The veranda at Gymkhana Golf Club is where we often congregate to appreciate humor, boiled eggs, and French toasts. We flock there with full fervor to crack jokes, enjoy mockery and satire. It is where we plan the extracurricular activities of our golfing cult. The group decided to take the game to another city, through a golfing tour to Faisalabad.
We made it to Serena Hotel on the dot where a grand dinner awaited us. We engaged in conversation on a variety of topics. Many of the golfers revealed their true colors during that discussion; flipping further pages of their personalities that we had never read before. We are a group of early birds at Gymkhana CGC. Doctors, engineers, businessmen, and more. Although we belong to different walks of life, we fly together for the same game. We hold golfing parties occasionally but this was an entirely different experience. The cruise out of the city, a ride on a scenic freeway, tunes of my taste, anticipation to see a happy bunch, a dinner party, and a journey to a golfing destination made every mile worth the while. The most amazing part of it was breaking the chain of routine and doing something new.
Lyallpur is a nine-hole course. A bit congested but challenging. I can tell you one thing about this small course, don’t take it at face value. What it lacks in size, it makes up in difficulty. It can level any bragger back to his or her place when they least expect.
The golf course neighbors the famous Divisional Public School on one side and an international cricket stadium on the other. Lush green fairways border straight lines of tall poplars. Greens are fast, tricky, and a bit deceptive. Particularly the green at nine. Its green sits on the bank of a hazard and the ball slides right back into the water if dropped directly on it.
While playing, the grandiose stadium was prominent and no matter where we looked from the floodlight towers would not stop staring at us. Something about cricket amazes me. Billions are spent on cricket stadiums in cities across the country and millions are exhausted to maintain them. All while the residents play cricket in the streets and cannot even step inside those stadiums that are reserved solely for special occasions. What a service to the citizens of this country by the cricket board and ministry of sports. And they claim golf is a rich man’s game although the government does not spend a penny on it. As the cricket stadiums sit inaccessibly idle for months, golf courses are utilized all year round.
Coming back to my trip, the most wonderful part was a ‘chatathon.’ All golfers on this trip are jovial tolerators to witticism and pleasantry. All of them keep funny stanzas handy. One who happens to be a dartboard at times doesn’t mind the onslaught from all directions. It could be anyone’s turn at any time. The understanding and forbearance to each other’s humorous sorties is the essence and charm of this group. It is proof they have big hearts and it shows the broadness of their great minds. I am lucky to know these ambassadors of decency. They may be quarreling over a given put on the course but would leave all differences there or then and move on to the next tee with clear hearts. Faisalabad or wherever I can accompany these people anywhere. Some of them lost while a few won but it didn’t matter anymore. As a matter of fact, this game soared beyond the horizons of defeat and victory. And that’s what fun is all about.
A beautiful canal floats through the middle of the historic city of Lahore; it is formed on the delta of Ravi. Its residents know the value of this water channel. Ornamental plantation, decorative lights, immaculately manicured green belts, and chains of flowerbeds, all add to its grandeur.
The signal-free roads on both banks of the canal take you from north to south nonstop. A herd of never-ending traffic flows there as blood flows through veins. Taking one’s sweetheart on a long drive on this road is a lover’s ritual. Any Lahori can narrate stories of their youth relating to this romantic river.
Lahore does not need a major excuse to accessorize its canal. This canal plays an important role in cultural and national celebrations. It is decorated with floats and fairy lights on auspicious occasions. On such a scenic western wing of the canal sits the famous Royal Palm Golf & Country Club. A jewel in the middle of a blistering metropolitan. It is a private club of privileges. A few golfers like me, who have exited the romantic paths, claim to be in love with it for its unique aura.
It is a great getaway in the center of this historic capital. While the city’s hustle-bustle continues, there is total calm inside of the club’s walls. There is no noise or dust that the city is known for. A breathtaking presence of magnificent banyans, poplars, acacias, cactus, palms, polyalthia, Sheesham, and cypress dominates the ambiance. Of course, trees are the ornaments of the earth, and this piece of land, in particular, is well adorned.
During the unforgiving hot summer of Lahore, these trees provide a shadow for the determined golfers to walk under on the course. Its turf is smooth and cushiony like a carpet underneath bare feet. A series of creepers decorate the gardens with colorful and aromatic blossoms. My thoughts are flooded with praise; the fairways offer chapters of descriptions, and Google aids loads of vocabulary. I can describe the course hole by hole and step by step but that would require volumes of writing in plenty of sessions. Neither you have time for long reads nor do I have a publisher to compose a book. So for now, we will stick to an abstract and not the whole anecdote.
