Barbecue Paprika Drumsticks —

I whipped these babies up for a small little party that I had. Its the perfect party food, I kid you not. Its super easy and so filling! Seems like you made crazy crazy effort but really, all you did was just take the skin off the drumsticks. And marinated them. Lets keep it a […]

via Barbecue Paprika Drumsticks —

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Chapter 2

I do not know if I made apparent my exceptional love for my child and my incessant gratitude to Allah, the Almighty for bestowing me with such a gift. If I hadn’t, maybe by elaborating I can vindicate my recognition. Also, before skimming the rest of this piece avid reader, be warned; This is me at my most vulnerable so no “LOLs” this time round. So, here goes…

Even before my husband and I had decided to pursue marriage, we were certain that whoever we ended up with, had to be on board with having children right away. Lo and Behold! We ended up with each other! We dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on the Nikkahnama, had all our family and friends partake in the wedding and then we held our breath and waited…
…and waited.

It just was not happening. At that time, I did not know what we, what I was doing wrong. I was in Lahore, a member to this family who had nothing in common with me with only my husband on my side. My parents were more than a continent away from me, and I knew no one who had been through something like this, therefore no one to ask help from. Yes, constant emphasis was given to the lack of an infant in my lap and undeniably it was accentuated that medically something was wrong with me. This was literally just 6 months into the marriage!

Eventually, I genuinely got concerned and wanted to see medical physicians who could tell me what the hold up was. I went to all the specialists I could find or was recommended to go see. Yet every time Aunty Flo visited, it was monitored and frowned upon. I cannot highlight the height of my embarrassment and the magnitude of failure I felt. After every consultation, I was told that I am not infertile, I was just stressed and the constant burden of getting pregnant was keeping me from being just that.
But isn’t that just the thing with doctors?
They say things like don’t think about it and it will happen, give it time…
“Well Doc ! It is constantly on mind my and I can’t help it that’s why I have come to you. Fix it and do not tell me not to think. That is not a fix.”

The months melted into years and all my alarms went off. I started to take medication, which at first were  just a few pills, then they turned into injections. After many battles with my husband I persuaded him to let me get an IUI procedure… or 3.

Sigh
No dice.
Then I turned to IVF.It was excruciating…
Not to forget demeaning and it physically drained and shattered me.

But it worked!

I was pregnant… for a little over 2 months, then I suppose the inevitable happened, I miscarried.

There are no words in any language that can explain what I felt .The moment I found out, it was as if my guts were clawed out of me. My mind went into a deep shock. I didn’t want to believe it and desperately waited for a miracle. All I wanted was some hope to cling on to. Everything I went through, this could not happen to me.
To us.

We were good people; we would make good parents. My mother never miscarried. Infact, she had me exactly ten months after she was married. I thought everyone pitied me, or worse snickered at yet another failed attempt made by me. I was disgusted with myself. That is the mildest term I can come up with. There was so much self loathing and it was a dark period for me.

The worse was yet to come. After losing the baby I was expected to not mourn. It was pressed on me time and time again that I must just shrug it off. It happens. I cringed every time someone pointed out she was not even bigger than a walnut and it is okay if the walnut is gone, I should just get over it. My mind screamed, she was not a walnut, she was my baby. But nobody understood. No one cared. I wanted to mourn my unborn child and I was brushed aside. All the traumatic physical anguish my body went through and the turmoil my mind was in was beyond all measure. But no one came forward to tell me it is okay to yearn for a vanquished probability. Then came the nights where I just bawled into my husband’s arms. Those nights were cold and ruthless.

It was then, somebody said to my husband that I miscarried because I was careless with the pregnancy. Maybe he saw what an effort I made just to get out of bed every single day to face the world, maybe it hit him how I had anguished over every tiny detail during the pregnancy, or maybe he was just tired of hearing people put me down for something I had no control over, he flipped. A gear just shifted, our lives changed. He lost his cool, packed our bags and we left that city, where our hearts were devastated time and time again.

