BEAUTY

BEAUTY – We often hear this word. We almost hear it every day.We have heard people calling different things as beautiful. Even different people are called beautiful, for their looks & qualities. But none of us has ever wondered that what does the word beauty mean?

The general definition of beauty is the combination of qualities which give pleasure to the senses & exalts the mind & spirit. Most of us only consider half of this definition which says “Beauty is the combination of qualities which give pleasure to the senses” but we neglect the remaining part of the definition which is far more important which says “that gives pleasure to the senses & exalts the mind & spirit”. But we have confined the word beauty to the physical attributes only like color, shape, appearance, etc. In reality beauty is much more than just a physical attribute as the definition itself says “it is a combination of qualities.”

Different people have different definition of the word beautiful. Some people consider rain beautiful while some consider it irritating. Some people consider babies beautiful, but for others they are annoying & messy. Some people fall for the blue eyes while others are crazy for black ones. Each & every person has a different perspective & different choice when it comes to calling something or someone beautiful. Beauty has nothing to do with physical attributes, in fact beauty is completely related to attributes that satisfy our soul. Beauty is everlasting, it is not temporary & this is the only reason for which it is called beautiful because it is not going to end. If beauty was only related to physical appearance, then how it would be everlasting & if it is going to end or change then how it is beautiful? What is unique about being beautiful? As everything is temporary, it changes. Beauty has the tendency to remain permanent. Whatever makes us feel happy remains close to heart forever. Everything is temporary except soul & the good deeds that will remain forever. Temporary things which look beautiful are juts an illusion which deceive us for a certain time period & they will vanish as the poet  John Keats said; A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”

Many people, especially girls feel like they are not beautiful. They consider themselves inferior on the basis of their complexion, weight, figure, dressing & many other material things & physical attributes. But the truth is that a person who has a caring heart & soul is a beautiful person. The person who cares for others, love others, help others, see good in others, who can feel other people’s pain & becomes the reason of someone’s smile is a beautiful person. If you prove yourself to be an umbrella for people who are in pain, no matter what colour you are, what race you belong to, what dress you wear, what language you speak… Trust me you are the most beautiful person of this world! Shout out to all those people who have been the reason of someone’s happiness, who have helped someone, who care for other people, who try to spread happiness. Such people are more than beautiful because you have “the heart who cares!”

“What you feel is what you are,
And what you are is beautiful.”

BENEFITS OF BLACK CUMIN (KALONJI)

Also known as Nigella Sativa (Kalonji). It is native to Mediterranean region but also has been grown on the Arab peninsula, Africa & Western Asia. It belongs to Ranunculacease .
 
Black Cumin is not only used for adding flavour to foods but also therapeutic. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids & essential oils. Other nutrients including proteins, carbohydrates & many vitamins. The plant grows up to 30 cm & have white flowers with black seeds. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us about black cumin & its benefits 14 centuries ago.
“There is healing for all disease expect death.” (Bukhari 7:71)
There is another Hadith regarding Black Cumin our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) puts emphasis on consistent use of Black Cumin with the phrase “hold on to use of the seed.”
 
Recent research tells us the benefits of Black Cumin in the induction of apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cell lines & in decreasing blood sugar levels. Black seed extracts and its oil have been shown to strengthen the immune system, radio protectively, reduces high blood pressure, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, anti-fungal, anti-tumor. Black Cumin maladies such as respiratory disorders, skin disorders & allergies. One research even shows that Black Cumin oil is more effective than the Omega 3-s oil in fish oil. Black Cumin is a natural cure that people have been using since 1400 years.

ARE YOU LEFT BRAINED OR RIGHT BRAINED?

THE LEFT BRAIN

Our left brain is characterized mainly by “verbal skills” & “logical thinking.”

Individuals who are said to be left brain dominant are more “sequential” & “rational.” A person with a dominant left brain is inclined to gain understanding of a situation by rationally or logically sequencing pieces or individual events together or by basing their thinking on individual pieces that make up a whole situation. This is entirely the opposite of a person who is right brain dominant who tends to process his/her thoughts by viewing the situation through instincts & visual pictures as well as by observing things in a more global/holistic perspective before even trying to analyze the minute details thereafter.

KEY TRAITS OF A LEFT BRAINED INDIVIDUAL

  • Responds well to verbal instructions/ guidelines
  • Handle issues or solves problems by analyzing by reason – and looking sequentially at the different parts of things
  • Understands information by consistently & successively considering each component of things
  • Analyzes differences in things
  • Prefers definite & established information
  • Is structured & planned
  • Prefers ranked authority types of structures
  • Prefers multiple choice questions/ tests
  • More comfortable with words whether through speech/talking & writing
  • Has a distinct ability to controls his/her feelings

THE RIGHT BRAIN

Individuals who are said to be right brain dominant tend to be more “simultaneous” & “intuitive” as opposed to left brain individuals who are more sequential and logical.

To help differentiate the more dominantly right-brained individual from a more dominantly left-brained one, here is an example: either one type will have a different way of describing directions to a certain location…

A right-brained individual will more likely to give you this kind of instructions or directions: “Follow Road 15 until you get past the mini-mart & shopping mall on your right side. Next, you will pass through 2 traffic lights & then see a blue office building on your left side—that’s Sycamore Street. Turn in that spot then go a couple of blocks more till you reach a gas station with a yellow & white sign with bold red letters. Turn left from there to Church Street & go to the second house on your left, the green one with white shades.” – A right brain person will give you this kind of visual image description to help vividly guide you to your destination.

