Beyond Stars [Wings of Gabriel]

ستاروں سے آگے جہاں اور بھی ہیں
ابھی عشق کے امتحاں اوربھی ہیں
Sitaron Se Agay Jahan Aur Bhi Hain
Abhi Ishq Ke Imtihan Aur Bhi Hain
[Beyond stars, there are other worlds to behold, Many struggles lie ahead in the path of love!]
تہی زندگی سے نہیں یہ فضائیں
یہاں سینکڑوں کارواں اور بھی ہیں
Thi Zindagi Se Nahin Ye Fazaen
Yahan Saikron Karwaan Aur Bhi Hain
[These winds do not lack life. Hundreds of other caravans are here!]
قناعت نہ کر عالمِ رنگ و بو پر
چمن اور بھی آشیاں اور بھی ہیں
Qana’at Na Kar Alam-e-Rang-o-Bu Par
Chaman Aur Bhi Ashiyan Aur Bhi Hain
[Do not be content with the world of hues and fragrance. Other gardens there are, other nests, too!]
اگر کھو گیا اک نشیمن تو کیا غم
مقاماتِ آہ و فغاں اور بھی ہیں
Agar Kho Gya Ek Nasheeman To Kya Gham
Maqamat-e-Aah-o-Faghan Aur Bhi Hain
[Why be sad upon losing a single aerie? There are other places to lament and sigh!]
تُو شاہیں ہے، پرواز ہے کام تیرا
تیرے سامنے آسماں اور بھی ہیں
Tu Shaheen Hai, Parwaz Hai Kaam Tera
Tere Samne Asmaan Aur Bhi Hain
[You are a shaheen, soaring high is your specialty. Heavens stretch out before you!]
اسی روزوشب میں آُلجھ کر نہ رہ جا
کہ تیرے زماں و مکاں اور بھی ہیں
Issi Roz-o-Shab Mein Ulajh Kar Na Reh Ja
Ke Tere Zaman-o-Makan Aur Bhi Hain
[Do not get caught in today’s and tonight’s tangling. There are times and places ahead of you!]
گۓ دن کہ تنہا تھا میں انجمن میں
یہاں اب میرے رازداں اور بھی ہیں
Gaye Din Ke Tanha Tha Main Anjuman Mein
Yahan Ab Mere Raazdaan Aur Bhi Hain
[Those days are no more, when I was a lone star. Many here are my confidants now!]

This is a poem by one of the most famous poets after Rumi, in the East. Allama Iqbal a philosopher and a poet. This is an excerpt from Baal-e-Jibril (Wings of Gabriel). Shaheen is a subspecie of Eagle family. It’s native to the Indian Subcontinent, China, Burma and Srilanka. Shaheen is unique because it can fly upto a speed of 200 mph. Shaheen makes it nests in high elevations. Here, Iqbal presents Shaheen as a metaphor to latent human potential.

I thought of reading and translating this poem because I haven’t posted anything for over a month. This poem serves me a reminder to not get caught up in daily trappings. It reminds us to not get complacent, not lament over lost things. There is much more life will offer, so long as you embrace the blessings and be grateful.

If you want to read more motivational poems like this. Share and comment. Perhaps next time, I will pick one of his famous Persian poem. 👇

A collection of Iqbal’s Farsi poetry

Thoughts of a drug addict

The cravings kicking in again. What do I do? Do I listen to it? How do I resist it? I will try smoke a roll up instead.

Rolls some tobacco in a small rizla, sparks it. Takes the first puff, a sigh of relief. Yes…feel better. It’s 11 am only. I was up late. I can’t remember what time I fell asleep, but I definitely didn’t sleep much. My room’s a mess. There’s stuff lying around everywhere. I need to get my act together. I have an appointment with my GP and social worker later. I need me meds. The pain is getting intolerable. It’s pricking my legs and lower back. I can’t do without me meds.

Finishes the cigarette and eyes meet the glass and a bottle of whisky lying neatly on the coffee table. One morning drink would do me good. It will numb the pain a bit. I never drink to get drunk. I just drink to swish my mouth with the taste of whisky. I only drink scotch. I drink neat. On the rocks, no mixers. No Coca-Cola, no red bull, a bit of water. That’s a healthier choice. I am putting too much stuff in my body already. I still think about what I put in myself. Got to make better choices where I still have control. I am not addicted to sugar. Sugar addiction apparently, is worse than cocaine. I have read many articles on it. Some say it is, while others claim it may not be the case. Anyhow, consuming sugar in excess is definitely not healthy, and it deals with the same pleasure and reward systems in the brain like cocaine and other addictive drugs. Here’s one article, it talks about sugar’s effects on the brain and body.

Here’s another piece- this one’s rather simple in findings and explanation.

Purpose of review: To review research that tests the validity of the analogy between addictive drugs, like cocaine, and hyperpalatable foods, notably those high in added sugar (i.e., sucrose).

Recent findings: Available evidence in humans shows that sugar and sweetness can induce reward and craving that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs. Although this evidence is limited by the inherent difficulty of comparing different types of rewards and psychological experiences in humans, it is nevertheless supported by recent experimental research on sugar and sweet reward in laboratory rats. Overall, this research has revealed that sugar and sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive. At the neurobiological level, the neural substrates of sugar and sweet reward appear to be more robust than those of cocaine (i.e., more resistant to functional failures), possibly reflecting past selective evolutionary pressures for seeking and taking foods high in sugar and calories.

