Month: October 2016

O Captain, My Captain

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In this world of the chosen ones,
Awan was the ultimate sun,
moving from east to west, and
from west to east; whereas, We
were the blossoming sunflowers,
on the verge of being invincible,
directing our thirsty minds
towards this majestic sun
Learning the words we’ve never heard before
still whispering the words for MORE.
That is how I’ll remember my first day
on this sacred earth
a place called Gcu,
Watching every flower burning
with the flames of literature,
But the sun was the one
with the highest and the brightest flames
spreading its rays of wisdom of;
Iqbal and Shakespeare,
Ghalib and Austen,
Bulleh Shah and Whitman,
Enlightening each corner of
this small world of
the chosen ones.

Road from Gc to Gcu

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To know of my current situation, you must know what brought me here after three years on the very same place which changed my life. It’s almost been a year since I started this blog. The reason for writing this blog was love and rage. Why love and rage? Strange, isn’t it? Well, there’s a story, I must say a long story. It’s a story, a kind of story which can’t be summed up into few scribbles of words or told to someone in their first meeting. I’m not saying it’s a fable about someone in following his dream, or falling in love, facing heart bleed obstacles, facing fear of failure, having a nervous-breakdown in front of an audience, finding a new home, understanding a universal language. It’s the story of being a back to back Ravian. It’s a story from 719 to 315. It’s the story of my life from Gc to Gcu. I will try to be as precise as possible, not to make you feel so bored. Just a quick story about myself.
When I was sixteen my life was changed forever.

I studied in the best college of Pakistan. The college, where students from all over the country came to enroll themselves in but only very few gets the chance to get admission because of its high merit. I wanted to pursue my career in medical but I also wanted to study in Government College. I got five short of 95% to get into pre-medical program. Either I had to change my field of interest to get admission in the college or I had to change the college to go in the desired field. I chose the former. And soon I realized that it was one of the best decisions of my life.

I was very lucky to study in the “dream collegeor between the “creme of all Pakistan. This place was everything and way better than whatever I imagined. I made full use of the opportunity and blend myself in different societies and extra and co-curricular activities. It was there that I came to realize that studies are, of course, important but they only make the one tenth of education. There is more to education than just course studies. While the true purpose of education was to think for yourself. Not to prepare oneself for the future life but to pay heed to the present and dig down your inner self and find out who do you want to be, not what your teachers or parents wants you to be, but you. I met students and teachers having extraordinary minds who only talked about different ideas, individuality, compatibility, and creativity. It was all new to me. The environment. The atmosphere. I was loving every single second of my existence. All of these, changes, were happening so fast that the journey was just one step away before coming to an end.

The second and last year of college started off with a bang. I believe that every student has a true mentor who truly enlightens and ignites the flames of who-do-you-want-to-be. Time has a funny way with forgetfulness because time is making fool of us again and again. I only remember his one speech which was something like, Life is too short to listen to what others have to say, what others want you to be. Say what you want to say. Do what you want to do. Be who you want to be. Learn to love the true one, the lucky one in your life and never ever let her go. Just be awesome in your own ways, in your own flow, in your own eyes because only one thing will matter in the end—You.
Who was he of my life. He was the O Captain, my Captain of my life. Under his shadow I came to realize that all I wanted to do is just read and write. A writer. In a society where only two kinds of students live, either they want to be a doctor or an engineer (not because they want to do rather they think they want to do it, in the end, not knowing what to do) Any other field other than that was just, as people say, has no future. Which, no doubt, was true. I was very lucky to decide what I want to do with my life not knowing at that time that making a decision for your career was the easiest part.
My best two years of life came to an end with the evergreen last day celebration in college. Now it was time to farewell college, and a time to choose the desired career field with the best university—the most difficult time for every student of Pakistan.

It was very hard to convince my parents to let me decide for my own field. It was hard convincing them that I wanted to be a writer answering every rebuttal possible. In the end, all they could muster was, it’s your life, which meant: Do whatever you want to do but we don’t support you.
So I applied in the best literature university in Pakistan—Government College University, and aced the test while I was left out in the interview considering I wasn’t good enough to qualify for this year English lit programme. My roller coaster ride abruptly went downhill leaving me breathless and with nasty scars. I was very publicly out. And then started the most miserable time of my life.

