“Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill,one of the prime reasons you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”
― Stephen King
Everyone was loyal honest and hardworking, this is what I remember when I was a young officer and was required to write confidential reports, of my under command. During the same period when I had the opportunity to read through reports of other officers who were reporting officers I found how conventionalised they were too. The space provided for the pen picture was so small one could only write 6 to 7 lines. I felt otherwise. This was enough writing space if one knew what exactly to write. However, I found there were very few officers who had the ability to paint a word picture about the work and ability of the person reported up. Everyone then who were reported upon was professionally sound. This I later discovered that if such reassurance of the abilities were not reflected there was a good probability it would mar the individual’s career both in a long and short term. By nature, my experience is that we are unfavorably inclined about knowing or reading our negative reports.
Gradually as I grew in years in uniform I started to understand and practice the art of understanding and then transforming my thoughts and convictions about the impression I absorbed of people on whom I was required to write. This was not the only thing I did. I read biographies and autobiographies and paid attention how different people described the subject they chose. I noted and absorbed them. Steadily to understand the art of recounting and narration became an area of my interest. To know a person no matter how long I knew him, how closely he interacted with me became a habit with me of unraveling him or her through my observation winding into words. I started with rough notes to practice myself to describe as detailed as possible randomly in all aspects of personality. How he spoke, what he spoke, what kind of person he reflected and revealed to be irrespective of the period of time he was exposed to me; like a surgeon with knife who would operate and be able to stitch him back, not really be affected or biased of what was thought of him as a friend, colleague, co-worker, leader, part of team or not. The purpose obviously not to be carried away by my assessment. We are after all humans and not perfect. In an intimate social interaction and meeting of less than an hour I started writing a pen picture – no matter if he was actually what I was describing him to be. It was not for anyone’s consumption but mine and mine alone only.
To write about someone also reflects on your own character, in an official capacity especially. This is what I saw when I started writing and reading reports. I saw more of people who wrote rather than those who were reported upon. In my military career especially I observed that those who wrote good reports and chiseled perfectly their choice of words were recognized but generally not very popular or liked because of their clarity of thought and understanding among all shades of officers under command. One thing is however absolutely clear when years pass and history written it is they who stood out and mentioned. Their reasoning and study became benchmarks of research. Now as years have passed and overgrowth is also thing of the past, level-headedness at times also becomes unsteady I enjoy observing faces of people. It is such a treat and suddenly you come across people with calm exterior yet they display so much in their eyes and expressions. Pain, joy, excitement, expectations and eagerness, helplessness all are there for me to form my batting line up to play with.
“A bird without wings and a man without art are both condemned to wander in low places; they can never soar up to those unrivalled heights.”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
For the past few days, I have indulged myself in watching a diverse range of documentaries – each different from the other. History – Adventure – Cooking – Religion – Philosophy and last but not the least what has always fascinated me has been the universe. The mere fact that it is endless, it cannot be measured ever either in Time or Distance motivates me. At least I will never be blamed ever that I could not finish what I started. Yesterday I watched as I downloaded “Journey to the Edge of Universe”. The narrator said that he will jump in time to graphically explain the vast expanse of the universe. It is a marvel of nature at its best. Within this one and half hour and thirty-three seconds of this documentary, I was lost myself. I realize the nothingness of us the mortal beings. It changes how you begin to see life from not 3D but 4D perspective. If you ask me frankly what is 4D – I don’t know – I will tell you though in my own way. I have always loved nature. I have not been a very religious person, but the unshakeable ility of my belief in the oneness of ALLAH the creator is limitless. The strength of that belief has been in my mind as long as I remember. I have always admired the Sun and the Moon, the mountains, the weather extremes, the power of the sea and the faces of so many people, not one identical to another. Yesterday I also while I viewed the documentary on ‘Nature of Sex’ I was lost again in the artistry and marvel of nature. I am glad to have been born in an age and lived in “Two Centuries”. The transformation of knowledge of something which has always existed for millions of years and being revealed now is profoundly mind boggling. I cannot know how fast future will come; what form it will take only time will tell and only nature will know. How much it will allow itself to be revealed no one knows. With all this happening around me, I am also thinking why aren’t we happy, why there is so much of chaos, so less contentment, disease, hunger and greed for more and more. I am approaching my last segment of life- Alhamdullilah and am ever grateful to Almighty for everything he has bestowed. What I strive now is not for me but for my family and others I feel close to. I have been pondering to now decide to make best of my time left in this life. Another seven and a half thousand days given to me would be a pleasure of living that long. Actually, to be very frank I have never thought of the end. My focus which I am gradually beginning to adjust and fine tune are to do and achieve what makes me happy. I have not though shared this feeling with anyone till now. I must allow it to unfold itself gradually. My urge to create new things around my circle of self in any form and dimension has grown momentarily. I think I am beginning to liberate myself. I have become conscious now that I could have done much more. My strength which I have now discovered to explore new things is fulfilling. Exploration for me is taking a novel form of a journey. I must do something all the time to feel gratified and happy. Feelings of sensitivity to outside elements and mostly people their behavior is a growing experience. At some point, it is also either synchronizing and intersecting with what I wanted.
