Future of My Past

For months since my last blog, I have been thinking of writing about my past. Lot has been written on the subject, some say forget your past, live forwards. It is true because it is not there anymore, it is just a tense now. So many events so many people, they are not there anymore, everything is history. Where I left most of the people I knew then, so many events which happened then, and all ideas we thought off, they all transmuted themselves. But today, I will only exert myself to dwell on the future of my past as the stated subject of my blog represents. When we were kids the exposure to the world was restricted to books, music, radio and our ideals, which in my case was my father’s indomitable spirit, impregnable principles for which in his lifetime he suffered in many different ways but never compromised. Growing up in his shadow thus left lasting imprints on my life to come. As I grew up some became my lineaments with which I was distinguished. As I reflect back “TIME” and all its relevant areas on my bringing up have had a deep impact. All my achievements in one or the other way have been attached to this one word – very difficult to follow and absorbs its effects completely. It can make you impatient, irritable, frustrated, sad, dejected and not forgetting contended and happy.
 Growing up as eldest of eight siblings kept my father very worried about our future especially when at a critical time of his parental obligations he was jobless and we lived in extreme modesty. He kept his pride with unimaginable difficulty trying to remain obscure as to how especially the next day will unfold for him and to his responsibilities.  His unpretentious nature despite being a man of taste and extreme mannerisms makes me now extremely despondent. The future of my past is beginning to unfurl as I write this post. As I pierce into the past the remembrances are beginning to upset me, but write I must.

My earliest memory is perhaps when I was 6 or 7 years old. My father loved dogs and the ones he kept as long as I remember was a pair of Bull-terriers, he had named them Whisky and Dash.  Whiskey and Dash were very fond of me, followed me everywhere I went and protected me like if they were my bodyguards. The first future of my past was a complete un-fulfilment. I so much wanted to have a pet dog and I still do. I got married and then all doors were shut and so with it was buried my first past desire. My wife not interested in dogs and reasons are obvious. My African Grey shares my Study with me and right now perched on top of its cage constantly repeating “TANGO my son how are you” I smile only as he whistles now and then.
 I never had any ambition so to say while I was growing. I did not ever think what I would become or want to be in the future. The nature of that thought of the past postulates and has made me what I am. I loved to read and the world then was far different from what it is now. It was not what the young people like me today are confronted with the upheaval of information bordering from the maelstrom of diverse ideas; a madness of uncertainty for the people like me. From the present of that future of my past, I definitely like how it used to be; uncomplicated, plain and simple. What I do now, how I think now, how I approach situations now, put exactly that much effort as I think is required (most people still think I have and had the capacity to do more)  it was exactly then as well. I lived each day without really knowing what tomorrow would bring for me. Whatever myself and friends did we had fun.
 My father’s expectation from each of his children was different for every child. He wanted me to become a doctor. I never had the courage to tell him that it was not going to happen. I wasn’t good at studies but it was not my educational abilities which dissuaded me from his vision of me but of my belief, that I was not a Doctor material, how hard I tried. It was a clear underestimation by me of my will and abilities, at least this is what I think of it now, notwithstanding my lack of interest more than the will to be what my Dad desired. To be truthful I never wanted to be a medic.  As I think of it now I dare say I was definitely a healer of a sort in my heart. I would heal people in different ways; my future life from that past is satiated and well fed with short stories which I will pick up on in another post. I was and am still a staunch believer in destiny. Sometimes I feel my destiny has been connected with destinies of other people. I know there is a power far beyond our imaginations and it places us at every turn of our lives at a place where one should be. This thought fits my life perfectly.
 I never thought I will join the Army. A series of events further gave credence to my view. Applied for admission to Military College when I was in Class 8th and I was not selected after having been declared medically unfit. On our way to the college for tests, my father asked me a strange question, ” Why do you like to join the military college” the way he said it was not a question but he was telling me I do not want you to be away from me. I thought then he wasn’t happy because of the way he asked me, yet he accompanied me all the way from Quetta to Jehlum to keep up my spirits. Again when I applied for the first time for the Army I was permanently declared medically unfit for having a systolic heart murmur. The doctor told me I would not be able to sustain the tough academy training and routine. I appealed and was called to appear before a Medical Board and was declared Fit. During the process of this medical examination, I missed the chance to go through the rest of the tests of 46th PMA Long Course. I applied again for 47th PMA and fell through the final selection test at Kohat. That was it, and I decided the army was not for me. The future of my past was still to unravel itself. Then one day I got a letter from the Army Headquarters asking me if I was willing to join the 48th batch I should apply. I was not too excited but it appeared, the divine was at work. There was no system of actions, I thought, need to be followed or rehearsed to go through this final test at ISSB for I thought I knew it all. I got my test dates and would you believe that a day before my departure from Quetta to Kohat I met with a road accident, a truck tyre went over half of the left foot and I ended with a fractured foot. There went all my faint hopes of ever wearing the uniform. I would skip the technicalities of the cause of the accident suffice I appeared in the last batch and cleared it without displaying pain or limp as I would do so the same way during the training at the Academy. The age-old adage. “No pain, no gain” had chosen me which I guess now, I had heartily accepted. I did not have any choice. I cleared and was selected in the final test at Kohat. That was the last time I went to Kohat little I knew then that I will return to Kohat after 30 long years to Command my second Infantry Division from Bahawalpur to Kohat as a Major General. Little I knew then that I was to become an instrument for changing the destiny of a young lad Muhammad Arif. What a fine young man he has grown to be how well he has shaped. I am proud of him. He will read this with loads of sentimentality.  What a blessing it is not to know your future in the past. The turning point at that stage I can recount many. My beliefs have been shaped far away in the distant ‘past’. The future had already charted its course at the lowest ebb of my despair and unhappiness when I had met with the accident. Many doors had closed but one had opened, who knew then, why should I turn the hands of time, I am at peace with future of that past.

