Amar Bail

A plant of eternity

Being with your Mother

Posted by Haris Gulzar on January 17, 2011

I copied the following from the shared items of a friend. This is worth reading…
After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie.
She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would Love to spend some time with you.”


The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my Mother, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally.
That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.
“What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.
My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news.
“I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.”
She thought about it for a moment and then said, “I would like that very much.”
That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up, I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s.
“I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son and they were impressed,” she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”
We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady.
After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half-way through the entrees, I lifted my eyes and saw Mother sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips.
“It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said.
“Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded.
During the dinner , we had an agreeable conversation nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie.
As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.”
I agreed.
“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home.
“Very nice, much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.
A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her.
Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place Mother and I had dined. An attached note said:
“I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but, nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”
At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: ‘I love YOU’ and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve.
Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till some “other” time.

Posted in Adopted | 19 Comments »

Those who matter – 4

Posted by Haris Gulzar on December 26, 2010

13th of February 2010. A meeting over lunch that lasted hardly ninety minutes, made the time to come, for me at least, so full of lessons, and hence full of life, that I feel blessed to have attended that get together. The post I wrote about that get together can be found HERE (and this also is one of my favorite posts). I met a friend after sixteen years, and I use the word friend here because we obviously stayed good friends after that meeting, but even on that day, we recalled each other so clearly that I have to say she was unconsciously a friend of mine for all these years.

She wore such a nicely done scarf, a burqa, and such an unforgettable and a positive smile that made her look so hopeful and full of life, even after what she had gone through. I couldn’t, by any means, tell if she was dying, although she did look ill and that was maybe because of the chemotherapy and the radiations she went through for two years. In fact I even thought she was now recovering, and whatever illness it was, had left her for good. That is what the impression that meeting with her left on me, until late summers…

She had a story to tell. A long story, that she witnessed in a short span of time. Well, it was probably short for everyone else, but I can feel how long it might have been for her. A story about life, a story about the changing faces of this world and the materialistic people living in it, a story about how one beautiful face that used to be the reason of love for someone, turned into the reason of hatred for that same person. A story about how the inner beauty of someone becomes so meaningless. And this story was exactly something that makes my life after that get together so full of lessons.

I once got a text from her that read “Have you ever cried by yourself? Late at night when no one is around, and you feel your soul tearing apart itself, as your tears felt with defeating sound?”. This, for me, says a lot…

Those ninety minutes is all I have as a memory of a great friend. A friend who taught me what life meant. A friend who taught me what hope was all about. A friend, who could so perfectly fake a smile, that I now realize how difficult it must have been for her at that time. A friend who loved her children just so much that she would even mention her children enjoying Ice-Cream. A friend, who probably became one of my best friends in those ninety minutes. A friend, who I’ve missed for the past one month, who I’m missing right now, and who I’ll miss for my life. Those ninety minutes was what made her matter for me…

HERE is a post about how she passed away. May her soul rest in peace. Ameen.

Posted in English | 5 Comments »

The Story of Appreciation

Posted by Haris Gulzar on December 13, 2010

I’m copying it from a friends note on Facebook; again 🙂

— One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.

He passed the first interview, the director did the last interview, made the last decision.

The director discovered from the CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent all the way,from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score good grades.

The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" the youth answered "None."

The director asked, " Was it your father who paid for your school fees?"The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees." The director asked, "Where did your mother work?"The youth answered, "My mother worked as clothes cleaner."The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, " Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?"

The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me."

The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning."

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid.

The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly.His tear fell as he did that.It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, asked: "Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?"

The youth answered, "I cleaned my mother’s hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes."

The Director asked, "Please tell me your feelings."

The youth said,Number 1, I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not be the successful me today.Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done. Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, "This is what I am looking for to be my manager."

I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company’s performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent’s efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?

You can let your kid live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is your kid learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.

Posted in English | 4 Comments »

The Dream – A Short Story

Posted by Haris Gulzar on December 8, 2010

I’m copying the following from a friend’s note on Facebook. I found it totally worth sharing.

–Once upon a time there was a man in the jungle enjoying a nice day watching the equatorial lush green foliage and the exotic animal life. Suddenly, the man heard the movement of a lion behind him and so ran for his life. But the man couldn’t escape and came face to face with the lion. As he was thinking quickly of another way to escape, he saw a deep well to his right. His options were narrowed between drowning in the well and being chewed by the hungry lion.

The man decided to jump into the well hoisting himself with a rope tied to the top of the well for drawing water. As he reached the bottom of the well, the man saw a huge man-eating snake taking a nap at the bottom; the man pulled himself up in the middle of the well, suspended between a hungry lion on the top and a sleeping snake at the bottom.

