Biloongra

an exploration of the world, the expression of which can be varied…

A multi-purpose entity that promotes child literacy efforts via kids' books and creativity in writing, or otherwise, by way of blogposts.

Otto’s Story [celebrating family part VI - celebrating one's pet]

Once again Otto had trapped me inside my parental home in Karachi. Since I could not venture out safely, out of sheer desperation, the 2nd part of the Karachi Diaries was conceived.

Otto happens to be a 2-year-old (in human years) Doberman. Although vicious in temperament, which apparently makes for a good guard dog, my brother claims that Otto’s meanness is just superficial and he will not really attack and maul anyone. I would rather not try and test that…

An ‘evolved’ version of this story (with photograph) appears in ‘An Itinerant Observer’.

About the Author: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician-researcher interested in ‘Creative Exploration & Expression’.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Granny’s Story [celebrating family part V - celebrating one's grandparent / grandchild]

There are some sentiments in life too great to be described in words. We search for them but find them too weak to express our feelings. Holding your first child in your arms, or just knowing that he or she is on the way, is one of those sentiments.

When my eldest daughter was born, I thought that this was the happiest I would be in life, but oh, how wrong I was! Pure ecstasy was still in store for me when my first granddaughter was born….

To read further go to an earlier post.

About the Author: Yasmin Elahi is full time employed as homemaker, mother and grandmother. She loves writing – something she does randomly and whenever the urge hits. ‘Follow the Light’ (Ferozsons Pvt Ltd) is her 1st published and award winning children’s book. Though she usually writes for children (Young World section of the Dawn Newspaper), she has also written on social issues for an adult readership. She blogs at yasminelahi.wordpress.com.

About the Photographer / Illustrator: Dr. Ansul Noor, an author, poet, photographer / illustrator, is a dermatologist in Sedona, Arizona. She is author of Soul Fire, a mystical journey through poetry. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at: ruhaatish.com; treesouls.com.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright.

Father’s Story [celebrating family part IV - celebrating one's father]

I sat across the lunch table with my Dad. He looked at me with vacant, unrecognizing eyes. He was listless, focusing all his attention on getting the food to stay on his fork and make its slow, tremulous journey to his mouth. Each mouthful was a struggle, exhausting for him and heart-breaking for me.  I resisted the urge to feed him myself, but sometimes when the food stubbornly refused to come on to the fork, I quickly pushed it in on, trying not to let him see me doing it. I knew he would not appreciate his independence being compromised….

To read further go to a previous post.

About the Author: Muna Hussain is a teacher in Lahore, Pakistan. Her Dad in the narrative suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s.

About the Photographer: Nausheen Khan is a freelance photographer / illustrator based in Houston, TX. You can see her work at the following links: Captivate & Cynosure.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Mother’s Story [celebrating family part III - celebrating one's mother]

This month marks the fifteen year anniversary of mother’s death. I look back with mixed emotions – grief, longing, and in the end relief.

My life began at the age of eleven - I scarcely remember anything before that. My family consisted of just me and my parents in a small suburb of Houston. My little brother had been born that year and I was overjoyed having been an only child for so long. What was supposed to be a year of joy turned into a nightmare. My mother was a vivacious, beautiful, intelligent and charismatic woman…..

To read further go to a previous post.

About the Author: Lubna Kazim is an internist at a major metropolitan hospital in Texas. Doctor by day, Mother-Wife-Sister by night….

About the Photographer: Nausheen Khan is a freelance photographer / illustrator based in Houston, TX. You can see her work at the following links: Captivate & Cynosure.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Betty’s Story [celebrating family part II - celebrating one's child]

“Betty is dead, Baba”, said Noori, my 5-year-old kindergartner, when I picked her up from school that day. I had known that since it was on CNN. Betty wasn’t quite 6 months old and had recently been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Although I am a pediatrician, I must remind myself that everything becomes recent when you are just 6 months old…

[For Avery - from an itinerant observer]

To read further, follow this link [Note: This essay was published by the journal Neurology, Jan 2013].

About the Author: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician-researcher, also interested in ‘Creative Exploration & Expression’.

