Time of Devastation is the Real Time of Transformation
I am leading short of words right now but I cannot afford this because I have to speak. Thank you so much for all the love, for all the warmth. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you very much.
Well; I always start my talk with the disclaimer and that disclaimer is that I have never claimed that I am a motivational speaker; yes I do speak. But I feel more like a story teller because wherever I go I share a story with everyone. Well, it is a story of a woman who has perfectly imperfect life, made her who and what she is today. It's the story of a woman who in pursuit of dreams and aspirations made other people realise that if you think that your life is hard and you are giving up on that because you think your life is unfair; think again. Because when you think that way you are being unfair to your ownself. It's the story of a woman who made people realise that sometimes problems are not too big, we are too small because we cannot handle them. It's the story of a woman who with time realised that real happiness doesn't lie in success, money, fame; it lies within. Real happiness lies in gratitude. So I am here and I am going to share the story of that woman. That is my story. The story of gratitude. I love you too. I love you all. I believe in the power of words. Many people speak before they think. But I know the value of words. Words can make you, break you, they can heal your soul; they can damage you forever. So I always try to use the positive words in my life wherever I go. They call it adversity; I call it opportunity; they call it weakness; I call it strength. They call be disabled; I call myself differently able. They see my disability; I see my ability. There are some incidents that happen in your life and those incidents are so strong that they change your DNA. Those incidents or accidents are so strong that they break you physically, deform your body but they transform your soul. Those incidents break you, deform you but they mould you into the best version of you; and the same thing happened to me; and I am going to share what exactly happened to me.
I was 18 years old when I got married; and this thing I am sharing very first time on international level. I was 18 years old when I got married; I belong to a very conservative family; a Balauch family where good daughters never say no to their parents. My father wanted me to get married. And all I said was, if that marriage makes you happy; I will say; yes and of course it was never a happy marriage. Just about after 2 years of getting married; about 9 years ago I met a car accident. Somehow my husband fell asleep and the car fell into ditch. He managed to jump out; saved himself. I am happy for him. But I stayed inside the car and I sustained a lot of injuries; list is a little bit long; don't get scared I am perfectly fine. My right arm was fractured, the wrist was fractured, shoulder bone and collar bone were fractured, my whole rib cage were fractured. And because of the rib cage injury lungs and lever were badly injured. I couldn't breathe. I lost urine and bowl control. That's why I have bear those bags wherever I go. But that injury that changed me and my life completely as a person and my perception towards living my life was the spine injury. My backbone was completely crushed and I got paralysed for rest of my life.
So this accident took place in a far far long area; in the outskirt of very small province Baluchistan where there was not first aid; no hospital; no ambulance. I was in the middle of no where in that car. Many people came to rescue, they gave me CPR. They dragged me out of the car and while they were dragging me out I got the complete transection of my spinal cord and now there was this debate going on; should we keep it here; she is going to die; where should we go. 6 00
There is no ambulance. There was this four wheeler jeep standing on the corner of this street. They said; put her in the back of the jeep and take her to the hospital which is just 3 hours away from this place and I still remember that bumpy ride. I was all broken. They throw me on the back of the jeep and they rushed me to the hospital. That is where I realised that my half body was fractured and half was paralysed. I finally ended up in a hospital where I stayed for 2.5 months. I ended with multiple surgeries. Doctors have put a lot of Titanium in my arm. There is a lot of Titanium in my back to fix my back. That's why people in Pakistan call me the iron lady of Pakistan. Sometimes I wonder how easy it is for me to describe all this; all over again and somebody has right said that when you share your story and it doesn't make you cry that means you are weird. 7 15