From the curved fairway number one to descending fairway number eighteen, the course offers a series of graces and a variety of changes. A number of minarets from the inner city loom over these thick trees, offering a peek of divinity to the golfers on the course. Windows of the tall houses on the other side of the wall hide worlds behind those curtains. Sometimes you hear shouts from some of them and other times you hear a dim song playing. Mostly these houses sit idly with no disturbances or distractions from the outside world.
Swans parade in honor of a good shot and birds appear to appreciate a good put. You will find an individual or flocks of Eurasian hoopoes, doves, pied bushchat, parrots, white-throated kingfishers, Asian koels and red vented bulbuls fly by or chirping nearby.
Every now and then, a green turtle might grace golfers with its marathon. Making one pause and reflect on the creatures we share this Earth with. I have also witnessed crows chasing a domestic cat. On this course, you are far away from the troubles and comforts of Lahore. The only time you feel the existence of the city is when briefly you play close to boundaries.
Sometimes when you end up in the rough and go to take a second shot, a fat trunk of a huge tree tries to whisper a tip in your ear. Of course, it has seen golfers struggle under it for decades. These trees are veteran spectators of the golfers’ shanks and regulation shots. Bad and good shots are both a routine; how we tackle them is what makes us who we are. In a round of golf or life, recovery is all the matters. Sometimes we have to recover from a good shot too. In moments of triumph, many lose track. In times of failure, most seek refuge in despair. Moving on for the next shot is the only way to complete the round responsibly.
Whenever Dorothy comes across scorching heat, he provides a cover. She knows he cares for her, he is always present like a shadow. She wants to reveal her feelings to him and is bewildered if he will reciprocate or not. While his eyes glitter when he sees her, his lips never release the magic words she is waiting for. One day, she musters up the courage to let him know how she feels.
“Even my soul is in love with you.”, exclaims Dorthy.
He ponders before replying,
“I know you but I don’t know your soul. I have never seen it. Leave the business of spirits to angels. Let cardiologists handle affairs of the heart. I know and adore your eyes, your hair, your lips. What business do I have with your soul? Even you yourself have no control over it, it is a fleeting entity. It can depart any time it likes.”
He keeps pouring words of the sort but she no longer listens. She leaves the room abashed, regretting her admission to him. Before you reach the destination of yes or no, there is a courtyard of hope. But Dorothy has crossed that and has entered an alley of uncertainty and unease. Walking away she bites her under lip, in an attempt to control the tears of discomfort that irrigate her eyes. When a girl’s tear falls from her eyes and crosses the cheek, it has already travelled miles. The wet eyes shake skies, a tear tears hearts and mines minds.
A hurt person does not need much to injure others, especially those who are near and dear. So does David. He is with Dorothy but his heart is stuck in the past. When the fears of the past start residing with you in the present, you will always do injustice to your future. You would be passing through today without living through it. Yes there is a fool’s paradise, but remember, there is a hell for them too.
David fails to understand the sincerity of Dorothy’s words and he denies his own heart to beat again to the tune of love. In the whirlpool of dialogues truth drowns. Emotional phrases blind our intellect. The path of sweet talks leads to a ditch of sorrow. Love is a great emotional state of mind but it mostly dims in time. What is left in the end is a horrible era of abuse and refuses. A lot of us fall in love, a few know the etiquettes of separation.
Had Nicole left him like true friends do, the world would be different for David. He had loved her and he had to pay a painful toll on that relationship. He is a fellow with a great loving nature but had fallen prey to it earlier. Earlier, he has seen his childhood friendships drown in the lake of self interest. His siblings quarreled over grandma’s property while she was on her deathbed. The more, he grew the more he saw innocent passions like benevolence, friendship and love yield to avarice. He has locked his emotional self behind the door of silence and calm.
Now Dorothy was rattling the keys of endearment to open his closed heart. Though he was resisting, his heart was inclined. Things were escalating from mere liking to love. He did not want to walk on the thorny path of passion again, but who can ask the heart not to beat?
Only clouds can quench the thirst of soil. Only the air brings showers to the turf. Only plants would produce food from dust. Only the flowers can convert water into fragrance. Only she is a panacea to the pain of his heart.
She leaves the room and part of him follows her. His heart wants to beat with hers but the scared part of him abstains. What a stage of divide. What a split of no and yes. What a polycephalic state of mind. His heart is pumping to a rhythm that no cardiologist can cure. His soul is restless to a cause that no angel comprehends.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Once the virus of love infiltrates you, it won’t leave you alone. Its first victim will be your defenses against it. It will erode all thoughts that refrain you from falling in love. Eventually eradicating entire anti-love elements from rationality. Just a few hiccups and you will be repeating the three holy words.
