A letter for her (XX) – subha bakhyr

9:01 AM | 27 February

I’d like to imagine that right now – at this moment – I’m watching the sun rise here and set far away.

Slowly, gracefully, the orange semi-circle of the centre of this known universe rises. The darkness of the previous night shies away as hope and love begin to dawn. It’s going to be a new day, another day, anything can happen! Anything at all! Do you see how big that is? How amazing that is? Good Lord!

It keeps on ascending the azure, singing hymns to the seven skies, admiring the hues of the wild blue yonder, nodding “*subha bakhyr” to all who woke up to say “thank you for another day” to the God who sends little miracles along their way, each day, every day.

And once it’s up there – majestic and all – it just shines down on everyone. The rich, the poor, the weak, the strong, the sad, the happy, the sinful, the pious. And just knowing that it’s there up there, helps you breathe deeply, slowly, calming that erratic heartbeat and sweaty palms and racing thoughts and the doubts and fears. It’s a little hard to believe but when you peek at the crystal mirror, you see your reflection smile in gratitude for another chance at life; for tearing away the heavy, heavy mask that was taking your life away; for this magical walk on the clouds when you lightly put your feet in front of the other and dance carefully, unbelievably light, not believing that the long path behind you is really now that: behind you.

Skipping heartbeats, grateful **sujoods, peaceful eyes. Really, “***Allah O Akbar”!

Love you more!

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Sandspit, Karachi

* good morning
** prostration
*** God is great




A letter for her (XIX) – Happy Women’s Day

And not very long ago, there lived two women on a mystical land by the sea. The days between their life and death were too many, the distance between their hearts not very much so. There was a whole generation between them; grief was borne patiently, happiness celebrated gratefully; silent battles fought, stories untold. They created a language of silence as one woman honoured another.

They would wake up to be surprised by the stardust flying above their heads, tickling them, pushing the curtains aside so the cheerful rays of the sun could convince the younger one to get up and greet herself; to welcome a womanhood that explores new vistas of kind friendships, unconditional love, generous forgiveness, soaring ambitions, and a childlike hope.

“The chains that have wounded our women are still very much there, and so are other women looming over each other as predators. The glass ceilings are also very much there. But we’re all growing. You are growing. Stronger and kinder and stronger, a little each day.”

Young hearts are always curious. “Who am I? Where am I?”

It was an extraordinary bond, a love too strong for this mortal world. It outshone the bright stars of Eve even. As they sat together, hand in hand – the younger one memorising in her heart the love radiating from those old, wrinkled hands; soon to go far away from her reach – they smiled in awe at having been chosen for this beautiful union of the souls, for this blessed friendship, for this unconditional love where they could together share their love for Him and Him alone.

And now – what seems like an eternity later and when an eternity is still left – the younger of the two is left with fond memories that do ache, will forever ache.

She is walking down this path, trying to read the map her friend entrusted her with, to the best of her abilities. She is trying. And it’s lovely out there. There’s plenty of hope. She is breathing in the gentle joy of loving His mercy, of bowing down in gratitude to all the ways He has planned out her life.

If anyone had told her that today – this day of this year – she’d be peacefully sipping on her tea, gazing afar into the future, the clouds of despair and that stifling confusion nowhere in sight, she would have laughed at them. But there’s none of that now. The road is clear, the ambition to conquer the worlds is returning home, the love for His people and the ardent desire to make this small earth bigger for the brokenhearted is guarding her own heart now. She is coming home. She really is.
And she owes it all to her friend, Nani Jaan.

Thank you for being the perfect woman. Thank for never letting go of your faith and for passing on the gift of Tawaqqal to me, with dignity and grace and so much love.

I miss you every single day but I know that you are watching over me. Happy women’s day!
See you around! Soon. Soon.

Two women, 1936
Amrita Sher-Gil; Two Women, 1936

The little hugs from God are not a figment, never were, never will be

11:55 PM | 26 February 2019

Lying next to the telescope, you look far away to see little specks of melancholy flying away from you. Like dark clouds up in the sky. Up and up and up. You feel a little scared. “Will it come back?” No, you can’t risk it at all, you decide.

“Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” (Al-Inshirah 94:5-6)

How does it feel? You really want to know.


So after a dry lecture that dragged on for hours, you can’t not head to the cafeteria for a cup of some steaming elaichi chai. But the waiter takes too long because it’s a busy day, after all. It’s taking too long. Too long. You’re getting impatient and angry and you know that you’ll tear up any moment now or break a glass or two. And just as you’re about to give up, get up and leave, it arrives: nice and warm, the strong flavour of the *elaichi waking you up, sweet enough to make you smile. Exactly what you needed, what you wanted. And guess what? Within the first few sips, you’re smiling and laughing and clapping your annoying best friend’s back and cracking lame jokes that make your friends laugh at you but you don’t mind because the sky seems bluer and the wind seems happier and the sun is in a good mood and the birds are also teasing you and your heart is like, “Woohooooooooo!”

That’s kind of what happened. And that’s what happens with all of us.
The little hugs from God are not a figment, never were, never will be.



*Cardomon (a type of Indian spice)

A little of God, a little of the angels, a little of Iblis.

