BILAFOND LA – The Pass of the Butterflies

 

 

 

The crinkled mountain tops stood silent for centuries and watched the world around

The Ravens and crows spread their wings flew high over the tops, black over white snow

The spiders and butterflies were the only life, which met the eye

The flowers sprouted through the thawing snow year after year

Scattering their colors on the snowfields and through the rocks they emerged

The peaks were the beholders in the Coliseum to countless proceedings in the valleys below

Nature survived and maintained the eternal abstractness of its beauty

In the windswept valleys during the chilling and numbing winters the temperatures only dropped

Freezing winds screeched, picked up and subsided in the callousness of stifling winters

Majestic Snow Leopards roamed freely as priceless imperiled species

The Ibex and ‘Markhors’ balanced the cycle of nature sustaining them

Nature’s terrain guarded the wildlife against the world’s most dangerous predator – The Man

The untamed primitive wild was wilder in all its forms, enigmatic and unexplored

The sky cocktail blue like the sea of a dream in the bright afternoon sun

The sky at night deeper, painted blue on blue and the stars brighter in the Milky Way

Frequented by streaks of shooting stars burning out in nowhere

Brought good luck to some and for others a plethora of myths.

Year after year the snow thawed, the brooks gradually surging down the valley in to rivers

Seeping dribbling hopping springing over the rocks into an eventual noisy roar

The occupants of the hamlets far below channelized and irrigated their fields

The shepherds with their flocks went along their age-old scarce pasturelands

Winter starved cattle had plenty to graze on

The sound of bells and the shepherd whistles echoed in the mountains

Occasional reverberations one could hear, reverting into tranquility and peace

Nights were different and quiet as a moonbeam

The onset of summer melted the glaciers

Turquoise colored pools appeared and disappeared into broken crevasses

Here and there white snow rumbling down the sides crumbling at the base

Oxygen-starved mountain heights where winter never melted and there was no summer to freeze

In winters heaven and earth fused with white unceasing snow, occasionally the gray-blue horizon appeared

Thunders so loud that the skies seem to split

Far down the villagers went about their chores of changing seasons, for them nothing changed in their life

The moonlit nights were bright as day, the reflection of snow like a silver sheath

The silence of night was loud and a great source of power and strength

An occasional crevice of ice and snow, rumbling and tumbling of boulders a norm

The rhythm and sound like the tap dancers loud tap

Every year the terrain transformed obliterating old paths

There were no crossings on the streams, the dwellers found new paths every season

Thus the setting of the glacier blended with sights and sounds leading to Bilafond La

The locals called it The Pass of the Butterflies

The glacier with no tracks to follow with all its grandeur led to the pass

There stood a high granite spire as if guarding the Bilafond La like a nail driven in the glacier

 The spire touched by the setting winter light shone gold at sunset

A sight for every eye to behold

The La suddenly swept extensively open into the Siachin Glacier

Locals called it the land of abundance of roses

Getting nearer to the pass the horizon changed like a secret being unveiled

One wondered what lay ahead and below

The imaginary soon began to disappear like an ending dream

The rhyming of all the adjacent La’s now became clearer

The Sia La, Gyong La, Yarma La and Bilafond La all were in a concert for the glacier of Siachin

The desire to stay and see the fabric of the Longest Glacier in its purest form fulfilled

Mountaineers relished scoring their treks of countless top glaciers of my land

Siachin Glacier treks crowned the 6 glaciers of Pakistan so said Galen Rowell

I wondered how many mountaineers rejoiced and savored the moment

Those days were different from now

Then came the year 1984. Years have passed nothing has been same again

Soldiers, boots, thundering guns, unending trails of porters and mules beelining the glacier

Peaks all occupied the true meaning of minus temperatures was a reality for the soldiers

Everything froze; time to acclimatize and become naturalized had begun

Soldiers became the Mountaineers, the virginity of peaks no more

The cost! Life and blood, to hold and never give up

Every inch held, blood flowed, souls lost, limbs amputated but not their will

Code Duty Honor was the order of the day

Tales of valor written and re-written of ‘Shuhadas’ and those who stood on and fought

The tales of fire and Ice continues in the oxygen-starved heights

Years passed and human spirit prevailed

Far behind from where all started a military post kept growing

Everyone knew it as Gyari, for soldiers of Bilafond Sector a staging post to rest and move on

Oblivious of what was to come life went on in the tranquility of the valley

Alas who knew the unexpected would happen on 7th April 2012

In deafening silence of early hours, a 70 feet wall of ice snow and mud came crashing down

Gyari was buried forever. 135 souls of Northern Light Infantry perished that day

Many months later 133 bodies were recovered

There now stands a memorial of the fallen – The Shaheeds and their names will live forever

Gyari will no more be the same again. The mountains continue to observe

The Ravens still soar far above. Somewhere high up a snow leopard still prowls flowers still bloom and grow

In this milieus 21 years ago bilafond@gmail.com my email was made

As I recollect I can still smell the crisp mountain air.

Scowling clouds must still be swirling around the mountains of Saltoro Range called the Yellow Mountains

 

 

Memory is the diary we all carry with us

Oscar Wilde

Advertisements

HOW MANY?

