The recipe to Success. The recipe to peace.
For years and years I woke up each morning with an emptiness inside me and I went to sleep with a feeling of unaccomplishment bugging me. I thought success would settle me down. I tasted some. It only left me wanting more. It made me emptier than ever before. I reckoned peoples’ recognition would settle me down. You know, the usuals around me – Bashirs, Nazirs, Mukhtars; nobody special. People, who in turn were busy finding their own recognition in other peoples’ eyes. I thought I needed to prove myself to them. But never knew why. Time passed and saw me do well. People did praise me and the efforts I put had put in, but the emptiness still grew. I tried money. But just like everything else, it failed to have an effect. If anything, it only made my life worse. I was looking for peace. Peace eluded me.
I remember driving to work with a heavy heart, worrying about each and every thing under the sky. What if I met with an accident? What if I got caught in a cross firing? What if the police stopped me? What if I displeased my boss? What if I lost my job? Scared and timid, I now realize this is how I had spent my entire life. Trying to invent problems and trying to think of solutions, clutching to the miserable thing I was living with all my might – life. I valued it so much, when in fact it wasn’t worth even a dead rat`s whisker.
Having been born and brought up in a Muslim family (Alhamdulilah), I had a fair idea about life and death, about the temporary stature of this life and the eternal one of the hereafter. I also had a fair idea of right and wrong. I surely knew what the right path was but somehow could not follow it. I guess that made me even more miserable. This was a discordination between mind and actions. When my mind knew what was right but my action seldom supported it.
Days passed and became years. The emptiness grew. With restlessness and discontentment, I labored on. Short tempered, I often shouted at people around me, many a times at no fault of theirs. I recognized I was doing wrong. I knew I was doing wrong. Ill natured and heavy hearted, I could not help being the way I was. I was looking for peace but peace eluded me. Peace!!!
One day Allah (SWT) in his infinite mercy smiled at me. I fell sick! For others it was just an extended phase of fever. For me, I thought I was going to die. Suddenly, I realised that I had nothing to show for my efforts in the world. If I died, I would have lived a shameful life with no purpose and no meaning. I did not want to die not in this state. I wanted another chance and Allah (SWT), Alhamdulilah gave me one. My life changed.
I tried to make better use of my life, tyring to please Allah (SWT) and not the people around me, trying to submit to Allah alone and not the misplaced fears I had, trying to do what I knew was right, what I always wanted to do but never did. In some days, the emptiness was gone! The discontentment too. The fear, the restlessness, the bad temper also vanished. What replaced them was peace! The elusive peace that I had been looking everywhere, and to be honest always knew where to find.
I remember a person telling me a story once. A story about a little guy that lived all his life in a cow shed. The only things that the little guy knew were cows, their cud and the stinking dung. Over the years, the appalling shed had become the little guy`s coveted treasure, something he held on to with all his might. More so because all this while the little guy was totally unaware of the beautiful garden that stood just around the corner. One day a passerby noticed this anomaly. He approached the little guy with a handkerchief over his nose and yelled, “Come out. There is a garden over there. You can live there.” The little guy did not respond. The little guy thought he knew better. The passerby was taken by surprise. He thought the little guy had not heard him. He yelled once again but hardly got a response. He tried and tried but failed and failed. Bewildered by this no brainer he was seeing, he decided it was time to force the issue. He caught the little guy by his hand and tried to pull him out of the cow shed. The little guy, surprisingly was no little in strength. As if supported by devils, he resisted the force and succeeded to stay in the shed. The passerby had taken enough. He left. The little guy continued to live on in the cow shed.
One day due to Allah`s infinite mercy, the cow shed caught fire. The little guy cursed the fire and the smoke and the heat and just about everything else, for he was devastated. He had lost his coveted cow shed. With heavy feet he ventured into the unknown. Suddenly, something remarkable caught his eyes. The garden!” Out of this world,” he thought. He stepped in and the colors almost swept him off his feet. The flowers and the streams and the fruits and the dew. He could hardly believe his luck. Memories from the earlier incident came to his mind. How right the passerby had been and how dumb he himself had been to resist the offer.
The little guy put up at the garden itself and now lives a happy life there, determined never to think, let alone live in a cow shed again, for now he truly knows what gardens are about and how appalling cow sheds are!
The same story holds true for most of us. We spend all our lives at the beck and call of our ‘nafs’, knowing little how rewarding it is to live in Allah`s submission, in His remembrance, seeking His pleasure only. Indeed Allah (SWT) is great and His mercies are great. Found only when we submit to Him truly. And it is His mercy only that can pull us out of the cow sheds, we live our lives in, into the glorious gardens he has in store for us. I pray to Allah that all of us find the right way to live this little life so that we find success in this world as well as the hereafter.
