12 September, 2007


The gods throw the dice, and they don’t ask whether we want to be in the game or not. They don’t care if when you go, you leave behind a lover, a home, a career, or a dream. The gods don’t care whether you have it all, whether it seems that your every desire can be met through hard work and persistence. The gods don’t want to know about your plans and your hopes. Somewhere they’re throwing the dice - and you are chosen. From then on, winning or losing is only a question of luck.

The gods throw the dice, freeing love from its cage. And love can create or destroy - depending on the direction of the wind when it is set free. For the moment, the wind was blowing in his favor. But the wind is as capricious as the gods - and deep inside myself, I had begun to feel some gusts.

At last, as if fate wanted to show me that the story of the Other was true - and the universe always conspires to help the dreamer - we found a house to stay in, with a room with separate beds. My first move was to bathe, wash my clothes, and put on the shirt I had bought. I felt refreshed, and this made me feel more secure.

"By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept" ~ Paulo Coelho

I Love Him

I’ve met a man and fallen in love with him. I allowed myself to fall in love for one simple reason: I’m not expecting anything to come of it. I know that, in three months’ time, I’ll be far away and he’ll be just a memory, but I couldn’t stand living without love any longer; I had reached my limit.

I’m writing a story for Ralf Hart - that’s his name. I’m not sure he’ll come back to the club where I work, but, for the first time in my life, that doesn’t matter. It’s enough just to love him, to be with him in my thoughts and to colour this lovely city with his steps, his words, his love. When I leave this country, it will have a face and a name and the memory of a fireplace.

Everything else I experienced here, all the difficulties I had to overcome, will be as nothing compared to that memory. I would like to do for him what he did for me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I realise that I didn’t go into that cafe by chance; really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other.

'Eleven Minutes' ~ Paulo Coelho

06 September, 2007

The Other Side of the Lake

When I was young, I used to go fishing to the lake with Jojo on Sundays. Everyone, including the doctors, engineers, and Mister said that there were no fishes in the lake. The water is too contaminated for the fishes to survive. But we still liked to spend our Sundays fishing around.

We had all sorts of fantasies about the other side of the lake. We used to imagine the kind of world that would exist across the other side. The people, how they lived, what they did, how they did it. But every one told us to quit visiting the lake. They said that there are no fishes in the lake so it’s useless to go there. All this useless talk had made us very sad. So, one day we put dead fishes in our rods and hung them down the lake to prove that there were fishes in the lake. And just when we planned to pull the rod out and make a big fake fuss about it, Mister arrived to take us back home.

"Still looking for fishes", he smiled.

"Just wait and see, we will at least catch a dozen fishes today!", we cheered with well practiced fake joy. We told Mister that it is not useless to come to the lake and wondered why everyone thought that visiting the lake was a waste of time. We started talking about the other side of the lake. How beautiful it was and how lucky would be the people who lived there. We told him about our secret plan to hire a boat and go there one day, and if Mister was nice, we wouldn’t mind taking him along too.

Mister said that boys, when you will grow up, you will come to learn that anything that does not provide the hope for any kind of profit is considered useless in this world. People only strive to work for things that promise a well outcome. And they only choose to be with people who are profitable for them.

He said that all our lives, we keep on chasing our dreams and choose to believe that what isn’t there is actually there. Like today, you put dead fishes in your rods to prove that the world is wrong and your imagination is right. You have all these self deceiving fantasies about the other side of the lake. I have been there many times. And it is as barren as ever. In fact it’s even worse than this side. I wish that you never get to go there, you would be very disappointed. The other side just looks pretty from the other side.

I still remember the day when we were sitting in the lush green grass by the side of the lake. It had rained last night. The day was clear. The cool breeze brought the smell of flowers with it. Clouds were floating in the air and the pure blue water of the lake had fog all over it. Every thing was so fresh, so beautiful. Like the universe was created just a moment ago.

