Friday, December 7, 2018

Bint e Hawwa Ka NauLakha Charkha

I was recently exposed to a communication, with over one thousand contributions (all by Pakistani women), about 'Working women can't really manage to run the house effectively. It is very difficult'.

It's been a few days, but something or the other keeps popping up that conversation. And for the first time I am aware of how many people ACTUALLY engage in such a topic. I thought I should share my POV here as well. :)

So read ahead at your own risk. #RantAlert.

To be honest, few discussions have made me this angry. I think it is quite unfair (and absolutely unnecessary) to compare the lives of stay at home women and working women. Both have their individual battles. Both have their own demons to slay.

Regardless of how one chooses to define one's "working women" demarcation, what made me utterly upset have been dozens of exhibits of, totally uncalled for, hostility towards the working mothers and I found them utterly embarrassing. I mean what good is your I-the-satti-sawittari claim if all you can do is being riled up when any other woman gets praised for her contributions to her family? Let's keep our moral judgement to ourselves. Apnay ander kay Khadim Rizvi ko qaboo kar lain hum sab tou bahir bhi Khadim Rizvi ko followers nahi milain gay.

Life IS tiresome.

Plan your week - irrespective of your working status. I've been a single parent, a working mom, and a care taker of an old parent. I've run a business, I've worked from home, and I've also done a 9-5 job. I can confirm that life IS tiresome.


Note down your weekly tasks. Make friends with keeping written notes.

Cut down on needless communication that adds nothing to your ilm or amal or eeman. I repeat - C u t d o w n on bekaar ki jhak jhak. (Every group at my WhatsApp, other than my work group with my offshore team, is at mute. Has been on mute for years now. If that gives you an idea!) This will free a lot of your mental space leaving you less stressed, less occupied. Believe me no one dies by missing on gossip or Why-I-hate-XYZ tales or PCNick-Shadi-Kitni-Dair-Chalay-Gi estimates.

Allot time chunks for things that matter.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, learn self discipline.

Find real life examples who spark positivitiy in you; who inspire you to be more; to be a better version of yourself; who fill you with motivation.

Make your craft - however YOU choose to define your craft - a badge of your value, and wear it proudly.

Rab sab ki mushkilain aasaan farmaey, aur humain apnay apnay goals main surkh-roo karay. Ameen.

Image Credits: Momin And Shaista Artworks

23 Principles of Virtue from Maxims of Ptahhotep

Disclaimer: What follows is mostly borrowed text from the textual archives available online. My contribution to it has not exceeded the editing. 

Ptahhotep (ptāħ ħwtp) was a  Vizier in the ancient Egypt. He was recognized as a sage, city administrator, and oldest son of Djedkare Isesi, the fifth dynasty ruler (r. 2414-2375 BCE). The Maxims of Ptahhotep were composed during 24th century BC . These maxims are one of several “wisdom” texts found in ancient Egypt typically composed in narrative form. In this text, a father and famous sage instructs his son. This particular set of precepts, however, stands out because they touch upon the most important aspects of human relations and yet the most central ideals for which members of this African kingdom held in high regard. In that kingdom, members of society were measured by the principles of self-control, moderation, kindness, generosity, justice, and truthfulness (used with discretion), which suggests not harmony but a way of guarding against the excesses of power, ruthlessness, and untruth. These virtues, then, tell us the ideal person was thoughtful, calm, and paid attention to the divine—in fact, the ordered world created by humans in ancient Egypt was a mirror image of the order that governed the cosmos. 

Following are some of his golden principles:

