Duaa, Soulmates and the Absolute Exhilaration in Surrender

It was a very very long time ago when I discovered the most intriguing thing about my creation: that I was created with another part. A part that I have never seen, a part that was not made in me, but for me. A part that only time would bring, and I had to look out for. The part that would finally make me complete.

I was left with only a few clues about it: It was somewhere on earth. It was made of the same stuff that I was. It changed for the better if I did, and it deteriorated if I did. And most importantly, it was looking for me too.
Since the realization of this truth, I could say life was anything but easy. The first challenge after this realization was being aware of my incompleteness, recognizing that there is a void. A void that my society threatened to treat as a pitiful handicap if it existed ‘too long’. But themost excruciating of all was ignoring that void till it was to be filled with what fit just right. And I say excruciating because of the constant psychological pressure to fill that void, either making me break my head over tricky duplicates or with what society forced me to consider for its various stupid reasons, and when every time that void refused to be filled except by what belongs there, it painfully taunted me of its existence. Till there were numerous times I was so frustrated and/or disillusioned by the importance given to it that I vowed to desensitize myself and leave it empty, gaping at me for the rest of my life.
Thank God I decided something better: to desensitize myself to the pressure itself and not the void. In fact, I even stopped seeing it as a void. I saw it as it should be seen: a precious place to be taken, if and when Allah thinks best. And by whom Allah thinks best.
So as I prayed for goodness in all those other aspects of my life that are only in Allah’s knowledge, I continued to pray for goodness and delight when I am to finally see this place taken.
When a family friend once expressed that he liked me, I told him I was already in love. With someone I’ve never seen, but I know is out there. I was in love and I was preparing myself for him, and waiting. Waiting for the day time would finally reveal him to me. There would be endless discussions with friends about what, when and how it could happen, and we would either end up contemplating our dilemmas in silence, or laugh our lives out at our helpless speculations. Often times it would be solitary wondering, either while drinking coffee alone after a long tiring day or for a moment or two just before turning in for the night, or while staring at the solitary moon, or in those moments of quiet prayer in itikaaf.
Sometimes the wait got long and tiring. Many times I’d just think of giving up and giving in to whatever comes along, then I would remember the aayah from Surah Rahman: “Is not the reward for good only good?” So I’d wait a little more and try to preserve the goodness a little more. Then one day, my close friend mentioned to me that if I really wanted something from Allah, no classes, no routine, no sleep would keep me from waking up in the middle of the night and praying tahajjud to Him. So I finally decided to give it a try because the pressure on me to get married was increasing and I knew I would have to make a decision very soon. And to my own surprise, I found myself waking up at tahajjud without an alarm, without any reminders. After two weeks of earnest appeal in tahajjud, of testing my own hope and trust in Allah, I realised this unrevealed part of my life had given me alot more than I asked for: the most beautiful of all, was that it taught me how to ask from Allah. It taught me how to ask as His servant, His slave, His own personal creation– I confessed and complained and I asked and begged and pleaded, and I surrendered.felt like an empty-handed helpless slave, and nothing ever felt so good. SubhanAllah. It taught me the insignificance of myself, my abilities, my name and my irrelevant little attributes and the true value of His grace and forebearance and mercy throughout my life, but above all, the ultimate outcome of my pleading to Him was literally living proof of the power of proper duaa: the proof of His greatness to do all things, the proof of His definite answer to those who call on Him, the proof of His perfect discharge of trust for those who rely only on Him, and one of the most delightful forms of His mercy in my life. The answer to my duaa to Allah that I waited so, so long for… was much more than I expected, much much more than I deserved and better than I could ever imagine, Ma sha Allah. Alhamdulillah.
Originally written on 15th July 2010, the morning of my wedding.

We Had a Life

children playing
I was part of the generation of kids that pointed at planes and went “LOOOOK! It’s a plane!” and waved like mad at them.

We cycled in the summers and ate ice pops and spent our whole day outside, we had picnics on the terrace, swam in plastic pools in the balcony, told ghost stories to each other when the electricity got cut, we bought sugarcane from push carts for half a rupee, we flew kites and plastic balloons (not fake metallic ones) and our grand treats were icecreams in mango-shaped containers. We drew with toothpaste on anyone who slept during sleep-overs, we hijacked our neighborhoods with toy guns, we set up adventure camps on terraces and we wrote on neighbors’ catus plants and smelled their beautiful white roses. We watched Home Alone 20 times and laughed harder every time, we went to waterfalls and beaches and hill stations as large families, and ate home-cooked food out of 5-stack hot cases. We painted on pots and made leaves and flowers out of plaster of paris, we created puppets and held puppet shows in cardboard boxes, we attended karate classes, we watched different colors of paint as they swirled down in water. We baked cakes and made omlettes on weekends, we played hide and seek and hop scotch and “kitchen-kitchen” for hours and we made garlands out of yellow flowers growing on trees in our lanes. We climbed trees, ate their fruits, planted seeds, cooked in tiny earthen pots for all the neighborhood’s kids. We played dark room and spun under the sun till we fell down laughing. We would try to burn paper by focusing the sun through a magnifying glass on it, we would be thrilled out of our senses if our uncles took us for rides on their motorbikes.