Today on the golf course, something was distracting me. Once I concentrated, I realised it was the memory of a friend who has fallen ill to coronavirus and was unable to join me. This led me down a spiral of memories and I wondered what this human function is? I am pondering what is a memory and what role it plays in our lives. Memories are realities recorded in our heads. Life’s moments are fleeting, the minute moves on to never return, but what we do in that moment stays engraved within us. Life is nothing but our mark on time. We’ve got two shadows, one made by the light, the other by our memories. The latter stays on even in the dark. Scientifically to my humble understanding, memory is the adjustment of connections between neurons. There are two types of memories, short-term and long-term. Researchers say malleability of memories make the hippocampus capable of storing different types of evocations. Memories are the record of our living. The actual incidents amount to nonexistence once erased from our consciousness, such is the importance of remembering and not remembering. When we are faced with the absence of a loved one, the yearning to be with them is only satisfied through recalling. When we want to relive cherished moments that have long passed, memory can oblige. Memories can make us a child once again. It has the power to take us back into grandmother’s arms or standing side by side with grandfather. Those who are no longer by our sides, sometimes relive with us in our memories. There are several kinds of memories: cheerful, sorrowful, cherishable, miserable, peaceful, scornful, sweet and sour. These can make you dissolve into laughter, and can stream your cheeks with tears. You can be sitting on your school bench and can be strolling through your university campus. You can hold the hand of your sophomore crush and can be sitting with a long face in the principal’s office.
“In the twilight of memory we should meet once more. We shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song. And if our hands should meet in another dream, we shall build another tower in the sky.”Khalil Gibran The Prophet Memories can play the role of a Messiah, bringing the dead back to life. Plentiful pages of literature were blackened in remembrance of the ones with great historic importance and so were the books of history flooded with accounts of the overmen. Tournaments are held in their memorial. Memoirs are published for the legends and poems are composed for the beloved. Some memories are so painful, one prefers them abolished. In order to accomplish that, people find a safe haven in intoxication through drinking and drugs. All to forget certain times, certain things, certain people. On the other hand, some take stimulators to boost certain reflections. As a matter of fact memory is one’s home in history. It’s a mark on time and it is the act of adding a dot in the vast void of the universe. One memory is an attempt to capture a lifetime in an album of ever expanding space. On the ferris wheel of time and memories, capturing a photograph is an attempt to steal a point in time. It’s a video recording of dwelling on earth. It’s painting a life on a canvas of thought. It’s a tome of grief and volume of pleasure. Memories can have deep supernovas, sometimes longer than the black holes and sometimes wider than the white ones. All civilizations tried to save memories eternally. Some had built pyramids, others engraved signs on cave walls. Today’s online civilization has developed ‘the cloud’ to store all memories digitally. Many modems have been used throughout history to store memories. In wars they commemorate the sacrificial stories of the historic warriors. They sing songs of ancestral valor to charge troops. History is nothing but a compilation of recollections. Reminiscence is a great source of knowledge. It teaches us to learn from our past experiences. Memories have their own importance in religious affairs as well. People admirably remember the holy transcripts in full. On top of that, they learn different versions of recitations by heart.
The game of golf also requires a very sharp memory. It’s an art of threading a needle to assemble a garland of golf rules and wear it on players’ heads to ensure a perfect shot. Here is a set of certain principles that come to my mind at the moment but I am sure a few would be missing:
Choose proper club
Eye on the ball
Speed of execution
Prescribed body movements
Mandatory weight shift
If you fail to remember one of these, you pay the price and often it is a common practice to miss a few. Keeping in mind all these rules in sequence is easier said than done. Musicians cram songs and beats before performances. Mathematicians remember complex formulae. Chemists learn elements by heart. Attorneys prepare entire cases in their minds. Politicians memorize lengthy speeches. Language itself is a recollective use of alphabets. Memory plays a vital role in human existence and helps shape its future.
Success is the most sought after commodity in all ages. It is a part of everyone who walks through the path of life. People live and die for it. Most of the hands that are held up for prayers, most of the eyes that rise towards skies, most of the hearts that beat for a wish, most minds that tabolate neurons, and most of the physical practice in the arena of struggle, seek success. What is success? It varies from person to person. Success brings power and power, unveils the true colors of human nature. Some fail trying to climb the tower of success and some fail when they reach the top.
In the series of success, the most commonly renowned are wealth, glory and fame. Nothing beats success that draws fans. A fortune that crowds people is considered number 1 on the victory stand in the stadium of triumph. Thereon, some return to the ground and others begin to walk in the air. Few keep the equilibrium, many lose balance. Arrogance, opulence, vanity, tympany and self-conceit accompany them to the podium they stand on. The wise do not succumb to such temptations; instead, they choose the promenade of gratitude, humbleness, patience, moderation and composure.
