Tag Archives: Life

December- a hopeless lover

It has been a while since I’ve written something (not that there are hundreds and thousands of readers out there waiting for my next piece), and barren spells like these engender a peculiar literary vulnerability that itself is difficult to delineate. December, however has a surreal magnetism attracting words to come out mesmerized like the children of Hamelin in the story of the Pied Piper. For as long as I can remember, December has been my favorite month. All that the frosty month has to offer is almost irresistibly forgivable like it is for the storytelling, adventure sharing voyager who’s all set to embark on a journey after a brief stay as a lodger at our place.

It’s like trudging towards the end line after a laborious (sometimes even exasperating) journey and as ironically contrasting as it may sound, the end line itself is only a mirage in the winter; a mere pit stop after which all engines have to fire again. The race enters into another lap and continues with the same (if not greater) vehemence. The decision to look back or to keep focus on what’s coming up ahead is strangely irrelevant as engaging oneself in either of the two does not perturb the flow of time even for a nanosecond- it does not cease to move forward shamelessly.

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Even though December relishes the status of a full-fledged ‘31 day’ month, it suffers the constant misfortune of being ignored in that it is spent by the spenders either in recollecting memories, experiences, lessons and moments from its antecedents or in making promises, resolutions and plans for its successors. Hence, the lack of warmth, maybe! You can’t blame someone for being cold after they’ve been ignored like December, can you? It is unfair. I mean, the poor thing makes an effort every year by showering gifts like enchanting dry fruits, hearths brightened up with fire, snowfalls, cozy blankets, early evenings, the occasional romantic rain, a holiday season full of vacations and mouthwatering discounts on shopping. Yet, the best celebrations take place on the night December bids farewell. Must be painful being December, knowing that the reason for everyone’s rejoice is your going-away.

For me, this darling month is like an altruistic, hopeless lover with an innocuous amour-propre that is seductive in its own special way.

Happy December, everyone!

Hammad A. Mateen

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The doleful story

Moon

A conversation at the barber’s shop

Two Karachiites in conversation with each other at a barber’s shop while they wait for their turns:

First guy:              This ‘gormint’ is as useless as a punctured stepney.  I mean look at what just 2 days of rain has done to the city!

Second guy:       Mmmmm…. (Maintains his attention on skimming through images on the showbiz page of a newspaper without caring too much about the date of the paper)

First guy:              You know how difficult it was to just reach here from my place? It was like laboring my way through a swamp. Disgusting!!!

Second guy:       (Pulls his head out of the newspaper almost involuntarily) But you had to come here, didn’t you?

First guy:              Of course! What else could I have done at home? I was getting bored. The electricity’s playing hide and seek since the day the first drop of rain fell on those fragile electricity wires in our area. All thanks to our ‘gormint’.

Second guy:       So, basically you had nothing to do & you thought it would be a good idea to step out for a while and visit the barber’s? (Puts the newspaper away and turns his attention completely towards the first guy)

First guy:              (Affably) Yes!

Second guy:       And you ‘labored’ your way through the ‘swamp’ to reach here just because you were getting bored?

First guy:              (With the same zeal) Yes! And because I knew there would be electricity here.

Second guy:         How did you know there would be electricity here?

First guy:              Well, they have a different PMT for this area. I hook up the ‘kunda’ for my place from this very line. (Looks at the barber and winks at him with a smirk)

Second guy:         (Confused) So you didn’t hook up your ‘kunda’ today?

First guy:              Of course I did. But my cable operator doesn’t do that. So, I couldn’t watch TV.

Second guy:       Right! So, don’t you think the electricity crisis in the city may also have something to do with the ‘kunda’ culture that we have. I mean they do announce that areas with electricity theft and low recovery will experience load shedding.

First guy:              That’s all bullshit! How is my ‘kunda’ theft?

Second guy:         (Baffled) How is it not?

First guy:              It is theft when no one pays for the electricity I consume, right?

Second guy:          (Keenly) Yes…

First guy:              Well, I’m already over-charged for the units I consume legally. They can deduct the amount for the units I consume through my ‘kunda’ from there. The day they stop looting the consumers, all problems will be solved.

Second guy:         So, it is there fault completely?

