Life lessons after nine years of marriage

Originally written for: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/life-lessons-after-nine-years-of-marriage-1.1294813

Life lessons, every step of the way

Life lessons, every step of the way

So it’s been nine years since we tied the knot. It seems like only yesterday I stumbled awkwardly towards the stage in impossibly high heels, struggling with the dress and wondering why you couldn’t get married in jeans. As a kid I had always told my family, “I will get married in jeans and a T-shirt!” Needless to say, things don’t always go according to plan, and if I were to say that the last nine years have been anything I could have imagined or planned out, I would be lying.

I will take this opportunity to reflect on some of the most valuable lessons that I hope to have absorbed over the past few years. It should be noted that this article is not in any way marriage advice, simply because the person writing it is still a work in progress and is in no way qualified to give it. It is in fact a mere contemplation of my own understanding of relationships.

Easily the most important lesson that comes to mind is: it’s not always about me. Once you get that abnormally large obstruction called ‘ego’ out of the way, you are open to admitting your own misgivings, learning and moving on. And when you look beyond yourself, you begin to understand the other person. It takes a lot of emotional depth to not judge a person who behaves badly. There are days when arguments spiral out of control, times when it appears that people are picking on you without a reason. On days like those, for a moment stop thinking about how unbearably wronged you feel. The other person might have had a disastrous day, try putting yourself in their place. And oh – if you learn to forgive, you’d save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and probably a few white hairs too.

Living in the same space with another person requires a tremendous amount of adjustment. You both need your space, and the freedom to pursue your hobbies without the interference or involvement of your spouse. Adjustment also means putting up with your partners quirks – there comes a point when you stop complaining about your partner’s habits simply because you have realised the importance of having a harmonious household. You stop making those snide comments about the unmade bed not because you’ve stopped caring about it but mostly because you don’t want your children to see you bickering over little things. You let the little matter of him not putting the sugar bowl back slide, too. You’re not always quiet though – you’re just more choosy about when your open your mouth. You pick your battles. You can certainly make yourself heard when it really matters, and with good effect too!

If I were to take this discussion further and enter the realm of that inexplicable feeling called love, my input on that would be far too sarcastic and cynical to be palatable. Suffice it to say that in a relationship, what you give is what you get, and especially when you start out, invest in your bond in a positive way. By invest I mean learn to tolerate the other person, be decent, try to get along – and brownie points if you smile when you do that! 

Possibly the single greatest factor in making me positive when things have looked bleak is learning to be thankful for my blessings. It’s easy to overlook blessings such as eyesight and a warm bed, and it’s easy to forget that you are better off than millions of others. Life is full of ups and downs and when you hit rock bottom, remember that it could have been worse. That realisation gives you the strength to go on, and it helps you stop wallowing in that pit of ugly comfort called self-pity. Learning to be happy, staying happy and letting your contagious feeling of positivity spill over others is a win-win for everyone.

I’d like to conclude with the thought that it’s still early days and I am learning. With every day, I discover new reasons to be happy and hopeful and conversely, I stumble upon reasons to be the opposite.

The road ahead seems anything but simple and I fall frequently and embarrass myself with painful regularity. It’s nice to have a hand to lift you up when you do fall, and it’s nice to know that there is someone you can count on. Life, despite its overwhelming (scary?) sense of responsibility is infused with meaning and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Here’s to many more happy, meaningful, and satisfying years together.

Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?

favours of your lord

I look up in wonder at the sky,

I want to connect and I want to say so much,

I want to say sorry and I want to give thanks,

Words fail me my Lord; I somehow go blank.

 

My own silliness and my own mistakes line up before me,

All too obvious in hindsight, ironically,

Incredulous, I know how You still didn’t let me fall,

Oh Allah, You listened even when I was unable to call.

 

I made promises, and I vowed to mend my ways,

I broke my word countless times, but to You is all praise,

You didn’t judge me – you dealt with mercy and with love,

A love so complete, so powerful, that I am unworthy of.

 

You bless me my Rabb, with every passing moment,

I while away this wonderful gift of life in thankless enjoyment,

A discomfort so deep nestles within my humiliated heart,

I’ve taken things for granted and I haven’t played my part.

 

But does it matter ya Allah, if I say sorry yet another time?

Is there a way to fully convey the ghastliness of my crimes?

Is there a way to turn back, when I know I’ve ventured too far out?

