Friday, February 27, 2015

(8) QUICK DECISIONS

             Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

In life, we make many decisions. Some for our career, some for our relationships, and some for our education. Decisions that are carefully made, and considered with consultation from our elders, parents, or friends, often prove to be right. We sometimes make quick decisions which, later on, we regret. Rameez had made the quick decision of getting married, which he regretted later on in his life.

Soon after graduation, Rameez had tied the knot with his cousin, Jugnoo. She had not attended any school or college. Still she read and wrote in her mother tongue, Sindhi. Jugnoo and Rameez were engaged to each other since their childhood. After the marriage, they soon had a son. It was a tradition in many families in rural cities of Sindh to decide who will be married to whom. This tradition of early engagement had been the cause of many problems in the province.

Having no proper or consistent source of income, Rameez faced financial problems. He could barely make four or five thousand rupees a month, which was, by no means enough. Due to the lack of money, Jugnoo often complained and quarreled with Rameez. “Why did you get married if you are unable to run a house? First, you should have gotten a job. Because of your quick decision, our child is suffering, too. I could starve, but I cannot see my three years old in this state,” she cried.

“Jugnoo, wait, everything will be fine,” pleaded Rameez.

“That is what you’ve been saying since the day we got married. I can’t wait anymore. I have to do something for me and my son’s futures,” Jugnoo stated.

“You think I don’t love my son? Am I not trying my hardest to find a good job?”

“See, Rameez. I can’t believe your explanations anymore. Tomorrow, I am going to my parents, and I’m taking Rambo with me.”

“You’re not going anywhere. Please try to understand. Just wait, everything will be all right,” he implored.

Jugnoo was determined to leave the house. With Rameez, she thought that their life was going to worse, day by day. The next day, as Rameez came home in the evening, he found a letter hanging on the wall of the bedroom. The letter read, “I am sorry, Rameez. I am going to Karachi with my parents. I will return when you have a good job and a house of your own. If you ever try to come after me, I will get a divorce. I can take better care of my son than you, and my parents have enough money for us. You have nothing to give me. Good bye.”

“May you always be happy wherever you are. I am an unlucky man,” he lamented.

Jugnoo was happy with her parents. Rambo was getting an education, and his grandparents were delighted to have him. Poor Rameez continued to work in the factory, and live in that rented house for 25 years.

By the time Rambo was 20, he had become a good officer. One day, he said to his mother, “Mom, I want to see my father. I think you made an impulsive decision when you left him.”

“I don’t know whether he’s alive or not,” added his mother.

“He is our family. How selfish are we, that all this time, we never tried to contact him.”

“You are right, and it is all my fault,” agreed his mother.

“Tomorrow, we will go to Larkana and bring him here,” said Rambo.

Thus, they decided to visit Rameez. The next day, they left for Larkana.

When Rambo and his mother reached the house, they were surprised to see a new house, full of decorations. It looked like a bungalow. Jugnoo couldn’t believe it when she saw a beautiful woman coming from the kitchen. It was Rameez’s second wife, Samreen.

“Who are you and how did you get in here?” Samreen asked them.

“You tell us who you are. This is our house,” replied Jugnoo. While they were talking, Rameez returned from his office in his big car.

“Rameez, is that you?” Jugnoo asked, surprised.

“Yes, of course. Who is he?”

“This is Rambo, our son. Rambo, meet your father.”

“Oh, my son! How long it has been since I last saw you and held you in my arms. How tall you have become!” he murmured, as Rambo hugged him.

“Samreen, she is Jugnoo, my wife, and this is my son.”

“Hello. I am sorry, I behaved rudely. I didn’t know,” she apologized to them.

“Rameez, how did this happen? How did you build this house? How did you become so rich?”

“It is a very simple story. The year after you left me, I got a good job! I didn’t try to come get you, since you had left me. Above all, you left me in my hard times.”

“Yes. I am very sorry for what I did. But why did you get married?”

“I am a man. I need a wife at home. Simple!”

Jugnoo became so ashamed, and realized that, instead of leaving her husband, she should have stood by him in those difficult times. Jugnoo had to put up with Samreen. Rameez’s second wife was a lifelong punishment for her impulsive decision.

