own particular shortcomings, but that doesn’t mean they’re failures in any way.

As I grow older, I learn something new everyday. I learn how families really function and that sometimes, real love and compassion lies in doing something that’s much different from idealistic expressions. I learn how keeping your mouth shut for five minutes can not only save you from a lot of trouble and embarrassment later, but can earn you much respect in the eyes of others. I learn how the darkest of times upon a family, upon two people who’re committed to each other, can turn into happiness and a real solid relationship that no one could even have imagined possible. It’s about holding onto patience and sincerely wishing to make things better, and if Allah Wills, it does get better… better than better.

I also learn little things from the many mistakes I make daily. When I talk to my sisters,  make a sarcastic comment, or hurt their feelings in anyway… the remorse after that and the pinching of my conscience shows where I was wrong. Sometimes, someone might need me for a minute or two and if I’m too busy in something I feel is more important (but which really isn’t)… it’s my loss in the end because what that person needed, was my love and attention. If I couldn’t give her that, what more could I ever possibly give that could compensate for that? Showering people with gifts is nice but if they know deep inside, you’re not a sincere person, it hardly means anything to them. Instead, make someone a cake or a cup of coffee or tea when you’re really busy and they really need it… that’s love. And that’ll leave it’s mark for sure.

Sigh… it’s either the effect of this hot milk I just drank or the light breeze coming in through the window… or maybe a tender moment fleeting across my soul… that these and so many other such thoughts have come to mind. Maybe it’s the satisfaction that I’m surrounded by people who do love me, just because they’re related to me by blood, and who do put up with my weaknesses and still like spending time with me. Maybe it’s the joy I find in their company, that I just want to express before it’s too late, before I never get another chance. Just today, my father got late coming back from his morning walk and, for an hour or so, I was worried to the point that I really just wanted to see him again and let him know how much he means to me. Alhumdulillah, he got back safe and, after giving him a “scolding” for not taking his cellphone, I did give him a hug too to let him know how much I missed him. Awkward as it may seem sometimes, it’s even more important to seize the moment while it’s there and not have to look back with any regrets later, Insha’Allah.

It’s getting late and I must put in some studying before I sleep. But wait a second… I just checked Facebook and my sister’s status update made this whole post even more relevant. You see, it was her birthday today and here’s what she wrote…

I have the Best friends and the Best family! Alhamdolillah! I mean they sent me off to Sunday Bazaar, snuck into my room, decorated it, blew up balloons, made a huge card, got a cake, gifts, a flower bouquet, a basket of chocolates!!, made pizza, cookies, cheese balls, gulab jamun and more AND almost gave me heart attack when I got home!!! No one would ever do this except out of love! ♥ So Thank you so so much! You made this a truly memorable and wonderful Birthday! There is really nothing I want except a bunch of loving and caring people!

Need I say anything more? Alhumdulillah! 

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Wake up, it’s the weekend!

It’s a Sunday tomorrow and while, for most families, weekends are about sleeping-in, in our house, we usually do the exact opposite: we’re up and about at sunrise. Now, what might a family do on a weekend morning that makes them readily give up the comfort of their beds? A morning walk, followed by a desi-style breakfast at an hour when the city is serene and peaceful.

It’s really part of those simple joys of life I treasure… and for that, I’m so grateful I’ve got a father who pushes his kids into such healthy activities. Every once in a while, usually before going to bed, we decide our morning plan and it goes like this: Abba wakes us for Fajr, announces we must be ready to roll by the time he’s back from the masjid (twenty to thirty minutes). Following that announcement, we offer our prayers and quickly changing into casual dress and joggers. Of course, there’s the occasional kid (usually Abeer, the “cookie-monster“) who puts up the “I don’t want to go, I want to sleep/I’ve had a long week/I have exams soon!”  excuse but she’s soon won over. Sometimes, my mother’s the one most reluctant to leave but we all know she’s the happiest one in the car (no need to worry about breakfast!). 🙂

So by the time Abba’s back and the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon, we’ve got our plastic plates, cups, trays, water-cooler etc. all ready and it’s into the car. I always wonder what the security guards at our apartment gates wonder – it’s not a usual thing in Karachi for family to just go off on a trip at sunrise! But really, when there’s a fresh walk to look forward too, then breakfast in the car, who thinks twice about looking odd? 🙂

