When we wake up, it will feel like a dream. A very real and vivid dream. All alone in blind darkness and utter chaos, the final passageway before us, we will pray for our light not to fade until we are safely on the other side.
Last night the whole world could enjoy this year’s largest and brightest moon due to a combination of full moon, and the fact that the moon was closest to earth in its orbit. I was lucky to see it hanging brightly in the cold, clear Oslo night yesterday. If you missed it, and if the sky is clear where you are, go outside and take in the view!
The moon is a frequent visitor in many of Iqbal’s poems. This is one I like:
Solitude, by Muhammad Iqbal, the “Poet of the East”, from “The Message of the East”
I went up to the ocean and, addressing a wave, said:
‘You’re always restless; tell me what is it that troubles you.
You have a million pearls enfolded in your garment’s skirt,
But do you, like me, have a heart – the only pearl that’s
true ? It squirmed, retreated from the shore, and uttered
not a word.
I went up to the mountain and said, “O huge heap of stone!
Can you not hear the wailing of a heart in agony?
If in your stones there is a gem which is a drop of blood,
Then speak, O speak, to a sad soul that pines for company.
If it had breathed, it breathed no more, and uttered not a word.
I travelled long in upper space, approached the moon, and said:
“O ceaseless wanderer, is there any rest ordained for you?
Your radiance makes the whole world gleam white like a jasmine field.
But is your breast aglow with a live heart whose light shines through?”
She looked round at the starry crops, and uttered not a word.
Transcending sun and moon, I went up to the Throne of God.
“There’s not a thing,” I said, “I can be friends with, not a thing.
Your world is heartless, while my dust is all of heart’s stuff made.
A pretty garden, but not the kind of place to make one sing.”
He answered with the smile He wore, and utterd not a word.
No matter which era, mothers’ dreams for their sons are identical. During the weaving of those dreams, knots of prayers start to appear, and bits of hope materialize. But often, all dreams are washed away through the black lines of the kohl. Because perhaps history fancied one color only. The color red.
These three letters have many faces.
The one we want all our lives,
the one we never want.
The one who stays with us,
the one we never get,
the one with whom we always stay upset,
and the one that has his own opinion.
Childhood’s wait for toys.
The wait for rain after the prayers.
Wait, keeps on going and searching for a name, keeps painting pictures at the street corner, keeps being stuck in the door lock. If the wait ended, wouldn’t the eyes look away and close themselves? Waiting is inevitable, but halting of the wait is not?
The ways strung to our feet are uncountable.
Life, clutching the finger of necessity, keeps on running. No sound, no tranquility, no promise, can stop it. The roar of desires mutes the voice, while the age of necessity keeps growing. Life. No, life never stops.
One day I met a man on the street. He had in his hands two similar faces.
I asked, “What do the two faces mean?”
He said, “One is myself, the other, the world.”
I asked, “Which one are you?”
He said, “I have forgotten.”
I asked again, “What is the benefit?”
He said, “I have gotten accustomed to benefiting from misfortune.”
Far away from there, a few words written on a plaque smiled, and both of us picked up each of our faces.
Original in Urdu, “Kia Naam Doon”, by Sajjad Ali (from the audio album Chahar Balish)
In a few short hours the whole city will erupt in celebrations. People will dress up and get ready to party. They will defy the sub zero temperatures and go outside to light fireworks and to watch. Even the city will spend hundereds of thousands of kroners to put up a spectecaular display of pyrotechnics.
Today I ask myself, what is so special about this evening and the day tomorrow that needs celebrating? I feel that the day tomorrow is a little too random to be special in any sense. The first day of a new year, given that we count using the Gregorian calendar. There are other calendars and other starts of a new year. There are other events that deserve remebrance and celebrations.
The nice thing about today, tomorrow and the days ahead, however, are the good wishes and the greetings. I’ve already received a number of them from friends and family, and also handed out a few myself. Celebrations or not, it is always a good time to remember your friends and your family, and to greet them with good wishes. It is always a good time to have an excuse to talk to old friends and to loved ones, far and close. And it is always a good time to pray.
I think I will celebrate by calling some friends, by sending some messages with good wishes, and by praying. Wishining everyone peace and prosperity. May your prayers be heard!
Why is everyone looking at me?
What do they see that I do not seem to notice?
What is different, or interesting, that I clearly do not recognize?
Is it some boldness in what I leave behind that seems to call their attention?
Making them turn their heads to me?
Or even worse, simply run away from me?
They do not see what I see, and feel what I feel. They do not recognize where I come from.
This freedom I possess overwhelms them, confuses them, humiliates them. They may think it is a burden, they may think it is a mystery; they may think I am just wild, or simply insignificant.
But they do not see what I see, they do not feel what I feel, they do not know what I know. After all, I fall over you only to remind you that you are still a human.
Thanks to Silent Reader for the text contribution.
An identity. So lovable, and so troublesome! So subdued, and so determined! So weak, and so strong! So gentle, and so demanding! So delicate, and so harsh!
An addition, granted to you. So deserved! A blessing, rendering you forever grateful. Responsibility for a life, for life. With your life.
A dialogue, between two beings. Connection and deep understanding. Two selves, equal within, but worlds apart. Traveling on a path, together and separate.
An experience. Timeless, yet new. Common, yet unique. Small, yet immense. Insignificant, yet substantial. A wish from the soul, and a blessing granted.
I want to thank Silent Reader for the following text contribution:
“Can there exist anything, between the sky and the soil, that just by looking at it I simply become pale? Can its fragrance be so pure, so sweet and soft, that its memories fulfill my spirit? Yet, despite how ephemeral its life may be, one thorn can tear a life apart and leave the wound unhealed. But with the softest of touch of one of its tender petals, all the stars in even the darkest night can enlighten the universe.”
I’ve had the idea to use a photo I took of a statue in a shopping mall in Chicago for a while, but the final collage as you see above came out very differently than what I had in mind when I started. The picture kept changing as I worked on it. And I kept thinking about a song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, written by Shiv Kumar Batalvi. The song I fell in love with the very first time I heard it in a music store in Anarkali bazar, Lahore, Pakistan, years and years ago. The song that has meant many things to me depending on where I am, what I am doing and how I feel. I thought I’d share some of the verses from that song with you (translation)
Mother, o mother,
The grains of separation sting
In the eyes of my songs
In the middle of the night ,
They wake and weep for dead friends.
Mother, I cannot sleep.
I am still young,
And need guidance myself.
Who can advise him?
Mother, would you tell him,
To clench his lips when he weeps,
Or the world will hear him cry.
Tell him, mother, to swallow the bread
He is fated to mourn.
Tell him to lick the salty dew
On the roses of sorrow,
And stay strong.
Listen, o my pain,
Love is that butterfly
Which is pinned forever to a stake.
Love is that bee,
From whom desire,
Stays miles away.
Love is that palace
Where nothing lives
Except for the birds.
Love is that hearth
Where the colored bed of fulfillment,
Is never laid.
Mother, tell him not to
Call out the name of his dead friends
So loudly in the middle of the night.
When I am gone, I fear
That this malicious world,
Will say that my songs were evil.