Parting from close ones

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One of life’s ultimate emotional stress comes through in the form of parting from close ones. Recently, on a Sunday morning visit to my fathers grave I recalled his last day and various other goodbyes which have occurred during my life. This is probably a blog to myself to assuage a personal need.

I was living in London during my professional study years. Coming from a school where we were together right from Prep to our A levels, school relationships were very strong. We had been together for fourteen years and when we ventured forth at eighteen, the bonds remained. Mind you, these were the non technology times and communication was an issue.

In London, a whole lot of us would meet regularly. However, many of us ended up in the universities in the US. Every early summer, these friends would drop in and at the end of the summer some would come back again. These were short two day visits of friends returning to Pakistan early summer and then going back to US in late summer. I came to look forward to these visits, but at the same time to dread them. The Tube link to Heathrow was made in the early 80s, and one would go to the airport, either via Tube or drive, to leave the departing visitors. The times when I have hugged old friends at the airport and felt that the world was ending were countless.

Is not a parting something like that? How does one know if you will see or hear or talk to this person ever again. Life for either party is uncertain..is it not? Now, I am not sure if everyone feels the force of this, so some out there would say this is nonsense. But, throughout the early and late summer I would be depressed. The loss of a company of friends and the effect of bidding these adieus would really shake me up. It was as if the departing people had taken away ones happiness.

In later years in the 90s, I was working abroad and would come back to Karachi couple of times a year. Enjoyable holidays, where friends and relatives would entertain one, coupled with a bit of nostalgia. During one of my short visits, a close relative was diagnosed with late stage cancer. On my last night here, she came to see me, as we were packing and friends were floating in and out. I still remember her traditional last words, as we hugged. “acha tou zindagi rahi tou phir millain gay” (if life allows we shall meet again) and in saying this she faltered when our eyes met. It was obvious to both of us, that we will not meet again. A month later she had died and I have been left with the haunting memory of those words. Awful; enough to shake the soul. A memory which has remained with me, these last 19 years.

Another form of parting is when people go away from a work place. My own resignation from Engro Foods in October 2011, was a traumatic experience. While I expected some sadness from colleagues – we had grown the company together and start up operations have a family sort of bonding – but was totally unprepared for the adulation and tears which I encountered in various farewells. So the last large good bye event at the Boat Club, which ended with me giving a speech, was extremely emotional and traumatic. It felt like multiple friends and family had been surgically removed and I was bereft of a huge part of myself.

Lastly comes the ultimate departure. This is the genuine final one, when we leave this world. Most have faced this. My father’s death was earthshaking, but he went in his sleep. So while the particular day will be etched in my memory, this was not, in a classical sense a parting. In one other case, a close relative died in my arms, while I was trying to get a heart pill into his mouth. That was an experience which shall remain in my mind. One literally saw life ebb out. Totally. Death is so final and such a significant event. It shapes our lives and we should never forget it.

So goodbyes, separations and partings, whether short or long term or permanent, are a serious examination of ones emotions. The particular person is gone, out of our lives for a period or forever. It is one part of our existence being physically taken out of our souls. Its a form of death! The closer the links, the greater the examination and hurt. In todays world, with family and friends spread all over the world, this has become all too frequent. One almost wishes for those “beam me up Scotty machines” from Star Trek, so that we would never have to part for a significant period from loved ones and friends. Alas, we come here alone and go out alone, with other smaller partings in the middle. Sadly, a process we have to live and thrive within, like it or not.

*Picture is taken from dreamstime.com a free picture stock

A Third Metric – give something back

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Based on Ariana Huffington commencement address to Smith College recently.

Success has largely been determined by money and power, but we need a third metric. That should include or be one based on ‘well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back.’

Above 40..the time of self actualisation..?

Much earlier, I had written about the enigma of time in the context of Surah Asr. This relationship of time to us and its effective usage, remains our single most important struggle during this lifetime. That is, if you believe life is a continuum and soon we shall proceed on to a spiritual plane, where we shall have a different life.

However, even without this feeling of creeping death and its consequences, I have found that normal humans, who have crept along in life for a time, eventually reach a state, where they want to do meaningful things in life. It is quite amazing this aspect and its universality. Leads me therefore to believe we are programmed that way by our Allah.