New beginnings, change of scenery, away from the brooding eyes of relatives brought an amazing blessing. I was pregnant sans medication and all its hoo ha. Nine months flew by and now I have Ismaeel. He is the centre of my universe. He is the reason I believe God rewards His believers. But I still think about my unborn child. She does not leave my heart and I don’t think she ever will. So, when I want to do something for Ismaeel I always have a yearning for her also. I feel like I have to love Ismaeel twice as much because a little bit of her is in him. I want to give him the world and then some. With every milestone he hits, I like to believe she has helped him. I am a very weird human being.img_7805
Love your children, appreciate them and applaud them.

There are people in this world who crave parenthood beyond any other blessing. God must have seen a spark of brilliance in you for rewarding you with little boys and little girls. Hold them, cuddle them and enjoy them. At the same time, be kind to those who struggle with fertility. It is not easy being on the other side of the fence. Respect the mums who have lost a baby, because no matter how early the pregnancy fell apart a mother never forgets.
And don’t shun adoption.
I will delve into this topic another day though, because there is so much that goes into adoption for a muslim family, but it is something one should properly research.
God is Great. He tests you by testing the ones around you.
Shukar Alhumdullilah

Pakistan’s Children…About time we right our wrongs

There was this show on tv hosted by a Mr Amir Khan, “Sathya meh Vijaytay”. Even though I am not a diehard fan of Amir Khan’s movies, this show gets a standing ovation. It touches issues that are quite taboo in the sub-continent, it inspires and motivates the average man to be a ‘better’ man. The show’s finale focused on women’s liberation and men’s right to be sensitive. It spoke volumes about how our children are raised and the restraints put on them from the moment they are born. It is terrifying thinking about the how suppressed our children are even before they are able to talk. This show put so many things into perspective for me that I couldn’t help but jot down my thoughts and share. Maybe someone will read this and rethink the values they are teaching their children, maybe confining genders into stereotypes will become a taboo, or maybe someone will just revise their school of thought.

The Islāmic Republic of Pakistan has double standards when it comes to raising her children. Consisting of a population whose majority is based in the rural areas where education is a luxury for most, it is not really that big of a shock that people’s mentality is very limited and their vision is tunnelled. Even though our religion teaches us tolerance for each other, no matter which caste or creed or sex we belong to, it isn’t implemented like other radical traits only followed in Pakistan. We have become a nation of unforgiving hypocrites who focus on personal triumphs alone. But then again, I am surprised daily to see how being educated does not guarantee an open mind. If our educated factions can be so biased, then who can even blame the uneducated?

Living in a society where gender specific occupations and lifestyles are imperative. It is next to impossible to break this mould even within the confines of one’s own social circles. A girl must be delicate, pristine and exquisite. She must bethe 3 S’s; soft, subtle and shy. She must always compromise and never voice her own opinion. And God forbid she must never be smarter than a boy. If a girl earns a living then something is wrong with her morality and isn’t considered marriage material.If she falls in love and chooses her husband, she probably played a game of entrapment with the poor, gullible groom. If she doesn’t pop a baby out right away, she has to endure sympathies from all her in-laws and their extended family. If she chooses to educate her daughter and teach her to be a free thinking, strong willed individual, then the mother will be blamed for raising such a wild child. It is a never ending, chaotic cycle that consumes our society like the black hole inevitably consume all entities.bp21

Not only is a girl’s character always criticized, her physical attributes are forever in question. Throughout Pakistan, girls get a lot criticism for the way they look; they are too dark, too fat, too short, too tall and so on. Another thing people are always talking about are a girl’s apparel. If she wears jeans, than she probably has no islamic virtues and if she covers her head she is a fundamentalist. The extremist nature of people’s mentaity is exhausting and antagonising. It is atrocious that belonging to a religion which teaches us to look at a person’s inner beauty, we cannot seem to look beyond the shade of a person’s skin or their weight on a scale. I know ten-year old girls who go on diets because they feel like their tummy is getting big. Teeny, tiny girls who refuse to chop off their lice infested hair because they think their hair is too beautiful to be short. There was this 12-year-old girl who was obnoxious to her mother, because her mother would not let her get a facial. A daughter’s physical appearance gets more attention from parents than her manners or her education. It is so frustrating when I come across little girls who are being groomed into spiteful young women who can only talk about shoes and makeup. They have no opinions on what is happening around the world, no inspirations to be a great inventor or an astronaut, and no thirst whatsoever to become a better human being. How can one fight for their right to an advanced education when their parents don’t instil this basic need in their daughters? If Pakistani parents feel that their only duty is to raise their daughter to be someone’s wife, then how can liberation as a woman be important to her? dec08-lead1When beauty is the scale a woman is measured by, why would she ever want to give up her beauty regime for a book? I hate that little girls are taught to value material things, over their respect and intellect. Be submissive and you will get a brand new purse! Don’t have an opinion and get a manicure! But this is for the upper middle class… for the less fortunate it is more like a dimension of taunts and backhand comments, “don’t fight with you brother or I will marry you off” , “ wear a dupatta over your head, your in-laws will say we did not teach you any better”. This level of low is what our society has succumbed to.

