Memories

I was thinking of various things tonight before starting out on this blog. About how Time is not just the great healer but also well the great almost everything. As everything needs time. About how things that you are born into are unconditional and not just limited to human relationships and families. It is also about the cultures, sub culture and the society in large in which you are born into which is there and inherently very much a part of who you are. About how given enough freedom your mind tends to take you to the most obscure of thoughts and conclusions and coincidences. And I have had moments with that much mental freedom that has come across very …well … let’s just say coincidences which I would rather had not been there. (more on that later….. perhaps this blog or another). About how music and pictures can combine to give some of the best emotionally moving results and trigger one’s memories. 

So yes there were a lot of thoughts going through my mind before I sat down to write this blog. My mind though started getting stuck on one thing, that last bit. Memories. And if you think about it then all the things that I was thinking of did hold this one common factor as well – memories.

Memories are the treasure chest of thoughts that keep safe all the experiences and special moments and even ordinary moments that mean something to you. Memories of events, activities, a particular time in life, a partner, a parent, a job, a friend. Memories of sadness and memories of joy. Memories that make you cry in pain as well as cry in happiness. At times memories are all that one needs to get by. At others memories are what you cherish and treasure once someone close goes away or a good time comes to an end. Memories can keep people alive. They are alive in the stories that are shared with each other. They are alive in the photographs that we go through, the albums of days gone by. Times gone by.

However at times such memories, especially of loved ones who have passed on or are no longer a part of our life can have an adverse effect as well. They may keep a person from ever moving on in life. Of accepting things as they may be. Of rejecting life as it is happening so to speak. Some people are bogged down by their memories. Memories of a trauma. Memories of an emotionally crippling experience. Memories of a tragic death. Memories of a better time in their lives , happier time. Of course circumstances might be such as well and memories may not be alone in bogging someone down. But still. 

We all have our share of good and bad memories. We are all in the process of life and that will have different experiences , different moments , different challenges which are thrown at our way in absolutely differing circumstances. No two people can have the exact same experience ever. But they most definitely can have similar experiences. But we all have them. Good or bad. Hence we all have good and bad memories.

Everyone I suppose has their own way of cherishing these experiences or on the flip dealing with these experiences. We all have our way of remembering or forgetting. Of keeping alive and moving on or simply moving on. Photographs are such a great thing for me. For my memories. I love making photo collages with music and give the whole thing a different emotional appeal all together. It is my way of honoring my past, present, loved ones and experiences.

Here’s to our memories. Let’s pledge to remember the good ones, learn from the bad ones, keep those of our loved ones alive in the best of ways. And let’s move forward and make new ones for the future!

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The First of Many Firsts

The first Ramadan, the first Eid, the first Birthday, the first anniversary, the first happy event. There will be many firsts from here on. In fact they have already started but its on the big-ish ones that it starts to really hit home. In 29 years this was the first time that I had Eid without Amma, that I came back from Eid prayers but not to Amma at home. Just as it was the first time in 25 years in 2010 with Abbi. The firsts are bound to be there, utterly unavoidable. But we still carry on. Life goes on. With every step we hear that little voice tell us ‘This too shall pass’.

The thing for me is that there are already a whole lot of obvious firsts and constants that will now be there without either parent. My brother has said on a couple of occasions about how he not for even a split second would have thought our mother would not be there when for example he was turning the decade. Or that she wouldn’t be there for other events like his first born entering teenage years. Or starting University for that matter. Family history and average life kind of plays its part in that thought process too. And it’s not just for him – it is for all of us. Also I think given the age set / life cycle part that we are all at right now – it is uncommon to have lost both parents at these junctures. We are not questioning it of course because that is Allah’s will. ‘From Allah we came and to Him we shall return’ – there is no doubt in that. But it still something that is natural for us to wonder about.