First guy:              It sure is. The whole ‘Gormint’ is at fault. They can manage nothing properly. They’re just interested in getting their pockets filled. I mean, just look at these guys from the building control authority for instance.

Second guy:        What about them?

First guy:              I built an extra floor at my place and the day the whole floor got completed, they came over with their team to demolish it. They claimed that it was illegal.

Second guy:          Was it?

First guy:               So what if it was! I gave them what they wanted when I got the layout approved for it.

Second guy:          So you knew it was illegal and you still went ahead with it?

First guy:              That’s not the problem. The problem is that they knew what was happening all along and yet they didn’t say a word until it was all complete. They knew I had nowhere to go after that. Bloody blackmailers!

Second guy:          So, the problem lies with them, you say?

First guy:              Oh! So what do YOU think? It’s my fault?

Second guy:       (Retreating) Oh no! Why would I think that? Why would I possibly think that?

First guy:              See! They have crooks in disguise of ‘gormint’ officials. They can’t swallow the fact that someone can earn a little from their own assets.

Second guy:        Earn?

First guy:             Yeah! Someone must have tipped them off about me.

Second guy:       Tipped them off about you… building the extra floor?

First guy:             No, about me selling off portions of my house.

Second guy:       (Takes a look at the grinning barber who was busy clipping off another customer’s hair) Oh, boy! You sold off portions of your house. How many?

First guy:              I made 6 portions- sold 5 of them. Had to keep one for myself too, u know. (Chuckles)

Second guy:       So, you made 6 portions in a 120 sq. yard house and sold 5 of them. Impressive!

First guy:             (With excitement that had arrogance written all over it) Isn’t it? I can get you in touch with the contractor who did it. The guy can make Burj Khalifa over an Eighty Sq. Yard plot.

Second guy:       (As if he had heard enough) No, thanks. I’m good.  I think I should leave now. I will probably come back some other time for the haircut. (Stands up and puts his hand on the barber’s shoulder to indicate that he’s leaving)

First guy:            There’s a marsh outside waiting for you, remember? A gift from the local authorities to the citizens of the ‘CITY OF LIGHTS’. A blend of rain and sewerage water. They can’t even clear the gutters of this city efficiently, for God’s sake!

Second guy:       (Turns around to the first guy with a look of annoyance this time) That’s probably because the gutters are working overtime already with people like you illegally building and selling off portions to settle multiple families in accommodations that should ideally house a single household. A sewerage line installed to cater a single family is being flooded with excessive waste on a permanent basis. But hey! That’s not your mistake either, is it?

First guy:            (Pretentiously surprised) You mean it is???

Second guy:       (Frustrated) Oh no! It is all the government’s fault. All of it! Just that everyone sitting in those government offices and helm of affairs are a reflection of who we are. You, and me, and everyone around us. The ones accepting bribes are as at fault as the ones offering it. People who are not doing their jobs properly of enforcing law are as at fault as those who are breaking it. I’m literally fed up with people whining all the time about everything being everybody else’s responsibility while they sit back and be a part of the very corrupt system they complain about.

First guy:            (As calm as a millpond) Take it easy, ‘Imran Khan’! Have a glass of water. Or should I order you a cold drink? You’re next in line for the haircut and if I had to swim back home through a swamp, I’d do it with a nice clean haircut. Especially after I’d waited for it for quite some time. (Looks around at the other men waiting for their turns with the most brazen of giggles)

Second guy:       (Sarcastic) Don’t worry about me. I’ll order a boat.

First guy:            Fine, suit yourself! They’ve got Peak Factors on these days on boats too, by the way! (Bursts into laughter as the second guy storms out of the barber’s shop)

 

Hammad A. Mateen

If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t

Think about your father, your brother, your son, your sister, your mother, your daughter, your grandchild, your uncle, your aunt, or any of the most closest relations that you may possibly have and consider close. Picture all of them in your mind with all the nicest memories you have of them till now. Recall all the moments where they’ve been there to comfort you- even if comforting meant to only have the knowledge that they’re there for you.

Say your brother’s name once… Now your sister’s name… Now your child’s.

What was the last thing you said to your brother? What did you tell your son when you saw him last? Come on! Try recalling. Even if it was minutes ago.

Now imagine if I tell you that all these loved ones of yours just passed away in an accident or an act of terror that just lasted for a few seconds. Yes! You no longer have your father, brothers, mother, wife, daughter or son. You’ve lost all of them together.