Humans are so strange. A little of God (His ninety-nine names within us: Mercy, Kindness, Justice, Unconditional love), a little of the angels (because sometimes, like the angels, we really have no control over the good that we do. Because we do it unconsciously. Something like that?), and a little of *Iblis.
So we do spend our whole lives torn between these three. But I’ve always wondered how many Iblis are really there inside us, parading around as piety and hiding behind the charity.

I wonder how many Iblis are there inside us because it’s like even they compete for the greater evil. Like Iblis number 1 says, “You gotta lie about this merchandise!”. Number 2 says, “No! You gotta steal a better one from XYZ!” Number 3 says, “No, no! Just kill the dude and take it over his business, too!” While Number 4 tells number 1 and 2 to shut up and let number 3 take over. Which one is the scariest? You guessed it: the one that tries to strangle your conscience as you shed the blood of your own kith and kin, of the birds and souls, of humanity.

We only know who wins when we stand on the prayer mat. In the middle of the night. And we know what **dua we are making as the peace – or lack of it – in our hearts whispers to us.

It really is like the Sufi whirling. Have you ever seen it live? Only when we lose ourselves into it – in the loveliness, in the loneliness, in the solitude, in the desire for the divine love that holds your hand till you discover human love – that we truly meet our higher selves.

So. Let’s get ready for the litmus test: what will give you peace on your deathbed?


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My eyes are shut and I’m happily enjoying the Love. Come, join me!

10:14 PM | 19 February 2019

If you have an interest in gardening, you’ll know that for a flower to bloom, it may take days and days of loving care and attention, and a little of some faith in the power of miracles. So you patiently water that plant, look at it with adoration, and you talk to it, hoping that your words reach your little buddy’s heart and it finds all the will and strength that it needs to bloom out and bathe in the sun.

Other times, you pack a few homemade sandwiches and drive to the beach so you can watch the sunset perched on the rocky walls that have seated all of Karachi’s lovers and thieves, the dervish and the faqeers, the lost and the seeking. The small hand of your beloved watch moves forward, slowly, and you watch the sun go down, bit by bit, rising elsewhere. You sit there and look around at the children running along the shore, asking their fathers to buy them the colourful balloons. You live in every moment, aware of how deep your breaths are and how the slow tug at your heart never seems to go away.

And then suddenly, all of that is gone – the unease, the dull ache. There’s a little jump to your heart’s rhythm – sometimes here, sometimes there – and when you look in the mirror, there’s a new smile! Where did that come from?

And in between trying to believe that this is real – very real – you find yourself thinking of Him again and again and again. You had set out to find Him, and He sent down angels to greet you; that’s what happened! You tied yourself around the ancient pillar of Tawakkal * (because that is the only option) and you went in a sujood** of gratitude, and it worked; magic dust is real and God is very much around.

My eyes are shut and I’m happily enjoying the Love. Come, join me!

**perfect trust in God and reliance on Him alone
** prostration


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Super Highway

You’re a doctor. But do you know how wounds heal?

2:49 PM | 30 January 2019

There are certain emotions that cannot be named and there is no language that will always – always – explain why the poor heart is beating to a certain rhythm.

Such as when something happens, something that isn’t bad but doesn’t get you to jump around with joy, either. And then you don’t know how to feel, how you are supposed to feel. Your heart is beating faster and faster and you want to rip it off because it’s making you uncomfortable and you feel like crying with frustration. You also know that your mother’s womb was warmer.

There’s nothing you can do because all you remember are the days that have gone by, the nights when the room was booming with all that you wished to say.

But what of the days ahead? you ask yourself.

You’re a doctor. But do you know how wounds heal? God-willing.

a burst of hearty laughter in the cardiologist’s clinic

| 23 January 2019, NICVD |

So they were a cute, elderly couple.

“Doctor Sahab jab se aap ne inko yeh dil ko machine lagaee hai, yeh kuch ziyada hi bolnay lagay hain!”
(Doctor, ever since he’s had this pacemaker, he’s become very talkative!)

“Woh isliye kyunke inki quality of life behter ho gaee hai!”
(That’s because his quality of life has improved!)

“Haan lekin yeh bohat bolnay lagay hain! Har waqt mazaaq kartay rehtay hain, chahay dost houn yaa rishtaydaar!”
(Yes but he’s really become very talkative! He’s joking around all the time with friends and family!)

“Tou acchi baat hai naa!”
(So that’s good!)

“Meray liye tou mushkil ho gaee hai, Doctor Sahab! Bus yeh chaahtay hain k myn saara waqt inkay paas hi bethi rahoun, inse baatyn karti rahoun! Bus har waqt inko hassi mazaaq chahiye! Mjhe tou dar hai k kahin abb maid se bhi mazaaq naa shuroo kar dyn yeh!”
(But its annoying for me, Doctor! He just wants me to sit with him and talk to him all the time! I’m afraid he’ll start chatting and get friendly with our female house-help even!)

And the well-furnished cardiologist’s clinic roared with a burst of hearty laughter that reminded us – future healthcare professionals – that health truly is wealth; that a happy, satisfied patient is the best reward for the years of hard work, and that this is exactly why advancements in science and medicine were a tribute to humanity.


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