Writing has always made me happy. It is original and like my paintings though I cannot frame but it gets the unique viewership on my blog. I can demonstrate what I am; I can say what I have to without qualms; I can talk to myself and to others without them listening what I am trying to say. This is the beauty of journal writing.
In the serenity of my study, I am roped and chained with my perennial and ceaseless urge to watch films. I enjoy it and have done so as long as my memory serves without waning a bit. It attaches me to people and characters I can relate to. It allows me to reach the zenith of my emotions. It helps me to enter into the characters I shape within myself.
It is 0210 hours in the morning of 25th. It is Christmas but for me importantly two things will happen when I wake up after a few hours. It is Birthday of my most beloved Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan. Another thing which will happen tomorrow will be that I will release my birds in a big aviary I have made for them. I will open the cages and I am so excited to see which bird will get out first. The Bird Club will have a fountain and a mini jungle to see LIBERTY from small cages. A new Chapter is opening in my surrounding.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.
Once again I am in a mood to write. Once again I must clear my clouded thoughts. There is too much to write and say. Reading an article sent to me by a friend Trekking : Eye in the Sky, a story of a Czech photographer Petr Jan Juracka who traveled to Pakistan to break the world record in altitude photography. I wonder what drives a person to do what he does. At a point of time in his life, he jumps into the world of records. Why records are so important. The purpose is still not clear to me. Having said that I pay tribute to such people who bring with technology the wonder of nature in our living rooms. But I begin to think not what I must do more but to do once again what I have done before. Doing things again brings altogether a new dimension of what I have seen and done. The images which have been chiseled in my mind needs to be seen now with a pristine and unmarked eye. I think when you are moving to achieve an entirely different end with a renewed impetus to a purpose and passing through same footsteps the footprints though same but the whole abstraction of the purpose is redefined. I need not chose now what I must do. The finer details are not important but finding your limits of what can be done now against what was done 39 years ago is very interesting thought. It does bring back the intensity and the vigor but I want to challenge not what I did then but how I should do it now. Exploring nature was not one of my priorities then as I thought I was doing. Time has and will always define and redefine your clarity of purpose of what and how it has to be done. Inside me, I find myself as I am standing on a ledge. I am preparing myself to move ahead. I know I will not fall. I am absolutely sure. I must have a clearer vision of not what I will see but how I should see. It was a bright sunny afternoon way back in 1984 as I trudged along the Biafo Glacier on its left edge, the NE side to be more precise. Having crossed over the ever changing surface of the glacier with the members of Polish Latok 3 expedition who were straddled all along the glacier unperturbed but still moving with that unexpected thought in their minds as to how they would tackle the mountain they had never seen before. The only point of reference they had was an old slightly tattered corner of a picture which had turned yellow. None spoke English except one. So there was not much of excitement which could be exchanged. The weather was all they seemed to be concerned about. Rightly so as they always looked to those dark clouds rolling up and down the glacier but never completely lifting from the mountains. There were few patches of blue sky enough to allow the sunlight splash along the edges of the glacier. I reached the other side and was greeted with few patches of green grass. Was tired and decided to lay down. The still of the mountains except for occasional slides up on the slopes disturbing the supreme hush and tranquility. I removed my bag pack, moved it under my head and lay down. That moment was a moment of truth for me. I have never been able to cast away those images which since then have been etched in my mind. Hundreds of thoughts flew past and I remember none except the clear patch of blue sky. One can never describe the color of the blue. Something pure I think cannot be said or written in words. Today I once again have started to think like that. I am there yet I am not. I must, therefore, do something about it. I must change the way I am going there. I do not want it to be – The Eye in The Sky. I want to be the eye towards the sky. I must see once again hundreds of Ibex freely roaming up high up on the dark craggy features of the Karakoram range. It made me though sad when I saw some carcass of dead Ibex. I wondered when a man would respect nature and let these beautiful animals roam free. Or maybe they were. It may have been a snow leopard which had made the kill. There then does come a thought that nature must keep its balance. We need not be the one to disturb it. The mountains we intended to march to were numbered 1, 2 and 3. Though these numbers are designed to set in motion so many activities and happenings in our lives yet we cannot see the exact number if there are no points of reference. They have no value or meaning in the wilderness. The elements must allow you to determine how you must judge these numbers. They define your future course of action, they must choose you without you knowing about it. I am once again beginning to determine my own numbers. The numbers I must fix. The time month the weather the season and the people I want to be in my adventure of discovery of another kind. I have yet to define the purpose. It is not as if I do not see that but it must link itself with TIME. You now see this is how it happens. Whenever I think of TIME I am clearer in what I need to do. I must now jump ahead of TIME and state that the skies will always be blue, the clouds will come and go. The rains and snow will fall. The glacier will melt silently. I must witness all that all over again. I must now plan for next year. When the fruit trees of village Askole blossom again. Must spend a night or two there and listen all over again the never-ending folk tales of the mountains where I once was an interpreter to an old very old story teller.