Now say all those names again and tell yourself that they are DEAD. Never to be seen walking around the house, talking to you, laughing with you, crying with you, teasing you, or comforting you ever again.

This is how it is to the surivors of those who pass away in incidents where the news goes like: “5 members of the same family killed in the incident.” News that hardly means anything to us as we casually move on to the next news item without feeling the slightest of compassion for the deceased or their survivors. Forget about compassion, we’re probably not even consciously thankful to God that it wasn’t us in their place.

We’ve belittled the value of human life in our minds so much that we only consider ourselves and those whom we consider our own as humans. We’re comfortable in leaving it to God to take care of the rest of mankind but that too after God takes care of us in a manner that we deem fit.

A few years back, a friend’s cousin met with a road accident and required blood urgently. Upon receiving the message from that friend of mine I quickly spread the word in my circle of influence in order to make an attempt to arrange the required blood type quickly. A mutual friend of ours texted me back asking who the blood was required for. When I gave him the details he was very quick to respond in a manner that boiled my own blood quite instantly. He highlighted the fact that our friend (and therefore his cousin by that connection) belonged to a different sect. He also questioned me whether I was sure about asking people to donate blood for someone from another background.

I was flabbergasted at his response to say the least. All I could come up with in response to this was a simple question: What would you do if you find someone bleeding on the road requiring urgent medical attention? Would you take him to the hospital immediately or run a background check first confirming which religion, sect or group the person belongs to before deciding your next course of action?

Although his response was far less offensive to my surprise but since that day every time I recall the same question, I end up questioning myself for asking that question in the first place. I mean, let’s be honest here with ourselves. How many of us would even stop at the sight of a bleeding person on the road? Not many. Fortunately enough, the time hasn’t come yet when I could sadly yet confidently state ‘none of us’ in response to this very difficult question. But still, the continuously deteriorating situation is not something to write home about as far as compassion is concerned in our society.

Why does it have to take someone who is our own to make us feel the pain? Why has empathy been reduced to merely a topic that corporate trainers & motivational speakers charge huge sums to lecture about in workshops & training sessions? Why does blood have to be treated as blood only when it comes out of us?

All lives have to end one day. Some later than others. If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t. Not because they don’t like reading what I write, but because they’re simply not alive anymore to do so.

Value life, and not just yours but every other human being alive. For every man and woman no matter what religion, sect, caste, group or ethnicity they belong to, and no matter how irrelevant they may be to you, they are someone’s own. Just like your parents, siblings, spouse or any other loved one, the mere thought of whose separation till the life hereafter absolutely sends shivers down your spine.

Hammad A. Mateen

Rationality- a facade

Rationality is such a facade- a getaway that is as equal in magnitude as fantasy. The desire to be pragmatic is as incomprehensible as the yearning to achieve something ideal. Who defines rationality? Isn’t it defined by the very set of people who reject it under different circumstances. Why is a revolutionist always an idealist and why are the followers always ordinarily rational afterwards?

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Why is there always light at the end of the tunnel? Why do we always crave for light? Is it because it opens our eyes to what’s in front of us? If so, then why do we fall? Why is darkness not hope for the ordinary to achieve something new? Is it because we are afraid? Afraid of ourselves of coming across something in the dark that may feel like our own yet it may not turn out to be something acceptable to those outside in the light. Why is ‘normal’ normal? Who decides what brings us out of our misery? Who decides if misery is misery?

Evolution is inevitable. But is evolution really moving forward? What if it’s merely travelling back in time? Why do we make mistakes when everything that happens has happened before and that too countless times with countless people, many of whom live to tell the tale and warn those who come after them?

Is reality a fantasy- or is it the other way round? Bleak memories of our past surround us like wolves that threaten to tear us apart with the slightest movement of our muscles. Yet we know we have to keep moving. Growls of these wolves keep frightening our souls as our bodies sleep dead and wake up alive every passing night and day hoping for a future that is placid and free from all worries- a fantasy that we choose to pursue in a rational world.

How naive is man!