About the Photographer: Dr. Ansul Noor is author & photographer for Soul   Fire– A Mystical Journey through Poetry. Ansul is a dermatologist in Arizona. She is also part of a Green Peace movement in Asia, hence most of her poetry and photography hover around nature and conservation. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at:

www.ruhaatish.com

www.treesouls.com

www.soulfreedom.in

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Anver’s Story [celebrating family part I - celebrating one's spouse]

As a young physician I would challenge the potential fatality of illness, and my medical overconfidence scorned the concept of being at death’s door. Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, my exposure to recent illness, dying, and death in my own patients, family, and friends makes me ponder my own mortality. From a nonmedical perspective, overcoming fear of death is part of life. If we consider dying and death to be a journey, then that realization can be quite emancipating and exhilarating. We are then more likely to embrace both life (and death?) more passionately….

[For Anver]

To read further, follow this link [Note: this essay was published by the journal Neurology in November 2012].

About the Author: Rakhshee Niazi is senior editor of Bookgroup, an eduational research organization based in Karachi, Pakistan.

About the Photographer: Dr. Ansul Noor is author & photographer for Soul   Fire– A Mystical Journey through Poetry. Ansul is a dermatologist in Arizona. She is also part of a Green Peace movement in Asia, hence most of her poetry hovers around nature and conservation. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at:

www.ruhaatish.com

www.treesouls.com

www.soulfreedom.in

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Karachi at the Festivals

My relocation to Karachi around half a year back took an interesting turn when all kinds of festivals came into awareness.

In a short span of a few weeks over the past month alone I was regaled by invitations to events to ‘experience’ food (for a food festival), books (for a literature festival), clothes (for a clothes festival), and culture (for a provincial language suffused ethnic cultural festival). Now Karachi, as you are well aware, is a very interesting city….

To read further go the DAWN Blog.

[From the Karachi-Houston diaries]

About the Author: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, a pediatrician-researcher, shuttles between Karachi and Houston, two cities he loves most. He is interested in creative ways of exploring & expressing for and with children and others, through writing and photography / illustration. You can read his recent stories about birds & nature published in the Houston Inner Looper newspaper here: Jonathan; Saffron & Abigail; Gokotta.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Goat Meat

As happens quite frequently now, my mind and heart tend to gravitate towards the next writing mission for the Karachi-Houston diaries….

To read further go the Express Tribune Blogs.

[From the Karachi-Houston diaries]

About the Author: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, a pediatrician-researcher, shuttles between Karachi and Houston, two cities he loves most. He is interested in creative ways of exploring & expressing for and with children and others, through writing and photography / illustration. You can read his recent stories about birds & nature published in the Houston Inner Looper newspaper here: Jonathan; Saffron & Abigail; Gokotta.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

When Biloongra Went Walking

When Biloongra the kitten got to the park that morning he realized he had been there before. In fact, that time around, he had become good friends with Mr. Kachwa, the turtle. Hence, Biloongra was quite excited as he could meet his old friend again. There was a problem though. As the park was huge he did not know where to start.

 

Meanwhile, Noori’s parents decided to go for a walk…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Saad looked around and then found this beautiful scenery to create an artistic masterpiece…

 

 

 

 

 

 and Noori went running with Koko, her new pet that Biloongra was not all that keen about.

 

 

 

 

 

Since everyone else was being healthy, Biloongra too decided to proceed with his own morning walk, hoping to find his friend Kachwa. As he went down the trail, it split into two. “Now where?” he thought to himself.

 

 

As he preferred right over left, he went down the right trail.

 

Soon after, he met Mr. Red Wing, the blackbird, merrily talking bird with his two companions.

“Hello Sir! Have you seen my friend Kachwa anywhere?” asked Biloongra.

“Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!” was all that came out of bird brain. Biloongra thanked him anyway and continued walking.

 

 

After a few more steps he came across Miss Ally, the gator.

Ally seemed friendly as she was grinning away, so Biloongra asked her about Kachwa’s whereabouts.

“He’s moved to the other end of the park. You will have to go back the same trail and cross the swamp to reach that end”, said Ally, without even a pause in her grin.

Biloongra thanked Ally for being so pleasant in directing him to Kachwa.

 

By the time Biloongra came across Miss Gulheri, the squirrel, he had really started enjoying his walk. Gulheri was busy having breakfast so Biloongra did not disturb her with his small talk.

 

 

 

He then came across Mr. Gosh, the rabbit, who decided to hop along as he too wanted to meet the now famous Kachwa.