 

How many people we become
How many years it takes
How many we give away
How many we share, how many times we clasp some
How many we take
Is life a portrait?
How many we make
How many colors we add
How many fade away in time 
How many we give away 
How many we keep
How many they keep
Do we all live with pain
How many can be without them
Can we be without them?
Without pain is there taste in life?
What is the flavor of life
How many have savored it?
Can we all understand this enigma of life
How many do, How many?
How many Moons of life we can count
How many tides before they go down
How many dazzling moments we remember 
How many glories have been of our dreams? How many?
How many dust full galaxies there may be
How many stars glitter in the dark of the night, countless!! 
We all have our stars in the constellations unknown
How many no one will ever know
Let them stay in their quantum leaps
How many, how many
How many are many

MILESTONES!

I stand alone in the Colosseum of life. The mood I am in is immeasurable caressing the infinity of time and space. Transgressing into a multidimensional realm of the physical, emotional and spiritual orbit of my life is not a permanent state of my mind, but as I have chosen to dwell on this subject it seems that I am heaved into this momentary position. I will attempt to expound the ups, downs, bends and long unending stretches of roads disappearing into the horizon of time. Heartaches, moments of happiness and joy all are in a state of fusion with colors of nature and its blessings. The zero milestone is not a physical one but that which resides in my vaguest of memories, which rekindle now and then and therein lies the pleasures of the life of whatever its worth for me. The process of remembering is a blessing of nature. Imagine if this is taken away from us there will be an upheaval in our lives. Some faded ones and some etched deeply in my mind are the unforgettable ones. They are part of the convention of so many emotions. Memories are thus, in my opinion, a blessing it keeps you connected with something which does not exist, but only in another dimension. Some people can let go of them. For me which I have let go has not been because of anything but only because they do not exist anymore in any form to affect me or those around me. I am reminded of  Mark Twain’s quote who says that sign of a poor memory is for those who have a clear conscience; I am still trying perceptively apply it on myself, not necessarily that I may expound on that thought right now. When you are immersed in a state of mind as I am now I wonder if one should lead his life with the signposts of life. Many times in my journey of 68 years, I do not remember being at a crossroad of making a decision, but now I can say without any declaration of guilt with the benefit of hindsight except two happenings which I feel I could have made a better value of time, though with a feeling of regret. I guess we all have them when from the perspective of the passage of these long years where age is the teacher. Having said that I have never ever considered myself inadequate to venture into passions which either was dormant or the mind was not ready to start that particular journey. Two days ago I received a call from a very senior retired officer of the Army who had a glittering career both when he was in the Army and after retirement. Someone had told me he is a good painter. I chose to ask him about his unknown talent. Being myself into the journey where I did not allow time to dictate me of my erudition of playing with knife and brushes, he took me by bewilderment when he told me that he started learning Calligraphy at the age of 70 years and published a book with exhibitions in Pakistan and abroad. He was generous to present me with a copy of his book “ALIF” Quest of The Devine. Looking back at our deprivations and dispossessions, in my opinion, is a very parlous state of mind which should never be allowed to persist. I never do that. I know for so many it must have been a trammel to capitulate into nothingness, where the will is set into hermitic existence. Everyone’s journey can never be as of mine, We all have latent ambitions, I did not let mine die with the circumstances surrounding me or how many miles I covered in my journey of life. Many people have affected my thinking, and in so many ways, they were simply few words which set me in a motion of my attitudes, views and how I let myself be guided by them. They were not extreme thought provoking but simply uncomplicated words and ideas. One needs to be receptive to happenings around us. Personally, the chart of my milestones and signposts have been simple and straightforward. I never take time to take a decision which has allowed me more positions of an advantage than otherwise.  For me, the significance of milestones in my life have had minimal relevance and to be honest have not been a moot point whatsoever.  I am a collector of few things. I regret missing so many things which could have been now my prized possessions, they are the lost milestones never to be seen or touched. In the exuberance of our youth, we tend to take things for granted, an extra weight to carry. well, past is past I have looked forward. The pieces are enough to remember not necessarily as they were, the vagueness is beautiful, this is how I think, not forgetting what Mark Twain said. I will not compromise on my conscience. I am neither a writer nor a literary person. I write what I feel at that point. Does not mean that I sway too much in my principles, simply I chose to follow the moment. It must bring out the best of me – some say you are innocent in your views, others would categorize me as a scrambler galloping on an unchartered moment of the moment itself. The MOMENT we all have. Enjoy it. Cherish it.

Nasir’s Thoughts on Reading and Writing through his Letters

MOODY

I am a man of spatial heights, inspirational self, and emotional depth

I am browsing through an abundance of letters, written to me in different moods of Moody. I have attempted to sift through not all but most of his letters and layout for your reading few passages to illustrate his fondness for a choice of words and his own expressionistic style. Somewhere he is deeply perceptive and insightful in his style somewhere you would notice his witticism and funniness. Let me put these down and let you do your own costing and pricing. 

