Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Journey Home - Story

"Ammi, it's so scary in the dark. Will Allah watch over us and protect us?"
"Yes, Nazo. Remember what the Maulana Sahib said Allah is always present everywhere, to help his followers and when you need his protection, call out His name. Better still, do what I do."
"What's that Ammi?"
"Well," Jameela said, stroking her daughter's hair," I recite a simple but powerful dua."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Honest Beggar – Honest Outcome

Once upon a time there was a very honest beggar.

One day he came at the gates of a Big Bungalow. The servant came out and said, "Yes, Mr. beggar what do you want.

The beggar answered, "I am a smack addict spent all my money. I am getting this severe urge…Just a bit of charity in the name of God."

"I shall have to take this up with the lady of the house." Said the servant

The servant consulted with the lady of the house and she was a social worker, answered. "Don’t give him money he will surely take drugs like he says, give that good man a Roti (Indian Bread). Only one… And, if possible, from yesterday. He is anyway wasted lot"

Servant, who was secretly in love with his employer, in order to please her sought out a stale Roti, hard as a rock, and handed it to the beggar.

"Here you are, beggar," he said, no longer calling him Mister.
"God bless you with healthy kids," the beggar answered.

Servant closed the massive oaken door, and the beggar went off with the Roti folded in hand. He came to the vacant lot where he spent his days and nights taking drugs. He sat down in the shade of a tree, and began to eat it suddenly he bit into a hard object and felt one of his molars crumble to pieces. Great was his surprise when he picked up, together with the fragments of his molar, a fine ring of gold, pearls and diamonds.

"What luck," he said to himself. "I'll sell it and I'll have money for a long time."

But his honesty immediately prevailed: "No," he added. "If I go to a shop keeper to sell he will take me as robber and give me to police and then rehab or maybe jail, better I'll seek out its owner and return it."

Inside the ring were engraved the initials Big Bungalow’s lady. Great was his joy when he realized it was the very house at which he had been given the Rot containing the ring.

He knocked at the gates.
Servant came and asked him, "What do you want, Mr. Beggar?"
The beggar answered, "I've found this ring inside the loaf of bread you were good enough to give me a while ago."
Servant took the ring and said, "I shall have to take this up with the lady of the house."

He consulted with the lady of the house, and she, happy and fairly singing, exclaimed, "Lucky me! Here we are with the ring I had lost last week, while I was punching the Atta (dough) to make Roti! These are my initials, Big Bungalow’s lady which stand for my being.

After a moment of reflection, she added, "Servant, go and give that beggar another Roti as a prize."

Servant, who was still in love with his employer, in order to please her sought out an Old Roti again, hard as a rock, and handed it to the beggar.

"Here you are, Mr. Beggar."
"God bless you with healthy kids," the beggar answered.

Servant shut the massive gates, and the beggar went off with the Roti under his arm. He came to the vacant lot in which he spent his days and nights taking drugs. He sat down in the shade of a tree and began to eat the Roti. Suddenly he bit into a hard object and felt another of his molars crumble to pieces. Great was his surprise when he picked up, along with the fragments of this his second broken molar, another fine ring of gold, pearls and diamonds.

Once more he noticed the initials Big Bungalow’s lady. Once more he returned the ring and as a reward received a third Hard as a rock Old Roti, in which he found a third ring that he again returned and for which lie obtained, as a reward, a fourth Hard a rock Old Roti, in which ...

From that fortunate day until the unlucky day of his death, the beggar lived happily and without financial problems. He only had to return the ring he found inside the bread every day. Oh yes he lost all his teeth though.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Right to Heaven

Now that I am married I have lot of time to waste… which I am not doing…

I am trying to relearn things before I start preaching to my wife, principal one being Religion. That’s huge crossover for someone to disown her life-long belief and adapt to a new alien credence. I believe in religion, contradictions don’t exist but that’s another story for another blogging day. Anyway I guess the best way is to explain to her is to learn through her premise. That’s where my new favorite comes in

Read an interesting thought provoking passage today which I want to share with you
Matthew 22:
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'
5 "But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

This is a passage I've read couple of times now, and I get stuck at verse. 13. Coming from bible I was expecting it to read, “Then the king told the attendants 'Get this man some nice clothing. Buy him a suit and give him a nice tie.’”

It seems many people focus on the "loving" and "merciful" aspect of Christianity, and might say the God of the Old Testament is different in personality than the one in the New Testament. It's interesting to think, though, that there will be many people who "show up to the banquet" in heaven, before God, only to be cast out of His presence because they aren't prepared.