We read stories to each other, talked, played, and watched the butterflies dance in the air for hours, while we waited to catch a fish. We had brought all the stuff to cook it too. Before sunset, Mister came to take us back home. He looked at the breathtaking view of the lake and sat down with us. With a sigh, he started talking about weird things. Things we did not understand, and did not like to hear.

He said that what if life would just pass by in these self deceiving imaginations, what if happiness lasted forever. But no matter how hard you try, you have to wake from your dreams. He told us that when you will grow up, you start feeling disappointed. As you will grow in experience and maturity, your disappointments would increase. Your thoughts and ideas will be crushed by the reality to the point that you will not be able to seek refuge in your imagination anymore.

When you will grow up, you will learn that life is hard. To live, you need status. You need facilities and for that you need money. For money you need to enter the competition. To win the competition, you need to lie, cheat and betray your friends. People want things, and when they can’t get them, they steal them and never return them back. He said that nobody cares for nobody and everybody is selfish. All the relationships in the world, the love the friends, the mentors, have motives. Every smile will have a purpose; every care would have a price. And that people remember God only when they need something. And if that something is not achieved, they become skeptics – the deniers of His existence.

He said that you cannot please anyone in this world. You will always be too simple, too intelligent, too proud, too silly, too conservative or too clever to be with. You will wait for that special person who will come in your life one day and understand, but the truth is there will always be something wrong with the real you, so you will learn to hide in covers and learn to live alone till the day that you will be ready to quietly leave the world behind. And at that moment, you will look back and wonder what was the reason for this meaningless show of deception?

...And just then, the sun went down, and all of a sudden, just that moment, the other side of the lake started to glow. The clouds and the fog gathered to make a beautiful castle in the sky, with windows pathways and twisted stairs. We could see the light coming out of the patterns. It was everywhere and divine.

We turned towards Mister and cried, "Who said the other side is barren... look!", we pointed towards the other side. And then, everything turned blue. The sky, the lake, clouds, the air, and the other side of the lake. The beautiful castle glowed in the moonlight. It was moonlight, everywhere.

It has been many years today, I have grown older and wiser, and by Mister’s theory of existence, I should have been more practical by now. But unfortunately, this world could not change me. It could not make me stop dreaming and stop believing in the magic of the other side. So whenever the face of reality becomes impossible to bear, I seek refuge in the beauty of the lake, because I still believe that wherever dreams meet reality, there is a mysterious place called the other side of the lake.

Moments & memoirs extracted and translated from 'Himaqatein', by the legendary Shafiq-ur-Rehman.