On the other hand, a left-brained individual will more likely tell you these kind of directions: “Go eastward for 2.3 miles on Road 15 & then go south to Sycamore Street for three blocks. Next, turn west on Church Street & stop at the second house on your left.”— A left brain person will definitely give you this kind of detailed & factual information, which will be a great descriptive direction for another left brain person.

KEY TRAITS OF A RIGHT BRAINED INDIVIDUAL

  • Responds well to demonstrative/visual/vivid instructions
  • Is spontaneous & more fluid
  • Attracted to elusive or uncertain information
  • Settles issues with their “hunches” and in accordance to revealed patterns or configurations
  • Lumps things together according to essential connectedness
  • Sees likenesses or correspondences
  • Analyzes similarities
  • Comfortable with or prefers collegial-type of power/ authority structures
  • Prefers open ended questions
  • At ease with drawing or manipulating things
  • Free with expressing feelings & emotions

BENEFITS OF UNDERSTANDING THE LEFT & RIGHT BRAIN

The truth to all these matters is that every person needs to utilize both his left & right sides of the brain (each working with one another) in order to come up with the most accurate kind of mental processing or best thinking skills.

We can credit the development of these distinctive differences between the 2 brain hemispheres to the studies of Dr. Roger Sperry, a psychobiologist, who carried out extensive research on the subject during the 1960’s. Because of his findings & discoveries, he had been awarded in 1981 the honors of a Nobel Prize; & now, we can use these information to help us know not just our weaknesses in certain areas/aspects for growth, but also help us determine which areas in our lives or in which types of profession we may excel in with our innate capacities.

The main benefit of understanding which part of our brain is more dominant will assist us as well as empower us in developing some of our weaker processing styles – those that are not too characteristic of ourselves. Of course, we do not have to feel inferior about these qualities that we may not be excelling in, but rather, by being simply aware of them, it can help us more in dealing with our daily interactions.

  • In any case, even if there are uniquely awesome qualities for each type of left & right brain hemispheres, knowing which traits you can develop more, as well as being aware of the activities you can do to help train the other (less developed hemisphere) of your brain, will provide you great assistance if you want to live a better, more fulfilled & well-balanced life.

WOMEN ARE CRY BABIES!!

  • Yes.. but now you know why?!
    Men & women both exhibit a particular behavior. Women are believed to be crying often & easily whereas men seldom cry. This has always been a mystery & a topic of debate. Some South Asian advertisements with a campaign named, “Larkay rotay nahi” have tried to explain this behavior as an outcome of brought up. But neuroscience has addressed these distinct behaviors of men & women by answering, “Why women respond differently in emotions than men?”
    Brain studies have shown slight differences in most areas of brains pertaining to men & women. The differences explain their stereotypical behaviors. Men & women both experience negative emotions but expressions of those emotions are different in these physiologically different genders. If neural activity is compared among them, WOMEN REVAMP NEGATIVE FEELINGS TO POSITIVE ONES. HOWEVER, MEN REACTS BY GOING MUTE.
    Question arises, “How this justifies the fact, Women cry often when compared to men?” One study reports,”Women shed tears as much as 8 times more often than men. Also the duration of crying is 3 times longer when compared to men.” Endocrinological distinctions provide clear evidences to these varying behaviors. Women have higher levels of hormone called prolactin, located in pituitary gland & functions to produce tears. Men have higher levels of testosterone which limits tears production. Surprisingly, science does not take the complete credit of these distinct behaviors, social & cultural factors also tend to play their roles. Females brought up in pampered environment have actively playing prolactin responsible for delicacy in them. However, males brought up in Chauvinist – male dominant – environment tend to have fueled testosterones which result in over ruling in men. Hence, both genders must understand each others biological differences & then learn to treat nicely.
    Women can now get rid of the title, “You are a cry baby!” You are gifted with a stress releasing mechanism. Do not give up on your this lovely delicacy ladies.

FORCED MARRIAGE

When I was a kid, my only goal was to get a good education. I dreamed of attending Harvard or Stanford & planned to become a doctor one day. I was the eldest of 4 daughters in a Pakistani Muslim family. We lived in Ruwais, a small town in the United Arab Emirates, where my father worked in an oil plant & my mother was a teacher. At school, I always stood out among the girls in my class. I was brash, clever, outspoken. I took pride in acing every test. When I brought home top marks, my father would celebrate by handing out sweets.

One day, when I was in Grade 10, I was in my bedroom doing my math homework. My mother walked in. She told me I had received a marriage proposal. I laughed. “Mom, what are you talking about?” I asked. She didn’t crack a smile & I realized she was serious. “I’m only 16,” I said. 
“I am not ready for marriage.” She told me that I was lucky. The offer came from a nice man who lived in Canada. He was 28 years old & worked in IT. His sister was a friend of hers. The woman thought I would make a perfect match for her brother—I was very tall & he was 6″2. “They are going to look so great together in pictures,” she had said to my mother.

For weeks, I pleaded with my mom not to make me go through with it. I would sit at the foot of her bed, begging. She would tell me it was for my own good & that a future in Canada would give me opportunities I would not have here at home. She assured me that she had spoken to his family about my desire to continue my education. “You can go to school in Canada & we do not have to worry about you being alone,” she said. The next thing I knew, his parents were measuring my wrist for wedding bangles. The date was set for 5 months later, in July 1999.

My friends would talk about their own dream weddings—the gowns they would wear, how they planned to be dutiful wives & homemakers. When I told them about my doubts, they thought I was crazy, that I was a fool, that Allah would punish me for being ungrateful. Marriage was their ultimate goal in life. But I didn’t want it. I just didn’t know how to get away.


