Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Arafath and the mountain.

Over the last few weeks, I've watched Ara get ready for his big Kili trip.

He leaves to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on the morning of July 21st and he's doing it for the Larchfield Charity Organization. Together with others, their aim is to raise funds to build homes for underprivileged children in Tanzania.
In the last month we've organised a charity book and bake sale, a charity basketball tournament, talked to countless people and done endless research. I've realised it's fairly easy to talk about, write about, read about. 

Living it however, isn't as easily done. 

I wanted this post to be about all the hard work he's put in. The hours at the gym and at the weekly Friday trainings. The time he's spent researching the right gear, preparing himself mentally, talking to me about the minute details and all the other hundred things he's done in preparation for the climb. 

But I can't. 
Instead, all that's in my head and my heart, is pride. 

I am proud of how he keeps reminding himself why he's doing this and who it is going to benefit. 
Of how he has gone about this - all guns blazing, pushing himself mentally and physically. 
I am proud when I watch him talk to others about the climb - educating, informing, inspiring - all the while not realising what a big deal it is. 
Of how he is worried about himself and about us, because he is human. 
I am proud of the boy who told me, "If I can do anything good with my love for fitness, that would be good, right?"

I am proud of the boy I married eight years ago. I continue to watch your heart get bigger and bigger and it never ceases to amaze me. What you and everyone in your group is doing, is amazing. But I am partial to you. 

I will always be partial to you. Because you and I are drawn with the same pen and by the same Almighty hand. We were drawn with the same heart and the same love. You are mine as I am yours and for everything you are and all you are doing, I am proud of you. 

You'd think after eight year of marriage, the flowery words would stop. 
I find that they instead, start to mean a lot more. 

I found this song yesterday and fell in love with it. I think you might too. 
Enjoy your adventure and be safe. Love you much. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Love Over Fear.

Being in the world right now kinda sucks.
Terrorist attacks taking place all over the world, and the death of innocence is all over the news. Corrupt politicians who think they can dictate what is meant to divide - colour, religion, sexual identity, gender...the list is endless.

When we were younger, we didn't worry as much - that's what parents were for. Growing up in the Middle East, the Gulf War was very 'real.' I have faded memories of mum and dad stocking up on tinned food, random power cuts and regular phone calls from family making sure we were doing ok.

But we're older now. We know more. We see more. We love more, so we fear more. That's beautiful and dangerous at the same time.

My husband and I are parents to a gorgeous little three year old. With her, every day is different. On some days her personality comes leaping out and we delight in it, but on others, we find ourselves holding back tears. Because I guess, it's what being a parent means....if it doesn't hurt sometimes, you probably aren't doing it right.
I often think about how we want her to be a good kid and have her heart in the right place. Love, respect, courage, generosity, compassion...all those words we associate with the beauty of every religion.

And then, I raise my eyes from my world of motherhood and take in the world around big must I ask this little heart to be, when this is what she's going to be faced with?

The thought stayed with me and bothered me. A lot.
I watched a beautiful video earlier this week. And luckily, that stayed with me too. It was a reminder that in the bloody, hurtful, distressing battle between love and will always win.
You can watch it here.

So, to my little heart (and to hearts everywhere if you'd like)

It will never make sense. 
There will always be hurt, there will always be pain, there will always be fear. For some reason - this is how things work, it's the way the world is designed. Perhaps it's meant to make things better in the long run, perhaps it's meant to teach us something ... we'll never really know and for longer than forever - people will debate this, just because they can. They will use social media, news channels, rallies and everything under the sun to support some, protest others, argue about who's supporting who...and it will be confusing. But sit back and think. How can you change this? For whom? Choose your battles wisely.

Be compassionate.
Hurt is hurt. Whether it's depression, a broken relationship, or an abusive marriage. Pain is pain. Whether it is war, earthquakes, or famine. If one country feels it - the world feels it. Do not give less of your heart...give as much as your heart can give. Whether it is money, prayers, or your time - just give. The person you help, may be the one who at that time - needs it most.

How much love is enough? 
It will never be enough for the world, my baby girl. Just as I don't know how much I love you (but it's a lot, trust me.) neither does the world know how much love it needs. But that can never stop us from giving. Our hearts have a beautiful magic to them...they're ever so tiny, but they grow enough to allow us to love. Always, just that little bit more, each time.

People, God, the universe...will keep doing things for you. A hot meal, a taxi ride when you need it most, a hug from a friend, a good game on court, a phone will just keep coming. Always, always, always - choose to recognise it.

It isn't easy. 
Sometimes it will hurt. You will see things, and experience situations that will break you, and make you cry. There will be haters and name-callers. It will be exhausting to deal with. It will piss you off, even. But remember to think before you react. Again, choose your battles. If you need to fight, by all means. You come from a long line of fighters, and if you truly believe in it, and it's for all the right reasons - go for it. And you will always, quite miraculously, have help. Because others will love like you do, and they will find you. And it will always be worth it.