04 September, 2007

The Skeptic - By Irfan Zahid Siddiqui

" And why the pain, My Lord..."
" For you to appreciate mercy."
" And why heartache; crying without shedding tears..."
" For you to understand that physical pain is much easier to endure than emotional despair."
" And why temptation..."
" For you to choose, to decide. I created you an independent thinker."
" And why Your worship."
" For you to seek, that which is better."
" And why the threat of punishment..."
" For you to abstain."
" And why sorrow..."
" For you to appreciate a moment of true joy."
" And why joy..."
" To wash away your tears."
" And why happiness..."
" To show you what lies in wait for the best of you."
" And who are the best..."
" Those who can, but don't...And those who can't, but do."
" But why is it easier for a fortunate few..."
" It is tougher than you think. For the more they have, the easier it gets to forget. Their test is much more difficult than yours."
" And why love..."
" To satisfy your soul."
" And why desire..."
" To teach you to care."
" And why loss..."
" For you to enjoy a moment of true victory."
" And why sacrifice..."
" For you to learn that the hand which gives is better than the one that receives."
" And why the day of judgement..."
" To bestow upon you your reward."
" And why the books..."
" To guide you, and those sent before you."
" But why more than one..."
" As there is a time for laughter and a time for tears, so was there a proper time for revelation."
" And why equality..."
" For all men were made of sand, fire and water."
" And why is a successful man better than a good human being..."
" For the successful man feels very little, and the good human being a little too much."
" And why liars..."
" So that you learn to filter all that you are told."
" And why drink..."
" For you to step into the abyss of sin."
" And why is life unfaithful..."
" For you deem it a friend."
" And why insanity..."
" For you to see how fortunate you are."
" And why sanity..."
" For you to realize how unfortunate you are to be one of the fortunate ones."
" And why death..."
" To counter creation."
" And why life..."
" For you to question your existence."
" And why sin..."
" To help quench the thirst of the fire."
" And why contradiction..."
" So that you are capable enough to differentiate."
" And why virtue..."
" For you to be able to appreciate the good in the people."
" And why pleasure..."
" For you to thank your Lord."
" And why individuality..."
" To show you the diversity of my creation."
" And why conformity..."
" For you to see that in conformity lies your true strength."
" And why is love for sale..."
" So that you can learn to accept defeat with your head held high."
" Why are tears..."
" To help you regain control of your emotions."
" And why a conscience..."
" To help you get to the Garden of your Lord."
" And why infatuation..."
" So that you are able to distinguish it from love."
" And why hope..."
" To show you that a quitter is a loser."
" And why opportunity..."
" To show you that a loser is not a quitter, and not always a loser."
" And how can we differentiate between a lie and the truth..."
" A lie is repeated many times, the truth seldom is."
" And why lust..."
" So that you can learn to outgrow it."
" And why are people racists..."
" For in them dwells a sense of insecurity."
" And why is life different from living..."
" As there is a difference between dreaming and doing, there is a difference between life and living."
" And why is it that some people are completely misunderstood..."
" For no one is willing to recognize their greatness."
" And why do we always hurt those we love..."
" For they are the only ones who are sure to forgive you."
" And why do I disagree with every principle of life..."
" For life disagrees with every single principle of yours."
" And why do we cry..."
" As it rains to let the storm spend its fury, so you cry to relieve your feelings."
" And why will..."
" To help you stand strong..."
" And why ability..."
" For you to believe in yourself."
" And why death..."
" To counter creation."
" And why trust..."
" So that you can turn your back completely without the fear of being stabbed."
" And why beauty..."
" To make you believe."
" Why life after death..."
" For some to enjoy the fruits of their harvest and for others to regret not ploughing the fields."
" And why Eve..."
" For Adam needed a companion."
" And why fame..."
" For you to be humble."
" And why glory..."
" For you to understand that true victory needs not to be highlighted."
" And why fear..."
" So that you learn to appreciate freedom."
" And why grief..."
" To help you determine your well-wishers."
" And why the disbelievers..."
" To show you the rightful owners of the pit of fire."
" And why patience..."
" So that you can relish a moment of achievement."
" And why humility..."
" So that you understand that the best from you do not need to boast."
" And why the burden of taking a favour..."
" So that you can learn to return it."
" And why torment..."
" So that you are never cruel."
" And why solitude..."
" For you to reach out to your Lord."
" And why mercy..."
" To show you that mercy does what the harshest punishment will not."
" And why a chance to repent..."
" To show you that your Lord is fair."
" And why Your wrath..."
" To bring an end to the lives of those, who care not for my creation."
" And why were the innocent slain..."
" For you to respect martyrdom."
" And why hate..."
" For you to destroy yourselves."
" And why a heart..."
" To give you a place from which to shed unseen tears."
" And why peace..."
" So that you can prosper."
" And why war..."
" For you to know that a day of ruling is better than a thousand years of slavery."
" And why arrogance..."
" To lead you astray."
" And why rebellion..."
" To teach you never to adopt to a system that is against the fundamental teachings of your Lord."
" And why night..."
" To let you set aside your duties and burdens of the day and rest in peaceful worship."
" And why defeat..."
" To spark the desire to win."
" And why suffering..."
" To ease your pain."
" And why enemies, My Lord..."
" For you to have friends. There is no such thing as a true friend. Your enemy's enemy is your friend."
And at that, he turned around and laughed. His Lord was amused...
" Why the laughter?" his Lord asked him.
" For today...today, I finally know..."
" And what is that," his Lord asked him.
" You're the one with all the answers... You figure it out."

And sometimes, just sometimes, it makes me wonder...