Meow Tales

Something’s not right,
I say as my cat fiddles with her food,
Don’t you think so too?
She meows, clearly not in the mood.
I pat her head and keep talking,
Of how the world has declined,
Of how we need to really move on,
But I suppose this talk doesn’t appeal to her kind.
Frustrated, I sit by her side,
Hey, listen kitty, there’s a problem,
That food? It’s all gone,

She looks up, her eyes full of glum.

Cupped Hands

Standing like a firm tree between walls,
Hovering around for me to float in,
Is Your love, so overpowering,
By which I stand today and say,
That He is up there, up there yet all around,
Without Him would be to be exiled,
Without Him would be to be nothing,
It’s Your love I follow around,
My eyes big as they search hungrily,
For that drink of which I have luckily sipped,
That drink which I tasted from Your cupped hands,
How do I forget now?
How do I resist?
This game interests me no more,
For my heart is all red and sore,
I shall bathe in Your cupped hands now,
How can I not wish for that?
This game interests me no longer,
I can see too clearly beyond,
I have immersed myself in You.

Oneness

Return me to my original,
Where there is no you or I,
Here there is all the division,
There?  There is only one,
That is where we belong,
One wall, stretching across eternity,
That’s how we were made,
Then why the distinction on different brick sizes,
And colours; that’s the beauty!
Faces might change, might change again,
But they’re holding the same white rope,
In the same dark place,
Difference is colour, is size, is sight,
Ambition, goal, language, nation,
That’s all one,
There is only I now,
That’s the original.

Fireworks on Eid

I winked at Jawayriyah and Rehana and waved to them. They grinned from ear to ear and started racing towards me with all the might that two four year olds could muster. They jumped over broken walls like skilled athletes jump over hurdles; then again, it wasn’t new or surprising for them. They had played “Dodge the bomb!” for as long as they could remember. Swiftly they reached the doorstep of my home, if a couple of shattered windows and hardware pieces can be called a home, and clung to my legs.
“Eid Mubarak, Deeja!” They shouted at me and started pulling me down to their face level so I could properly hug them.
“Eid Mubarak, my little friends!” I cheered with them, “Don’t you look absolutely lovely!”
Both of them shied away from me then, smiling at their torn shoes and fiddling with the ribbons on their battered pink dresses. They might have been wearing clothes more suited to homeless and poor situations, but their faces glowed radiantly with the joy of eid. I fished a couple of sweets from my back pocket and placed them onto the scarred, bruised hands of the girls. Eyes shining excitedly, they quickly pulled off the wrapper and popped it into their mouths, savouring the sweetness and then giving me a big, toothy smile.
“Thank you”, they angelically said, and ran back to their makeshift rooms under the big advertisement board that said “Coca Cola” with a 3D bottle of coke. I leaned against the shaky doorframe and watched them, smiling after what seemed a century. They were so adorable; I could see them rummaging through a pile of bricks and pulling out a ragged old doll with one eye. Laughing, they skipped outside and started playing, Rehana pretended to be a police officer while Jawayriyah was her assistant officer.
‘Jawayriyah, lock this old girl up!’ Rehana ordered in her girly voice, ‘How dare she speak against the Jews!’
‘Sure, officer,’ Jawayriyah replied, ‘she has been a bad girl.’
Each of them took an arm of the doll and threw her into rubble of glass, stones and pieces of wood. My eyes opened wide, horrified to see what they were imitating. Determined to finish this game, I walked to them and called out,
‘Hey! Let’s play catch with the doll!’
They screamed and ran towards me with the doll, and started to throw it to each other. One of my neighbours came out with her month old baby in her hands, and she stood watching us.
‘Eid Mubarak!’ she shouted. We shouted back at her, too.
In the midst of our happy game there appeared a tiny, black ball. Mesmerized, Jawayriyah and Rehana moved towards it, but I pulled them back. I peered at it with narrow eyes, but I couldn’t do so.  They started to sting horribly, and while I rubbed my eyes and tried to breathe in the oppressive cloud that had appeared, I could hear the girls screaming and choking. I followed their voices and covered them with my jacket, then ran to the nearest shelter.
“My baby! No, my baby!” I heard the woman screech as she ran towards us. She bumped into me, and started begging.
“Deeja”, she used my nickname, “Do something! My baby, he can’t breathe… I can’t hear him! No!” she screamed as it dawned on her that her baby was no more, “No! My baby…” She fell down, crying wildly.
“Deeja, I hear something”, Rehana choked. I could hear it, too. It was like a plane flying too near. It seemed to come closer and closer.
‘Rehana! Jawayriyah! Baji! Run!’ I grabbed the girls’ hands and fled – I could hear the shelter blowing to pieces and then Jawayriyah couldn’t walk anymore. A couple of bricks from the explosion attacked us and hit Jawayriyah, who was already short of breath. She fell down and hit more rubble, her already blood stained face now a bright, oozing red. She looked at me with the eyes of angel as she asked for my hand.
‘It’s okay, Deeja, it’s okay.’ She said to me as she held my hand, ‘I’ll tell God everything. I’ll tell Him Eid Mubarak from you too, Rehana. I’m going to Mama.’ She closed her eyes.
Rehana and I buried our little sister on Eid, with the ragged doll with one eye.

