Wednesday, May 18, 2016

THE MAGICAL MIRRORS

The Magical Mirrors
Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

People often take magical concepts for granted. They think that these are myths or lies of the past. However, the concept of magic is as old as the universe. The great sages of the past not only believed in the magic, but they also learned it. Like other common people, Nooro thought of magic the same way until he found three mirrors.

Nooro was an architect and his ancestors were very famous for their construction skills. In his village, Akil, there was an ancient Haveli (a mansion) of a woman named Neengar, who had died two centuries ago. Neengar was a rich landlady of Sindh, and she was interested in the royal culture of Britain. Her Haveli looked like an English castle. The landlady was inspired by the castles of the UK, so she wanted her Haveli to look like them. She even imported unique and expensive articles from England to make the Haveli look like a real castle. It was very capacious. Many rooms were just locked because there was nobody to live in. The landlady had only one son, Basha, who had been living in the mansion with his wife. They had a son named Asad who went to England for studies and continued living there after his education. He even did not attend the funeral of his mother. His old father suffered from loneliness for 15 years and passed away in longing to see his son. After hearing of his father’s death, Asad returned from England with his family after forty years to take over ownership of the mansion. The castle had become dilapidated. He wanted the palace to look new again. He asked the caretakers of the mansion to advertise in the newspapers about the reconstruction of the mansion and waited to receive the grand construction companies’ proposals for the mega construction project of the mansion.

“Sir, perhaps you shouldn’t change the shape or design of this castle. It is an inheritance. However, you should make the necessary repairs.”

“You are right. This mansion should remain the same design. By the way, who built it?”


“Nooro’s ancestors. Nooro is also a good builder–a chip off the old block.”

“All right. Invite Nooro to the castle. I would like to meet him tomorrow.”

When Nooro was a boy, his grandmother, Fatima, used to tell him about the three magical mirrors in the castle of Neengar. Each mirror had a magical property. The first could see all things in the past. The second could show hidden forces like ghosts and the third could tell the future.

Nooro never believed the magical mirrors existed. He would ask his grandmother whether or not she had seen them. His grandmother used to tell him that she had never seen any of them. Akbar, Nooro’s grandfather, would tell her about the powers of those magical mirrors. Akbar had not only worked on the construction of the Haveli, but he had been the head of all the attendants of the castle. He had discovered those mirrors after the landlady’s death. Akbar never used the mirrors because he thought it would be a breach of trust. “I would like to see those mirrors if I get a chance,” Nooro often said to his grandmother. Because of the strong security in the castle, Nooro had never got a chance to enter the castle.

In the evening, an attendant of the castle came to see Nooro. “Hey, uncle Bakhshal! It’s been a long time since I saw you,” said Nooro hugging him.  Bakhshal was his father’s friend and helped Nooro’s family after the death of Nooro’s father.

“I have been sent by Prince Asad. He wants to get the mansion repaired. He has invited you to the castle tomorrow.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

Nooro was going to get the chance to enter the old castle after four decades. The Prince was a generous man. He said to Nooro, “You will be given a good reward if you return the castle back to its original state.”

“Sure, your highness! The attendants have to tell me the exact shape of the castle, and I will do the repairs. Well, I don’t need any other reward but only three mirrors from this old castle.”

The Prince laughed at the Nooro’s demand. “Look at him, folks! He asks for three old mirrors instead of gold and silver!” All the attendants of the castle laughed at him.

“The demand is accepted. You can take any mirrors out of the castle,” said the Prince. Nooro started collecting the mirrors. He found many mirrors in the castle, but he did not make a hustle. He recalled what his grandmother had told him about the mirrors. He said to Bakhshal, “Help me find the mirrors I tell you. The first is a circular brown framed mirror with a handle. It is about 8 inches and has a dark brown trim. It gives a clear reflection like blue sky. The second is a circular frameless mirror. Its size is 11 inches and it is a concave which magnifies the image being reflected. The third is almost identical to the first, except it is cracked and broken. This mirror has an amber trim and severe crack in the bottom half, which detracts from the overall aesthetic.”

Bakhshal was surprised to hear the instructions he gave about the mirrors. “How do you know about these mirrors?” he asked Nooro.

“It is a long story. Let’s find the mirrors first.” After a long search, they eventually found the mirrors.

“Why are you looking at these mirrors so closely?” asked Bakhshal.

