Right when I felt vulnerable
A knock rapped on my door,
Misgivings were darkening my soul
And hopes strewn on the floor,
Dawning there before my house
A dear guest stood outside
Now saluting graciously, blessings had arrived.
Novid Shaid, Ramadan Kareem! 1442/2021
My friend has made a monster
He did it for a joke
He wanted to frighten the girls
The teachers and his folks
He combined all these chemicals
Then added bones and rocks
The only thing remaining was
Lightning to stir and shock!
And now his monster lives and breathes
It’s growing in a box
He tells me that he’s feeding it
With flies and roasted ox!
“This monster will give everyone
A fright!” He likes to tell me,
“Especially all my friends and foes,
They’ll swoon and gasp, I tell thee.”
My friend has made a monster
I hear it now above
These limping, shifting, soft footsteps
Which bump around and shove.
And now after some weary weeks
Those footsteps seem much louder
My friend tells me: “It’s growing well!”
His smile could not be prouder
Some days have passed; my sleep perturbed
My friend no longer meets me
And all I hear from up above
Is a whimper: “Help me… Help me…”
Finally, I rush upstairs,
And knock at my friend’s door
A moaning voice cries: “Help me please….”
Then I hear no more…
My friend has made a monster
And now I know for sure
That what he made is a travesty
Against the natural law
And let this be a lesson friend
Of hubris, understand
Before you fashion such a fiend
Which grows then blights the lands…
As now the door has opened wide
Before me stands this thing…
My friend lies dead; a mangled mess
And red eyes stare and grin…
Recollecting and treasuring the knowledge
That your teachers shared before
Is not merely nostalgia
Nor is it a sign of your acquiescence
Of your teachers’ future errors
Verily, your remembrance is simply gratitude
For the enlightenment you received
And a consolidation of ideas
You deem indispensable
Your gratitude for the past is fundamental
And if your past teachers now thrive,
Gives thanks and praise
And if your teachers now have erred,
Pray for their deliverance
For how much of an ingrate is the one
Who once lingered and traced their shadows
And now sticks a proud nose up in the air
Oblivious of the debts you can’t repay
For the inner light of knowledge and progress….
And do be careful, now, my compadre
As on this theatre of inconsistencies
Who knows if you’ll slip far with ease…
So don’t be so impatient to condemn
The ones who gave you such benefit before….
Advise your seers should they transgress
And prosecute should they oppress
But never forget the good that you received…
Harassment starts with just a look and thought
A lustful thought after a lustful look
So, check your thoughts and looks, and don’t persist
The whole point of desire is to resist
And then cherish your fire for the one you love
As when you satiate within the bounds of love
It is reciprocated, eternal
But unleashing your desirous looks on strangers
Can lead to ill and thoughts become a danger
Lower the gaze and keep your soul in check
And look at others with a deep respect!
And know this, though you may think this so odd
That all desires eclipse in the presence of God!
Some would-be sailors reported abuse by a line of skippers, and returned to the shore, heartbroken, anguished, and perturbed.
One of them said: “We must bring them to account! We have been wronged! Looks like there are no true skippers anymore….”
The ocean listened patiently, heard their pain like a mother, and spoke from within the rising and falling waves:
“Wrongs must be addressed…. You must act with unrelenting fairness.. For all who embark upon the journey deserve a fair hearing.”
Waves ascended majestically and then fell, like swooning dervishes; the water swelled, then settled, proclaiming:
“But there will always be true skippers, who have navigated the ocean, who have travelled far, far, far through me and can show you the way. And there have always been false skippers, full of names for my waters, but full of hot air within. So why do you give in? Was I your goal or was the skipper’s good pleasure your idol? Did you pine after my vast mysteries, or were you just enjoying the cruise? Did you think I would let you voyage upon me without some stillness, without the currents throwing you off course, without assailments by pirates dressed in a skipper’s cape? Perhaps there was nothing wrong with the skipper? Perhaps he was a true guide, and the problem was in your self?”
