My children and I had been very active when we were in Singapore. Having lots of out-of-the-home activities and not having your own car does that to you. Ms M had been taking swimming lessons and Bear too enjoyed the trips to the pool. Moving to Pakistan did nothing to curb their active spirits – they kept busy playing outdoors and gardening. In a burst of inventiveness, they even built their own workshop on the terrace out of bricks, crates and an assortment of tools and cast-off materials.
Still, I longed for them to take up a sport. They missed swimming and I tried to look for lessons, but membership fees to pools/clubs are ridiculous! We paid between $0.80 and $1.50 for entry to pools in Singapore and no time limit was imposed, but here, you pay crazy money to swim for an hour each time you enter.
One day, while shopping for sandals, we spotted a little boy in a karate gi and immediately approached his mother to ask about lessons. She gave us directions and the very next day, we met with the teacher. After a trial, Ms M was enrolled in the Afridi Martial Arts Academy, with Bear to follow later.
The kids attend class 6 days a week. I had balked at the schedule at first but my fears were unfounded – it sounds more gruelling than it really is and at any rate, the pace is necessary. The skills in martial arts can only be mastered with fitness, discipline and consistency. The children learn that they must put in their all if they are to succeed and they learn that they can achieve if they really apply themselves to the task. Even though they feel tired at times – particularly when they have to prepare for exhibitions – there is no doubt that they feel a deep sense of satisfaction when they have learnt a new skill or are able to perfect a move.
It hasn’t been a bed of roses, though. Bear experienced her share of problems. In the week prior to last night’s exhibition, she felt apprehensive and often wept during training. She had not known what to expect and had mistakenly thought she had to perform difficult stunts! Alhamdulillah, she overcame her anxiety – she executed a move called “the bridge” admirably ma shaa Allah and had a whale of a time with her buddies. Today, she declared that she wished there were more exhibitions and that she wanted to attend more. :)
Bear cheerfully waving a flag for the exhibition, nerves and distress banished!
As for Ms M, during the first exhibition in June, she failed to break the tile on her first attempt. I remember another parent crying out, “Oh no!” – no doubt feeling anguish our behalf – and the tension that ensued. Alhamdulillah she squared her shoulders, rallied herself bravely and ma shaa Allah smashed the tile on her second attempt. We were all so proud of her – she had been in the class for about 10 days and had had no idea she was to perform. She was determined to redeem herself during the second exhibition held yesterday, even though we had told her she was already a champion. Alhamdulillah, she broke the tile on her first attempt and performed well in two other demonstrations as well. I was just happy that she was able to relax and have fun with her mates.
Ms M and her karate mate Salar Khan with their new belts
– Salar is the little boy who introduced us to the karate school.
Both were promoted from white to yellow belt yesterday alhamdulillah.
In the past couple of months, my kids have learnt from their classes and the examples of the seniors that being a winner isn’t just about coming in first. It is about fortitude, resilience sheer determination and plain hard work. They have learnt to hang in there and push on when things get rough as they usually do during classes. They have also learnt that every setback teaches them something – while failures delay their goals a little, they are but steps away from success if they can muster up the enthusiasm to bounce back. Alhamdulillah.
May Allah guide our children, strengthen them in faith and give them courage in the face of adversity, ameen.
I haven’t given up on this blog. I had contemplated taking it all down considering I don’t update it as often as I could or should. When I do, my posts are hardly what you would call witty or earth-shaking. I think I will hold on to it for a bit more, though. I’ve had it for a while now and I suppose, it has some sentimental value.
I had not wanted to move to Pakistan this time – I had built a life in Singapore. We had our family and friends, favourite haunts, activities and a cosy place we felt was home. I fully understood the wisdom behind moving and even suggested it long before we were actually compelled to. Still, in my heart of hearts, I wished to remain in Singapore.