Samra Zafar at top centre, at age 7, shown with her father & 3 younger sisters at their home in the United Arab Emirates.

For the next few months, I had recurring nightmares about my impending marriage. In my dreams, I was trapped inside a house, watching from the window as students made their way along the sidewalk to school. I would wake up sweating & scared in the middle of the night. My mother would try to calm me down, telling me I was being hysterical. One night, when I woke up screaming, she decided to do something about it. She phoned my future husband in Canada & allowed me to speak to him for the first time. All I knew about him were those few details my mom had shared with me the night he proposed. When I picked up the phone, I was meek. I only had one question: “Will you let me go to school?” He reassured me: “Yeah, yeah, I’ll let you go to school. Don’t worry.”

The first time I saw him was on July 22, 1999, the day before the wedding, at his family’s home in Karachi. As we sat sipping tea, I snuck furtive glances at the man who was going to be my husband. I felt dwarfed by him.



Samra Zafar was just 16 when she learned she would be marrying a 28 years old IT worker in Canada.

The next day, we were at my grandfather’s house for the wedding. As my mother adjusted my gown, I pulled back. I told her I wanted to run away. “Don’t be silly,” she said. “All the guests are here.” Someone put the marriage licence in front of me, I was told to sign it & I did. Later we held a celebration at a high-end restaurant in the city. Strings of lights & red ribbons decorated the room & 200 of our parents’ friends came. There were piles of food & everybody laughed, sang & danced long into the night. I wore a long red lehenga sari. I was told to sit there quietly & look down at my hands, playing the demure bride.

This was the first of 2 ceremonies—we had to make it official so that my husband could apply for my sponsorship in Canada. The second ceremony was still months away, as was my wedding night. In the meantime, I continued to live with my parents & attend school. My new husband stayed in Pakistan for a month. We saw each other a few times, but never for long & usually with others around. One evening, we went to Pizza Hut with his older brother & his brother’s wife. It was my first date & I was so shy 
I barely spoke. We talked regularly online, over MSN Messenger & occasionally on the phone. Slowly, I grew more comfortable with the marriage. Nothing about him struck me as special. He was not smart or funny or warm, but he was a normal enough guy. He told me how pleased he was that his wife was so smart. He suggested university programs I should consider in Canada. He agreed to wait to have kids until I finished school. He said all the right things.


Samra Zafar on her wedding day at age 17.

When my immigration papers came through in August 2000, we both flew to Abu Dhabi for our second, smaller celebration. After it was over, we slept together for the first time. I was petrified. I knew nothing about sex or birth control & neither did he. My aunt had told me about ovulation, explaining that I could not get pregnant if I had sex on certain days of the month. I thought our wedding night was one of those days. I had never even seen a condom before.

Later that week, we flew to Canada and I moved into his two-bedroom condo in Mississauga. I missed my parents, my friends, my school. I was so unhappy that I stopped eating & I spent most of my days watching TV while my husband was at work. I stopped getting my period right away. At first, I thought it was because of the move, the abrupt change in environment. But a month passed, then another. I was getting sick every morning. My nausea was so severe that I was afraid to go outside in case I fainted. Finally I told my husband that I needed to see a doctor. I sat in the doctor’s office, listening to him ask me if I understood what being pregnant meant. All I knew was that it meant I could not go to school. This can’t be happening, I thought. This isn’t happening. I was only 17.

During the first few months of my pregnancy, my husband was kind & thoughtful. He took late-night trips to the grocery store to satisfy my cravings. He would call a couple of times a day from work to ask how I was feeling & every night we cooked dinner together. I discovered an adult learning center near our condo & enrolled in an ESL course. I thought our marriage was going well. Then, 2 months before our daughter was born, he told me his parents would be moving to Canada & staying with us. He had planned for them to live with us all along, but this was the first I had heard of it. We moved out of the master bedroom into the smaller one so his parents would be more comfortable.

Everything changed when they arrived. My husband & I stopped spending time alone together. His mother got upset when he paid attention to me, so he did not show me any affection. When I would ask if I could call my parents in Ruwais, he or his mother would tell me we could not afford international calls.

In May 2001, I gave birth to our daughter. When we returned from the hospital, my husband slept on the couch while I stayed with the baby in the second bedroom. I had never felt so alone. I fantasized about stealing money from my husband’s wallet & taking a cab to the airport, calling my parents & asking them to buy me a plane ticket home. But I did not want to leave my daughter behind.

When she was a few months old, we bought a 4 bedroom house in Streetsville with his parents. I was rarely allowed to leave. I never had a penny to my name. My mother-in-law gave me her cast-off clothing to wear. I did not have a cellphone. I was not allowed to go to the grocery store on my own. If I did not iron my husband’s shirts or make his lunch or finish my chores, he & my in-laws told me that I was a bad wife who could not keep my family happy. I walked on eggshells all the time. If I asked my husband something, he would reply, “Bitch, get out of here.”

2 years in, the abuse got physical. He would grab my wrist & shove me around. I would be sitting on the couch & he would slap me upside the head, or grab me so hard on my upper arms that my skin would bruise. Once he tossed a glass of water in my face; I slipped on the floor & threw out my back. Another time he punched a hole in the wall next to my head & told me, “Next time, it’s going to be you!” On several occasions, he picked up a knife & said he was going to kill me & then himself.