I have watched many of my friends and acquaintances in their daily struggle for sustenance. This recording of our timesheet, changes in its constituents as we go along. From the learning and adventure minutes in the early years to a discovery of a rose petaled world in teenage, to a discovery of our gender in late teens, which then graduates into worldly ambition. This worldly ambition eventually changes into some form of reality and cynicism and we are already mutating into another form.

Something then happens to our mind as we cross the age of forty. We have now been on this planet for sometime, seen the many luxuries life has to offer, experienced the upheavals which it throws at us, felt success and disappointment and realised that there is more to life than day to day recording of the timesheet. And suddenly our mind starts opening. In personal terms, I feel our grand human has arrived.

What is the form it shall take? That depends on the inner personality, on the value system, environment and the influencers. So someone I know, decided to quit their career and move into a social sector job. There are doctors who give up commercial practice and go off into public health, writers who change from writing commercially viable to philosophical topics, actors who want to do character roles and be involved with causes and the same with sports people. This desire for self actualisation is so strong in so many of us, that it just takes over our lives and becomes the driving force, rather than what used to be the driver…our own personal ambition.

Now some of course are doing all this for a legacy. They are looking at old age and want recognition. Others are looking even beyond death and want subsequent generations and maybe history to admire them. Napoleon was a great one for that. Nevertheless, its a space beyond our selfish interests and benefits the world at large.

So us ordinary humans then graduate onto being little heroes. We are doing mankind’s work and creating a domain where others less fortunate can grab a helping hand to climb into comfort. These others, in turn, will hopefully do the same in their later life for the world.

So, if there was an utopian wish in this context, then it would be that “those who are still opt outers of society, try and do whatever they can to help their fellow human.” There is a part in all of us which derives great happiness out of this. It is the route to self satisfaction, peace and happiness. Its a route like no other can be!

Brazil, a demolition which took 32 years

Brazil, a demolition which took 32 years.

Brazil, a demolition which took 32 years

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David Luis fell to the ground, both hands raised to the heavens in prayer and forgiveness, in the aftermath of Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil. Luis, blaming himself as the captain, probably did not realise that this story began 32 years before, one desolate afternoon in Barcelona, Spain, and he was just a culmination of that event.

Brazil came into the 1982 World Cup tournament, with the tag of history’s best, alongside the 1954 Hungarians. Having seen all the matches they played in that tournament, I can personally testify, that in 40 years of watching football, I have never seen anything quite like it.

Spread out in a rather normal 4-3-2-1 formation, it was because of what they did on the field that made it different. Tele Santana, the coach, had unabashedly made an attacking machine and its one purpose was to be destructive for the opposition. The fullbacks, Junior and Leandro were more attackers than defenders. Couple that with Socrates the captain midfield general, who roamed to all portions of the ground, Zico and Falcao, great attacking midfielders and lastly Eder the attacking left sided player and you had a team which moved like quick silver and made the ball talk on the ground. Mind, this team lacked Careca, the star forward who fractured his leg weeks before the tournament. Yet it attacked as no one has in the history of football.

This team carried a nations belief in its indestructibility. They would simply score more goals than any opposition in the world. Through that tournament they tore teams apart and arrived in the round of pre semis, needing a draw to go through versus Italy. Italy itself seemed a dour side, with its forward Paulo Rossi just having come out of a three year ban for match fixing, and totally out of sorts. Yet the pedigree was there, as Enzo Bearzot had built a very good side which did well in 1978 and fancied it could handle Brazil now.

That fateful afternoon, Brazil attacked as never before. In a game, which had the most sublime football played in the history of the game, Brazil chased the game through 90 minutes, equalising twice, while the Italians defended doggedly and attacked on the counter. Yet Paulo Rossi rising from the ashes of his career, scored the most famous hatrick in football and took the game for Italy, by 3-2. Italy went on to win the 1982 World Cup, though probably being second best to Brazil.

In Brazil the heart and belief were broken. Santana’s magic and promise and the waste of the greatest team to play, were never forgiven. Brazil never forgot Cerezzo and his awful pass across goal, pounced on by Rossi to score. A psyche change occurred and now flair was considered second best and players were encouraged who were tough and stopped play. Exit the playmaker Socrates type, enter Dunga the destroyer. Looking down the years of football history, one sees a dramatic shift.. Naturally, every now and then a player of iconic ability would come, but the team generally played closed football. So we had Romario and Bebeto in 1994, who won the tournament against the Italians. Ronaldo in 1998 when the final was lost to an electric French team. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho in 2002, when the Germans were beaten. Yet through the years, with the mind set of hard football, Dunga and Fernandinho and the likes have prevailed.

