By Tabassum Maqbool
He was sitting on a chair, resting his head on the back, eyes closed, legs crossed, but stirring his feet from time to time. The weather was very pleasant just after the rainfall; everything was wet and visibly clean. But it was still cloudy and getting darker with each minute that passed. He got up abruptly and started walking near the fence. As he walked he kept placing a hand on his forehead, pressing it every few seconds.
He wanted to warm himself with a cup of tea, he thought, and his maid was suddenly there with a cup of tea.
“Thank you, Zara.”
She smiled and nodded her head with respect!
He sat on a chair and held the cup of tea in his hand, stirring with a spoon over and over, stirring and stirring meaninglessly as though he were lost somewhere.
The night’s darkness was prevailing and deepening.
A hand began waving in front of his face and he heard Zara’s voice:
“Are you there,sahib ji?”
Unconsciously he jerked his head and said,
“Oh, yes I am.”
“Sir, your tea is cold.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.”
Stars were appearing in the sky; a dim glimpse of the moon could also be seen.
Whenever I observed darkness, I wondered if it was the darkness outside or the darkness of the man who gets darker gradually, and if we keep blaming others for this darkness even inside us. Perhaps we have been so judgmental and keep focusing on others’ actions while neglecting our own. I realized that every person who comes into our lives is good in his own way and shouldn’t be judged harshly. We all have our flaws given to us by Allah. It is only our Fate which flirts with us and makes someone good or bad in our eyes! Though it’s too difficult to accept!
The night’s silence was piercing his own inner silence and a storm of reminiscence was scrolling through his mind. The darkness of the night always upset and forced him to explore why it was so?
Once Amma (mother) said to me, “Puttar (son), before correcting others, we must start changing our conduct, and then we can save many things from spoiling. If we remove our darkness and spread love to humanity by discarding “SELF” then we will feel real happiness.”
I abruptly said, “But, Amma, negation of self isn’t easy nor just to give pleasures to others. We cannot impart love and smiles unless we are happy inwardly.”
Amma smiled and just uttered, “Puttar, time will tell everything.”
Today when Amma wasn’t with me, I was trying to locate her far from earth, somewhere in the sky in the form of a star, who was really a shining light, but I couldn’t comprehend her words when I should have.
How all the time I kept struggling to emigrate to a foreign country for a better future, to improve my standard of living, and even to get a university degree from there. Amma always tried to stop me with her wise words:
“Look, Puttar, the happiness and peace of mind which we have with our loved ones cannot be achieved through falsehood.” She always forced me to be realistic; in addition, she always said,“I am not saying don’t struggle for betterment but at least don’t make it everything.”
“But, Amma, how can we get satisfaction unless we fulfill our goals.”
“Remember, Puttar, I am not educated with university degrees as you are. But I feel satisfaction comes from inside us, by accepting realities, not by following those abstract things and by sacrificing precious gifts. If we do, it means we will start to struggle against God’s will. And this situation makes one exhausted in life. We get drained, frustrated, and in the end you can only chase your scattered soul. Don’t run after dreams!”
“Amma, why are you so violent at times? You know, Amma, we all need courage and support to move ahead, but I feel afraid when you talk like this.”
“You are only afraid now, I just want you to save yourself from being broken since it would be difficult for you even to manage alone because a broken person can never remain happy nor even make others’ happy. I just want you to understand the essence of life, to come out of yourself, and to peep into others’ lives and associate yourself with those who love you and who do things for others to get real happiness.”
Abba cried out, “Sakinna, leave him the way he is, don’t waste your energies on him, he is that sort of a son who will learn over time. Have patience, you will learn to live without him if he goes away to make his own life. Time teaches all how to survive.”
I tried to ignore Abba’s expression though it tore me inside. I took a step closer to Amma and said: “Amma, don’t you worry about me, you will see how I achieve my glittering dreams one day and how I will be feeling satisfied inside and outside. I just ask you not to leave me ever.”
Amma sighed! “Change is a fact of nature, life starts with a purpose of ending one day, as you well know, Puttar! These changes make me shudder when I think about you.”
He burst into tears and was feeling like he was about to die. He cried in the darkness of night and broke the silence with shivering sighs and cries. In a land of strangers, he had been acquaintances with many, but now in the presence of many people, now he was feeling the need of his own beloved relations whom he left in tears just for the sake of advancement.
“Amma, please come back once. Ah! If I could only turn back the clock!”
I was overcome by tears and cries; I just wanted to bring back my Amma to confess the dilemma I was in and to tell her that she was right. I wanted to put my head on her lap to seek peace from all the outward brutality; my head was spinning; my mind was churning. Everything had been swept from my hands and I wished I could bring those moments back but I was experiencing the sighs, sobs, and the rain-like tears flowing from my feeble eyes.
Finally, he felt soothed and composed!
He opened wide his eyes. How deceptive it all was!
“I have much money, have achieved a new citizenship, and have maintained the appearance of a so called beautiful life. Am I having happiness now? Is peace and contentment there? In fact, I was a poor person who had all materialistic things but none one to care for and to be loved. I had a grand house decorated with precious and beautiful things, but I had no one to see or to help me get peace.”
Now the empty walls of the grand home were frightening him. Now he realized the darkness of his inner self.
“I have to go back to my country, my own homeland. At least I might be able to find happiness living near to loved ones. Amma and Abba both are dead; though they won’t be with me yet their graves are there, the home where they lived can give me the sense of their presence. I would be able to see those who were with amma (mom) and abba (dad) once. I will live for them and will get the real happiness as amma told me once.
I wish I could have lived for the present in those times rather than worrying about the future. It’s a dilemma of us today that our expectations are associated with the hope of better things to come. In fact, modern progress itself feeds the need for future progress. Paradoxically, life keeps us so busy in trying to attain joys which we never actually have to enjoy.
We need to amend our ways realistically and to console our poor souls in this materialistic age where material objects are everything and feelings have been devalued.
Let’s start living before it’s too late because sometimes life doesn’t give you a second chance and you will have regrets for the rest of your life to deal with.