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

 

 

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Writing heartbeats

9:21 PM | 5 January 2019

I’m going to talk about this blog today.

I started this without knowing what I wanted it to be. Occasionally sharing excerpts from my journal, the stories I wove, the poems I tried to sing, the articles I attempted to write. I knew I loved writing. But that it would become a way of life for me? That is a beautiful realisation that I’m still coming to terms with.
Reading is a dear, dear friend – the words, the stories, all those lives I get to live within the crisp pages of a new book – and to fall in love with this friend, again and again, is joyful surrender.

If you go through this blog, you’ll be able to landmark it all – “Oh, here’s where her fascination with humanistic medicine began”. “And here’s where she understood the pain of loss first”. “So this was when she first peeked inside her heart”. “Aah! This is when she really started writing”. Yes, all of that. It’s a pretty amazing journey now that I turn these digital pages.

And today it has turned into a home that I have grown to love and nurture – a home for me, a home for you. I come here to share a glimpse of what we all have felt at some time – sorrow, pain, love, hate, confusions, anger, remorse, happiness, pride; all of those little things we call ’emotions’. ‘Feelings’. ‘Thoughts’. I call them heartbeats. So I write and I share what’s most important to me – these heartbeats – with you all because when I have read words that have taken my breath away, I’ve felt understood. Comforted. So why let the cycle end? I owe it to the Lord who has given me this gift. I owe it to you all, friends. And so I sit at the keyboard and I breathe.
I feel and I write, I rejoice in the fact that I have this lively home. And that alone has brought me immense peace.

This is a home I turn to when it gets a little too dark, when I need to find my truest voice, when I need to know that I’m just a small human being still alive. Can you guess what happens then? Your lovely, lovely messages that make their way into my inbox remind me of why as a writer I carry a huge responsibility. Just like a doctor. Because words, too, can heal. They have healed me. So every time you tell me that my musings have touched you, or my words have lit your path in some way, or you’ve felt a little less lonely, or you’ve been able to wipe away your tears and smile with hope, I live. I live in the hope that through this home, maybe, someone, somewhere will live a little more easily, and feel a little less lonely, and maybe my words have been someone’s only friend today, and maybe a wound is now healing, and maybe then, I’ll be getting close to Him. Maybe.

To all the people who’ve willingly, lovingly made this home as cosy as they can, I thank you. To all the people who have ever asked me to write about something close to their heart, I thank you for helping me discover a new heartbeat. To all the people who have acknowledged this home (and you know who you are), I thank you for your kindness and your love – it means the world to me. Thank you for helping me see that the truest, most loyal form of love is a love that is kind, a love that links one human to another such that it lessens the burden of their souls, a love that will make everyone’s hearts smile, a love that is grateful.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I hope I do not disappoint you, friends!
Stay blessed!

 

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What internal medicine taught me

Internal medicine is supposed to be an intense rotation; it’s a little — neigh, a big chunk — of everything. Some gastrology, some pulmonology, some neurology. As students, when you are keenly learning how to perform various physical examinations on their patients and are keeping an eye out for findings leading to a correct diagnosis, you realise — again — what a miracle life really is, what a miracle our imperfect bodies are. From palpable livers that point towards hepatomegaly — a term used to describe an enlarged liver — to negative reflexes that make you think of neurological lesions. Add these up and you can not but help think of the million other ways a physical mishap could have wrecked your life. Does a realisation of gratitude hit you then? In another episode of an existential crisis, you also conclude that life is pretty funny, and pretty crazy, because amongst all the emotional turmoil that you ride through, behind all the sleepless nights spent tossing and turning in bed with a deep sense of loss giving you some good ol’ chest pain, there definitely is some grand Plan running your machinery – a Plan so complex and so perfect that a feeble mortal like you cannot comprehend even though you’ve given the next couple of generations some incredible physics theories and mathematical formulae. What an amazing terabyte of intelligence and intellect we have, isn’t it?