Recently I hit upon a blog that was so dipped in complaints. “Because my wife got tired of listening to me,” it was titled. Really if you do not get used to focussing your frustrations on a piece of paper you will eventually get a punch in the face. Maybe your wife bears you for a day or two, or, if you get really lucky, a year (you do realise I am trying to be cynical here), but then eventually her patience will wear out and then you will get that
kick in the backside punch in the face. We all have complaints. Someone`s job is too dreary, when in fact it is the best job he can ever get and also that he was down in obeisance, in front of the almighty, for months together before he got it. Sombody`s financial condition is appaling. Someone lusts after a sedan when he drives a Maruti 800; prefers to eat at Shamayana when his wife cooks such delicous food. There is no end to people and the complaints that they have. So what does one do? I say and the best way would be to let them out on a piece of paper and then just quietly swallow it down. As for the digestion problems that may surface, see a doctor who you are sure does not reset you into the complaining mode; or you would be stuck in a vicous circle that will eat you up (as well as your digestion system). An altrenate way, also more tecnologically advanced, would be to let your complaints out on a typewriter that does not write! Whatever you do, keep one thing in mind; do not and striclty do not let them out on the same person again and again, or you know what you are destined to get. That`s right a good punch on your face.
I hate driving. I realised it just an hour ago. It may be a feeling that vaporizes the moment I find an empty road, free of potholes inviting me to just trample it down. But then the odds of that happening in Kashmir look pretty thin; at least for the time being. So, I am happy assuming that I will just continue to hate driving for some time to come. If anything, in the next few years, or maybe months, I suspect my hatred would have reached a level where it would not be known as hatred anymore; loathing perhaps or a stronger word that I can`t find at this moment. If the traffic choas in Sriangar continues to worsen at the current rate, in the next five years you might find only bald men driving; bald women as well, of course. No. Not because men with hair would have given up driving for a better transport system; because there IS no better transport system here. Just because all the hair pulling all the while people drive would mean no hair for drivers anymore. Imagine how that would be; your driving experience indicated by your hair strength. Looking at the brighter side, no man(of course woman as well) will be able to lie about his driving experience. Beat the optimism in that!
It was a usual Friday morning when I visited this health-care-center for the first time; a single story complex with two to three rooms where a reputed doctor operated his clinic. I entered the clinic. A not so healthy compounder keeping track of the patients sat in a corner, scribbling something on a piece of paper. I approached him and in a rather feeble voice asked, “Excuse me. Can I have an appointment?” The compounder paid no attention. Perhaps the chaotic backdrop of crying babies, angry mothers and distressed patients had made it impossible for him to hear me out. I cleared my throat and with much more deliberation asked once again,” I want an appointment with the doctor.” Once again the compounder did not respond. Now I knew. He could hear me easily but was pretending to be busy. He continued scribbling while I waited patiently. He looked enormously engrossed. Had one not known better, he could easily have passed off as Einstein drafting the most important theory of the millennium. I craned my neck, reached over the desk and tried to take at look at the prized piece. Just before I could, his left hand swiftly moved and covered the paper. I succeeded in stealing a glimpse somehow. He was framing the order in which he would let the patients in! Some unlucky ones had been scratched out, others, possibly on the dint of crisp notes or perhaps powerful references, managed in. Trying to catch his attention yet again I waved my hand, “Excuse me,” I said. “You do hear me, don`t you?” After what seemed an eternity, he raised his head and looked up. He did not say a word but I could read it all printed in his eyes. “What are you shouting about?” his eyes said with burning conceit, “This is my backyard. Out here I am the king. I know you want to be heard. I know you may be late. But the king has his own priorities and for the next few moments, you do not fit among them.” He made me wait a few more moments before he finally closed the piece of paper, ever so slowly, and looked up at me again. “What do you want?” he rudely asked.
“An appointment with the doctor! What else do you offer?” I mockingly replied. He did not like the answer, as expected. How could he? He was the king out there. Me, just a petty slave. With an irritated look about himself he replied, “Where is the patient?”
“I just want an appointment,” I tried to explain.”The patient can come when at the time of the appointment.”
My explanations proved to be an alien logic. He removed his glasses and stood up. ”I am sorry but that is not the protocol. You have to bring the patient here. I will fix your appointment. You and the patient will wait in this very hall; right before my eyes, where I can see you. Your name will be called. You will go in. That is how it works here. If you do not like it, you may as well leave.”