Successful people are rightfully called stars in our society. I also respect these stars that twinkle around me. The one who doesn’t respect a successful person is hubris in my eyes. However admirers should refrain from loving stars who assume themselves as the sun. Those who no longer remain on the ground try to fly on the wings of conceit. Amour propre always reveals stature. Not all stars carry the digestion of public acclaim and those who do are the true heroes.
When a person rides the horse of pomposity that wears the saddle of egotism one must leave the welcome queue formed by fans and amble away waving a good will gesture to both the star and the fans.
“If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let’s just make patterns in their crops and leave.”
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Popularity is a bird. Anything with wings will relocate anytime. Gratefulness is a scissor. If you want a bird of fame to stay in your yard forever, keep cutting its wings with the blade of gratitude. Fame is the dust that flies off the tyres of the cart of attention that you are riding on. It will settle soon after your departure. Not all roads are unpaved and all rides are not dusty. The rain of circumstances can fall anytime and your cart can get stuck in the mud made of the same dust that you were proud to stir up. The jubilant tumult can convert into dejected clamour anytime.
The successful work day and night. Weeks after weeks, untiringly working odd jobs at odd hours just to follow their passion. They crave for acceptance, then for admiration and later for popularity. Once they get to the spotlight and the camera flashes, they try to hide from the very audience they were hungry to create. Lines are formed behind the boundary ropes and glossy windows. They avoid signing autographs for the same enthusiasts they were praying to find. They hire armed guards as a deterrent to keep them at bay. Stars begin to give contaminated smiles and adulterated waves to the fans. Even then, followers ignore insults & misbehavior just to have a peek at their heroes.
Being a success story requires an effort from the heart and being a fan takes passion. When the successful tries to take his audience for granted, their passion begins to shrink. Mere misconduct or arrogant behaviour usually turns the stanchest of fans away. Immodesty is the first sign of upcoming downfall. The energy between a follower and the followed is built on the pillars of emotion. One missing brick can collapse the whole castle. The relations that are based upon ardour are kept close to the heart. The stars shine down regularly and there are always new ones emerging from the very fall of the setting ones. The falling star leaves marks of opportunity in its stardust for the newcomers. In the business of stardom; I mean, in the celestial world, shining and dimming is a matter of routine and order of the day. Weathers are supposed to change and suns rise to set.
Popularity based stars set at the hands of their fans. At the avenue of their arrogance and at the roundabout of their short stature and narrow sightedness.
Golf is a great game, a wonderful ritual, and an excellent way to lead an active life. It is played in a series of beautiful gardens, in an immaculate ambiance, in sophisticated attire and with marvelous gear. However, a golfer sporadically encounters uneven roughs and unexpected injuries.
Today after the round, I proceeded towards the shoe cleaning platform to blow away grass & dust off my shoes and ankles. I had been avoiding going there ever since COVID-19 broke out. I reluctantly got there anyway. I twisted my right foot while I was cleaning my left one with an air hose, lost balance on the cleaning platform, and fell there like a dry leaf. All of a sudden a 200 lb golfer was a sack of meat, flat on buttocks with feet towards the sky and palms on the ground. That was a swing I never intended and a body turn I wouldn’t encourage any golfer to take. Now I know what a golf ball feels when it falls on a pavement. Why it protestently bounces to hide at the most unexpected places. It wants to sooth its bruises before it falls back in the hands of golfers. I, on the other hand, could not bounce back.
My fellow golfers rushed to lift me back on my feet. In order to hide the embarrassment I tried to camouflage my pain in laughter and jokes. Deep down I knew my golfing days were over for some time, because I am an experienced ankle twister. This ritual began during my trip to London in 2016. Next time I twisted on stairs at home in 2018. I remember twisting again the same foot in Willowdale golf club Scarborough, Maine in 2019. It usually takes 2- 4 weeks to heal. Luckily, this time I dodged a fracture and should not take that long to recover. We only fall when we do not watch our steps. When we trudge carefree and plod without caution. When our mind walks elsewhere and eyes wander away.
“Birds fall and falling they are given wings.”
Sportsmen fall in games and get up to run again. Whether it be a game of life or a sport, all those who play will fall at some point. It is getting up from a fall that matters. No one became a hero without falls and comebacks. Tiger Woods is a great example. Imran khan is another. Politicians fall in one election and get up in the next. Business men get bruised and recover. The path to the corridors in the castle of success goes through the streets of struggle that no one passes without fallings and failings.