I was having suicidal thoughts all the time. I was convinced my life was over. One time, I took a razor blade into the shower & thought about cutting myself, stopping only when I heard my baby cry. I believed my unhappiness was my fault—that the secret to perfect wife-hood was eluding me. 
If I had just done the dishes better, been quieter, anticipated that he wanted a cup of coffee or a glass of water, then none of this would have happened.

When my daughter turned 3, I learned about a parent drop-in center called Ontario Early Years, funded by the Ministry of Education. Located in a Streetsville strip mall, the space was bright & cheerful. My daughter would make crafts or play with Play-Doh & the parents would gather in a song circle with their children & recite nursery rhymes. My husband took my daughter & me there a couple of times. Eventually, he let me walk over on my own. I looked forward to those 2 afternoons a week, when I would be allowed to step outside by myself without fear, when I would feel fresh air on my face.

The woman who ran the center was Pakistani & she recognized some of the signs of abuse even before I knew what to call it. She saw how jittery I would get if the sessions were running long, or how I would have to ask permission from my husband if there were any changes to the schedule. She let me use the phone to call my parents. I tearfully told my father what was happening, that I felt imprisoned & helpless. He was horrified, but advised me to wait until I got my Canadian citizenship. “That way you would not risk losing your daughter,” he said. So I waited another year. Throughout this period, I resumed my education, taking high school courses by correspondence. I applied to university several times. I was always accepted, but my husband would never pay the tuition.

In 2005, I told my husband that I wanted to go home to visit my family for 4 months. It had been 5 years since I had last seen them. When he told me he did not have the money, my father sent plane tickets for me & my daughter, who was 4 by then. On my way to the airport, I asked my husband for $10 to buy myself a coffee & my daughter a snack. “Bitch, go ask your father for that too,” he told me, as he dropped me off at Pearson. When my parents picked me up at the airport, they almost did not recognize me. I had lost so much weight I looked skeletal.

My family were shocked. The bright, confident girl they knew had been replaced with a skittish, scared young woman. It took a couple of months for me to realize I could go to the mall on my own, or to the grocery store. These were small triumphs, but they helped build up my confidence. By the end of my visit, I was resolved not to go back to Canada. As soon as I delivered the news to my husband over the phone, he unleashed a flood of apologies. He told me he would never hurt me again. He promised we would move out of the house, that we would live alone together like we used to.

He wore me down. In August 2005, I returned to Canada. We moved into a new apartment & my husband was paying both his parents’ mortgage & our rent, leaving little money for anything else. 
At first, he was kind again. But within a few months, I got pregnant with our second daughter, & the abuse resumed. I needed an escape plan, so I began tutoring & babysitting children in our apartment building, slowly saving money for 5 months until I had enough for my daughter & me to fly to Karachi, where my sister was getting married. This time I was not coming back.

My father had been diagnosed with kidney failure before I had arrived in December & over the next few months I watched helplessly as his condition deteriorated. One day, I sat with him in the ICU. “Papa, if something happens to you, what am I going to do?” I asked him. “Realize the strength you have inside of you,” he told me. “Go back to Canada & find a way to get out of your marriage.” He died 2 days later. My husband arrived in Karachi that week for the funeral. Sex was the first thing he wanted. It was not until he had finished that he asked me how I was feeling. I said I was fine, got up & walked to the bathroom. I turned on the shower so he would not hear me cry.

When I asked my mother what to do, she told me I should go back with him. After all, she had 2 more daughters to marry off, she said & she did not have the money to support me. I could not work. I had no education or experience & I was pregnant. Resigned & defeated, I went back with him. While I had been away, he had moved back into his parents’ house. This time I got a small room in the basement, with bare walls & a little window in the corner. My daughter slept in her crib in the room next door. In June 2006, I gave birth to my second daughter. I was miserable.

And yet my father’s words had ignited something in me. I knew I was smart & I knew the only way out was through school. I studied in my room every night, finishing the last course I needed for my GED, a Grade 13 economics credit. A few months after my younger daughter was born, I earned my diploma & decided to apply to university again. I knew my husband would never let me leave the house to earn money for tuition, so I resurrected my babysitting service, telling him I was earning money for the family. I co-opted my mother-in-law with the promise that she would earn easy money taking care of kids & my husband even let me buy a van to drive my charges around. I was making between $2,000 & $3,000 every month & though I had to turn over my earnings to my husband, I managed to sock away a few hundred dollars here & there. It took me 2 years to save enough for 1 year of school.

In 2008, I applied to U of T’s economics program. I was accepted. Nothing was going to stop me from going. “Who’s going to pay for your tuition?” my husband asked. “I am,” I responded. My in-laws were so angry about my decision that no one in the house spoke to me for 6 months. I did not care. This was my chance to get out. It had taken me nearly 10 years, but I had gone from victim to survivor.

My first day of school in September 2008 was one of the best of my life. I got to school 15 minutes before my class started & walked through the Kaneff Centre at U of T Mississauga. After everything I had been through, I had finally achieved my dream. I sat in the hall, tears running down my cheeks. If only my father could have seen this, I thought to myself.

