21 June 2013

Land of Old, Weight of Contentment

اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَا تُهُ

The second:

I like older people. They are like huge recesses of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. I like how they regard us with not a tint of prejudice, how their smiles reach their eyes, how they can do much with so little at hand.

The land of old people; I've been there a couple of times before but I did not appreciate the crippled wonders that land and its people provided. The third time here (a month ago) was different. Worlds apart sort of different I'd say. Why you asked?

Because I start to see how paper-thin can't even begin to describe their skins. Yet they seem to stretch further than us, further than you and me. For the first time I saw that the old can be tougher than they look. It is true they limp about their daily chores, take years to cross spaces that take us mere minutes. It is true they need more sleep, more rest, take less food and have more time.

But when we - the young and strong and able-bodied - stumble or fall, who comes to our sides the swiftest? Is it not the residents of the land of old? When we fail to make heads or tails of a situation, when we lose our heads, the old take the reins with hands firm and strong. 

When we need company, they provide. I recalled many a times sitting out with them under the porch, with tea in hand for hours. Just sitting. We don't often get to sit purely to sit. Usually, we sit to eat or to rest or to talk. Never to just sit except when we are with the old. They can meet then stay rooted for hours at times. And when the sun starts to set, a smile and a word of thanks was given. It was as if the meeting bred no conversation when in truth a million words has been spoken.

Time mysteriously bends around the old. It passes through them but at a slower pace. Maybe it has something to do with the dense stores of experience they hold, but whatever it is time for them is a long-awaited reunion. They seek it as if seeking a long-lost friend. For that, time embraces them, slows around them in many ways - some sad, others a miracle. We, the young and the reckless and the greedy also seek time but to kill not to cherish, to use not to make use. And for that very reason, time slips out of our hold, always taunting us to run for the finish line as fast as our little feet can go. Until at the very end, when  our feet can run no more and sudden realisation strikes us, when we look into our empty hands - hands with skin stretched paper-thin - that we ask "Where have you gone to oh my friend? Where have you run to oh time?"

At that moment, time will hopefully reach out and grab our hands. In that instance, we the once-strong, once-young, once-greedy will hopefully begin to see the world as it should be; as companions to lead our lives, not tools to further our aimless wandering. When you have reached that point in life, it is time for you to sit with a cup of tea, welcome anyone to your silent party and look at them with kind understanding. Let them think and see you as strong. Let it not be seen that you were just like them. And as they wonder and fiddle with the thought of one day living the quiet life you now live, you watch your frame grow thin and frail, as the scales show ever smaller numbers, as your physical weight falls. And yet show them how to smile with your eyes, and teach them the one important lesson in life: the weight of contentment far outweighs whatever the world can offer you.

14 June 2013


اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَا تُهُ

The first story: 

It was in the dead of night. Two days ago I think. Or was it three? I would like to believe that the whole world was asleep, but on this too I can't be sure. But it sure was silent. Just the way I like my night drives. No soul to see, a little less of the usual business of daytime and wide open roads lit by my headlights.

And like all those times, I drive slow. You don't often get to appreciate your surroundings driving in the day. And if you still can't slow down enough at night, you'll never learn to do it in the heat of day.

Anyway, there I was in my car. And... I won't reveal everything because some things are never meant to be shared. But have you seen smokes from the dying  embers of burnt leaves? Well, I have too. Many times before but never at night.

You should see it! I saw it before I smelt it. White, ghostly creatures drifting into nothingness. My first thoughts were to avoid them but somehow, it was as if the smokes were beckoning me to come into it. And I did just that.

Part of me wished as I whisked into the apparition that I arrive in another world altogether when I hit the other end. The other half talked sense and said, 'It's just smoke. There's nothing to it'

The pile of leaves was too small and so was the smoke it gave off so after one-tenth of a second I was out of it. The part of me with reason smirked, 'See. Nothing to it' but I can't help but think that something did happen in that short interval, between here and there. I can't put my tongue on it, but there was a different aura to the air later.

Smokes. I used to play with them when I was younger. When I liked to burn things. Those days long ago, I wouldn't have had a shred of the thoughts swirling in me today. Hell, I would have stopped the vehicle and played with the embers, fanned and encouraged it until it was again a big pile of flames instead of the pitiful shadows it was. That would be me, if I was that same old (or young) kid.

This time, however, and only on the fourth night after the smoky drive have I come to my senses. Only tonight as I write this that I figure out why I wanted to avoid the smokes, why the white beings swayed so sadly, and what changed the atmosphere three nights ago.

Wasn't that smoke the remains of once living leaves? In a way, I realised that I had hit dead creatures. That as a child I savoured having the leaves tremble at my hands. I looked gleefully as the life force escapes their veins and all I can think of is 'What sort of a monster are we? How can human beings be the most inhumane beings?' Such irony...

Forgive me, smokes.

Catching Up

اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَا تُهُ

I have multiple stories that has yet to appear on these pages. Some half-finished, others still on the shelves of my mind. Even more stories dangling on the tip of my tongue, never meant to be written but a single, one-time per lifetime privilege/torture for those with hearts to hear it.

In due time, I'll finish the drafts and empty those dusty shelves before I forget any more than I wish to forget. 'In due time...' I noticed I've said that one too many times these days.