Letter to a Stranger

Dear Stranger,

I would like to tell you about a tendency that I have. Somehow words come naturally to me when I am speaking to someone. It has happened quite a number of times that I am thinking about a particular matter and if it remains unresolved and if I happen to meet a friend in this state of uncertainty and if our conversation moves on to what is happening in my life I put my thoughts about that particular matter so smoothly and effortlessly as if my tongue was waiting for a listener to finally open the knots in my thoughts. A listener opens the gates of my speech and a considerate one like you encourages me to put to this page the state of my mind, heart, soul or whatever is the real origin of human thought. What do you understand from the term ‘primal consciousness’? I have told you some time that the word ‘consciousness’ is always on my mind. I call it the basic unit of life. It is that which directly emanated from the actual source of life. It exists in all living things in varying degrees of sophistication. When I look at a cat or a monkey, I say to myself look this consciousness is unaware of itself whereas my consciousness is superior and is aware of itself. It is like this: if my consciousness stands in front of a mirror, it might see some vague shape which would be sharper if my consciousness is individually superior, but if a cat’s consciousness passes a mirror by chance, it would not find any distinguishable form in the reflection because there is none. And by primal consciousness I take it back to the time when it began appearing on the earth for the first time. In those days it existed as a form of potential energy. Primal consciousness was not like your or mine, it was like that of a cat or a monkey but with some germs of awareness, with a capability to develop into a self-aware consciousness. I do not know how it reached its current state. Maybe it grew parallel to the evolution of physical existence of life. A discussion on this front would take us to the theories of creationism and evolution, to the stories of original sins and artificial ones and I know in whose favor you would ridargue. I want to tell you that it is this strange thing called consciousness that I share with you. Your true being and mine emanated from the same source. You have your body which is exclusively yours. I have my body which is only mine. But if the lines on your hands are drawn to infinity, they would touch mine at some point. Imagine the longest line on your hand and stretch it in space until it touches my similarly stretched line.

 

street

A Street in Kamber

 

All that lives is holy, this line from a Steinbeck novel has stayed with me and has pushed me to think about primal consciousness. There is another word in Sindhi language which comes closest to what I mean by consciousness. It is Saah. It is pronounced Saa-hu, the hu is not with emphasis, the sound of u is only shallow. Saah literally means breath. I do not know its exact etymology, but I associate very deep meanings with this word which are more metaphysical than physical in nature. Last year when I was in Berlin, I was looking for bookshops which sold German books in English. I was roaming around in the streets. I stopped at the pavement for a while to smoke a cigarette and as I inhaled, I spotted an old man standing beside me at some distance with a walking stick in his hand. It seemed as if he was also looking around for some place. Suddenly I felt a very strong human connection with that old man. It was not because, based on my assumption, we were both looking for something or because I felt pity for his frailty or meekness. I felt that connection by virtue of a single thought, which was this: our source is one. The deep-rooted religious myth of us and them vanished and I did not feel myself estranged in the new city. It is this same connection that I feel for you, a primal human connection, disregarding your gender, untainted by prejudices of language, religion, race, sect, nationality, unaffected by desires of the body, a pure, virgin, human connection. But I would not hide one true thing which I felt when you asked me to write. My organism treated your request as a sapiosexual command, and it told me that the obeyance of the order would give me pleasure. The place where I am writing to you from is my birthplace. These days, with the summer at its peak, the streets seem to be made of fires. The eye of the sky is ruthlessly looking at the inhabitants. There is no solace even in shade. I would say though that looked at objectively, the shade heat could be compared to embrace of your lover. My father often jokes about mechanics of relationship that a person might have with his aunts. He says if your maternal aunt kills you, she would throw your corpse in the blazing sun but your paternal aunt if she kills you would throw your poor corpse in the shade. Only after six in the evening does the sun sheaths its weapon.  O Fire! be thou cool on Ibrahim becomes O Fire! Be thou cool on Adam.  Most people here sleep in their courtyards under the open sky. The sleep comes slowly as people lay in hopes for a cool breeze. The breeze comes in like a reluctant harlot and abhorring its suitors runs away. I stare at the sky thinking what will happen to this consciousness when God has wrapped this universe like a newly cleaned sheet and put it in the wardrobe until the limits of my mind take me to sleepland with their hopeless lullabies. I am and will be a sharer of

Your Consciousness,

Safdar

 