—— In the last few days, I have been on the thoroughfares and frivolities of my daily norms. I was out of words but improvising my ways. I did not have much trouble with reading but the concussions of routine readiness had impeded my writing. Writing can be extremely tedious while your reading desires are on the burner. I would start to read after having written reasonably and by the time I was able to marginalize few paces, thoughts become provocative. In trying to resolve single logic of what was being read fast, multiple comparisons started precipitating from the living world and books. The momentum lost meters making the speed burdensome especially when you are reading an old-fashioned hardbound book in which a line travails to 13 or 14 words. Not to mention the 3 or 2 words in the hideout of shadow on every line. The eyeballs just kept bickering over and across narrow margins and wide spaces yet trying to gobble all bytes together. I guess this is a payment for the price of Taj Mahal and to engage with every apparatus of potential is truly prolific and exhilarating. For a long time in my life, I always felt ambivalent toward my inner self and with people around me. A little shy when my ideology tried to surface and to communicate it across the bench. Perhaps this is Coach Carter’s fear that makes us shine and everything around us. I kept wondering how people would opinionate me and in the process kept plenty incarcerated. Whenever I discussed my demeanors, people caressed stultified faces, sardonic smiles and complete ironic denial of what I tried to deliver. This was always disquietude in Pakistan but views abroad were never sought posthumously. Resultantly, I did not dwell on what was in mind to bear and deliver. Sometimes I eared the erring and occasionally my receptiveness remained audible of their resonation. However, it started attenuating the day I began turning and toppling every stone engraved on books. I outsourced consolation but the ability to describe books and my own idiosyncrasies began to resolute me in less difficulty. I think true love is an icon of eternal human being but to love books lays in him its’ glorification for eternity. To gain that end requires meaningful contemplation, self-discipline to draw a balance between reading and writing. it is how Aristotle said that by slowing down distance it is divided and by increasing speed, time reduced.

I never run out of letters. Words reside in layers whilst my seamless perspicacity to expound in sentences, however, intricate is return, return to scurry lifestyle. To write is almost captivating that you never feel relinquished from its charm afterward and all you do is squeak a hoarse throat in a swarm of skirmishing noise around. Rest you are right. Life is a beauty when I glare the blondie named Carlie and not to compliment her friend Emilie is unfair. Rachel and I are embittered by a slipshod boyfriend of hers called Luke and making plans to take the bloke out of the equation. Rest is well. My books beckon me. I will embrace them. 

Few closing lines of Nasir’s letter to his younger brother Bilal. 

— How are your studies? It is my foremost interest about you, is inclusive, for myself, and, I deem that it is something we both share in common. Have you been taking tutorial tests and if yes, any shortcomings or ambivalent scenarios you think that they may have been overlooked or requires your heedfulness? How are Musty, Eiman, Rabia and Haider Bhai? I bet kids must be cranky, noisy and all that is probable and prevalent among chirping children. How is Mommy? Do Batmans need sidekicks or their mean or modes sum acceptable as average? What is captivating about SMALLVILLE these days? Is the Director nagging with his usual impasse or episodes have unveiled anything mind-blowing? I speak to Ali often and he seems to be doing well in the communion of Wollongong gals. Yesterday Hasselhoff phoned me from the beach in a very enlivened embodied voice. Rest you can let your machinations do the aftermath of Ali’s running and life savings on sand aside lighthouse and ocean shores. All that laxity of muscles in action in a slow-moving animated symmetry of style, let alone, the music preponderating in background boisterously. Anyhow, much for today’s exponential farce and I must bid you leave. Stay in touch and take loads of care. Your loving bro. Moody.

—- I have not read what I have written so far but it seems that writing is flourishing and without it, there is no escape if I have to survive the hailstorm of ANU’s master’s program. Additionally, my every impulse tells me that since I am reading slowly and more importantly that the new habit I have formed and is similar to the habit Bertrand Russell had, which is, stuttering his tongue with entrenching lips while reading and mostly forming images. I am also thoroughly enjoying this newly borrowed book from the library called “Aristotle on Memory”. It is a fantabulous piece of Greek synthetic piece and I have every intention to avail its theory in my everyday life pragmatically. My fundamentals of imagination have already started to imprint every work in the form of Phantasma as is described by Aristotle interpreted by Sorabji. I find it funny because all the reading tippers on book outlets would stress reading fast whereas all the prolific writers I have read so far they mostly procrastinated reading, and, the ones I don’t know whether they did, never mentioned fastidiously.—

In the year 2006 when I was crossed over for next rank, Nasir sent me an email. The subject was HELLO! He mentions Reinhold Messner- who is he? you may be wondering. I was his Liaison Officer twice when he came to Pakistan to Climb Nanga Parbat Solo first by a mountaineer to do so on an 8000 m peak. A feat never achieved before 1978. In 1979 he came again and climbed K2. I was his LO then as well. This mail is a testimonial to the fact of his ability to collect the right verses to tell me that I finished one like a successful Major General. As it is impossible to cover the beauty of his expression in these short blog posts, I shall end this one with his mail as I received it on 11 April 2006 while I was the Deputy Force Commander in UN Mission in Liberia, where I remained for 3 Years. Be entertained 🙂

I asked someone if you have heard of Reinhold Messner?  Sie mir gesagt, Ja, He has great fame. I said my father knowns him ever since he climbed K2 in 1979. I watch all great things come to an end. But will remember you always from the greatness of a General. I tried to look if there was greatness in honesty. Example stood steadily in General dealing with the generality of every major life doing. I said what if there was only a little more time? There has always been time but now is only meant not in this way. But there is no news like today. I said, so is news of tomorrow and what of possibilities? There was no need to become beyond the responsibility of such great General. I said life is difficult when dealt not in words; But still, always the word saying to have felt them. I have to look everywhere for the best of me because it is hard to find further excellence as my father’s. If it is not for the achievement readily climbed then finishing one like a successful Major General. Wisdom is light of all truth but it takes no flame from it because in itself is the enkindled truth!  Your loving son NASIR. 