Those 2.5 months in the hospital were dreadful. I will not make up stories just inspire you; I was at the verge of despair. One day doctor came to me and said; I heard that you want to be an artist but you ended up being a housewife. I have a bad news for you. You won't be able to paint again; because your wrist and your arm are so deformed; you won't be able to hold pen again, and I stayed quiet. Next day doctor came to me and said; your spine injury is so bad; you won't be able to walk again, I took a deep breath; and I said it's alright. The next day doctor came to me and said because of your spine injury and the fixation that you have in your back; you won't be able to give birth to a child again. That day I was devastated I still remember; I asked my mother; why me? And that is where I started to question my existence. Why am I even alive? What's the point of living? I cannot walk, I cannot paint; fine; I cannot be a mother; and we have this thing in our heads being women that we are incomplete without having children. I am going to be an incomplete woman for the rest of life. What's the point? People are scared. They think; I will get divorced. What is going happen to me? Why me; why am I alive? We all try to change this tunnel. We all do this because we see light at the end of the tunnel which keeps us going. 9 07
My Dear friends; in my situation; there was a tunnel that I have to roll on but there was no light. And that day s where I realised that words have power to heal the soul. My mother said to me, this too shall pass. God has a greater plan for you. I don't know, what it is but He surely has. And in all those stress and grief; some or the other; these words were so magical that they kept me going. I was trying to put smile on my face all the time. I was hiding. It was so hard to hide the pain which was there. What I knew was that if I will give up, my mother and my brothers will give up too. I cannot see them crying with me. So what kept me going was, one day, I asked my brothers. I know, I have a deformed hand but I'm tired of looking these white walls in this hospital and waiting these white scrubs. I'm getting tired of this, I want to add more colors to my life, I want to do something, bring me some colors, bring me some small canvas, I want to paint. So the very first painting I made was on my death bed where I painted very time. It was not just an art piece or just my passion, it was my therapy. What an amazing therapy it was. Without uttering a single word, I could paint my heart out, I could share my story. People used to come and say, what lovely painting. So much color, nobody could see the grief in it. Only I could. So that's my 2.5 months I spent in hospital. Crying, never complaining or whining but painting and then I was discharged and went back home. I realized that I have developed a lot of pressure ulcers on my back and hip bone. I was unable to sit. There were a lot of infections in my body and a lot of allergies so doctors wanted me to lie down on the bed straight for not 6 months, for not 1 year, for 2 years. I was bed ridden, confined in that one room, looking outside the window, listening to the birds chirping and thinking may be there will be a time when I will be going out with the family and enjoying the nature. That was the time where I realized how lucky people are but they don't realize.
That is the time where I realized that the day I am going to sit, I am going to share this painto everyone to make them realize, how blessed they are. And they don't even consider them lucky.
There are always turning points in your life. There was a re birth day that I celebrated.
After 2 years and 2.5 months when I was able to sit on a wheelchair that was the day, when I had the rebirth.
I was completely different person. I still remember the day I sat on the wheelchair for the first time, knowing that I am never going to leave this, knowing that I won't be able to walk for the rest of my life. I saw myself in the mirror and I talked to myself; I still remember what I said. I cannot wait for a miracle to come and make me walk. I cannot sit in a corner of the room crying, creeping and begging for mercy. Because nobody has time. So I have to accept myself who I am. The sooner the better. So I applied the lip color for the first time. And I erased it. And I cried and I said, what am I doing. A person on a wheelchair should not do this. What will people say, clean it up. I put it again. This time I put it for myself. Because I wanted to feel perfect from within. And that day I decided that I am going to live life for myself. I am not going to be that perfect person for someone. I am just going to take this moment and I am going to make it perfect for myself.
And you know how it all began; that day I decided that I am going to fight my fears. We all have fears. Fear of unknown; Fear of known; Fear of losing people, fear of losing health, money. We want to excel in career, we want to become famous. We want to get money. We get scared all the time. So I wrote down one by one; all those fears. And I decided that I am going to overcome these fears one at a time. You know; what was my biggest fear; DIVORCE. I couldn't stand this word. I was trying to cling onto this person who didn't want me any more. But I said, no, I have to make it work. But the day I decided that this is nothing but my fear. I liberated myself by setting him free and I made myself emotionally so strong that the day I got the news that he is getting married. I sent him a text that I am so happy for you and wish you all the best and he knows that I pray for him today. 15 15
My biggest fear #2; was; I won't be able to be a mother again and that was quite devastating for me. But then I realized there are so many children in this world; all they want is acceptance. So there is no point of crying. Just go and adapt one and that's what I did.