 

 

 

 

After a fairly uneventful trek they were happy to find Mr. Kachwa at home. The turtle was also happy to see Biloongra after such a long time. When Biloongra told Kachwa about his adventurous morning walk, the turtle was quite impressed with the kitten’s lack of fear of the wilderness.

 

And then it was time to reunite with the family. Although he dragged his feet, Kachwa was eager to meet Noori and the rest of Biloongra’s pets.

Noori insisted on taking Kachwa home, but her parents said no.

“He rightfully belongs to this park and he will not be happy inside our house”, said Saad. Noori felt like kicking him then, but she decided against it when her parents promised that they will bring her back to the park soon.

On their way out, Mr. Cardinal was whistling them an enthusiastic goodbye. “That dude will be my new friend next time”, decided Biloongra.

 [Biloongra phase III prototype]

About the Author & Photographer: Nausheen Khan is a freelance photographer / illustrator based in Houston, TX. You can see her work at the following links: Captivate & Cynosure.

Reviewed & Edited by: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, a pediatrician-researcher, interested in creative ways of exploring & expressing through writing and photography / illustration. You can read his recent stories about birds & nature published in the Houston Inner Looper newspaper here: Jonathan; Saffron & Abigail; Gokotta.

Editorial Comment: All photographs in this post were taken at the Brazos Bend State Park considered one of Texas’ largest state parks. The complete set of photos taken at the park can be viewed here.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

The Family Tree

Branches of steel,

Grip a family together

And create the giant oak.

Memories, as old as cavemen,

Flow through an invisible bloodstream,

Reigning in those indestructible bonds.

Fiery-red hatred,

Ocean-blue sorrow,

Rose-pink love and Sunny-yellow happiness

Is what fuels the tree’s heart.

Finally are the ancient roots,

The ancestral bloodline.

And thus, you get the family tree.

About the Poet: Rayaan Mian is a 12-year-old, 7th grader at the CAS School in Karachi. He’s interested in reading (but not too much writing), soccer and the piano. You can see his previous work here: Me, myself & I, Tolkienisms, Ghostly consideration.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Confessions of a Grandmother

There are some sentiments in life too great to be described in words. We search for them but find them too weak to express our feelings. Holding your first child in your arms, or just knowing that he or she is on the way, is one of those sentiments.

When my eldest daughter was born, I thought that this was the happiest I would be in life, but oh, how wrong I was! Pure ecstasy was still in store for me when my first granddaughter was born.

To this day I cannot analyze my feelings when I first saw her. It was joy to the extent of agony, awe, a strange sense of nostalgia for the time that had flown away so quickly. All of these mixed emotions gripped my heart when I set my eyes on her, wrapped up in a big green blanket. I laughed and wept at the same time, while the little darling, my granddaughter, gazed back at me with a triumphant look in her eyes. In essence: she came, she saw and she conquered. From the day she was born, my granddaughter has spun my heart around her little finger.

The confession that I have to make today is of the change of heart as soon as I became a grandmother. Gone were the rules and principles, strict and inflexible, according to which I had raised my children. I was surprised to see myself helpless, and giving in to the whims of my granddaughter. With the passage of years, this helplessness caused a silent war between my daughter and me. She was sometimes amused and sometimes annoyed by my interference in the upbringing of her child. She reminded me time and again, how strict I was with her own upbringing.

There are times when a rush of guilt seizes me and I think that if I had the chance to live my life all over again, I would be more lenient with my children. But in my heart of hearts I know very well that I would be the same firm mother that I was, with my unbending rules- being a grandmother however, is an entirely different matter.

How can I bear to see someone scolding my darling on trivial matters? To me she is the prettiest, the best behaved and the most intelligent child in the world, who needs to be pampered and cuddled all the time. No! Scoldings are not for my granddaughter- she is far too sensitive for them.

To settle the ongoing tussle between me and my daughter I have tried to summarize the rules of being a mother and a grandmother:

AS A MOTHER

AS A GRAND MOTHER

Rules are made to be followed–always! Rules should be flexible and changed according to the mood of the child.
Occasional gentle spanking is ok. Children are too delicate to be given any physical punishment.
It is a mother’s birth right to scold her child, even if the child is not at fault. Scolding a child makes him lose his sense of worth, thus shaking his self-confidence.
Timetables should be set and followed strictly. If the child wants to play or watch television for an hour before doing his homework the heavens won’t fall!