Allah I know You understand the profound embarrassment that I speak about.

 

But I talk to You this day with hope and with yearning,

Knowing that to the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful I am turning,

Who forgives, forgets, cleanses me, even when I’m wrong, so wrong,

Please hold me once more Ya Allah — to You I belong.

 

I’ve messed up time and again, and I’ve not amended myself,

Yet there’s no despair in Your mercy, You said so Yourself,

I need miracles, I need more chances, and I need Your helping hand,

Mercy that befits You my Lord, indeed You are grand!

 

Don’t let me down, don’t let me turn astray,

Why I am unable to bend and why is it that I cannot pray?

I call on You in humility, defeated, undone by my own madness,

Still holding on to the ultimate hope of Your greatness.

 

My Lord words fail me again everything seems inadequate,

But You comprehend what lies beneath my tears, unstoppable and adamant,

I’ll leave it at that, Wallahu Aleemum Bi Dhaat is Sudoor,

My heart, and all its dirt and blackness — awaits your dazzling Noor.

Flowers in Dubai

Hey All!

I hope life’s been treating you well. The Dubai Miracle Garden opened recently to visitors. It is a pretty amazing place and has more flowers than I have ever seen in one place! My pics don’t really do justice, but I hope you like them all the same.

-Mehmudah

Lots of people... lots of flowers

Lots of people… lots of flowers

 

 

Ask dusk approached, I thought I'd try and get a silhouette

Ask dusk approached, I thought I’d try and get a silhouette

 

 

I liked this one though. Simple things are often the best.

I liked this one though. Simple things are often the best.

 

 

With a point and shoot and bad light, this wasn't a particularly easy pic to take. It's not as good as I would have liked but it's a start :)

With a point and shoot and bad light, this wasn’t a particularly easy pic to take. It’s not as good as I would have liked but it’s a start :)

 

 

There were lots of flowered things.. a clock, a car, a house (this one) and many other things made of flowers. I was in a bad mood that day and feeling sick too. Plus it was nearly twilight so my camera suffered.

There were lots of flowered things.. a clock, a car, a house (this one) and many other things made of flowers. I was in a bad mood that day and feeling sick too. Plus it was nearly twilight and we left quickly… so not many pics…

 

I realize I am being apologetic about my pictures lol! I love this photo :)

I realize I am being apologetic about my pictures lol! I love this photo :)

 

 

I don't really like this one (various reasons) but I'm uploading it to show you the amount of flowers...

I don’t really like this one (various reasons) but I’m uploading it to show you the amount of flowers.

 

 

The park was nicely structured..

The park was nicely structured.

 

 

Sea of flowers... good weather too :)

Sea of flowers… good weather too :)

For more information: http://www.dubaimiraclegarden.com

Still waiting to get a bite…

Originally published here: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/still-waiting-to-get-a-bite-1.1247838

IMG_5441

It was a lovely sight… you could actually see hundreds of fish!

Fish hate me. It’s either that or just the fact that I’m really, really bad at fishing. How else would you explain the fact that I was unable to catch a single fish in a place where the sea was so full of fish you could actually see them beneath the clear waters?

The recent Eid holiday saw better weather in the UAE than we’ve had in months, and that meant only one thing: explore the outdoors and leave the malls for another time! As we drove along the Sharjah corniche, we saw a multitude of people fishing. Rods were stuck into the sand, kept still for a bite as families enjoyed picnics and barbeques.

It seemed idyllic – catch your own dinner, grill it over the coals, and live it up! But we did not own any angling equipment and neither did we have any information on how to go about organizing our little fishing picnic.

IMG_5434

Crabs made a threesome

After some Googling and Youtubing, we became the proud owners of a brand new carbon fishing rod, complete with extra fishing lines, (so the whole family could fish together) plus hooks and sinkers – the whole lot to get us started! The guy who sold it to us was a fishing enthusiast whose latest fantasy was catching sharks. He talked us through the basics (I think he saw our enthusiasm coupled with complete lack of angling know-how) and had pity on us.

 The spot we chose was perfect for fishing. In the pristine, unspoilt waters of Dibba port, we could clearly see that the area was teeming with marine life. There were schools of fish visible to the naked eye, swimming over plants and rocks on the sea-bed. Around us local fishermen were catching lots of fish (their dinner I presume) without even breaking a sweat. If this wasn’t a great place to get started and boost our confidence, I don’t know what was.

