The Sun that Rose from the Earth by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

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Dilli ke na the kuche/ Auraq-e-mussavir the, Jo shakl nazar aayi/ Tasveer nazar aayi.

(It wasn’t the lanes and streets of Delhi: It was the pages of an album. Each and every face that one saw was a painting)

-Mir Taqi Mir

Poets and poetry occupy centre stage in this marvellous collection of stories by a celebrated master of Urdu prose. Historical figures such as Ghalib, Mirza Jan-e Janan, Budh Singh Qalandar, Amir Khan Anjam, Mir, Kishan Chand Ikhlas, Haidar Ali Atash and Mushafi compose noteworthy poems, find patrons, make love, fight their enemies, and earn their nourishment. Faruqi has re-imagined these figures as vital, breathing beings, alive in all their flawed splendour.

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The Sun that Rose from the Earth was written in 2001 in Urdu, with the English version translated by the author and published in 2014. The book is a collection of five short stories about Urdu and Persian poets and poetry in the age of the Mughals of India (1526-1857). The short stories are long, with each being novellas in their own right, culminating in 610 pages of text. Each story, with different narrators, imagines the conversations of poets at that time.

The first narrator is Mian Beni Madho Singh, born in 1840 in Nizamabad (Telangana), and living in Cawnpore from 1860. He had escaped the conflict against the British from 1856-1858 in which his entire family died. At the time of writing, on 1918 narrator turned 78 years old. He reminisces about his life, love of poetry, inspirations, and his travel in 1862 to Delhi to visit the superlative poet, Mirza Ghalib, the Nightingale of India. The poetry in this section reflects the decimation of his village, and the loss of life.

The second narrator is 50-year-old Khairuddin who suffers years of poverty. He hears that a mighty horse rider will appear in the bazaar the next day. The belief is that whoever stops the rider, even for a second, and asks for something, will have everything granted to him. This inspires Khairuddin’s first lines of poetry at the age of 20: The rider of everlasting prosperity appeared on the highway / None held his reins to stop him. He rode away. He imagines what he would ask of the rider. Perhaps he will ask for a husband for his sister. He does see the rider and his “awe-inspiring face.” What does he do? He can’t spend his life alone, roaming and wandering, seeing Sufi poet Budh Singh Qalander, can he? Then he meets a woman called Ismat Jahan.

Next comes, Labiba Khanam, deaf at birth and unable to talk, and her daughter Nurus Saadat, from Nakhjaran. Labiba has mixed heritage: Iranian Jews of the Levant, the Iranians of Armenistan, and the Jews and Christians of the Balkans. Her father was “an open opium wreck” and died, with her mother, when she was five years old. She was sold to Zohra the Egyptian. At 13 she heard her first lines of poetry, and at 22 she married Bayazid Shauqi who sang Hafiz and Rumi verses. This, I think is the best story in the collection, as they travel circuitously for three weeks to Tabriz in Iran via Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. Her husband dies when Nurus is three days old, and Labiba moves to Isfahan, where she adopts the singing verses of her late husband, which she knew by heart. She meets the great Hindu poet Kishan Chand Ikhlas. The great Urdu poet Muhammad Taqi Mir falls in love with Nurus. They choose between their lovers and returning to Iran.

Then comes, the title ‘The Sun the Rose from the Earth’ about businessman Darbari Mal Vafa, born in 1793, who moves to Lucknow in 1825 to study under the legendary poet Shaikh Mushafi. His maid Bhoora – with him for almost 30 years – also exchanges poetry with Vafa. He never knows her marital status or her religion and beliefs, which she tells him is not important for poets.

The last story brings women to the fore. Fair, Amazonian-type, strong women from faraway Caucasus or Uzbekistan are the attraction for the 50-year-old narrator Gul Mohammad. He was told he’d never be a poet, so he became a soldier. The time span in this tale is distorted, going from 1521 to 1707 immediately, and is therefore more spiritual and vague.

