Dealing with sadness.

Self-therapy tactics
27545523_1838712956161988_6248231872770812769_nAfter I wrote my last article, I found out that my dear friend Shahida Apa met her Maker at on 7th of February, 2018. Yesterday, the 8th was the burial. Inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajiun. Indeed, to Him we belong, and to Him we return.

Last night I just couldn’t sleep. A deep sadness was all over me. I wondered how I’ll be able to deal with it?

You know, I  found out she was 91 years old! Can you believe it? She was so amazing, right till the end. I met her at her home just a few days ago. She wasn’t too well, but still able to talk to me in her own loving manner. Such a gem. She was leading such a full life. – Such an active one. That is how I want to be. I suppose everyone would like it that way. But how many of us would go so much out of our way for others? Allah had to call her Home, after all, even Prophets have an end to their times.


So, I couldn’t sleep last night. She isn’t a relative, but her presence just a couple of houses away, made me feel as if I have someone who cares, nearby. Suddenly, I felt a great void…

Just didn’t feel like doing anything today. So, I thought that after reading my usual sipara, I better go out, knowing I won’t be able to sleep in the afternoon either. Where to go? A bit of exercise would have helped. But I felt it wouldn’t be enough. I needed my ‘sadness therapy’ – getting plants for my lawn. (Otherwise, I’d get flowers for myself.) Recently, I had re-planned my poor destroyed garden.


Lately, my dog Magic has literally destroyed my whole little garden. All the flowerpots, with plants are a thing of the past. Even the grass is all gone. So, I’ve resigned myself to the situation. (I did try selling him, but it only lasted one day.) I’m saddled with him. He is so aggressive in his love for me, that I have to hide inside while he is outside.

So, now that I was upset, I thought I better get out of the house and execute my latest plan for a ‘low-maintenance lawn.’ I need to see  my favorite nursery for plants and saplings nearby.

27858563_1838713096161974_8145921910073281944_nSo, I got flowerpots of different flowers which I’ll put on top of my boundary wall. I bought  rosemary, iceberg, and several palms’ flowerpots.

I was quite thrilled to find enough rocks for my place and stones. So, finally I got home and have planted these, and placed the flower pots on the wall.  I took help of my staff in placing the palms in such a way outside, that Magic cannot destroy them. As I write, he is sniffing at them, but I’ve put rocks and stones around the flowerpots so he cannot dig into them, (hopefully.) He did taste the leaves too, but then decided he didn’t like them much. Lets hope he continues this way.

Recently, I had noticed that he won’t go for plants which are surrounded with stones. So, I also put some gravel, along with the stone-like chairs.

I guess old Flintstones would be quite happy with it all. After all I’m also living with a wild animal!

Im still trying to grapple with my loss. This morning I sat down and wrote all that I had learnt from being with Shahida Apa. That made me feel better. Somehow, this is the hard part of loving someone. You miss them too much. She certainly taught me how to live a life, though I could never be anywhere near her.

During most of my problems that I’ve faced in life, this has been my  way to deal with misery and sadness. Just go out, and do something to get diverted. Most folks do shopping. Well this is also shopping, but of a different kind. I feel that getting plants is more satisfying and it involves a lot of growth and development.

Calling friends is good but then, you invariably end up talking about the exact things that are upsetting you. Sometimes this helps. Sometimes it has the opposite effect. So, you need to watch out.

It is good to be doing something like cleaning up or getting flowers for yourself or something which needs you to go out and do something. When you are home looking at the plants or flowers, that really helps.

Last night, as I stayed awake, I kept thinking how prepared for death am I?

Hmmmm, how much are we prepared! Lots to do. Well that is another time, another blog. For today, my sadness is better now. Specially, because that dog of mine hasn’t still messed up the plants yet!

As they say, it is better to have loved and lost, rather than not to have loved at all.

Stay blessed, dear Reader. How do you deal with your sadness?

After all, having known such a positive person, one needs to regain one’s equilibrium quickly so one can get back on the road again.




Shahida Azeem, my mentor and friend.

Life President Ms. Shahida Azeem

Owner of Mashal – a school for underprivileged children. 

Isn’t God Great? I mean, I’ve found this in life, whenever you are deeply sad, there are many  pleasant things  happening  too. It is God, trying to cheer you up. He is telling you, ‘things aren’t so bad after all. You can make it. You are strong. This is a great world I’ve made for you.’ In Surah Al Nashra, He says, ‘with every hardship there is ease.’ There certainly is. For instance, I felt so happy that I’ve known such a great personality all these years. Even now, I’m blessed with having her in my neighborhood.