A very dear friend of mine Dr. Afridi who resides in USA and used to come to Kohat where he came to live in his native village Babri Banda. While in Pakistan he was a regular visitor to the Dhoda Golf Club in Kohat. This was when I was stationed at Kohat. We played golf regularly, an ardent golfer and a gentleman he is. Since those days we are connected via email exchanging mails. He visited my Blog a few days back and suggested that I should rename my Blog which I named MINDLESS to change it to MINDFULNESS! Why I named it mindless is for discussion for another day. I respect Doctor Sahib and agreed with him and as I approved his comment I also immediately changed the title to MINDFULNESS. So much, for the power of reasoning and perception. We all have our minds, which at one point or the other sways me like a pendulum. And when you have a pen in your hand so much can happen. As I said earlier in my Blog let it go. I like what another friend Khushnood Lashari Sahib also commented – “Excellent. As Wordsworth said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” So today again while I was thinking about abstract painting I was submerged once again in deep thoughts. I texted few lines to two of my very dear friends and decided that to be the start point of my next Blog which I have named DRIBBLING WITH RUMINATIONS. So here it is.
DRIBBLING WITH RUMINATIONS
It all started when on the behest of my neighbour General Abid who requested me to make for him a couple of abstract paintings for his living room. I have never painted one so far. So I took up the challenge. He gave me a couple of photos to paint. As I sat and saw those two pictures I did not want to copy them. I started thinking and for last two days, I saw how these and so many more abstracts were painted. The more I studied them, the more I got immersed and was spellbound by the rapturous eloquence and acceleration of colours which artists had created. I always thought abstract was an easy thing to make. Not now definitely. I know I can transfer to a large extent what I am thinking about the configuration and structure of the final form and what I want to create. But I am a bit apprehensive and yet to start painting. There is uneasiness and cloudiness in my mind as to how and what would be the final shape of the art and its colour combinations, which bears the resemblance to what is in my mind. The abstractness of the art seems so extreme and mere thought of non-representational form has filled me with uncontrollable lust and passion of leaving the pen and picking up the brush. It is like sexual attraction with both forms of an exhibition; of the pen as well as the brush. In one which is not visible, it can only be read and the other may not be describable to the last detail but can only be seen. Within the splash of colours there lays the image in my mind; imperfect yet by no means incomplete. There is uneasiness within my own self. There is this palpitation of heart and a tensed feeling of how my first abstract painting will actually come out to be. It is like the first kiss and not actually the first. An unseen tremble and shake of the leaf. Dribbling with ruminations has raised its sails. There is a gust and surge of the wind, which has filled the sails, which is in front of me in the form of a canvas. Flat, plain showing no upheaval so far. Waiting to be electrified and illuminated. The rudder is in my control. The direction will be set and rest with the combination of colours and more colours until my eyes know what I am looking at to be perfect to give away at the vehemence of my thoughts. The trajectory and orientation will be the memento for future evolutions. I am not a student of art, and I cannot express the art of expressionism. I have not read or studied art any time in my life. I just pick my brush like I do my pen and start transferring the strands of my thoughts. I have self-trained myself. I am far away from being anywhere near to being an artist. But what pleases me the most is what I paint. I do not follow the rules and sequence of painting, but I do gradually, in the end, reach there. Sabir Nazar a friend and an inspiration once remarked on my painting that I did a good job on a lighthouse I painted and put on Facebook. When I told him that I needed guidance from a trained painter, he strictly forbade me and said something, which has stuck in my mind since then. He said whatever you do, good or bad is your work and your prized possessions, you need not take any lessons but prepare yourself with practice. That day was the beginning of my unending trail of all kinds of paintings. My bent of mind is fixated in the colour of planets and stars, big and small and collision of meteors and the debris of these in deep outer space leaving a dust forming patterns and kaleidoscope of colours, which are beyond my comprehension. Thanks to the continual and uninterrupted voyage of science into cosmos, which has barely, touched the edge of the fringes of deep dark space so far that we have begun to know what lies out there so far. The single most facet which drives me to paint is to get into this puzzle of nature and let my head spin to visualise the light of thousands of years reaching us in our minuscule planet earth. We are in present time yet also thousands of light years into the past which is present now in 2016.