Gems and Jewels
Posted August 7, 2011on:
Gems, jewels, diamonds, gold platinum and other precious stones are stuff that add beauty, upgrading the status of that who owns them or wears them, but as it is rightly said that: when wealth is lost, nothing is lost, when health is lost something is lost but when character is lost,everything is lost.
Often the possessor feels arrogant looking down upon the ones who do not have this wealth. Such wealth creates distance between hearts and souls but luckily my gems and jewels are the truly humane human beings, who taught me some great lessons. They purified my soul with their words and deeds.In fact,what I am today is the reflection of my gems’ unobserved character.
Golden memories of my ‘Gems and Jewels’ date back to my childhood. Sabro (meaning the one who is composed and has patience) the middle-aged lady worked in our home as full-time maid. She was very cool, calm and collected and a caring lady. She used to sing Pashto songs in her husky voice and tell me stories of her childhood which were of great interest and curiosity to me.
She not only entertained me with her songs etc, but she carried out her duties very faithfully. Her diligence was unmatched too.Peshawar is in north of Pakistan and it’s one of the oldest cities of the world. Peshawar has all four seasons. Winter is extremely cold n summers are sizzling hot. Autumn is dry and depressing while spring is full of lush green grass with all colors of beautiful mesmerizing sweet-scented flora.
Sabro usually did her stitching and needlework in hot summer after noons after finishing her other duties. Having weak eyesight she found it difficult to thread the needle so always looked at me with a pleading smile to help her. I was always ready to do so. Being a child I was not allowed to play with sewing box. Since this sewing and stitching activity was done in the afternoons so there was no danger of being caught and scolded by my mother. I quietly tiptoed from my bed and joyfully helped Sabro.
Once she got very ill. As no one else could speak or understand Pushto so I was her only friend. She asked me to call her son. She wished to be with her family. Her son came and took her with him. After few days I sent a message for her since I missed her very much and got to know from her same son that Sabro passed away peacefully the day before. He said that Sabro missed me too.
I can still see her kind smiling face in my imagination. I am sure she’s in her finest place in heavens. She was the only friend I had.She cultivated in me that friends are like fragrance having no boundaries, regardless of color, cast religion age or status.
Since we had no neighborhood and I wanted some one to play with so developed friendship with our sweeper’s son Peter. He was my age.Grace the sweeper was a very clean and good-natured woman so was her son. Our Parsi teacher Miss. Narjis Gai taught us that sweepers are the noble class. They are to be respected more as they clean the trash we spread.I religiously followed my teacher’s advice.
My brother used to tease me that he will marry me to Peter when we grow up. I believed him for I loved my brother so much that I did what he said. I had only one objection. It was, that Peter was very dark 😀 though we were very good friends. Fortunately he got married before I did 😀
Grace like her name instilled in my brains that cleanliness is not the feature of the rich community only, where they work or whom they work for but cleanliness is Godliness!
A very tall fair old man having broad shoulders and strong bones with straight posture with white hair and white beard white and eye brows came every weekend with a big basket full of eggs. He sold eggs. He was very handsome. He wore roses in his cap and decorated his basket with roses too. Red roses and white eggs looked beautiful. He called me elder sister though I was a small 9 or 10 year old girl where as he touched his 100th year 😀 An old lady also came to sell eggs, hens and chickens. She was very jealous of that Baba because Baba always came before she did. She would not understand when I told her that, early bird gets the worms :). Grumbling and abusing Baba, she used to leave.
Baba taught me the dignity of labor at every age and in all seasons of life. He did not depend on his sons though he had 5, 6 sons as I recall. He earned his bread’n’butter himself.
The dairy man was another well wisher and my friend. Whenever and whereever I went for shopping or went to my friends’ homes, my nephew, niece, Gulsher and my dog Boofy accompanied me. Every one in Peshawar Mall Road knew us.
It was hot summer day. We all were coming home on foot from my friend’s home. It was common to walk in those days. So the Army dairy milk man dressed in his uniform with big mustaches saw us walking in burning sunlight.
He stopped his horse and carriage. He called us. I missed my heart bit fearing the harsh words from him. He made us sit in the carriage n dropped us home scolding all the way that why were we roaming in the hot summer day. Boofy came home running behind.
In those days any elder person could easily guide scold children for their wrong doing. No matter which class they belonged to, parents would not mind either; rather they thanked their seniors for being so caring.