There are many types of falls. Some holy, a few unholy, and others neutral. Parents of humanity fell from the heavens. Blessings fall on the fortunate. Rain falls to nourish. Falling stars decorate the dark sky. Love falls on the heart and lucky falls in love. Smile falls on some lips. Tears fall on cheeks. Prayer falls on palms. Leaves fall from a tree. Fallen seeds grow into a jungle. The bee falls on a flower. The river falls in a sea. Supposedly, a falling apple revealed the law of gravity to Newton.
Shower falls on the tired and the ball falls in the hand of the catcher.
Lucifer fell from grace. Kings fall from thrones. Sky falls on the unfortunate. Pity falls on helpless. Tyrant falls on the weak. Drunken falls on his face and a cheater falls on his knees. Cries of despair fall on deaf ears and sighs of innocence fall in the lap of justice. Who can tell who will fall into what next. Is it destined or is it coincidence?
We may fall in life but we must attempt to stand again. Believe me, the journey from ‘fall’ to ‘rise’ is one that few of us make and those who do so stand taller.
I will rise and shine again on the golf course in a few days. Initially on a golf cart or maybe in the arms of the practice range.
On the lap of the dark night there might sleep a bright sun. Behind the bright day there might be a moon waiting. The evening might hide a crescent in twilight. There may be worlds within tiny twinkles in the sky. A branch may hold a flower inside. A kiss may carry a disease on the lips. A hug may eradicate all the pain. Our dearest one may have the potential to hurt us the most. A mistake may open a door and a failure may breed a victory. We may find treasure in a word. One smile may grant us heaven. A love story may be swimming in tears. One step may end the entire journey. A lie can wash the trust away. The truth could unveil a mountain of deceit. A look in the eye may cost a life. One simple touch may crown you a king. One sigh may take your throne. One sentence can finish a book. One verse may tell a tale. A moment can change the course of history and centuries can go to waste.
Nothing is as it seems. The calm of the universe conceals a roar of the rotating stars. The cosmos holds the emptiness close. The book of existence presents an anecdote of death. The fresh page carries the used alphabet. A new couple falls for ancient passion, love. The method is young but the message is olden. The traveler is different but the destination is the same. Most surprises are just embedded in unawareness. Students graduate yet ignorance prevails.
Knowing more is the human aim and expanding is nature’s choice. Life flourishes on earth but we find no sign of it elsewhere. Why does it only spring on a tiny member of the Milky Way? Is life here a characteristic of the creator? I am grateful to be a part of that life that denies the emptiness around me. I might be here to train for someplace else.
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.
Maybe it is about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”
We never know what awaits us and where. Which leap will lead to whom. Any space flight may meet a counterpart from other worlds. No one has seen paradise but most of us strongly believe it is somewhere up there in the skies. Those who don’t know a line of geography, claim to know how to get there. Those who cannot sell a single carrot in this world, are trading real estate in heaven. They exploit the believers. Their pursuit of worldly desires do not spare true emotions like belief and pure passion such as faith.
Everything is possible as long as you are alive. The dead can not do a thing and what is the difference between half dead and partially alive? An addicted person is half dead and a hopeless one is partially alive. It is the hope that seeds progress and heeds invention. Is the seed a tree or is the tree a seed? There may be harmony in a jungle and a town can be disarrayed.
Who can predict the future and who can change the past? Who can stop the age and who can alter the history? Who can bring back the dead and who can mold the mist? It goes on. Humans can dare to find out what lies where no matter what are the odds. They may brag about their progress, prosperity, performance and procurement but their fragility is obvious. Their knowledge is limited. Their sight is short. Their capacity is humble. Their life span is brief. Their resources are meager. Their reach is narrow. Their conduciveness is restricted. Their thoughts are impaired.
Yes! But their aims are high. Their determination is infinite. Their struggle is tireless. Their hard work is unmatched. Their nature is laborious. Their fears are under control. Their aspirations are unconfined. Their hopes are high. Their observations are keen. Their ambitions are tall and their optimism is skyrocketing.
Humans have always made errors, learned lessons from them, repeated their effort, and recovered fervently.
What destination is that they don’t want to reach? And what success is that they don’t want to achieve? On and on it goes.
Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I come from? What is my purpose? When will I return? Whom I am to meet? How do I define myself? My mind carries these questions along, unsolved and unanswered, wherever I go. I seek answers in the bracket of faith, in the bucket of secularism, in the alleys of literature, in the court of science, in the closet of tradition, in the herm of mysticism, in the castles of history and in the field of the wanderers. For believers among us, such questions are encircled by the strict rules of organized religions. They avoid entering into the net of these questions and scientists on the other hand emphasize on supposed theories. We all try to hold on to the answers we were raised to believe. I, however, have created a window through the wall of scientific and clerical scriptures. I try my best to translate the traditional tales in today’s meanings and mostly I see vague and vacant impressions of myth and mystery. So I study my surroundings. I compare myself with fellow life-holders of this planet. The more I examine, the more questions arise. At face value, I find a few shabby pieces of evidence here and there.
