All posts by Maryam Qadeer

About Maryam Qadeer

An avid reader, who is always in the process of trying to figure out things. Important: Keep it as you would want it to be.

What’s In A Name?

Contrary to the Bard’s opinion, quite a bit. Something more than a shadow that makes your person, it truly sticks to you until death, and after, if you’ve been clever. If you’re Sarah, you are going to find it truly hard to make yourself feel like Saba. Is that why they change names for a role play, huh? It would be easy to slide into a Samantha or Sophia. If Sarah isn’t stubborn, Sophia can be as mule-headed as they come. Maybe Sarah follows the latest trends, but Sophia doesn’t care if the colour of her shirt stopped being popular last century. A name is for ownership and cannot just be let. The spelling is their own too. You can’t just spell the Sarah I know without an H and expect to get away with it. Nor can you add an H to the other Sara and think there won’t be repercussions. No sir. You better respect the spelling I own that was given to me by the parent/dada/mama/chachi/preschool clerk/government official/aunty next door/whomever because funnily enough, it now becomes me. Or so I say so. Besmirching a name? That is probably only as true as the strongest memory, and the meanest intention. Changing it? Well, it would be quite weird/unnatural to call a rose by any other name, despite what anyone may say. Wouldn’t stick either, so why would you?



Like everything else in the magical world of HP, being able to banish the manifestation of your fear is very cool indeed. How does it go again? Concentrate on adding a comical aspect to your fear, scream an incantation whilst in possession of a twig, and voila! The deed is done.

Could we employ that bit of hocus pocus to our lives? Our fears may range from the infantile to the worldly, but they are quite real after all. I remember reading in a book once, how the author banished his fear of ‘big’ people. He was in the real estate and when he had to talk to these individuals in intimidating positions, he would imagine them in their worst state of dress. A person dressed in a shabby undershirt and knickers would be easier to talk to! Interesting how it’s always been about power, isn’t it?

However, what if it’s bigger than one? What if your fear is actually of people? That’s a lot of individuals. Dubbed log kiya kahengay (what will people say) to the layman, this fear is tangible I tell you! You can smell it in the wary hesitation of a newbie upon induction, taste it in the murky waters of chit-chat, and hear it in the furiously working minds of those still wet behind the ears.

Then there are those fears we nurse quietly and hide from our own shadows, lest they slip and make us a laughingstock. We fear being accused of changing tradition, of choosing economy over the runway, of hightailing it to greener pastures, of telling disbelieving truths, of doing more, of knowing more, of curiosity and wonder, of appearing less than we are, of caring more, of not loving less enough, and of finding our fears laid bare in this list. Although, that would be hard to bring about since the list can continue ad infinitum.

What if they don’t (laugh at us)? How would we know if we’ve never tried? All these self-conversations fail to serve any purpose except bringing us ulcers. But then, log kiya kahengay.

Hoses and Cannons

If only living were as easy as following instructables on the internet. For instance, how many times have you read about tips to keep on top of your game (read: priorities), getting in control of your temper, or having better conversations? Yet if you were to rate the practical outcome of the reading to your life on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is nil and 10 is mastery, would you be in the second half? Me, I know I’d fall shy (read: very, very shy) of even 5.Similarly, time and time again we read, watch or are told about how we ought not to discriminate on colour, caste or the degree of curvature of someone’s waistline, but have we put it into practice or tried to? Wonder why it’s shalwar that easily goes in and out of fashion for ages at a time, yet demeaning jokes about said curvature or the intensity of melanin have been here since time immemorial. Why else would RasulAllah have spoken about it in the last sermon? Why indeed.

Ever thought how impossibly dull life would be if everyone had the same perfect (whatever goes for one’s haughty definition of perfect) shade of skin; an even, model perfect waist to hip ratio; and the right kind of accent? How would we ever tell Americans from British, Karachi from Lahore, Indian from Pakistani? It’d be robots all around. And that would not be God’s green Earth.