He announced his verdict through a crisp, free flowing volley of words. I had seldom witnessed someone speak with such ease. It must have been crammed up I concluded. I turned my back and bid goodbye to the health-care-center. I was determined never to return back. However, as soon as I left, the importance of seeing the doctor once again overtook me. I shrugged off the frustration, decided to make a compromise, and sped off.
In an hour or so, I returned with the patient. The unhealthy looking compounder minding the health-care-center quietly acknowledged my return with a silent chuckle. “Here he comes back,” I could hear the sadist inside him ridiculing.” Where else could he go?”
I reached over and asked for an appointment once again. This time he readily scribbled my name down. I managed to catch a look and found our name right at the end, twenty ninth on the serial. I sat down, took a deep breath of stale air that was filling up the small room and resigned to the fact that I was supposed to be there for not less than a good two hours. It did not bother me much. What did was the fact that I was accompanying a patient who was forced to endure the same as well.
We waited and waited. The clock struck ten. The clock struck eleven. It kept on rolling and we kept on waiting. One by one the patients went in and one by one they left. Some happy with what they were told. Others just because they were finally leaving. We kept on waiting until just three patients remained. The clock had already registered twelve. The hustle and bustle of theFriday afternoon had already taken over when suddenly the unhealthy compounder went missing. On asking for his whereabouts an elderly man sitting near his empty chair, made a surprising declaration. ”The doctor has left!” he said.
The health-care-center was located in the doctor`s backyard and it appeared that he had sneaked out of the clinic and into his home. “The doctor has some guests to attend. Some very important ones,” the elderly man announced. “He will be back though. You all can wait.”
“Guests! That’s weird,” I thought. What were we then? Perhaps we were pests. At least that is what we were presumed to be. We always are. I was more concerned about the compounder at this point. Where had he disappeared? Perhaps sent buzzing to buy bakery for the guests!
“You all can wait!” the elderly man had said. He had been utterly confident about it. And to some extent he had been right. We indeed can wait. We are used to waiting. We are made to wait at every opportunity that people get. Inside idling busses where drivers wait endlessly for passengers. On unsung provision stores where shopkeepers refuse to get enough of talking on mobile phones; talking to I don’t know who. At government offices where babus need chai to work. In mindless traffic. Besides half dug drains. Below unfinished flyovers. Inside crowded stores. We are expected to wait . We wait. No wonder the elderly man had taken the liberty of assuming we could wait!
The doctor took his time. Five minutes became ten. Ten became fifteen. No sign of him. I did not want to waste another morning. I did my math and concluded that it was more beneficial to wait there and then rather than lose it, go out furious and be forced to come back the next day. We continued to wait.
After what seemed an eternity, the compounder returned. I had waited too long to keep my patience. Propped up by the memories of the treatment he had given me in the morning, I walked up to him and asked him in a stone cold voice, “Where is the doctor?” I noticed that the doctor had taken all of the compounder`s unhealthy ‘kingship’ with him. He no longer acted like a king. He no longer talked like it. All he tried was to evade my look. But how could I let him. It was his backyard after all and we were being treated like houseflies in there; houseflies that were forced to waste their precious time and at the same time pay for it.
I pressed closer and asked once again, this time even louder, “Where is the doctor?” He could evade me no longer. He sported a silly smile and replied, “The doctor will be back shortly. He had some guests to attend. Please be patient. It is quite normal. These kind of breaks are routine here.” His illogical reply made me furious. Although I knew, it was none of his fault, but just for the way he acted in the morning I decided to let him hear a few sentimental lines. I started, “But how can he leave his patients waiting. His guests may be important, I agree, but we have paid for an appointment. Paid, you know. We have booked him. The time he is spending with his guests, is not his at all. It is ours. He keeps us waiting? How cold is that? We pay for his time. He does not pay for ours.” I knew he could do nothing about it. So I did not press too hard, retreated to my sitting place and continued to wait.
A few more minutes passed. Then suddenly the compounder started hustling and busting again. I heard him whisper to the elderly man, “The doctor is back.” By now, the aura of a Friday afternoon had completely set in. Namaz was just around forty minutes away and the doctor still had to see two more patients before he could see us. We had been waiting since nine a.m. in the morning and again what bothered me most was the fact that even patients were not spared the ordeal.
It must not have been more than a couple of minutes before the next patient was called in. Another two minutes and finally our name was called. Although I was relieved that we were going in, it disturbed me that the last two patients had been given only a perfunctory two minutes of time.