First of all, the rejection was very unbearable. Being rejected from the same institute where you spent your two years was incomprehensible. And then started the criticism of parents. Every word was like a sharp blow of a steel knife. The I-told-you-so beaming looks from their eyes. I was angry and miserable. My whole career was in jeopardy even before it began. My dreams in thousand tiny invisible pieces, my goals buried under the word-rejection, everything in ruin, and rightly so-everything in ashes.
It’s true that, “In the darkest days, God puts the best people in your life.” I met an angel who gave me a shoulder to cry on, wings to fly with and a new road of positivity, aspiration. Who, in short, made me believe in the light at the end of the dark tunnel. For that cupid, I started writing. The rage of getting rejected and love of being accepted, things starts happening when fire meets water.

A whole year passed which made me believe in myself and in my vision. Just like my fight song, I inspire myself. I stand by my side. I never leave myself alone. Moreover, I stay strong for myself because at the end of the day, it’s just you, yourself for yourself. The admissions reopened this fall and I applied in the same program in the same university. And I cleared both the written test and interview. Had I been enrolled last year; I wouldn’t have known the value of it. You get the best kind of feeling, which is indescribable, when you realize your destiny and didn’t let the obstacles, the voices of others stop you from realizing your personal legend in following your dream.
Sitting in the same classroom on the same bench where I carved out my dream, and writing this story made me realize that everything happens for a reason, we may don’t see it at that point but it’s the best path God has chosen for us. Looking back on that day when my life was turned to hell, I can say for sure that being rejected from here last year was the best thing that could ever happen to me. I still believe that I’m just at the beginning and have a very long road to travel. I don’t know where this journey will take me but I know this is where it all begins.

 

 

—Manuscript: Road from Gc to Gcu by Muhammad Shahroz

The Forty rules of Love

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It is a story of love and death. Happiness and sorrow. Compassion and pity. Friendship and foe. Peace and heartbreak. It is a fable of lives of Ella, Kerra, Sultan Walad, Aladdin, Kimya, Desert Rose; The Harlot, Suleiman; The Drunk, Baybors; The Warrior. All the lives of these characters chained with the story of Sun and Moon: Shams of Tabriz and Rumi… All stories are one. A story within a story.

This journey will take you from London to Amsterdam, Berlin and the streets of, paradise on earth-Istanbul. The main plot is constructed in 13th century-the era of Mongols and their battles. Muslims killing Muslims, Muslims killing Christians, Christian killing Muslims, and Christian killing Christian. All this killing just for the sake of power. But war has no concept in this books, not to say the conspiracy concept.

The unique part of this book, the part that made this book a classic book is, how 13th century changed the life of a single housewife living in 21st century. This reminds us that death is not the end but the worst part of death is to die without leaving a legacy behind. The bond and love of Shams and his companion, Rumi, changed the unconditional life of Ella, a wife and a mother of three children.

One of the things that fascinates me in this book is that, there is not one story teller like, the narrator is not a single character. Every character tells the story according to their own point of view of the same vantage point. Most people don’t like the idea of reading a book through several narrators, they like to read the whole story sticking to one mind-teller. But writing a book in this style is worth praising, I must say. And its kinda different. And I loved it.

The forty rules of Shams were so deep that they were hard to understand at first. You ever so slowly read each rule, each passage until it has a sweet and familiar taste on your lips and then the secrets will be revealed. And everything will start making sense. Every single thing.

The only thing I didn’t like was the intimate scene the author introduced of Shams. The image of Shams was going so good until that point. But other than that, the book was so good that this small part unconsciously fade away. The Sufi whirling was the breakthrough in this book, where Shams and Rumi introduced the concept of dervish dance. This concept will stay in this world forever. The poetry of Rumi, wrote from time to time, was breathtaking. There are some books, no matter how thorough you write, you just can’t write a proper or close to perfect review, it’s just so difficult, this is that kind of book.

“Let us choose one another as companions!
Let us sit at each other’s feet!
Inwardly we have many harmonies-think not
That we are only what we see.”

 

Ali and the Infidel

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Ali, the Prophet’s successor and companion, was fighting with an infidel on a battlefield. Ali was about to thrust his sword into the other man’s heart when all of a sudden the infidel raised his head and spit at him. Ali immediately dropped his sword, took a deep breath, and walked away. The infidel was stunned. He ran after Ali and asked him why he was letting him go.