So to 2014, and once the flair player Neymar was gone, and Silva the core was suspended, there was no quality on the field to challenge the clinical Germans. Where a Rubinho, Coutinho or a Ronaldinho would make a difference, Scolari chose to leave these flair players out. End result a broken team and a broken philosophy.

What is not natural to one, is rarely the best. For Brazil, football is an art form, win or lose. They need to go back to their way. They need to forget 1982, Cerezzo and Paulo Rossi. Maybe today is the shock which will make it happen.

The Old Bazaars are the real places…not malls

 

Anarkali is a fascinating place that stands out as the character of Lahore. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ

I remember the first time I went to a mall; it was way back in 1977. The place was called Brent Mall. Hindsight tells me it was not too big and probably inconsequential, but it looked huge and I hated it.

It was a sanitised place of shopping, crowd dressed every which way to impress, straight lines, homogeneous construction, and uniformity of thought. No culture or creativity.

Today, commencing from USA, expanding to Europe, Middle East and now Asia, the mall is the ‘in’ place. It’s a destination, where you can spend the day. shop, eat, snack, have coffee, watch a movie and even go skiing in one instance! The functionality appeals, but its bourgeois lack of character, well in line with modern day living, really palls and one wishes for the old markets.

I was brought up on such fare and it is in the character created by these old markets that we thrived. Even on my travels around the world, I’ve seen that some of the most striking places in modern cities are these ethnic markets which bring out the character and culture of the people and shed light on their values. So, I have tried to recall some of these experiences over the years.

Empress Market:

It was the queen of traditional markets – my childhood was spent shopping here. The smelly meat market, great kiryana stores, the pet market, fruit places and more than that, the feel of the place was just surreal. The Gothic-looking architecture is fabulous! I even remember various English memsahibs (ladies) who used to shop here early in the morning.

Bohri Bazaar:

Bohri Bazaar is a place that answers all the needs of Karachiites. I believe the market caught fire in the 50s and had to be rebuilt. They had clothes, toys, books and specifically delicious nimco! It is God’s gift to Karachi, to be visited once a month. Alas, Tariq Road and Hyderi took customers and this market lost its importance.

Sadly, I haven’t been there in years!

Sunday Bazaar Karachi:

This is a place where you go, to find that elusive Noritake which you pick in bits and make a collection. You get great bargaining. Fruit and vegetables are all available below the retail market prices. It’s given its character by the endless workers who tag along carrying your goods for a minuscule price and guide you to all the secret goodies.

Anarkali:

Now I am not an expert, but Anarkali has that smell and traditional feel – like a wrapped piece of velvet, taken out after decades. It is archaic and redundant now, but grand nevertheless! For some reason, I associate glass bangles and food with Anarkali, though it houses many items. This fascinating place stands out as the character of Lahore.

Quincy Market, Boston:

Here, you can find food of all sorts and people of all sorts too. You are better off roaming in the market on foot as you get a bigger choice. There is music too, which makes the experience even more enjoyable.

I have a lovely memory of a beautiful afternoon, a quarter of a century ago. I think it was summer. A juggler was performing, and I stood watching, biting into an extremely chunky sub, loaded with beef.

I salivate at the memory.

No sanitised mall can provide the sort of experience I witnessed at this market.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul:

At the Grand Bazaar you can buy almost everything, barring a car. This must be the grandest bazaar around. 3,000 shops of all kinds, haggling, and lots of people buying carpets, ceramics, gifts, ornaments, clothes, spices, dates – you name it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to visit the place and the women go absolutely gaga when they go to this bazaar to shop. A few hours of roaming and watching all the haggling and people is an experience in itself.

Petticoat Lane:

My first experience at Petticoat Lane goes back to 1978. I had these delicious, freshly fried sugar-coated doughnuts – piping hot! At the time, I was a student and had very little money to indulge in the trendy clothing available, but there were second hand book stalls.

Sundays used to be crowded and you had to push along watching for pickpockets. I’m not sure if it’s still the same, but it was bordering some seedier parts of London, so I expect that not much has changed.

The real tragedy is that hyperstores demolished the high street market – the small corner shop, newsagent, barber, butcher, veggie man, the pharmacy and such. All the years of familiarity and personal touch were gone at the altar of commercialism. Man has lost depth in life to a corporate existence, flush with glitz and so called glamour.