This is a magnum opus. It is remarkable in fusing poetry from a range of selected Hindu and Muslim Urdu poets with an imagined story by different narrators that bring together their love and learning of poetry with a master poet. The mentor-master relationship is explored, as well as the search for the near-perfect word or phrase that expresses their feelings and emotions.

Judge this book by its cover! At first look, the regal attitude of the handsome Mughal attracts you to the book. One wonders who this person was and what Dastaan defines him. The richness and magnificence of the era bygone is also reflected in the beautiful, intricately woven prose, with its refined language and poetry oozing  with sweetness and sublime joy.

“I am the sun that rose from the earth. But the sky of poetry is bright because of me.”

Shaikh Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi.

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Word of the year 2017 #FridayReflections

I’ve been seriously intrigued by all the “word of the year” posts floating around. Each one seems as poetic as the last, putting so much into one little word. It’s funny how you can really encompass all your desires and goals for a year into a single word. And yet it all seems to fit. I’d like to say I thought long and hard about my word. But that isn’t the case. It kind of just came to me. To me thriving is optimal living. It’s being present and awake and stepping up to be my best self physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively and within my relationships. It’s not a quest for perfection. It’s an opportunity to continue choosing to let go of things outside of my control and to figure out who that best-me-right-now really is. It will be a whole new journey!

I feel like I have been constantly waiting for things to be just right to do something. Instead of trying to wait for circumstances to be just right this year I am committed to doing more than just reacting or surviving. Regardless of how hectic the year may be I am going to thrive.  To thrive is grow or develop well or vigorously. to prosper or flourish. to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances. This word excites me so much! it excites me because it invites progress and growth regardless of surrounding circumstances, which I’ve realized I have very little control of. I want my relationships, my health, and work to thrive in 2017.

Bring it on 2017. It’s what I need to do desperately, what I need to do to make myself better, what I need to do to be happy, successful, and live a full life in the New Year.

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Favourite festival #FridayReflections

Diwali is a festival of lights. Diyas, candles and tiny light bulbs are all over the place. As far as your sight goes, you will see rows of houses decorated with colorful lights. It feels surreal to witness so much of beauty, as if stars descended on earth. I personally love earthen diyas. Lighting 14 diyas with oil and cotton wick is a must for most of the Hindu households.

Paper lanterns, also known as Kandeels deck up our houses. Colorful paper is used to create unique patterns. Not just colourful papers, but metallic papers, cellophane plastic sheets are also used to create Kandeels. They especially come out this time of the year. More than a house, I like looking at them in clusters displayed at a shop. They look so magical, just out from countryside fair.Diwali cleaning is a magnanimous affair. It starts from cleaning the water tank to your toe nail. The entire house is cleaned so that Goddess Laxmi doesn’t decide to skip her visit to your home. You see, Goddess Laxmi has an OCD with dirt. Also, she is allergic to dust mites. No, I am not kidding! At times, due to this cleaning spree we find lost objects or discard old stuff. Most of the times it leads to wardrobe overhaul. You know what I mean.We all are game to go back to our roots and experiment with Indian style and ensembles. Dressing up is so much fun for me. Environmentalists please pardon me, but crackers do mark the festivity. I don’t like the pollution and the noise generated with the crackers. But if community cracker bursting is done at one place for a limited period of time then a lot can be managed in terms of pollution. I do find them extremely beautiful when rockets burst into zillion sparkling stars or anars spew a fountain of sparklys. Who doesn’t love gifts? And Diwali is the best time to give and receive gifts. People exchange gifts with their friends and family. I love this part completely. Doubt is like darkness, Trust is like light, There is no way to destroy light by throwing darkness in to it. So come together and enjoy the festival of lights.

Which is your favourite festival? Do leave a comment below.

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In my bag #FridayReflections

My bag is like my best friend. It comes with me everywhere and holds my stuff in it. One of the keys to a happy and successful life is being organized. When it comes to items in my bag, they are also very minimal and only those which I need. I switch my bags every week but I make sure the items are the same in them.

