The Last week in 2003

I know; I know I haven’t written for ages and ages! Maybe I am getting rusty? No, I don’t really think that is the reason, although there are many others.

Firstly, I think I just lost my ‘passion’ for commenting on events that happen in this unhappy land; I mean, the misnamed ‘honor’ killings. Each time I used to read something that outraged me I went to the computer and literally ‘beat’ out an article. Many girls have died since I last wrote about this awful crime, and I mourned each one in silence for I couldn’t write about it. What is the use? I read of fathers who killed their daughters making the headlines as pillars of society, so whom am I talking to? It is very like ‘preaching to the choir’ when I write in The Friday Times about it. Someone who wanted to translate my articles for his Urdu newspaper said I would be hounded out of the country if some people find out what I have been writing, and he had read only the tip of the iceberg!

But recently I found that narrow-minded biases are not only a monopoly with the ‘beards’ of this country. Because of the Internet I have met many people all over the world; people who have become good friends whom I feel free to discuss almost any topic under the sun. Recently I found a website with the commemorative stamp printed in honor of my father and forwarded the URL. An American friend, Martha, wrote back terrified that she had compromised herself by going to a ‘political’ site! It was interesting to gauge the ‘fear’ prevalent in the ‘Land of the Free’ from one of its terrified inhabitants. Martha was afraid that her computer was under surveillance because she was receiving email from Pakistan. Of course, she was very big hearted and told me I could continue to write to her as long as I didn’t mention anything political. I think not!

Returning to my ‘writer’s block’, which isn’t really a ‘block’ as I have been writing, long and involved emails discussing the state of the world, our souls, the weather, gardening, cooking, poetry, you name it and I have written about it; what I haven’t written is an article for the TFT.

These days I am preparing for Spring. According to the native calendar ‘Baisakhi’ we are in the very middle of the coldest month, Poh and the first month of spring, Mah, will soon see the earth thaw out. At least, that is what my gardener tells me. With all this talk of Poh and Mah he has bought himself some time as I am bent upon landscaping my garden that has seen some neglect in the last couple of years. What I am most proud of is reclaiming a patch where nothing would grow and converting it into a patio surrounded by the trees.

Somehow I always end up with a spot in the garden that is almost invisible unless you come right up to it. I called my previous one my ‘meditation corner’. It had a fountain and a pond surrounded by pampas grass and ‘junglee ilaichi’, and a bench made from the wood of trees from my garden to meditate in comfort.  

I lost it when my husband flattened the garden to make way for the “shamianas” when the children were getting married. I tried arguing in favour of a hotel taking the brunt, but they fell on deaf ears. It was a long time before I could bring myself to landscape the empty prairie that was now “my garden”. Much to his despair, I returned to landscaping by digging up the perfectly flat front garden. Only I was able to visualize the shape it was to take. and

I know it is beautiful, but I guess that is enough of showing off!

I wonder why I am writing now? The New Year is here and it is time to take a look at the year that has gone by. Most will check out the political fall out of the war and terrorism in particular, but how about checking out our ‘Self’. When we look back at the year gone by, how many of us can honestly say, “I have learned a little, ‘grown’ a little.”  I am not sure whether I have ‘grown’ much, or a little; but I sure have learned a whole lot and hope to learn more in the years to come. I have learned that you have only yourself to blame if you are unhappy; for no matter how much misery there is in ones life, there is always something to thank God for too.

I have learned that loving someone is not enough; many will insist that you have to be whom they want you to be for them to love you back. It is for you to choose how desperate you are to give up your ‘Self’ for a love that isn’t directed at your ‘Self’. I have learned that sometimes strangers will hold out that helping hand you need, when people you expected to stand by you through thick and thin disappear from the scene.

I have learned that strength comes from within, as Jean-Paul Sartre said, “The freedom to choose, is the only freedom an individual does not have the freedom to renounce.” So my advice to all my readers is, choose to be happy with whatever you have and above all, be true to your ‘Self!