 

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Ziauddin University Hospital, KDLB

 

 

A hug from God

You’re having a bad day; you woke up late, bumped into the bathroom door and hurt your foot, had to skip breakfast and make do with only a cup of tea (it was very hot, it scalded your tongue!) and you get late for class where the professor’s scolding awaits you or your boss gives you some extra work. And in between all of this, you receive the bad, bad news of a personal loss that leaves you wanting to hide in your bed and cry your heart out. Everyone has these days — it’s just another season of your life. But how – amongst this heavy traffic noise – do you listen to the beautiful song composed by the birds? By asking for a hug from God.

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PHOTO CREDITS: https://www.instagram.com/lemonandscotch/

It’s a very, very strange experience, you know? Your eyes are closed, your breath quickens, your body goes stiff, your hands clutch at the blankets for dear life. Now, this is the moment: you don’t really know who you are talking to, but a voice that you don’t hear often speaks from within you and asks — hesitantly first, demanding later — for a hug from God. “I want something nice to happen. Now!” And then your phone beeps. What’s that? You wonder. A text message, of course. It says, “Hey! I’m back from my trip and guess what? I got you a surprise present! Can’t wait to meet you! :D” And you’re smiling!

Or the doorbell rings and you drag yourself to the door. It’s your neighbour. She dropped by to say hello because she hasn’t seen you in a while and was hoping you’re doing okay. You’re assuring her that you are when her one-year-old baby extends his arms towards you and gives you the sweetest hug — his tiny arms closely encircling your neck, like God telling you through this little angel that everything will be all right!
It’s been a year, yes, and I’m addicted to these hugs. It’s like sailing on the rough sea considering all that you have, to be the everything that you have. A little like Noah’s ark, maybe?

Look up! Your hug from God is waiting right there!

looking closely

 

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Photo credits: Haniya Ather (https://www.instagram.com/lemonandscotch/)

31.12.17 

Falling leaves, blooming flowers, chilly winds, the setting sun; losses suffered, friendships lost, new hopes, happy hearts – marking the end of the calendar has always been a bitter-sweet nostalgia, hasn’t it?

It seems very grand, all of it, like crossing the finish line and knowing that strangers – those who were, some who are now – and family alike are celebrating this with you. A moment in history. But what about your history? How do you time-mark that?

I stand in front of the mirror and look closely. I notice, for the first time, how important the eyelashes look as they curtain my eyes. The eyelids, too. How wonderfully they shade this natural Telescope from all that will irritate it! I also realise that without that nose and those nostrils, I wouldn’t be able to tell if there’s a fire somewhere around me, threatening to burn down the tangible assets as I sit with my back to it. And these ears! What fine equipment have I been owning in ignorance!

I can see the sun setting outside the window and I am jolted back to a reality that I – like so many of you – have been struggling to come to terms with: these little things, this sentinel that I’ve so turbulently discovered and that takes the soul to uncharted terrains and makes me fall harder in love with my Creator with each passing realisation, each beat of my heart, each sigh that I heave, is perhaps, my most prized possession. The past that I’m living right now ought to be one I can proudly, happily recall – not just today and tomorrow, but also when I’m standing in front of the Great Presence.

So I think I’ll say hello to the dawn of 2018 with a promise to be kinder, gentler, more helpful, more patient, more loving, more empathetic, more grateful, more hardworking than the Arfa who said slept under the sky of 2017; to be the person that I was sent down to be, to perhaps, be the Light that I have received. So as we set out on another new adventure, I wish you all a year of happiness, love, and peace!

‘And which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’ (55:38; The Quran)

See Thyself.

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The curves of the ‘y’s and the ‘g’s, the pattern of the black ink against the whiteness of the paper, the flow of thoughts imprinting its confidence on the sheets; these are a tangible proof of a life that is worth living, proving to oneself that we think, we breathe, we live. The beauty of using pen and paper to set free of what is within you has always intrigued me. And it is because of this enigmatic fascination that I often find myself writing down reminders of what my mind unapologetically weaves.

‘See Thyself.” is a classic example of one such reminder – this poem was penned down only to adorn the cover of my notebook. If it had not been for a very dear friend, who upon accidentally reading it had exclaimed with wondrous, sparkling eyes that this was her favorite from all of my earlier attempts at poetry, it would not have lived to see the status of a blog publication.