Happy Birthday, again

2014

Arsalan sat reading “The Source” when he heard his sister pushing the buttons on her mobile phone and then putting it to her ear.

“Yes, this is Mr. Ahmad’s place … Yes, um, I would like to have the bouncy castle … Exactly, that’s the one … Oh, um, we shall need it on the 21st of January … Thank you.”

Anya ended the call and threw her head back, “One done.”
“Why did you order that?” Arsalan inquired, his eyebrows raised.
“You know why. My son is turning five”, she snapped.
“God, why don’t you people ever think rationally?” he said exasperatedly, “Why do you celebrate the fact that you have one year less to live? And even bring presents for the happiness of it all! It’s all so very illogical. Think about it Anya.”
“It’s just an excuse for fun”, she rolled her eyes, “Be a good sport.”
“But have you ever questioned where this ‘fun’ came from? Have you never wondered at all?”
“You do it, you seem to be enough for the two of us”, Anya said, annoyed.
“Why did God ever give you a brain?” Arsalan shot back.
“Hey, we don’t have those kinds of intentions”, she replied.
“But on the day we’re raised, we’re going to be asked how we spent our time! How we spent our money! Will you tell God, ‘It was only harmless fun and getting together with family’?” Arsalan said.
“He’s forgiving”, Anya grew irritated, and rang the bells to summon the servant.
“Yes, He forgives when we actually listen to Him. We aren’t allowed to follow traditions of past people, especially pagans either”, Arsalan continued, “Why can’t we start bringing some sense, question what we follow and follow it not because of society, but because we believe it’s true?”
A servant entered and stood by Anya’s side.
“Yes, madam?” the servant deferentially asked.
“Next week is Shehryar’s birthday. Take out the chocolate fountain, and remember to pick up the Woody the Cowboy cake”, she ordered, “Don’t forget the clown and all the other arrangements I spoke to you about. Get Aliya to mow the gardens evenly and sweep the play area.”
“Yes, madam”, the servant bowed his head.
“For now, get me a glass of water”, with that she dismissed him, and took a breath.
“There’s no concept religiously”, he murmured, picking up his book.
“And since when did you become so religious? Besides, Arsalan, nobody cares about whatever concepts there are, and our social class requires we do this”, Anya carelessly flipped her hair, “What will people think?”
“You care about people? People make up all sorts of stories. If society jumps off a cliff, we don’t commit suicide.”
“This is hardly suicide”, Anya scoffed.
“Then what is it? Show-off? Pride at being rich?”
“No, it’s just fun”, Anya stubbornly resisted with stern eyes.
“If you know where this fun comes from, how are you still willing? There’s so many other ways of having fun”, Arsalan reasoned, “I mean, you’re planning this a week in advance, what’s the sense in that?”
Anya rolled her eyes and left the room.
  *      *        *        *        *
“Sir, could you please lend me five thousand rupees?” Maryam, the Christian cook, asked Arsalan as he watered his garden. He loved his plants, and preferred to take care of them himself instead of handing them over to the servants.
“Is everything okay? You got your pay cheque last week”, Arsalan was confused
“Well, you see, my son is also turning five, and he insists on a party. You must understand, sir, there is a lot of social pressure these days”, she answered looking at his shoes. Arsalan sighed.
“Why do you celebrate birthdays anyway?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Because, sir, a child enters a new year!” She spoke enthusiastically, “You people celebrate it too, and if Jesus’ birthday is celebrated, it must be a good thing!”
“Maryam, a year of a child’s life ends”, he explained earnestly, “And Jesus never celebrated his birthday. In fact, Christmas isn’t even his birthday. His disciples never did so either.”
“Honestly?” Maryam was genuinely surprised.
“Yes. You don’t have to succumb to social pressures; people do all sorts of strange things. You should do what you know to be right. Do you believe this to be right?” Arsalan spoke in a calm, amiable way.
“The way you put it, sir, things would be so easier of everyone understood this”, Maryam replied with a tone of interest.
“Do you understand?”
“Absolutely, sir”, Maryam humbly said.
“Even in my religion, there is no such concept. Birthdays were a pagan rite before Judaism, Christianity and Islam were revealed, and all three religions do not allow the practice of rites followed by the unguided before them”, Arsalan smiled at her, “But of course, your son is unable to understand. Here’s some money, but make sure you tell him one day.”
Maryam pocketed the money saying gratefully, “Sir, thank you, I shall return it as soon as possible.”
“Don’t return it, keep it. I wouldn’t like you to be in that difficulty.”
                                      *        *        *        *        *
Arsalan was visibly upset. He had never before realized the effect they, the wealthy, had on the poor. How the poor tried so hard to follow the footsteps of the upper class and make the same mistakes they did. When they could not do so, they watched with anger, envy and a sense of injustice as people spent thousands of thousands enjoying all sorts of fancy parties and posh dinners. It was cruel.
He hadn’t been able to find a religious point justifying these parties either. The only two things nearest to signifying birthdays were – at ten years, it was obligatory to perform prayers, and the Prophet Muhammad used to fast each Monday (the day he was born) as a thanks to God that he had been sent to guide humans. None of the Holy Books even mentioned the birthdays of the prophets.
Then why did the populace celebrate birthdays? Worst of all, why wouldn’t they accept the truth?
                                      *        *        *        *        *
Encyclopedia Judaica: “The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual.” (vol. 4, pg. 1054)
Christianity: “Therefore ye shall keep mine ordinance, that ye not commit any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus, 18:29-30)
Islam: “You would follow the ways of those who came before you step by step to such an extent that if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would enter it too.”