We were in Mardan. There was an old Pathan lady. Every one called her Adday meaning the aunt. She taught holy Quran. I also availed the opportunity. She had grey hair. Wrinkles on her face but her grace made her very beautiful. When she came to teach Quran she wore black, golden’n’silver embroidered velvet gown in winter and chocolate brown cotton gown in summer. She was small in size and a fragile lady. Walking with a stick she looked adorable. She taught that teacher should be gracefully dressed, punctual and regular no matter be it freezing cold or burning hot.I learnt dedication from her.
The tailor whom we called Lala (meaning brother) was such a gem of a person. He was not a rich man. He practically proved that to say good bye to someone dear to you is to give gift as a token of love and invite them for food.
My husband was transferred to Faisalabad. So before we left Mardan, he invited us over lunch. He brought horse driven carriage for us to take us to his village. He came riding his bicycle behind us. His wife served us luxurious lunch and presented me a healthy hen that laid eggs as a gift. He did not let me pay the fair of the Tonga as I called him brother. In our custom brothers never let their sisters pay for anything.This shows how kind he and his family were. They were real civilized people who believed in traditional values’n’virtues.
Nawaz worked as peon where I served in school as Head. He was a very devoted and hardworking man. He used to call me Sir :). Once he came to my home. He looked around and failed to see any pedestal fan in our home nor did he see any steel pots in the kitchen. So he thought I was very poor. He very kindly sympathized that I was poorer than him too. He over looked all the amenities we had :). He told me that when he gives out charity he will not forget me :). I nodded my head very obediently. I did not want to hurt his innocent bighearted feelings. He did remember me. One day he gently told me in school that he will come on his cycle to take me to his home to feed me with the rich dishes he made to give away in charity. My children asked me after he left that will I sit behind him on his bicycle to go to his home. I said: “yes I will, if he comes.”
He came as he promised but not to take me. He brought with him, hot spicy biryani, sizzling kebabs and cooled custard. We all had delicious lunch with him. Since then he has been like our family member. He has moved to his village in Multan. He calls me often n visits me when ever he comes to Karachi.I cherish his innocence and purity of heart.
Gusher lived with his parents.They were seven brothers including him and had one sister, and they all used to live in our servant quarters. His mother was a very pious woman. She wore white cotton clothes. She washed her children’s clothes and her’s daily and made them take shower daily. Her small quarter had a very neat’n’clean feeling. In hot summer days she used to serve us, the children with crushed ice mixed with brown sugar. It was a treat for us. They did not have electricity or electric fans. We also never felt the need for any fan either, though Allah had provided us with all facilities but life in our times was above all this pomp and show or status complexity.
Her cleanliness and God fearing habits helped her family live a simple and righteous life. Gusher’s brothers are designated at high level posts today due to their hard work and honesty.3 years back when I went to Peshawar they welcomed me warmheartedly. A lavish and plentiful dinner was served with an expensive shawl as a gift by Gusher’s mother. This is tradition of Pathans that they give great respect to their guests and before departing they also present gifts as token of love. I wish them all a very happy fruitful life always.
Other gems of my life are Shahid, Fayyaz, Iqbal and two Irshads. Shahid and Iqbal worked as office boys and Fayyaz worked as their supervisor in the Chinese company where I worked as health consultant.I usually had lunch with them which gave them gratification. Fayyaz daily brought hand made bread for me specially. Shahid always made sure to present me with mangoes and oranges according to seasons from his own gardens in Punjab. Iqbal though working outside Pakistan but he calls me often just to ask my well being. None of us now are in the company but they were true,sincere feelings and the respect we had for each other is still in practice.
One Irshad was sweeper in Hamdard School. When I went after few years to see my friends’n’colleagues she was there too. I embraced her which was like something divine for her though it gave me immense pleasure to see her there after so long. Other Irshad is still working at my daughter’s home. She’s a wonderful lady. She is always smiling and compromising. We leave our house open to her when we go out with full confidence. She’s is very honest and beautiful young lady. I never see her frowning if guests come or she has to do extra work.
I consider myself very fortunate to have come across such great people. They are the ones who should be loved and respected. They are true Pakistanis. I am proud of them all. May Almighty Allah shower His blessings upon them and keep them satisfied with what they have and keep them away from greed and selfishness which prevails all around.