There are other markets which I have visited and, of course, many more places which others would know. In Singapore I remember buying a quaint Sukarno cap, from an Indonesian market. Lagos is a memory of a shoe purchase from a set of shacks which qualified for a local market. In the Middle East, the old wholesale markets sell below large stores prices and also give you Turkish coffee.

The universal language of hospitality prevails.

The traditional markets are a memory and identity of a world where humans interacted on a personal level and warmth existed amongst strangers – whatever caste or creed.

Alas, it is a world lost!

Read more by Sarfaraz here or follow him on Twitter @sarehman

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This blog appeared in The Express Tribune earlier this year.

The Laws of Perversity (Never say Never)

imageIts my hypothesis, that there is a trap set at every step during our lives. Its been pre programmed. You just need to find it. And its not that difficult. Just the right mind set and you are in there.

As a kid, I remember my father thinking of buying a Volkswagen Beetle, as a family car. Nothing unusual about that. One in every four cars on the road was a Beetle in those days. This is before the Government of Pakistan decided in its infinite wisdom, that they should tax higher literage cars more than others. So before the Japanese cars took over in Pakistan (and really the world), you could see the Beetles every where. So we all went and checked out the Beetle at the showroom and my mother categorically stated that it was a horrible, ugly looking thing, and she would not sit in it. So, alas no Beetle!

Cut forward 14 years and I was back in Pakistan, having completed my studies and recently joined Unilever, on whose princely salary, all I could afford was an old second hand car, Alhamdulillah. Guess what I ended up buying ? A dilapidated 14 year old Beetle! ( this car had a mind of its own. It would forever stop on Clifton Road at the most inopportune times and caused me constant heartburn). And of course my mother sat often in the same ugly car, for the next 3 years. A soft trap, but nevertheless, one which repeats itself all the time.

Never say Never!

Just go ahead and state your intentions of not doing something in a categorical fashion, and more than likely, the exact thing you denied, you will end up doing. Now, somewhere there is a Murphy’s Law, which states that anything which could possibly go wrong, well it will go wrong. Similarly, I think there should be a Perversity Law. If you say something will “Never” happen, well sadly it will happen.

In my own personal experience, it has occurred exactly like that. I stated I would not study abroad; I did. Never do Chartered Accountancy; I did. Will not join a commercial organisation; I did. Do not want to be heading an operation; I did. Once I leave the commercial world, will never come back; I did. Will never smoke; I did. Will always exercise and definitely have no weight problems; well in the last ten years done little exercise and had the mother of fights to keep the weight in check.

I wonder where this stops and how many others suffer from similar results. Friends I have enquired from, all have a similar story to tell. So is this a worldwide phenomenon? Then the thought occurs, if it is so common, why don’t we humans, stop stating things in a categorical fashion? Or better still, only say “Never” to things you actually want to happen, thus engineering a perverse reaction all to your benefit. That should lead to the perverse happening., which is what you wanted in the first place… right? If you see what I mean.

So then, my fresh, new Laws of Perversity.

A) if you are sure in your mind you will “Never” do something and you state it out loud for general consumption, you will end up doing it.

B) if you are sure in your mind something will “Never” happen and you state it out loud for general consumption, it will happen.

C) if you are blessed with a high IQ and a devious mind, and believe (A) or (B) are true, and then you state the opposite deliberately, thinking its going to assist you to achieve the same, you are wrong! It will catch you out and it will not happen. It simply reads your intention.

D) Law A and B are therefore the only true laws, based on the confidence of your statement.

Therefore, my conclusion, after a lifetime of experience … Never say Never!

*the picture has been taken from Wylio.com a free picture site.

The Trials of Ibrahim (as)