I have been a sportsman all my life, may it be squash, cricket, swimming, hockey or school athletics. In the environment I was growing up I made the best use of all the facilities. From school days if I may, one wish I always carried with me for which I worked very hard was to play cricket at the highest level. My selection in the Army, however, only let me go up to the Province Level when I was selected to play for Balochistan. I am pleased with my performance, no regrets what so ever as the future of my past had different ideas.

Imran Nazir and I have studied together, we were class fellows. later he also joined the Army and in the academy, we were also Platoon mates. The association is almost 55 years old. Imran had beautiful handwriting for which not me but the whole class was envious of him. We both sat together in Mr Zahoor’s class who was our Drawing teacher. Drawing (Arts)  was one of our subjects in the course in the school. I left pursuing it but not Imran. He continued painting and still does. I wanted to be a painter but then my self-imposed limitations never allowed my hidden talent to erupt into colours on the canvas. Now and then I did buy oil colours but never exploited my talent if there was any. My inspiration was my Grandfather who was a good painter slow and steady he would paint and I watched him. Five years after my retirement from the Army in 2008 I decided to start painting and learned the skill on my own, with Youtube to be my teacher through lessons of renowned contemporary painters. Fast drying paints were instrumental in my new found love to create and express. My friends often censure me for my restiveness and keenness to finish and sign my ‘masterpieces’. Something in the past which I always wanted to do has happened after five decades. Future of my past is alive and kicking.

I must confess I was not a dreamer or had ambitions to speak of at that point in my life. I remember a few of our friends had their own dreams. The kids of doctors wanted to become doctors, engineers, businessmen and so on those friends and class fellows wanted to pursue and carry on with their family business and the professions their parents pursued. Yes, one thing I was clear about that I did not want to be useless. There was a lot of haze looking forward. Ambitions did crystalize with age but I never managed to push hard to get them though. In hindsight, the main reason was the way, my father was struggling to make ends meet and he just wanted a support and a bread earner as soon as possible and Army was in his opinion the only way I and my younger brother who also later joined were to lessen his burden. That was not all he desired, like everyone else he wanted to feel a sense of achievement of raising us up through thick and thin to see the fruit of his struggle to have educated us and see us on our feet. One thing of which I am absolutely clear if he had the resources he would have equipped us with the best possible education. Past plays its own game, only in the future of past the mist clears.

After my training from the Academy, I went on to serve for 38 years or so in the Army with two foreign tours of five years combined in the United Nations Missions. For every rank, I progressed I went through bizarre to funny situations with me displaying outlandish behaviour at times and at other times take decisions with the courage to explore new horizons forgetting where the shore was. By nature, I was never afraid of failures and brought this with me to this day from past to the future. When I was a Captain I was produced before a Two Star Divisional Commander complaining against my own Commanding Officer who drove me to produce me a week before his retirement in front of the General. I was admonished and rebuked and was told to go and serve. We came out and I still remember my CO who only said one thing, “Young man if you continue to do and listen whatever your father tells you to do, you will never reach anywhere in life”. I did not tell him anything but I NEVER paid heed to what he said. My father was a man of principles and he was my constant therapist and a consultant. So many of his sermons still resonate in my mind and most of my siblings today. Positive “ZID” and satisfaction of heart tops the list and a constant reminder of the fact that “RIZQ” is in the hands of Almighty, he and he alone can give and he can take it away, he always said and wrote to us.

I will end this post and plan to continue on my Past more in another blog with my personal life fortunes and misfortunes.

Here are few excerpts from my late son’s poem which he titled – FATE

FATE

 

One that ruins us.
It has built us and we divided some.
Sometimes it did aspire us. 
Saddens us by a happiness stolen from us. 
It seeks something that eyes cannot see. 
Blind us from what we have. 

~ Moody ~

 

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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

 

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