Let’s look for cooler topics to talk about, shall we? How difficult it is for people to have access to necessities and what we can do about it, how we can improve upon conversations to win hearts all around, how a greater tolerance for accents would raise our ranks in His sight, and how we should truly stop advising people on getting fairer or thinner or fatter. Don’t do it even if it’s well-intentioned. Do it when they ask you.

In this age of visuals, most people aren’t living under rocks. Which implies that many of them are already probably, possibly, maybe battling with body image-an issue so obscure to most of us on our high horses, but nevertheless true. Girls crying through childhood and beyond, men succumbing to all that looks green, and depression- all sound cliched as anything, but merit repetition for it is oh-so-easy to forget.

Ignore all the random barbs you say? Grow up already, right? Hmm, let’s just ask the clouds not to rain for it may bring floods and plates to stop moving because they are going around causing earthquakes, shall we? For we still got to litter, baby. We’re humans.

Day 43

And then they were here!

Day 37

Some think we’d be having serious trouble feeding ourselves. I’d like to disagree. The process isn’t breezy or fun but neither is it like a boulder that refuses to give way. It’s the other little things whose thorny presence can only be felt in their absence.

The encouragement that you did well, the confidence that they afford you in your decisions, the knowledge that you can err and have a laugh at it with them afterwards, the luxury of leaving every niggling detail for them to sort out be it big or small, the comfy feeling of being safe, the thrill of their appreciation, their backing at the confrontation of every horrendous worldly monster, their support for your every venture, their correction of your heedlessness, their scoldings, the absence of constant rain in their presence, the happy bolting down at dinners and being able to complain of overeating afterwards in peace- those are the kind of things that leave a gaping hole.

And the feeling of liberation! There’s hope in the air and silver lining in every dark thought, there’s strength in your back and the mind- scores of it- to brave whatever comes flying at you- be it troll, leprechaun or cake. There’s even fun in the mundane and routine, there’s cheer and trips to the outside world, there is wind in your hair and there is a fight- to do more and grow; to better oneself.

Day 31

‘Eid Mubarak! So how was yours?

If ever a people were lost for the simple things in life (food, sleep, conversation), they may have looked similar to us. Why? Here’s an attempt at explanation.

The eve of ‘Eid ul Fitr had me drinking in episode upon episode of Bugs Bunny after a healthy dose of procrastination and mommy-scolding. Too tired, quoth I. The eve of ‘Eid ul Adha was spent with the same iconic character with a certain exception: nothing was ready or prepped and no one to help us out with it (which was a good thing).

Then there was a miracle of miracles; I couldn’t find my ‘Eid dress. It was an ordinary printed lawn shalwar-qameez that mum and I had gotten on our pre-Hajj shopping trips. Down came every stitch of clothing I possessed as I emptied the cupboard to look for it, ending empty handed. Next I tried the parents’ cupboards, trying to be careful as I sifted through the neatly folded clean-smelling contents, which called out to be hugged. However, the dress had apparently disappeared into thin air.

Had ma been here, she’d have given me a good telling off. How dare I lose a dress of all things? Anyway, to the store room I went. Perhaps we’d put our purchases there after a hurried errand and forgotten it? It was a highly doubtful thought for the store had been cleaned and arranged when ma had left, and we’d promptly returned it to a tornado-struck state a few days later. How? You guessed it: whilst rummaging for things of course!

Righted an upended bucket, kicked another and stubbed a toe in haste, moved around some bags and no dress. To the laundry area, the sheets’ closet and beyond… To this moment, the dress has been unfound.

Day 29

Years of research and scientists claim that crying is actually a healing experience for it releases a great deal of harmful stress and makes you stronger. In fact, the kind of tears that result from an emotional episode (anger, grief, etc.) are better than the ordinary tearing up such as the one that arises from something having gone in the eye. Now how well have YOUR tears been received, that’s the question!

