“Do not raise your children the way [your] parents raised you,
they were born for a different time.” — Ali bin Abi Taleb (Radi Allahu Anhu)
A woman is cooking for her four children. Her husband isn’t in the best of health. To say they fall under the poverty line, is an understatement. There is no food at home. Which brings me back to the first sentence of this paragraph…. a woman is cooking for her children? How is she cooking when there is no food at home to be cooked?
Its an act. She places the vessel on top of a stove…the stove obviously isn’t as fancy as the ones we use. I do not know how the stove is to be honest. I have never lived in poverty. The woman hasn’t done a course in psychology, but at that moment, she was playing mind games with her children. Pretending that there was food and it took a long time to be prepared so that the kids will eventually fall asleep… in hunger…in anticipation of food being cooked. Tonight would pass in this manner…tomorrow we will see what Allah provides..through hard work and kind relatives/neighbours who might be willing to share if they have enough for their own families.
That woman I mentioned above is my grandmother. Its been around 16-17 years that she passed away. Among the four kids, the fourth one, the youngest of them all would go on to become my father, who at the age of 17 would leave his small village, his poor country and travel in search of a better future for his family. A person who would eventually take that woman who played mind games on her children just so that they would peacefully sleep while she weeps for Hajj and then when she would pass away he would be involved in burying her and then praying for her and then remember her in his prayers and cry, as any good son should do.
If I started writing about my father, then I could keep writing and words would come to an end but perhaps the stories wouldn’t. I have a lot of respect for him and I love him a lot but there is a big gap in communication. We only hug on Eid…and sometimes not even that. Things are just…awkward. We talk about politics a lot and about the sad state of world affairs…we hardly talk about happy and cheerful things unless it is about his grandchildren, my nephew and my niece.
My fathers father passed away when he was 13. He was someone who would fight for the truth and not bear any injustice. Truth is bitter and it hurts. And this earned him a lot of enemies who harmed him in many different ways and that eventually cost him his life too. It was on a Thursday night, after maghrib which actually makes it a Friday according to Islamic calender, that he felt the pangs of death and asked his youngest son, my father, to recite Quran to him. My father recited. And recited. Almost till dawn if I remember correctly from what I heard. He recited Surah Ya Sin, a chapter from the Quran that is known as the heart of the Quran and that will eventually be the name I am given [this isn’t the reason behind my name though].
And then my grand father died. I always seem to say died instead of passed away. Passed away sounds easy to the ears. Death sounds more frightening and realistic. Same meanings, different words and different reactions that these words invoke in me.
As usual, I am being completely incoherent here. Anyway…
Growing up, there were hardly any family trips together. We never did anything such as family picnics, we hardly went out of town as a family…even going for Umrah for the first time was with my mother and her brothers and not dad. That changed this year though as I finally went for Umrah with both my parents and spent 14th February :P in Makkah. It was beautiful.
Most of the memories I have with my father is us facing some adversity or other. There are hardly any happy occasion I can think of and this makes me remember of what I once told to my mother in anger,”Dad can never be happy because he has never seen happiness.” I was young, stupid, naive and at that moment angry and rude. But thinking about it, its not a lie. My father has worked hard his entire life. His vacations would be about work back home in his home country to secure the future of his children. Enough wealth has been accumulated that I don’t have to work even a day in my entire life if I go about investing his acquired wealth smartly.
But that money isn’t mine, even if I do get the inheritance. Okay fine according to Islamic rules of inheritance, it does become mine. And here is the problem. I do not want any of it.
All of us three siblings are educated and both my sisters are happily married. Alhumdulillah. Dad was born into poverty and he has turned around his whole life completely thanks to the mercy of The Most Merciful. His needs and wants were different and mine are different.
Maslows hierarchy of needs.
Having grown in difficult circumstances, dad has ensured that he climb the pyramid one by one. Which he has done remarkably well.
Having been born in comfortable situation, I have never had to work for my physiological, safety needs and even belonging came easily. Self-esteem was something I have never been short of but that is a see-saw sort of situation. It can easily be lost but its still there.
Self-actualization. Fulfillment. Maybe our parents gain fulfillment by seeing their children climb the pyramid. But for me it has been a struggle the last few years. I have been struggling with the whole concept of running the rat race, running behind the dunya… sure there needs to be a balance and the truth is I do not know how to go about finding the balance.
I know what I want to do but with that will come the pangs of,”Am I hurting my parents/family?” The sub continental culture is such that you could do all the right things for an eternity and a day but one slight mistake and you are the butt of every joke. You are the topic of every dinner table conversation. You are made an example whether you like it or not. “Oh, you heard of their son and what he did….”
But since when did they matter to me? They don’t belong to me and I don’t belong to them. Chasing self actualization, a part of me wants to lead an ascetic life style. Maybe I have not gotten over being stupid and naive yet… When there won’t be food to eat, then I will realise how easy it is to talk the talk and how difficult it is to walk the walk. But then again, ascetic life style doesn’t mean complete lack of world materials. It could just mean a disinterest in acquiring worldly things. Again, I am being consistently incoherent.
Is this my longest post to date? Could be. Maybe I am writing so much because there is so much I want to say but I just don’t know how to. Maybe I just want to hug my parents and sit and talk to them. And tell them everything. Everything. Pour my heart out and reveal to them its inner secrets and then tell them what I want to do and how and why. Maybe this is just the effect of not seeing any family member for 157 days. For spending an Eid entirely alone because I didn’t want to go an Eid party that will have mixed gathering. For a Ramadan that went by way too quickly and for me not taking advantage of it. For people walking all over me and using me and I am just watching it and letting it happen because I heard,”Ibaadat sey jannat, khidmat sey Khuda” [Get Paradise through your worship, Get Allah through your service to mankind]. Maybe its just the annoyance that my words might make me sound like a saint, but in truth there is no bigger sinner than me. Maybe its the fear that I am actually a hypocrite who can just talk the talk.
Bas Yasin. Maybe this is just a test. A beautiful test that will take me closer to my Beloved Allah. May be this is an opportunity to be what I want to be. Maybe I am naive and stupid but without doubt, and without any maybe, for sure my Allah is all Wise, All Knowing. And to Him, I leave my affairs.
This is a public blog. Not a diary that I am making it out to be but every time I think about writing something incredibly funny or incredibly amazing, I just blabber incoherently and then I realize that its fine. This blog, as I have repeatedly written, is first and foremost for me. That quote at the beginning of the blog by the wise sahabah, the fourth Khalifah, son in law of the most blessed person on earth, Prophet Muhammad sallal lahu alayhi wasallam, might seem out of place and maybe….yet again maybe… I need to write about that later.
InshaAllah all on a later date.
P.S. Life is short. We never know when it comes to an end. If you know me personally, then know that I have made duas for you. If you don’t, then know that I have made dua for you too, albeit without knowing your name. And if you have read this long post, then make dua for me.
Your brother in Islam,