Sometimes, it’s time for the young’uns


I respectfully address the parents out there. I know you guys love your children to bits and would be ready to sacrifice yourselves for anything they might need or want, and I truly salute your patience and love when it comes to dealing with the spoilt brats of today, but sometimes, you need to let loose.
Kids when younger are most vulnerable to every sort of vice and evil in the world, and when they grow up they are prone to swaying wrongly still, because that’s the sort of place this is. That’s the dunyawe’re to be tested for. It’s good you want to protect your children from all that sinister smoke, but maybe sometimes it’s time to not do just that.
Knowing how much to let loose, comes with age and maturity level of each individual kid. No two can be alike. Being confined to your loving embrace and protective clutch has its charms, but kids need to go out and breathe for themselves. To look around and observe what the ways are, how people live, behave, react, feel, think, do. To see what Allah has made and how everything’s been carved with such utmost precision and perfection, that is something of a spiritual ascent and every human should experience that. As long as one is young and still needs parents to support his every thought, yes, the mummy and daddy have to mould him. But as he grows and begins to think himself, too, let him. Tell him what is right and what is wrong, but let him.
Let him explore different thoughts, if he is uncomfortable exploring them with you, it’s okay to let him do that by himself. Although most decisions parents make are better that how the child may express himself, but as he grows he needs to take decisions. He needs to become more confident. Let him go somewhere; let him have some time to himself. Send him to a trustworthy location to help him see around and develop himself a little before he comes back. He will always remain your kid, but to develop that relationship so it blossoms into something more than a parent-child blood link, you have to give him some courage, have confidence in him.
He will have to experience things where you won’t be there, well then, let him. Don’t cover him and wrap him up so much he frustrates to depression and eventually destroys himself. It is naturally a need for every person to think for himself, make discoveries only he would revel in. And his love for his parents will grow when he realizes they’re there, at his back, and he can indulge a little part of his life mentally strengthening himself at a time when he does not have many responsibilities. Listen to your kid and let him do something he thinks he must.
I do not criticize parents, I just want to say, in today’s world, you have to let them live a little for themselves, too, because looking outside through a window is the worst nightmare imaginable for the youth.
So trust Allah and let your child love and respect you more than he already does.

Hidden religion

If I thought living in Pakistan and trying to blend in the socially conscious sphere of people was difficult, I have to close my eyes and think again. Because if you went to a central Asian Muslim state in our North, compared to Pakistan living would be as oppressive as slavery. Only in different ways.
Let’s start off with the book our life’s supposed to revolve around – the Quran. The true, Arabic version of the Quran is unavailable and only official translation can be kept. One cannot teach one’s children the beautiful language of Arabic either.
A parent or a teacher is not allowed to instruct his/her child religiously, and this ban is strictly checked. Before the age of 18, one cannot ask one’s child, “Come pray in the mosque with me”; instead the child must make his own decision about praying publicly when he turns 18. Eid prayer, though, is observed.
No sort of religious literature is to be kept, imported or allowed through the airport terminals. If found, it will be confiscated and even the bearer may be arrested.
If someone wants to travel abroad, the visa must first be approved by the government and then by the country which is to be travelled to. The Government wants to keep everything under control.
Until the recent past, full – sleeved summer shirts for women were unavailable throughout, so women who wanted to cover themselves had to make do with their winter clothes even in the heat. For, if the government forbids something to be sold, you will definitely not find that thing again. Not until the government allows its production and sale again.
Once, a hotel manager was accused of having a prayer mat in his hotel. Though he constantly insisted that he did not own the item and it belonged to a paying guest, and that this item was already registered in lost & found list periodically submitted to government authorities, he was still arrested.
No sort of religious programs are broadcasted, and people have surprisingly grown used to living in this dishonest ignorance. They are not aware of their religious duties; their namaz is just an exercise, as something they have seen others do. They are void of the knowledge that they are expected to do greater things than work, play and eat, but somehow they are silent. In this virtual oppression, they live a black and white life.

I thank Allah that I live in a country where I have the freedom to choose to follow my religion. May He help our affected brothers and sisters, for surely this short account of mine can still never bring us to feel what emptiness they must dwell in.