The stylish gazebo in the center of the park

There’s a nice park in our area of the city and it’s usually well maintained. In the spring, they have an annual flower show too, plus a bonsai garden to admire, lots of landscaping and greenery… and of course, a walking track! It’s really interesting to see the different kinds of people who are regulars at the park: businessmen and other elite, in groups, discussing politics or the market trends; ladies, young and old, some with ipods plugged in, others simply carrying rosary beads and doing dhikr; sometimes families with little children, enjoying a refreshing walk or playing on the swings; young men exercising or jogging several laps around the park.

Everything looks and feels so fresh that it’s hard not to feel completely rejuvenated after the monotonous routine of the preceding week. Plus, there’s that precious time with my family that I know I’ll look back at and miss terribly. Walking together, all sorts of crazy topics come up and of course, there’s always the charm of annoying, and being annoyed by, your sisters! A nudge here, a shove there, laughter, playful banter, teasing… there’s no substitute for it. 🙂 And sometimes, during moments of silence, I do wonder how long I have this awesome chance to stay with them, us being all together like this? You forget time waits for no one and this will definitely come to a close one day, to move on a new place, a new life, changing scenery. Of course, Insha’Allah, that will have its own joys and wonders but what I have now, I must not forget to cherish it while it is still here. 🙂

Okay, enough with the emotion! So after two laps, we’re usually looking in the direction of the gates. But Abba likes to do a few stretches before we leave so I usually find a few quiet moments to myself on a park bench while my sisters go silly over the see-saws. Yeah, you’re wondering why I don’t go over to the see-saws myself! Well, I don’t think it would be quite acceptable for a twenty-four-year-old to be seen toppling over a see-saw… no, thank you. 🙂 Heheh.

Back in the car, there’s a commotion over where to go. The what to eat part is known to all – that’s the reason we all got out of our beds in the first place! A desi style breakfast of crispy parathas, spicy omelette, sooji ka halwa (a semolina dessert) and of course – doodh patti (traditional, strong tea). And the best place to find all of this is the typical road-side dhaaba – a very humble outdoor eatery that usually caters to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The food is simple, low-cost (in keeping with the customers) and very delicious, especially if you know where to go! What they lack in fine dining-ware is more than made up by the crispy deliciousness of their parathas, especially when had with curry or the halwa… and definitely when dunked in the piping hot tea!

We have ours in the car, on our laps, with protective newspapers and trays underneath. Munching away happily while the birds twitter around outside, is such an awesome feeling, Alhumdulillah. It’s hardly eight in the morning and we’re having a mouth-watering breakfast to jump-start the day. Soon, the cups have been drained (six in all – my father always has two!), the leftover parathas wrapped up in newspaper, the bill paid (costs as much as a KFC burger deal – for one person!) and it’s back to home.

Honestly, I’ve seen these breakfast plans do wonders for my family. Instead of sleeping after Fajr and waking up to a boring Sunday, we get a chance to get out and have fun together, even before the sun has begun to climb up the sky. That time we spend together, catching up, swapping stories and then eating together in the car, is worth missing out on an hour or two of sleep any Sunday! And I wonder about families that grow apart over the years, people hardly talking to each other, or not knowing what to do together, they would benefit so much from such simple activities. You don’t need to throw away lots of money on a club membership. You don’t need to somehow grab scraps of time to do something altogether. Rather, if you’re really motivated, you can find joy in the simplest of moments… go grab them while you can!

Note: I’ve got final exams starting next week but I’ll try to keep writing whenever I can, Insha’Allah. It’s all part of wanting to not miss out on relaxing activities like writing and sharing thoughts, as they come to mind. Plus, my sister thinks my blog is too ‘boring’… heh, which doesn’t bother me but yeah, writing more frequently will make sure people get to hear about all sorts of things – deep thought as well as light-hearted musings. Life is too short and time too precious to be wasted so make a dua for me and see you later, Insha’Allah.

A Drop of Joy

What is joy?  Can you define happiness? Measure it? Can you assign it an absolute value?