Jugnoo and Rambo decided to live with Rameez in that house in Larkana. One day, when Rambo and his father were out for a walk, Rameez said to Rambo, “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you love like a father should. I am sorry I couldn’t buy you gifts when you were a child. I am sorry I wasn’t around when you had missed me. Oh, I wish I could have seen you grow up. I wish I could have played games with you. Oh, my dear son, I have always loved you and missed you. When your mother left me, it didn’t mean that I didn’t love you. Your mother always quarreled with me. I was between jobs and was going through tough times. I tried to make your mother understand, but she wouldn’t listen to me at all. One day, when I came home, I found a letter where she threatened to divorce me if I ever came after you in Karachi. Fights happen between wife and husband, but when these quarrels grow into big conflicts, the children are affected the most. I am sorry for all that.”

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Respond to the story:

Have you ever made a quick decision in your life that you regretted later on?
What did Jugnoo write in the letter she left for Rameez?
Should Jugnoo have stayed with Rameez? Or was she right to leave him?
Was Rameez’s act of marrying another girl right?
What did you learn from this story?
Who are more quick and impulsive men or women?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

(7) THE MERCILESS RAIN

            Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

The sounds of thunder, lightning, and wind frightened Rozina. She was afraid that the roof of her old room, which was the only room in her house, would fall down. That night she didn’t sleep at all. While singing her two young ones a lullaby and asking God to stop the rain, she kept saying Allah Samad, Allah Samad.

The rain was getting heavier and heavier. The roof started leaking. When drops of water fell on the fragile cheeks of young Rossy, she woke up. Four-year-old Rossy said, “Mama, is water coming into the room?”

“No, no, sweetie. You sleep. The rain is going to stop.” Soon after she said that, drops fell on Rahi's head. The ten-year-old boy said, “Mama, I am getting wet!”

“Okay, let’s sit in the corner,” said the poor mother.

“Mama, isn’t it leaking there?” Rossy asked.

“I hope not,” she said mildly. She tried to make the situation look easy by using simple and short words. After a while, the roof leaked in the corner, too. Troubled Rozina kept changing places and corners, but the weak roof could no longer stop leaking. The merciless rain grew wilder and wilder making the situation worse.

“The rain is so strong. I am afraid of it,” Rossy said to Rahi.

“Me too,” Rahi added.

“Look–everything is going to be fine by morning. It is just a light rain,” the mother comforted them.  After a few minutes, one of the beams in the roof cracked. The sound indicated that the beam was going to break in the middle. “Hurry up, children, we need to get out of the room as soon as possible. The roof is going to fall,” Rozina shouted. The three of them ran out in the rain.

“Oh no, my doll! I don’t want her to be smashed under the roof!” Rossy exclaimed and pulled her hand from her mother’s. She ran into the room to get her doll.

"No, Rossy, don't! Don't go inside!" her mother shouted. Rossy resolutely entered the room. At that very second the whole roof fell down. 

Rozina and Rahi cried out loud for help, but no one came to them in that merciless rain. Little Rossy, who just wanted to get her doll, never returned. Last year Rozina lost her husband, Rabel, who drowned in a river. He was a fisherman. Poor widow’s wounds hadn't even healed enough before she lost her little daughter.

Thousands of people in the world suffer from poverty, unemployment and hunger. They look for a good shelter, food and strive to make a living. Isn't it our responsibility to look after these poor, unfortunate people? Let's play our part and be good human beings who love and care for each other.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

(6) THE REAL HAPPINESS

             Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

Many people collect a lot of wealth in this world. They remain so busy in accumulating affluence that they forget their loved ones and become selfish. On the other hand, many live a simple life giving importance to love and peace. Rani was one of those people who was not interested in money and material things.

Rani was the only daughter of Janzaib, who was one of the richest men in the city of Karachi. Rani’s father had disowned her from the day she had married an uneducated, poor and simple man, Rahat. He had come to Karachi from Larkana, and he sold flowers in a shopping mall.

On Valentine’s Day in 2015, Rani went to the shopping mall where Rahat worked. Rani purchased some clothes and books from the shops in the mall. When she was going out, she saw a flower stall. She came to the stall, and for a while, she looked at the beautiful flowers. “Which one would you like to buy, miss?” Rahat asked her.

