the Madni phase after the trials of Mecca

1 PM | 5 August 2019

When you’re standing in front of the freezing burst of the air conditioner, shivering a little uncomfortably – but not enough to be noticed – all you can think of is how to turn that damned machine off. A few seconds of good luck that reappear after every minute or so, strikes and the direction of that freezing blast of air moves away from you, leaving you in that very welcome warmth of comfort. It makes you very much comfortable. You may even sigh with relief. And then the cold air comes again.

Unfortunate incidents and bumps in the road are like that; they last for a few days before there’s the warmth of happiness again. Then something else happens to give you another sleepless night before there’s a smile of gratitude. So just like the cold air booming out of the air conditioner, happiness and peace also play hide-and-seek with us.

But what I’d like us to remember is the very comfortable warmth of Love that hugs us. The sunrise after a dark, stormy night of thunderstorms. The laugh mixed with tears. Like a dear friend said, the Madni phase after the trials of Mecca.

 

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Artwork: Tooba Masihuddin

 

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My eyes are shut and I’m happily enjoying the Love. Come, join me!

10:14 PM | 19 February 2019

If you have an interest in gardening, you’ll know that for a flower to bloom, it may take days and days of loving care and attention, and a little of some faith in the power of miracles. So you patiently water that plant, look at it with adoration, and you talk to it, hoping that your words reach your little buddy’s heart and it finds all the will and strength that it needs to bloom out and bathe in the sun.

Other times, you pack a few homemade sandwiches and drive to the beach so you can watch the sunset perched on the rocky walls that have seated all of Karachi’s lovers and thieves, the dervish and the faqeers, the lost and the seeking. The small hand of your beloved watch moves forward, slowly, and you watch the sun go down, bit by bit, rising elsewhere. You sit there and look around at the children running along the shore, asking their fathers to buy them the colourful balloons. You live in every moment, aware of how deep your breaths are and how the slow tug at your heart never seems to go away.

And then suddenly, all of that is gone – the unease, the dull ache. There’s a little jump to your heart’s rhythm – sometimes here, sometimes there – and when you look in the mirror, there’s a new smile! Where did that come from?

And in between trying to believe that this is real – very real – you find yourself thinking of Him again and again and again. You had set out to find Him, and He sent down angels to greet you; that’s what happened! You tied yourself around the ancient pillar of Tawakkal * (because that is the only option) and you went in a sujood** of gratitude, and it worked; magic dust is real and God is very much around.

My eyes are shut and I’m happily enjoying the Love. Come, join me!

**perfect trust in God and reliance on Him alone
** prostration

 

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Super Highway

Tycho – A Walk

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A still from Tycho – A Walk.

She suddenly draws in her breath – like the secret in that slow walk before you enter a room and shout “surprise!” – and you expect her to shatter your folly with her golden philosophy. Except that a heavy musical greets you. It is a surprise.

My meeting with this instrumental was also a surprise. Searching for an old classic, I had accidentally stumbled upon this.

So Tycho’s ‘A Walk is my drive. A smooth drive in a quiet, black car as the little droplets of rain hurriedly fall on its roof – falling slowly, aren’t they? – racing against each other to listen to the symphony that it was creating between something and everything. Outside, the sky is velvety black and the grey clouds are safely hidden away in the excitement of the shy, uncertain, future.

A deep breath here, a faraway look there.

The heart matches its beat with A Walk. You look out of the car window and see a storm behind but you do not press the accelerator. You can’t alone, can you? You can’t. So you drive ahead at the same speed till you realise just how tired, how very tired you are, but you don’t turn down the volume. You can’t. You wait. You wait for your favourite bits to come again so you can ignore the world and the taxes, and the elections, and all that nonsense that the morning newspapers shove down your throat. And as you are bravely waiting, you realise that Tycho’s A Walk is about to end and that it will never play by itself again. Never? Maybe. See the artwork of this album; you don’t know if the sun is rising or setting, do you? And just like that, you don’t know where you are – going or coming.

The path is really long.

Karachi

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Empress Market, Karachi

Karachi — my good, ol’ Karachi — has that nostalgic tinge about it. You know the kind that makes you miss the future — not the present — with each passing second? That. You really can’t imagine what the Karachi that your grandchildren will live in will look like, can you? Will it be haunted by uninvited uniforms or by power-hungry industrialists? Will this blissful state of ignorance still be our companion then?

The era of the ’70s and the ’80s that brought you a dozen eggs for a few pennies and when driving from Empress Market to the sandy Clifton beach was only a matter of a few Vital Signs songs, is long gone. And now, living in the days of Karachi Eat Festivals and apartment complexes mushrooming all over the city, you live this moment knowing that this Karachi will never come back. That this you will never come back. You will adapt to the latest fashion, to the latest trends. But the walls of your house overlooking these wise and learned streets will continue to smell of all that makes this Karachi our Karachi — political turbulence and gunshots that stole a mother’s hope and caravans celebrating Pakistan’s win in a cricket match and the sweet whisperings of little girls and boys who walk to the nearest store with their fathers to buy candy every day.

