Wednesday, August 2, 2017

An Unwelcome Guest

“Fahd, have you brushed your teeth?” “Yes mom.” Fahd yelled back from his bedroom.

“Okay, son, then good night.” “Good night mom,” Fahd replied slipping into bed, grinning.

He had fooled his mom again. He hadn't brushed his teeth. In fact, he hadn't brushed them in the morning either. He had got up rather late and instead of bothering to clean his teeth properly with toothbrush and toothpaste , he had just rinsed his mouth and rushed out of the bathroom. Not bothering to brush his teeth had become a habit now and while his toothbrush looked new and shiny in the blue ceramic mug on the bathroom shelf, his teeth looked yellow and slightly stained.

Sometime around midnight, Fahd woke up with a start. What had just happened?? He saw a small impish creature looming in front of his eyes. It was holding a spear like thing in his hand. The tiny creature pointed his spear towards Fahd, and the frightened boy felt a sharp jabbing pain on the side of his head and cheek.

“Ow, Ow!! Stop that!” The creature laughed mercilessly and danced about in the air.

“Hello, Fahd. How are you feeling?” It cackled. “Who are you and what you doing in my bedroom?” Fahd asked straining to see clearly in the dark.

“I am your guest and you invited me to come here,” replied the creature. “What? That’s impossible. I don’t know you and I would never invite a…a terrible, ugly and cruel monster like you into my bedroom, “Fahd spluttered.

“But you did, dear boy,” replied the cheeky little creature still dancing in front of Fahd’s eyes. “Are you calling me a liar?|”
“I am telling you. I DID NOT invite you, “Fahd replied furiously.

“Well, you are a little liar, aren’t you?”Said the creature slyly. “You lie everyday whenever your parents ask you if you have brushed your teeth or not. You trade your sandwiches and chicken nuggets for lollipops and candies in school and let your mom think that you eat a healthy lunch.”

Fahd felt very ashamed as well as scared. This creature seemed to know his habits quite well.

“How did I invite you? I mean, did I send an email or a letter or call you by phone?” Fahd asked timidly.

“Oh no, you invite me every time you don’t brush your teeth. Whenever you eat sticky toffees, gummy sweets and lollipops and don’t bother to even rinse your mouth, you send out an invitation to me,” it replied smugly.

Just then, the creature lifted his spear and Fahd again felt a horrible pain on the side of his face again. “Ouch!! Stop that,” he yelled.

“Sorry I can’t. You see you have invited me into your life and now you will have to face the consequences. I am not a pleasant guest to have around and it is quite difficult to get rid of me once I come to stay,” the little monster replied.

Poor Fahd was feeling awful by now. His cheek and neck were throbbing and it hurt even to turn his head. “You still haven’t told me who you are, “he cried desperately, holding a hand to his cheek. “Tch, tch. Haven’t you recognized me as yet? I am Tooth-Ache. Children who don’t brush their teeth regularly and do not practice good oral hygiene habits get to know me very well. I am a great friend to bacteria and plaque that live in your mouth. I like to live in cavities in the teeth and today I have come to stay in the home that you have provided for me,” the creature answered and loomed towards Fahd.

Fahd yelled and tumbled out of his bed and rushed to his parents’ room. His parents were very worried to see Fahd’s face which had swollen due to the massive tooth-ache. They all passed a terrible night.

Next day his mom took him to the dentist who gave Fahd a long lecture about taking care of his teeth and dangers of not brushing them properly. He had to have the cavities filled and it was not a happy experience.

“Now remember Fahd. You must brush your teeth twice a day, especially before going to bed. Also brush them after eating sweets, chocolates and toffees etc. or at least rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid snacking on sugary food stuffs and fizzy drinks that are harmful for the teeth.”

Fahd listened to the dentist’s advice carefully. After all he didn't want any more unwelcome visitors at night. I am sure neither would you!

First published in Dawn, Young World, March 19th, 2015

The essence of patriotism

We all love to celebrate August 14 with great enthusiasm, on individual as well as national levels. We decorate our homes, streets and cars with green and white Pakistan flags. All day long, there are television shows celebrating Independence Day, and TV and radio channels air patriotic songs.

Everyone’s on a holiday and there are many cultural activities as well as picnics in the park.

Many daredevils take to the streets on their motorbikes and indulge in dangerous one-wheeling and create a nuisance for everyone. There are splendid fireworks, and feasts and banquets in our favourite restaurants as many eateries offer special Independence Day deals and discounts.