One thing that persuades me is that I am not a natural inhabitant of planet earth. I come from somewhere else. Initially I would argue that my own skin is not designed to protect me from the earthly environment. I need external support in order to survive the ever rotating weathers of this adobe although evolutionists suggest otherwise. Additionally, all non human inhabitants do not require artificial assistance to survive the climatic vigor. Furthermore, I am distinctly different with regards to my actions, thoughts, and surroundings. One can easily differentiate a human house and an animal dwelling. Humans make changes at the place they live in, even if it is a cave. They improve and rearrange the environment accordingly. The pollution around us is the strongest evidence and our inventions are the brightest proof.
The search for the answers of these questions have led us to our present palisade. We are exploring our bodies, our universe, our cosmos. We are creating clouds of science and arts. We are approaching distances where no one has gone before and no one has dared to reach out to us. Our inbuilt inquisition, our ability to comprehend, our understanding of universal language, mathematics and industrious resolve has led us to fly out in search. in pursuit of the index finger raised by our forefathers towards the skies, we are riding rockets, meditating at Himalayan tops, ringing bells, calling for prayers, and sticking to our microscopes to discover what they were pointing at. What is up there? We will keep trying to find out. I’m doing so in my humble way.
When obsession possesses a mind, wisdom rests. Once devotion dwells in a heart, hope ‘homes’ in it. When determination bakes in the brain, destiny changes. If aspiration becomes your mate, dreams start to come true. When bravery begins to lead, the destination starts walking towards the traveler. Aim is half of deed and the first step is half of the journey. Only those who take off, reach. Sitters would not watch what’s on the way. Cowards can not tell the taste of victory. Sinners don’t exhibit the aroma of the pious and the rich do not know the trouble of the poor.
Life is mortal but phoenix in a sense. It continues in steps through its reproductive properties. One breeds another on and on. Life is finite individually but infinite collectively. Soul is sole but it confounds the whole, the divinity.
Is life a journey? Is it a trip? Is it a voyage? Is it a pause or a destination? Most of us on the road of life are deaf, blind and mute. We are here just because we are not somewhere else. Travelers without a destination, passengers without direction. One way to go through life is to think, to question and to reason. The other way is to listen, to obey, and to believe. Questions however, remain.
Golfer, Author, Poet, Entrepreneur, Blogger, and Wanderer
I golf daily, starting my day at dawn and I am frequently done with nine holes of golf around six o’clock in the morning. There are other early birds out there who leave their tracks on the dew and sing along the morning chirpers. I call them mist miners. How can I invocate the consecration of early morning to the sleep lovers? Its graces are countless and it has enormous rewards.
This week I have skipped golf four times due to some indispensable reasons. This article is about the side effects of sleeping through the morning and skipping regular exercise especially endeared rituals like early morning golf.
We miss out on many things when we wake up late. Spending a couple of hours early in the morning while condensation embraces the sleepy grass and clean air roams around the field like a morning alarm. The air quality app showing the index at healthy levels. When stars are too tired to shine anymore and the sun is still yawning. When birds begin to sing and mosquitoes are ready to retire. When day is about to break the shackles of a dark night. When roads begin to receive the impatient traffic and street lights wear out of beams. When light appears and darkness decides to move on. Morning joggers are tying their laces and sweep tractors are returning home. When divinity lowers arms to shower graces and blessings begin to bestow upon the awake. Anyone who is up and running at this time is doing nothing less than worship. It is a time when buds bloom and leaves grow. In moments like these fates change, destiny is rewritten, prayers are accepted and eyeglasses rime. One can rise before the sun to set late.
“The best way to make your dream come true is to wake up.”
– Paul Valery
Sleeping during mornings has its own prizes. Beds soar to the heights of heavens and blankets provide angelic hugs. Pillows become the lap of fairies and the sleeper transcends into a state of nirvana. Morning sleep is homily absorbing and heavenly zenic. The xenia of early morning snores surpasses any addiction and surmounts all kinds of intoxicating spirits to the extent that some people make it a mission to avoid waking up early at all costs. It takes a tank of will to get anyone up from this sort of paradise. Some have the determination mightier than cranes and stronger than all chains. Such is the resolve of an early riser that rouses him up from the bliss of his cozy quilt.
