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

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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.

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

DEDICATED TO ALL THE MOTHERS

A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim).

I cannot get to the bottom of all the pain a mother goes through after having carried her child for nine months in her womb and bring a new life into this world for the first time in her life – and then after having raised her child suddenly lose the one she nurtured all her life. I cannot fathom the pain and anguish inside her. Why is this the way of nature is beyond my understanding except this is how the creator wanted to be. That is another discussion for another time. How far the pain goes and how deep it travels inside her I cannot comprehend. I pray to the Almighty to give them strength to bear this pain. I know that life is not a spectator sport, win or lose or draw, the game is in progress, whether we want it to be or not. Whether we play it or not. The beauty of life is that anything is possible. Sometimes I wonder, we have never been able to know our children; what they want and what they can do. I really do not know why and when we fail. I have always maintained and conversed about it that Present today is past-present is always past. It hurts. Can it harm you? I do not know but memories do!

On 12 November 2007 at 2135 hours ( Liberia Standard Time) I wrote this while I meditated on the subject. The farther I go, the nearer I come. The nearer I am further it seems. Two ends of the span and scale are far apart, never destined to meet; yet the feelings transcend into a far distant and the space in between is meaningless and far is near. Time freezes, but the memories seem distant. Too many objects in mind. Cannot focus on one, yet everything seems to be in focus, everything interpretable. Words are in scarce, I know what I say, yet they become meaningless when I try to bring them all together – look better apart. I like the meaning in this way. They are more abstract than real. Those who understand must see how I see. Let them be in my mind one day someone understands the true meaning of what I am. It is a swirling of thoughts which are constantly in motion, a state of being in blue space, with endless boundaries. The more I try to reach, the farther it moves away. Must remain content till I can – must wait for the right moment.

I finish with something I wrote in my journal – Most wounds run deeper than you can imagine, the only thing is that you cannot see them.

A NEW SIDE OF MY YEARS IN UNIFORM

“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.

THE BACK OF BEYOND

 

“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. 

EYE TOWARDS THE SKY

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.