The next day, however, everything is back to normal and the only sign of our patriotic fervour is seen in the thousands of torn and ragged paper flags that are left carelessly on roads and streets.

Do you ever wonder if this is enough to show our gratitude to our forefathers and our cognisance of the fact that we live in a free country that was achieved after immense sacrifices? Waving flags, painting our faces green and white, releasing green and white balloons in the air … these are the activities that have replaced true patriotism.

So the question is, what is true patriotism? Patriotism means to love your country, serve it to the best of your ability, defend its honour and care deeply for its citizens, natural resources and infrastructure and be proud your nationality.

Waving flags, painting our faces green and white, releasing green and white balloons in the air … these are the activities that have replaced true patriotism
With great privileges, come great responsibilities. If we wish to prove ourselves truly patriotic, we will have to move beyond token celebrations and prove that we are indeed proud to citizens of Pakistan.

Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore

Know your history

You might think history is a boring subject taught by strict teachers in school but to be a true patriotic, you must go beyond memorising textbook dates, names and events to appreciate the story of how we became a nation.

History tells us where we came from and where we are today. We also need to find out the great things people have done in the past and events that shaped our destiny.

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore

Understand the present

Our country faces numerous problems on social, economic, political and even cultural levels. Unless we understand the root causes of these issues, we will not be able to tackle them or resolve them.

Do you ever think about the scarcity of clean drinking water, pollution, deforestation, child labour, crime and other evils that plague our beloved county today? While you are too young to fight these problems, knowledge about them will motivate you to change things for the better in future.


Educate yourself

Probably the best thing you can do for Pakistan is to focus on your education. Education does not only mean going to school with a heavy bag and preparing for tests and exams. It also entails gaining knowledge about latest research in fields of arts, science and technology.

Instead of wasting time on internet, try to learn new skills. You can easily enrol in free online courses that open up new horizons for you. Value your time, your youth and health, and channel these blessings to improve the state of your country.

Faisal Mosque, Islamabad

 Be a good citizen

Do you think you are too young and too insignificant to change the world around you? Just try these small things and see the change you can bring about. Be polite and considerate to your immediate family, neighbours, the elderly and the handicapped.

Be ready to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs help. Be conscientious about saving energy. Teach someone to read and write. You can easily feed a hungry person without starving yourself. Obey traffic rules, make a queue and stop littering.

Satpara Lake

Have a mission

One of the biggest problems our youth faces today is that we lack a mission or a goal in life. We all wait for something to happen or someone to change Pakistan for the better.

Wouldn’t it be better if we are like Easton LaChappelle who made his first robotic hand at the age of 14, using LEGO and fishing wire after meeting a young girl with prosthetic hand?

Or maybe 13-year-old Yash Gupta who started an organisation called Sight Learning which collects used glasses and donates them to children who need them.

Ever heard of Ryan Hreljac who was just six-year-old when he started collecting money for water and sanitation projects in Africa? With the help of few family members, friends and a little dedication, these projects are easy to start and implement. All you need is a goal and the desire to do something for your country.

Other things to do 

Place a small Pakistan flag in your room, especially near your study desk. It will inspire you to work harder and achieve great things.

Learn the national anthem. Although our national anthem is sung in school assemblies every day, many of us cannot recall some words it individually. Know the words of “Pak Sar Zameen”.

Learn patriotic songs. There are some amazing soul-stirring patriotic songs that have been sung by singing maestros such as “Aye Watan, Pyare Watan,” “Hum Zinda Quam Hain”, “Is Parcham Kay Saye Talay Hum Aik Hain”, “Mera Paigham Pakistan”, “Watan ki Mitti”, etc.

Be conscientious about your behaviour, whether you are travelling to another country or are online. Each one of you is an ambassador of Pakistan and your bad attitude, presents a negative image of your country.

Do you know about various cities and towns of Pakistan? How many of them can you actually name or locate on a map? Do you know what they are famous for? Learn about your country and promote its best features through articles, photographs and videos on the internet.

We are all, no doubt, ready to lay down our life for Pakistan but we also need to live for Pakistan, to think and work hard for its development and its progress. When patriotism is sincere and based on true love for the country, it becomes possible for the nation to overcome great problems.

Pakistan zindabad!

First Published in Dawn, Young World, August 13th, 2016

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