“I had heard that these mirrors are unique,” Nooro replied. He took the mirrors home, and he tried hard to recall the spell which was cast on the mirrors. He couldn’t remember the spell which his grandmother had told him, so he just kept the mirrors at home.

Nooro finished repairing the castle, and the Prince was very pleased with the work. Nooro kept trying different spells for a month, but in vain. As a consequence, he got very angry and dropped the framed mirror on the floor. Luckily, the mirror was not damaged. However, the frame was broken and a white piece of paper came out of the frame. The paper read: “Mirror, mirror of the castle. I order you to show your power.”

“This is it. This is the spell,” shouted Nooro. He hurriedly cast the spell to the mirror he dropped. That mirror could see all the things of the past. Then he cast the spell to the frameless mirror. It showed the minor things and ghosts. He checked the third mirror in the last. It could predict the future. It could tell what will happen in the coming two days.
           
Nooro was beside himself. He had become one of the most powerful men on the planet. He was able to see the past, ghosts, and the future. Nooro kept the mirrors to himself for three months.

He realized that if these mirrors were given to the prince, he would utilize them for the betterment of the people and the world. So, he decided to tell the secrets of the mirrors to the Prince and return them. Nooro did not know that the Prince would reward him the whole castle because of his honesty and trust in the Prince. (The future mirror could predict the future for only two days.) When Nooro told the secrets of the mirrors to the Prince and the attendants of the castle, nobody believed him. Then, he took out the paper with the spell written on it and began reading. Nooro continued casting the spells on each mirror and showed the Prince and his attendants the power of the magical mirrors. The prince could see his sick grandmother through the magical mirror which showed the past.

“How did you know about these mirrors?” asked the Prince.

“Your majesty, when I was a kid, my grandmother used to tell me about these magical mirrors, a secret that my grandfather had told her.”

The Prince gave Nooro golden coins as well as silver, and he said to all the people there, “Today we have become so busy that we don’t have time for our elders. In fact, what our elders can teach us, we might not be able to learn by ourselves. I wish I had spent more time with my mother and my father so that I could have learned something worthy in my life.”

After a month, the Prince called Nooro and his family to ask them to live with him in the castle, with the royal family. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

MY OLD RELATIONSHIP

My Old Relationship

Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon


IBA Community College
Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan
May 13, 2016


My dear daughter,

            Your papa misses you so much. My little fairy, your papa has faced separation many times in his life, and when the pain of separation starts to hurt so deeply, I pour my heart out through words. My relationship with loneliness, separation, and pain is old. It started back in 2010 when I went to university. I had to leave my mother, friends, and my village. Then when your mother stole my heart, I went through the pain of separation for four years. Now, when I am teaching at IBA (Institute of Business Administration) Community College Khairpur, I am facing separation from you and your mother.

            I sometimes think that I shouldn’t have left my previous job as a lecturer at SZABIST because it was in our native city Larkana. I could come home every day after college. But when I think about the workload that I had there, I feel I am better at IBA college. But at IBA, the only chance I have to see you is on weekends.

            When I moved to Khairpur, you were just six months old. But you still recognized me and felt so happy when you saw me after six days. One day when you will be grown-up, you will read these letters and feel the pain that I am going through without you.


Your papa,

 Rizwan

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Self-imposed Limitations

Self-imposed Limitations
Author: Rizwan Ahmed Memon

It was a working day, professor Qurban was getting ready for college early. Last night, when he was looking at the Student Learning Outcomes / Specific Learning Objectives (SLOs), he thought about a topic related to beauty. “My students will like this topic since they are grown-ups. I remember when I was in my Intermediate, I liked such topics, too,” he whispered to himself. Qurban opened the Internet and searched for some audios about the topic “beauty”.

As Qurban reached his class, he looked lively and passionate as always. “How are you today, dear students?”

“Fit and fine, sir!” replied the students in unison.

“Okay, today we are going to have a listening class. So let me first distribute the handouts of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).” After distributing the papers, Qurban asked the students to listen to the audio first. When the track ended, he allowed the students to read the MCQs for two minutes. “Now I will play the track for the second time. After that, I will give you 15 minutes to answer the questions. Got it?”

“Yes, sir!” said the class.

After teaching the class, the professor went to the canteen to get some tea. One of the students, Junaid, followed him and met him on the way to the canteen. “Sir, in the track, we were told some tips to be beautiful. The speaker talked about how to get white skin and how to get a beautiful, strong physique. Sir, I have neither a white skin, nor a strong body. Will any girl ever like me?”