I gave my name in different organisations, different orphanages. I didn't mentioned that I am on wheelchair, dieing to have a child. So I just told them that this is Muniba Mazari and she wants to adapt a boy or girl. Whatsoever but I want adapt a kid and I waited patiently. Two years later I got this call from a very small city in Pakistan. I got a call and they said. Are you Muniba Mazari? There is a baby boy and Would you like to adapt? And when I said, Yes, I could literally feel the labour pain. And I said, yes, yes, I am going to adapt him. I am coming to take him home. 16 30
And when I reached there. The man was sitting there and he was looking at me from head to toe and in the back of my head I kept on thinking; O my God. He is going to say, she is on the wheelchair, she doesn't deserve it. How she is going to take care of him and I looked at him and I said, do not judge me because I am on wheelchair. But you know what he said, he said. I know you will be the best mother of this child. You both are lucky to have each other. 17 00
And that day, that was 2 days old and today he six. You will be surprised to know another fear that I had in me; it was facing people. I used to hide myself from people. When I was on bed for two years, I used to keep the door closed. I used to pretend that I am not going to meet anyone that I am sleeping. You know why I couldn't stand that sympathy that they had for me. They used to treat me like patient. When I used to smile, they looked at me and say that you are smiling; are you OK. I was tired of this question, being asked, are you sick. A lady yesterday asked me yesterday; are you sick? And I said, yes, besides spinal cord injury I am fine, I guess. Those are really cute questions. 18 00
Never used to cute when I was on the bed. So I used to hide myself from people, knowing that, o my God, I am not going to see that sympathy in their eyes. It's alright. And today I am here speaking to all these amazing people because I have overcome the fear.
You know, when you end up be on the wheelchair, what's the most painful thing. That's another fear. That people on the wheelchair, the people who are differently able have in their hearts, they never share. I share with you, Lack of acceptance. People think that they will not be accepted by the people because we in the world of perfect people are the People of imperfects. So I decided that instead of starting an NGO for disability awareness which I know will not help anyone. I started to appear more in public. I started to paint. I always wanted too. I have been in a lot of exhibitions I am Pakistan's first fractured bone artist. I have done a lot of modelling campaigns, different campaigns for brand like tonian guy, I have done some really funny breaking the barriers kind of modelling. There was this one by the name clown town where I became a clown. Because I know that clowns have odds too.
I also decided that if I really want to make the difference; I am not going to let people use you for their polio campaign where they will make you victim as resemblance of misery and mercy and will say you know what; give polio drops to your children or they become like this girl. I decided that I am going to join the national TV of Pakistan as an anchor person. And I have been a lot of shows for last three years.
So when you accept yourself, the way you are. World recognises you. It all starts from within. I became the national goodwill ambassador for women for Pakistan and now I speak for the rights of women and children. We talk about inclusion, diversity, gender equality which is the must.
I was featured in BBC 100 women for 2015. I was first 30 under 30 in 2016. And it all happened alone. You all are thriving in your careers. You have bigger dreams and inspirations in life. Always remember one thing; on the road to success, there is always we; not me. 21 00
Do not think that you alone can achieve things; no; there is always another person who is standing behind you; may be not coming on the forefront but behind you. Praying for you and supporting you. Never lose that person, never. No matter, how much I say That I couldn't find a hero and I became one. I still want to recognise those three people in my life; who literally changed my life completely and I get inspiration from them every single day. Waleed Khan; many people know about terrorist attacks in Pakistan; we have lost many people. And I am sure that this was very heavy your hearts that we have lost a lot of people in this huge turmoil of terrorism. These people are barbarian. They do not see people. They are even worst than animals. They have killed people in mosques. Thay have killed people in churches, temples, even in schools. There was this terrorist attack in Army Public School Peshawar where these terrorists entered in examination hall and they killed our children. And in that attack that day; this beautiful boy; Waleed Khan; was my hero; my real life hero; was the proctor; who was taking care of the students; was keeping eye on the students; those barbarians shot him three times on face, five times on his body and he fell down. I was asked to talk in the school after a week of this terrorist attack. With a very heart I went there and I spoke. We sang few national songs. I thought, may be I have done my part but deep inside it was killing me. I could see children injured. I could see children on wheelchairs; looking at me wondering; what next. What was our fault. Just because we were here to give examination, we have been shot. So many people, so many children lost their friends. Their classrooms were empty they went the next day to the classroom. So this kid Waleed Khan; I was asked that he was in hospital right now and you go and see him and motivate him and tell him that it's going to be OK. I saw Waleed Khan; coming on the wheelchair for the first time in front of me; face was all deformed; his leg was fractured; his arm was fractured. He couldn't talk. He lost his teeth. He cannot sneeze. He cannot smell, he cannot eat. And I kept thinking, what should I say. That everything is going to be alright. No. Nothing is alright. 24 00