“Because I’m very angry at you,” said Ali.
“Then why don’t you kill me?” the infidel asked. “I don’t understand.”
Ali explained, “When you spit in my face, I got very angry. My pride was provoked, yearning for revenge. If I kill you now, I’ll be following my worse instincts. And that would be a huge mistake.”

So Ali set the man free. The infidel was s touched that he became Ali’s friend and follower, and in time he converted to Islam of his own free will.

 

—Manuscript from The Forty rules of Love by Elif Shafak

 

Compassion and Forgiveness

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One day a prostitute passed by a street dog. The animal was panting under the hot sun, thirsty and helpless. The prostitute immediately took off her show and filled it with water from the nearest well for the dog. Then she went on her way.

The next day she ran into a Sufi who was a man of great wisdom. As soon as he saw her, he kissed her hands. She was shocked. But he told her, “her kindness toward the dog had been so genuine that all her sins had been pardoned there and then by Allah.”

 

—Manuscript from The Forty rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Layla-Majnun

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The quandary I find myself in reminds me of the story of Layla and Harun-ar-Rashid, the famous Abbasid emperor. Upon hearing that a Bedouin poet named Qays had fallen hopelessly in love with Layla and lost his mind for her, and was therefore named Majnun—the madman—the emperor became very curious about the woman who had caused such misery.

This Layla must be a very special creature, he thought. A woman far superior to all other woman. Perhaps she is an enchantress unequaled in beauty and charm.

Excited, intrigued, he played every trick in the book to find a way to see Layla with his own eyes.
Finally, one day they brought Layla to emperor’s palace when she took off her veil, Harun-ar-Rashid was disillusioned. Not that Layla was ugly, crippled, or old. But she wasn’t extraordinarily attractive either. She was a human being with ordinary human needs and several defects, a simple woman, like countless others.

The emperor did not hide his disappointment. “Are you the one Majnun has been crazy about? Why, you look so ordinary. What is so special about you?”
Layla broke into a smile. “Yes, I am Layla. But you are not Majnun,” she answered. “You have to see me with the eyes of Majnun. Otherwise you could ever solve this mystery called Love.”

‘Love cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.
Love cannot be explained, yet it explains all.’

 

—Manuscript from The Forty rules of Love by Elif Shafak

 

Sweet Blasphemy

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One day Moses was walking in the mountains on his own when he saw a shepherd in the distance. The man was on his knees with his hands spread out to the sky, praying. Moses was delighted. But when he got closer, he was equally stunned to hear the shepherd’s prayer.
“Oh, my beloved God, I love Thee more than Thou can know. I will do anything for Thee, just the word. Even if Thou asked me to slaughter the fattest sheep in my flock in Thy name, I would do so without hesitation. Thou would roast it and put its tail fat in Thy rice to make it more tasty”

   Moses inched toward the shepherd, listening attentively.
    “Afterward I would wash Thy feet and clean Thine ears and pick Thy lice for Thee. That Is how much I love Thee.” Having heard enough, Moses interrupted he shepherd, yelling, “Stop, you ignorant man! What do you think you are doing? Do you think God ears rice? Do you think God has feet for you to wash? This is not prayer. It is sheer blasphemy”

     Dazed and ashamed the shepherd apologized repeatedly and promised to pray as decent people did. Moses taught him several prayers that afternoon. Then he went on his way, utterly pleased with himself.

   But that night Moses heard a voice. It was God’s.
“Oh, Moses, what have you done? You scolded that poor shepherd and failed to realize how dear he was to Me. He might not be saying the right things in the right way, but he was sincere. His heart was pure and his intentions good. I was pleased with him. His words might have been blasphemy to your ears, hut to Me they were Sweet Blasphemy.”

       Moses immediately understood his mistake. The next day, early in the morning, he went back to the mountains to see the shepherd. He found him praying again, except this time he was praying in the way he had been instructed. In his determination to get the prayer right, he was stammering, bereft of the excitement and passion of his earlier prayer. Regretting what had done to him. Moses patted the shepherd’s back and said: “My friend, I was wrong. please forgive me. Keep praying in your own way. That is more precious in God’s eyes.”

              The shepherd was astonished to hear this, but even deeper was his relief. Nevertheless, he did not want to go back to his old prayers. Neither did he abide by the formal prayers that Moses had taught him. He had now found a new way of communicating to God. Though satisfied and blessed in his naïve devotion, he was now past that stage—beyond his Sweet Blasphemy.

 

Manuscript from The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.