“You are my sterling Warriors and Pride of Pakistan”

 

 

 

In Memory of Some Precious People in My Life

 

The first time I left home was at the age of twenty. My destination; The Pakistan Military Academy. Since that day for the next 16 years, my father and I wrote hundreds of letters to each other. His letters were a source of encouragement, guidance, inducements, pointers and true gift on military life and the way I should lead my life. His emphasis on his vigorous principles powerfully embedded in which his personality and way of life revolved, were a beacon of hope and light for me also. Most of the inspirations I drew from his unshakable principles to which he stood for all his life till he breathed his last came in form of his letters written to me. Letter writing is an old-fashioned art which I feel is gradually dying; at least in my circle of near and dear ones, its importance I only realized once I lost my elder son, who like his grandfather wrote to me, the only difference that he communicated through emails extensively. One thing which I learned from my father is to catalog and keep a record of all his prized possessions which mostly were his vast collection of books and handwritten papers and journals which he did not write very regularly but was more into writing about his childhood. The journal I so much desire to read again, but my younger brother who I have not met for over 40 years has them as he lives abroad. It is in Urdu, Farsi, and English and is in his own handwriting. One day perhaps if I live long I hope to read it all again. Much after his passing away I sifted all his handwritten letters logged and chronicled them. In this post, I will put down some of the excerpts of those letters. There are many other letters and notes which my colleagues and acquaintances wrote to me I have kept, they are not of any sentimental value but I do enjoy reading them for their style, feelings, thoughts, and choice of words. Which I pend for another time.

I watch a lot of movies and have always enjoyed listening to letters being read in a background voice of the person who wrote those letters. I find myself engrossed and consumed with the flavor and artistry of the writer when reading in his own voice which gives me the archaic nature of the passages being read and which excites me of the natural wealth the letters provide. It takes me to the point where I feel like writing my self to someone I care about. It gives me a feeling of eternal life. Letters immortalize you to a large extent. ‘Love Letters of Khalil Gibran’, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Jane Austin Letters to name a few books.  The letter allows you to be conventional and informal and yet also permits you the vastness of expressions to choose from. There was a time when initially replying to my father was a burden as I could not think of anything to write. It gradually became an urge and infatuation with words and yearning to just write always no matter what, yet the urge was unstoppable. The internet and email never affected me, though I longed for the traditional fountain pen with ink and charm of the letter could not be recreated. I love my handwriting. My teachers and instructors always said that they loved my handwriting. My father had a very good hand as well. ” To write is human, to get mail is divine, love this short quote by Susan Lendroth.

I am not going to follow the first letter but randomly choose to put my own thoughts and those of who wrote to me but will start from my father, which seems natural. I have browsed through so many letters, I am beginning to feel that I would be digressing from the purpose the blog, that is, share some thoughts of all the precious people in my life. Some of these lines and paragraphs you will read today would be the first time as I have not shared these with anyone till now. So let me take a recess and try to choreograph my collections. I am sure I will be writing many more posts on this one after this one.

Excerpts from Letters from My Father

When I joined PMA on 12 May 1971 I received my father’s letter of 19 May 71. He wrote, “so far I have received three letters from youthe other day I received a letter addressed to you, I opened the same much against my wishes and principles – the day you left we remembered you almost every hour”. ” — never give in, soldiers and Pathans never give in, this is their pride. The main requirement is willpower and guts and you have them both”. “Never criticize food”. “Never try to test the ability of your instructors and remember no one knows everything about everything”. “Always remember God nothing but God, he is the only Protector, Almighty, Greatest and Merciful. What he wants is always done and NO ONE ON EARTH CAN COME IN HIS WAY. This must be your Faith”

” I have been a good walker all my life. When I was in school during Xmas holidays about 5 of us walked from Lahore to Kasur 32 miles away from Lahore. We had our beddings with us. Having reached there we played a Hockey match i.e. five of us against eleven and we won by two goals”

“Powder-cream and hair oil and perfumes are not used by soldiers” 

” Suspect everything and everybody has been my motto all my life. When I was young, my friend’s father who used to be in Indian Police during pre-partition days had told me and I made it my motto. a second nature”.

“Everything BENDS before an IRON WILLED MAN”.

Time passes but memories remain. I lost my mother when I was 8 Years old – It was because of the kindness of my grandfather that I passed my matriculation, of course, he was instrumental in not allowing me to give up studies. I used to get a stipend of Rs 18/- per month from the British Government as Afghan Refugee. With that amount, my school expenses were met, the rest naturally not my money. When I joined the college and when I was in FA second year this stipend was stopped. As my college expenses, etc could not be borne by anyone I had to give up studies. I was left in the lurch, till the treatment of my family members compelled me to leave home, which I left in 1933. I struggled all my life, and only by God’s grace, I was successful to get a commission during the Second World War. When these people came to know everybody started owning me. Even then I did not have any grudges against anyone because I knew that when fortune was against me no one could help me. By this time I lost my Grandfather, Grandmother and sisters were married, thrown in different hells against my wishes. And thus the time passed.”

The last quote below before I write about Moody’s letters. More on my Father in another blog another day. I have just touched the surface though. In his letter of 23 Jan 1977, over 10 years before his death, he wrote” A time will come when one feels that his entire life, this world and everything in it is meaningless. Happy moments are only those which one spends to remember God. There is no other happiness in this world. In fact, the more time passes the more wretched people under the Sun become”. ” More than Kisses, Letters mingle souls” a quote

Letters from my son Nasir Mahmood

“I have devoured my day in the usual mantle of shorts and t-shirt. The myth of rising sun for many is a globe to advent on the fresh vernacular of ideas and for some of us the stillness of night thriving thoughts on the zenith of a belated bedtime. I struggle to sum my sentences, arrange and rearrange my thoughts in appropriate drawers. I was winking and working till four in the proverbial limelight of bulb and books. Our refrigerator is loaded with bakery boxes and every now and then I plaudit my appetite with charcoal of percolating coffee and munch on crumbling biscuits underneath my carnivore edges of teeth. Often? Indeed.Free? Yes.—“

Life is full of happiness. There is no ego because LOVE is victorious” 

A prelude to his poem REASON! ” Today when I sat down to REASON with myself I thought I would never make pass one line but slowly kept reasoning and finally managed to reach somewhere. ART OF WAR and SEIZE THE MOMENT are nice books especially the former is really state of the art. Today was productive day working out my mind muscle reasoning and reading. There is a very good line quoted by Frederic the Great in Nixon’s Book ” He who defends everywhere defends nothing”. Guess, when I sit down to write my war, is with the word of topic on top of the poem.”