I thrived in my new environment. I aced every class & other students gravitated toward me, asking to study or socialize. My success changed my thinking. If I was the scum on the bottom of my husband’s shoe, like I had been told all these years, why were my marks so high? Why did classmates want to be my friend? I could feel vestiges of confidence I had not had in years. One day in October I was walking to the campus bookstore to buy textbooks. Just around the corner, outside the health & counselling center, a flyer on a bulletin board caught my eye. On it was a list of questions. “Do you feel intimidated? Do you feel like you do not have a voice? Do you feel like you have lost your identity?” As my eyes ran quickly down the list, my brain screamed over & over again: yes, yes, yes. “Come in & make an appointment,” the poster read. I opened the door & walked inside.

few days later, I sat across from a counselor, describing what was going on at home. “I don’t know what to do,” I told her. “I am trying to keep my husband happy & I am still not good enough. He keeps telling me I am worthless. All I want to do is fix it.” She grabbed my hand. “It’s not your fault,” she said. It was the first time anyone had said that to me. As I continued my counselling, I realized that what had happened to me was wrong. My agency had been stripped away. I learned about the cycle of abuse that characterizes so many unhealthy relationships.

Our marriage was becoming more toxic every day. He once bought me a cellphone as a present, but installed spyware on it so he could monitor my calls. He kicked me in the stomach. He kept threatening to kill me. A year after I started counselling, I told him I wanted a divorce. “What are you talking about?” he asked me. “I love you. I can not live without you.”

One January night in 2011, he picked a fight. I was not doing enough housework, he said. As he loomed over me, tightening his fist, I picked up my phone. “If you touch me, I am going to call 911,” I shouted & then he spat out the word divorce, in Urdu, 3 times: talaq, talaq, talaq. According to some Islamic scholars, uttering those words means the marriage is over.

I thought I would be thrilled when he left, but I was terrified. I had never lived on my own & I was bracing myself for the shame I believed I would bring to my family. He sold our house out from under me, leaving me & the kids with 3 weeks to pack up. We had nowhere to go. I even registered at a couple of shelters, expecting to be homeless. One day, I was at the U of T tuition office & a woman overheard me lamenting my situation. She suggested I look into campus housing; luckily, the university had one family unit left. 2 days later, I had the keys to my very own shabby 3 bedroom townhouse.

I could not afford movers. I packed all my belongings into garbage bags & made 10 trips back & forth every day for 5 days, in the van I used to drive the kids who attended my home daycare. I used my last $100 to pay a couple of students to help me move my furniture. I was relieved not to be out on the streets. I slept in 1 room with my youngest daughter. My eldest had the second bedroom, with enough space just for a single bed. I rented out the third room to a Pakistani student who watched my girls while I worked in the evenings. It was tiny, but it was ours. That year, I juggled 5 jobs to stay afloat. I worked as a TA, a researcher with the City of Mississauga & a student mentor. I did night shifts at the student information center on campus. I even ran a small catering business out of my apartment.

One day it dawned on me that my husband was a man willing to put his own kids out on the street to teach me a lesson. I drove to the police station & reported everything. I gave a 3 hour long videotaped statement, offering as much detail as I could about the decade of abuse I had endured. The officer said he likely would not be able to lay charges because there were not any bruises on my body. But it did not matter. Just telling the authorities was a huge relief. It was my way of acknowledging everything to myself, of finally saying, it was not my fault—none of it was my fault.

The officers interviewed my doctor & counselors, and 2 days later they arrested my husband for assault. He pleaded guilty. We finalized our divorce & he got joint custody. My older daughter refused to see him, but my younger daughter visited him every other week.

There were many times over the next year that I thought I had made a mistake, that I could not do it on my own. I thought the shame would never go away. After my marriage ended, none of my old friends would speak to me. My mother refused to tell people back home. I had no family in Canada, no friends at school who knew what was going on. I was completely isolated. I had always been told that women are responsible for upholding the family’s honour. A woman living alone is a sin. A woman travelling alone is a sin. When everybody around you says you are in the wrong, that your dreams are not valid, you start to believe that & there were many times that I would fall into those sinkholes.


Samra Zafar graduated from U of T at the top of her class.

Education was my only refuge from my dark thoughts. I focused all my energy on school. In my fourth year, I was promoted to head TA. 
I worked as a senior mentor for the school’s first-year transition program. I carried an 8 course load & earned a 3.99 GPA. One day, I got an email from my department advisor. In it was a description of the university’s highest honour, the John H. Moss Scholarship, a $16,000 award that’s given to an outstanding student who intends to pursue graduate work—the Rhodes scholarship of U of T. My advisor encouraged me to apply. No one from U of T Mississauga campus had ever won it, she said. The deadline was only a few days away, but she convinced me to hustle up the paperwork.

A few weeks later, I got an email saying that I was one of five finalists. I arrived for my interview on February 6, 2013. The committee ran through questions about my academic record and leadership experience. I had written about my abusive marriage in my application, too & at the end of the interview, the panel asked me how I go on after everything I have been through. My polish wore off in that moment. “Every day I feel like giving up,” I told them. “But I don’t want my daughters to grow up thinking that being abused is normal.”

45 minutes after my interview concluded, I got a phone call. John Rothschild, chair of the selection committee & the CEO of Prime Restaurants, was on the other end of the line with a few other panelists. “Congratulations,” they said. “You are our winner this year.” I could not believe it. I grabbed my daughters’ hands & danced wildly around the house with them. I wanted to tell the whole world. Since then, John has become a friend, a mentor & the closest thing I have to a father figure. He taught me how to believe in myself again. He says if I ever get married again, he wants to walk me down the aisle.


Businessman John Rothschild funded her NPO for abused women.

In September of that year, I started my master’s in economics. By the time I graduated, I was surviving off OSAP & my debt load was piling up. I wanted to stop borrowing money as soon as possible, so I decided not to pursue a PhD. Instead, I accepted a job at the Royal Bank of Canada, where I work today as a commercial account manager.