imageHajj has been the most lasting ritual and enterprise, prevailing these almost 4 millennia. And no wonder, as it’s a commemoration of one of the greatest humans to grace this Earth.
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Hazrat Ibrahim (as) did not come easy by his belief. On his own he worked out the oneness and omnipotency of Allah, but was tried for it. His belief was known to Allah, so the trials were really a sign for later generations and many of these have come down in the form of Hajj rituals.
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Thrown into the fire for his beliefs, then forced into migration, Ibrahim (as) was somewhere in his early 80s, when his first child Ismael was born, to the Lady Haajra. A sacrificial life seemed not to suffice, as a dream came soon asking him to take his wife and child and abandon them in the deserted stony valley of Becca (later Mecca). As he turned away after leaving his wife and child, he had not words to express himself. The Lady Haajra hence asked him, why is he doing this thing? When Ibrahim (as) could not answer, she asked is this the order of Allah, and Ibrahim (as) simply nodded and left.
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As the desperation for provisions and water increased, Lady Haajra ran from the mount of Safa to Marwa (7 cycles) looking for some help. In the meantime the little child Ismael, writhing with lack of water, rubbed his heels against the rock. When Lady Haajra returned to the child after her runs, she found water flowing out of the rock, below the heel of Ismael. She tried to dam the water, but it overflowed at great rates and it is then that she uttered the famous words which have lasted these thousands of years to our time. “Zam Zam!”  Stop! Stop! The water stopped, but has catered for billions of people in this intervening period. Such are the signs of Allah, through the clan of Ibrahim (as).
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Some years later, Ibrahim (as) now knowing that his family was thriving, was unnerved to receive another dream. His dream called for sacrifice, so in subsequent days he sacrificed ever increasing numbers of animals. To no avail the dream would not go and eventually settled on the image of the child Ismael.  With a heavy heart Ibrahim (as) trudged to Mecca to see his family. By then, various caravans seeing such abundant water, had settled in the valley and a community was thriving there. Ibrahim (as) took the boy Ismael and walked to Mina, away from the community.
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Satan knew that a cataclysmic blow is to be delivered to him and so he pulled out all the stops. First he approached Lady Haajra, saying your husband is in error, he is going to sacrifice your child. To which the lady replied, this must be an instruction from Allah and ‘so be it’. Thwarted, he approached Ismael, on the way to Mina. He got an emphatic answer from the boy, who said my father follows the instruction of Allah and ‘so be it’. Lastly, thrice he approached Ibrahim (as), each time to be repulsed, by the prophet throwing 7 stones at him to repel him.   And so we commemorate this event in Hajj, with the act of Rummi today.

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As Ibrahim (as) got ready to run the knife over the throat of Ismael, the instructions to the angel Jibreel were clear from Allah. Take a goat and replace its throat under the knife, so that Ismael is saved. And so when the throat was cut, it was the goats blood which flowed and Ismael was safe. On seeing this Ibrahim (as) uttered the famous words which Muslims and hajis utter during these days. 
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Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa laa ila ha ill lalla,
                                         
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillah il hamd.

“God is great, God is great, and there is no God but Him, God is great, God is great, He is to be praised.”
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In reward for his many sacrifices and trials, Hazrat Ibrahim (as) was felicitated in all the religions of the books and his prayers were accepted for the eternity of this world. He asked for two great nations out of his progeny and so he received through the ummah of the Jews and Muslims. He also asked for the house (Kaaba) which he built under instructions from Allah, to be populated and busy to the end of days and so has happened, over these millennia.  Further he and his family’s actions are commemorated through the acts of Hajj and Umra, by tens of millions of Muslims annually.  What a great legacy to leave behind. And what a great reward for his sacrifices.

You Will Never Walk Alone (YNWA)

Liverpool-FC

 I don’t remember Gerry and the Pacemakers and was too young to remember when their song You Will Never Walk Alone became a chart topper in 1963. But this has turned out to be my most influencing piece of music. It has constantly rung in my head or been on my lips, since a fateful day in May 1971.

FA Cup final day 1971 will live in my memory for all the wrong reasons, but it also created a passion, which has been a constant these 42 years. A young remade Liverpool side, another Shankly team, out on the Wembley pitch in front of 100000. Facing it an Arsenal side, which under Bertie Mee, had already won the League Championship. They now stood at the doors of immortality, in the possibility of being the 4th team ever to do the double. A prize which eluded many great sides in the past. The FA Cup regularly inspires lady luck. Like an untouchable lover, she plays and flirts with the teams and so decides who to bless on the final day.  Hence, many a great team had come to Wembley and gone despondent, cursing their lack of luck. So the double just happened to be a prized goal, rarely achieved.

On the day, Liverpool just seemed to freeze…the Wembley fear…but a 100 degree temperature led to a sterile 0-0 at 90mins. Extra time and the game became dramatic. Heighway jinked in from the left and delivered what looked like a killer blow to Arsenal. But we reckoned without the change of fortunes. One of my most abiding nightmares, watching Charlie George lying in the grass celebrating a wonder goal late in the game, which Arsenal took in extra time 2-1. The comeback did Liverpool in and I sat despondent watching a young team sadly trudging away. My curse. I always have supported underdogs and in neutral situations always felt sympathy for losers. I felt as if something incomplete had occurred and there must be more to go.