Johnny on the spot mostly beats the second sleeper in the game of life. Early rising and sleeping late are poles apart. Golfer’s mornings and sleeper’s dreams are antonyms. Staying awake is staying alive. Sleeping more is living less.
The invention of electricity and the internet have reduced the might of night and force of darkness. Most people, especially youth, like to stay up late. Nights of the present age have delights of their own. Many of the cities like London, New York, Cairo and Mumbai are known as cities that never sleep. Availability of all night trains, television, movies, night clubs, flood light matches, round the clock restaurant delivery and 24/7 fast food drive through, contributed tons to nightlife. Thus very few have time to celebrate the glory of dawn and the grace of early mornings. Even though many people wake up early, however most of them have miles to go to their jobs. They do get a glimpse of the awesome views of a fresh morning from the windows of the homes, trains, buses and cars. As a matter of fact that they do not stop to appreciate the prestige of the morning rather they join the stressful race to reach their offices on time. Unwise are those who have the luxury to enjoy such hours but still manage not to.
We are among the few lucky ones who can afford quality time in the arms of an early morning breeze. A round of golf at that time multiplies the elegance. I am so grateful and obliged to avail that extravagance. Morning time is adorably mesmerizing and breathtaking that once we develop a taste for it we would crave for more. The fragrance, the gleam, and the radiance of the day break is unexplainably unique. Morning hour is an aorta in the tunnel of time. It is distinctly soulful and vividly incarnative.
What is more overriding, love, lover or the loved? Love is a common aspiration cherished by the most but tolerated by few. Some of us are lovers and a few are loved. The strongest argument of love is patience and the best witness of patience is a smile. Love seeks sincerity, lover looks for rendezvous and the loved prides attention.
Not all ages and lands allowed love to roam free like today’s free world. In the era of clanism and male chauvinistic societies, love used to be a forbidden fruit. Females were covered and separated. It was indecent to look at the opposite sex and gender segregation was commonly observed. Education was scarce and certain professions were adopted by selected clans. Potters made pots and weavers produced cloth generation after generation. Instead of children going to school, they were taught ancestral crafts by parents and clans. There was no individualism at all; people lived by communal principles instead of any constitution. Communal rights were preferred over individual rights. Most clans lived under the supervision of their elderly leaders often chosen by the virtue of age. Only those leaders dealt with the governments on behalf of the clan. Youth accepted the authority of the elders and obeying parents was deeply venerated. It was almost the law of the land. People in general were very emotional and members of the clan were passionately bonded together. One man’s sorrow was the sadness of all. Inter clan marriages were unacceptable. Life partners were designated by elderly of the clan or the parents. In the name of the wedding of two individuals, two houses came together as family. From times immemorial others chose brides and grooms for the young ones. The husband and wife lived in the same house but not in the same room. Poor or rich, each house had two different quarters, one for ladies and the other for men.
It was an age like that when two crazy ones fell in love. This is a story that transpired in a delta of five famous rivers called Punjab. This unique piece of high-yielding land is the greatest gift of nature that is known as the food basket of the world. It is a mire soil where houses are made from mud and pottery from clay. Punjab is heavenly, fertile and naturally irrigated. It begins with the high mountains from the north and ends as a plain in the south. It was once the epicenter of the Indus valley civilization. It is a home of monsoon and the playing field of all four seasons: spring, autumn, winter, and summer. Nothing refuses to grow here. The flower of love is no exception. Despite strict taboos and curtailed norms, in the presence of curtains, covers, shawls, and burqas; love found its path to reach in the petals of a lover’s heart. Eyes played a vital role and became the beacon of beauty and affection. Pupils became the language of the heart and dreams provided the virtual rendezvous. Lovers sang the song of love in the guise of the folklores.
On the banks of river Chenab, there was a village namely Khewa adjacent to a town called Gujrat. There sat a palace, Rampyari Mehal. Underneath the palace was a great market for earthenware pots. Khewa was known for its unique clay and wonder potters. Pots were exported as far as merchants could take them safely.
In this tale a merchant boy descended from the snow tops of Uzbekistan. He was whiter than the avalanche and stronger than the peaks of Khazaret Sultan. He spoke a nonnative language and wore colorful woolen robes. His eyes were blue and radiated angelic currents. His name was Izzat Baig, a Turk name that means respect worthy. She on the other hand, was a fairy like daughter of a famous potter, more beautiful than the dreams of a poet.
She was tall, slim, and shaped like a cypress tree. Her hair touched her knees and her lips resembled a rose. She smiled through jasmine white gnashes and unfurl aromatic charm. Her artistic fingers needed no rings and her geometric curves dimmed stars. She was cuter than beauty and fresher than himalayan breeze. Their differences were immense, they spoke different languages but love knows no boundaries. It has a certain dialect that transmits through eyes. My pen lacks words to describe her anymore.