We soaked in the sun, we HEARD the waves for real, we FELT trees and sand, we SMELLED flowers and plants, we PLAYED, with HUMAN BEINGS, we got hurt in reality, we baked and cooked and swam and ran and won and lost and got scared for real and we laughed out loud FOR REAL.

We had a LIFE. And we had the time of our lives!

 

Under a Crimson Veil

Image

Under a crimson veil, a sanctuary since birth is left for an unpredictable world.

Under a crimson veil, a woman painfully, reluctantly leaves the girl in her behind.

Under a crimson veil; an irreplacable happiness dies, as a fragile one is just conceived.

Under a crimson veil, the tears of a stabbing sorrow are shed; quietly, ruefully, uncontrollably.

If I Could Turn Back Time

If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t be risk averse. I would take trains to nowhere when I could. I would fail Criminal law to study it again. I would never study a word of civil procedure and would have just copied to pass the exam. I would have done everything I had to to get into Harvard Law School. I would listen to no one but myself when I considered the possibility of living my dreams. I would have cycled all over campus with an imaginary boyfriend every morning. I would have written down more of my once brilliant thoughts. I would have loved and attended to my parents much more. I would eat more street food, wear bangles, go on fast bikes with my best friends. I would dance in the rain whenever it rained. I would never have underestimated the value of a third party’s opinion. I would have hugged my mom every day and night. I would break every religiously inconsequential rule. I would have compiled an unmatchable collection of campus flora. I would have tried to learn in a much easier way that humble, accomplished, polished people and arrogant simple people exist. I would never have taken an envious person’s advice. I would have a larger collection of make-up than just kohl, mascara and gloss. I would have worn colored abayas. I would have somehow tried to minor in physics. I would have asked Dr. Tareq for illustrations of how and why “to protect and not give your mind to anyone, because it is the only valuable thing that is ours”. I would have bought a favorite perfume every now and then. I would have believed that lineage IS important sometimes. I would have learnt the difference between humility and undervaluing oneself. I would have believed in a lot of elders’ wisdom. I would have kept quiet on many occasions and snapped back on many more. I would force myself to love technology. I would have snatched those kites and flown them instead of just watching all the time. I would have eaten more fruits instead of chocolates. I would have listened to my intuition and stayed when the doctor said we could have dinner and come back because mom still had a long time to deliver. I would not have apologized for alot of things and would have for many others. I wouldn’t have been afraid of anything worldly except the dark. I would have read ALOT, LOT more. I would never have eaten campus food. I would have travelled alot more when I could. I would have enrolled in the Moots Club from my first year and never listened to my dad. I would have drank more milk. I would have eaten salad everyday. I would have woken up early every day. I would have worked at a news station. I would have audited a course in Economics for a very unacademic reason. I would never have apologized for who I was. I would have opened a competing cafe near the library and caused Nescafe to shut down forever. I would have overspent. I would have worn heels every now and then. I would have insulted more guys in the bus who sat while girls stood. I would have made better use of my holidays. I would have taken up my first job at 16. I would have frozen time at the 19th year of my life. I wouldn’t have taken off my braces before I should have. I would have exercised everyday. I would’ve breathed deeper. I would have played with my neices more. I would have watched the world from my beautiful one and smiled.

Disappeared

Unyielding fingers

Ruined heart

Emptied soul

Silenced, murdered mind.

No closure, no escape

For the one that has disappeared;

The one that has dissolved into an oblivion of no return

Leaving but a weeping void  

For the ghastly new weed

That now resides within

To stare at and wonder miserably:

“Who had once bloomed here?”

When the heart is plundered once again

And the mind is stabbed some more                             

A faint memory of her comes to life

She glimmers, laughing in the distance

And the eyes that she left for ever

Ruefully watch as they fill,

The girl that was on a ceremony killed.

My Little Hands

I clean the shoes on their feet

That they thrust at my 7-year old face

But I understand, he’s a city man

My little hands dare not make him late.