It will make you happy. 
At the end of it all, it will. I promise you. Your heart will be your own, and it will be at peace.
People tend to be scared of the word 'love'...perhaps it's a bit too real for them to handle. But learn to know it and it will not scare you. It is loyalty, respect, truth, bravery, faith, compassion and more. Love will set you free.

Damn, parenting really changes the way you see things. You re-learn how to do life.
Love over fear, my precious one. Always.

For my Mama, Cecilia. 
Who taught me love is what made us, and it was love that saved us. 
Happy 56th birthday <3 nbsp="">

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Positive people. And why they're a good idea.

If you don't understand positive people, here's how it works.
The world we live in, is unfortunately fuelled to a great extent, by negativity. It's easier to complain, gossip, look away, be selfish, nasty, self-centred, mean-spirited and all the rest.
Because that is what we see, that is what we do.
The positive folk amongst us, try to overcome this. And while most of everyone thinks it's a nothing effort, it comes naturally, or 'that's just the way they are' - No.
No one is 'naturally' like that.
You try. And try. And watch others who have mastered the art of living a positive, truly happy life. 
And you learn. 
You get tired and hurt sometimes. After all, you're up against a mountain of negativity, but you keep trying all the same and refuse to give up on the inherent goodness of people. And hopefully along the way - you teach someone else a thing or two as well.
It isn't about money, connections, luck, one-upmanship, flaunting good fortune, etc. It's about the seemingly little things - friendship, family, love, empathy, respect, laughter, faith and more. 
It's about doing all you can, with love.
You may call it good sense, the right attitude, logic, humanity - love is just easier. I sense that it's scarier to a lot of people too...but its really, just easier.
So those positive people I mentioned earlier? 
If you don't understand them, don't be in such a hurry to bring them down. When push comes to shove, they're the ones who'll be standing in your corner when you, or anyone else, needs them most.
Till later.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Two is such a big number.

Leah turned two today. 

I didn't think it was possible, but she's even more perfect now, than when she turned one. 

We brought in her birthday with balloons, singing, dancing and much noise and merriment. She was thrilled and kept taking a bow, something she has recently learnt to do, much to our delight. We cut a little cake and our little girl felt rather shy, bless her heart. She was yelling 'thank you, thank you!' at the top of her voice as the balloons bobbed around her and we sang the birthday song in all the languages we know. 
She blew out her own candles this year....for me, that was new. 

At bedtime, our knackered princess hugged her Gappy goodnight and as he blessed her, she said, in her matter of fact way, 'I'm very happy.' Ara and I were showered with kisses. She wanted only her Gammy to put her to bed. 

When and where, O little one, did you pick up all this? What were you watching, what did you think and how much did you learn when we didn't even know you were paying attention?! You amaze us every day with the little person you are becoming. We see this strong, loving, gentle, often stubborn personality, slowly coming through. You are a reflection of all the people who love you ever so much, and you are a testament of the love of a precious God, our special friend. 

Someday, I hope you will read this and smile. Your second birthday was just like every other day, but it was so special at the same time. Because you see joy in the little things, my princess. In wrapping paper and nonsense and family meals and tickle-time and playing hide and seek. 

I hope you always see the little things. And know, deep down in your heart, that they are really the big things. 

Happy birthday, my Leedoo. 
Here is the secret I have been whispering to you almost every day, for the past year. You rush to me, excited to hear it each time. And when I whisper it to you, you look at me and whoever else is around you, in complete glee. 

You are my favourite. 
You always will be. 
<3 div="" nbsp="">

Papa and I love you very, very much. You make us want to be better people every day. You remind us to look at the world with love. You are our everything. 
Two, to such a big, big number.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let love lead us, love is Christmas.

Christmas is almost here.
And my heart is bursting a little at the seams. With happiness and thankfulness and joy.

We have a little bundle of joy due in the family anytime now - Muzu and Tabby....we just cannot wait to see you become parents! You will be more perfect than you can imagine!

Amrith and Addy are here with us, right after their crazy fun wedding in Calcutta and just before flying back to the UK. A whirlwind stopover, just to be with all of us.
It feels like home.

Mum and Dad are coming. Soon.
And then all my angels will be in one place again.

I have girls who love me. My girls.
With their cameras and to-do lists, they are mine.
You know who you are.

I have my Leah.
I have her. She is mine.
She is my noisy place, I am her safety. She is my cheeky grin, I am her hug goodnight.