I had all sorts of reasons to detest life in Pakistan – the weather wreaks havoc on my health… there is no public transport … there is nowhere to go even if there were public transport… it is inefficient… it isn’t clean… people keep asking me why my kids don’t go to school and treat us as oddities… the kids don’t really have friends here… there ISN’T ANYTHING TO DO!
The funny thing is, relocating to Pakistan for the second time wasn’t all that difficult… rather like slipping into a pair of comfortable old shoes that have grown on me over time. I’ve always told my kids to make du`aa to Allah in good times and bad and alhamdulillah, Allah always gives us what we need when we need it. We asked for friends and alhamdulillah, we were blessed to meet two homeschooling families, a crafting wiz whom my kids delightedly call Knitting Aunty and a sweet sister from Karachi. We dreaded ennui and tedium and alhamdulillah, Allah saved us with an abundant supply of books as well as karate classes which the children love.
I’ve adjusted well enough to finally take my crafting stash out and work on a few projects:
Mended – Ms M’s jeans
I finally patched Ms M’s raggedy jeans. A piece of fabric from my stash, fusible buckram and embroidery floss and we were good to go. Not bad considering I am completely rubbish at sewing!
Last year, I hand-sewed a rag doll for Bear whom we named Choti. She was a cheeky creature and the poor thing was awfully wonky, as most of my endeavours turn out. Still, the kids loved her and brought her just about everywhere they went. On one occasion, a little girl they met at the library took a fancy to Choti. She refused to leave, causing her mum much distress. The girls very kindly gave her Choti. Since then they have begged for a replacement so here is Choti No. 2 in progress.
I still miss Singapore and would probably always prefer it to Pakistan but I think I can concede that I now have two homes and I am more than grateful for both.
< cringe >
I’ve just realised that I must sound very patronising every time I talk about Pakistan. Either I go on and on about how much ‘luckier’ I am than everyone else – mawkish bleeding heart, eh? – or my ungovernable acid tongue goes into overdrive. In both cases, I make my new home sound like a dreadful dump that has its general populace wringing their hands in despair.
< /cringe >
So, I won’t promise to be sugar-and-spice-nice all the time :P – honestly, there are too many things to chuckle about (like our water woes). Anyway, as much as I poke fun at this country, it is always done with some measure of affection.
What I will promise is to be fair and showcase some of Pakistan’s charms… one of which is the Etwar Bazaar, where we got some of these here lovely baskets.
Another post for another day in shaa Allah…
I complain like anything about Pakistan :P
- its dustiness – “I’ve only JUST mopped and my feet are gritty AGAIN!!!”
- the fact that I can’t go out much – why oh why doesn’t Islamabad have the MRT*?
- the drivers – why are they always in a rush? I KNOW they know there’s nothing important they have to get to. My sister-in-law says, “Oh but Bhabhi, they HAVE to rush so they can get home and do nothing.” (She is Pakistani… she can say this, OK?)
- the lack of safety – you read the news… you figure this out…
But… and yes, I say this quite grudgingly… it isn’t so bad here. Yes, there is more poverty than your heart can possibly bear sometimes and there are so many conveniences which I’ve grown accustomed to that I’ve had to forego.
Still, I find that this place keeps me grounded. The people I have met are supremely kind, friendly and sincere, so much so I am often ashamed of my cynical ways and acerbic jibes.
Here, I am reminded of how fragile life is, how hard life can be for many people who live and die poor and without hope, how courageous some people are in the face of struggle and most of all, how very very fortunate I am.
The power went out earlier today (load shedding – the first of many). I was about to get very grumpy when I remembered that last winter, we always took out our sewing when the electricity was down. We’ve brought quite a stash from Singapore. (Ignore the fact that I am rubbish at photography OK?) Just seeing the colourful fabrics and threads made our day :) Alhamdulillah for little blessings.
So, I’ll try to keep busy and to remind myself that I really have it good. :)
* MRT – Mass Rapid Transit … the train/subway in Singapore