We went in. As expected, the doctor in an extreme haste, did his thing. Asked some questions. Wrote down some drugs. And gestured a particular gesture. It meant; leave now. We held our ground though. I wanted to ask some more questions. I wanted to share some more apprehensions. I did. I asked he listened, half heartedly though. Quickly he wrote some more drugs and handed over the prescription without bothering to investigate any further. Till now I doubt whether he had diagnosed the problem correctly and yet had prescribed drugs for it, so easily, so quickly.
“You may leave now. Just see how these drugs do and see me again after a week,” he declared. I took the prescription and just under my breath said, “See you again? I must be a fool. Be assured I will never as much as walk your street again, let alone talk to your unhealthy compounder and ask for an unhealthy appointment.” We left the clinic. Unsatisfied with the treatment yes but ransacked with frustration and tired to bits as well.
For a few days I puzzled over that horrendous Friday morning. I did not know what to do. I knew we would need to see a doctor again. But who could we consult? Who could we trust? With our feelings, with our time, with our health! I was dejected . I always believed that their profession was the noblest profession out there. All because they dealt with humans. It was not just insentient hardware they fixed but men and women and children, with emotions and feelings. It lent their job enormous respect. It asked for huge responsibilities as well. However from what I had witnessed, the doctor had been ready to rake in the benefits but had cut a blind corner when the moment to shoulder his responsibility had come. No doubt I was dejected.
Just a few days later, something remarkable happened that reinstated my faith in doctors. Something plain and simple. Hassle free. A certain friend gave me a telephone number. It dialed to a reputed doctor`s clinic. By now I was ready to try once again. A man with a very gentle voice answered,” What can I do for you?”
“I want an appointment with the doctor,” I asked. ”What should I do?” I asked.
In a rather reassuring tone, the man replied, “Nothing more. You have already done what was required. Even as you were talking to me, I booked your appointment. The doctor will see you on Monday at 12:30 p.m. Will that be fine for you?” I could not trust my ears. There was nothing else to say. “Perfectly fine with me,” I replied. “We will see you on Monday then,” the man replied and hung the phone.
The following Monday, we dropped at his clinic, ahead of time. Our appointment was confirmed and we were shown a place to wait. Remarkably not many people were present. Telephonic appointments, I concluded. You do not need to wait for too long. Not many people get queued up. Great. It strengthened my hope that the consultation would go well. In a few moments, our name was called and we saw the doctor. He looked hassle free. He looked calm. He gave us ample time. He may well have given us the same prescription that the earlier one did, but just the fact that he cared, made us feel better, made us feel well treated.
He had made it happen. The telephonic appointment system worked great for us. As it did and still is for hundreds and thousands of patients all over the world. It is simple and elegant. You call up and ask for appointment. Your call carries ultimate weight. Even if a person personally visits the clinic and takes an appointment after you, he gets to see the doctor after you. The same holds true for all public. Excludes the need of visiting and waiting uselessly. Makes seeing a doctor ridiculously easy.
I wonder why then the system has not been embraced by more private doctors in Kashmir. Could it be because they are unaware of it? Or is it because they are too apathetic to the miseries they inflict on their patients? In any case, they are letting go of an option that can mean so much to so many. They are wasting a chance to ease the sufferings of those in trouble. Whether they wake up from their slumber and do the new or sleep in hibernation determined not to care, remains to be seen.
Pakistan 15/3 chasing a target of 434 in the fourth Innings.
Andrew Strauss walks into Pakistan dressing room.
STRAUSS: Anderson is.
SALMAN: Sorry. My Kidney is not well.
STRAUSS: Ok. Collingwood will bowl.
SALMAN: Reduce the target to 150. 434 is way too much.
STRAUSS: OK. Thinks with himself (If Umar Gul does not bat. They wont get even 150)
UMAR GUL: Hold on boys. I cant let any laloo panjoo bat at my place. It is a question of my batting average and my career. Thinks to himself( After all I havent done any wonders with the ball lately)
STRAUSS: Dont worry Umar. We will give you five wickets in every innings of the tour for free, if you let salman bat at your place. Thinks to himself (After all we do not require to score more runs)
GUL: (Feeling happy). DEAL
STRAUSS: (Feeling Happy). DEAL
SALMAN : (Feeling Happy). DEAL.
ABDULLAH AHIR`s nerve wreaking account of his conversion to Islam.
Click for AUDIO.
Indeed if and when Allah Almighty wishes He can change the cruelest of hearts in a matter of moments.
It goes to show that a random act of kindness can do wonders. That is what the young Muslim man in the forest does. Even after being a dacoit, I think his one right deed has acted as a spark to ignite more than half a dozen hearts with the light of ISLAM.