However, these rules don’t sufficiently solve my dilemma, thus I have decided to set up a Grand Mothers Action Committee (GMAC) to safeguard the rights of grandmothers. The rights are as follows:

1. It is the basic right of all GMs (grandmothers) to spoil their GCs (grandchildren) to their heart’s content. Parents, especially mothers, should not deny them this right. Complaints that we, as GMs, have changed should not be entertained as every one has an inherent right to change his or her opinion at any stage in life.

2. GMs should be given the right to interfere, whenever they want, in matters relating to the discipline of their GCs. After all they are more experienced than the parents, therefore their opinion should be valued.

3. GMs should be given the aforementioned rights because they have no idea of how much time they have left to follow these delightful pursuits.

All GMs who agree are cordially invited to join GMAC. However, if some of you do not share my feelings, please be kind enough to keep your thoughts to yourself, or you will be guilty of escalating the ongoing silent war between my daughter and me.

 

About the Author: Yasmin Elahi considers herself a typical Pakistani woman – just a face in the crowd. Writing is a hobby for her, something which she does randomly and enjoys thoroughly. She is full time employed as homemaker, mother and grandmother… a job that she finds more fulfilling than anything else in the world. She started experimenting with her pen (and keyboard) as a home based writer about five years ago. She usually writes for the Dawn newspaper (Pakistan) in-page magazines, ‘The Review’ and ‘Young World’. She has also published a book ‘Follow the Light’ (Ferozsons Pvt Ltd) that received 1st prize in The National Book Foundation (Pakistan) Competition for the Promotion of Children’s Literature. She blogs at yasminelahi.wordpress.com. You can read more about her at facebook.com/yasmin.elahi.5 and facebook.com/yasminwriter.

Reviewed & Edited by: Mayank Aranke, researcher and aspiring med student, Austin, TX.

About the Photographer / Illustrator: Dr. Ansul Noor, an author, poet, photographer / illustrator, is a dermatologist in Sedona, Arizona. She is author of Soul Fire, a mystical journey through poetry. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at: ruhaatish.com; treesouls.com.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Born of War

I opened my eyes in a world of smoke,

so dark, so bleak

so silent and forlorn,

I took my first steps

on a sheet of land mines

I fell, I rose, by myself, I survived

I awakened at the alarm of cannon balls,

with blasting bombs and raging guns.

Cries of fear, smell of smoke, and a pain too deep

shadowed me to sleep

each day became a blessing

each night- a day less

I prayed, I searched, I sought an escape

failing to flee from this horrible maze

I fought to have food

I fought to have water

I fought to find shelter

I fought to breathe

yes I lived, indeed I did

in all facade of human flesh and blood

but what of the soul?

and what of its life?

and what of the core that made it alive  

And yet you! You dare preach me

love, and kindness and care

After all the abandonment!

 How do you dare?

O you! With your high pedestal of morals!

I ask you, where you were

when it was my time to be saved

and yours to liberate

when I could still be salvaged.

Beyond fixing I am now,

my soul too dark,

my heart too numb

the damage runs too deep

But many out there 

can still be healed.

So practice what you preach

and find those within your reach

repent and repair

listen, don’t just hear

Salvage what little is left

For if you fail to act now

Then lost are all those lives

that hope a little each day

and die a little by night

About the Poet: Salima Bhimani, MBBS, is a recent medical graduate of and a teaching associate at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. Aspiring to be a pediatrician, she volunteers for a foundation that supports child education world wide.

About the Photographer / Illustrator: Dr. Ansul Noor, an author, poet, photographer / illustrator, is a dermatologist in Sedona, Arizona. She is author of Soul Fire, a mystical journey through poetry. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at: ruhaatish.com; treesouls.com.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Biloongra – Lost & Found

Biloongra, despite his feline claims of knowing his surroundings well, remains unsure to this day as to how he got lost so easily. Equally unclear to him was how he was found given the unlikelihood of being found in one piece. But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning…

It had been a crisp, chilly winter morning. The sun, although cheerful and bright, could not entirely warm the outdoors. Regardless of the cold weather that day, Noori, Ray, baby, mom and dad had packed themselves into the family car. Not wanting to be left behind, Biloongra, the kitten, had managed to squeeze himself into the picnic hamper. The proximity to the food was exciting! The ever hungry kitten looked forward to a pleasant road trip with a lot of food around him to snack on.

