Every story begins with a story – there always is a story of a story. So it began with thoughts in my head, thoughts about life and love.
Questions – confusing, confounding and suffocating.
I decided to give my thoughts a concrete form – the only way I know is using words. But is it not so that words are not sufficient, are never sufficient. They have never been able to paint thoughts in their sublime beauty – but today they must suffice.
What should I write about? I asked myself.
Life, but I don’t know its’ meaning, its purpose – and so it began.
A city of busy streets and busier people.
Streets full of people. People who are frustrated with life – life for them has lost its eternal
spiritual beauty, what remains is ugly with no signs of its’ beautiful and rich past remain, no memories of its’ deeper shades survives. Every day these people unwillingly carry the burden of life, only to put it down for the night, and continue the toil the following day.
The day is like most days in this city and the street like most streets.
He glanced at his watch impatiently and then slammed at the horn. He was running late
and was stuck in traffic. Dark grey clouds hung low in the sky, threatening a heavy downpour. The day was breathing its’ last breaths and the night was impatient for its’ first.
He was not supposed to be stuck in traffic, he had to be somewhere else.
The first few drops came reluctantly, one splashed against the windshield; another
caressed his arm, rested for a second and then continued its descent. He rolled his window and lit a cigarette. The rain started coming in sheets now, big drops pounding against the car. Smoke rolled upwards in a slow circular movement, hovering infront of his eyes for a few moments and then disappearing. If only he could burn his
worries at the tip of his cigarette and then watch them disappear into nothingness.
The rain continued to hammer down.
He took a left turn into a sideroad hoping to find a less traveled road to
his destination. This road looked unfamiliar, but he carried on.
Heavy rain is always followed by a blackout in this city. Now, the city was enveloped in
darkness, the only light coming from cars speeding towards their destinations. Darkness has a very strange effect on this city. It swallows the sounds of the city – all one can hear is the sound of the rain. The most effected by this darkness though, are the people of this city you see a few walking around in a daze and a few not moving at all. The darkness just hits them like lightning and they become totally disoriented – with glazed eyes and suspended limbs they wait to be enlivened by electricity – always reminding me of my laptop that some years ago refused to operate on batteries and only works when it is connected to a live source.
It became impossible for him to find his way now, so he stopped. He lit another cigarette
and closed his eyes.
An old woman saw the car parked on the curb. All she could see was the burning tip of
the cigarette, slowly moving towards darkness, glowing, and then falling towards darkness. She slowly walked towards the car and rapped at the window.
He was shaken out of his thoughts with a loud rap at the window. He reached for the light
in the car and rolled down the window. There stood an old woman in the rain. She had long white hair that stuck to her scalp, the patched clothes she was wearing were clinging to her frail body. She stuck a boney hand out and asked for some money. He mumbled something and handed her some loose change lying on the dashboard.
A young, weary man stared at her from the dimly lit car. He had a soft face – like all rich
people have she thought. The young man handed her some loose change that had been lying on the dashboard.
The old woman took the money. Then she stared at his face for a few seconds. Although,
her face was typical of poor old people, her eyes were different. There was strength in those eyes, and when she stared at him he could not turn his eyes away from her.
His eyes caught her attention. There was no spark in them, they were sad and lost. He
was so young in appearance but his eyes were old. His eyes had seen too much, they were searching for answers. Age will teach him, she thought, teach him to be patient and wait for the answers to find him.
She smiled and walked away.
The old woman walked away in the rain and disappeared in the darkness. He rolled the
window and lit another cigarette. What a strange woman, he thought. Dressed in patches, with probably no shelter for the night but how beautiful were her eyes – peaceful, content, smiling. As if she had everything one could wish for. As if none of the external difficulties in her life had affected her. Her body had suffered but her soul had not – was that possible?
The rain kept pouring down, occasionally the sky lighted up followed by a nerve racking
He rolled down the window and lazily stuck his arm out, rain drops gently kissed his bare
skin. He felt a sudden urge to walk out in the rain. He deposited his cell phone and wallet in the dash board and with sleeves rolled up stepped into the rain. He was overcome by a combination of sensations. His short, dry curly hair quenched their thirst on the drops; his closed eyelids felt its coolness; his open lips tasted its sweetness; thin streams curled down his chest and his spine simulating every nerve. It felt like music.
A young girl stood under a tree, her gaze rested on a beautiful young man standing
motionless in the rain. She started walking towards him.