  1. My wallet and cash holder – 2 of the main essentials.
  2. Chocolates – I love munching something all the time.
  3. Lip balm. Is there anything worse than finding yourself with chapped lips and nothing to salvage the situation? I always have some form of lip conditioner with me at all times.
  4. I feel like it’s more hygienic to use your own pen, plus I like how uniball writes. I’m not a germaphobe, I just think it’s a good idea.
  5. Ipad – This is such a ridiculously nice device, and goes with me just about everywhere.
  6. Book – yes to kill my time in waiting or travelling.
  7. Notepad – I always write by hand. Hence I always carry my journal with me; and if it’s not in my hand, it’s likely in my book-bag.

One thing there is always there is small pack of tissues. There are so many instances when they came to my rescue, especially when I got the case of the sniffs, spilled a drink and needed to wipe my fingers. I never know when I get a headache or muscle cramp. Always have a sheet of painkiller and muscle cream in my bag. I always keep a bunch of bobby pins tied together with a hair tie. I cannot even begin tell you how many times this little bundle has saved me from serious hair hang-ups.

Now it’s your turn to show off the contents of your purse. What do the goodies inside your bag say about you?

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Writers And Gratitude #FridayReflections

ThemeSince today is Thanksgiving Day, write a post on the subject of gratitude. 

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Have you said thank-you to someone to show how grateful you are for them today? It’s such a small thing, but it can have a huge impact on your life, and the life of that person. Can you imagine a world where everyone showed gratitude? If someone did you a kindness, you’d give them a warm smile and say thank you. If you were having a bad day, someone else would take time out of her life to comfort you, out of gratitude for a kindness you did her yesterday. People would still get angry, or sad, but would know to find ways to be grateful, even in difficult situations.

I know, I’m an idealist, and such a world will never exist. But that’s OK. I can accept the world as it is and at the same time, show my gratitude for what a wonderful world we have.

1. I do a little ritual: I just close my eyes, and take a couple of minutes to think of the people and things I’m grateful for. That includes those who’ve donated to this site, as well as all you readers. And of course, my loved ones, and others in my life.

2. You know, it’s nice to get a little note thanking you for something you did. You don’t need to send someone a formal thank-you card but just a little note saying thank you for a specific thing the person has done for you can go a long way. And it only takes a minute!

3. You don’t even have to thank a person you can thank life itself! Wake up, and greet the day with gratitude. Be thankful you’re alive!

4. Give a little gift. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but a little gift can be a tremendous gesture.

5. Who doesn’t love public praise? Find a way to acknowledge the contributions of someone, to show your gratitude, in a public way in your office, among friends and family, on your blog.

When life gets you down, when your hurt or angry or confused or frustrated, take a moment to stop and close your eyes and find things to be thankful for. Your health, your family, your job, the roof over your head, the fact that you’ll have a next meal, the beauty of the world around you, the good people in your life. Whatever you can think of, be thankful for them and express that gratitude somehow. Realize that all is not bad in this world, and be happy for that.

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Everybody Writes #FridayReflections

Prompt: List 10 things you hope to be remembered for. 