For you, my friend:

The pitter patter of the rain,
Makes puddles on the blotched ground.
It mirrors your face,
And what you see surprises you.

Eyes that are illuminated with hope,
A nose shouting stubbornness.
Determination outlining your mouth.
A cherubic softness masking the ugliness of battles lost.

But was it a lost battle?
Do scars judge thy success?

You are alive, are you not?
You are flying, are you not?
You are the progeny of strength and love.
You are the destiny of happiness and success.
You are the past of a glory that reigns supreme.
You are an infinite testimonial to the trivial autumn of life.

Smile through the cracked mirrors.
Wink at unforeseen swords.
Shy away from nothing.
chest la Guerre everything.

It is summoning you,
Reaching out for you,
Wading towards you.
It is emotive.
But it is celestial.
Ahoy, it is magic!

Turn it away not!
Incarcerate yourself no more.
Soar away.
Swim away!

‘Tis sonorous of colors.
And the clock is ticking away.
Wait no more.
Embrace the enchantment that is yours.

Listen to the rustling of the leaves.
Watch the flight of birds.
Feel the flow of water.
Hug the gush of wind.

They are yours.
You are theirs.
D’accord?

 

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining…..

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“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.” ― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich.

Disappointments and failures are meant to make us or break us. That is the rule of life.

When hopes and dreams remain unfulfilled,pessimism takes over. Depression becomes difficult to fight. A paralyzing feeling of helplessness and despair cocoons us. And we complain. Those of us who believe in God, complain to Him.

We very conveniently turn a blind eye to all of His blessings and complain. Why did He not give us what we want? Why did he do this to us? Why?

Why?

Because He loves us more than the people who gave birth to us. Because His plans are always the best.

When we ask our parents to fulfill a certain wish of ours, and they do not do so because either their pocket does not allow since our health care and education are more important, or they truly believe that it is not good for us; they do feel the pain of turning down our wishes. Yes, they do.

Then God, who loves us more than our parents, must truly believe that something is certainly not in the best of our interests, before deciding not to grant it. And yes, He definitely does not like to see His creations in pain. He must know that that particular wish is parallel to poison for us. Therefore, He does not grant it. Simple, isn’t it?

Now that calls for an expression of gratitude, not thanklessness. It is hard. It is very hard to thank Him for not granting a wish that we had been praying for with each breath, for not making things easier. Courage; infinite courage, strength of character and a blind faith in Him is what we need; the courage to just let things go with the flow….And in return, He must have something greater in store for us. He never fails to compensate us. Never. He rewards us for our patience and for wishes and dreams unfulfilled.

We need to thank Him for saving us from the inferno that we had chosen for ourselves, and for gifting us with greater glories.

Someone may have done this before you, and they must have surely embraced peace and an overwhelming sense of achievement while doing so. Because we humans need something to hang on to..something that reverberates hope. Otherwise, we will turn into bodies of flesh and blood whose souls will have committed suicide the moment despair hit them. That is not how life goes on. We must live our life. Not drift through it.

Optimism is an essential tool to carve our future with. And pessimism? A disease. An insect; the termite that feeds on the happiness in our lives and leaves us empty and hollow from inside. It paralyses us, leaving us devoid of a peremptory sense of responsibility and any feelings of gaiety. And that tantamounts to admitting defeat. Full points to Roger Crawford for his golden words : “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” How about we tick off ‘defeat’ from all our options? And that is how we write our own destiny.

“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience.

We also need to stop dwelling in our past. We must learn from our mistakes and move on.

Our past is what makes us what we are today, and what we will be tomorrow. There is no escaping that.

And finally, “Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.” ― John Steinbeck, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights.

Life is already very complicated; a spider’s web. What is ours, is ours. Never in a million years will it be anyone else’s. Let us not complicate life further.

How do we know what is ours and what is not ours? Maybe that is the spelling of the enigma that we call ‘Life’.