Forever perfect

It’s proper lovely weather we’re having these days, the kind of weather one wishes for and perhaps imagines only in dreams or heaven. But now, the cool winds and cloudy skies make me fancy I’m somehow living in a fairytale. A fairytale where the weather is absolutely perfect – where it’s never too hot and never too cold, where the air itself seeps into one’s body and soothes it down, chasing out any worries and anxieties of the time. It’s the kind of atmosphere one wishes one could have all the time, that grandiose aura enriching the happy mood of the house. The birds sing, and the trees dance, the leaves play a soft music and blend into this beautifully synchronized melody with the soft gales.
A twitch at the back of my mind though, a tiny twitch that seems to grow larger and larger till it encompasses my entire being and knocks me down into a valley of despair and discomfort. My wary eyes dart to the sides, my hands stay balled up waiting for the impending disaster, the disaster that would once and for all devour me whole.
Nothing really happened, though, nothing happened physically that is. But if we go deeper, dig into the complex folds of human mentality, we see that is exactly how we live every single day. In a trance does everything else pass by as we watch in confusion as to what reality is. It’s like a rollercoaster, a rollercoaster ride that ends before you realize what happened to the days you passed by.
But that’s only the case if you jump onto the rollercoaster, for it takes you into the very heart of the world, where people stuck now feel abandoned and in their desolation curse the moment they decided to take the fatal ride. The constant attention to detail of all things that do not matter when you give them a thought is what eats these people up.
We’re lucky. Lucky in the way that we do not need to take the rollercoaster. We know we were sent here for a very tiny amount of time, a time that was to be spent as God told us to, and that even for this time He sent us every good thing we have today. He sent us excerpts of Jannah, so we know what we are looking forward to. But to find those excerpts, we need to let the mind let go. Let go of those incoherent fashionable statements, that greed and hunger, that want but not need.
For the time we let go, Allah shall hold us up and keep us going. Then can we look forward to the kind of perfect weather forever, because the realization that this is temporary will keep us going, keep us fighting.
I sit by my window and enjoy the weather peacefully, I’m not stuck in that dark abyss of actual nothingness, I am at peace with the world because I’ve let it go. It can go wherever it wants, because when I let go I fall into His hands, and His hands shall take me to a place which I shall happily call my abode, the abode that was always destined for us.

Happy Birthday – continued

It was the day dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of the moon. Aleta and Chrystal led the way to pay homage to her, Bartlett behind them carrying a round cake decorated with lighted candles. They walked up the rocky mountain to the cave which had been carved into a temple for their goddess, Aleta and Chrystal hopping from one rock to the other, dodging a slippery pebble here or a spiked bush there. Bartlett followed carefully; his movements were measured and calculated, while the rest of the group hovered around him, forming a sort of close protection around the sacred cake. The cake was a tribute to Artemis, the roundness of the cake symbolized he roundness of the moon, and the lighted candles signified the glow of the moon. So, the cake carrier treaded with caution, lest anything should happen to the cake and he be eternally cursed. The orange, yellow flames danced on top of the waxed columns.
The temple was finally reached, and the cake was offered to the one it had been painstakingly and meticulously made for. The worshippers proceeded to kneel to the ground and prostrate obediently to the grand statue that stood watching over them in the temple. A strange hum resounded from the little group of people as their foreheads touched the ground. A sort of praise intermingled with a plea to solve all their troubles. It echoed in the stone temple and finally resided. Then, one by one, with their eyes lowered – not daring to lift their heads in front of the stone picturization of the goddess – they slipped out of the temple, their backs bowed till they exited.
Aleta and Chrystal rubbed together a few sticks and started an immense fire outside the main door of the temple, while Bartlett arranged the group around the fire in a circle, himself included. He spoke in hushed tones,
“We now pray. Let no one pray with their tongues, and only use your hearts, for Artemis hears everything. We have done our duty; now let us hope the smoke of these flames is not wasteful, and that it carries our wishes, desires to the goddess above.”
The company closed their eyes and directed their heads to the starry sky, visualizing the moon and their revered goddess seated on a great throne, and prayed with intense devotion and belief that she, Artemis, would certainly be looking out for them from the vastness of the night sky.
                                      *        *        *        *        *
Roman was troubled with the most helpless situations. He had lost his job as the Emperor’s cook and with the loss of his job; his home too had been confiscated. It was a cruel time indeed, his friends and relatives had all left him because he had no resources and so associating with him would only be a wound to their status, and of course no one wanted that to happen. Roman was left with no choice but to pray, and so that was what he did.
He sold the one ring he always wore, it had been a gift from his friend the day he had been appointed Royal Cook, but that seemed ages ago. He had no use for it now; it would only bring back unpleasant memories, something Roman sought to avoid. So he sold them, and got himself a couple of candles – those sacred, magical things. He obsequiously placed them in the corner of a gymnasium, surely nobody would mind him there, especially when he was there for only a short time and when no one else was using the place, and lit them one by one, being careful not to let any of them blow out. Then he sat on his knees facing them, a sort of semicircle he had made, and started to sway side to side, as if he was possessed. He breathed in deeply, closed his eyes, and started to pray, having faith in the powers of the miraculous candles and believing that they would make sure his prayer was fulfilled.
                                      *        *        *        *        *
It was little Fritz’s birthday. It was one of the first to be celebrated of a child, anywhere in the world. Germany led the way to “Kindlefeste”, a little party for the kid whose birthday it was.
Fritz was in the highest of spirits. His friends and relatives would be coming over, with lots of nice flowers and presents for him. Presents were the most important part of the whole event – if not for presents, the atmosphere would not have been so very cheerful. Birthdays were not supposed to be bad days; no, everybody ensured that the birthday kid stayed happy and in good spirits.
It didn’t take them long to arrive. In burst everybody, singing birthday songs and laughing at the jokes Uncle Ludwig was always coming up with. Fritz was glad, and after a while he was even gladder – for now mother brought the round little iced cake with the candles on top too! Chocolate with vanilla ice cream – Fritz’s favourite. He eagerly bounced towards it, his family surrounding him. Fritz’s father handed him the knife, and while he cut the cake, beaming with delight, everybody around him sang,
“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to Fritz dear!”
“Go on, honey, blow out the candles and make a wish. Remember not to say it out loud!”
Fritz shut his eyes tight and took in a deep breath, and then he puffed all the candles out.
“I hope you have a lovely year ahead!” Aunt Mirjam cried out, ruffling his hair lovingly, while the smoke from the candlewicks journeyed to the skies.
                                      *        *        *        *        *

