“If there was one place that you’d like to go to, where would that be?”
“Hmmm. The center of the Earth.”
The grandfather of the thirteen-year-old sat there in heavy silence, tracing his fingers around the perimeter of the ashtray, his pupils contemplating why the answer was what it was.
“Why not the outer space? The moon?”
“Because, Graddy, everyone wants to go there!” That was an explanation in itself, was it not?
“So I don’t want to do what everyone wants to do!” Matter-of-fact.
“But didn’t you want to be an astronaut when you were a kid? Weren’t you always fascinated by the white space suit and the ball-like ‘helmet’? Didn’t you always want to walk on the moon?” He had always wanted to swim in the tangibility of gravity.
The boy looked up at his grandfather. There was something in those quizzing eyes that consoled him; his Graddy would understand.
“I did. But not anymore. Neil Armstrong beat me to it!” Graddy laughed with the amusement of a child, his laugh caressing the confidence that his young lad would live a worthy life.
“I want to explore the depths of this earth – the crust, mantle and the core. All hot and scorching. The lava that is holding it together. It’s like a bubblegum, Graddy. The center is filled with what’s most important!” His eyes bore an exciting excitement, a passion for the odds.
“Why would you choose something like that?”
“Because I can! Because it’s the right thing to do, the right way, you know?” He searched the old man’s eyes for an understanding that was alien elsewhere.
“The right thing to do?”
“Yeah! I have the choice to choose and in doing that, I’m choosing my future. But only one way is the right way and if I choose that, it’s like I never had a choice anyway! Do you get it, Graddy? So if I choose to discover or rediscover our beginnings, it’ll help me be me! In defining the Earth, I’ll define myself, in exploring the Earth, I’ll explore myself! But in reaching out for the stars, I’ll forget that I’m meant to walk on the ground, that this is where I belong, and then soon enough I’ll be future’s dinosaur!” He paused. “And the center of the Earth is the Final Home, isn’t it? Eventually? The End?” the softness in his voice had the power to move mountains.
The body of a twelve-year-old had the soul of a seventy-year-old. Age was just a number. God uses the best chemicals, the best formulae for some of us, the old man admitted to himself.
His grandson looked at him keenly and smiled when he recognized the shadow of uncomfortable acceptance, of unconditional love, of saintly loyalty.
His grandfather patted his head and picked up his forgotten book, gently turning the page. The text on the pale paper was a royal proof that his grandson was not the only one engaged in a royal communication with God.
“The one who is overwhelmed in Our grace is not compelled; no, he is one who freely chooses devotion to us. In truth the aim of free will is that free will should be lost…”
From one Rumi to another, he thought.
“Kis qadr purkaif hai Teri muhabbat ya Rabb
Na bewafayi ka khadsha, na judai ka khauf.”
“Your love is so delightful my lord
There is no danger of unfaithfulness, nor any fear of separation.”