I wake up to work, I walk to work

I sleep only so that I can work

When I get to work I’m beaten to work,

Even though I never stop,

Harder, faster, better or beating

I eat whatever makes me work.

From welding metal, to cementing houses,

To sitting for hours in a hot windowless room,

Beading away though my legs are so numb,

On the dress of a bride or groom.

Exhaustion and wounds are my state of health,

My lungs heave with unknown disease,

Coaxed away from my burdened parents in the village,

I live in the city, under plastic sheets.

I eat headache balm spread on fungal bread

Yes the taste was first too hard to take

But my friends and I seem to like it now

‘Cause it puts us into a mechanical state.

Entranced we work till the darkness sets,

Like noiseless, numb machines

And yes ofcourse, the chemical breakfast

Is our day’s only meal.

Mud and bricks and metal bars,

Needles and garbage or heavy machines,

From morning to night, they fill my arms,

As boys run past with books and ice creams.

One day we were awarded an hour’s break,

So I leaned back on the factory’s outer wall,

Looking at the buildings, and roads and shimmering dresses,

And thought: I had a hand in them all!

But as I looked at my hands,

Bruised and rough, like a tired old man’s,

I wondered: Is a hand in them all I will have?

What I was to shed as tears for my predicament,

I shed it all as sweat.

But suddenly, I was surprised to find,

A tear slowly creep out of my eyes,

How could it be? I asked myself

But then I realized…

It was from my eyes that I sweat… in my hour of rest.

Donate or choose to educate a child laborer. Its monthly cost is less than one family dinner at a restaurant.

Stop by a child laborer and buy him a small treat today.

20th November, 1982.

Today was one of those amazing, indescribable days in history when a couple had their very first baby, a BEAUTIFUL glowing baby girl: everyone spoke of her slenderness and her gorgeous skin and petal-like lips.

It was the day when future siblings had received the most awesome eldest sister: unparalleled in her strength of mind, her responsible nature, her protectiveness of her siblings and her love for them- she was their wondergirl: she baked with them, swam with them, taught them about everything under the sun from making sand castles to email and the internet, captivated them with her animated stories and awareness of everything, counselled them, consoled them, listened intently to them, hugged them, taught them MATH in a way no one else could, protected them against the world, stood by them like always till and beyond their wedding day.

The day when one man had the most incredible woman come into the world to become his wife: she stood  apart from every woman in her beauty, her intelligence, her strength and her inexhaustible enthusiasm and love to  help, cheer up and comfort those around her. She was contagiously happy, she chose to look happy even in trying times.

The day when a model student and leader stepped into this world: brilliant in her ideas, excellent in her every project, always either the top or among the top of her class, exceptional in her wit and intelligence, an award-winner throughout her academic life, a revolutionary house captain that made her team a winner in her 1-year tenure despite their previous 10 years of consistent failure.

Exemplary and truly one of a kind in her eloquence and expression, today was the day when one of the best teachers and debate trainers was born. She changed minds and personalities through her talent and thoughts: numerous lives would testify to this.

Today, a friend like no other came to us, to be sought and admired: for her enlivening company, her patient ears, her logical and comforting advice and most of all, her trustworthiness and encouraging words.

But more than anything, today was the day when a mother was born. This, I cannot describe. Language and talent fails me in the description of this heavenly creature- whoever takes her form. Today, a mother who risked her own life to bring new life into this world was born. She chose to do this not once, but twice. Risking her own life was not the end of it all: sacrificing her every second, which is in essence her life, to beautifully rear and nourish her greatest gifts to our world was her next choice, which she chose instantly, fearlessly, individually- against every demand of society and norms and even her own self on her. As working women slept, she paced the room with her crying infant till the morning, as they worked on computers, her work was a living being: with its own mind, its own emotions, its own will, its own tastes and its own waste. They came back home after 5pm and weekends were parties and shopping- her workplace was her home, with no such thing as office hours, off-days or sick leave or vacation nor overtime – nor pay. No employee-of-the-month, no appreciation week, no best employee award, no bonuses, no promotions – despite the work steadily increasing. On-call, 24 hours, any hour of the day, irrespective of the situation: weddings, parties, classes, alone time, friends over, time with husband – nothing matters- she has to pull herself out of anything if her child needs her, to press replay on youtube or remove the peas from the rice or change her diaper or wipe her tears because of an imaginary injury by her cousin. This, I believe, is no ordinary creation. I do not say human being because it cannot be a human being. It is a creation in itself.

Today was the day Sarah Chinoy was born. All praise and thanks are for Allah alone.