And then they were off. Their destination was Lake Park, a huge natural reserve that was home to hundreds of migratory birds of all sizes, shapes and colors. Now, the park also housed alligators. Biloongra did not know that. Had he been aware of that he might not have been so eager to be there. The kitten, you see, was scared of anything with razor sharp teeth and alligators were no different.

Once they got to the park, everyone got out to stretch their legs after that long uneventful, somewhat boring, drive. Biloongra had munched on so much food that he felt quite heavy in the stomach. He needed to relieve himself. The challenge was finding a good secluded spot to do so. Biloongra was no different from other kittens and cats, in that finding the optimal spot to poop in was crucial to his well being. The not-so-smart kitten did not realize the danger to a domesticated kitten being left to it’s own devices in the wild. By the time he had completed his first forest potty ritual his family was nowhere to be seen.

“Meow! Meow!” Biloongra’s forlorn cry for Noori, his pet girl, was drowned by the wind blowing through the tall white oak trees. Not hearing any of his human family respond, he felt quite lost. In his panic he started running, not knowing that he was moving even further away from his family. As soon as he cleared the thicket of trees he came across the edge of the lake.

“Cheaunw! Cheaunw! Cheaunw!” went the flock of red birds angrily as they took to the air. They had been peacefully dozing at the water’s edge. The sudden and unexpected arrival of a breathless Biloongra had made them a bit panicky.

“Phit! Phit! Phit! Splash!” was the sound the webbed feet made as one of the birds actually skimmed across the surface of the water. The splash at the end was from the bird settling his body onto the water. Having forgotten his fright momentarily, Biloongra was quite fascinated by this unusual interaction between bird and water. He couldn’t help laughing out loud.

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” What a funny bird you are!” The bright red bird turned around and made his way towards the kitten. “Not as funny as you! What are you?” Apparently kittens were a novelty in this park.

“I’m Biloongra. What’s your name sir?”

“Angry Bird”…….

[Continued in the book An Itinerant Observer which will be available in the United States from the publisher Acacia Publishing.

About the Author: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician-researcher currently based in Karachi, Pakistan, interested in creative ways of exploring & expressing with and for children. You can read his recent stories about birds & nature published in the Houston Inner Looper newspaper: Jonathan; Saffron & Abigail; Gokotta.

About the Photographer / Illustrator: Dr. Ansul Noor, an author, poet & nature photographer, is a dermatologist in Sedona, Arizona. For this story she superimposed cartoons on photographs that she took in the red rock mountains of Sedona. She is author of Soul Fire, a mystical journey through poetry. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at: ruhaatish.com; treesouls.com.

Also see this link for photos taken by Nausheen Khan at the Brazos Bend State Park in Texas.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Heart of a Vagabond

To awaken at the sound of a loved one calling

To breathe in the scent of  blossoming flowers

To play in the warmth of the glowing sun

To walk barefoot in pearl gray sand

To run safe amongst wild beasts

To jump with joy at tiny gestures

To feel the touch of a loved one’s embrace

To be reckoned a human in its true essence

To be watched over, day after day,

night after night, year after year

To be liked for who I am,

dirty or clean, no matter how I may seem

To know the unconditional love of a mother

To have some shelter, a place called home

To live a childhood that I was promised

To be a child, to belong and be accepted

Above all for once, to be loved and wanted

Alas! I am, but a homeless on streets

A pitiful being, to be feared, to be hated

But know you all, I too have a heart,

That beats, that desires, that is human in soul

I cry, I laugh, I feel, I know

all that I am and all that I was promised….

About the Poet: Salima Bhimani, MBBS, is a recent medical graduate of and a teaching associate at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. Aspiring to be a pediatrician, she volunteers for a foundation that supports child education world wide.

About the Photographer: Akbar Mistry received his MBBS from the Aga Khan University. He is a professional photographer, film maker and tutor for Nikon in Karachi. He is interested in street photography, research and teaching.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Image

You say my path is from there

That path is the reason of what you are to me.

I enter the realms of worry and sorrow.

