This miracle is mine

So my older two.. R & R are both quite amused with my routine here in Lahore at my parents’ place. During breakfast Daughter remarked:

“mama you’re really enjoying your break!”

me: from what beta?

“from the kitchen!” (Cue: surge of joy)

Then later on son noticed how I was sitting relaxed reading a book and drinking tea, which I didn’t have to make. He noticed from the other room, grinned and said:

“mama… Maujen!!!!” (Cue: pinching myself to make sure it’s real)

Spending time with parents, friends, and focusing on myself. Please excuse this bout of narcissism quite unbecoming of a mother… but mauj indeed!

Nearing 40 and at times feeling like the Wicked Witch of the West crumpled under the woes of the indignant modern life…. this carefree/short-lived spurt of life while visiting my parents, is uncanny. Magical. And this urgency, this feeling that if I close my eyes, the bubble will burst. It’s nothing I’ve experienced before. A few years ago if you’d have asked me, I might have put it differently. But now. I know enough of life’s fickle abandonment. And I choose to be entranced in this spell for as long as I can. To hold on to every speck of the fairy dust.

As mothers we always want our little ones to learn from experiences. It’s good if they realize certain things in life sooner, right? That these little pleasures you get at your parents’ home are a big deal. The real deal. Especially after you’ve officially graduated on to real life. And also happen to live continents away. It strikes you like lightening. But I know. This is an abundance of life-text for them at this point. And it’d be unfair to want them to turn into little know-it-all Socrates. Let them savour these years of ‘taking it all for granted’, I say. Though I never leave the chance to shake my finger at them whilst lecturing about ‘being grateful.’ But who am I kidding? Let them celebrate life’s blissful ignorance. Some things, if they are fortunate enough, will come in their due time.

Though years from now… I suspect(replace at your discretion : secretly pray) I may ask them to visit. I may ask them to take a break and unwind at their parents’ home. I hope they’ll look forward to coming. As much as I always do. And when they visit, I hope I do justice. And make them feel safe and happy. No matter how old, or whichever way their lives unfold.

So maybe that’s when they will understand these little pleasures. Luxury that is almost a God given right at your parents’ home. No matter how rich or poor, the comfort found behind those closed doors, between a mother’s embrace and a father’s doting gaze, is a miracle.

In an era where feelings, emotions, care and regard are sidelined. Where material worth outweighs all other measures of humanity. Where we doubt everything we do and want to do it another way. The better way. The way they show us online or on TV. Because doubt sells, doubt makes money. Where purity is outdated. And selflessness is archaic. It is important to remember there is a home. Filled with people who would go to ends of the Earth for you. People who will love you with all your cracks and potholes (no pun intended). Who will love you even if you’re a full grown woman who seems to know it all. But she never does. Definitely not at her parents’ home.

I feel like an old Windows Desktop. The one we’d smack on the head to get it to reboot, with dust flying off. That’s me. Rebooted ‘n Revived. So I don’t know about other people. And what they say about miracles and magic. But this safe haven is about me. And where I came from. Tucked between childhood pictures. In furniture as old as I am. In countless hazy memories. In old faces. In familiar places. This life away from life. This miracle is mine.

To the kid at the park, I owe you a hug.


I can’t seem to get his face out of my mind. That lost, indifferent look. That look that wanted to be understood. That day at the park.

Summers are finally here in Toronto, and I’d be an outright cruel mom if I didn’t take my children to the park often. So this is exactly what I was doing that day. Sitting back on a bench while my wee ones played around. Now as a parent I don’t hover. I let the munchkins run about and make friends on their own. An occasional interference is called for when my toddler decides to run towards the street.