And then there's my boy.
Who this year, wholeheartedly supported one of my biggest decisions to leave a 10-year banking career and follow my heart. He knew I could before I did.
He takes off my glasses when I fall asleep with them on. He goes grocery shopping on his own when he knows my hands are full. He sings my praises when I am unsure of myself. He holds on to my feet when all the balloons I hold in my hands, tend to lift me slightly off the ground.

Ara, you made me the happiest girl in the world and you continue to do so, in so many little ways. You are my I love you.

So Christmas is here.
From a humble stable where a little boy was born, to the love it brings to all our hearts today. To quote a favourite family hymn, 'Love it was that made us and it was love that saved us.'
Love is Christmas.

This song, 'Love is Christmas by Sara Bareilles', is a favourite of mine - it says all the most important things about the season..the stuff that matters.

I am thankful for good health, friends, family, love and happiness.
And as always, we pray for these blessings to be echoed to all who need them, all around the world. May 2015 be the year that the world remembers how to live. And how to love.

Merry Christmas everyone. From me and mine, to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Troubled times.

I do not understand anymore.

There is much happening in this world, my world. On a world stage and within my inner circle as well. Things that I do not understand, things that hurt and have left me stunned and wide-eyed and holding back tears all at the same time.

In Sydney, innocent people were held hostage when they went to get their morning coffee. In Pakistan, a school was attacked. Children were murdered. 
There is little or no tolerance for people who are considered different. LGBT, have birth defects, are victims of war syndromes, abuse, slavery...there is no tolerance. Religious or otherwise. 

I sometimes feel my faith in humanity dwindling. I regret the world I live in, the world my little girl will grow up in. I feel my temper rise when I hear people make callous judgements on rape and abuse victims. I felt my heart ache when I saw a loved one with a disease that meant no one wanted to get too close. My soul feels heavy when I am part of a crowd of people who rally together, to walk in silence, for a cause they believe in.

But these are big things.

I feel empty and hurt when in our own, daily lives – we take each other for granted. We say and do things, we cannot take back or undo. We act without thinking. Of consequences, of feelings, of people we supposedly care about.
We do not stop to think.

No, I’m nowhere close to perfect. But that isn’t the point and completely not where I’m going with any of this.

Yesterday, on a social media forum, we spoke about how the Pakistan hockey team acted rather disgracefully after a win against rivals, India. We also spoke about how the Indian spectators treated the Pakistan team during the game. Again, disgraceful.
But what stayed with me after this online conversation, was one comment - “they deserved more hostility”.

How, on any level, can this possibly be correct?
How can that be the way we think, or the way our brains are conditioned to be?

I realized that it was more than just that conversation about a hockey game. It is the way we have come to look at life, in our own little spaces. With hostility.
 Traffic, office politics, family drama, when things generally don’t go our way.

We allow ourselves the excuse, that we are human. 

This then slowly, collectively, as the human race we are, snowballs into a much bigger problem. One that rears its ugly head on a world stage. We give it many names….religious differences, social norms, tradition. And we allow ourselves these excuses.
I guess what I’m saying is that if my faith is dwindling…I’m possibly not the only one.
But thankfully, I have been blessed with moments, people, situations…that remind me of the good, no matter how seemingly insignificant – in this unfortunately fickle-minded world.

So though I know little, here are my wishes for you.

Hold on to what keeps you sane.
To the person at work who makes you smile even when it’s the shittiest kind of day. To that 30-minute run you take, that allows you to think straight. To tidying up your house, playing with a kitten, cooking up a storm, watching a movie, saying a prayer, socializing, giving someone a hug, watching a child be joyful. Hold on.

Believe that there is good in the world.
From Pope Francis telling you that all animals go to heaven, to the people of Sydney and their #illridewithyou spirit, to Secret Santa gifts that make you smile when you open them, to your mum telling you that she loves you on whats app from miles away, to photographs of forgotten moments, to friends who care about the little things, to music.

Don’t be scared. Get closer.
We haven’t been programmed to know everything or to understand everything. Be bothered to know more. About causes and things that matter. As much as we’ve heard it a 1000 times before…be the change you want to see in the world. My mum taught me that I needed to brighten my little corner …and though I didn’t always agree with her, man do I believe her.
Do not be scared of what you do not understand. Deformities, abnormalities, sexual orientation, taking a stand against injustice, being pro-choice and so much more. 
Because you do not understand it, does not necessarily mean it is wrong.

Breathe. And think.
Before you react, before you speak, before you provoke, before you cry, before you raise your voice, before you stand up for something, before you make a choice, before you criticize, before you lose your heart, before you gossip, before you believe.
Just breathe and give yourself the opportunity to rationalize.

Give a little love.
To yourself, your family, your friends, the world.
And especially to people you wouldn’t normally want to.
Pay it forward. 

Now, think of your most favorite person.

There’s got to be some good in the world. The person you thought of, is or was, a part of it.