As for me – I will never have the opportunity to give this bit of life’s happiness to either parent while they were with us of having settled down. Of becoming parents. Of adding to their grandchildren. Unfortunately for me the one chance that was there in Amma’s life to see me settled didn’t work out. Of course there must be some ‘maslihat’ in it that I as a mere mortal cannot fathom right now. Maybe I can at some point in time in the future. Near or distant. But for now I am but a mortal and it is but natural for me to feel the fact that neither parent would be there when I find someone. That my children would not have the pleasure of knowing their paternal grand parents in person – only through the stories that they will hear from me or their uncles and aunts (and there will be many). But not in person. My better half to be (whoever she is) will not know the love of an added set of parents. They will not see me head into a more senior roles, more senior achievements in work and life. I have had a few of my posts published online on various websites (express tribune and chowk.com) so my parents saw that happen. But I recently got published in print for the first time. But alas. Many things…

Again – Allah’s will … the betterment in this plan is something that I will have to wait to be able to see. But betterment there must be for Allah knows best and does what is best for us.

Today was the first of many firsts. There was rejoice and comfort of course in being with loved ones on holidays. There were of course smiles. There were eidis distributed. There were lunch get together plans, there were old stories shared and laughed upon, there were those memorable and funny moments that become stories of the future. There was love. But there was no Amma. First time without her. The first of many firsts.

I have said it before and I will say it again – our parents continue to live through us as their reflection. I love Amma and Abbi. They might not be with us physically but they will always remain in our hearts and in our spirits. May Allah grant them maghfirat and the highest points in Jannah.

And I hope they are able to see us and feel happy. Love you Amma and Abbi.

An Epiphany

An epiphany can be described as an obscure moment of absolute clarity regarding a problem or dilemma that is being faced. It is may be obscure because it can come in any shape or form, at any time and at any place. The weirdest of places as well. Some epiphanies occur after creating the required setting for one to come. Others take course themselves.

As I flew back from my holiday – I felt an epiphany had struck me. This holiday has probably been one of the better decisions in my recent history. The whole two weeks of it (Bahrain & Sri Lanka both). Just underlines the importance of two things. One that everyone should and needs to take some time off. It does them a world of good. And if possible then also take some time to yourself, to gather yourself, talk to yourself and rediscover who you really are underneath all the layers of everyday routine and hard realities of life. The other thing is of course – family. Nice to just slow down everything else and take time to be with your family. Trust me you can never get enough of family. Regardless of whether your entire family is living together or spread out over geography, you simply cannot. In your own way of course – every family being different to each other. Point taken I assume.

Coming back to the epiphany. I feel some parts of me have changed. I definitely do feel fresher. Rejuvenated even (a word that has been the source of much amusement for some people I know over the past few days). I feel like a different person at work – thou the work place seems different from last when I left it but that’s a whole different story and perhaps a blog post some time in the future. And most of all I can feel myself smile. I know that might sound weird but I don’t think I have smiled on the inside in a long time. Longer then I can remember really. I have had a cautious smile perhaps but not this free kind all the way inside my soul, my spirit.

It wasn’t that Bahrain had anything magical about it or Sri Lanka. Both place offered their own positives. Bahrain a nice relaxing time with family and Sri Lanka a peaceful, beautiful solo escape to be by myself. I think the combination did the trick really. And of course our Lord and Creator, Allah. I genuinely think given all that has happened Allah has done something even if it is temporary to sort of balance of my emotional equation. I am very thankful to that and genuinely feel that is one of the major reasons for me to smile. My epiphany. That life is and forever going to move. It will not stop for anything. That it will take from us but also at the same time give us opportunities of greatness. That we must take it by the horns to truly live it. To truly understand it. That there are things that are not worth worrying over and there are those things which require that emotional investment as they are worth it, they are worth the risk. That everything that happens does happen for a reason and that there is indeed a connectivity to everything. Every single moment in life has been preparing me to be at this current moment. There was a connection between all. They all had to be lived to be where I am today. Wherever that may be. I am thankful for where I am today because I know there are those with much more difficult struggles then mine. Mine maybe emotional , for some it is survival. So yes I am very thankful to Allah for everything. I am thankful that He has always given me strength when faced with a loss. And the ability to move on. To move forward. And at the same time for showing new paths, new bridges, new connections that will take me more forward. I feel one such thing from this holiday. Maybe it is true, maybe it isn’t – but at least it has helped me smile.

While most of the things I said above just now may seem cliché , I humbly believe unless you actually come to a point where you feel all of the above one cannot truly understand it. Till then they will remain clichés.

It is in moments like these that one understands that there are more powerful forms of communication and connection out there then just mere words and letters. There is a language beyond the one governed by alphabet alone. It exists in signs, in gestures, in those little things that happen to us in life, those little things that we see happening to others in life, the right moment for a particular song or set of musical notes, the perfect view, the sound of nature, the silence of peace. An absent voice that forms in your head using imagination while talking to someone via text/online. 

