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The Window

Posted on April 29, 2009
Filed Under >Muslim Rizvi, Pakistanis Abroad, Society
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Muslim Rizvi

It was just another ordinary Tuesday evening in a typical suburban Toronto neighborhood. It has been a cold harsh winter and the early April showers were turning out to be cooler than usual as well.

I hate to be whining about the weather. When I moved to Canada from Pakistan, somebody told me

weather is never the issue, the issue is how you dress up in that weather

I have dealt with cold winter days, shoveling snow, sprinkling salt without a whimper. However, a cold April was dampening the spirits a bit.

I was going through the regular bed time rituals with my two and half year old son. Watched ‘wiggles and learn, took a bath, read a story, read a dua and was now cuddling with him in his bed. The room was dark with a dim night light and a lullaby CD playing in the background. Suddenly, there was a loud thunder and my son jumped up in the bed. Go to sleep, Jibran, I said.



The thunder now turned into a thumping tup, tup, tup sound of heavy rain. Jibran ran towards the window and slid between the blinds.

Rain, rain

he said. I slowly followed him to the window as well. I use to love the rain too. I pulled up the blind. It was pretty dark outside and there wasn’t much that you could see except for the rain falling on the window. For some reason I have never liked window glass with rain drops on it, it always look like crying eyes to me.

The clouds exploded with a thunder again. Jibran stepped back from the window almost as if in a reverse gear and eased himself into my lap. A feeling of warmth and love just overwhelmed me. My heart melted like a piece of Cadbury’s chocolate in a hot cup of milk. I wrapped my hands around him and kissed him on the cheek. We were both sitting in front of the windows staring into the wet darkness. The clouds thundered again and then there was lightning. The whole world outside our window lit up. I expected this light for a moment or two but it stayed, like someone has switched on a tube light. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was so much hustle bustle on the street. People were walking here and there, children laughing and playing. They were all familiar faces.

I could see a string of little green and white flags from last year’s independence day celebrations hanging on the electric pole standing right in front of our window. The flags were all wet and I felt like reaching out and securing the flags so that they can be used next year. I would hate to see the flags fall down on the street. We should have taken them off after 14th August. I will definitely remember this next year. There was an amrood wala (guava vendor) and a sabzi wala (vegetable vendor) parked underneath the mango tree in front of our house, waiting for the rain to stop. All this rain had not dampened the amrood wala‘s (guava vendor) business, as there were a bunch of children surrounding him. The sabzi wala (vegetable vendor) however, sat underneath the tree with gray chaddar (sheet) on his head and a grim expression on his face. He was lost in his thoughts, perhaps wondering if his jhuggi (straw house) would survive the rain storm. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted. Faisal and Kashif bhondu just sped away on their rented bicycles and splashed the poor sabzi wala (vegetable vendor) with water. The sabzie wala (vegetable vendor) yelled at them and pretended to run after them. He sat down again after a few moments. He probably knew kids will be kids. I am sure they wouldn’t have gotten away with this if it wasn’t raining today. I felt bad for him because I am guilty of this too. We rent bicycles when it rains and speed away on the streets, splashing water all over the place. We can rough up these rented bikes in rain. Although, we all have our own bikes, yet they don’t come out in rain. You wouldn’t want your dear bike and it’s chain to get rust with all this water, would you? Renting bikes is the way to go.

There is a speed-breaker on the street, right in front of our house. In our neighborhood in Nazimabad, they are commonly called car-breakers because of their size. Rain water was running down the street and the street looked like a river. The river would hump over the speed breaker and fall like a mini Niagara falls . The only difference was that there were a few rubber slippers floating around. A couple of children were chasing those slippers in the fast flowing water. These children were not from our galee (lane). I think they were from yasir mama’s galee(lane). I know how their slippers slipped. They were trying to get the Kairees (unripe mangoes) from our mango tree by throwing their slippers at them. I know their game and I am glad Atif Bhai from next door came in time and saved the day. The children ran after seeing Atif bhai. This mango tree was the pride of our galee (lane). We shared the mangoes with the neighbors and that is why it was guarded by all neighbors against this kind of foreign intrusion. I wish I could say this about our country as well.