Hammad A. Mateen

سانس لینے کی اجازت مل جایئگی ؟

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٭ داڑھی والا آدمی دین کی بات کرے ٭

“دنیا: “اوۓ! طالبان۔

٭ داڑھی والا آدمی دنیا کی بات کرے ٭

“دنیا: “اوۓ! ڈِسکو مولوی۔

“دنیا: “تم نے ڈاڑھی کیوں رکھی ہے؟

“داڑھی والا آدمی: “سنت کی محبت میں۔

“دنیا: “اوہو!!! ہمیں تو جیسے ہے ہی نہیں سنت سے محبت۔ ہم تو کافر ہیں نہ؟

                                                                                  “دنیا: “اوۓ! تھوڑی ٹرم کرلے اسے، انسان لگے گا

“دنیا: “اوۓ! مونچھ کہاں گئی تیری؟ تو تبلیغی ہے؟

                                                                               “دنیا: “اوۓ!! پہلے حرکتیں ٹھیک کرلیتا پھر داڑھی رکھتا

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کے جھوٹ بولتا ہے؟

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کر لڑکی سے بات کرتا ہے؟

“دنیا” “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کر لڑکے سے بات کرتا ہے؟

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ واش روم جاتا ہے؟

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ جینز پہنتا ہے؟

                                                                                             “دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ شادی کرتا ہے؟

                                                                                                         “دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ سانس لیتا ہے

براۓ مہربانی داڑھی والے کو بھی اپنی طرح کا انسان سمجھیں اور اسکی غلطی پر خود مولوی بن کر اسکے لئے فتوے دینے سے اجتناب برتیں۔

!بہت شکریہ

اللہ پاک ہم سب کو ہدایت عطا فرمایئں۔۔۔ آمین

22 Memories from the ‘Kirmich’ ball era

Watching the Pakistan team bat against Australia this morning in the 1st test match somehow made me wish if every Pakistani batsman could get 2 chances to bat in each innings. The thought, although impractical, opened the doors to many of my own memories from the childhood days when I used to play tape ball or ‘kirmich’ ball (as we used to call it) cricket quite regularly. That would surely have been a format where if one team was a player short, one batsman from that team could’ve been allowed to bat twice. This, and so much more is so far from the real world of cricket but still, even today, many good hard ball cricketers give a lot of credit for their success to this type of cricket.

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In this piece, I am sharing 22 of the most interesting memories of ‘kirmich’ ball cricket that I have. Some of these are not only hilarious but also bizarre to a certain extent when compared with the actual rules of the game. Whichever way you look at it, it was and still is the golden period of many Pakistanis’ and specially Karachiite’s lives.

For me, time when we played ‘Kirmich’ ball cricket was the time:

  1. When it was considered a taboo for someone to open the batting and bowl the first over.
  2. When the most coveted fielding position was to keep wickets.
  3. When Keeping wickets would be called ‘Keepering.’
  4. When the last batsman could bat alone without a partner on the other end.
  5. When the last batsman needed to run 2 in order to be counted as a single.
  6. When walls were used for ‘Deewaar-Catch’ with the most amazing stipulation of using only one hand.
  7. When a one hand catch would also be considered legitimate if it was caught on a single bounce aka ‘One-Tip Out’.
  8. When ‘Heads or Tails’ was first ‘Chaand ya Chaap’ and then ‘Quaid-e-Azam ya Masjid’.
  9. When a Nitto Tape was the most desirable winning prize for the whole team.
  10. When there was a whole science associated with putting tape onto a ball.
  11. When it wasn’t necessary to have enough players to form two teams. ‘Numbering’ would then be the format of the game.
  12. When batting numbers would be decided by one person guessing the number of fingers another person would have opened behind his back over his shoulder.
  13. When stumps would be the distance between two pebbles with a hypothetical height.
  14. When umpires would be from the batting side and the umpire would be eager to get a bat himself.
  15. When regulations would be stricter than the ICC when it came to the bending of the arm for a bowler.
  16. When a batsman had the right to give a ‘Batta Call’ to the umpire when he could measure the arm bend of the bowler exceeding the allowed limit through his bare eyes.
  17. When the bowlers could object on the batsman covering all the stumps. ‘Wicket chor k khelo, bhai!
  18. When due the lack of fielders or unsuitable terrain, play could be limited to offside or onside only.
  19. When batsmen didn’t need to run when the ball hit the wall behind the wicket keeper as that would automatically add a single or double to the scorecard.
  20. When ‘Ghar mein jana’ could either deduct runs or result in the fall of a wicket.
  21. When a player could be substituted by another permanently on need basis.
  22. When the ball hitting the body of the batsman was as good as hitting the stumps (One Body Out).