“Of course! I’m surprised how you asked this.”

“I asked you this because I’m always feeling inferior.”

“Oh, come on. You’re not inferior to anybody. Look, Junaid. Physical beauty is not everything. Some girls and boys believe that having white skin is a must. That’s why they spend lots of money on beauty parlors, to get attractive looks. However, the most powerful form of beauty is simplicity and humbleness.”

“As long as you have a good heart, good intentions, and a passion for doing anything, you will achieve anything you want. Come with me, let’s drink tea.”

They both talked about the importance of beauty and simplicity while sipping the tea. “Let me tell you about myself. When I was your age, I was surrounded by beautiful and rich girls in my classes. Well, none of them could win my heart. The girl who became the queen of my dreams was a simple, country girl. She had no formal education. She didn’t even know what a semester was. I married that girl and I have a happy family. It was her simplicity, her humbleness which inspired me. Above all else, physical beauty doesn’t last forever.”

“Sir, John Keats said: A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

“Well, he was a romantic poet. The romantic poets live in an imaginary world. Poets rarely accept reality; they just say whatever they want whether it is true or not.”

Qurban understood that Junaid had low self-esteem and that it takes time to get oneself out of it. “Look, when I was your age, I used to feel that way too. I considered myself mediocre. In fact, I was the most efficient student in my English class. I was a tall boy with a charming face. The reason I thought little of myself was that my classmates bullied me all the time because of my height. They used a lot of derogatory terms like “camel jockey” and “potato”.  It was because of all the bullying that I felt inadequate. However, with the passage of time, I developed self-respect and self-confidence. Because of those boys, I had confined myself to the classroom. I never played on the playground. I would sit in the classroom even during the breaks. See, if you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect others to respect and value you?”

“You’re right, sir.”

“We will talk about it next time. It is time for me to go and teach another class. Now then, let’s head back to the college.”

The next day, it was Sunday. The college was closed. After jogging early in the morning, Qurban sat on the grass in the lawn and logged into Facebook on his smartphone. Once online, Junaid messaged him. “Good morning, sir,” said Junaid.

“Good morning! You’re up early.”

“Yes. I couldn’t sleep well last night.”

“Why?”

“Sir, I want to get an A+ in English this year. Is it possible?”

“Great! Yes, of course.”

“How? For the last three years, I haven’t ever gotten an A in any subject. I’ve always felt that getting an A in Agha Khan Board is impossible for me. This examination board is so difficult, you know.”

“Junaid, in this world nothing is impossible. We just need to work harder and harder. We might fail two or three times, but that doesn’t mean we’ll always fail. Thomas Edison failed several times when he was working on the bulb, but he eventually invented it. Before Edison, the bulb was something impossible for many people.”

“Sir, I will study seriously from now on.”

“You must! This is how you will get an A+.” After Qurban’s comment, Junaid went offline. For the first time in his life, Junaid had decided to work on his weaknesses: his low confidence, low sociability, low goals, and low self-esteem. He felt lucky to have found someone who could understand him.

It was spring season, and Qurban went into the class on time as always. “Before I end the class, I have to make an announcement. As you know, the winter is over, so in March, the college will celebrate the annual Sports Week. You all should register in different sport competitions within three days,” the professor said to the students, then left.

In the evening, when Qurban came out of the teachers’ hostel, for jogging, he saw Junaid in a kit. “Hello, sir.”

“Oh, Junaid. Looking great!”

“Thanks, sir.”

“I guess you’re going to participate in the Sports Week.”

“That’s right. I have never participated in the past, but I would like to this time.”

“That’s wonderful!”


Junaid had become enthusiastic and joyful. He now understood that every chance, every event was important. His teacher played his role to make Junaid an enthusiastic, energetic student. Many of us impose limits on ourselves without any reason. We all must take some positive steps like Junaid so that we can live a memorable life.

When It Rains

When It Rains
by Rizwan Ahmed Memon

She alone weeps
In the corners
In pain sobs
When it rains.

Asks the wanderers
If he remembers
The past nights
When it rains.

She alone waits
Stares the trees
Recalls the memories
When it rains.

Writes she letters
Away he miles
No his replies
After her toils.

She herself collects
Removes her tears
Ends her cries

When it rains.