I could also see a torn kite stuck in the mango tree in front of me. The sound of rain on the paper made the crows take notice of it. The kite was surrounded by loads and loads of wet crows. They all sat frozen, a bit debilitated as if they were shocked at the wrath of the rain gods. A pack of stray dogs was passing by and they started barking at a couple of Afghani kids collecting garbage. The poor children already half bent with heavy loads on their back, dropped their bags, picked up a few stones and took their shots. At least one was a hit because the dogs ran making all sorts of noises. It wasn’t Islamabad , otherwise one could have mistaken it for politicians after a military coup. I have always wondered why dogs don’t get along with these children who pick up the garbage from our dumps. Do they think they are their competitors for the food salvaged from the dump? I wonder what these children think of these dogs.

I could see Kashif sir knocking on Arshad’s door. Knocking was a wise move because ringing the bell in the rain could be disastrous. I am not a mean person, but I hated the fact that he was knocking the door. I am in no mood to do Maths homework right now. Kashif sir was our tutor. He taught Arshad and his sister, then Faisal and his sister upstairs and then came to our house to tutor me and my sister. I was so hoping that he wouldn’t show up in the rain but there he was. I could see there was some conversation going on and Arshad had a very serious look on his face. After a long conversation, Kashif sir turned around, looked at me and smiled. I tried my best not make any eye contact but he somehow manages a conversation without talking. He was going back. Chutti ( Holiday ) !! Arshad yelled and I sighed with relief.

Even the ‘unfriendly’ uncle who lived next door to Burney Sahab’s house was out and about. We have pretty much stopped playing cricket here because he never returns the ball. I know once Faisal had hooked the ball right into his glass window and that was it. We must have lost hundreds of balls in his house by now okay may be ten. The uncle was going to the amrood wala (guava vendor) and I could see the children clearing the way for him. I couldn’t really hear the conversation from my window but I saw all the kids getting an amrood (guava) each and then there was a loud cheer. Uncle must have bought every one an amrood (guava) and the children were overjoyed.

As I looked on my left, I could see a cricket match going on. Shanoo, Sarfraz and others from our galee (lane), were having a cricket match with the boys from Samir, Bobby’s galee (lane). It was always an exciting affair. The Englishmen who fathered the game would not have imagined a cricket match, in the middle of the street , in heavy rain , with a ganjee (bald) tennis ball. Prior to the advent of taped tennis ball, this was the fastest form of cricket known to man. and the Australians still thought they had fast and bouncy wickets. After all Wasim’s and Waqar’s don’t fall off the trees.

The rain had subsided a bit and as I looked down, I saw my father coming out from the house. He was holding a child’s hand as he stepped out. I think the child looked like me. Both my father and the child started digging in the front yard. I think they were looking for earth worms. They must be going fishing! A feeling of warmth and love just overwhelmed me. My heart melted melted like a piece of Cadbury’s chocolate in a hot cup of milk.

Suddenly, it was dark again outside the window. I heard my son,

Daa’yee , I shleepy.

He was looking at me with drowsy eyes. I hugged him as hard as I could, kissed him on the cheek and carried him to his bed.

42 Comments on “The Window”

  1. TwinTopaz says:
    June 15th, 2008 9:38 am

    i feel like crying now..! those were the days..sigh

  2. Moeen says:
    June 15th, 2008 10:17 am

    What a beautiful post. It took me back to my childhood rainy days in Model Town. It seems like ages now.
    Thanks
    I did not want to criticize your delicate feelings, but let me say this, days like ‘Fathers Day’ is not Pakistaniat; what you have written is khalis (real) Pakistaniat though.

  3. Bano says:
    June 15th, 2008 12:12 pm

    Very very very nice..
    I could picture everything exactly as you wrote it.

    Have a great father’s day with your children and father!

  4. Saad says:
    June 15th, 2008 1:14 pm

    Your post had got me all misty eyed, and made me call my dad up back in Pakistan, not to wish him a happy father’s day but to hear his voice. Thanks a bunch for such a beautiful post.

  5. Eidee Man says:
    June 15th, 2008 6:23 pm

    Excellent….the picture is so simple yet so telling as well.

  6. readinglord says:
    June 15th, 2008 7:43 pm

    “Magar aey jamaale sahar numa mera ghar jo tira-o-taar he”

    Saahir Ludhiaaniwi

    And someone has trampled our paradise of Quaid’s Pakistan under his/her feet.

  7. tariqkhan says:
    June 15th, 2008 9:03 pm

    made my day atp and its contributors are the best. what a beautiful piece. nostalgic but real. keep it coming please

  8. Fahim says:
    June 15th, 2008 9:52 pm

    By the way, in UK, one of the squah playing Khan’s has a singing daughter who is just becoming popular. (Dad abandoned the family when she was 11, so she might not have good memoriues of her father)…
    http://music.guardian.co.uk/pop/story/0,,2285771,00.html
    ‘This is a sad, scary time’

    Natasha Khan, aka Bat for Lashes, is finally making it big.