“Yet, I don’t have anyone to give flowers to,” she sighed.

“Look this is a nice one. Your mother will like it,” he added.

“Yes. Well, my mother had died when I was three, and only my father is alive. He doesn’t have time for anything but his business.”

“I am sorry to hear that. Well, ma’am, today is the day of love, so here is a rose for you from my side.” he smiled warmly.

“Oh, thank you!” beamed Rani. She took a note of one thousand from her purse. “Here you are,” she replied as she handed it to Rahat.

“Miss, this flower isn’t that much!”

She smiled and said, “My father says everything has its price!”

“Yes, well, maybe but love has no price. No one can purchase love with money. One can get many things with money from the mall, but no one has the love for selling in their stocks.”

“You are right. I believe so.” After saying this, she took the flower and left.

When Rani came home, she wept a lot in her bedroom. She thought she had no one to share love with. She thought about the business of her father. He has wealth, but no love, care and feelings. He is too busy and greedy trying to get more money all the time. “I don’t like his principles and his life. I need to live my life according to my rules. If all people thought like the man at the flower stall, this world would be a better place,” she whispered as if reminding herself.

The next day, she went to Rahat. “You have nice thoughts. I want to listen more from you about love, care and life. What are you doing this evening?”

His eyes lit up with the sudden acceptance. “I will remain here up to the night. I am usually free on Fridays.”

“All right. Can we meet on Friday evening at the café?”

“My pleasure.”

So that Friday, Rani felt that the prince who will bring happiness in her life was Rahat. She started to go out with him regularly. One evening, while they were strolling along the beach, she asked Rahat to marry her.

“I am a poor man, and I have no degrees. What will your father say?”

“Rahat, I am an educated and assertive girl. I will not let anyone snatch my rights. Here in Karachi girls are not so much limited as in interior Sindh. We will do court marriage. After marriage, we will live wherever you will say.”

At night, when Rani’s father came, she said him, “Dad, I am alone. You are too busy doing business, and so I would like to get married.”

“Oh, that’s a good news! Who is the lucky man? Has he a big bungalow and what does he do? He must be a doctor, right?”

“No, father he is a poor, and uneducated man. He sells flowers in a mall.”

“What! The daughter of mine will marry an uneducated and above all a flowers seller? I will never allow this!”

“I’m sorry dad, but money is not important to me, and after marriage I will teach him reading and writing.”

“You still live in the thoughts of novels. These all are lies written by some foolish writers. You’d better be realistic. Think about your career and future.”

“Father, my happiness is with Rahat. I knew you wouldn’t like this. Tomorrow, I am going to marry him in the court.”

“If you do so, I will not give you a penny from my wealth, and I will disown you. I will not let you live in this house.”

“Don’t worry, dad. I will not take anything from you, and I will not live here. I just want you to attend the marriage ceremony.”

“Not at all. I don’t want to see you here anymore.” After saying this, he went to his bedroom. Although angry, her father also felt happy, because he would have a chance to marry for the second time.

The next day, Rahat and Rani came to the court and tied the knot. On this occasion, Rani wished that her mother had been alive and seen her as a bride. Rahat’s mother, Zulaikha, his younger brother, Adnan, and his sister, Malaika came from Larkana to attend the marriage ceremony. After few days, Rahat decided to leave Karachi and go to his native city Larkana. “In Larkana we will live a simple and happy life. I will open my own shop where my younger brother and I will work together and sell flowers.”

“I will live with you wherever you say,” submitted Rani.

After a week, they had come to Larkana. “Welcome, this is your house. Oh how lovely! Now I have two daughters,” Rahat’s mother spouted in joy.

At night, Rahat said to Rani, “I don’t know whether you will get any sleep on the cot or not because you are used to sleeping on the bed.”

“Rahat, in fact, I feel more comfort here on this cot and in this house. Here I have your love and your family’s love. I feel I have got my mother and siblings. Now, I will not feel alone. I will sleep well on this cot.”

“Thank you, Rani for coming into my life. I am so happy, too. You have brought happiness into our lives.”