Meanwhile the man noticed that two mice, one black and one white were chewing the rope he was hanging on, making it thinner and thinner. The man began to swing with the rope hitting the sides of the walls of the well periodically. Suddenly he felt something sticky on his shoulder, as he examined what it was, he found that it was honey. Upon looking around the well he noticed a bee colony on the wall of the well.

The man forgot the dangerous situation he was involved in and started licking the honey to his satisfaction. He suddenly remembered where he was and jumped out of bed. The man was dreaming all along. The man went to a Sheikh to interpret his dream. The Sheikh laughed and asked him: “You do not understand this dream?” The man replied “Yes sir, I do not.”

The Sheikh said “The lion that was chasing you is the Angel of Death. The well which housed the snake is your grave. The rope in the well that you were hanging on is your lifetime ticking away. The Rodents chewing your rope, the black and the white mice are the day and the night. The man asks “The honey, Sir, What is the honey?” The Sheikh replied “The honey is the life of this world and its temptations which made you forget that there was death behind you and a grave ahead of you. You end up in the grave while savoring the taste of the honey until you find yourself standing trial for your deeds in a Court of Law of the most Just kind.

The above narration was just intended to remind us that we are also busy licking the honey (lost in the temptations of this world) while our life time is ticking away. Some day (sooner or later) we will also face the angel of death and will be carried to our grave!

Say: “Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do.” {Surat Al-Jumu`ah, Verse 8}

Think and Reflect.

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From where I see it

Posted by Haris Gulzar on November 26, 2010


But I was wrong. You win. You beat her, or probably she let you beat her. Probably she accepted defeat herself. Maybe you were too much for her, though I’m sure she gave you a tough fight. Two and a half years, long surgeries, all sorts of medicines, frequent visits to the hospital and staying admitted there at times, bearing all those pains that are easier to talk about but extremely difficult to feel, not eating anything that might have ignited you again, it isn’t easy you know. She was definitely very strong. You were almost asleep for good, but then you woke up, only to prove her strength was not enough…

But hey cancer, don’t you see the tears a father has in his eyes after losing his princess? Don’t you see how broken he feels? Don’t you see him bursting into tears all of a sudden? Don’t you see how shaken he is with what you have done? A father who, she used to tell me, loved her more than anyone else. She told me, if there was anyone to go to the extremes of doing something for her, it would be her father. Someone who could do whatever it took only to make his daughter smile. But you don’t see all of this do you? You just don’t know how terrible it is for a father to see his child lying dead in front of him. For you, it’s only your strength to prove isn’t it?

And you don’t even see the confusion on the face of a five year old boy who wakes up the next morning and doesn’t find his mother around him. Who doesn’t even know why isn’t he being sent to the school. Who doesn’t know who to call if he needs a feeder of milk, or wants to get cleaned after getting his pants wet. And you certainly don’t see the tears a three year old girl has in her eyes, not because her mother is not living anymore, but only because everyone around her is crying. This child wouldn’t even know what actually happened. She wouldn’t know where her mother went and if she’s ever coming back or not. You just don’t care do you?

And I’m sure you are least concerned with what a mother felt when she was told her daughter is no more. With what a brother and a sister felt when they came to know about the death of their eldest sibling, and no doubt, you’re least concerned with whatever each individual associated with her felt when the news of her death broke. You’re just concerned with winning aren’t you? You just know your strength. But is it what you call winning? Is this how you defeat people? If only you had feelings, I’m sure you’d be ashamed of yourself today.

You haven’t won Mr. Cancer, you might have shown your strength alright, but this isn’t a win. She might have been beaten, but this is not a victory for you. In fact, from where I’m seeing it, you’ve actually lost. I’m just so proud of my friend to have fought with you, and to have fought so well. You’ve lost Mr. Cancer, you’ve lost…

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The two sides

Posted by Haris Gulzar on October 24, 2010

There are always the two sides to every action we do, or every decision we make. One is what our mind thinks should be done, and the other is what our heart asks us to do. The two paths our mind and heart wants us to choose may not always differ, but they may not always be the same either. More often than not, the paths differ when it is about another person related to you, when you want to save a relationship, when you want to trust and compromise, and when you want to explain your point or be explained by the other person…

We are humans. Mind vs Heart We make mistakes and we know that we cannot be perfect. Still, we expect others to be perfect, we expect perfect love, we expect perfect trust, perfect friendship, 100% possession and what not, and we demand for explanations if the other person doesn’t come up to our expectations. This behavior I think is natural, and this is where the two sides come into play. Expectations is what our heart has. Perfectness is what our heart desires, loving and being loved is to do with heart. Trusting a person involves the heart of the person who is putting his trust into another person. These concepts are all abstract and only understood by a heart. They probably don’t have anything logical in them. You might still trust someone even after being betrayed. You might still love someone even after being hurt. You might still care for someone even if you don’t get care in return. Seems absurd, but I’d say this is natural. Against this, your mind might think to take revenge, to hurt the person who hurt you, or to leave alone the person who doesn’t care for you. Our heart lives in a perfect world where there is nothing logical, whereas our mind puts logic in our decisions.