  1. I want to be remembered for writing a novel. It doesn’t have to be a success. It doesn’t have to be good. However, I want to write one and I want to put it out there to be able to say, at least I tried. If the first one goes well, and I have the energy left in me to write another then I will. If no one picks me up for publishing, then I’ll just self publish. In my book, that still counts and I’ll have achieved something I want to be remembered for.
  2. I would like to be remembered by making people laugh. Really making people smile or laugh is one of my TOP things I enjoy about life. It makes my heart flutter to see someone else’s face light up or to hear a little chuckle.
  3. I hope in general that people know I loved them and cared about them. Everyone means something to me. I would give anything required to someone if I knew they needed it. I believe in helping others and I want people know that I always put everyone else before myself! Sometimes that is a not so good thing and sometimes it is a great thing. Just know that I did that by choice.
  4. I would like to be remembered as a friendly person. Someone who speaks to everyone and always tried to make everybody feel like somebody.
  5. I  love my family and friends to the moon and back. Even though I feel the circle has become significantly smaller it’s not about the type of my group of people. It’s the ones that make an effort to let me know they are there. Their love and support covers mountains.
  6. I would like to be remembered as a good friend, some who is dependable and trustworthy.
  7. You can live a thousand lives if you read. I want to live a thousand and one. Reading has always been something I’ve been passionate about. There have been times when I have trouble finding the time to fit it in, but it always makes its way back to me. The stories stick with me for years and shape the way I live and the way I think about lives. These are things I’d never want to give up.
  8. In a world full of close-minded, judgmental people, I’d like to be remembered for being open-minded. I try to see every side of an argument and then make my decision based on what I think makes the most sense. Based less on feelings and emotions and based more on logic and facts.
  9.  I know that I’m a influencer. We all are. We all have influenced, do influence or will influence someone at some point in our lives. Probably lots of someones. Probably lots of someones we don’t even know, and I want to be an influence for good.
  10. I always try to see both sides of an argument and being fair. I hope that I am remembered for being fair and for always seeing both sides of the argument.

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Linking the post to Friday Reflections for prompt by WriteTribe 

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A True Alchemist? #FridayReflections

Prompt for this week: 1. If you were an animal what would you be an why

We’ll miss the dolphins very much if they were ever extinct. We would miss the dolphins because we would never hear the happy chirping sound they make, we couldn’t feed them anymore, and, most of all, there would be nothing to lighten up our day, something to make us laugh in delight, or smile from ear to ear, if we were having a gloomy and sad day. Yes, we will miss the dolphins very much if they were gone forever.

Waves flowing water sketch sea ocean and two dolphins colored background vector illustration

If I could be any animal I would be a dolphin. I could spend all day every day in the water if I wouldn’t turn into a raisin! Dolphins swim freely and are so majestic. I’ve always been fascinated by them. They are so beautiful to watch listen to as they communicate with each other. Another reason why I would want to be a dolphin is because they are strong and incredibly intelligent. The dolphin lives a simple life, consisting mostly in eating, sleeping, and procreating (dolphins, along with humans, are one of the two animals known to have sex for pleasure). The distinction is clear; dolphins won’t surpass human beings in intelligence in a billion years, because they already have.

Funny thing about dolphins: when they’re around, they always manage to make us smile! If you’re sad or gloomy or having a very bad day, a dolphin’s face will surely make your spirits soar high, out of this world! If you don’t believe me, look at the dolphins as they swim around the tank. Even if you didn’t smile that much on that day, and if you don’t smile, you are going to find yourself hearing a laugh be pulled from your throat. If you don’t laugh, then I’m sure you’ll at least smile. Dolphins always manage to make us excited. If the dolphins were wiped away from the face of the earth, different people all around the world would be crying and wishing that the dolphins would return to existence—maybe not all people, but some. Dolphins are endangered because of fishermen tossing out nets. The dolphins become tangled with it and drown—because dolphins are mammals like us, and they need to breath air every once in a while. Dolphins also beach themselves because they were majorly injured by something or someone. We need to help these dolphins, just as they had helped us, by helping to bring more happiness to our world.

Linking the post to Friday Reflections for prompt by WriteTribe 

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FAVOURITE WORD – LOVE

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Love doesn’t hurt; on the contrary, it is amazing! It is the absence of mutual love that hurts. Love is very a powerful and yet beautiful emotion. Love is a bond between two people that goes beyond logic and reason, one that overwhelms the mind and senses enough to do things that are inappropriate. You cannot choose who you love, and you cannot choose to just stop loving someone.