And while I was juggling with the words; what should I say; what not to say; this beautiful child Waleed Khan; came to me and said; are you Muniba Mazari; yes. He said; Baji, let us take a selfy. And with that beautiful toothless smile with Waleed Khan; we took that beautiful selfy that I still have with me. I don't share that here because he was in a very bad shape at that time. And that is where I realised that when I was thinking too much about his deformities; he is happy with himself. He doesn't even care. Because today he goes in the same school and when somebody ask him that what happened to your face. Why so many scars? You know what he says; these scars are my medals and I wear them with pride. And how beautifully he says that terrorists wanted me not to study, I am going to study. I will become doctor one day and this is my way of taking revenge from those terrorists. 25 30
Another real life hero, of course, my son, his name is Nile NILE River Nile. I learn so much from this kid. The first and foremost thing is patience. How to be patient. When you know that your mother cannot walk; When you know that your mother is different from the other women; When you know that your mother cannot go out to play with you; how to stay calm. He loves football and when we got the very first football, he was four years old. He was super excited. I still remember, he came in the room and he said, mom, let's play football and kept the ball in my feet and he said; let's kick it and that day I felt disabled. I said, I cannot kick the ball and I was down with the same face.
He looked at me and he said, well, that's alright, your legs are not working but your hands still do. Let's play; catch the ball.
You know; that day, he made me realise, when you think your glass is half empty; come on your glass is half full. This is all mind and heart.
Last, but not least; the woman who made me realise that heroes have no gender. The woman who believed in me, even when I was completely at the verge to despair. Everybody left. She was there and every time I looked at her, without saying anything, she used to look at me and said, this too shall pass. God has bigger plans and one day you will see, O my God, that is why God has chosen me. She never cried in front of me. She has always said, there will be haters, there will be nay sayers, there will be disbelievers and then there will be you proving them wrong; my mother.
Whatever I am today, I am nothing without her, I am nothing without her.
Thank you mom, I wish, you were here. Thank you for making me what I am today. 28 00
You know what we human beings have a problem; out of many problems, there is one more, and this is self created one. We always expect ease from life. We have this amazing fantasy about life. This is how things should work. This is my plan. It should go as per my plan. If that doesn't happen, we give up.
My dear friends; let me tell you one thing. I never wanted to be on wheelchair; never thought of being on wheelchair. I was always aspiring to do bigger things but I had no idea that I have to pay the price to be where I am today. It's a very heavy price. This life is a test and a trial. Test or trials. I never supposed to be easy. So when you expecting ease from life 29 00
and life gives you lemons and you make the lemonade and do not blame life for that. Because you were expecting ease from a trial. Trials make you a stronger, better person.
Life is a trail. Every time you realise that. It's OK to be scared, it's PK to cry. Everything is OK but giving up should not be an option. They always say; Failure is not an option; Failure should be an option because when you fail, you get up and then you fail and then you get up and that keeps you going. That's how humans are strong. Failure is an option; should be an option but giving up is not. Never. We have this thing in minds. We call it perfection; we want everything perfect; we want ourselves to be perfect. There is this image in our head about everything; perfect life; perfect relationships; perfect career; perfect amount of money that we need to earn, no matter what. Nothing is perfect in this world. We all are perfectly imperfect and that is perfectly alright. That's alright. We were sent here not to become the perfect people. Those people who tell you how to look perfect even those people are imperfect. Trying to fight this fear of looking imperfect, I used to be perfect. I still remember; I got this compliment; years ago; when I used to walk; O my God; look at you; you are very good; you are tall; you are perfect. Look at me now.
