Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Safiya, with Love.

Sauntering within the confines of the place we once shared as home , I see that they’ve torn down most of it but as I look around, I realise that there’s more that adorns the walls than the pictures that hung not so long ago. It seems minute now. The light of your presence no longer lingers to illuminate the hallways of this dwelling. You left behind so much more than just your light. Your faint scent dawdles mixing with the delectable scents of the summer breeze creating the most fragrant concoction. I pick up a piece of the cracked glass on the floor of what used to be the kitchen and I’m instantly taken aback to the memories of our play-dates ....
 I’m reminiscent of the days we used too much soap whilst doing the dishes which led to a very predictable mishap and the next thing we heard was the shattering of mother’s favourite China. At that point of time, our young impressionable minds were led to believe that this was an unforgivable catastrophe, so we mutually agreed to bury them in the muddy alley behind the house. I still cannot forget the sonorous clattering of that ridiculous blue China and our failed attempt at destroying the evidence.
You were always there after the rug had been pulled from under my feet. No matter how dark the ages of my adolescence were, you’d always pull the sheets away from my face and patiently sit by my bed and analyse the reason behind my tears. To everyone else I was a cobbled web of undecipherable feelings, but you untangled each thread and saw past all my imperfections. Even when times were hard and all I could do was hope against hope, you were there to make me do just the opposite! Our bedroom walls are a testament of the unconditional love between us and every layer of paint they brushed over our creative mural scribbling doesn’t tarnish the memory of those golden years of childhood. I walk over into what used to be our bedroom and I’m overwhelmed by the rummage.  I stare into the air blurry eyed and suddenly there you were sitting by the window sill calling out names of the kids playing in the street , and ducking the moment they followed your voice to the window. Paradoxical as it may seem, you were quite the bully at times.
My attempt at fighting back the tears is hopeless and I let them roll down my cheeks. This is the inevitable cycle of life; things grow old, become irreparable, and succumb!  Yet we find the power in us to disregard the riveting layers of sentiments and emotion and pretend to move on. Some of us have the alternative of distorting reality whereas some of us cannot afford that luxury. Whilst our dream of showing our future children our childhood home is shattered, I pray that our bond only gets stronger with the passing of years. How I longed for the structure to remain eternally erect. But now that all is done and the walls have crumbled, I deem only my heart a befitting mausoleum to the testament of our love.
No amount of words would do justice to all you’ve done and continue to do for me. From you I learned to hope, to love unconditionally and most importantly to dream without limitation. Qualities as pure as your name connotes! Your erudition is simply beyond compare and your approval has always been my paramount concern even in the most rudimentary of all things. I cannot look back and think of a moment when I did not feel blessed in your company.  As you embark upon your journey to nothing less than success, know that I’ll always be there to shield you from the impetuous winds and storms.
May Allah protect you always! I love you and always will! J

That Heaven of Freedom

Lady Gaga was blaring from the room next door. “Not again!” she thought to herself.  She climbed off the bed lstrewn with literature of all kinds, trying to focus on the latest addition to her growing collection.

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---

Despite the high-pitched music, the words resounded in her head, bouncing back and forth within the precincts of her skull like a ping pong ball. Every time she’d read it she’d be taken back to a time when everything seemed like it were a bed of roses. Perhaps it was because she was mentally conditioning her thoughts to think that it was. Thoughts of confusion overwhelmed her profoundly. Her heart bore secrets that she couldn’t utter even in the absence of people, let alone confide in anyone. This time was different; she was abnormally consumed with thoughts that leaving the confines of her room would shatter her. She walked over to the dresser and stared at her reflection in the mirror, she didn’t look peculiar in any way.  It was the same plain Jane that stared back at her.

She ran the palm of her hand over her face slowly as if to feel whether she existed in true form or not. Stopping right at the feel of her soft lips, she felt a twitch inside her. “Where the clear stream of reason, has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”, she repeated in a monotone that didn’t sound familiar. It sounded like someone else was saying it. Soon, the sun would go down and she’d be left in the pitch dark and uncertainty of nightfall. How monotonous was it that we’re unknowingly shackled by routine in our lives? How disastrous is it that we fall prey to worlds we assume we’ve created ourselves only to realize that they’re a retreat from the realities of the real world? ‘An ultimate irony ‘that’s what a writer would call it. Yet here she was staring at her reflection contemplating the very routine she created for herself.  She smiled back softly at the girl in the mirror, picked up the copy of ‘Gitanjali’ she left on the oak wood dresser and  clutched it close to her chest and once again resumed the thought process in her head. Her entire life was a novel, she the repressed heroine whose desperate attempt of seclusion is what makes others shine the spotlight over her head. Whether she was weaving the threads of the story of her life or whether it was all coincidental remained uncertain. Everyday she’d weave a fable, every fable was a yarn that she would ultimately put together into a tapestry, or what her inner self construed to be the masterpiece whereas others merely regarded the journey as life. The weaving despite at some point being tedious was the one thing she had a grasp off. She felt so much in control of it that it would drive her into a trance.

Given the option, she’d stay away from people. In her imagination she heard an iron door slam shut, unable to figure out what these doors were shutting her away from. But she liked to believe that on the other side of the door was a world where people were consumed with malice and self deprecating thought. A means without an end. But within the confines of her new surroundings were lofty wooden beams stacked with books.  But no that desire, if it were to be converted into reality, would be too easy an option to live with and that never was how things worked out in reality. Even getting what she rightfully deserved was a mammoth task she’d be required to fight tooth and nail for.

It was getting dark outside and the Lady Gaga music had subsided into loud chattering of the family members, drowning the voices of her reverie. Still clinging onto the book, she stood numbed by the rush of adrenalin. She realized that this was the absolute rush her real life was short of providing her. Once she snapped out of her fantasy world, she’d be left feeling like an open wound left to dry in the air, a body devoid of blood to sustain the functioning of her vital organs. She needed to secure a way to live in this stupor for eternity. That “heaven of freedom” where nothing was demanded of her, where she could spend numerous hours doing nothing and not be answerable to a figure of authority.  Where ‘perfection’ wasn’t something you strived for tirelessly, but were a quality inert in every individual.