One simply cannot underestimate the power of an epiphany. An illuminating realization, a discovery resulting in feelings of elation, awe and wonder.

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Thoughts From Above The Clouds

There is no measure to how fast time flies. It is a month already that my mother passed away. Forget the last 5 months, it just seems like yesterday that I boarded Sri Lankan airlines for our family holiday to Singapore – to celebrate Eid together at my eldest brothers. One the most treasured moments in the last 4 years. Other moments might have been tainted. But the trip in August and then the family reunion in Karachi in December will remain closer to heart then all other memories of recent years. Yes emotional bias is there but that is just natural I suppose.

Allah is kind on His creations in this that death of a closed one (barring some traumatic experiences beyond even that which we have had to face) is also something which invokes a naturally tailored recovery within ourselves. We eventually – if not consciously then in the background – realize that life has to continue. That it must continue. That it simply does without really anything being done about it. It is only in times when you realize this that you feel this sudden sense of a gaping hole following you around. A void stuck to you. Forever being attached with you. A permanent companion from here on. I think somewhere along the way the acceptance has come. The realization of what this acceptance truly represents hasn’t really set in thou. It still seems unreal.

Both my parents went after fulfilling all their responsibilities towards us and we feel and hope a complete and full life. However there did arrive a sense of completeness in terms of moving on with my father’s passing. Emotionally I mean. With my mother’s passing there seems to be a sense of something being left incomplete. Like an unfinished conversation perhaps. I don’t know how else to put it. There was peace made after Abbi’s passing. There is peace with Amma’s passing as well but just that little bit of nagging feeling of something having been missed out. Maybe that is the sense one gets when they lose both their parents.

This feeling has certainly led me to believe that I needed to get away. Which I did for a week to Bahrain to my elder brother. And it was great. Relaxing. Time away from the routine and responsibilities of Karachi which I will have to get back into. But before that I think I needed this journey that I embark on now. Sri Lanka. If nothing else I get this sense that this place for some reason is calling me. To visit , to explore, to discover. Itself and perhaps my own self as well. Just 4-5 days and a packed itinerary but on my own so at my pace. I think it will do me good. I really think it will help.

Maybe, just maybe it will slow down the otherwise fast moving or at least bring us neck to neck. And maybe it will help me discover whatever it that is amiss. Some things I have already come to a conclusion for regarding the immediate future of my life. However I think maybe an epiphany or two in Kandy while watching the elephants will further that.

I can almost imagine my parents smiling at me but at the same time also thinking I am probably weird to go to Sri Lanka alone for self discovery and epiphanies and what not’s. (like some others Smile)

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So 10 months on I am travelling on Sri Lankan again – for a different holiday. For self discovery and to answer a ‘weird’ calling. Written on flight and just got access to post it online.

P.S.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with coconut trees and greenery and nature aplenty!

Time – the greatest healer

Time is by far one of the most precious commodities that every single human being has at their disposal regardless of their background. It works independent of us. It brings joy, it brings peace, brings tears and brings in some cases understanding. One of the greatest capacities that time has is its capacity to heal. Time heals everything. It is the greatest healer.

We experience a lot of draining emotions in life and some of those emotions take longer than others to get digested or moved past from. There is pain, sadness, depression, hurt, broken hearts, lost trust, bruised egos, shattered confidences, trauma. And there is death.

When we lose someone close to us, even thou we know that death is also part of life, we feel an immense amount of pain. Even if the loved one was suffering and that suffering has come to an end – we still feel the pain. The pain is of course of not having them with you anymore. The pain is of the overwhelming flashbacks from your memories with them. The pain is of all the things that you said and all things you didn’t say. The pain is the space, the gap, the hole, the void that is left in your life and which cannot be filled. In some cases perhaps replicated or replaced, but never filled. But then, there is time. Time heals, time teaches, time helps. Time remains our greatest support system.