Boys obviously get more leniency when it comes to their manners, their education and most importantly their outlook on life. After all, “Larka hay, khair hay” which is parallel to “boy will be boys’. They are shown every day that they mustn’t clean after themselves, they are applauded for their abrasiveness, and encouraged never ever to show weakness. It is important to be respected and feared. If you do not evoke these two emotions from people then you are not much of a man. They are taught to be crass and harsh and sometimes, even cruel just to prove that they are secure in their “manhood”.
My domestic helper has a brother who is 3 years younger than her and she is petrified of him. She tells me that her mother also fears her 13-year-old son. A mother grooms the child but if she is afraid of him, what will she teach him? How will she discipline him? Will he ever truly be able to respect his mother outside the bond of love evoked by nature? If he cannot respect his sister, will he be able to respect his wife? Are all these women his personal entourage of slaves who run at his every beck and call? It is unfathomable feat to penetrate this cocoon of self righteousness and bigotry that we have created for our sons. It is a shame so few even try.

If the male child lives in a village as a farm hand or as the son of a zamidaar, his educationis limited if any. As a display of wealth, the zamidaar’s son might go abroad to study, live a few years sampling the care free life of a bourgeoise, only to return and to marry a (distant) relative chosen by his parents and then sets on the path of creating offspring of the male orientation. The middle, working class devote most of their savings on educating their son/sons so he may be capable enough to carry the burden of the elderly parents. Then of course he must marry a sensible, shareef girl who will bear him many sons because only his male offspring can prove his true self-worth. All this is beyond absurd and to a point cruel. Are our sons and daughters mere cattle, that their birthright is only to breed?_48939904_children_run_play

There is this public service message on the Indian television stations about teaching sons that “larkay rolatay nahi hain” as opposed to “larkay rohtay nahi hain”. This statement has triggered so much emotion within me and is a huge inspiration for me to write this article. Sharing so many cultural traits with India, it is no surprise that this little message hits extremely close to home. Boys are the most prized possessions of a normal Pakistani household. Yet, the basic life lessons they are taught are either fanatically pseudo Islāmic or are loose ended and vague in morality. I strongly agree that a male child is at the end of the day the backbone of our society – I say this without any forms of prejudice because we need strength and valour and integrity to create any kind of base for our women to make homes, raise families and most importantly feel safe to express themselves. And for these reasons alone, a boy must be taught to be sensitive, kind and patient. It is NOT okay if your sons beats up children in school, it is NOT okay if he gets into random fist fights and it is definitely NOT okay if he hits his wife. Do not let your sons get away with this kind of behaviour. When a son sees his dad hitting his mother in one moment and in the other his mother cleaning herself up and serving her husband tea – the message the child gets is NOT the right one. He will be bound to repeat these actions in his wife. Domestic violence is the cruelest form of aggression, do not let it be a staple in your home.