And I’m not preaching, I promise. Just sharing my life lessons.
Merry Christmas. May you always know that you are loved.

Till later.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sav, Viv & six degrees of separation.

A little over a week ago, we were smack dab in the middle of madness.

Ribbons, bows, songs, dances, red carpets, clappers, short, wedding preparations for the latest big wedding in the family - Sav & Viv.

Detail upon detail was discussed, finalized and then often - discussed again and changed. Whats app chat groups, lengthy emails, visits to tailors, practices, way too many phone calls - you name it, we had it all going on.
It was completely insane. And yet, it was the best thing ever.

Sav and Viv, I figure in all the madness, you may have missed out on a few things. So I thought I'd fill you in on some of the stuff that happened at our end - the boys side. Some of the wonder that was your wedding and the lead-up to it. Stuff that we may have all been too busy to realize, but are thankful for.

Sav, your home and everyone in it. Everyone wanted to help. Whether it was tying bells to chopsticks, or feeding those of us who sat in Chinese factory fashion - everyone wanted to do something to make your special day perfect. That is good fortune.

Your mother. She practiced to dance with you. She felt shy and hesitant and emotional. But she made sure she looked her best and she made sure she took off her sweater, to dance with her golden boy. That is precious.

Your nieces. Oh my, your nieces. One practiced and practiced till your 'Primavera' was perfect. She was so concerned throughout and worried she would mess up. But on the day; in her purple gown and with her unsure  eyes - she was perfect. Sims, our little lady.
The other surprised us all. She perfected dance steps. Did you see? She was so nervous about running to the front to be picked up and thrown in the air! She became the baby girl that we all remember in that instance. She was the little Yva again.

Your cousins. They did everything they could on the wedding day to make it perfect. From opening church doors to the right chords of your entrance hymn, to running around the venue searching for the videographers, to having long, patient conversations with exasperating limo drivers. That is blood.

Your boys. Seeing you guys together made me realize what you mean to each other. At the park, it was like watching grown men leap out of their bodies and remember what it was like to be boys.  At your roce, watching a certain Mr. Sher sit with you and shiver his behind off - that is friendship.

Your bhai. My boy. He was your witness with all the pride that his heart can hold. He said he would stay with you all day - just in case. Of anything. He covered you with a blanket as you slept a few nights before. He said he would say what had to be said to anyone who needed it to be said to. You know. That, is brotherhood.

Your sister. Gosh. Where to start?
If she had to climb mountains and swim through rivers - she would have. She drove all over Dubai, nearly every day for two months, just to sort out every minute wedding detail.

You know her. Can you imagine the number of lists we were working with? She managed to stay on top of everything - travel plans, costing, family, friends, emotions...and then I saw her as you got married. As you danced. As you replied to the toast. When I watched you and her other boys dance with her...that is the only time I cried at your wedding. Because she deserved to know how special she is. To you boys and to the rest of us as well. That is love.

Your Jeej. He was ready for anything. To act, to dance, to party, to pick and drop - anything for Chinna. He folded tulle fabric (and yes, there was a lot of it!) he made sure the rest of us ate, he was the perfect big brother. He even color co-ordinated outfits with his wife. *grins* That's a lot more than just a Jeeju.

Your bridesmaid spent ages figuring out how and when she would sort out your saado make-up. She packed a bag for herself and you, made mental lists of all the stuff you may need - and put it together. She stayed with you that Friday evening. Just to know you were ok. That is caring.

Our little girl, Leah. The morning of your wedding we watched her take about 15 steps with so much confidence! We knew that she would be able to walk the aisle, at least a little. She did. In her own baby girl way - she was there.

Your friends. They got together with your family and went over dance steps, drafted skits, learnt entire routines in a day. They celebrated with us, helped without hesitation, watched you with happy hearts. That is loyalty. 

Ara and I are strong believers in the theory of 6 degrees of separation. That we are all linked to like minded people, by just 6 degrees. Which would mean, that others like us, people we would instantly get along with, identify with, feel a oneness with...were only a few steps away.

Through your wedding, it's amazing how many of us found each other. Some we already knew of, some we met and recognized immediately. On your wedding night - we were not parents, children, cousins, friends, photographers.
We were all just one big family. We watched you with love, happiness and pride.

It's like Ara said. The people around you on your special day...they are what matters. They will always be there, no matter what. For anything and everything. Present physically or in spirit - they are who they are.

That is family.

Congratulations you two. You have all our love, prayers and good wishes as you go forward to do life together. My advice for you?

Shucks, I have none. Go on, make your mistakes. Overcome your own hurdles, celebrate the little victories.
Learn together. And always remember to love.

Leaving you with this one. I know I'll never be able to hear it without thinking of you guys.
And yes,  it's a favorite of mine too now.

Big hugs.