I think there is an important distinction to draw and a glimpse of similarity with Islam sans the language used - it is through the mercy of the king that the man was invited to the wedding in the first place. God's mercy and grace give man an opportunity to approach Him, to seek forgiveness of sin. However, it is still the man's responsibility to be "dressed appropriately" once the party starts. I think so many us today live our life by thinking, "God is loving and merciful. He'll let me into heaven because I'm a nice guy" when the truth is that we need to be a little more prepared than that. Perhaps in the way he wants us to be prepared.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Friend Devan Shauran

I have a friend who must be the sweetest, shyest person in the world. His name is brittle and soft like him (Devan Shauran), his age modestly intermediate (forty). He is rather short and skinny, has a thin moustache and even thinner hair on his head. Since his vision is not perfect, he wears glasses: they are small, round and frame-less.

In order not to be an inconvenience for anyone, he always walks sideways. Instead of saying 'Excuse me', he prefers to glide by one side. If the gap is so narrow that it will not allow him to pass, Devan a.k.a Daddu waits patiently until the obstruction -- be it animate or inanimate, rational or irrational -- moves by itself. Stray dogs and cats panic him, and in order to avoid them he constantly crosses from one side of the road to another.

He speaks with a very thin, subtle voice, so inaudible that it is hard to tell if he is speaking at all. If you ask him to speak up in a loud tone… he will hold his breath for half a minute before he continues on the same pace with bit more strain. He has never interrupted anybody. On the other hand, he can never manage more than two words without somebody interrupting him. This does not seem to irritate him; in fact, he actually appears happy to have been able to utter those two words.

Devan has been married for years. His wife is a thin, choleric, nervous woman who, as well as having an unbearably shrill voice, strong lungs, a finely drawn nose and a viperous tongue suffers from an uncontrollable temper and the personality of a lion tamer. Devan-- you have to wonder how -- has succeeded in producing a child named (by his mother) Aayush. He is tall, blond, intelligent, distrustful, sarcastic and has a fringe. It is not entirely true that he only obeys his mother. However, the two of them have always agreed that Devan has little to offer the world and therefore choose to ignore his scarce and rarely expressed opinions.

Devan is the oldest and the least important employee of a dismal company that exports cloth. It operates out of a very dark building with black-stained wooden floors situated in Zakariya street. The owner as I have seen and been told he has a ferocious moustache, is bald and has a thunderous voice. He is also violent and greedy. My friend Devan goes to work dressed half shirt well tugged in and wooden slippers, wearing a very old pant that shines from age. I don’t know how many cloths he got but to avoid any attention and remark he makes sure he always come back wash his cloths and get into it again before he goes to office next day. His salary is ludicrously low, but he still stays behind in the office every day and works for another three or four hours: the tasks his boss gives him are so huge that he has no chance of accomplishing them within normal hours. Now, just after his Boss cut his salary yet again, his wife has decided that Aayush must not do his secondary studies in a state school. She has chosen to put his name down for a very costly institution. In view of the extortionate outlay this involves, Devan has stopped buying his newspaper and (an even greater sacrifice) The Reader's Digest, his two favourite publications. The last article he managed to read in the Reader's Digest explained how husbands should repress their own overwhelming personality in order to make room for the actualisation of the rest of the family group.

There is, however, one remarkable aspect to Devan: his behaviour as soon as he steps on a bus. Generally, this is what happens:
He requests a ticket and begins to look for his money, slowly. He holds up one hand to ensure that the driver keeps waiting, unsure of what to do. Devan does not hurry. In fact, I would say that the driver's impatience gives him a certain amount of pleasure. Then he pays with the largest possible number of small coins, which he delivers a few at the time, in varying amounts and at irregular intervals. For some reason, this disturbs the driver, who, apart from having to pay attention to other cars, the traffic lights, other passengers getting on or off, and having to drive the bus itself, is forced to perform complicated arithmetic. Devan aggravates the problem by including in his payment a US 10cent which he got long back from someone that he keeps for the purpose and which is invariably returned to him. This way, mistakes are usually made in the accounts and an argument ensues. Then, in a serene but firm manner, Devan begins to defend his rights, employing arguments so contradictory that it is impossible to understand what point he is actually trying to make. Finally, the driver, at the end of the last tether of his sanity and in an act of final resignation, chooses to throw out the coins -- perhaps as a means of repressing his wish to throw out Devan or, indeed, himself.

When winter comes, Devan always travels with the windows wide open. The first to suffer as a result of this is Devan himself: he has developed a chronic cough which aggravates his already aggravated asthma that often forces him to stay awake entire nights. During the summer, he closes his window and will not allow anyone to lower the shade that would protect him from the sun. More than once he has ended up with first-degree burns.