When will you;

converse with me

hold my trembling being in your tight embrace

hear the voice of my tears

to my sighs, my questions – reply

I look with envy

Think of you in every moment

How will conversation with you be like

How will my words reach you

Exhausted, tired, spent

I abandon this endless search, this hope

And I slept

Unaware, exhausted, spent.

And then

In your lengthening shadow

I met him.

I met him reflected bright in your darkness.

At a time when the sky was not discernable from earth

I found him expanding to fill the universe.

The sky and earth were one.

I knew why I knew you.

My messenger, my carrier.

When you ask me

Why

Why I love you

What I see in you

Why you are to me what you are to me

I dare not reveal to you

Dare not tell you

You are a means, to an endless end

In you

he shows me

A reflection of the mirror that reflects me

Viewing you

Viewing him

And there

On the path you showed me

I see me.

About the Poet: Alya Mian is a practising psychotherapist who is actively engaged in teaching.

About the Photographer: Dr. Ansul Noor, an author, poet & photographer, is a dermatologist in Sedona, Arizona. Her work Soul  Fire is a mystical journey through poetry. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at: ruhaatish.com; treesouls.com.

Biloongra © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Shadow

I am Your shadow and You are mine.

Through hell I wander, to heaven bind.

This continuos loop of Love Divine,
like an Angel, sublime yet blind.

Colors painted in black and white,
A canvas invisibly creased by time,
Fingers stained by the blood of sacrifice.

This continuous loop of Love Divine,
like an Angel, sublime yet blind.

I am Your shadow and You are mine.

 

About the Poet & Photographer: Dr. Ansul Noor, an author, poet & nature photographer, is a dermatologist in Sedona, Arizona. Her work Soul  Fire is a mystical journey through poetry. Through her poems she also conducts ‘poetry therapy’ as part of a healing process. You can see more of her work at: ruhaatish.com; treesouls.com.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

When Biloongra Got Sick

One fine day, Cyto, the white blood cell, was on his merry way through the blood stream. His job was to look for anything unusual that could become a menace for Biloongra, the kitten in whose blood Cyto lived. While he was going about his work, distracted by thoughts of some relaxation at Pool Plasma, Cyto noticed something rather peculiar. There was a large lump forming off the side of Arty, the artery he had been born in. He immediately called his best friends, the twins Leuko and Lympho. LL, as they were fondly called since few could tell them apart, were better than Cyto in communicating with unusual cells that the three would encounter while guarding Biloongra’s blood stream.

The three cell buddies looked very closely at the mysterious creature. None of them had ever seen something like that before but they all knew that it definitely should not have been there.

Cyto called out to the unusual being. “Who are you and what business do you have in Arty? Are you friend or foe?”

At first no response came from the ugly blob. It then started to project and retract tentacles while it spun in circles, and then came a humming sound from it.

“That sounds like many cells chanting together”, stated Lympho, all businesslike. He then projected his own tentacle towards the creature and squirted out chemicals at it in an attempt to decipher the chanting coming from it. In what seemed like milliseconds, Lympho realized what they were dealing with.

“Bacterial alert!” he hollered.

Cyto and Leuko were a bit taken aback at the realization that it was not a single creature but a bacterial colony. While the cells were still in a bit of shock at their discovery of unwanted bacteria in Arty, the leader of the bacteria swam to the front of the colony. He was one mean looking bugger.

“My name is Streptocock!” Said he, “…and you have reason to be scared!”

Although Cyto and his friends snickered and thought little of the threat, they did not wait. They acted with all their strength. They collected everyone they could send a message to for the battle that was about to take place. They thought it would be over within an hour. “Look how tiny they are! Attack!” Cyto screamed with joy. He then signaled his army of white blood cells to get the seemingly weak intruders out of their system. Lympho and Leuko followed suit with their own battalions.

As they were about to attack Streptocock’s rogue army, something strange happened. The bacteria grew in numbers very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Cyto and his buddies were quite nervous. There was a much greater sense of urgency as more help rushed to the scene. Cyto and company kept attacking by biting Streptocock’s soldiers, and then quickly gulping them down. But Cyto and his gang were still no match for the intruders.

By that time Cyto had figured that Biloongra, his owner, was getting sick from all the action in his blood stream. And then a surge of help came. It was some chemical, an ally, that was killing the intruders.

