Ich spreche etwas Duetsch.


Last year, I decided I should learn German. It was a whimsical notion that led me to do it in the middle of an already hectic semester but once I have a heady impulse about something, there is no stopping me. My mind programmed it as a ‘have-to-do-it’, rather than a ‘you-may-do-it’ impulse and thus the urge was so strong that I decided to take a plunge in the deep waters.

Now to understand my situation, you need to have an insight about my mother tongue, Urdu. Urdu is a poetic language; complex yet sweet. It has 38 alphabets derived from the Persian and Arabic. Basically it is a hybrid language and has adopted words from Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Turkic and English. Even the locals find hard to comprehend the true Urdu, given the complexity of its nature. However I, who never had much trouble with languages, neither Urdu nor our provincial language Sindhi, had to brace myself for German.

I enrolled myself in a 7 week class, three hours a day and five days a week, at the Goethe-Institut. There were around 30 people in my class, all of whom were either students or had  9-5 jobs and hence had chosen the evening classes like me. The diversity of people who crowded a room named ‘Berlin’ of the institute, still awes me. There were engineers, doctors, a student of arts and sculpture, people who worked at banks and high school kids, all cooped up in that make-believe Berlin. The class room had a smart board and various other audio-visual aids that helped us learn; and of course a teacher who put everyone at ease and encouraged us to participate. The library had books on all subjects that you could borrow, a newspaper and magazine stand which was always up-to-date, movies with English sub-titles and music DVDs.

Although I had to follow a very busy schedule, saw very little of my family and had to steer myself through very tight spots, I loved each and every moment of that time. I came to love the language, the people I interacted with and enjoyed everything from our feeble attempts at phrasing sentences in German to our jokes at each other’s incompetency.

At the end of the seven week period we were given an option to sit through a test or back off with a participation certificate only. This left only around 4-5 students who took the test as they were in dire need of a certificate stating that they had enough grasp of the language that met the A1 level of CEFR in order to apply for jobs or university programmes; and me, since I had a dire need to prove to myself that I was capable of it and worthy of much more. The test had a written component that involved writing a letter, filling out forms, understanding newspaper adverts; and an oral component. Now, those of you who have sat through ANY exam that was an exam, must realize what a raging havoc your mind undergoes during an oral one. And trust me, when you have to speak in a language you have been trying to speak for the past 7 weeks only, it has a more catastrophic effect on your nerves.

Not trying to be boastful or anything, but I cleared the test with a 75% score and it felt as exhilarating as clearing the entry test of my med-school. However, there, among all those people with all those compelling stories, and my own story of course, I learnt a lot more than German.

I learnt that people around the world are mostly the same give or take some beliefs, mannerisms or scruples. They have the same basic necessities: love, happiness, laughter. They may go about them in different ways but their needs are common. Be it any country or the people from my class.

I learnt to laugh at myself. It was easier to laugh rather than be embarrassed about the errors we made that drove other classmates to gales of hilarity. I now find it easier, to forgive myself for times that I was stupid or yearned for mundane things, because they were errors; errors of judgment. I have now learned to laugh at them.

I learnt to read people. I was surrounded by a diverse lot, who were unpredictable. I felt exposed and a little awkward in the beginning, always unsure of how to respond. I learned that the easiest way was to be myself. I imagined a shelf with various blocks in my mind. I held my corner in the room, which was my mind, while I tried to figure out people and fit them into those boxes in the shelf. I labeled them not in a judgmental sort of a way but more in a self-preserving sort of a way. To this day I have that shelf, because it helps me appreciate my corner in the room without losing ground and helps prevent the clutter of people scurrying around, making me unsure of myself or how to react.

I learnt how strong a woman is. I often got the opportunity to talk to some girls from the afternoon class. Most of them were married and were learning German so that they could join their spouses in Germany. Most of them had never been to school, did not know English and found it hard to translate German to Urdu or as in one of the girl’s case, Afghani who had travelled all the way from her homeland. For them it was a three-way process. They were threatened by the society which has a lowly opinion of ‘ordinary’ illiterate housewives and their in-laws and spouses who pronounce upon them the sentence of a divorce lest they fail to clear the test in time.

I learnt a great deal about life in those seven weeks.

P.s. In case you are wondering, I destroyed the longest ever silence on my blog, a writer’s block.

 

 

 

©2015. Habiba Danyal

The time it takes.


The storm you sent,

my way, retreated;

gracefully swirled round,

back your way.

I tamed it with

an ounce of wisdom,

resilience,

a whiff of smiles.

While the weeds,

you let grow, pull you down;

your storm brews,

I its new Master.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

 

This poetry answers the question:

What time is it?

in 42 words.

For:

Success.


This year I figured that success is actually three steps away.