Because of his weak lungs, Devan never smoke and, in fact, he hates smoking. In spite of this, once inside the bus he will take out his age old never smoked long cigarette trying to irritate the already irritated driver to shut no smoking in the bus.

Devan is a tiny, sedentary, squalid person and has never been interested in sports. But come Saturday evening, he switches on his portable radio and turns the volume up full in order to follow the Ranjhi match commentary. Sundays he dedicates to listening to hindi news and tortures the rest of the passengers with the noisy broadcasts.

The back seat is for seven passengers. In spite of his very small size, Devan sits so as to allow room for only five or even four people on the seat. If six are already seated and Devan is standing up, he demands permission, in an indignant and reproachful tone, to sit down -- which he then does, managing to take up an excessive amount of space. To this end, he puts his hands in his pockets so that his elbows will remain firmly embedded in his neighbours' ribs.

Devan's resources are plentiful and diverse.
When he has to travel standing up, he always keeps his bag in a awkward position carefully adjusting his posture so that the lower edge of his bag keep hitting the face or the eyes of those sitting down.

If anyone is reading, they are easy prey for Devan. Watching him or her closely, Devan places his head near the light so as to throw a shadow on the victim's book. Every now and then he withdraws his head as if by chance. The reader will anxiously devour one or two words before Devan moves back into position.

My friend Devan knows the times when the bus will be fully packed. And for those occasions, he makes sure he doesn’t eat he keeps his lunch box half eaten and the rest he eats on the way dropping the curry making it as messy as he could.

If he manages to take the front seat, he never gives it up to anyone. But should he find himself in one of the last rows, the moment he sees a woman with a child in her arms or a weak, elderly person climb on board he immediately stands up and calls very loudly to the front passenger to offer them his seat. Later he usually makes some recriminatory remark against those that kept their seats. His eloquence is always effective, and some mortally ashamed passenger gets off at the next stop. Instantly, Devan takes his place.

My friend Devan gets off the bus in a very good mood. Timidly, he walks home, staying out of the way of anyone he meets. He is not allowed a key, so he has to ring the bell. If anyone is home, they rarely refuse to open the door to him. But if neither his wife nor his son is to be found, Devan sits on the doorstep until someone arrives.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Being Worst Enemy of oneself

I usually don’t speak for everyone, but in this case I will. The phrase that proclaims ‘you are our own worst enemy’ is in fact a solid truth in life for just about everyone. Not many revelations in life could be much clearer or to the point than this one. The reason I suggest that we are the ones sabotaging our own lives is that we tend to make a repetitive mistake every day; We listen to ourselves. It’s only natural to think, but unfortunately our thoughts are often negative, self conscious, egocentric, and irrational emotions that drop us into the very pitfalls we spend most our lives climbing out of and complaining about.

You might have already started disagreeing with me, little Johnny within us always goes the other way. Fine let me talk about myself… I not only complain too often about the problems caused by results I myself initiated, but I often trick myself into blaming outside sources for these problems when in reality the fault ultimately lies within. It’s for this very reason that we shouldn’t buy into our own misguided thoughts all day long without putting the source (us) in perspective. Maybe one day I will make truce with the devil and realize that none of us are perfect and that is just the way it will always be (especially myself).

I hear many speakers say the phrase “listen to your heart… always”. Well I think that listening to your heart is often damning and that “always” word clinging at the end is nothing but gateway to hell. What if my heart is laden with inferiority, full of anxiety, confusion, anger, Jealousy, or even hatred? This is not exactly a valuable list of sound advice to follow in my opinion. That’s why I’m admitting that since my birth and for the remainder of my life, the reason for most of my shortcomings, frustrations, stresses, setbacks, and annoyances are not caused by outside sources trying to tear me down. Nor the responsibility of a giant conspiracy from outside sources out to get me, but rather caused by my real worst enemy……ME!

The basic life sequence comes down to the choices that we make. Life is not fair and it’s no secret, and many people have trials that are astronomically larger than ours. It’s not until you begin taking some level of responsibility that you can wipe out the enemy that lies within.

I often wonder why the hell I end up writing such bullshit which doesn’t have anything to do with the actual thoughts circling my mind… it doesn’t give any picture to anyone what’s happening within the confinement of my decaying brain cell. I guess before one makes truce with the devil he got to make truce with himself. Off late I realized I love my wife much more than I thought I loved her before marriage. Her daily struggle to be accepted is such a pain to bear … oh that’s another story will cover it later.