A few days back I wrote a post titled Explanations and got different comments on that post. Different point of views I must say, for those comments open to us the different ways of thinking people engage themselves in. One of the comments I got to that post said that people even lose their friendship and don’t listen and make stupid assumptions based on something told by someone else. I just can’t agree more to this comment, for the reason to this behavior, I think, is the conflict between heart and mind. Your heart doesn’t expect that person to do what you heard was done by the other person, but your mind wants to take revenge and puts those stupid assumptions before you. You want explanations from that person, something your mind desires, whereas the other person expects you to understand without any explanations, something that the heart desires.

My friend Ali Adnan wrote a post titled Perfect Trust in reply to my post. This post, I think sort of answers the points put forward by him. My friend says perfectness is not meant for this world, whereas I’d say, perfectness IS meant for this world, its just that this world itself has two sides to it, one where our mind lives, a world of logic that is, and one where our heart dwells, the world of perfectness…

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Posted by Haris Gulzar on October 14, 2010

I have always believed that trust is the basic component in a successful relationship. Where there is trust, there is understanding, and there is compromise. This trust takes away all chances of Explanations coming in at any point in time in a successful relationship. Obviously, this trust has to be practiced from both ends for the relationship to work out…

But is it practically possible to always trust and be trusted in return? There are times when a doubt in a person’s mind asks for some explanations. But does it mean that the trust is fading away? Or can this explanation be a means to strengthen the trust even more? I once read a quotation that went something like “Never explain, for those who understand don’t need it, and those who need it won’t understand anyway” by Elbert Hubbard. I sort of believed in this quotation. Why would you need to explain your point to someone you expect to understand things themselves? And if you don’t think they’ll understand, are they even important? If you expect them to understand you, they should be the one telling you that they know your point and you don’t need to explain it, and if it is you having to explain why you did whatever you did, you first need to think if the person you’re explaining your point to is even worth your explanation.

But now I think I have a changed perspective. Although I still don’t have any counter arguments for having understanding in a relationship, but I think there are times when a person should be given a second chance. A chance to explain his point and to prove himself innocent. Although, as I said above, having to prove your point and having to explain your situation puts a big dent in your existing relationship, but it can even prove to be a last resort to save a relationship. Not explaining and waiting for others to understand things themselves would probably put a bigger dent. Though one should try and avoid any situation where there are explanations required, but if need be, I think, one should not hesitate to put some trust back in the relationship and explain his/her point, for losing a relationship is a bigger loss than not having to explain…

Posted in English | 14 Comments »

Social Networking

Posted by Haris Gulzar on September 23, 2010

I’m not sure if the social networking websites we have had in the past few years have really helped us grow our social networks or not, but I guess it definitely has had an impact on the way we used to socialize previously. A good impact or a bad impact, that’s for us to decide…

I didn’t know much about MySpace. For me, it started off with Orkut. Having an Orkut account at the time it was launched was thought to be in style. A person was considered famous if he had an Orkut account and if he could send out 4 invites (That’s what the limit was if I remember correctly). 235 I got my invitation sent by a cousin and I felt like a super star when I tried finding many of my friends there only to come to know they didn’t have an account yet. Back then, whoever had more friends on Orkut was considered to be more social. Having more than a 100 friends on Orkut was like achieving a milestone. It didn’t matter if the people you had as your friends were actually your friends or not. And then Orkut also had an option of marking people as an acquaintance, a friend, or a very good friend, so that sort of justified having far off acquaintances to be added as friends as well. The scrapbook and the comparisons people used to make about the number of scraps they had. The birthday reminder feature, the photo sharing feature and other similar features were new and hence attracted a lot of traffic.

Then came Hi5, though for a short time only I guess. Right when it started gaining popularity and when it was getting into the lives of everyone just the way Orkut had, Facebook came into action, and that too with a lot more features than even Orkut was offering. Facebook defined social networking a completely new way. Although chat was not launched with facebook initially, but the addition of chat feature from within facebook worked wonders for facebook. Developers could build applications, account holders could do whatever previous social networking websites offered plus a lot more. You could write notes and upload videos as well. There were applications like the Graffitti that were very famous initially. 290 Then there were features like tagging people in pictures and in notes. The privacy features were supposedly better than Orkut until recently. The feature of making events and inviting friends, making groups and pages etc, the embedded emails and similar features made a facebook user stick to facebook. In short, Facebook proved to be something people were eagerly waiting for.