He had never felt like this before. His whole being was full of life and he felt light. He
slowly opened his eyes and noticed a young girl walking towards him. She was beautiful with large innocent eyes that stared out of a small radiant face.
The young man opened his eyes, they were beautiful. He looked back at her
effectionately, this gave her confidence. She walked up to him and looked at him shyly. She wanted to touch his face, so she motioned him to lower his face.
A little hand peeked out of the sleeve of the loose garment and invited him to come
closer. He sat down to bring his face to the level of that of the young girl. The young girl stroked his face with her small hand, their eyes locked for a moment – her soft eyes reassured him that everything was going to be alright.
She slowly withdrew her hand and with a nod walked off in to the rain.
His eyes followed the girl disappear into darkness; his thoughts followed their own path.
He started walking aimlessly through narrow streets. He was oblivious to his surroundings, too occupied with his own thoughts. He started thinking about the problem at hand – a problem that moments ago had felt too heavy to shoulder, it was breaking him down emotionally and physically – but now when he thought about it again it seemed as if he had given it unnecessary importance. People had endured problems much worse
and had not let those problems weaken their spirit. Life had offered him so much and so
little to many others but they were grateful for the little they had and he was ungrateful for the little he did not have.
He had never believed in coincidence. Meeting these people was no coincidence he
thought. Someone was out there who was closer to him than he ever thought, and that someone had sent him a message. Yes, God did answer when one asked for His guidance with sincerity.
Presently, he found himself standing infront of a mosque. He had taken a random path,
without any thought and this path had brought him here. All paths in the end bring you infront of God. He walked in.
The mosque was lit with candles. The candles burnt silently in niches, the light from one
candle spread for a few feet, reaching out as far as it could, illuminating walls adorned by ayahs of the Quran. The dieing light from one candle embraced that of the next candle – thus forming an intricate pattern of light and darkness throughout the mosque.
An old man stood in a corner of the mosque giving the Azan, his words deeply touched
him, the words made a connection and something within him recognized and acknowledged a timeless pact.
He made his way towards a square pool of water, surrounded by people making ready for
their prayer. With unsure movements he sat infront of a tap of water and started washing his hands, trying hard to recall the sequence he had been taught when he was a young boy. A young man came and sat next to him, he started copying the movements of the young man. By the time he washed his feet he was surer of his movements and when he got up he got up with a sense of purpose. He was aware of the significance of his actions. He walked to the place where the imam was sitting and squatted behind him in the first row.
The imam proclaimed in a strong voice, Allah u Akbar and started reciting the opening
surah of the Quran. The words fell upon his ears, melted and flowed towards his heart, he was unaware of the meaning of what was being recited but was sure as to what they meant. With a second proclamation of Allah u Akbar the imam went into ruku’ and the with the third into the sajdah’. His forehead gently kissed the rough skin of the saf’. A cool and calm feeling flowed from the ground through his forehead and into his heart. From their mixed with his blood and his heart pumped that blood to every limb of his body. These feelings did not go even after the imam had finished the four rakats’.
In a state of rapture he got up from his sitting place and started walking about the
mosque. He walked a few feet and then stopped his attention caught on an inscription on the walls of the mosque; walked again and then stopped again oblivious to the aged eyes following him around from the corner of the mosque.
The old man sat leaning against the wall of the mosque, he was staring at the young man
standing infront of an inscription on the wall. The old man had never come to this mosque until today, but the rain had brought him here. The young man noticed the old man looking at him from the corner of the mosque. He walked up to him and sat beside him.
The young man and the old man sat and talked for a while. Then the young man got up
and walked out of the mosque. The rain had weakened and the city was alight once more. The man, absorbed in his thoughts, stepped on a slippery patch of soil; he lost his footing and stumbled on to the busy road.
Time stopped. Warm blood and cold rain drops flowed down his face. He knew that he
had reached the end of the road. It was only appropriate. The answers had found him and his search was over. He did not feel sad, he just felt light – he closed his eyes.
The young man closed his eyes without a sound. He had not tried to hold on to his last
moments, he had not fought death and instead had willingly returned what was always not his. A crowd was gathering around his broken body.
The tasbih’ caught my eye. It was lying only a few feet from the dead man next to a bunch of keys. I looked around and slipped the tasbih into my pocket, and with his keys walked to my car.
Here it ends. Here it begins again .. !!