Some of the above are not only memories but rules that still prevail in these times. Tape ball cricket is a sport and passion in its own right.  For all those guys out there playing Tape Ball cricket regularly, keep rocking and keep this game alive.

Hammad A. Mateen

 

Those mornings…

Mornings connote freshness- they represent bright starts and new beginnings. We look forward to them as they bring light, hope and enthusiasm to our lives. But then there are mornings that bring dread and angst with the awakening of the self-proclaimed unfortunate. When dreams gets shattered under the weight of reality and ideals are thrown out of the window by pragmatism. Mornings, when staying in bed means much more than just a few more moments of comfort. It’s hard to believe that the universe is still intact despite our prayers of its overnight culmination the previous night. Why did this morning come? Could our waking up actually be the beginning of a dream? How we wish it was!

Our fears stare us in the eyes and wish us good morning with all the sarcasm in the world almost mocking us without any pretense. We hide our apprehensions temporarily behind the alarm clock but that doesn’t last long either. And with a bugle call that almost signifies the commencement of our battle with our fears, we are forced- almost involuntarily pushed out into the battlefield. There’s no hiding now. The enemy must be confronted and this clash will not end before one of the warriors concedes defeat.

Some of us are so scared already that they do not want wounds to be taken along with them to the heavens and they raise the white flag anticipating a less painful death. Others use their armor of will almost out of compulsion like a cornered tiger and look their fears in the eye. They fight, bleed, and cry but they do not concede. Pain isn’t pain anymore and even though they have read the writing on the wall they refuse to die with the regret of not emptying the chamber at the enemy first.

For mornings like these, darkness brings peace. It’s an arduous journey towards the night- a night where refuge is on the offering and where reality takes a break.

Hammad A. Mateen

Do you want change?

We all want to make a difference and turn this country around on its head putting it on a path that leads to development, prosperity and overnight success. Some of us want to do it by taking to the streets, some are still exploring avenues and platforms from where they can create ‘impact’, others are thinking why this country isn’t changing despite their utmost efforts put in the drawing room discussions that they so regularly become part of. But have we thought of starting to make a difference by taking small steps instead of huge lunges.

If asked, ‘Do you want change?’ Most of us will say, ‘Yes!’

But if we are asked, ‘Do YOU want to change?’ We will not be so quick in responding in the affirmative.

Do we think about starting from ourselves and mending our own ways by dealing with the minor infractions and habits that we’ve become so accustomed to in our daily lives? Take it from me, a societal change is only possible when all pieces that constitute the society are in place and coherently moving in the right direction. Those pieces are us, the citizens of this country and members of the society.

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So, let’s start from ourselves and start making a difference by:

  1. Being punctual to work
  2. Giving way to others on the road
  3. Respecting & following the traffic signals
  4. Accepting your mistake and saying ‘Sorry’
  5. Turning off the water tap while brushing teeth
  6. Carpooling wherever possible
  7. Exchanging gifts with colleagues, friends & family
  8. Praising your spouse
  9. Learning to say ‘Thank you’
  10. Turning off the AC & lights when leaving the room
  11. Doing regular ‘Sadqah’
  12. Spending time with your parents
  13. Appreciating your co-workers
  14. Stop saying ‘this is not my job’
  15. Saying hello to old friends
  16. Stop backbiting other people
  17. Starting to think from the other person’s perspective rather than your own every time
  18. Minding your own business when you’re required to
  19. Keeping your tongue in control and refrain from hurting others
  20. Being honest yet respectful towards others
  21. Accepting others for who they are
  22. Not wasting food
  23. Sending food platters to neighbors
  24. Stop procrastinating, especially at work
  25. Being thankful to ALLAH for all that He’s given you

These are just 25 of the hundreds of small but good deeds that have an impact that spreads like a fission chain reaction. Revolutions start from individuals and unless we become that what we expect our society to become, nothing is going to change.

Think about it!

Hammad A. Mateen

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الفاظ عرف شاعری

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