Allah Bless Us. And give us the wisdom to understand the gift of Islam better. Give us more Imaan.
If rumors are to be believed, internet will soon be banned in the state. Although an extremely improbable move, if by any chance such a ban gets enforced, it will mean a total obliteration of all the mileage we have gained so far.
If a dangerous beast does deadly rounds of your neighborhood, certainly the long term solution does not lie in staying indoors forever but confronting it and taking it down. If internet poses a security threat in the state, it makes more sense to eliminate the threat by identifying and neutralizing the pockets of concern rather than imposing a sweeping ban. Depriving tens of thousands of helpless people from its services will tantamount to mutilation of rationality. Banning prepaid mobiles was one thing, banning internet an altogether different. In case of prepaid services you always had the option of jumping post paid. Without downplaying the discomfort it caused to millions of subscribers, the ban was something that could be tolerated (not to say that there was any other choice). However in case of internet there are no second fiddles to fall back upon. If it is out, it is out. All the good that can be had from it will turn ashes.
It is needless to say that a ban on internet does not mean a ban on internet alone. As many misunderstand, internet is not confined to checking emails and chatting online. Its significance cuts across almost all walks of life. You may not be aware and yet you may be dependent on it in some way. If internet goes down, everything that depends on it will go down with it – budding software firms, call centers (Aegis for example), banking systems, communication giants, retail outlets, education, health – everything will take a heavy clout. Beyond a smidgen of doubt the loss will be enormous. For some it may even be unbearable. This inherent loss associated with the ban stands out as the single most telling deterrent to it. The question is whether it will be accounted for, in case a decision has to be made. I think it should be. I think it will be. And that is why I believe such a ban will never be imposed.
However, going by our illustrious history of living the impossible, you never know what to expect. There may well come a morning when people wake up and find their newspapers bland, for the quality of news would have suffered because the editors did not have the facility of internet. A day might come when the otherwise unruly short queues outside pay counters would have turned into unruly, boisterous, unending extra long queues because the option of paying online would have gone down the drain. A time might come when books are costlier and newspapers are rare; when gathering information is a mission and connecting with loved ones a dream; when post boxes regain their lost reverence and telegrams shine again. Such a day, such a time seems so distant but may actually be just round the corner.
Without internet many of our nightmares will spring to life. The global village, as internet has made the world, will become something we aren`t a part of. As if fallen down from the planet, we will become a small community living in darkness, hidden behind mountains, cut off from the world. Children refusing to sleep will be admonished by their grandmothers, “And there exists a community which nobody knows about. They live behind the sprawling mountain. They have no e-mail accounts. They have no presence on the net. Their businesses are not automated and they own no websites. They know no social networking and they have no means to chat. Their long lost friends are lost forever and the distant ones never talk to them. They are cursed and so will be you. Sleep lest the internet-less take you away.” And that is how we will be remembered; the internet-less!
Everything that we have somehow managed to gain in the past few years will be lost with the dreaded ban. It may not be much, but lost it will be all the same. The last twenty years have dented our development by vast multitudes. We are already lagging miles behind when it comes to the use of technology to make life better. However, with time we are catching up fast. Already enormous sums of money have been pumped in to aid our limping development. Some of it has started to bear fruit. If things go well from here on, soon our own state will be as developed as any other part of the country. State-of-the-art shopping malls are being built. World class chains are setting shops in the valley. Things look a little more promising. Times seem a lot more rewarding. A ban of any kind at this juncture will be a total misfit. In case it is forced to fit, not only will it dreadfully undermine its own immediate domain but will cause tremors that will bring down all that stands near it.
IBM (International Business Machines – a world class multinational company dealing with the Information Technology) talks about building a smarter planet. Every night I find their commercial being aired on television. I like it. I like it for they talk about smarter things all the time.”Smarter cities, smarter retails, smarter government, airports, trains, cars, smarter classrooms, smarter hospitals, smarter people. Connect them all together and what do you have…Happier people!” That is what they believe in. That is what I believe in. To have smarter things around us, internet is definitely one thing we need. With smarter things around us happier things are certainly that will happen to us. That is what internet can provide and that is what we could be robbed of. If you do not believe me, ask IBM.
Right now there are zillions in the state who use internet and depend heavily upon it. With every passing day many more join them. For such people even seconds and minutes without its services can cause insomnia, not to speak of months and years. If internet was a luxury ten years ago, it has become a necessity today. It is a crude fact that we must understand and wake up to, sooner the better. If we rob common people of this provision now, we might as well ask them to stop sucking oxygen from air!