Having said that, psychologists still advise you to refrain from giving in to crying at the workplace or school for obvious reasons. Yet, you should revisit the emotion when in a safe place such as your room or a bathroom stall (I promise you this example comes from the article!). Also, it isn’t “healing” if you berate yourself during the experience, like laying down the blame at your door or calling yourself names.

I can go on as I read a fair number of articles, but what I am sincerely interested in knowing however, is how good the above knowledge made you feel. Was it liberating? Did it give your crying some sort of validation? Or did you still just shake your head..?

Sure, showing your vulnerable side to others might make you open to empathy, trust and kindness, perhaps even friendship! However, there are those sceptical like my brother, who would tell you that tearing up will make you fair game to the wolves.

‘Ah, she/he’s so easy to get to? Let’s get him!’ Inviting the kind of human un-kindness that you are quite definitely good without.

They also say that the stronger gender (pun intended) is put off by tears because the pearly waters give off this slight scent (not unlike ultrasounds I suppose?) which is well, off-putting. Oh well. RasulAllah (s) did advise us to take care of our women, and be kind to each other. And Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِنْ قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِنْ نِسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Believers, no one group of men should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; no one group of women should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; do not speak ill of one another; do not use offensive nicknames for one another. How bad it is to be called a mischief-maker after accepting faith! Those who do not repent of this behaviour are evildoers. (Al Hujurat, 49:11)

Cool huh? Beware when you make fun of someone for their tears y’all!

Day 23

Something I wrote for school going children to be published in their newsletter 

Day 19

Things happen for a reason, innit? There are no accidents or coincidences. It happened because it was meant to happen. 

It is so much easier if you deem it a coincidence though, is it not? You move on, whistling a tune like there weren’t invisible, high tech recorders furiously taking down every small response of yours. Could that be an opportunity you missed, a test you failed, a challenge you aced, some fear you conquered- what was it?

And then I wonder about that Hadith of the Prophet’s; how the angel Jibrael (a) said amen to the misery of the one whose today is no better than yesterday. Are we growing every moment? Have we consciously programmed into our subconscious that we ought to be improving, making better choices for one..?

Is that why my days frustratingly melt into one another, with nary a change for the better? Cannot grow unless there is improvement- say if day one sees me going ballistic at my sibling, rounding it off nicely by calling said person animal names (in lieu of profanities of course), then a repeat of the incident on day five should see me being slightly more patient by letting go of the swear words or the screaming or at least knowing inside, where it was that we crossed over from rightfully annoyed to the land of crazed trolls!

That would explain why there aren’t more of some “happy coincidences”. If I’m not consciously making an effort to improve, why should there be help from the heavens? 

Day 17

Breakfast is the most difficult meal of the day. If you don’t believe me, you ought to head down to our kitchen every morning. There’s a call for homemade yet interesting, economical yet delicious. Oh, and don’t forget healthy! All this in a sleep-deprived state of sham-manliness, served hot with a smile.

Then comes lunch and it’s miserable to try to brew all the interesting magic that’s already been used before noon. There are a lot of factors to consider here, heavier on the scales than they were at breakfast. Talk gourmet, talk special and delicious. Most of us may not be consuming it but we would definitely wish to sample it, (especially) if it should be absent! Then of course we’ll let you know how we haven’t had a proper meal since that Wednesday biryani of some ages ago, and how not-well (read: abysmal?) you cooked. 

Order-in anyone? For after all the fiasco of the previous meals, should you even try anymore? Should you attempt a stand at the chopping board with watery eyes, red nose and stinky pits? Even if we behaved well, we’d only fry something for ourselves to curb down the rumbling rather than give thanks to what’s on the menu by you. 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
You who believe, eat the good things We have provided for you and be grateful to God, if it is Him that you worship. (2:172)

So much for food? Really? And I’ve been told time and time again how ours is a household that’s choosy about food to a lesser degree than many. Now that’s one shuddering thought.