Around the time of my graduation, I was named the top economics student at U of T. At the award ceremony, a journalist introduced herself to me (her daughter was in my class). I told her my story & she published an article about it in a Pakistan newspaper. As my story circulated through the community, I received hundreds of messages from women all over the world trapped in forced marriages & looking for help. So many of them sounded like me 5 years earlier, isolated & helpless. Women who show up at shelters or call assault hotlines or leave their homes find themselves completely alone. Without any help, they return to their abusers or fall into new relationships that are just as bad. Once, while I was TA-ing at U of T, a father barged into my office yelling. “You are pushing my daughter to get her master’s degree!” I could not believe it. To me, it was natural to offer encouragement—his daughter was the top student in my class. “She’s supposed to marry a boy in Egypt. Stop poisoning her with your Canadian bullshit,” he barked.

Years ago, a woman wrote to me asking if we could talk on Skype. She was a Canadian university graduate whose parents forced her into a marriage in Pakistan after she finished school. Brutally abused for 3 years, she returned to Canada to have her baby. She wanted to leave her marriage. After we finished talking, I drove to her house & encouraged her to do it. “No one will ever love me again,” she said. 3 years later, she graduated from a master’s program & got a job working full-time in Toronto. I realized I could not stop abuse from happening. But I could offer friendship to women in similar positions to my own. I started a non-profit called Brave Beginnings that will help women rebuild their lives after escaping abusive relationships. John Rothschild, my mentor, provided our start-up funding, and we are piloting the project this year.


Samra Zafar lives with her 2 daughters, age 15 & 10, in a condo in Mississauga.

For the past 3 years, I have lived in a 3 bedroom condo in Mississauga with my 2 daughters, who are now 15 & 10. I serve as an alumni governor at the University of Toronto & I speak about my experience for organizations like Amnesty International. I m happier than I ever imagined I could be. I want women to know that they deserve a life of respect, dignity & freedom, that it Is never too late to speak up. It infuriates me that many women are expected to uphold their family’s honour, yet they do not have any themselves.

Last April, I called my ex. I wanted to help him repair his relationship with our older daughter. It had been 4 years since we had spoken in person. I decided to meet with him. Despite everything, I believed that my girls deserved to have their father in their lives. I sat in a coffee shop at Eglinton & Creditview Road, desperately hoping that I was no longer scared of him.

I saw him walking across the parking lot & waited for an avalanche of fear to hit me. It never came. Sitting across from me, he was just another person. To my surprise, he apologized. “I cannot believe after everything that you are still willing to help me repair my relationship with our kids,” he said. That day in the coffee shop, I finally felt free.

A few weeks ago, I lay in bed cuddling with my youngest daughter. Every night, we snuggle for 10 minutes before she goes to bed, just the 2 of us, unpacking the day. Out of the blue, she said, “Mom, I think Daddy’s family picked you because you were only 16. They thought you were just going to do whatever they told you to do & they would be able to make you into whoever they wanted you to be.” And then she paused. “Man,” she said. “They picked the wrong girl.”

 

Copied from Toronto Life.

 

MAHAD KAZI, EDITOR’S INSPIRATION & A YOUNG NOVELIST

Since childhood we have had inspirations only in books, newspapers & movies. It is almost exceptional & very spiritual to have a real life inspiration – a child very young & talented.

When I was browsing on internet, called as stalking in other language, the picture of this book attached with an information about this child crossed through my web page. As I am a declared stalker of the year by a friend that year, I looked for more information & found out that a child of my own country has written a book at 14 year old age! Inspired by the title of the book, the stalker (me) looked for his profile on facebook & found, “He is so young & talented & esteeming to write more”. Wonderful!

Mahad Kazi, is a young talented student who wrote his book, “A Shadow Of Evil” & got it published too. Wow! In a society like Pakistan where reading is worning out & trend of e-learning is taking over, Mahad Kazi chose the same black & white, print media, to express his imagination in words. As Mark Twain said, “Enough imagination can beat reality”. This young talent has transformed his passion into tangible words. Normally students at his age are daydreaming, which by science is healthy for brain whereas converting that fantasy into writing & benefiting others to read is something outperformed by Mahad.

As a matter of pride, Mahad is not only a writer but he is also a pre-medical student & astonishingly he belongs to the same city Hyderabad!!! To the mothers out there, children like Mahad are inspiration for so many. Mahad! Please, don’t give up on writing. A child at the age of 14 has become an inspiration for an adult, like me, of 20’s. Certainly, knowledge is power.



Mahad’s book is available in hard copies, you can email him at mahdkazi693@gmail.com. You can also contact him for the feedback. For e-learners book is also available online at www.anevilshadow.com. Read this young talent of a small town Hyderabad and pay tribute to this novelist. Pakistan Zindabad!


NOTE: The content is personal & written with proper research. It is not sponsored & is composed with the sole aim to discover talent.

 

WHAT YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR REFLECTS ABOUT YOUR PERSONALITY?!

People like different colours. Some like red & some like blue. Ever wondered why someone is attracted to a particular colour? Colour preference reflect a lot about a person’s personality. Experts agree, also numerous studies have gleaned that color psychology is real. Of course, individuals vary & the characteristics mentioned do not hold true for everyone. Read below to gain more insight about colours:

1. Black

People who like black colour tend to be mysterious & powerful. You are dignified, refined & intelligent. You come across as calm & in control. People who like the color black tend to be deep thinkers. You may come across as intimidating sometimes but overall you are smart, capable & responsible.