The summer of 71 was eventful anyway. Laver lost at Wimbledon and so did Pakistan at Leeds to England. It seemed that the losing streak continued for all my favourites. Come new League season, I found I had a new passion. It had come late to me in the scheme of things, but did it arrive with a bang. My despondency at Liverpool’s loss converted to support for them and I became one of Anfield’s millions of legions of followers. And what a fateful time to enter the fray. I am convinced I brought them luck.

Down the years of the 70s and 80s it was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That same young team under Shanks and then new recruits under Paisley, later Fagan, Moran and finally King Kenny, poured rich rewards into my lap. Some 11 championships, several FA Cups and League Cups and above all 4 European Cups later one almost felt satiated. Liverpool became the premier football club in the world.

The memories are magic. Fairclough scoring a wonder goal vs St Etienne, Tommy Smith desperately rising above the Borussia Munchengladbach defence to head home, to take the European Cup in Rome, Souness lording it over the Anfield pitch, Grobbelaar dancing in the goal to save Roma penalties and deliver another European Cup in 1984, Rush scoring a triumphant goal vs Everton to win the double finally in 1986, that wonder performance vs Notts Forest which dealt a 5-0 blow in 1988, and above all King Kenny holding trophies aloft and grinning his grin.

Its not just one way memories only. Passion cannot be built on success alone. It comes as a package. It requires failures and heartbreaks too. So the awful day in 1985 at Heysel and another awful one in 1989 at Hillsborough, death dealt in multiples, and in footballing terms that terrible moment when Michael Thomas rushed across the Anfield pitch to score and take away the League Championship in the dying seconds of the season in 1989, when they were probably putting Liverpool colours onto the trophy. Such heart wrenching moments…but it just grounded Liverpool more into ones heart.

So to return to Gerry and the Pacemakers. They are long gone, but there one abiding memory resides on the Anfield terraces and wherever the supporters go. They reside in millions of hearts across the world, who lie dormant waiting for The Liverpool dream to come back once more. The feel is right and the door is opening once more. One just feels this is 1971 all over again.

Killing the Self, our Ego!

imageEgo is a killer. Over a lifetime I have learned that if there is one certainty of attracting Allah’s anger, it is through arrogance, pride and ego. Unfortunately, during the coarse of a lifetime all of us get this rather dubious opportunity. Our test is to navigate our behaviour in conditions, which invite such ego.

Consider a situation where a young manager enters the world of commerce and trade. They are fresh from education and invariably work for older and more experienced people. These young managers are generally modest people with great listening ability; they learn the traits of practical management and workout how to function in the corporate world. Over time they too become experienced and adept at it. And so starts their trial. They will soon begin fighting the ego game. They are now ‘somebody’ and if they do not watch themselves, they will behave as if they have consequence.

My personal feeling is that, if and when they fall at the gates of arrogance, they will wipe out all vestiges of goodness in themselves. Its not that those good characteristics are not there, but our ego now subdues them, dominates them and any deed done then is evaluated on the alter of ego. As the days go by and life passes, that ego dominates more and more and Allah’s punishment has already arrived. The person has become a twisted, egotistical animal, listening to none, looking at life only through his/her filters and and unable to achieve anything of goodness. But there will be a further revenge, in that down the road, the very reason to be egotistical will get taken away from the person and he or she will suffer the pangs of failure. Our time always ends. So whether by old age/death or by failure or both, our downfall will come.

We have seen this in the house of the arrogant. Napolean, Hitler, the original Jews, Xerxes, the Romans, the Ummayids and all great nations who rise through merit but turn to arrogance, which eventually leads to their failure in the world – In my consideration it is happening right now with the USA. This is a terrible signal event. To reach the top and then fall down into an abyss called ‘nothing’ is a tragedy and a travesty. Its destructive.

It happens in our houses too. We are almost all involved in it. One spouse dominates the other and mostly it is the ego of one conquering the other. Similarly, we dominate our children. Many a times a man is shaping his children into the picture of himself. But to do that is itself arrogant. We are shaping Allahs beautiful creatures (our children), when we do not have a right to do this. Its our duty to impart knowledge and tarbiat. There is no requirement to shape them. That is also arrogance. You think you are worth cloning. So the people closest to you in life, you clone to satisfy your ego.