The ocean grew into an almighty breaker, falling with a thunderous clap, then rested and rocked hypnotically:
“Keep your hearts with me, and I will send you everything you need… Keep your attention on my waves, and I will move you further ahead… And absorb the beauty of the light of my full moon… But remember this, the point is not the skipper, the point is the Sea. If I am no longer your one desire, and it’s just all about you or the skipper, then either you are off, or the skipper is off… So, seek redress with the law, if crimes and oppression were perpetrated, for the pirates in the garb of skippers must be rounded up, but keep your gaze on me; make me your one and only concern, make my vastness your dreams.. Remember the signs of a true skipper, and if you gained from any of the skippers on this sea; if you were guided further through my waves, you must show thanks and send your sincere supplications their way- for they are my special ones; I have brought them closer to me…. But also know this, my skippers can never be as vast and as perfect as me…. Never lose hope in the ocean… And enjoy the resplendence of my full moon, which brightens my waters and fills your hearts with light!”
The ocean breathed out like a hidden saint and then slept soundly, like a sleeping baby. They turned their eyes from their troubles, and looked out- the waves shone, like hearts…
An almighty, streaming, surging downpour enveloped Medina Baye, flowing onto the streets and roads, washing away the memories of past days. It showered through homes, upon the elderly, upon mothers and fathers, upon children, drenching them in a water that they could not see, and clearing the air, and refreshing the hearts…
Idris Wuld, with the troubles of the world resting on his shoulders, rushed by Medina Baye, on his way to meet an official of the municipality. A singular old man stood in his way, raising his hands in the air and rubbing his face, as if catching the rain. Idris halted.
“What is wrong with you, old man?” He asked unkindly, regarding the clear sky and shifting his shirt in the spring heat.
“Oh! the rain! The rain! It’s everywhere!” Cried the old man, once again, staring at the empty sky, and welcoming the air into his arms. Idris sighed with irritation and moved briskly ahead, “Crazy fool…” He muttered.
Two hours later, Wuld passed by Medina Baye again, a wide smile on his face; his eyes confident and contented. The meeting went splendidly, and his financial troubles had been taken of. And once again, the strange old man came into his path, shifting from side to side, raising his hands in the empty, stifling air, rubbing his palms on his eyes and cheeks, while the awesome, majestic minarets of Medina Baye, stood behind him, like tower giants watching them. Wuld stopped in his tracks.
“So, what is it with you and this rain old man? Have you gone mad?” He joked.
The old man lowered his hands and looked deeply and intensely into Wuld’s eyes. “You will understand the rain I allude to if you do this one thing…”
“And what is that?” Wuld smirked. “Go to Sayyida and say what needs to be said…” And he walked off.
Wuld stood frozen, as the minaret giants looked on. The old man had spoken the name of his wife, and of the thing which was hidden cancer in his soul: his pride. He understood immediately and rushed off.
At home, whilst the children played outside, and his wife was engaged in the labours of her life, suddenly, she dropped her work, for her husband, Idris stood before her; his eyes in a way she had never seen before for a long time. He spoke: “Sayyida, my wife, and the mother of my children…” She leaned against the washing machine, her fears growing- had he found another woman? Another woe upon the woe this man had given her. “What I mean to say, my wife, and I mean this, I have been a cold man to you, for a while, and you have been a good woman to me. Forgive me. Let me make amends. I will take you to see your mother and kin on the weekend…” His eyes were remorseful and true- she could see it… She could see the shame and discomfort in every trace of red in his eyes. Finally, he saw her, the way he used to see her before. And she collapsed in his arms, the tears not stopping, the pain leaking out into his frame, being replaced by warmth, and love, and cheer.
Later, Wuld, having lost track of time and place, since his revelation to his wife, wandered over to Medina Baye, and suddenly, without warning, water fell from the sky, enveloping the whole expanse, covering his head, and washing away the pride. He looked up, feeling the rain flow over his head and face. The old man appeared next to him. “I told you it was raining,” he said, as people walked by, regarding them whimsically, on this, the driest day of March so far….