Summary: The biological robustness in the neural substrates of sugar and sweet reward may be sufficient to explain why many people can have difficultly to control the consumption of foods high in sugar when continuously exposed to them.

Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Jul;16(4):434-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c8b8. PMID: 23719144.

What the hell am I doing, exploring sugar addiction? It’s a multi billion dollar industry. From baby food to sweets, to desserts to doughnuts. Sugar is everywhere….

Sweet Lord!

Does it even matter? When I am addicted myself! Addicted to this, addicted to that, and now I am addicted to ?? What’s next? Definitely not sugar! I am sweet enough 😌.

Where’s that from? Oh yeah! Brick Top from Snatch. I thought it was Lock, Stock, Two Smoking Barrels, but this just shows how smoked my memory is.

Good memories, that movie’s a classic. Helps me forget about my addictions briefly, it does! Pours whisky, Johnnie Walker into the glass. Reaches out to the bedside fridge freezer, taking out some ice cubes and putting them into the glass of whisky.

These words bring about so many thoughts, stir so much in my head. The taste though and the smell, that’s what gives the satisfaction. Johnnie Walker, isn’t he some cat killer in Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. A strange twisted piece of work that is, indeed! This boy recommended me to read the book. I just couldn’t get into it, but Johnnie Walker hooked me in. It was a good change for a few days. I took less drugs when I was reading. I don’t usually read. I do but not fantasy and fictional stories. I like to stick to reality you see. Hmm.., that probably doesn’t sound right coming from my mouth. After all, I have addiction problems. Do I really stick to reality? Or do I know a tune called stick and cut! Like jelly beans, freaking creams, filled to brim. Why do my thoughts keep wandering off?

Finishes the drink. Gets ready, putting on the clothes lying on the floor. Brushes teeth, puts on the cap and heads to the GP to pick up the prescription. Then off to pharmacy to pick up prescribed medication. Some methadone, some benzodiazapines. That should take care of me for a week.

I will speak to my key worker over the phone. It’s not like they have a good opinion of me. I don’t blame ’em, they only see me as an addict. They don’t see the rest of me, the person who I was. That person is still somewhere inside me. I know I need help to fix up. I need help to go back to being who I was. I am not living in the past but being where I currently am, it sure gets depressing thinking about it.

I only have a few friends and even those, I am not sure whether they are my real friends. Real friends serve you long way. You heard that tune? Here it is… you will love it. One of my favourites. Yes we surely had a blast, we’re like family, me and you! I have always been open to you. Thinking about this one friend. Not a friend but at least that’s what I think of him, when I speak to him. He’s good at listening, talking to him is helping me. I have been getting more productive, the more conversations I have with him. Despite family bereavement, I have found some purpose and meaning. I am not entirely sure, what it is yet. I do know that, finally someone who understands me, understands how I feel, has reached out to me. He is one of the very few who saw my intelligence. He didn’t look at me as an addict. I have a good day, when I speak to him.

Last time we spoke, we talked about habit formations. He talked to me about the cue, routine and reward system. The habit loop, I was telling him about how to tune in and listen to the body. He then told me, how neurobiology influences the habits, how habits are ingrained and what we do then becomes automatic. I didn’t think that 88% of our mind was subconscious. The good news though, it can be altered… it’s never too late. I want to believe that. I don’t want to keep living like the way I currently am. It won’t lead to a better place. Right now, I am swimming in quick sand. I am not struggling to get out. Once I start, initially it will feel like struggle. It won’t be easy but it’s not impossible. I am willing to give it a try.

A conversation with the Speechless Boy! A disability story

“Good Morning Noor!” I try say it with a burst of energy, putting in warmth with every word uttered. Noor lays there in his bed snoring. Sleeping like a baby on his side. He is positioned to sleep every night. I will leave the other details of his routine for another time. Today, I wanted to talk about how he can whisper, if you focus and listen. If you pay a little attention, he tells you how he feels.

“Stay by my side.” He tells me. Hold my hand, when I cry. It soothes me. He reminds me that because he doesn’t have the capacity to think, he feels everything. A kind and gentle touch is what he seeks and loves the most.

I ask him why is it that not all touches are gentle. He tells me, “It’s not that they are not. It’s just the part of their job. Routine and time keeping often takes up their attention. But you, you are here to help slow things down and be gentle.” I chuckle when he says that. “Hmm… I wonder, so if I can slow down the routine work a little, do you mean I can inject some gentleness and kindness into it all.”

“That’s exactly right,” he says. He continues, “A little slow and steady, although I will tell you that people looking after me have the warmest heart and are most experienced. They have known me for a long time. So they also understand the nuances and expressions I convey, that much more.” He chuckles again and adds, “Yes, that’s right, they know when I am being a cry baby and throwing a tantrum.”

“That makes sense!” I tell him. “I read through your file and case to understand your needs better.”

He smiles when I tell him that. It’s a lot of effort and work to look after you, ain’t that right! He beams upon hearing me say this. I take a deep breath then centre my thoughts, so our conversation doesn’t distract us from looking after him.

He is a big star wars fan. He loves marvel and has watched every movie. In the movies, he tells me,”I fall asleep and then I am in the movie. I dream the movie, that’s how I watch them.”

“Wow, you must have the best dreams. You are really imaginative and creative.” I tell him. I then tell him about some of my experiences where I have dreamt the storybooks, audiobooks and podcasts. He is joyed to hear it and happy that he shares the similar experiences.

“You sure do, but you’re much more creative. It must be similar to watching anime.” As I tell him this, I realise that he has fallen asleep. Perhaps dreaming another movie and bringing our conversation to a close.