Photo by Baronet4Tibet.com
During all these years of my virtual voyage spanning over more than two years of real time, I have come across many people who have influenced my life in one way or the other. A few of them came in my life for a season, a few came in for a reason while many made their way to the heart consequently becoming an inspiration behind my write-ups. One of such individuals is Raheel Ahmed, who I often address as the incredible hulk. Raheel has not only been a good friend but he is also a savior who comes to the rescue whenever he finds that I am having a writer's block. Having said that, let me share a small piece of writing today (I should have been sharing it on Sunday, though) that Raheel had shared with me sometime ago. Please have a read and let me know if the magic works..Here it goes..
It’s just another Sunday and the market is crowded once again with buyers who roam around from stall to stall, each carrying his wishes scribbled on a scrap of paper. Life moves on as an unstoppable train with stations unmarked. Those who board seem to have no choices of their own, their corpses then fall and the rail track appears crimson red. The sheen blinds the eye, but yet the hunger seems eternal.
He walks, his back hunched with age and his gait unsteady carrying his misgivings about the day. He settles on a mound to be prominent to all those who gaze at him with mock. He settles under a straw roof held in place by four withering poles of wood bearing cuts.
He finds a vacant spot and adds another one, “another day another death…” his thoughts wander… “how many more sons would irrigate mother earth with their blood – aimlessly - this is the last pole to bear my marks, I hope I wont have to return next week, for its about time I contributed to quench this thirst….”
Sitting cross legged, an uneasy weary smile adding to the wrinkles on his face, he sizes the crowd through his heavy set spectacles hoping to lessen his burdens he has carried for an immeasurable time. Untying the clumsy knot, he neatly spreads his precious possessions - his earnings from the times he has seen. Wiping each glass jar, attempting to lure people, he sets it all out carefully hiding the stains on the sheet.
He chants out loud “People, I don’t take money, I don’t need your wealth, I don’t want your kind considerations, I just don’t want anything from you but your attention… just for a few moments.” Necks turn around in the direction of the feeble voice that seems to ride on pain; ensuing are hidden laughter, starkly open laughter and surely a couple of concerned looks.
“He is the same old man, why doesn’t God relieve him from his misery?” a shout is heard from somewhere. “Look at him, there isn’t an ounce of flesh on his body, its bones yelling out ha ha ha!” another voice from a young man pierces through his ear drums. But he is steadfast..such chants are very familiar.
And so a young lad driven by curiosity walks up to him and asks “Old man, what have you laid here?”
Hope that had been driving him rekindles his senses and like a proud salesman he adjusts, looks up into the eyes, and finds the purity of innocence. “Such clear eyes, such a clean heart, I wonder how he still survives? Who is the lucky father that bore you son,” he asks in utter amazement. “I live downhill by the lake. I haven’t seen my father for many years and we roam the forest in the day. Night we spend by the fire eating whatever we could find during the day. I haven’t seen more than a few paisas together and my dress has no pockets. Please would you let me look at these jars?”
With moisture in his eyes, his heart swells with empathy as he gets a closer look of the boy’s heart. “Son, this shiny one is called vanity. I chased it in my youth and the rest of my life I spent repenting my choice. The golden one is called greed, and may be it still lives in me, I could never satiate myself. I ran, till my physical existence could no longer carry me. Its like a shadow from the sun shining from behind, you will never be able to catch it, albeit it may give the illusion of originating from you, but remember it would cling to your feet and pull at your heart”. An alien to these possessions, the young lad begins to appear enticed.
He yells at his companions and they all sit in a circle facing the old man. Memories of his time begin to flood his mind - Evenings when they would sit, enchanted by the words of the story teller thinking of realms where the fairy tale characters existed as realities. Only age told him how the tale monger had preyed on their minds leaving them bewildered and derailed in the lands of fantasy.
“What is this murky jar holding, old man?” Another innocent voice sends shivers down his spine. “Memories are my demons, how can I escape? Maybe redemption would salvage some peace for me; I should have left this world with this baggage, why do I have to die a death each time I look at it?” He musters up courage to reply.
Yes the jar contains truth, something they advised him to use carefully and so he did. Each time he exercised discretion his heart had felt heavier and conscious reminded him of sacrilege. “Son, this jar measures your brevity. It reflects upon the very fiber you are made of and it makes you distinguishable in a crowd. It liberates you from the shackles of slavery that this world has in abundance. They wont let you live without being restrained in their brand of freedom. It unites you with the sincerest friend that resides in you – your conscience.”
Amused, the young boy asks, “Then why is it in such a meager quantity?” “Less is more son! less is more. It’s entwined with your soul and you were sent to earth with it. Only that most of us forget to remember that they are born with it. Truth, son, is unlike its nemesis that resembles the beads on a rosary, one leading to the other and all in an unending circle.”
Suddenly loud shouts begin to supersede the aimless banter in the market and grown ups rush towards him. “Look at this old man; he is misleading our generation with his concocted tales. Let him not be spared. Who gave him a right to pollute these innocent minds?”
And there are many more disheartening voices, but the old man remains unflinching. He is peaceful today for when he walks back, he would have to carry lesser burden.
The boys eagerly accept their jars and flee. The old man gets up, beaming with a smile of satisfaction. “O God, thanks be to You, for I have discharged some of my responsibility today. My burden weighs less on me now. Please grant me one more such day and then call me back to You. I exercised my choices and I learnt my lessons. I was misled and I attempted to correct myself. Was I successful or not, remains Your judgment. When I would lie forgotten under a ton of soil, my soul would be with You, begging for mercy.”
The earth continues its revolutions; stars die, newer stars are born in an expanse indefinable by the term infinity. Our individual existence is synonymous to a grain of sand amongst billions by the beach. Yet the human soul, a supreme creation with grandeur surpassing all, roams freely with the power to choose. The discretion of making choices and the ability to redeem make us masters of our destinies.
Fate, we think has been written, and so it has, but the power to navigate and set our sails is still in our hands; and so it has to be passed on before the novices board the train of consequences.
Maybe its time to feel pity for all around who go on marching to the end as if they should, never realizing to think of the paths they chose and the decisions they took. Some stood on egos, some boasted pride, whilst others cherished vanity, whilst a few chose righteousness, and even fewer battled to maintain it…….
What about you? Have you 'chosen' and 'defined' the path ? Or are you just marching along? Pause and ponder..