How does one fight this insidious creep which can happen to one and all in this life. Its by watching and being aware of oneself. This bears watching every living day of your life. You must fight it. When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself you are human and have to deal with other similar humans. We are all the same, regardless of position, wealth, age and gender. If we believe that and keep reminding ourselves, then the day may pass without arrogance or ego. Similarly at night, when you are about to sleep remind yourself..that as you go to sleep, you may never wake up again. That is enough of a thought to make yourself free of ego and arrogance, till the next reminder in the morning. Disregard this need to control your self importance and you will very likely fall into the trap and become arrogant. It is inbuilt in us!

Remember, we are all here because one Iblis thought he was greater than others. Iblis in turn uses this as his favourite weapon. As Al Pacino said “Vanity is my favourite sin”.

Hanif – the original Little Master

imageThe excitement was supreme….all of 6 years old, dressed in short pants and ready to go. It was my first trip to the National Stadium, to see Pakistan play Australia. This was October 1964, there was no TV in Karachi. So my only experience of watching cricket was to see my cousins play in club cricket. One of them, I am convinced, should have played first class at the least, but then studies got in the way.

From memory, I think this was the fourth day of the match. Pakistan had 6 debutants. The old team of the 50’s was destroyed in 1962 by England. It had been a thrashing, accentuated by the bad form of Hanif, the star batsman. Later on it came to light that he had battled through pain in the knee. Nevertheless, the doubts about Hanif remained on his return, after physical rehabilitation. Post the clean out, Hanif had returned, and being by far the most senior and a great student of the game, been made captain. This apparently did not go down well with various regional lobbies in the BCCP and a war ensued. The pressure on the captain was huge.

Of the six debutants, two were to disappear quickly, two after few years of mediocrity and two were to last a decade and half. This pair opened the bowling for Pakistan in 1964 and took few wickets. However, they were destined to become iconic Pakistani batsmen in the 70s. I speak of Majid Khan and Asif Iqbal, who batted I think, at number 9 and 10 in the batting order. The openers, both debutants, made a 249 runs stand. Billy Ibadullah scored a century and Abdul Kadir was run out for 95. By the time we reached National Stadium on the 4th day, Pakistan had to score runs to consolidate a small lead and ensure that the Australians were given a substantial target.

It was most exhilarating. Thousands jam packed together, like sardines, sitting on steps of concrete, with no shamianas. When a shot was hit, the crowd stood up and a small 6 year old was not destined to see much. The heat – remember October in Karachi – was terrible and my uncle was burnt black. No cold drinks available, toilets non-existent and your back side burnt to boot on the concrete steps. But I do not remember this day for those reasons at all.

My memory recalls the roar which went up, when Hanif the Little Master came to the crease. Oh, the excitement and love which was showered on the man. Pakistan had wound itself back into problems. Some 100 plus runs on the board; 4 wickets down; mid way through the 4th day. Burki on the other side and Hanif join’s him. The tension was palpable and the fear was that if Hanif fails, Pakistan will fold. In the first innings we had gone from the heights of 249 for 0 to 300 plus for 7, before Intikhab had saved the day with a quick fire 50. Hanif himself had scored a couple of runs and clearly he was now fighting for survival and captaincy. Not much changes over the decades! A near 100 run stand later, with Hanif standing firm under pressure the day was saved. I remember being totally enamored with this man and a belief was born about Pakistan cricket which has lasted a lifetime.

The next 6 months were most prolific for Hanif. A century in New Zealand, another double made in Pakistan and almost another record at Melbourne. Having scored a century in the first innings, under the watchful eye of Bradman, who expressed admiration, Hanif approached a second century in the match. However, at 93 Jarman made a routine habitual stumping appeal. Much to his horror he saw the finger go up. Jarman apologized, as did the umpire, because Hanif would have had that unique record – eventually Gavaskar did – a century in each innings, twice over.

There was just one more day left in this masters career and that came with his 187* at Lords in 1967. But that is another story to tell.

Today the original Little Master sits at the ripe old age of 78 in a wheel chair and generally not well, unheralded, an icon of a past age. I would ask you to remember a little man, who stood tall for a decade and a half for Pakistan cricket, when others older and taller used to fall like nine-pins. Had he played today his technique would have made him an icon of this age too.

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