4 years ago on the 9th of Jan, 2010 I lost my father. He was healthy. He had no illness, no one could see it coming (apart from this that it is an inevitable truth). I know initially it was something that required coming to terms with. I am thankful that Allah gave all of us strength to deal with his loss. But coming to terms with his sudden departure. That there was no warning. That there couldn’t be any goodbyes, no last words. He went in peace, and time helped in making that my strength. That he didn’t suffer. Time healed the pain of not having him in my life anymore.  Time – the greatest healer helps that way. I love Abbi, and I still miss him and always will. There are moments when I really do feel his absence, a lot. And nothing will change that ever. But again, time has helped me cope with that. But how 4 years have come to pass, I can’t say. Sometimes it feels like an eternity that I could speak to him. And at others it just seems like yesterday when it happened. Life goes on. It went on. Time saw to that.

There is solace in the fact that we know in our hearts that our close ones have gone to a better place. There is peace that they don’t cease to exist and continue living through us. Through our memories.

I lost my Grandmother last year. And then there was of course my own personal emotionally draining experience. Over the course of the months that have passed for both those things – I have gradually come to learn to live with both those realities. One way or the other.

The point is, yes there are many experiences of different nature and varying intensities in peoples lives. Everyone has their own personal hell or emotional baggage. No one is issue free, at least not in this day and age. But whatever the case, whoever the person – time is always there , working at its own pace. All we have to do is to give things time.

Of Silver Linings

I just the movie ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. It’s a good movie. I enjoyed watching it. The healing process of recovering from deep emotional scarring (triggered by a tragedy or a some other hugely negative event in one’s life) after receiving proper therapeutic treatment can be a painful process. I am not discussing the movie or the lives of the characters in the movie. It is just that the movie made me think about a topic that I have often thought about before and written about before as well.

We live in a highly complex and self complicated world. And by we I mean people like you and me: the guy who is writing this blog and the people who are reading it. We are in a highly competitive, cut throat corporate environment. Which is made more difficult because of the economic situations of many countries. Job markets are tough and slim. And unfortunately we have all been reinforced with the need to join the rat race. Our personal lives are also made a little challenging in these times. There is the social status and lifestyle to maintain (and not just the high society types – but like just normal). Relationships with our family, friends and significant others have become more challenging in the face of an extremely pacey and concrete world. We are a part of the 99 club (the story of getting 99 gold coins which is more than enough for you but because you want that elusive 1 more gold which will take you to a 100 gold coins hence you aren’t content). So we are constantly striving for that bit more. I think we complicate things for ourselves by thinking of what will make us happy in the future instead of coming to terms with what we have in the here and now. We need to first focus on making our present situation happy and then move on to making the future happy. If we remain unhappy with our present situation and try to make a happy future well that’s just the wrong sentiment to start out with. Also to add to that we have to let go of our past. Regardless of whether the past was good or bad or positive or negative, we have to let go of it because it was the past. Whatever it was is gone and part of history and will not do anything for the present situation and circumstances. Again the focus needs to be on the present, the here and now.

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We can’t always just keep looking in the clouds to find the silver linings in our situations. Sometimes you just have to take it into your own hands to create your own silver lining. You have to create the positives in your present life. The drive needs to come from within. The will to be happy in the present needs to come within. It can’t of course be forced upon you by someone else. And you can’t just wait for it to suddenly fall into your lap. Don’t wait for the feeling to come to you. Go grab that feeling in whatever direction you need to go to in order to do this.

Now I am not saying that there are sometimes situations in which we are at times helpless. Of course there can be certain instances in life which are out of your control. But that can’t be a permanent state. ‘This too shall pass’ is a good dictum to remember in such cases. But we don’t. We complicate things for ourselves and in the process probably complicate for our loved ones as well.

Therapy of any kind is not a bad thing for such out of our control circumstances. In the circumstances that the current world order is in than most average people could do with some sort of outlet. Or some sort of method by which they can reconcile on a personal and emotional level. Some find that reconciliation in venting out and what better source than to do it with a therapist who is going to be neutral and isn’t attached to your social circles. For some people its working out. Music. Writing. Sports. Aggressive sports (boxing, karate etc.) Therapy doesn’t have to narrowed down to laying on a long couch and having a shrink listening to you. That is one form of therapy. Therapy is anything that can help ease your mind and help you reconcile with yourself on a personal level. Reconciliation doesn’t necessarily mean coming to terms with life situations or accepting a decision or an event. Sometimes it is just about letting it get absorbed in your system. Letting it sink in, gently.