The rod was cast, the hopes were up. Every little jerk of the line conjured up visions of a large fish that I would surely catch. The extra lines were also thrown into the water – with a little help from YouTube, we knew exactly how to set up the hook, line and sinker. Excitedly, we waited for a bite. And waited… and waited.

Dibba port

Dibba port

Around us people were catching fish after fish, indeed one fisherman actually had a plastic bag that was full of his catch for the day! And we were casting our lines again and again, hoping to get lucky. Smiles waned a little; the sun suddenly began feeling hot. Mental images of the big fish evaporated, I would now settle with a small fish (any of the little ones I could see in the water, would do – you can’t call me choosy) but every time there was tension in the rods it was invariably because some smart fish ate my bait and didn’t get caught in the hook, or because the sinker got stuck between the rock crevices.

After a long time, we decided we had had enough. The others around us also had enough, mostly because they had caught sufficient fish and sundown was approaching. As we were about to pack away, the unthinkable happened. My husband’s fishing line twitched. In spite of myself, I started getting excited. The kids began cheering — did we finally catch something? Or was it one those moments when the sinker gets stuck somewhere and your heart begins beating faster and you pull back your line – only to find your hook and sinker gone?

Check out the clearly visible marine life...

Check out the clearly visible marine life…

 Slowly, he pulled in the line. We held our collective breaths as a tiny fish, no larger than my finger had somehow entangled its fin in my husband’s hook. Photos of the catch were taken, celebrations followed as the little blue fish wriggled helplessly (and slimily) from the hook. It certainly did not look edible, and the local fishermen confirmed that. As we let it go back into the sea, I realised angling could be addictive, and it teaches you so much about life.

Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t beat plain good luck, and waiting patiently usually yields results. And the idea that spending time outdoors helps you bond as a family? I’ve fallen for it — hook, line and sinker!

(Photos and text by me)

At Khorfakkan, UAE

Khorfakkan has a gorgeous beach and the boat ride’s lovely too.  I hope you like the photos!

Where the mountains meet the sea

Where the mountains meet the sea

The island at Khorfakkan

The island at Khorfakkan

So lovely when the water touches my toes...

So lovely when the water touches my toes…

I added a bit of drama to the sky...

I added a bit of drama to the sky…

Yes, I edited this a bit...

At the beach

Happy Independence Day, Pakistan!

It’s the 14th of August, the day Pakistan was born and I pray for my beloved country. For peace, for prosperity, for guidance, and for happiness. For safety in Pakistan, for its people to be protected, for the land to become a haven of safety and security. For resurgence.

pakistan

Feel free to share the pictorial!

The metallic macaroons

Appearances can be misleading. These were not so great to eat. Unfortunately... lessons in baking learnt!

Appearances can be misleading. These were not so great to eat, unfortunately…! Lessons in baking learnt!

I used freshly dessicated coconut, and I added some from the packet too… I think it was the packet one that was probably spoilt the macaroons.

Girls helped out... we made a big mess, but it was fun. I ended up burning them slightly from the base. Oh well, there's always another time! :)

Girls helped out… we made a big mess, but it was fun. I ended up burning them slightly from the base. Oh well, there’s always another time! :)

 

As a kid I loved coconut macaroons. Now my taste is less sweet, more bitter... these were for the girls mostly.

As a kid I loved coconut macaroons. Now my taste is less sweet, more savoury and more bitter… these calorie-laden metallic macaroons were for the girls basically. They weren’t exactly crazy about them. lol

 

Another lesson learnt — what tastes good raw, may not taste so good when baked! The coconut mixture we prepared was actually quite yummy.

Flowers on Eid

To all readers and friends,

Eid Mubarak! 

How was Eid? Well, mine’s been a bit boring to be honest. Never mind though, it’s been good to chill out a bit. Ramadan was kinda hectic, yet I am so sad it’s over. Eid ul Fitr is a kind of tug of war for me — on the one hand I’m depressed that Ramadan is over, and then at the same time, I am happy because it’s Eid.

Hope you enjoy the following photos!

flowers1

So if you think I received all of these lovely flowers for Eid, umm no. I was clicking at the flower arrangements in a hotel. :) Oh and this was before Eid. But I figured this was a good time to share these photos.

Never really photographed flowers before... Not much anyway

Never really photographed flowers before… Not much anyway. I think I’d enjoy it.