1. You take the first step. Purely an impulsive act.

2. You may be pushed back, way back than from where you started. Rejection that you need to accept gracefully.

3. Try a leap this time because you realized earlier that a step wont do. Persistence and determination do the trick, if you’ll take my word.

Bingo! You have what you wanted the most, ergo success.

Proudly announcing, that Precipice Volume 3, A literally Anthology of Write On Edge, is now available for pre-order, with a release date of 11.17.2014, courtesy the Bannerwing Books.

This year’s theme “Boundaries” was open to contributions from authors all around the world. The contributing authors granted the honor of publication include :

Fiction

Duffy Batzer

Valerie Boersma

Shelton Keys Dunning

Sara Healy

Dina Honour

Ashley Kagaoan

Laura Lord

Jennifer Williams

Elizabeth Yon

Memoir

Elaine Alguire

Melissa Kirtley

Morgan Kellum

Andrea Mowery

Kristin Shaw

Janice Wilberg

Poetry

Habiba Barry

Angie Kinghorn

Kirsten Piccini

Find my words and their’s in:

precipice-cover_final.jpg

 

Print editions will be available for purchase on 12.1.2014. The pre-order link is: http://bit.ly/Precipice14

Happy Reading!

©2014. Habiba Danyal

 

Returning love.


“I’ll go for a Pixie-cut,” said Sandra, eyeing her hair.

Ming carefully placed the brunette’s chopped pony-tail in a Ziploc bag.

“First time, here?” asked Ming.

“Nope. Used to come here for the wig. Just giving back some love, darling,” Sandra replied.

©2014. Habiba Danyal

For:

 

This week’s question is:

Is this your first time?

Eden


The Elder, carefully tucked the corners of the sheet around her and looked at his companion for approval. The companion gave a quick nod.

“Shall we go then?” The companion asked.

The Elder kept staring at her, the one they were leaving behind.

“She is in good hands,” said the companion.

“I know, I’ve delivered four of her kind here before. But every time I fear, their fate,” said the Elder with a sigh.

“Why should you fear for them? The man has always been a good father, hasn’t he?” Asked the companion.

“Undoubtedly he has. But circumstances change; and so does man. They are unpredictable, these human beings. They mourn what should be celebrated and run after mediocre things. So every time I deliver a girl, I wait and watch their reaction. Its my way of keeping, let’s say… a check on the human race or rather, a check on humanity,” said the Elder.

The companion gave a sad smile and waited along with the Elder.

“Here he comes,” said the Elder, more to himself than his companion. He held his breath as the man took the girl in his arms. He had aged since the last time he saw him.

The man looked at her and said to his wife, “They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair.”

The Elder sighed with relief and said to his companion,”Time to go good friend. We have more baby girls to deliver. The boys, I’ll do alone.”

The companion looked at him with confusion and asked, “But wasn’t that a weird thing to say? They all look the same to me. Pink, with black hair!

“Weirder than, Take this thing out of my sight and birth a son next time or you’ll be dead, eh?” Replied the Elder with a chuckle. He soared up, towards the heaven with a light heart. They weren’t given one, but still he felt that he had one, sometimes.

A couple of years later, the Elder and his companion were on duty, together. They had left a house where the father had refused to accept the girl as his own. The companion was desolate. The Elder, seeing his state said,”Come I’ll show you something.” He took him to the house where they had earlier delivered the fifth daughter.

The companion saw the man sitting with his legs outstretched, surrounded by his daughters. All of them were engaged in some work while the fifth one was climbing up his shoulders. She climbed down his chest and slid down the man’s legs, gurgling with laughter. The man sat smiling at her and stretched his legs a little more, joining them once more for her next ride.

The companion smiled at the Elder and said, “Really, they are all the same for him, aren’t they? “

The Elder smiled and nodded. He had a vision then.

He saw that man next to Mohammad in a garden of Eden. To the vision he said, “Amen.”

©2014. Habiba Danyal

 

For:

Unkempt Flowers


Where have all the flowers gone,

that rebelliously raised their heads,

beneath the ashen sky.

Albeit the sky held no promises,

of rain besides that of fire

and days save those of murk.

 

Where have all the flowers gone,

whose only crime, an attempt to breathe

and spread their petals in the free air.

Albeit the air was full of smog,

from the shower of hurtling missiles

and the raining deathly pellets.

 

Where have all the flowers gone,

whose only wish a chance at life

and a chance to bloom and dance.

Albeit the life cheated them,

of the right to deep sleep of dreams

and days of blissful calm.

 

Where have all the flowers gone,

who were made to witness the worst of you,

the worst of me and humanity.

We in denial, the cowardly spectators,

lulled by the phoney perception,

that our flowers, our gardens are safe?

©2014. Habiba Danyal

 

 “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
― Dan BrownInferno

For Yeah Write Weekly Challenge#170, Summer Series.