2. White

White is color that indicates purity, cleanliness, independence, order & peace. White can indicate innocence as well, but white is really a color that indicates change & transformation, such as a new beginning or a change of plans. If you find yourself gravitating towards white, it can mean that you are in a time of change or transition. People who like the color white are wise & balanced.

3. Purple

People with a fondness for purple are deeply insightful about life & are often either artistic in expressing themselves or have great admiration for the artistic endeavors of others. Among purple loving people there is a common interest in striving for peace & envision a world free of war & diseases. Likewise, purple lovers strive to share the message through artistic endeavors. Purple lovers are also often attracted to mystical & spiritual matters.

4. Blue

Blue is the most commonly loved color of them all. People who like blue strive to have serene lifestyle & a sense of peace by keeping their home & undertakings in good order. Blue lovers tend to be thoughtful. The blues are very often highly intellectual. Blues can often strongly adhere to their own opinions, however they are also sensitive to the needs of others & generally manage their emotions well. Blue is associated with achievement & success.

5. Green

If you have a fondness toward green then social standing is important to you. You want people to recognize you even if it is just in a simple way. You have good relationships with others. You are steady & unchanging in your life view. People who like green often resist change & strive diligently to protect their good life & standing. People who like green, also tend to enjoy nature & have a need to connect with the earth.

6. Yellow

People who gravitate towards yellow tend to have an optimistic outlook on life. They have high aspirations & work diligently to achieve their dreams. They are well-organized, methodical & deliberate. Yellow lovers have a tendency to run out of steam though and in the long run you may not achieve your well planned goals for the lack of energy to execute them. You are not shy but may possess a natural reserve or appear aloof.

7. Orange

Those who have a love for the color orange are inclined to be outgoing & friendly. They are pleasant people, make friends easily and tend to smile. Orange lovers truly enjoy fun friendships. They can easily engage in more deep discussions with people yet they are also typically light & affectionate. You are at ease with large groups of people & meeting new people.

8. Red

The color red is very appealing to the extrovert. Red is associated with strong appetites and a desire to live life to the fullest. Red can sometimes be associated with aggression & impulsiveness. A person who likes red may be inclined to a moody personality with many ups & downs in feelings. Likewise, they tend to release your emotions quickly. Reds know that life should be happy & are quick to become upset when life challenges this. Reds can also be quick to judge.

9. Pink

Pink is associated with love, femininity, sweetness, innocence & affection. Pink people tend to be romantic, generous & sensitive towards others. People who like pink tend to be caregivers & know how to be there for others. They can often wear their heart on their sleeves, but they remain positive & are open and loving to all.

10. Brown

People who are drawn to brown are steady, hard-working & deliberate in their approach to life. Browns connect to the earth & are dependable & responsible. They are hard workers & tenacious. Browns are frugal & are often considered old souls.

HOW TO STORE YOUR BEAUTY PRODUCTS?

Just like all other products, beauty products also have a life. There is a shelf life & period after opening which means life of the product, once the lid of the product is opened for use.

You can find a product’s (PAO) Period After Opening, mentioned at the back of the product, like this:



Usually products do not expire after PAO because the way you handle your makeup in general can extend its shelf life. If you take care of your products, they can last more than expiry date being safe to use.

Other than this, there are several different environmental conditions & things that can destroy your product like heat, sunlight & oxidation. Specially when you use beauty products that contain skin care ingredients in them be destroyed before time, if not stored properly.

Heat & Sunlight can change the texture of the product. In extreme cases it can cause bacteria to grow inside. This phenomena is commonly observed in Wonder Wax (Cold Wax). It gets watery & less tacky if kept in heat. Also, it gets too thick & less sticky if kept in very cold weather.

Oxidation is the phenomena where chemical change takes place in a product due to coming in contact with air. Oxidation can change the chemical formula of the product, resulting colour & fragrance change of the product. In extreme cases the product can even dry out & become tacky. It is important to close the lid of the products well after use.

The following products are Extra Sensitive & need to be stored in a dry & cool place, away from heat & sunlight:

  1. Natural Oils
  2. Serums
  3. Anti-Aging Products
  4. Sunscreens
  5. Foundations
  6. Concealers
  7. Organic Creams
  8. Glosses
  9. Mascara

MAHNOOR SHABIR

Mahnoor Shabir is a Pakistani girl who took her early education from Beaconhouse School Systen & was currently studying in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). She was 21 years old, fighting a deadly disease known as cancer like a brave warrior. She was diagnosed cancer few years back & won the battle against it. But this battle was not over yet. She was recently diagnosed cancer, once again. Knowing about her disease, Mahnoor recently updated her facebook status on 18th January 2017, 7:31 p.m. saying; “Won a battle but the war against cancer isn’t over yet. Fortunately or unfortunately, it relapsed just a few days back. I am a 21 years who should be worrying about my quizzes and if I made it above the average, but instead I have to worry about my blood counts being in the normal range. I am 21 years old who should be worrying about my GPA, but instead I worry about the result of my biopsies. I am a 21 years old who should be searching for the best post grad universities abroad, instead I am searching for the best cancer clinics abroad. I am a 21 years old who should be rejoining her university again this week, instead I am getting hospitalized again. I am a 21 years old who should be worrying about a chipped nail, instead I worry about the effects of chemotherapy. I am a 21 years old who should be worrying about relationships, instead I worry about emotional attachment with almost anyone. I am a 21 years old who should be the one making trips to the hospital for her parents and wheeling them around, instead they are the ones doing it. But none of that upsets me, it makes me only more grateful that I am an extra ordinary 21 years old. I am a 21 years with incredible strength, willpower, resilience and courage to face one of the most deadliest maladies again. A second attempt may be frustrating but I believe it can be easy too. And it makes me grateful to have the most amazing and supportive parents out there. But I am a 21 years old who is nothing without Allah or the prayers that He answers. So I would request you all to keep me in your prayers as much as you can. No one knows when one of it might get accepted! 🎗”  And then she updated this on 28th January 2017, 2:00 a.m. “Please! Please! I beg you to all to keep remembering me in your prayers. And more than that, I need you to you to pray for my parents!” A few days back she passed away. 