So, just remember that where sad things do happen but so do the happy ones. We both have deep love for each other, and I have great regard also. It is a kinship. It is finding ways to live in a world without one’s husband in it. To make the best of life, anyway. She is an amazing person. Shahida Apa is the wife of General Azeem (late), who was the Ambassador of Pakistan in USA during the eighties.




I met her by chance while walking near the mountains. Seeing this petite person walking ahead of me just made me want to talk to her. I went over and wished her. She turned to me smiling, and that was our first meeting, about eight years ago.

I found out that she is owner of the well-known organization called Mashal. It is a school for poor children and also has facilities for the children’s mothers. There are classes going on here for cooking, computers, knitting, stitching and a beauticeans course too. There is also a clinic. The idea is to help women of Margalla Town area, living in outskirts of Islamabad. The plan is to make them financially independent.

Continue reading “Shahida Azeem, my mentor and friend.”

Strengths of our Family now

I feel like writing a letter to my late husband.

Dear NK,

You wrote your article on our family strengths in 2009. That was two years before you left our world. I was reading it today. The way you wrote was so detailed and so amazing.  I feel like writing an epilogue to your article. Just to let you know how we all have been after you left.

Continue reading “Strengths of our Family now”

PTV World Interview and the drive up the mountains.


Sometimes, one should let life happen. Specially, when it is the good stuff. All the happenings mentioned in this blog were a surprise. No planning, nothing. Just a willingness to go with the flow. That’s all. Often enough, we ourselves come in between by saying I have this that or the other thing to do. So just say ‘yes’, and hope for the best!

Okay, so do you remember how by chance I made friends with a wonderful person named Amber? (I wrote how I met her in my blog on Power of the written word .)

Amber is the one on the left, and Neeli on the right. We just clicked, and went off to the movies.

She was the one who later made it possible for me to be interviewed on PTV World.  A few days ago, I received a call from the producer Aamir Butt. Later, I spoke to the host Shabnam Riaz, and it was all settled. I went to PTV World, and met Aamir Butt, then Shabnam arrived looking stunning. I chose to not get the make-up done, because I wanted to look my own self. The producer and host both felt I’d be fine as I was, so we went ahead.



So, anyhow, it was my first experience of the kind. I loved the fact that I got the complete time slot. This was ideal, as I was able to communicate my ideas without any interruptions. The interview was for my latest illustrated publication of Allama Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai.

As my friend Naila, (and co-editor of the book) mentioned:

‘It was nice to see the interviewer being interviewed!’ Which is a fact. I’ve interviewed people for Dawn and other newspapers and mags for over two decades. So, I appreciated more how Shabnam conducted the interview. So, here is the link to the whole interview, hope you like it, and your feedback would be welcome. It is about fifty minutes, so you can see it later, or now, if you have the time:

So, this recording was on Friday. By the evening, they had sent me the promo of the program.

Next day Saturday, I suddenly decided to drive to Lahore. I was going anyway, but felt that I’d love to go by road with my daughter.  It was a novel opportunity, as we usually travel in turns, so one of us is with my parents to take care of them.   So, this was a good opportunity to go in my own car.

It was so much fun that I wrote a blog on it last week: .Why I love driving

We returned Sunday evening. On Tuesday I had already agreed to go to the TDCP resort at Khajut, with the art group. I woke up late, and scrambled off to Rahi Studios. On reaching, I found out that we weren’t going in a coach but in our own cars. So, I dashed off to get more petrol and check the air in the tires. The gang was at the gate when I got to the Rahi Studios.

27331776_1820076771358940_1722623939207928033_nWe were happy to meet each other, and Yasmine clicked this pic as I went to meet Sir Rahi and my friends. And so we left.

To go on a trip with one’s friends is the best thing. With time, we all have got such a camaraderie, that we can say what the hell we like, knowing it will be taken well. Lots of jokes, and pulling of each others’ legs. This video is of further up the mountains. As it was so cold I put my scarf under the cap and found it nice and cozy. First, we had tea and pakoras at TDCP at Khajaut.


Hajra Apa and Sir Mansoor Rahi are so romantic and so cute.

26904119_1818867311479886_6001582377937913290_n26907672_1818844134815537_4638164828737954404_n26907721_1818844258148858_7168759376031759173_n26991639_1818319494868001_4055128229512377374_nTheir amazing bond, their softness, and their gentle behavior is an example to us all. I’ve never heard them raise their voices. Always speaking in a gentle way, with a smile, they too, pull each other’s legs in their own sweet ways. After Khajaut, we left for Changla Gali which is much further up with over an hour’s extra drive. It was fun going to find there was snow there!