  9. Rubina says:
    June 15th, 2008 9:55 pm

    I simply loved it! I can see myself in the picture enjoying Kashif sir letting us have a chuthi from home work :) It reminds me of so many old memories and people who are not around us anymore.
    Great job!

  10. yasser latif hamdani says:
    June 15th, 2008 10:23 pm

    My heart goes out to those who can no longer wish their fathers on this day. I lost my father last year and I miss him terribly this fathers day.

    I just hope all of you will take time out and cherish your dads while they are still there.

    Happy Fathers’ day.

  11. Bathool says:
    June 16th, 2008 12:11 am

    A simple daily ritual that throws you back in to your childhood is a beautiful combination of yesterday, today and inshAllah tommorow. Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Birthdays etc. are the days to create special memories so more articles like this one can be created. These special days should not have cultural binds, no country should own them. Across the world, these days should be recognized. They are a reason to celebrate life which is especially important now. Everyday we hear about shootings, killings, wars and bombers. Children are exposed to violence, hatred and crime. These days are a chance for a child to have some happy memories where they think back and their heart melts like ‘cadburys chocolate in a cup of hot milk’
    Happy Fathers Day!

  12. Shazia R. Hussain says:
    June 16th, 2008 1:29 am

    They say, “A picture says a thousand words” but this piece of writing brings a thousand pictures and makes them vivid before your eyes. Beautiful, heartwarming piece of writing.

  13. D_a_n says:
    June 16th, 2008 4:33 am

    a 10 for the adorable-ness of the photo :)

    brilliant post

  14. Zecchetti says:
    June 16th, 2008 6:08 am

    For Muslims, Father’s day, Mother’s day, is everyday. There should be no need to single out a day for our parent’s – this is an imitation of the west. For Muslims, we have our own values.

  15. Fawzia says:
    June 16th, 2008 6:58 am

    Yes i used to love rain too, but living in Europe now, with rain even today, mid June, has made me sooo sick of it and more homesick than usual, and your piece was the icing on the cake and has made me so damn weepy…becos our days with no bijli and garmi and looking fwd to rain masti and keris with chappals were so much more real life than our kids will ever experince in the stereotypical life of the West…

  16. Junaid Siddiqui says:
    June 16th, 2008 10:09 am

    Rizvi Sahib,
    What a evocative style of writing. I’ve been living in the States for the last 19 years and this morning as I read your article, it made my eyes fill with tears.

    In this stage of life (I have 4 children now), I find myself searching for those lost days, that you just so skillfully put in your blog, through my memory lanes and finding joy and sorrow as I “rediscover” them.

    Thank you for making my day!

  17. Makhfi says:
    June 16th, 2008 12:01 pm

    There’s something magical about the rain in pakistan that makes you want to run outside as soon as you hear the first pattering of the drops on the ground. Nowhere else can I say have I had to resist the uncontrollable urge to run outside barefoot without an umbrella in the anticipation of that familar smell of the first rain….

    …a million thanks for the nostalgia.

  18. ali baig says:
    June 16th, 2008 8:29 pm

    Mr Rizvi has written an excellent article on our loving Father`s day, he has made me go down memory lane after living overseas for so many years and has made me weep a little.
    I also acknowledge the lovely and touching response that has come from your readers.

  19. ahsan says:
    June 18th, 2008 7:38 am

    I doubt if Muslim Rizvi would want his son to grow in a neighborhood where rain water runs like a river for two hours and then stands stagnant like a lake for the next two weeks. The”lesser”Kids (whether afghans or pakistanis) are still compete with dogs to have their share of food. Kids and sometimes adults too still drown and get electrocuted in the rainy season which Muslim Rizvi so lovingly recalls. Every one here wants to escape it like so many people out there and then get nostalgic about it with “misty eyes” while sitting in the comfort of their “dream homes” in some ” dream land”. You dont have to thank anyone for Nostalgia. It all still happens here on a much larger scale. Why not book a ticket back home? A hard decision definitely for all those

  20. Qanetah Hashmi says:
    June 18th, 2008 4:51 pm

    Hi Muslim,ppl like Mr Ahsan think that we(not physically in beloved Pakistan) are sitting in Eden and any expression of our homesickness is a sign of condescending attitude. what they do not realize is the fact that we are marketing our country at a far more superior level. people are getting a new vision about Pakistan by coming to know us.