All her status reflect her love & desire for living life like a normal person. Her photos reflect the vivaciousness she bared in her heart. So many people among us who are blessed with a good health are so ungrateful to this blessing because we do not realize its value.. We should be thankful to Allah (S.W.T) for every little blessing we have.

We go to school, college, university or job everyday. We go out with friends, party, enjoy life. We live our life the way we want. We have no idea about the patients who are admitted in the hospital. They spend their every minute looking at the ceiling or walls, thinking about their recovery.

Parents wish that their children will take care of them & will be their support system when they will grow old. We have no idea how heartbreaking it is when parents sit in the hospital for hours, days, weeks or even months in hospital, waiting for their sick children to get well. It is even more heart wrenching when parents give birth to their children, bring them up & then bury their children in graves.

May Allah (S.W.T) bless all the sick people with healthy & long life!

May Allah (S.W.T) grant Mahnoor the highest rank in Jannah. May Allah (S.W.T) bless her parents, family & friends with infinite patience!

Hats off to all the cancer patients, who are fighting this deadly disease. Just know you are not alone. Somewhere, someone is fighting for his/her survival & life.

COMMON COLD

“The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory system, including the nose, throat, sinuses, Eustachian tubes, larynx & bronchial tubes.”

It is an illness caused by a tiny, living thing called a virus. Although more than 200 different viruses can cause a cold, but 30-50% are caused by a group of rhinoviruses. The corona virus is responsible for about 20% of the cases, while the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) & para-influenza virus cause 10% of colds. Almost all colds clear up in less than 2 weeks without compilation.

Colds, sometimes called rhinovirus or corona virus infections, are the most common illness to strike any part of the body. It is estimated that the average person has more than 50 colds during a lifetime. Anyone can get a cold, although pre-school & grade school children catch them more frequently than adolescents & adults. Repeated exposure to viruses causing colds creates partial immunity.

Although colds resolve on their own without complications, they are a leading cause of visits to the doctor. Treating symptoms of the common cold has given rise to a multi-million dollar industry over-the-counter medications.

CAUSATIVE ORGANISMS

  • Rhinovirus
  • Coronavirus
  • RSV & para-influenza
  • Pikorna virus
  • Influenza virus

SIGN & SYMPTOMS

  • Scratchy or sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucus draining from your nose into your throat
  • Cough
  • Body Ache
  • Fever
  • Lethargic (feeling of tiredness)
  • Associated with Diarrhea

DIAGNOSIS

Colds are diagnosed by observing a person’s symptoms.

Nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose & coughing are all classic signs of a cold. In most cases, common colds go away on their own, and it is not necessary to make an appointment with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for an evaluation & diagnosis. Sometimes, the common cold may develop into more serious complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Ear infections are a common complication in children.

TREATMENT

The treatment is based on symptoms:

  • Decongestants & Antihistamines
  • Nasal Sprays
  • Cough Medicine & Cough Syrups
  • Aches & Pain
  • Antibiotics & Colds

HOME REMEDIES FOR COLD

  1. Garlic
  2. Honey
  3. Spice Tea
  4. Red Onion
  5. Ginger
  6. Chicken Soup
  7. Milk

COMPLICATIONS

1. SINUSITIS: It is an infection of the small air-filled cavities inside the cheekbones & forehead.

2. MIDDLE EAR INFECTION (OTITIS MEDIA): It develops in an estimated 1 in every 5 children under the age of 5 with a cold.

3. CHEST INFECTION: A chest infection is an infection that affects your lungs, either in the larger airways or in the smaller air sacs. There is a build-up of pus & mucus. The airways become swollen, making it difficult to breathe.

4. ASTHMA ATTACK: It is the inflammation, swelling or the tightening of the muscles of the lining of airways which make it harder to breath.

5. STREP THROAT: It is caused by streptococcal bacteria that spread in the same way a cold does. You can get it from touching an infected person or surface from airborne particles when a person coughs or sneezes or from sharing infected items with an infected person.

6. PNEUMONIA: This complication can be especially dangerous & sometimes deadly for people in high-risk groups. These groups include the young, the elderly & those with existing conditions. Therefore, it is important to see your doctor at the first sign of pneumonia symptoms.

8. BRONCHITIS: It is an inflammatory condition of the smallest airways in the lungs (bronchioles). This is a common but sometimes severe infection that is most commonly due to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

9. CROUP: It is a condition characterized by its harsh cough similar to that of a barking seal. Other symptoms include fever and a hoarse voice.

PREVENTION

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially the nose, mouth & eye area.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Keep household surfaces clean.
  • If your child has a cold, wash his or her toys as well when you are cleaning household surfaces & commonly-used items.
  • Use paper towels in the kitchen & bathroom for drying hands after hand washing.
  • Throw tissues away after use.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Control stress, studies have shown that people experiencing emotional stress have weakened immune systems & are more likely to catch a cold than their calmer counterparts.