That is why I donot celebrate birthdays.

Protected

It’s really not a cage,
As have thought people of every age,
It does not imprison, instead liberates,
From the darkness that for each waits,
Society, media, the common man, they’re all the same,
Unknowingly they’ve been coerced into giving this a bad name,
They say this doesn’t mean you’re deep in Iman, Islam,
And God doesn’t need it, so what’s the charm?
My sisters, you tell them I don’t do it for you,
And if God doesn’t need it, well I at least do,
You say there’s freedom of what you wear,
Then if I choose this, why do you care?
Whatever I wear on my head,
It’s because of what God has said,
I’m free, free from these worldly chains,
I don’t heed to your absurd claims,
My goal is to please God, not you,
So why waste time trying to others woo?
I know the reality of my existence,
From you I need no assistance,
I cover my head and I am glad,
It helps me see what if truly bad,
It makes me feel clean; it makes me feel blessed,
So why should I be so stressed?
I am protected; I know God is with me,
I am confident and proud, I don’t need you key,
I can walk with my head high, no regret,
No part of my life do I ever have to reject,
Say what you want to say, I don’t care,
God will reward me, this world’s never fair.

The staircase to hope

A student exits a library in Damascus,25 Unique and Creative Staircase Designs
Book loosely in hand, he walks peacefully home,
All of a sudden, pandemonium and fuss!
He doesn’t know if he’ll see his mum.
Two girls play outside with their dolls,
It is another place, yet the same,
They seem not to care being unprotected without walls,
Yet nobody knows how long will be their game.
“I’ve been ordered to slaughter you all”,
Cries a man with a gun,
The biggest seem to be the first to fall,
The man knows when his job is done.
I with my numbered summers think,
Is it wrong to be right?
I never believed so, but tell me the link,
Which leads the devil to his might?
You know the man with the gun?
The other day I saw him breathe his last,
His eyes seemed to be stun,
He says, “The united were too steadfast!”
The little girl who played by the road,
Put on some gear and got ready,
Not caring if alone, she believes her code,
It’s enough to always keep her steady.
The mother indeed failed to meet her son,
But she knew it was her calling,
She knew it was her time to run,
And she absolutely detested stalling.
I ponder on why this model of clay,
Cannot differentiate between fire and his own kind,
I see the other’s reason, but why self slay,
Those with whom one is to find,
The destination which waits joined hands,
The journey which yearns courage and strength,
Oh Muslims, why destroy own lands?
Come back, please, come back at length!
Learn to fight and cope,
Only you can build the staircase to hope!