stair

Stairs in Kamber

On How I Walk

In retrospect, I have often tried to repress some of the views I have had. I have tried to deny that I ever subscribed to them because they now seem archaic to me. I also feel that they were not my real views but acquired by my impressionable naive mind. But isn’t all knowledge acquired? Isn’t original creation rare? It is acceptable that I discard some views because they were old-fashioned but I should not disregard them simply because I got them from someone else. The only thing I like about the social platforms is that I can use them as a projection of my stream of consciousness. Especially twitter where I do not have many followers and which is not in vogue in my circle of offline friends, acquaintances and co-workers, therefore there is no risk of being pretentious.  I blurt out whatever comes to my mind but then I tell myself I can do that on my phone’s note taking app as well, why do I have to project it on a social site. I have come to the conclusion that I want limelight on my thoughts. I consciously I want that but since I am very careful about appearances I do not want people to see me as pretentious, so Twitter is the answer; my thoughts lie there on the world stage and a stray limelight can pass over sometimes, they lie in the vicinity of attention. But over the last year I have not been satisfied with this condition. I should be content with my thoughts gestating in my own mind or offline until they are mature enough to be expounded. I have realized that the continuous use of the social media applications has made me impatient. No sooner does an interesting thought appears in the space of my mind than I think of sharing it online. There is nothing wrong with this but it puts an end to the curiosity. It gives finality to the thought, it doesn’t push me to think further. It does not let me wonder about the origin of that thought or the reliability of that thought. The first reaction to any thought is whether it would impress people, whether the ingenuity of these words would garner appreciation from my friends. This is not conducive to my efforts to think through, to think deeply, to analyze, to be curious. I am just like any other teenager who is obsessed with putting up her face and food and pet and everything else on the social sites. I would not be concerned if I were actually doing some deep thinking. I am concerned because nothing is happening. I am in a limbo. I strayed off to uses of social sites because I wanted to mention that I once put up such a thought about my life right after it came to me on my Facebook feed. It was this:

my autobiography

                                                                  0 to 19: oblivion

                                                                 19 to 22: mimesis

                                                                 22 to 24: delusion

                                                                 24 to 26: pretense

At the beginning of this monologue I was referring to the views which I held when I was in the delusion phase of my life. I was happy that I had split my life so far in such distinct phases. I keep thinking about these categorizations and I have realized that post-26 I keep moving on this spectrum of mimesis-delusion-pretense. What I am now into is a mix of all these. But one thing that I am confident of is that I am not in oblivion. I am very keen to know more and more every passing moment. But this triptych is still following me. Do you know who you really are? The person that you are is made of many identities which have developed over time. If you start analyzing all these identities you would find that they are made by acquisition and adaptation of ideas which were not really yours. You either unknowingly adopted them or were forced to. When I did this I asked myself what is my real identity then? In the movie Doctor Zhivago based on an epic novel by Boris Pasternak a character proudly exclaims: ‘scratch a Russian and you’ll find a peasant!’. I asked myself what would I find if I scratched myself. Metaphorically of course. What if I find nothing and I am afraid that I might find nothing because I know myself to be a mimic. I copy others so unconsciously I do not even realize. One interesting example is my gait. I am sure nobody has noticed my gait but if an interested observer might look into me she would notice that my gait is a combination of the people around me whom I meet daily or whom I work with. When I realized that I have been unconsciously following how other people walk and copying them I was shocked. Why would I do that. I am not impressed by those people. My single criteria of regarding people as impressive or not is the quality of their minds, I am very confident about that. But copying people’s gaits? Really? I could not reconcile my unconscious actions with my known conscious convictions. Like one person I copied walks slowly as if with some effort and he slouches a little. Now why would I mimic such an unattractive style of walking. I know that when I am walking consciously I am very quick and take hurried steps because someone had told me once that’s how you look important (again an acquired idea).  I also remember that I have unconsciously copied hand gestures and some phrases from other people too. The point is that this mimicry of physical attributes is not that important, the intellectual, moral, and mental attributes are. There I should be me. What that me is I am still thinking about. But I also understand that the definition of me does not have to be constant. In fact in the modern world, the more fluid it is the more antifragile it can become. I am still learning what that definition is. So, scratch and find.

 

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Cosmic Shadows

 

blood moon

Lunar Eclipse ~ 27th July 2018 ~ As observed from Hingol National Park, Balochistan

 

Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
Now steals along upon the Moon’s meek shine
In even monochrome and curving line
Of imperturbable serenity.

How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry
With the torn troubled form I know as thine,
That profile, placid as a brow divine,
With continents of moil and misery?

And can immense Mortality but throw
So small a shade, and Heaven’s high human scheme
Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies?

Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show,
Nation at war with nation, brains that teem,
Heroes, and women fairer than the skies?

Thomas Hardy

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All that lives is holy

We look for light in the

heart of darkness

We believe it resides

in opaque wombs

waiting to be born

by those who wish to see

like the promise of life

 in ornamented tombs

Light of heavens and earth

in a niche with a lamp in a glass

lit from the oil of a tree

neither of east nor west

 

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,

Audience

you witnessed your creation

organ by organ,

sense by sense,

as bone fused into bone

godly matter filled your vessel

like water flowing downhill

as nerve merged into nerve

consciousness was formed

like a frictional spark

as gene ate a gene

destiny drew its maps

it was the best dream

King’s monologue from Henry VI

 

O God! methinks it were a happy life,
To be no better than a homely swain;
To sit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run,
How many make the hour full complete;
How many hours bring about the day;
How many days will finish up the year;
How many years a mortal man may live.
When this is known, then to divide the times:
So many hours must I tend my flock;
So many hours must I take my rest;
So many hours must I contemplate;
So many hours must I sport myself;
So many days my ewes have been with young;
So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean:
So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,
Pass’d over to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!

 

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Shakespeare