“Rahat, why did you not go to school?” she asked.

“When I was in grade six, my father had died of cancer. At that time, I left school and helped my mother to earn money to keep the house going. Would you teach me reading and writing?”

“Oh, you took the words out of my mouth!” said Rani.

With Rahat and his family, Rani was happier than she was with her father and that big house. In the evening, she had started teaching English and computer skills to the children in their neighborhood. She had a good heart which found happiness in giving and receiving love, not in collecting wealth. Indeed, that happiness is the real happiness.
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Respond to the story:
What do you think is real success? Do you measure one’s success in terms of wealth, skills, character, or a good and simple happy life?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

(5) LOVE IN CHAINS

                    Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

Every man does some work to survive in this world. Raheman worked as the field hand to make his livelihood. He worked in the fields of landlords and other people in his village, Akil. During rice season in the summer, he went to a nearby town named Phullu to find some work. The town was on the other side of the river. There he fell in love with Reshma, who was the only daughter of the landlord of that town.

In Phullu, Raheman got a contract to work in the fields of the landlord for the season. In the morning, Reshma used to come to the fields to stroll along the grassy paths. She was a simple and kind woman.

“I have never seen you here before,” said Reshma to Raheman.

“Yes, I am new here.”

“You live in this town or have you come from somewhere else?”

“I have come from Akil, miss.” replied Raheman.

“Okay, nice to meet you.” she said.

While walking on the grass, Reshma lost her golden ring. She realized this at home. Thinking that it must have mixed in the dust during the plowing, she did not ask anybody about it.

After some days, while working, Raheman found the ring. As Reshma came on the following day, he gave her the ring. “Where did you find it?” she asked.

“I found it in the field yesterday. I thought it must be yours.”

Reshma thanked him and said, “I like your honesty. You are a good man.”

Reshma started her walk, and Rahman started plowing the field on the tractor. As the tractor came to the side where Reshma was walking, she gestured for Raheman to stop. “I want to sit on the tractor,” Said Reshma.

With a smile on his face, Raheman said, “Most welcome. It is all yours.”

On that day Reshma laughed a lot and for the first time she was happy since the day her mother had died.

Reshma liked to be with Raheman. She spent more time in the fields chatting and helping him a little in the work. They both had fallen in love. One day Raheman asked her, “Will you marry me, Reshma?”

“I would like to be yours more than anything in the world, but my father will kill me if he learned of this.”

“I will go back to Akil, after my contract has ended and the crop is harvested.” said Raheman.

Landlord’s secretary said to the landlord, “Sir, you are busy with the works of the villagers and town. You don’t know what is happening in the fields. Your pampered daughter has thrown dirt on your honor.” The secretary told about the unwelcomed love match.

That evening, the landlord gave Raheman his salary and exiled him. “If you ever come back, you will be killed.” said the landlord.

Reshma made pleas to his father, but he didn’t listen at all.

“I didn’t expect that from you. Is that what you are giving me in return for my love? You have destroyed my reputation in the whole entire town. People are saying the daughter of the landlord has fallen in love with a servant!”

Reshma was kept at home, closely watched for six months. One day, she was found hanging from the fan. She had taken her own life.

Every day, Raheman came to the bank of the river and saw the boats in hope that Reshma would come. His friend often said to him that she would never come, but Raheman always believed that one day she would. In longing for Reshma, Raheman became ill and died. According to the Rahman’s will, he was buried on the bank of the river in case his love returned for him.

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Respond to the story:

Why is it taboo in Sindhi culture to choose one’s life partner oneself?
Do you know that Islam permits choosing one’s spouse according to one’s wishes?
What do you think is the main cause of honor killing in Sindh?
To what extent has the treatment of girls by males (brothers, fathers, uncles, landlords, etc.) changed in these days?
In Pakistan, girls are still not fully independent. Do you want them to be independent?
Men kill those women who decide who they will marry, especially in Sindh province. What would you call these men’s acts–ignorance, pride, folly, injustice, inhumanity or what?
What is the moral of this story?
If you were the landlord, how would you have treated Reshma?
What did Reshma say to Raheman when he asked her to marry him?
What did Reshma’s father (the landlord) say to Reshma when he found out about them?