The group at TDCP Khajaut, near Murree.

I’ll leave the pictures and videos to do the talking now.

Changlagali, is near Nathiagali, a place located at around 9000 feet above sea level.

Yasmin took most of the pics here. 

The snow at the end of the journey was a real surprise.


26992098_1818886374811313_1938844585657148875_n26992344_1818886418144642_9128554864262823024_n26993433_1818886858144598_736422938606617005_n (1)26994227_1818886908144593_6460604352078102543_n

Taqi bhai with Mansoor Rahi. 

Yes, it was very cold.

The lunch of Chicken karahi, vegitables, with salad and naans was delicious and yummy. It was topped with kinnus and oranges.

It was so cold….

I came back feeling so refreshed and happy. I’ve realized how important it is to just drop everything once in a while and let the wonderful surprises happen!

Stay blessed, my dear reader. How do you like the surprises in your life?




Why I love driving

My recent drive to Lahore.



Driving a car is my ‘me time’, my fun time. It is a time which is exclusive for me. I love taking along friends for drives too. As a small kid I remember going for long drives. It was always fun with my parents. At the age of five years, when my father was instructor in PMA, we’d often go for long drives to Mansera or Batrasi.  I was seven years old, when my father drove all the way to Hyderabad from Kakul.  I agreed to marry my husband Najib Khan mainly because he shared my love for travel. We’d often go off the beaten track to discover new places and later took our friends along for barbecues there. Whether we were in North or South of Pakistan, or in Kuwait, or going for Umra, the drives were our real thrill. We had many adventures and have lovely memories.

Continue reading “Why I love driving”

Good Grief!


It  is that time of the year again.

This is the time of year which hits my daughters and myself the most. It is this month when my husband passed away, six years ago. No matter how hard we try, we cannot deal with it. I suppose this is how the ‘barsi’ concept became so prevalent. It made one get busy doing something to avoid thinking all those sad memories. So, of course one gives food to the poor or finds a way to remember the departed soul. Yet, we cannot help feeling these feelings of sadness. Is it the same for you too? We all have a dear person in heaven right now….


I remember, seeing others like this, and I’d think,

‘why don’t they just get over it?’ Why these maudlin thoughts and behaviors? I guess, when you lose someone who has been a major part of your life, it becomes very hard to deal with the loss.

It takes time.

Continue reading “Good Grief!”

First Writer’s Meet-up at My Studio.


Remember my blog on Renton Writer’s Salon, which I joined  when I went to Seattle, in 2016? I wrote about it.  My first Renton Writer’s Salon Meetup. I really wanted something like it in Pakistan. Finally, I found the time to initiate it. I hope it continues, as the first one was absolutely wonderful!

So, it was great that Ammar Masood came. He is  a popular television anchor, specially of literary and musical programs. His main program of interest has been the late night show in which he interviews well known Urdu poets and artists. There is music, and interesting conversation.  I had interviewed him for Dawn newspaper. His, is the only family where I interviewed three members of the same family: his father Anwar Masood, his (first) wife Saima, and him. Ammar has helped build ten television channels and has a regular column in the popular Urdu daily, Jang.

He is reading out from his story on Islamabad:

He said, ‘In my family, it was a thing of disgrace to speak in English. Urdu language was revered, and I was never allowed to take the language lightly. Punjabi, Persian and Urdu were the languages spoken in our home.’  He feels it very strongly, that Pakistan is the only country in the world where the national language is faced with so much inferiority complex.

It was an open invitation, and I specially invited the Norwegian Atle Hetler who is a regular correspondent in The Nation, where he has a weekly column. He has also worked in daily Dawn for many years. He has been settled in Pakistan for over fifteen years.  You know, he holds these monthly meetings in Serena Hotel every month.

Faryal reading her piece…. on ‘salam’.


So, Shagufta Zafar was the first to arrive.  Atle, Ammar, Faryal and Mudassar followed. Nadiya, my daughter and a wonderful blogger and poet was there with me.  We all were eager to begin the session, it was nice to be discussing the agony of publishing, and the writing process. I could see everyone was enjoying it, as there is this thirst to share our common struggle to write, in a country where buying books and reading isn’t much of a habit.

We valued how great writers like Mumtaz Mufti, and Josh and many others found satisfaction of writing in this very city. A time without the internet, when reading was a very popular habit. Where writers were revered and their work was much read.