1. Be merry all your life.
2. Toil no more than is required. 
3. Nor cut short the time allotted to pleasure.
4. Don't waste time on daily cares beyond providing for your household.
5. When wealth comes, follow your heart. Wealth does no good if you're glum.
6. Great is Law.
7. If you are a man of authority, be patient when listening to words of a petitioner. Do not dismiss him until he has completely unburdened himself of what he had planned to say. 
8. Injustice exists in abundance, but evil can never succeed in the long run.
9. Do not gossip in your neighborhood, because people respect the silent.
10. To listen is better than anything, from it is born perfect love.
11. As for the ignorant man who doesn't listen, he accomplishes nothing. He equates knowledge with ignorance, useless with harmful. He does everything detestable, so people get angry with him each day.
12. A perfect word is hidden more deeply than precious stones. It is to be found near servants working at mill-stone.
13. Only speak when you have something worth saying.
14. Love your wife with passion.
15. A woman with happy heart brings equilibrium. 
16. Those who continually lust after women, none of their plans ever succeed.
17. Do not blame those who are childless, do not criticize them for not having any, do not boast about having them yourself.
18. Do not repeat a slanderous rumor, do not listen to it.
19. May your heart never be vain because of what you know. Take counsel from the ignorant as well as the wise 
20. He who has a great heart has a gift from God. 
21. He who obeys his stomach obeys the enemy.
22. Teach your disciple words of tradition. Act as a model for children, that they may find in you the understanding and justice of every heart, since man is not born wise 
23. Punish with principle, teach meaningfully. Act of stopping evil leads to lasting establishment of virtue.  

Image credit: Relief from Ptahhotep's tomb, web.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Like An Adult

I was reading this post over givers and receivers dynamics - about the mindsets at play, and was suddenly hit by an avalanche of memories.

The year was 2005. Married for less than a fortnight, had just moved to an apartment in Karachi. The block had a total 8 apartments. Second day at the new place, a child from the neighbours living on the floor just below ours, came to deliver a tabbaruk - dates and zamzam brought from Umrah.

In the evening when the partner was back from work, I prepared for a FIRST ... :)
We went to offer our gratitude and congratulate the family. The 23yo me found it akin to a moon odyssey :). First unsupervised, independent social interaction in an ammis kinda setting, as a married adult!
It was huge.

The gentleman of the house welcomed us. The lady joined a little later and was visibly unappreciative of what she saw. Her daughter, older to me, was an MBA like my partner and our host didn't waste a moment in sharing her opinion over the academic influence on martial compatibility.
"MBA tou MBA kay saath hi acha lagta hai," she commented after learning that I was an engineer.

I learnt, to my utter surprise, that my provincial domicile could be my most significant introduction in the largest city of Pakistan. Having grown up travelling through all the four provinces, it felt strange to be linked to and identified by only one.

"Shadi parents ki marzi say kum hi karti hain wesay Punjab ki larkiaan. Lakh chuppaein jo ghar say bhaagtay hain unkay huliay say bhi pata chalta hai."

She had said looking at my plain baby pink chiffon shalwar qameez. I uneasily adjusted my multicoloured dupatta and moved my hand to draw her attention to the only gold piece I was wearing, a bracelet.

I was discarded. I could see that. :)

This was block 4. She informed me of two other Punjabans in the complex, one in block 6 and the other in 1, whom I could go and make friends with.
"Un main say bhi aik bhaag kay aee thi Lahore say hi. "

You get the idea!

I itched to tell her the count of guests at my shadi which had happened only a few days before, and show her the pictures of my mother kissing my maatha, my father bidding me farewell.
But I stayed put and listened.
Like an adult, I told myself.

Phir, as soon as I got a chance during the domicile autopsy she was mercilessly performing, I congratulated her for the Umrah.
It was only her husband who had performed it, she told. He performed it every year, she informed. And saying that her eyes welled up. "Allah jaanay mera bulawa kab ata hai Uskay ghar haazri ka," she sobbed.
I didn't know what was the right thing to say at such a time. There was pride in the husband's achievement, but there was a sense of loss for her own self and I didn't know how to take away the significance of the loss without belittling the value of the husband's achievement. So I stayed quiet. Sitting next to her, I held her hands in mine and caressed.

I could be wrong, but I felt that she probably didn't like her having put a weaker self on show in front of me
So with a change of expression she concluded that this delay in her haazri must be because she still has the responsibility of marrying off her daughter. I agreed.

We left after a little while.

I called my mother that night, ecstatic. I was on cloud number 9.
I had been a perfect adult.
I had been like her.

She listened to the story and unlike how I knew her, she grew angrier by each moment.

"How dare she!" Amman was breathing fire.

"Tum sunti rahi? At least you could've told her that you've performed hajj. Na deti koi shut up call, at least should have embarrassed her at having constantly belittled you."

Oh Amman ... I groaned. How could she not see that this was the entire point!

The lady was unhappy. She was trying to project that unhappiness on me, drawing joy out of insulting me.

I let her have that joy, without feeling the insult.
Like I had witnessed my mother doing.

Like an adult.