No.

Can you find real happiness in wealth, estates and other luxuries appealing to the senses?

No.

For a few days now, my extended family was deeply concerned and worried regarding the health of a much-loved member, my maternal aunt. Out of the blue, we were told she had been diagnosed by a condition, the name of which many equate only with dismal pictures of health… cancer. It was striking how such news could affect so many peoples’ lives, in such different ways. Suddenly, nothing seemed really pleasureable and alongside, advice on how best to tackle the situation started pouring in. Being separated from the rest of us by the whole world, really, you can imagine her – and our – feelings at not being able to share her burdens. Telephone calls kept the messages of wellwishing and hope connected with one another.

The true gravity of the situation was assessed by conducting further standard tests. Not knowing what to expect but hoping for the best, my mother enquired about the results. Alhamdolillah, the results turned out to be very positive for her and even though she’ll have to go through surgery to remove the cancer, then chemotherapy to truly eradicate it, the news was sooooo good Alhamdolillah! Hearing my aunt’s electrified and easy voice over the telephone, indicative of her being back to her old self where spirits were concerned, I felt real, pure, wholesome joy overtake me! My mother was smiling, laughing… it was like Eid all over again!

This is a kind of happiness that you could spend your life in search of it, exhaust all your resources, and yet never be able to recognize its fragrance, let along experience it. The relief and joy that comes from knowing your family is safe has no measure. The little stresses and tensions of our routine that bug us throughout the day suddenly fade away and you find yourself in such happy spirits that nothing seems too difficult. Alhamdolillah… for letting us taste such joys in our lives. Perhaps they are “trailers” and “samples” pointing to the kind of joy that lies in wait of the Believers in Heaven – Allah knows best!

May Allah lighten up our lives with joy and happiness and make our families the “coolness of our eyes” , both in this world and the Hereafter indeed. Ameen!

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اللَّهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلَّا مَا جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلاً وَ إنْتَ تَحْعَلُ الْحزْنَ إذَا شِئْتَ سَهْلاً

O Allah, there is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will.
[Ibn Hibban, ibn as-Sunni]

Is she a disgrace?

This writer has made some very valid points in his article, “Is she a disgrace?” in ArabNews, a very popular English-language paper in the Middle East. Having gorwn up in Saudi Arabia, I could relate to what he’s saying about the Saudi family when seen in public. 

Saudi society, I know well, cannot be considered as one single unit when it comes to social problems. I wouldn’t generalize anything but from what I’ve seen, there are very strange contradictions in their social fabric. You’ll see really good practices and customs and then you’ll see things which will make you wonder if they have any basis in Islam. Indeed, many of the strange customs you might see in Saudi Arabia have very little to do with Islam. The writer of the article too has raised the same point.

A misplaced display of chivalry and misdirected obsessions characterize many Saudi men when it comes to dealing with their wives, sisters and daughters. I’m not seeing these from an ultra-liberal “I-hate-the-abaya” point of view. Rather, it’s about using the name of Islam for all sorts of silly activities that I really dislike in Saudi society. And the reason I dislike is that I really love the Saudi people, who’ve been my family for twenty years… it hurts to see them waging such silent wars within their own community.

As with many societies, there are double-standards when applying rules to men and women. Everyone will agree the woman should be covered from head to toe, hobbling around trying to make herself invisible, but few will point out to the men that they have roles to play too. Rules of morality and chastity were not made for women purely. And thus, when it comes to women, it has been drilled into the minds of the men that the women should be “handled with care”. They’d rather stay a few feet away from her to escape any potential “evil” that she may bring upon herself or him. For him, a wife, a sister or daughter  isn’t a loved and cherished member of the family but someone to guard and be perpetually worried about. If that had been the case in Islam, we’d  never read about  the exceptional and beautiful relationships that the Prophet(pbuh) of Allah had with his esteemed wives.

The Qur’an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile:

“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them.” (Surah Baqarah 2: Verse 187)

What are the attributes/uses of a garment? A garment…

  • protects you
  • covers you (your faults)
  • beautifies you
  • defines you

Now, isn’t that something to think about?

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