If you show a person physical strength, he may fear you but he will never respect you. Respect and love must be earned and valued above all else. We cannot teach our sons brutality and aggression, just like we cannot teach them to be cowards and deserters. These little boys need to look up to their fathers and see them respecting their wives, loving their families, standing up for their rights and most importantly they need to see vulnerability because it takes a lot of bravery to shed a few tears. Our sons need to learn that it is wrong to raise one’s hand on the weak, to be impatient and to cruel. They should also be taught that it is okay to back away from a fight, that it is okay to cry because they hurt, and most importantly it is okay to be wrong. Parents should develop strength in their children to stand up for what they believe in and humility to be able to swallow criticism and take advice.1d4d5feb5cd21c341ba69db91a1e6fb7
Pakistan not only mismanages schooling of little girls, she also gambles with her boys’ education. Whatever major their children choose, they know they cannot be an artist or a writer or a poet. These professions do not put food on the table or earn respect in society – or so it is believed. Other taboos are that music is not a profession it is a disgraceful hobby, if he is a fashion designer he is probably gay and can’t earn money otherwise and God forbid acting or directing films means that his entire family belongs to the red light area. All these allegations are absurd and contradictory. When you sing along to their songs, wear their clothes and adamantly watch their movies, how dare you condemn them as professionals? If your kid wants to be a rock star, support him with lessons – who knows he may end up being talentless. But if he isn’t don’t crush his dreams by saying his talents are worthless and lock him in a room with engineering books.

This vague, baseless school of thought has been done to death. Let your sons and daughters be. Teach them good morals and let them choose what they want to do in life. It is more vital that they learn to be good human beings. Don’t push your children into moulds set by society. Don’t force them to study what you want for them, let them choose and explore life as the incredible adventure that it is. This journey that God has put us on, it is an astonishing, mesmerising ride with just as many hurdles as there are joys; arm your children with the right morals so they are prepared to travel through life with honour and dignity. Prepare them for all surprises life may throw at them and most importantly, keep them humble because in the end it’s all ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
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Chapter 1

By the Grace of the Almighty, on the 24th of October, my ever so adorable bundle of joy, my little glow bug, spawned from my utmost desire to procreate will be officially 5 months old! Masha Allah!

img_1147This means I can almost time his naps, which in turn gives me a chance to type away my random ramblings and maybe, just maybe make some sense out of how to handle living with two boys and a whole lot of chaos.

This blog is about what I have learnt since the fetus popped out of me and all I know of how people and circumstances evolve when a baby is in the picture. Not to forget, how my mere existence is trivial in comparison to raising a human being in this day and age.

First earth shattering secret, my friends is that child-birth is hard!

Movies and books don’t show you jack.
The internet, even though rather helpful at times, cannot train you to huff puff a little baby into the world.

The physical stress on one’s being is SUPERNATURALLY BIZARRE.
Giving birth, any which way; normal or cesarean, is just the most traumatic excruciating exercise known to women.

No man I know can ever go through such an ordeal. Blessings and beautiful babies aside, it is a ball of flesh yanked out of your body. No pain even compares!

A lot of social media groups encourage people to share their ‘Birthing Stories’ but what does one share exactly?
I vaguely remember what I went through and what I put everyone through. I hear I was not very nice ( to put it mildly) to my husband and a particular nurse who wanted me to bounce on an exercise ball. I mean come on! Contractions have me sweating and heaving and she wanted me to bounce like Shilpa Shetty in Dostana, which was so not happening.

From the entire ordeal, I just remember digging my nails into my husband’s arm, biting my Maa and thinking I would never be able to push out a marble let alone an 8 eight pound infant. But suddenly the baby was there and swept away with me wondering if it is ok to ask for water now.

What had just happened? Even before I had figured out my bearings, I had to push even more gook out if me and was stitched up.
In the midst of all the medical staff seeing me at my most vulnerable, there is the aftershock of being able to see my toes again, and acknowledging the gut wrenching fact that all my fatty bits are still there, not to forget my skin has this gross discoloration and there is blood everywhere!

But someone places a little wrapped wailing creature in my arms and the world held still for that moment. I could not hear anything, I could not see anyone; I was spellbound. I just held my enchanting little being and inhaled this wonderful magical symbol of love I created with my husband.
This was the moment it dawned on me that Ismaeel will encompass my absolute existence, after all my entity was in those eyes.

Alhumdullilah, now I get to call myself a mom.

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So eventually I gained my sanity back, bit by bit, and my jigsaw puzzle of a life started falling into place.

This was a genuine relief because there is a whole lot of emotional baggage to process, new routines to follow and a miraculous creature that needs my undivided attention, 24/7.

This is what I prayed for, day in day out for 4 years.
After holding my baby in my arms, I relish in the fact that God answered my duas and I do not want HIM to be disappointed in me.Plus, what fun it would be share my experiences and hurdles and triumphs with the world.

 

For whoever reading this, Welcome to my Great New Adventure!