A paragraph from his Motivation Letter written to the Australian National University “I have a voracious appetite ecstatically devoted to reading books on history, philosophy, poetry, current affairs, magazines and on weekends a touchstone in the sand and on greens of Golf Course. Occasionally, I also muse me with a chord of words but my resolution is writing only poetry. My linguistic skills are Russian and Deutsche”.

A colleague from UNMIL Frances in Liberia wrote this for him. “IN LOVING MEMORY FOR NOW AND FOREVER MORE OF NASIR MAHMOOD. GOD BLESS HIS SOUL. THE SUN SHALL NOT SMITE HIM BY DAY, NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT”

There is so much to write which I only realized when I stacked up all the letters and many more which still lie in boxes and cupboards. I realize that I would not be able to do justice to my loved ones not only in this blog post but many more would be required. I know what I have to do now. Till then, please take pleasure in reading about the corners I touched in my life.

“If I never see you again 
I will always carry you
inside
outside
on my fingertips
and at brain edges
and in centers
centers
of what I am of
what remains.” 
― Charles Bukowski

 

Chameleon People

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Today once again, the stimulus to mark down something on something, anything at all, holds me with indestructible clasp, not that I cannot release my self from that engulfed aura. The hold is, however light, it is not a stranglehold. I must soon exempt myself from straggling thoughts before I meander to get out of this tender-hearted mind-body dualism before I write down anything. So this abstracted feeling below is the outcome.

Believing in plebeians of mostly workplace and those with whom I heedlessly and naively without paying attention to their iniquitousness ideas and maneuvers trust them. As my habit of bestowing trust allows me to startling divulgence of characters; some arraying themselves with utmost love and affection indescribable and at the other extreme end some merely by their words and guiles. Without them recognizing their overindulgence of being overconfident in their wit and stupidity they uncover themselves of their duplicity and breach of faith towards me. Within this rigmarole,  I see clearly emergence of a class of Judas.  My such behaviour of opening both arms of accepting good and bad in my fold of workplace especially of people, rather than holding good with one hand and keeping the bad away with other has helped me in making up of my personality. I am always thinking without an iota of lack of conviction, that my attribute of positivity takes me into arms of my creator and he takes care of my frailty for which people misjudge me as I have noticed mostly that I have been scrutinized by this personality trait. Some have strongly recommended me to shun this attitude of largess and altruism. I tell them I would not, as it is an intrinsic part of who and what I am. Some agree and some dissolve into laughter of thinking me as a person who can be deluded. I sometimes enjoy being noted like this and without me actually doing anything see them falling in their own stratagem. When I see this as one complete package of good and bad I begin to see the positivity of my thoughts. I now believe that once one travels into aging his risks are at their minimal of what might happen, what will and can happen. Some may disagree with this thought and some may not. It has to do with insecurities of their life or at least this is how they think. We all have dreams, disappointments, and unachieved goals what life has thrown at us. There are people in our lives who like to laugh with you when you laugh and cry when you do. Latter is though uncommon. The opening of the heart to someone is in my opinion extremely difficult but I have done it more than once. The greatest feeling and joy I have ever felt is when people trust and believe in you.  Maya Angelou once said, “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you’. Uncovering such people is an art for which I add to what Maya said. Open your arms to them. Sooner than later you will uncover them. We are living in a forest of people. Forest where there are so many trees. As a painter the sight I most adore is a canopy of a forest, a jungle. So many shades of green that it is so difficult to identify each shade, so are the people. There are shades not all can be put on canvas exactly as you see them with your eyes. That is why I notice great painters have not bothered to follow each color. They classify their own for themselves. I do same in both cases. I return to my home it is everywhere and nowhere. It is within me. Once I am there I’m at home, I know what has to be done, within the human possibilities.

About half a year ago I started writing something which I decided I will title “Chameleon People” which I could not complete it having meandered out of my thought chain. People must have different views, I cannot change my surroundings. I have come too far in life. I cannot be a Chameleon.