Ammar read out his well-known piece Muhabbat Ka Neela Rang and the piece he wrote on Islamabad. It was just awesome. Here it is:

Mudassar read out one of his short stories from his collection of short stories. Nadiya had met him during her travels. That is when she asked him to meet me and I got to know about his first book.

Faryal who had recently completed her PhD, has written her research paper on the works of Indu Mitha, a classical dancer in Islamabad. She read out one of her academic writings, and we all enjoyed it so much. The words used to describe physical movements in classical dance, were so beautifully written that no photograph was needed. You could just see it all. She expressed how the concept of ‘salam’, or greeting to another Muslim was so much more meaningful when explained by her non-Muslim teacher Indu, and other Buddhist personalities she met during her studies abroad.

Shagufta read out her Punjabi and English poetry. She said, I never like to read out my stuff, I only came because I know you. Yes, she joined the art classes too, as Rahi’s Studios.

Atle reiterated the importance of story-telling in even an academic account. The need to not tell everything is important; to just raise the important questions, and leave it to the reader to make his own conclusions. That is an important aspect in writing.

I read out the Introduction from my book published in USA, My Life, My Stories. It is available on

Nadiya read out her poetry which was so well received by all.

Later in the evening when Nadiya remarked,

“I’m thinking of starting my poetry again!” (She has left it for many years.) I really felt wonderful. This is the whole purpose of such activities to bring out the creative person within yourself.

Each of us writers need to pamper our own creativity. We have to give time and space to ourselves.

This is the purpose of such meet-ups. We all need to help each other stand up with our souls in tact. To give a helping hand to the one who is in need of it today. Tomorrow it can be me who needs that kind of help.

The talk on Media and its irresponsible behavior began, and Ammar said, ‘we need to have more channels opening up. Competition is the best thing to bring up the standard of television channels.

Though this wasn’t exactly the format of Renton Writer’s Meet-Ups, yet, I guess it has been a good beginning.

Robert W.C., I wish to thank you for welcoming me into your writer’s group. You have shown me how to conduct such meetings, and how to make them valuable in getting results. I want to say a very special thank you.

Anyone who lives in or near Renton or Seattle should try to join this wonderful group and learn from each other’s experiences. Rose and Stephanie have been in contact with me through Facebook.

It feels nice to know how much progress can be made by learning from each other.

I’m going to conduct a workshop on Time Management for Creative People, on the February 4th, 2018. Hope you can be there. See you! Meanwhile, keep smiling! 🙂


Power of the written word

 Words can be so powerful, let me show you!


Honestly speaking, it is hard to keep pace with all I have to share with you. Life is so interesting and hectic. (Isn’t that how it should be?) The last few days have been pretty awesome mostly. But what happened a couple of days ago to Zainab, has shattered everyone. Enough has been said about it, so I do not need to add to it. But I’d certainly like to talk about the topic of child abuse, there are similar horrific issues too like honor killings etc. which deserve another platform. Most of the public keeps a blind eye to many such horrific things going on  – sometimes even condoning it –  none of the public seems to blink an eye to those. Thank God,  there are many organizations and people trying to bring justice and sanity.


 Each of us is trying to face personal hardships, diversions, struggles along with the collective ones that we share with each other. There are tragedies and struggles that we all are facing at some level or the other. We need to just be kind to each other. That’s all. Be careful with words and how we use them.

Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose roots is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens, – of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition.

Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the word that stands firm, in this world and in the Hereafter; but Allah will leave, to stray, those who do wrong: All doeth what He willeth.

-Surah Ibrahim: 14, 24-27.) Al- Quran.

Continue reading “Power of the written word”

Reproduction or Fake Art?


You cannot copy a Mona Lisa and sign it and say it is your painting. If you do, it is a fake, or a reproduction – depending on how you are going to use it.

As an artist you need to know what it is. You also have to give full credit to the original artist.

Some works of art are beyond reproduction! Just look at the artworks in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.

Continue reading “Reproduction or Fake Art?”

Categories Art

Start 2018 right

Lets make the annual plan today!


Starting the year in a right way is very important. You can only do it if you know exactly where you are going! How to know that? Well, I believe you can do it like this:

First make a list of five each of positives and negatives of last year. Then make an Annual Plan from those pointers. Incorporate those goals into the weekly planning. So, to facilitate, we make the Annual plan in same format as the weekly plan….Powerful weekly plan. Got it? Ok, get set, ready? Go!

Continue reading “Start 2018 right”