“White cells go marching one by one…Hurrah! Hurrah!” Cyto and his gang started cheering in glee for their luck had changed. The friendly chemical, an antibiotic that Biloongra’s doctor had given him, had started viciously destroying the enemy.

“I think we can go relax at Pool Plasma now”, said Leuko, as the intruders were starting to shrink in numbers.

But Leuko had spoken too soon. Streptocock and his meanies had mutated and were dividing rapidly again. The antibiotic was not of much use in killing the bacterial super monsters. “Ha! Now it’s my turn to cheer!” and saying so Streptocock and his colony prepared to launch an all out offensive by using the blood stream to attack targets far and wide: Biloongra’s heart, lungs and brain were all at risk.

But the battle was not over. What was unknown to Streptocock and his mutant army: Biloongra had been vaccinated against those rogue bacteria.

Cyto knew. “LL”, he called out to the twins, “Identify those soldiers that will exactly recognize Streptocock’s mutant army as being the real enemy!”

The brave cadets from the LL side quickly came forth and went straight towards the enemy. Chemical weapons and physical force of the elite squad ensured that this stage of the battle would not last long. Streptocock’s meanies were reduced effortlessly this time around.

“Noooo….!” was the last sentiment that Cyto heard from Streptocock, while the superbug was being swallowed by a soldier from the LL special corps.

 

 

 

 

Above ground, within the hour, Biloongra started feeling better. His fever went away and he was back to his mischief.

 

 

 

 

“Ahhh!” Cyto sighed peacefully, while sipping a cold drink at Pool Plasma. “Cyto rules the day!” screamed the LL twins as they dove into the pool of red blood cells. The fun times ahead were well deserved after that day’s hard battle.

 

 

[Biloongra Phase III Prototype]

About the Authors: Arnav Kak is a 14 year old 10thgrader at the Carnegie School in Houston, TX. His interests, other than medicine, include tennis, reading, listening to rock music, and playing video games. Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician-researcher currently based in Karachi, Pakistan, interested in creative ways of exploring & expressing.

About the Illustrator: Anum Tayyab is a 10 year old 5th grader at Shadowbriar Elementary in Houston, TX. Reading, writing and drawing are her passion and she hopes to become an author and illustrator some day. She loves contributing to Biloongra and is keen to add value to children’s literature with her writing and illustration.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Biloongra in India – Children’s Books that Connect

Biloongra Books started as a collaborative effort between Bookgroup – an educational research organization in Karachi pushing for education reform in Pakistan – and a group of young and old “thinkers” in Houston, Texas. The first major project was the creation of an Urdu-English book, Biloongra – the word means kitten in Urdu and Punjabi. Although the book was initially intended for limited distribution among young school children in Pakistan, we found that the book could also be a teaching tool for Urdu for the South Asian Diaspora in the United States. Building off of this double-hinged success, we sought out expansion into other countries – given the large Hindi-speaking population in Houston, we targeted India as the next potential site.

The first step for expansion was to organize a translation team that could generate a Hindi-English version of Biloongra. The group consisted of four individuals from team Biloongra in Houston and three members of the editorial team of Bookgroup in Karachi – the process took approximately six months to finish. The entire process was incredibly unique in that the translation team consisted of high school students, college students, professional publishers, and language experts from countries across the globe – it is notable that although communication was done almost exclusively over email, the effort still yielded a positive outcome. The final product was a well-translated, professionally published Hindi-English version of Biloongra and our next step was to find a distribution partner in India. 

We were fortunate to strike a partnership with an organization called the Psycho Educational Society (PES) in New Delhi, India. PES has been working on providing formal and informal education (including health-related) to rural populations surrounding New Delhi since 1982. Bookgroup in Karachi and team Biloongra in Houston were able to fund the project entirely and as a result over 1200 books were sent to one of the PES-run schools, the B.D.P School, in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Teachers and children from the PES school with copies of Biloongra

Neither PES nor the school or the children were charged to recoup costs of printing, shipping and distribution. In essence the books were gifts for those children from the people involved in the child literacy effort. Much to our delight, the bilingual Hindi-English books were well received in the B.D.P. School. We received a letter, shortly after the distribution, bearing the news that the children were more receptive to both the English language and reading in general, after using the books as learning tools.