A Long Road


We’ve all set for your shore,

With Allah’s help and love galore,
Don’t cry, we’re here to hold your hand,
For you the entire ummah takes the stand,
Don’t lose hope, keep faith and be strong,
We know the fight’s brutal, and the road’s been long,
The tides haven’t been calm, it’s been stormy and hard,
But Allah has finally decided to turn our card,
We are united, we’re coming to defend,
Get ready, this war shall end,
We’ve worked hard for God to please,
And He’s now going to send us ease,
For we grieve for you, we yearn for change,
Now it’s in His hands to arrange,
Our brothers and sisters in Palestine, we’re on our way,
We shall put a stop to this cruel play,
You Syrians, do not despair,
You shall be released from this nightmare,
Our fellows in Kashmir, don’t weep and cry,
Because we’re going to win and for that we try,
Don’t lose hope, keep faith and be strong,
We know the fight’s brutal, and the road’s been long,
But do not think we have forgot you, and are lost,
For we shall make them pay the full cost,
They’ve made us suffer in misery, in pain,
But now it’s time for them to be slain.

Sold

Even the heavens cry, knowing we’ve surrendered,
Then the ground weeps, as we have blundered,
The sun hides behind the clouds in shame,
Thinking we were given God’s message in vain,
Our forefathers’ silent graves lay still,
Horrified that we could go so far to kill,
Our own self, our own fate,
And let loose all kinds of hate,
Our first cry is Satan’s touch,
Yet a leader most find him such,
He conspires, then sneers,
Rages fires, then cheers,
I say we’re young yet easily sold,
And he’s old, yet unquestionably bold,
But hasn’t God ensured us more strength?
And definite victory at length?
God, our only master, borne us free,
Yet we strangely purchase slavery,
We think we have freedom, we think we have a life,
But all we do throughout is battle Dajjal’s knife,
We grope our way through this forest, these vines,
Forgetting about Satan’s fatal land mines,
The birds warn and scream, they don’t sing anymore,
Trying to tell us of what evil has in store,
Flowers stay closed, too tortured to see,
Us, but we keep going “me, me and me”,
Trees offer their branches, to protect us and shade us,
But we reject them to accept the heat, smoke and fuss,
Though the small group of alive tend to the ill,
The sick get sicker until they’re pale and still,
It’s a long way to go, a tough war to fight,
But we’ve got to hold hands and keep tight,
This is one test we cannot fail,
To tell the devil we are not for sale!

Borders

In a town of Syria, a 3 year old boy cries,
Dying because of their deception and lies,
They who claimed to be or best friend, our only hope,
The one piece of help for our lives to cope,
With the pressures, the animosity,
Strangely from our very own family,
We’re told to honour our state above all,
Whereas the prophet said nationalism would be our fall,
It’s Iraq vs. Iran, Pakistan vs. Saudi,
 Everyone’s quick to claim their royalty,
 What happened to the day when Umar said,
 I worry for even a single lamb dead?
A Kashmiri man fights armies to save his mother,
 An Afghan boy plays bombs with his brother,
 In Israel, even the stone represents Palestine,
 While we’re afraid to cross the borderline,
 One borderline.
Someone’s black, someone’s white, someone’s an even brown,
One’s poor and homeless, one holds a gold crown,
But we’re not supposed to differentiate nor care,
 For God made sure he made a religion fair,
 So what if the other speaks a different language,
Everyone’s wounds are ours to bandage,
 Even across the line, we have brothers and sisters,
 Who’ve been afflicted with the same wounds, blisters,
 So why be afraid to cross the borderline?
 One bloody borderline.