THE DOORS ALWAYS OPEN

Emerson once said, “be the opener of doors”.   Other writers believed that there will always be a time when the doors will open, others said if there is no opportunity build a door. The topic I have given to my page has not been the result of too much of deliberation. It just happened as has been always this way. Flashes and waves of my mind always allow stumbling to subjects such as this -A Door Always Opens. Frankly whenever I choose to write I allow too much of randomness to take better of me. I may during the course of creation of this page ramble from one to another event by no single event preferred over the other. Ideas, people, and places bounce in my head like never before. Please turn a blind eye if there is something amiss, I do not expect myself to be perfect every time. I am not a Penman. But I am now in these last years crossing 60 is fun. You are no more worried by this, that, if, who, where and what. Who says you cannot break walls and cross those taboos and have no fear of excommunication. Doors will open, doors always open. Since childhood, my father has been a beacon, a guiding light. A man with whom I remember not conversing too much. His aura, his undertone, and overtone petrified all the siblings. There was something in him which enthralled us, it was like we were ceremoniously preserved, his mercurial and incalculable mood swings was something he could never have full control over. He had two very stark personas, his magnetism was extremely strong. He was a superstar at one time who was well organized polished and a self-assured personality. Whilst at another extreme he was fanatical, extremist with outrageous temperament. We were growing up in a household full of vibrations of life which were coming from a man who had a very austere life with unbending and unyielding character. He did not believe that losing of temper he will lose he believed more in ‘satisfaction’ of his heart no matter how many odds were pitched against him. His unpredictable nature was repeatedly reflected in his military appraisals and he could not come to terms with it. Though he died trying to find out what was against him. He was always apprehensive of conspiracy being weaved against him, even decades after his retirement. He died not ever knowing about those reports, something I read much after his passing away. The details I reserve for some other day and hour.

Right now there is a deluge of ideas, stories, and events, nothing to do with philosophical ruminations.  The memories of one such story which was narrated to me back in 1995 have gradually moved around full circle opening a number of doors if you come to think of that.   I am glad I did not set them free too soon. The time is now to write the full hoop as the door has revolved full circle. For the seclusion of the hero behind the Door, I have chosen to call him Snow Leopard or ‘Ess Ell‘. I saw him first time on the assumption of command after I was my promoted. Ess Ell a Captain then with a countryman appearance with few nicotine stains on his teeth was one of my Staff Officer. His accent heightened his rural background image. The outgoing commander perhaps did not ever try to know more of Ess Ell, instead, with his opinion about him tried to put him in a disadvantageous position to me. I stopped him for doing that. I believed always I should myself be the judge with my professional experience of who is what. Soon I was able to know much more of him than what I would have known through the flawed approach of the gentleman who tried to fill me up with Ess Ell’s abilities. At times we can be a poor judge of men. Senior Leaders should be wary of this very important attribute and not be swayed by personal appearances alone. As we got along we settled down to discuss various non-professional matters, give our opinion and thoughts. I now could see how the young captain viewed things in life which was of his own. I found them interesting and original. On first appearance he looked rustic, a man with no outward force of personality. His spoken English was laden with native Punjabi accent, which betrayed his personality more than was necessary. To be fair to him he could not help himself on that score. That is how Ess Ell was chiseled. A small opening in the door I gave to Ess Ell allowed me to gauge gradually prowess of his mental superiority and excellence. I soon realized that the young man was much more than running an eye over. Now he conversed with ease with me. He spoke more as I began to listen.

Ess Ell came from a needy family. He had his major misfortune at an early age when he lost his father while he was in school. He struggled with his problems which exacerbated with the death of his father.  He applied to different colleges in Islamabad but failed to get an admission. Appeared as a private student. Sometimes worked as a laborer during the day, crushing stones with bare hands, lifting them at different construction sites, and other times on meager pay in different factories of Islamabad Industrial Area. At night he huddled along with other fellow students in over crowded flats earning just barely to make his modest ends meet. He took his examinations as a private student. One day resting on a mat on the floor he glanced through the first page of the paper and went to work. His colleagues and fellow laborers considered him as a misfit in even their circle of work. They found him an odd man out who worked during the day, remained aloof as he studied at night. It was a queer situation, untypical of a laborer, they thought. After he came back Ess Ell picked the newspaper and started reading again. He was thrilled and his animated movements got better of him. People gazed at him in wonderment. laborers with whom he worked called him “Baghi” (Rebel). I remembered James Dean movie A REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.  Ess Ell was not that. He had a cause and an ambition, a dream which was getting closer to fulfillment. They knew something extraordinary had happened for they had never seen him like that before. Soon he broke the news to those who really would not have understood the true meaning of his achievement. Another Door had flung open for Ess Ell. He had topped his examination not only amongst the batch of private students but the whole lot of appeared students for that examination. At first, he could not fathom the significance of his achievement but initially also did not believe it to be true. He went to buy the Result Supplement to confirm his accomplishment. He got a scholarship which eventually resulted in his successful graduation. His odd jobs did not cease which he continued.

Ess Ell then applied for the commission in the Army. He failed the induction test but persistent as he was he applied again and got selected. A Door had opened wide this time. Self-analytical as he was, he did not let failures to dash his hopes. He had no strings and he never complained about non-fulfillment of his dreams. Ess Ell has risen to a One Star General in the Army. He also did his Masters in Strategic Security Studies with HUMAN SECURITY as a special subject from NDU USA. The University offered him to stay and teach which he politely declined. Ess Ell has now recently completed his Ph.D. on “Human Security in Gilgit Baltistan. Role of Geography in Human Security – Case Study of Gilgit. He has also written a book on HUMAN SECURITY. I am proud to have a copy of his book duly endorsed by him. During his command in Northern Areas, he applied his concept of Human Security successfully.

As I ponder over the yester years I am really lost for words to chronicle his achievements. He humbly calls me as his mentor, but I never thought like that. He is a self-made man his doors were difficult to open but he opened them with his sheer hard-work and perseverance.  When I started writing I thought I will narrate more than this event in my life. I will write again as a sequel to this page at a later time.