So my son was playing with a boy he hadn’t met at the park before. He must have been a year or two older than my daughter but definitely younger than my son. He seemed like a good kid and was enjoying trying out my son’s bike. My daughter decided to join the two and somehow she got the little dude all curious. He started running after her and then blocked her way towards the slide and anywhere else she wanted to go. I watched for a while then decided to head over. I could tell that he wanted to play with her but he was doing it all wrong. I casually told him to take turns with the slide. He let her through. I backed off and it started again. I could tell my daughter was getting a bit bothered. So I told him, ” Hey buddy, please share and don’t block her way.” He just looked at me. By now my paranoid-hovering-mom syndrome had completely taken over. I waited a bit longer to see if he would stop. I had seen a middle-aged man telling him to stay inside the confines of the park a while ago. So when he didn’t stop, I decided the oldest threat in the book would work. Of course I had no plans to but I still said, “I think I should talk to your dad.” To which he replied,

“I have no dad.”

Now this is the moment where all the blood drained from my face, an unnerving string of music began playing in the background, and I felt absolutely distraught. I leaned forward to hug the little kid and somehow vowed to help him. If it were a movie of course.

Unfortunately this was real life, and I was totally unprepared to handle such a response. I asked,

“Who do you live with?”

” I don’t know.”

“Where do you live?”

” Oh somewhere there”, he pointed across from the park.

And that was that. It was unbearably windy that day and with all the sand in my eyes and maybe even my brain, I couldn’t think straight. It was time to head home.

I thought about him all evening. I felt bad about threatening him like a tattle tale preschooler. I felt even worse about him going back to a home that he didn’t even know about , and a father he had no idea of. I wondered what his story was. Whatever it was, one of the main characters was missing. Possibly even the other protagonist too, the mom.

Isn’t this how it all starts? An unruly child that no one understands. A boy or a girl who acts out and gets rude stares and comments in return? An unknown dad, a missing mom, or neither?! A broken family where most pieces are beyond recovery. Do we stop to think why a child is acting this way? What’s eating him inside? What’s missing in his or her life? No. We don’t. We just pounce at the chance to show our superiority because we may have oh-so well-behaved children, and that gives us the right to judge another child. Just like that.

Isn’t this how bullies are formed? Instead of empathizing, the society reacts negatively and with intolerance. Sure this doesn’t mean that out of undue sympathy we should let kids get away with bullying or misbehaviour. But it does mean that we should not label them with that one belittling word or action. It does mean that there are other ways to handle a disturbed child besides hate. How can we expect children to understand their wrong actions where all we give them in return is harsh rebuke and lack of faith?

We don’t like giving others second chances. It’s always easier to label a person, even a child, for what he or she does, and not for what he or she is. That’s where the messed up cycle begins. One doesn’t understand the other. And inevitably, ‘that kid’ becomes the outcast; a lost cause; all are names we use to satisfy our egos. Because this somehow excuses us from the responsibility that we might have towards such children. It makes us pack our bags, shrug our shoulders and run back to our homes  pretending that none of it is our concern. Exactly like I what I did that day. I judged him in my head without thinking things through, I acted all self-righteous and then ran away like a scared mouse.

I know that it’s not all this simple. There are always a zillion other factors involved. I am no expert, but I know that it all starts from home. No child is born a bully or a miscreant. It’s life and people like you and me who push the wrong buttons.

I hope I see that kid again though I am not sure what I’ll do. I’ll always jump to protect my children, that bit will never change. But at least I’ll know better than to play a presumptuous role.

Maybe if I see him acting up again, I’ll stop him and just give him a hug.

And maybe, just maybe, he’d understand why it was important to listen to what I was saying. Not because he had to. But because I cared enough.

Wednesday Wiseness: Funny Hair. A Not-so-funny life.

My nose is like a mountain, in-your-face-kind-of unavoidable. My dark skin makes me want to go through a permanent whitewash. My skin colour is ghastly transparent, like a cross between Casper and Aloe vera gel.  I have crooked teeth, strung together like abstract art. I have a pimple brigade fighting for territory on my face. My chin has its own continent. I’m thinking of using my scrawny hands and feet for a scarecrow business. I’ve decided to rent out my butt, it’s taking up too much space.

Are those some things we grew up saying or thinking about? Maybe our versions weren’t disguised in such light-hearted banter. Maybe our versions were more alive, more heart-breaking, and more horrific.