When only one person out of these two have this emotion they might not realize that the other might not reciprocate and it is this naivety that blinds them from the plain and simple truth that they might get hurt as if they were in a relationship that doesn’t mean anything what so ever! When/if they do get hurt then they can’t understand why this person, who apparently loved them, did what they did. The answer is quite simple: Either that other person doesn’t reciprocate or they need reminding that what they are doing to those that they love the most is in fact hurting them! If they change their ways, at least enough to show that they desperately want to try, then they love you back. If they don’t then they don’t love you back. The main thing to KNOW, is that you are NOT the only one who has ever, or WILL ever, feel this way. Love does hurt especially if you have been betrayed by the one person that you felt was your life. it hurts the most especially when you put all your time an effort in order to try to make the other person as happy as they can be and regardless of all that work the one you love is not able to see how much you love them and they betray you.

To conclude, Love should never hurt. Your words, your actions, your doubt’s, insecurities, not wanting to really hear someone, respect someone, is what HURTS the other person and therefore, hurts the relationship. Love to me means learning what you and the other person you’re involved with truly are inside and changing the things that don’t work for the betterment of your relationship. Unfortunately the word love is used far too often or perhaps the bond associated with that word is perceived to be far stronger that it actually is.

Linking the post to Friday Reflections for prompt by WriteTribe 

“This post is for Day 9 of UBC and Daily Chatter

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20years from now

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My first reaction is definitely hilarity. It tickles me to imagine what I will be like twenty years from today. Reactions of course, vary from person to person. One might readily wait to say that they would like to roll in wealth; another might venture to say they would be privileged person in power. But I would think of myself in a diverse light. I cannot deny that there will be some visible changes in my physique. Perhaps, I would be gray a little at places. Some people really get scared at the very thought of their advancing age. They think that it is a stepping stone to senility which brings a decline in life, but I view it in a positive way, as the real life begins at forty and I will be 53. I have not made any blue print of my future but I am sure actions of my present will certify me success in the coming years. Twenty years therefore I will be master of my fortune. I intend to dip myself in something greater than my own mind to get reliable sources of motivation. I may or may not be lucky now but twenty years thus I will have explored a lot of my inner room and optimistically enriched my life significantly.

“This post is a part of #writingwednesdays at WriteTribe” 

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Photography a myth

Theme: Jean-Luc Godard said : “Photography is truth”.  Agree or disagree?

Photography was initially thought to be a method to objectively represent truth and actuality, absolutely untouched by the perspective of a photographer. However, photographers tend to manipulate their photos in many ways, from selecting what to they’re going to shoot to manipulating the resulting image by using computer digitalization. The inherent manipulation of photography brings about questions relating to the disposition of truth. Every art form manipulates reality as a way of revealing truths not readily apparent to the untrained eye. Today’s photography has pretty much become a postmodern form of art and postmodernism asserts truths do not inevitably last, however truths shift and adjust with cultural changes. These truths which last are typically expressed in mythic archetypes and themes.

One form of manipulation has been vast improvement in film itself, with the ability to adjust for scratches or other types flaws of the film. Another rationale for this sort of image manipulation is for enhancing any subsequent degradation that take place when depicting three-dimensional actuality in a two dimension photo. Photographers intercede in every photograph that they create, whether through orchestration or directly manipulating the scene being acquired; by selecting, excluding, cropping, and in other methods of making pictorial selections as they shoot the photograph; and then by suppressing, enhancing, and cropping the final photo in the darkroom. Finally, they add captions and other types of contextual elements to anchor a potential meaning while discouraging another. While a photograph, professes to portray truth, in actuality entails manipulation of both message and object.

Even as a photographer attempts to precisely capture a scene, he may entirely miss out the real meaning of a scene laying in front of him. “Photography, even the most faithful type, can convey truths even when the facts may be erroneous while on the other hand, can be quite erroneous as to the core of a setting despite having the facts correct. Manipulation of photography could therefore be necessary as a way to depict a setting or subject as truthful as possible. Events don’t always appear to be self-explanatory or clear in photos, and devoid of captions many photo become ambiguous. In an Ironic twist, a photographer may feel obliged to manipulate an image as a way of representing a subject or setting as authentically as possible.

“This post is a part of #writingwednesdays at WriteTribe” 

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