“When God Opens a door no one will shut when he shuts no one will open”

Lailah Gifty Akita. (A Ghanian and an Author of Think Great)

THE PASSAGE

 

Life is in motion; the paths and trails are many

They rise and fall with turns and twists nothing is at rest

In multitudes of comings and goings, toing and froing

I chose many, many I left

Some disappeared in alleyways, some in endless directions

Those I left disappeared into the horizon

Many trodden on those I left, never followed them

What I chose we all have stories to tell about

We wonder sometimes why we do what we do

Is it inspiration or fate or divine decree?

I chose what I did

It was Allah’s will my efforts were minuscule

Tried I did but never I was fretful

Believed in my destiny and there were many divine interventions

Never I was dispirited

What I chose; some I got some I did not

My life has been tested with reversals and downturns

But I never reasoned why?

Sometimes in wonderment, I did believe in inner tranquil

We go into the past to remember

But why should I do that, who can change the past

It will never change

The path I chose was the best

Some will never be there

Never we must be penitent

The Past is past for eternity it will never change

Tahir, you went places you left your mark in so many ways

Future will surely tell why I believed in future

9 July 2017

Islamabad

LIE TO ME

This definitely would not be my original work. So I plead with you for tolerance and leniency for outshining myself with someone else’s abstraction of the subject. I thought as I have enjoyed reading the branch of this particular knowledge I must reproduce relevant and concise excerpts which should be of value.

The period after my retirement from the Army in 2008 and the year following it threw me into the world of TV Serials. The list is numberless. Few though, I have remembered as the theme was absorbing and compelling so say the least. I am talking about a Crime TV series in 2009 which ran for almost two years.  I also liked the series because of Tim Roth’s acting and his investigative skills as he portrayed a body language scientist especially in the field of microexpressions. An interesting quote from one of the episodes

Cal Lightman: You’re a terrible liar.

Dr. Gillian Foster: Normal people think that’s a good thing.

Cal Lightman: Are you saying I’m not normal?

If you have time you may like to watch this (cut and paste link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE – How to spot a liar | Pamela Meyer

The excerpts you will read are from an Article published WHY WE LIE by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in National Geographic June 2017 issue. As you will observe I have changed the Topic from original WHY WE LIE to LIE to ME attributing it to Tim Roth’s acting skills in the TV Series by the same name.

The history of Humankind is strewn with crafty and seasoned liars. Many are criminals who spin lies and weave deception to gain unjust rewards. Some are politicians who lie to come to power or cling to it. Sometimes people lie to inflate their image. People lie to cover up bad behavior. Lying, as it turns out, is something that most of us are very adept at. We lie with ease, in ways big and small, to strangers, co-workers, friends and loved ones. Our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental to us as our need to trust others, which ironically makes us terrible at detecting lies. Being deceitful is woven into our very fabric, so much so that it would be truthful to say that to human is to lie.  The researchers have found out that the subjects lied on average one or two times a day. Most of these untruths were innocuous, intended to hide one’s inadequacies or to protect the feelings of others. Some lies were excuses – one subject blamed the failure to take out the garbage on not knowing where it needed to go. That human being should universally possess a talent for deceiving one another shouldn’t surprise us. The researchers have found out that liars had at least 20% more neural fibers by volume in their prefrontal cortices, suggesting that habitual liars have greater connectivity within their brains. It’s possible this predisposes them to lie because they can think up lies more readily than others, or it might be the researchers have shown that we are especially prone to accepting lies that affirm our world view. When leaders lie, debunking them does not demolish their power, because people assess the evidence presented to them through a framework of preexisting beliefs and prejudices. George Lakoff of Berkely writes, ‘if a fact fact comes in that doesn’t fit into your frame, you’ll either not notice it, or ignore it, or be puzzled by it – or attack it if it’s threatening.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

GIFT OF FATE

To be a star you must shine your own light, follow your own path and don’t worry about the darkness for that is when the stars shine brightest

From time to time in our lives comes along a time when things happen unexpectedly. Events which completely change not only our life but the lives of  another family, another person for rest of their life. I though know why I was hand picked for things which were about to happen on that fateful day. I am a strong believer in twist and turns of fate. They reveal their purpose in bits and pieces and its full extent can only reveal itself when time passes and you begin to realize the master plan of the Almighty, the controller of all worlds. We try to do right things, we believe we know what we should have done in the past, we believe we have the twenty-twenty vision but we do not know what we should do in future. Still, we misjudge and miscalculate to control our lives and then something tragic happens. The stark reality is uncloaked. We lament on our fate and misfortune. Time takes control. Our helplessness to seize the game plan is uncovered. Only if we believe and perceive, we come to know and what we do and act is, in my opinion, is ordained to complete the cycle of events. They say hindsight is of little value in the decision-making process. I do not agree with the thought. The intent guides.

