Noor Fatima Sultan Khan talks to Farida Khanum about her favourite place to relax
As I entered the TV lounge I saw Farida ji wearing a turquoise linen shalwar kameez. She had draped a beige shawl around her shoulders. The persistent glimmer in her eyes, her rosy complexion, as well as the poise and grace that sends hearts reeling, was accompanied by an extremely warm greeting. As I drew my diary out of my bag she looked at me with affection and prayed: May you get success. I stood up and kissed her forehead. Farida ji is one of those who makes everyone around her feel happy, no matter the difference in age or background.
Noor Khan: Farida ji, you have so many windows in your house. But every time I’ve seen you in your home, I’ve seen you sitting here. Is there something special about this window?
A five-second pause after which Farida ji intones Munir Niazi’s ghazal: Chaman main rang-e-bahar utra tau mainay daikha, nazar se dil ka ghubaar utra tau mainay dekha
Farida Khanum: Every crack of dawn when I wake up, I come and sit here. Outside this window is the tree that my mother sowed with her own hands. Once I told her to axe it and she said, “Farida, don’t ever chop this tree!” This tree is 48years old. It was my mother’s beloved mango tree. Every time I sit here, I feel close to my mother because all the flowers and plants in my garden were planted by her. Every time I eat mangoes off this tree, I miss her. In the early days, when she would cook a meal, I would stand beside her and learn how to cook. She’d often say: “Farida, first stir fry onions till they are golden and add the masala in the end only, otherwise it will burn.” This window and the sight outside this window is a mirror image of my mother’s memories.
â€œOften I observe a squirrel on my mango tree. I laugh when I see how the squirrel dodges the cat and runs up the tree with foodâ€
NK: You’ve talked about flowers in your garden, which flowers are you fond of?
FK: Rose and nargis. I love heavily-scented flowers. We have raat ki rani outside this window. In my childhood, I used to like its smell and used to inquire which flower or plant it was. I was told, “Aye jee raat di rani aye.” Since then I have it planted. I get upset if any plant of mine gets scorched. I have always wanted to have a garden in my house where I could plant flowers myself. I’m very grateful to Allah that He has blessed me. I find nature and nature’s blessings in flowers.
NK: People go and things remain. You must value this tree a lot.
FK: I deeply value this tree and all those things that are related to my mother. May Allah bless her with Jannat ul Firdous. Ameen.
â€œOutside this window is the tree that my mother sowed with her own hands. Once I told her to axe it and she said, â€˜Farida, donâ€™t ever
chop this tree!â€™â€
NK: Which recollections jog your memory when you sit here?
FK:Â I miss my mother and my sister when I sit down here. When I relax here, I think about them. My sister had great qualities. She found for me Ustaad Ashiq Ali Khan sahib and made me takeÂ riyaazÂ from him. She used to compliment me for having a melodious voice. I remember my childhoodÂ riyaazÂ with Ustaad Ashiq Ali Khan sahib when I look out the window, I remember how during the practice I used to play with the matchstick box. Sometimes I played with myÂ dupattaÂ and when Ustaad sahib used to tell me off I’d put my dupatta under his shoe!
NK: Why does this window, particularly, draw your attention?
FK: This window and the sight outside this window relaxes me, it brings me near to nature. Often I observe a squirrel on my mango tree. I laugh when I see how the squirrel dodges the cat and runs up the tree with food. I like watching the squirrel. In early days, I used to hope to have a garden with flowers of different sorts, I’d think of planting such and such flowers. And now, when I look out my window and see my garden, I feel very joyful.
â€œI remember how during practice I used to play with the matchstick box. Sometimes I played with my dupatta and when Ustaad sahib used to tell me off I’d put my dupatta under his shoe!â€
NK: Which old memories do you remember sitting here?
FK:Â Childhood days, old talks. Once I drove to a Picture house with my kids to watch a 3pm movie. It was so hot that my youngest daughter’s nose started bleeding. After this incident, I never took them to watch a 3pm movie. Also, my son would never sleep unless I’d take him around in a car. After a round, when we used to come back home, he’d be sleeping in the car.
NK: What time do you sit here and do you also rehearse here?
FK: Beta, I sit here most of the time, this is my most preferred place. Whenever I’m stressed, I come here and think and ask for Allah’s help. I was doing riyaaz before you came.