Karachi, you’re an old man sitting by the roadside – your head bent – but watching closely all the passer-bys, listening intently to all our stories. Live long, live well.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In a galaxy far away, where history could be a blur,

There dwelled another us, in another lifetime.

There, the heart had pined and grief had overwhelmed

When solitude and loneliness had raced.

None won; the Lord smiled.

The heart banged, the tears crystallised.

Spread out before He who sent them,

Questions flowed, unrequited.

Then one fine summer night, the air by the beach lifted;

The sea left its salt on the doorstep, and the birds peaked from their golden nests.

Transcendence had seemed intangible –

But only long, long ago, in times almost forgotten.

What now – what of this midsummer night’s dream?

The sundial beckons to the one who will listen;

Conquer the lost battle of an inertial valentine.

And then we shall laugh with our eyes and twirl in happy circles

Because a billion kilometres away, up high in the sky,

The stars are twinkling and the fairies are humming,

“And which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?”

 

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‘The Clockwork Princess’, by Cassandra Clare

 

Lily and Rose

“Lean on me. Really,” said Lily to Rose.
“Whenever it rains or the wild wind blows.”
So Rose leant on Lily or Lily on Rose, depending.
And practically everyone knows,
that’s how a friendship grows.

– Anonymous

 

In this haze of life, when you are battling at many fonts, fighting so many small wars, you forget that you exist, too. You think of lost friendships, read lost emotions, and finally click on the ‘DELETE’ tab, because you don’t want to look back. You don’t have any regrets. Because friends lost along the way were, perhaps, the reason you have a Rose, and you are a Lily.

Living a Renaissance of its own, finding answers to questions that are said and unsaid, dealing with responsibilities – it seems quite otherworldly when you are also trying to discern the existential angst that is thrown your way, and when you finally, finally realise that your heart can beat too, it can beat very powerfully, and it can do things that may baffle the other hearts. And in the middle of all this, you forget yourself.

Until someone very, very special reminds you that you matter, too.

To that dear friend (you know who you are),

Thank you for remembering me, for that unshakeable faith that you have in me.  Thank you for those little gestures of joy – my cherished ‘chhoti chhoti khushyaan’ – that you surprise me with when I least expect them.
Thank you for the surprise note that you sent my way today, packaged rather beautifully with our rather cumbersome research project.
I had forgotten this could happen, Rose.
“There’s poetry to be read and poetry to be watched and oh, so many words yet to be understood.”
And poetry to be written, too, my friend. And sunsets to be watched. And the love to be felt. And secrets to be shared. And tears to be wiped away. And smiles to be gifted.

So, yes, one day…one, happy day, when I am running along the warm beach, and the water tickles my feet, I will think of you. When I make someone smile, I will think of you. When I go scuba diving, I will think of you. Yes, when my food experiments fail, I will definitely think of you. When I fly to the mountains, I will think of you. When I sit around that bonfire with my favourite song, I will think of you. When I row that boat in the crystal waters, I will think of you. When I dance in the rain, I will think of you.
I will think of you, my friend, in every joy and sorrow. I will think of you, always.

 

 
For you, my friend –

between everything and something,
time was fought,
affection conquered.

between something and everything,
you loved the orange, fallen leaves
with me, for me.

between everything and something,
numbers were outnumbered,
nothing denied.

between something and everything,
we sang Rumi’s songs,
and you hummed my favourite tune.

between everything and something,
the crispy air turned gentle,
and then you smiled.

 

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Maybe

Breathing and living are miles
apart,
and you know it, my sweet child.

Maybe, may be, one day,
one fine winter morning,
the sun will shine happily, but
not brightly.

Maybe, may be, one night,
one fine summer night,
you will dream of soft winds and
cool rains.

Maybe, may be, in another
lifetime,
in another world,
you will be able to attend The Conference of The Birds.

And then, there will be no lonely walks down
the forest aisle
and no words to pen.

Silence, and that alone
will be the Believer’s Gift.

And One Day, when The Meeting with the Rabb 
will happen,
in the Garden of Heaven,
one day – maybe, may be- I will know
how many atoms and molecules were
strung together into me.

Maybe, may be, I will know why
the centre of the earth was not
mine,
But,
the walk on the moon was.

Maybe, may be, I will know if
stars have souls, too?
And if dreams are really that
and,
why silence speaks to the
heart.

Maybe, may be, He will then,
finally,
tell me.
Maybe.

 

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“Khudi ko kar buland itna k har taqdeer se phle khuda bunday se poochhay, bata! Teri raza kya hai” – Allama Iqbal