As the case was with Orkut, things didn’t change much with Facebook either. The way people added friends remained the same. The race to have more and more friends continued on Facebook as well. People used to remind their acquaintances when and how they met and why they should be friends on Facebook. Being friends on facebook with your real life friends was considered to be equivalent to keeping in touch with them, although the frequency of interactions, as I see it, declined exponentially. Keeping in touch with friends through facebook chat or writing on facebook wall was considered enough, and an occasional comment on a shared picture or a video meant you care for that friend. Keeping up to date with friends now is as simple as signing in to facebook.

But the question still remains. Has Orkut, Hi5, facebook or even twitter for that matter, really helped us improve our social networks? Has it improved the way we interact with our friends and acquaintances? Has it helped us socialize more than we did previously? Have the applications such as games on facebook helped us interact more with people we didn’t interact with previously? Have these social networking websites had a positive impact on our lives?

Posted in English | 22 Comments »

An Alternate to Love

Posted by Haris Gulzar on September 16, 2010

Love. One word, but it has several definitions. Each one of us defines love our own way. We see it differently, we react to it differently, but at the base of it, there is this common feeling of care and affection that stays the same for everyone. Love, in essence, is a feeling…

This is what I thought about love. 141I thought love is a concept that cannot be replaced by any material object. I thought love is abstract, but just like there are several ways this “concept” can be defined, there are several shapes this “concept” can take. Sadly enough, these different shapes of this “concept” are taking away the feel out of it, and making this “concept” a more material thing rather than an abstract thing. The common feeling of love is now being replaced by the uncommon material things of this world.

Feelings show themselves. Without being explicit in your action or words, you can show that you care, that you love. But then people thought they needed a token of appreciation, something physical that others could remember for long, something that could remind people someone loved and cared for them. They started giving gifts. Even though a gift was something material, but the feeling behind that gift was what actually mattered instead of the price tag behind that gift. But then people wanted to show they love “more” than others, or that they care “more” now than they did before. They started sending expensive gifts. The price tag started to represent the associated feelings.

Now that the “value” of the gift was becoming important, people started having a shift in priorities. People now wanted to work more so that they could earn more and give more to others, only to show they care. To work more, they needed more time that they ultimately had to extract from the time they used to give to their families. More money started flowing in to the household. 115 The wife has more to spend, and supposedly, she is happier than she was before. The children have more to spend and even they are happier. The family picnics and gatherings decreased because everyone got busy in the race to show they care. The family dramas that all members of the household waited eagerly for and watched together are no more watched together. Almost each member of the household has his/her own television to watch whatever he/she wants to. Housewives thought they needed to give a helping hand to their husbands and need to find jobs, so that their family could be happier. Maids were paid higher to “love” the kids even more. Although love was still there, but the shape of it was changing. The feeling behind it, the essence of love, was fading away…

I thought there was no alternate to love. I thought no feeling or no material thing could replace love. But I think I was wrong. Money has so easily become an alternate to love, that it is now considered if you don’t have money, you cannot really love or care. This material world has found an alternate to love…

Posted in English | 13 Comments »

The Spellings

Posted by Haris Gulzar on September 4, 2010

I have noticed that many people are sensitive about the way others spell their names. This includes me. Although I once heard that the spellings of nouns do not matter, but I guess they do for the person concerned…

My late friend Muhammad Umar Khan was so very conscious about the way his name was spelt. He would make sure his name had the initial Muhammad included as his first name and was spelt with a ‘U’ and not with an ‘O’. As in, only Umar Khan was not OK for him. And Umar also had to start with a ‘U’ and not an ‘O’, and it had to have an ‘A’ in it as well. The other forms of Umar, like Omer, Omar, or even Umer were not acceptable to him :-). Similarly, I had a friend who spelt his name as Ale, although it was pronounced as Ali. This makes me wonder how the simplest of names can be made complex :-P.

I don’t know why but it irritates me as well if someone spells my name with double ‘R’ instead of a single ‘R’. With two ‘R’s, my name sounds like an English name :-P, and it seems that a lot of accent has to be put in if two Rs have to be pronounced in my name. To me, just plain and simple, single ‘R’ name looks so beautiful :-). I make it a point to explicitly correct anyone who uses two Rs in my name…

This list goes on and on. This is not only the case with males, but female names can be made equally complex. Take for example Mariam. It can be spelled as Mariyam, Meriyam, Maryam,  and what not. Similarly Javaria and Sumaira can have a lot many permutations as well :-P. I even know people who would argue if their name should be spelled exactly the way it sounds in Urdu. Muneeba is one example. In Urdu, the sound this name ends with is that of an ‘H’, hence Muneeba should rather be Muneebah. Sounds good for an argument, No?

Are you sensitive about the spellings of your name? Does it irritate you when others spell your name differently than how you do it?

Posted in English | 21 Comments »