Only the perfect eyes can see that; Only the perfect eyes will see that; Only the perfect eyes will see that; so yes; in all those imperfections; you have to listen to your heart; you don't have to look good for people; you don't have to be perfect just because other people want you to be perfect. If your soul is perfect from within; that's alright. This is all what you want; This is all what you need to be. Our society has made very weird; very weird kind of norms to look perfect for grade. For men, it's different; For women, it's different. We think too much what people say. We listen to ourselves too little.
You know what makes you perfect; when you make someone smile. You know what makes you perfect; when you try to do something good for the people around you. You know what makes you perfect; when you feel someone's pain. And how beautiful pain is that it connects you with the people. No other medium can connect you with others but pain. That's why I always say that I am in pain and that's blessing in disguise for me. Today; just because I am in pain; and I am on the wheelchair; I work for children. Being the head or CSR for a company; we conduct medical camps for far long areas of Pakistan where so many kids die because they don't have medical facilities. And I personally believe that they cannot afford to live; doesn't mean that we let them die. So we give them medical treatment. We try to heal their wounds; physical and emotional and also work for the beautiful people; we call them third gender; the transgender community of Pakistan.
You know what connects me with them; all my imperfections. When I go and I hug them, they never judge me and this very good friend of mine; his name is Bijli; Bijli means electricity. She calls herself electricity and I said; Are you electricity; she said; no; I'm lightening; I'm as strong as lightening. Because we have very bad power outage, so she doesn't want me to call her electricity; so she says I am very strong; I am thunder lightening. She came to me and first time I hugged her; she said; you are just like me; and I said; yes; I am like you. Because to people we are so imperfect. So how beautiful these imperfections are; that because of these imperfections you can connect with people. Then why are we all running after being perfect. What's the point?
Every time I go in public; I always smile. I always have big smile on my face. People ask me; don't you get tired of smiling all the time; what's the secret. I always say one thing that I have stopped worrying about the things that I have lost. The people that I have lost; Things and people who were meant to be with me; are with me and sometimes somebody's absence make you a better person. Cherish their absence; It's always, always; blessing in disguise. I always say that people are so lucky; they don't even realise. You must be thinking; OK; you are lucky in what sense; well; the breath you just took; was a blessing; embrace it.
There are so many people in the world who would dreaming to live a life that you are living right now. You have no idea. Embrace each and every breath that you are taking. Celebrate your life; live it. Don't die before your death. We all die. We live this one routine of the day for seventy five years and we call it life; no; that's not life. If you are still thinking; why you have been sent here. If you are still juggling with the concept of why you are here; you haven't lived yet. You work hard, you make money, you do it for yourself. That's not life. You go out, you seek for people who need your help. You make their life better. You make that spunch which can absorb all the negativity and you become that person who can emit beautiful positive vibes and when you realise that you have changed someone's life and because of you this person didn't give up; that is the day when you live; Always.
We were talking about gratitude; why I smile all the time; I cry all night when nobody sees me. And as a human I have to keep the balance. And I smile all day because I know that if I will smile; I will keep the people smile. That keeps me going. 37 00
Be grateful for what you have, and you will always, always end up having more. But if you will cry and if you will creep for the little things that you don't have or the things you have lost; you will never ever have enough. Sometimes we are too busy thinking about the things that we don't have that we forget to cherish the blessings what we have. I am not saying that I am not healthy and that makes me unlucky. But yes, it is hard, it is hard when I say that I cannot walk, it is hard to say when I wear this bag. It hurts but I have to keep going because never giving up is the way to live; always.
So, I end my talk with a very short note; Live your life fully; Accept the way you are; Be kind to yourself; Be kind to yourself; Be kind to yourself; And only then you will be kind to others. Love yourself and spread that love. Life will be hard. There will be turmoil; There will be trials but that will only make you stronger. Never give up. The real happiness doesn't lie in money or success or fame. I have all this, never wanted this. Real happiness lies in gratitude; so be grateful, be alive and live every moment. Thank you so much everyone. Thank you.