It was April 2014, at about 1630 hours my son drove her mother to home after shopping for groceries in Islamabad. When they arrived on the road towards the airport about 800 meters ahead of the newly built check post as the road takes a bend a young boy little more than 5 years old, appeared running out of nowhere from the left side. He must have missed at least two or three cars before he hit our car from the left side and later it was known that he had died. Some cars sped past and did not stop, those behind stopped. A young man came running to my wife and said that she should leave the site immediately lest the crowd set fire to the car.  Not far from there, is another traffic post who were informed about the accident. My wife by then had called me and told me what had happened, words barely came out of her mouth as she spoke on phone. She is very weak in controlling herself and facing tragedies. In 15 minutes or so I reached the place. My wife had been extremely nervous and did not want police to take away my son who had already taken his ID card. The traffic warden took me to a side and asked if I had a driver whose ID Card could be exchanged instead with that of my son. I offered my own card instead and asked my son and wife to go home and let me face the consequences instead. Soon the Police from Chaklala Police Station came and we drove to the station with the inspector who sat beside me as I drove the car which had met the accident. He did not speak the whole way. This was the first time in my life I was in a Police Station for a different reason, for something I had not done but the police did not know. They carried on with their work. I was offered a chair in the backyard of the station and a cup of tea was offered. The police said that a FIR had been lodged against an unknown person, no name was mentioned. The family of the boy and other neighbors were distressed and agitated. A young boy had lost his life I could completely envision what was going through the child’s mother and father and three other siblings. We had also lost a son. Later I found out that Jamshed Khan was a native of KPK settled in Rawalpindi for many years now. A proud man with a strong demeanor who held himself very well in this tragic hour.  He was an extremely poor man who earned his living through daily wages as a day laborer at building worksites. His work was not guaranteed. After three days when infuriation and frustration had subsided I met Jamshed in an office with Jamshed’s friends and relatives who had traveled for condolence, more so with the man who was responsible for the death of his son. I told them who I was. All of them were calm, some arms folded stood gazing at me and others seated. A couple of elders spoke, Jamshed was not one of them. He must have uttered few sentences only. I was completely heartbroken to see Jamshed in his dirty and tattered clothes. He was completely calm and only said I should not have left the scene of the accident. I felt very small, insignificant, embarrassed and could not tell them especially Jamshed that I was not the one in the car. Till today he does not know. He should continue to believe it was me on that fateful day when his son died. I think this arrangement I should take to the grave. It is better this way. It affects no one but me and me alone. The entire purpose of the whole incident will loose its value. I should continue to hold this weight inside me. I will do that, I have no doubt whatsoever as I have not kept no other option to exercise. When all had said what they wanted and some few interjections. I agreed with everything they said.  I told them, that I am also a father who has lost a son. I knew what the family was going through. I very submissively and with moderation said less. Jamshed’s other three kids attentively watched me and were absorbed in their own thoughts. They looked wiped out as the man who sat before them was to be blamed for departure of their brother from this life. A few days later I was again put on the spot by their mother who was devastated and stunned as she shed tears in grief. I apologized with all who were present on this enormous tragedy which resulted. The next day I requested Jamshed I would like to visit his wife at his home which was not far away. I also told him that Omair his eldest son would remain my responsibility for education as long as he continued his studies. I offered him the best schooling in an Army Public School. I somehow failed to convince him to take my offer. He did not accept it but thanked for a monthly stipend for his son’s education. Omair studies in Class 9 now. His elder sister is taking her matric examinations.

The next day I walked through a very narrow alley and as I emerged out of it Jamshed showed me his son’s grave which was freshly covered with flowers, not more than 25-30 meters from where he lived in a two very small somber looking abode. He told me he built it with his own hands with pieces of brick. I climbed a very steep and narrow stairs top of which a small space, with pieces of cloth, haphazardly sewed covering the top to protect from the sunlight and heat. There were two rooms, I sat on a charpoy. Jamshed’s wife soon came in and sat on the floor and started crying. I also sat down and consoled her that it was the will of Allah and nothing could be done. His time was up. It is extremely difficult to tell a mother that. She talked about him as she mumbled with her tears flowing. I prayed for the departed soul. Later I offered money to Jamshed all I had in the bank. He would not take. I explained it was not a compensation for his son. It was the only thing right now to atone. As I came out of the room I took permission to see the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. Very small rooms. I thought I will bring them to some shape. All was done with the help of a very dear friend Sohail. He also offered to plaster the whole house from inside. The angle of the stairs was adjusted and widened. The only thing Jamshed asked was to bore a water hole as he had to fetch water from afar. We did that for him as well. The water source developed now serves  4-5 houses in his narrow street.

A year and a half after the accident, one day Jamshed’s wife called me. She first asked me to vow that I would not discuss the matter with Jamshed, her husband. I promised what she wanted. She asked me only one question, ‘did Jamshed asked for the money I had paid to him’. I told her ‘ Jamshed is poor but he is a man who has pride and never once asked for financial help”. I inquired why she was asking. She completely took me by surprise when she said she still has the money as it was my ‘Amanat’ and had not been spent. She confessed despite for days the kids slept without food, she did not touch that money. I explained to her that was for them to spend in any way they wanted to spend. The women had set clear boundaries and rules for herself. I was exceedingly impressed by her character.

I visit Jamshed after every month or two to inquire of his welfare. He continues to do odd daily jobs. One day we sat and chatted. I told him about the entire episode in hindsight. I told him this accident happened to bring us together for so many reasons. This accident could have happened with anyone, anything, a tractor trolley, a motor cab, a van but instead, it was my car. A person who was to be aligned with him to do things which he did not imagine would happen. We both had lost a child. We both understood each other’s pain but we never talked about it. I still have plans to find for him a permanent source of income.

When we revisit our life we see the path it has taken. How one incident, how one decision we had taken in our life has led us to charter a course to another place, to another person. How one is intertwined with another. Good and bad things will happen which will open a door to take us to another directly or indirectly. No matter what it will place you at a point where we all stand in our respective lives. This is the position which allows you the introspection and soul-searching. I believe I am placed in Jamshed’s life. Allah took away his son and brought me to him. This unquestionably and beyond doubt a GIFT OF FATE for me and me alone. I have though told my sons not to disconnect themselves with Jamshed and his family after me.

” Every one lives in his own time” Mushtaq Ahmad Yousafi