Happy Birthday

These stories are fictional, but based on factual events. The historical significance of birthdays as mentioned has been researched and is true. This is actually why birthdays began.

Ptolemy V sat on his majestic stone throne, bedazzled with precious gems embedded in magnificent swirling designs which filled the viewer with awe and a certain inferiority in front of the Egyptian king. The king, though not unaware of the fact, did not then care of exhibiting his power and grandness – indeed his face displayed something quite contrary to the two qualities mentioned above. Expectant, yet wary, his fearful eyes rested on the bent, bald head of a shriveled old man, who was at that moment juggling some very curious objects in his hands, the largest of which resembled a sort of dial. A sizeable telescope was standing in the corner of the glass dome-like roof, which had been specially constructed for the incredible purpose it had been assigned.
“Aapep, do ask the man to reveal to me his work. I have been waiting the whole day”, the young king impatiently said to his bodyguard. The man at once bowed dutifully, and walked rapidly to obey his orders. His steps approached Panhsj, who had his scales and papers spread in an awkward fashion on the expensive mosaic floor, and the old astrologer’s head immediately snapped up. Not oblivious to the bodyguard’s task, he took hold of a small table placed by his side, and helped himself to his withered feet.
“King of kings! Today is your birth-date, and I am honoured that you have bestowed upon me the kindness of telling you your future. I do not wish to make you wait, you who have suffered through so much! Do forgive me.
“I see a change, I see the winds of disturbance move in the opposite direction – these destructive forces now benefit you! They give you something extremely valuable, and that valuable thing benefits you even more. Oh king, you shall see contentment”, the old man then looked over his shoulders to the latticed doors behind him, from whence entered a confident, muscular man in the style of a distinguished and wealthy class. His gait was strong and his big footsteps quickly reached Panhsj, where he bowed gracefully to the king.
“You have arrived Bestet”, the king joyously exclaimed, “I have had a good birth-date this year, come let me tell you all about it.”
The advisor reverently sauntered over to King Ptolemy V Epiphanies, and wished him a happy birth-date indeed.
*        *        *        *        *        *                                       
“Alexandro! I hope there has been no trouble this day?” Aesop asked his brother as they both wandered in the spacious open courtyard in the middle of their home.
“Not yet, Aesop, but I am mighty thankful to the gods that I have friends and relatives. Those spirits could not possibly harm me now”, he sighed.
“And that is why you have no reason to worry at all!” Aesop brightly said, and clasped Alexandro’s hand tightly.
Birthdays were no small matter in Ancient Greece. It was the birthday of a person when he would be remembered by all sorts of spirits and demons, it was the birthday when they decided to visit him, to either bring him happiness or curse him to a fatal destiny. So, Alexandro had every reason to be worried – it was his birthday, and the demons might be on their way to cause every kind of unwanted trouble for the boy. He might not even survive the day – the mere thought sent shivers down his backbone. His face turned white with fear.
“One of my friends fell from the top of the roof of his house on his birthday because he had nobody with him, he swears now that he saw the demons – they were laughing at him as he almost smashed his head”, Alexandro hysterically announced.
Before his sympathizing brother had a chance to soothe his fears, the doors behind them opened to reveal the brothers’ aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours and friends. Each of them briskly walked to the unlucky one, and gave him a bear-sized hug, singing poems of happiness to chase away the demons and invite the spirits of goodness to bless the boy under attention. The girls covered the entire house with flowers and talked enthusiastically, hoping to introduce a cheerful atmosphere. Laughter richoted off the walls as everyone sat around Alexandro and wished he had a very happy birthday, each of them in their frightened hearts praying desperately for the salvation of the boy.
                                      *        *        *        *        *
These stories have been divided into a series. This was part 1.