Always thought I'd wait for the right camera you know.. DSLR and stuff... but I think my point and shoot ain't doing too badly here. Especially in bad light

Always thought I’d wait for the right camera you know.. DSLR and stuff… but I think my point and shoot ain’t doing too badly here. Especially in bad light.

I feel that detail in this could have better, besides I'm not too crazy about the composition of this picture.

I feel that detail in this could have better, besides I’m not too crazy about the composition of this picture. Don’t want to whine about the camera…honest

This was a beautiful bunch, flowers make me smile.

This was a beautiful bunch, flowers make me smile.

I like these tones. You?

I like these tones. You?

Which night? Can’t really be sure! Let’s redouble our efforts!

As Ramadan creeps away, I know just one thing… we can’t really ever be sure about things like Laylatul Qadr…. Different for different time zones, very ambiguous, can’t really say whether we have rays or not! Which means only one thing — lets redouble our efforts for the last moments of Ramadan!

You never really know about stuff like Al Qadr do you? What if 27th Ramadan is a rayless sunrise in some parts of the world? What if the 25th looked this way because of the clouds? Then if God Forbid, I haven’t spent the real Laylatul Qadr night in the right way, I know I’m going to feel like the biggest loser EVER! May Allah guide us, Ameen.

Guys, its Ramadan slipping away. Make the most of it. It could be the change your life (and mine!) needs. And for now, at least, I am removing the sunrise pictures from my blog. Hope you understand.

-Mehmudah

Scroll below for some pearls of wisdom on this whole sunrise thing… thanks to the Shaykh

Dua for Laylatul Qadr

Dua for Laylatul Qadr: Allahumma Innaka Afuun, Tuhibbul Afwa, Fa’fu Anni

Let’s not worry about the sun… and worry about our sins!

By Shaykh Abu Eesa

Just a quick note but signs or ‘alamaat or their amaarah are signs. That’s all. It doesn’t necessitate the kind of sun-spotting culture that we’ve seen develop recently. We have nothing from the Salaf to suggest such actions and it amazes me that people would think that our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who locked himself in the Masjid for these ten nights was busying himself outside trying to justify to himself what just happened when his actions showed everything to the contrary. The Night is *sought* not by looking at the signs but by increasing in ‘ibadah throughout the nights. ALL the nights, as I explained in my lecture previously.

Also people really don’t have a clue what they’re looking for. In cities, with light pollution, never looked at the Sun before until that night and suddenly becoming an expert on its rays, using a plethora of different cameras which all have various lenses and filters which affect the picture you see etc etc. This is not how our Deen works. It works on effort. Follow. The. Sunnah. We don’t have a single report of our forefathers getting publicly excited by what might have happened the night before. Instead we saw them more and more determined to keep at it.

Also you are opening a door which shouldn’t be opened in front of the basic masses. Your Sun looks great, but what about mine? It’s thunder there and I’m sunning it here. I feel terrible and restless (was that a lack of sleep?) and you’re feeling so chilled and relaxed in your city (you would if you slept all day!). So it was Laylat’l-Qadr for you, and not for me? Have you seen when folks started asking such questions to those who spread this new culture, there’s silence. Why? Because they don’t have an answer. This is not the Sunnah and anything which is not the Sunnah will always cause more confusion and depression than actually following the Sunnah. Some things are just meant to be read, believed in and move on. We know that Allah jalla wa ‘ala descends from above His throne every last part of the night. My night or your night? 24 hr descending? The Sun makes Sajdah every day, that’s why we don’t see it. Making Sajdah all the time then, because it is always absent somewhere in the world? And when we see it, is it not making Sajdah? Laylat’l-Qadr signs are there for you and not for me. Does it change? There are different days the Qadr is decreed even though the emphasis is clearly on one moment?

This is what happens when you don’t follow the Sunnah. We believe in all of the above. We hear and we obey. We read, listen, believe and then act upon them like the Prophet did. And just to finish, ask yourself have any of the Ahl’l-’Ilm (the People of Knowledge, the major scholars) promote such actions or a culture. Of course not.

Anyway, like I said above. This is not the action of the Sunnah. I didn’t say it was haram. Folks wanna chill, let them chill. I’m just saying this sort of culture does not befit practising Muslims or students of knowledge. And they all know deep down exactly why. That’s all. No biggie. Kinda.

Allahu a’lam.