She translated her beauty in the art she drew on the neck of those carafes. The potter’s wife abruptly called her ‘Sohni’ the moment she saw her as an infant. Sohni, in Punjabi means very beautiful and she grew up to be so. He came to sell wool but traded his heart instead. He would return daily to buy those clay pots from her father. She would crave for his eyes inside the shop glossing her dreams into the art on the chest of the receptacles she made. He would find an excuse to return to her shop to evade his caravan fellows. Looking at each other fulfilled them both and they did not want to look elsewhere. The girls of Kiev are known as ‘Fairies of Kiev in Punjabi culture’ (“Koh Kaaf Ki Paryaan”). Izzat Baig, a noble of that vicinity could not survive the aura of Sohni’s charm. This itself is the proof of her magnificence.
This was the final trade for the merchant and she wanted to paint no more pots. Fragrance can’t be seen but one cannot hide it. No one can veil love and nothing can camouflage it. Love is revealed before it is concealed. Her father saw the spark before it could inflame his reputation in his clan. Imagine a father in a closed door society like that who’s daughter fell in love with a stranger from distant mountains. The dissimilarities between the couple of lovers were more exhaustive than the journey of the outlander merchant. Her father’s intolerance to her affection was heavier than currents of the Chenab. Soon Izzat spent all his money living in a foreign land and ended up broke. He took a job of water buffalo herder nearby. That’s why people called him ‘Mahiwal’ (buffalo herder).
Punjabi parents know only one cure to the infectious disease of love. That is to marry the lover to someone else. So did Sohni’s father. He forcefully married her to his neighbor’s son. Again a family marriage blessed by the elders of the clan. Izzat was prohibited from entering Khawa. He moved across the river and built himself a hut on the southern bank of Chenab. This marriage was not truly acceptable to Sohni; her heart was already with her lover. She was already craving to follow her heart. Her husband was a trader of earthenware pottery so he was traveling most of the time. She used to sit nights after nights on the north side of the river bank conceiving poems of separation awaiting Mahiwal, while he was singing songs for a darling across the river. She was growing impatient by the hour, cursing herself for not having learned swimming. One night she had an idea to cross the river. She knew as a potter that a baked pitcher can keep her afloat on water. The clay water receptacle became her regular mode of nocturnal floats across the river.
Night riders can not hide from the eyes of self proclaimed patrollers. Sohni’s sister in law became aware of her love adventures and decided to put an end to it before the rest of the clan found out. She saw her hiding a earthenware receptacle under bushes near her window. She was aghested by her unsolicited meeting with the lover across the river. One night she replaced the baked pot with an unbaked one with the intent to drown her in the violent currents of the mad Chenab. The container was a kind of life jacket for the swimming lover.
Mahiwal, completely absorbed by the love of his fairy, was destitute and aloof from worldly affairs. That night he didn’t have anything to offer his beloved so he took a piece of his thighs and cooked it for her. Turk hospitality does not make you a proper host without some sort of meat. He waited anxiously limping on that side of the river. She sailed on the receptacle her sister in law hid unaware of the incapacity of the pitcher on water. It began to dissolve quickly in the fast running currents of the river. She cried for help and Mahiwal jumped with his wounded leg. He swam towards her to save her; she was already drowning and he bled too much; both died hand in hand, disappearing in the south bound river never to return to the shore of life. Finally they were in each other’s arms embraced by the angel of death.
Sohni’s father Tullah who was trying to hide her love from his clan, failed to put a lid on it. Today it is one of the most sung love stories in Punjab. Sohni’s dialogue with an unbaked pitcher has become idiomatic in an amazing manner. Although their story goes through love end to dead end but it never comes to “The End.”
This story is a clandestine honor killing that surfaced later to become an eternal folktale of two innocent and beautiful lovers. As this story continues to shine in our beautiful land of five rivers, so does honor killing one way or the other.
Most of the novels, movies, tv dramas, and other modes of communication and entertainment strongly advocate love and portray lovers as heroes. When someone close to us, especially females, shows any signs of affection towards anyone, we try to ‘nip the evil in the bud.’ Our secular and religious laws do permit love marriage. It is the social and peer pressure that leads us to adopt methods of strictness and oppression towards lovers in our family. We’ve got to change either civil laws or the social norms to take one approach. Either we can completely ban love from our society socially and legally or we can allow it socially as our laws do. Hanging in the middle is the main cause for forced marriages or in some cases honor killings.
Law of the land, law of the community and law of the heart should coincide and combine in order to promote harmony and peace in a house, clan, guild, community, city, and society.