Above- a letter of support from PES school officials

 

As we move ahead and into other languages we are continually looking towards building partnerships with similarly driven organizations elsewhere. Most recently, we have completed a Swahili-English version of another book in the Biloongra series, called ‘Biloongra’s Mischief’, and we are interested in partnering with some group in Africa that can become a local stakeholder. Additionally, in order to get more metrics in support of our model, we have started developing research studies to gauge the efficacy of the Biloongra books to deliver lessons that go beyond linguistics – health care-related, for instance.

The children holding their respective copies of Biloongra

We hope that this is only the beginning of collaborations between Biloongra, Bookgroup, PES and other organizations in India, U.S., or elsewhere, as partnerships over the long term would not only benefit under-privileged children’s learning, but also engage highly motivated youth from India, Pakistan and the world in healthy discourse via the book development process.


Teachers and children from the PES school with copies of Biloongra

About the Author: Arnav Kak is a 10thgrader at the Carnegie School in Houston, TX. His interests, other than medicine, include tennis, reading, listening to rock music, and playing video games. Reviewed & Edited by: Mayank Aranke, a recent graduate of UT-Austin in Austin, TX, interested in pursuing a medical career.  

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

Karachi, Seriously

Karachi, Seriously

It’s the same, 14 lingering years later

The same non-descript faces, flying

A perfect aim of Earthy spit between

Leisurely walking legs. The faceless

Ones that drop a convenient shalwar

At the first call of nature; finding a

Corner on the side walk, insisting

Anonymity in crowds. The hideously

Functional boxed cars, courting mine

In ceasless traffic- once dragging

A dissenting bonnet off its new roots;

The driver, of wizened bent and flailing

Roots, not to be reckoned with.

It’s all the same. The purposefully scarred

Formidable knocks on the window, as

I attempt to stop at the red.  And lest

you  forget, the 8 year old twinkling eyes

Vending heavily contoured Bollywood

promises; fanzines with pleasurable

Moments inside.  Often there’s a gnarled

Mastery of the birds and bees as a

Look is exchanged; yes between 8 years

And 42.  And then the 2 year old in his

Sister’s arms, whose visage looked 62.

It is indeed the same; the garish billboards,

Blokes holding hands, eve teasing and

Salmonella stands. I wonder how it

Does it, this city by the shore. I cry not at

Its stretched agony. I laugh not at its

Colors immense. I return and I live

It, a solemn receipt. For this was not a

Choice, but a long expected stalemate.

 

About the Poet: Ayesha Mian is a child psychiatrist, shuttling between Houston and Karachi, two cities that have been home.

About the Photographer: Akbar Mistry received his MBBS degree from the Aga Khan University. He is a professional photographer, film maker and tutor for Nikon in Karachi. He is interested in street photography, research and teaching.

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.

If Photographs Could Talk…

I look at photos, since they don’t talk back – as yet…

“What great pics!” I say. I see a plethora of well dressed young pretty women and handsome men.

“Ah! The unending possibilities of youth”, says my heart. Smiles, frowns, joy, mirth, silliness…all captured for eternity.

“But wait! Did you not notice that there was something missing?”, says my head. For you see, there was a dearth of old people in the pictures.

“Where did they go?”, inquires one voice, the loudest in the cacophony.

“Were they whisked off to some place momentarily? Perhaps to a nursing home?”, asks another.

My heart muses but for a few seconds and then kicks in, “More likely that they have been relegated to dark corners of their young minds.”

Because you see, the pictures were bright and youthful. And thus, the elderly ones may have been subjected to the gray zone, the dark negatives.

Had the old farts (you know how their minds work) already become miasmic manure?

 

About the Author: Asad I. Mian, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician-researcher.

Editorial Comment: This essay is part of Asad’s work-in-progressTime’, a discourse between the head and the heart. We are grateful to Ansul Noor, an Arizona-based dermatologist, illustrator, photographer, & poet, for allowing us to delve into her lovely family photo album ‘Precious Everlasting Faces…& Memories…’

You can see more of her work at:

www.ruhaatish.com

www.treesouls.com

www.soulfreedom.in

Biloongra – Books for Change © 2013. All Rights Reserved. All characters and concepts that appear on this website and any publications are protected by copyright. Please read our Disclaimers, Terms & Conditions when you visit our site.