    someone ask him what did he ever do in his miserable life to make a change? this is what i said infront of the whole pannel of guest speakers in IBA, when there was a smart guy like him in the audience. i never gave even 4 anas as a bribe ever in my whole life in Karachi. i never as much as threw a used tissue paper out of my car, let alone a coke bottle. dont worry Muslim, remember Einstein said that “great souls have always faced violent opposition from mediocre minds’. let this balm your soul.

    people like him will never be rid of their Self Reference Criterians.

    he does not know you and does not know of your high contribution to the Pakistani society.

    whatever Ahsan says, i am proud to have known you, and i am proud to have you as my friend.

    love, Qanetah

  21. ahsan says:
    June 18th, 2008 9:05 pm

    Sorry every escapee out there. I never knew that you are so vulnerable and insecure. You are right about my miserable life which I am living with hundreds of millions of my

  22. June 19th, 2008 12:56 pm

    let me escape the nostalgia, let me escape the past so painful in the present, oh dear pakistanis, our time travels r but a silence acceptance of a nation’s defeat. Everywhere I go and meet us, we hav nothing to share but nostalgia and even though u have captivated me with your expression, i say lets be happy with what we have today, an identity, a country and hope….

  23. jrashid says:
    June 19th, 2008 3:36 pm

    What is wrong with you people? The guy is trying to convey his affection and gratitude to his father and in doing so he captures a scene from his childhood. That

  24. Qanetah Hashmi says:
    June 20th, 2008 1:35 pm

    Life in Pakistan is not miserable. every country has its own set of issues be they societal or economical or environmental.Mr Ahsan. your written contribution depicts the very attributes that are holding the nation back, that is intolerance. criticize others others and close your eyes to all the adored splenders of life.
    i know myself and i know Muslim, both of us are not escapees. we would have made it any where in life, in any country.
    to put the record straight, our ‘state university’ was not subsidized by your taxes, we paid our tuition fees at the market rate. some of us were combining jobs with work. we even had a class fellow who used to roll beerees and put together kites to finance himself.
    that reminds me to remind you not to forget to pay your tax this year!
    maybe if you stop wallowing in self pity, you can see your fellow country men(nomatter where they are) and view life better. Stop this culture of putting blames on others and then you wont need to write that you are living in Pakistan because of phony excuses like hope in people, love for country etc. Your love does not change with relocation. Nor in your stagnancy lies any valid proof of your immortal love for the land you are living in.
    I hope you take my comments positively. and i hope your life changes for the better. That will be good for you.
    I am so sorry to read that everyone you know is miserable enough, enough to make you write that you are living a miserable life with million other miserable beings. In my life back home,I met a lot of people from all walks of life but i just came across a few miserable people, and their misery was a by product of their own doings or not-doings, and yet i will not dare to assume that everyone is miserable becausing in doing so i will fall prey to ‘the all-ness fallacy’ and make a careless generalization about the whole population being miserable.
    maybe you should do yoga. it helps.
    by the way i met Muslim in Pakistan, he was equally great there too. yet even living there we were sometimes homesick. with your insight i’m sure you will understand.
    so no hard feelings brother, even back home we had tried to make a change and were never deterred due to rebuffs. Pakistan was, is and will always be our first love.
    regards,
    Qanetah

  25. jrashid says:
    June 21st, 2008 9:43 am

    Sad to see such disturbing comments on such a good post. Please mind your own business and do what you got to do wherevr you are in the world…just don’t make judgements on others. Go do somethng better now!

  26. Rizwan Haq says:
    June 22nd, 2008 6:29 pm

    I am so so very proud of you!!!

  27. Qanetah Hashmi says:
    June 23rd, 2008 12:13 pm

    You are right Mr Jrashid, we should call it quits, i mean me and Mr Ahsan. but we are Pakistani, basically emotional. but like Herman Hesse said, there is nothing called absolute truth. its opposite is equally true aswell. its healthy to have a light banter without showing disrespect. I am sorry if i hurt anyone.
    i just lost my temper to read some comments on Muslim’s article. not nly i am an ardent admirer of his writings, but we are very old friends.
    regards,
    Qanetah