What makes us turn on ourselves like parasites? There is one answer that makes more sense than others. It begins real close. At home. At School. At a friend or relative’s place. In the playground. At the mall. It begins in our bedrooms, in the kitchens, with permanent abodes in our bathrooms; where the mirror plays a huge supporting role.

And this is how it starts. Replace the characters, plot, dialogues and setting, but the heart of the story remains eerily similar.

One fine day, a happy little toddler becomes a pre-schooler. Subtle sparks of thought and the alien concepts of comprehension begin to sprout in that little head. It almost feels like spring, with so much to marvel at and discover, until it doesn’t.

“You have funny hair“, says a friend, on an unfortunate day, to the unfortunate little lady. Nearby class fellows gather around, make a circle and start snickering and pointing.

Sure, her defences creep up, like mutated tree roots, sheltering from outside crap. She might say something mean in return. She might even push or shove, feigning bravery. She might stay silent and act as if it doesn’t bother her.  Oh, but it does. It bugs her bad. Her defences are not strong enough to shield her from the worst critic of them all, herself. That remark right there and then, imprints a painful and permanent bruise, like a medieval branding iron meant for lifelong torture. Next time the girl stands in front of the mirror, with half-opened eyes, trying to brush her milky-teeth, she notices her hair. For the first time. And she doesn’t like what she sees.

Family isn’t too welcoming either. As she adds a few inches to her height, squiggly strands transform into frizzy monsters. Or so her siblings say, in between occasional teasing ventures by other loved ones. She smiles at first. The second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth,…millionth time too. But then she doesn’t.

She painfully sheds her pre-puberty skin and discovers the world of, and for, the ‘pretty’. Makeup. Clothes. Fashion. But the pin bursting her bubble is always her hair. She wants to show-off her pretty-card. She is desperate.

Then, she discovers magic. A device that could crease out the ugliness. She saves up her pocket-money and birthday money to buy her enchanting wand. She turns thirteen with her new best friend safely tucked in her bathroom cupboard. Her hair straightener.

She straightens her hair more than she eats. More than she laughs. More than she cries. Because she can’t imagine stepping out of her room with Medusa-like entities hanging over her head. She sometimes hates her hair so much that it hurts her heart. And unknowingly, her hair too.

Along with the hair hazard, she gathers other common inflictions of her age, like insects on sugar. The weight bug. The skin bug. The voice bug. Her self-esteem melts away, like the wicked witch of the West. Wicked, because it is a cowardly, sad little excuse of an emotion that is too weak to stand up for itself.

  One day, she opens up to an old friend. With tears blurring her pupils, she says that her hair’s as dead as a door. And that she sometimes thinks of letting it stay in its natural form. But when she  catches a glimpse of her burnt mop in her bathroom mirror, she quickly reaches for the straightener.

She tells her friend that she doesn’t have the strength to fight.

She never did.

Or, that fateful day many years ago, she would have gone back and told her mom and dad everything. And if her parents had the hindsight, they would have convinced her that she had the best hair in the world. And that she should never let anyone make her feel otherwise.

Next day, the girl would have gone back to school, a bit scared but ready to take on the world with her funny hair. 







Wednesday Wiseness: Children run after the simplest of things with the seriousness of the world

Ever notice how children run after the simplest of things with the seriousness of the world? Maybe we can learn a thing or two from them about sincerity and devotion. Nothing is insignificant or unworthy of attention in their eyes. They give it their all despite a limited attention span. 

Scribbling with crayons like a little Picasso

Watching cartoons as if witnessing the Apocalypse

Planting a flower in the backyard like a caring parent

Jumping on the bed like a trained astronaut in space

Asking questions like an avid historian

Who says children need to grow up? They are brilliant and perfect just the way they are.

It’s us ‘adults’ who need to ‘grow-up’ a little less.

So what have you noticed in your children (or grandchildren) that takes your breath away?


National Blog Posting Month - November 2014

I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of In their own words:

“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”

I will write every day of November. This is my fifth post.

#NaBloPoMo – Day 5