  28. ahsan says:
    June 24th, 2008 4:50 am

    Mr.JRashid. This blog and post is open to all to express their views to the liking and disliking of anyone/someome/everyone. There was not anything disturbing about the comments posted here. Without such comments and arguments, this blog would be another Khabarnama or some QTV bigoted program. Somehow, hostilty and aggression brings out the best and the core in us which is this case was not that bad. And no one has to say sorry to anyone becasue no feelings were hurt. And Q.Hashmi, you are right. Our core is very much Pakistani and you can smell it in my sometimes mean and ” kamina ” comments. Mr Muslim unlike the mainstream “muslim” must be a good fella to have an ardent, passionate admirer like you. I respect his ( and yours too) feelings of nostalgia,homesickness and patriotism. Its just that I have seen so many people leave for greener pastures abroad when they were needed here. In the end (ofcourse not the end of my comments on this post or this blog) , I would say that it always feel good and is healthy( as Q.Hashmi said) to show some “feelings of almost human nature…(pink floyd;the wall)”

  29. Hamid says:
    June 26th, 2008 4:15 pm

    Wow, very nicely written.

    It must definitely be a good feeling being a father, especially to a son like yours.

  30. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    June 27th, 2008 3:33 am

    @ why on earth arguing relentlessly on ” common ”
    miseries of all kind, Listen to someone who said

    ” Gio to saaray zamanay ko saath lay kay gio ”

    TRY TO ADJUST WHERE EVER YOU LIVE.

    nostalgia is a degree of momories registered in
    human faculties, with variable experessions, thats all.
    Why making it an issue ?? plain option if,

    YAAD-E-MAAZI AZAAB HAY YA RAB
    CHEEN-LAY MUJH SEY HAFIZA MERA

    KEEP ON ENRICHING YOURSELVES
    WITH YOUR PAST
    Rafay Kashmiri

  31. Harris Siddiqi says:
    April 29th, 2009 12:29 am

    Mr. Rizvi,

    It was very well written indeed. Brings back a lot of memories of my childhood.

    Thank you for a free trip down memory lane.

  32. Monkey says:
    April 29th, 2009 7:46 am

    So beautiful. You’re a very gifted writer. Thank God, I do not live abroad!

  33. Waqas says:
    April 29th, 2009 10:35 am

    Simply excellent, very well written

  34. Ottoman says:
    April 29th, 2009 11:03 am

    Very Nice, I especially agree with the Cold april breaking Spirits

  35. ShahidnUSA says:
    April 29th, 2009 10:15 pm

    Sweet!

  36. ali says:
    April 29th, 2009 11:59 pm

    This article by mr rizvi is as sweet today as it was when it appeared on this blog a few months ago.It made my eyes a little misty then and it made my eyes misty again today,We all have fond memories of our childhood and our parents and living overseas makes us even more homesick and sentimental.
    We certainly hope to read more of mr rizvi`s article on this blog in the near future.

  37. Ishaq Asif says:
    April 30th, 2009 6:54 am

    Very good and well written, but …
    posted again, after one year,
    as I remember sweet words

  38. Ishaq Asif says:
    April 30th, 2009 7:18 am

    Pics in the post are representative of my hometown “Multan”, which is city of sweet Mangoes, where rain means “THAND PROGRAMME” eating mangoes, and “samosey pakorey” drinking “LASSI”and after rain every street and road like swimming pool. I love cricket and spent my childhood playing cricket in the roads and streets of Multan.
    Now I am in Nanjing, China, where weather is hot with frequent rains “laikin phir bhi gali main pani nahi khara hota aur electricity supply bhi cut nhi hoti ” so rain has lost its pleasure, no cricket, mangoes with a strange taste and away from family and friends

    waiting for another very strange summer

  39. Ayaz Abdal says:
    April 30th, 2009 7:27 am

    Muslim…you are bad. After reading these articles of yours, I just want to leave everything and go back. Missed walking on waist deep water outside my home in Karachi in those rainy days…and best of all…April is never that cold…lol

  40. Shahid Ali says:
    April 30th, 2009 9:38 am

    Wow! Muslim, how did you learn to write like Krishan Chander and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi??? A story written in English but with a Urdu (Urdu-e-Muaalla at that) heart and soul. Keep’em coming brother!!!!

  41. Qaisera says:
    May 1st, 2009 7:38 am

    Beautiful memories and wonderfully written. Brought back memories of my own

  42. Imtiaz Ali says:
    September 1st, 2009 6:08 pm

    Muslim … I just read the article …loved it…you have aways been a very creative person …I strongly suggest that you write a book and make us proud !

    All the best

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