Mansur Junejo

‘This life is unbearably long and may be unnecessarily too’, said Junejo staring at the fire, which reflected in his dark intelligent eyes. ‘Only some moments are worth living, remaining are for the preparation. I’ve not distinguished the liveable moments though, they are lost in thousands of useless moments, invisible and if I were a sceptic, I should have said, non-existent!’, saying this he looked at me and smiled a sceptical smile, which betrayed his statement. ‘I can see you are about to say something which will move my core and cause me to believe in you for a day or two may be until I go and search and bring some doubt to your temporarily certain explanations as always, han?’, smiling sceptically Junejo threw his phone at me. ‘See that?’ I looked at his phone. There was a message from an unknown number, it read:

‘MJ I shall not leave you. I am made for you. You may have attached yourself to someone as you say but I love you more than you love her. I have no problem. I am ready to be your second wife. I know you have no problem with polygamy, I listened to your talk in the canteen, when you were telling your friends why you think polygamy is good. Regardless of my opposition to it, I will be happy with you because I love you, MJ, please accept me! I will die without you, have mercy on me.I’ll kill myself’

‘What do I tell her now? Am I obliged to save a life? If she dies, would God catch me too?’

‘But you can be polygamous, what is wrong, you can save a life, all you have to do is distribute your love!’

‘Safdar, is this you speaking?’, angered slightly he stopped smiling.

‘How old are you MJ?’

‘Why, twenty-three or so!’

‘If you think life is unnecessarily long and that it should have been otherwise, you would have perished before reaching this age and knowing that you had your ‘enlightenment’ only last year, you may have seen hell by now and your life would have been totally useless like that star beside the moon’

‘If I had known I would have sought the enlightenment earlier in my life’

‘Presumptions are too dangerous to harbour them for a long time in our heads, how can you know that your life is long, because you saw  that dream?’

‘Dreams are insignificant, but its generally established that average human life is more than three scores’

‘Generally established statements are spoiled forms of presumptions. You say you would have sought for the enlightenment earlier. Did you seek it in real life?’

‘No, it just came to me. Didn’t I tell you about that accident by which I discovered enlightenment’

‘Please don’t use that word, I prefer collusion rather than accident’

‘Doesn’t matter what you call it’

‘Matters. Say I fail in some of my plans and then I say ‘it was my fate’. You’d jump up and tell me that fate is a bad word. You’ll suggest me to say, ‘it has happened as God willed it for me’’

‘I had another dream’

‘Where you were celebrating your 155th birthday?’

‘No, I haven’t seen any dream twice. I saw that my betrothed has given birth to twins years after our marriage. But…. she has herself has died’, he said this in a whisper, again looking at the flames, which could not burn the gloom in his eyes. ‘then I saw that I am in bed with her!’

‘Dreams are insignificant’

‘I am afraid she might actually do something silly. I have ignored her every time she has tried to talk to me. I don’t even look at her. But since last month she is stalking me and makes contact almost daily.’

‘Do you love her?’

‘No’, it sounded like an answer to the question ‘do you want to live?’

‘Your mother tells me that you have been behaving strangely and you are not comfortable with company any more. She accused you of introversion and says that you talk about purpose of things all the time. Last week she insisted you to go to the jeweller for ordering a set for your betrothed and you didn’t go and behaved so badly that she cried afterwards?’

‘I am at loss. I don’t understand, what is the purpose of this marriage. I don’t want to marry at all. Granted I love my betrothed, I plead guilty to it but I have started to look at things differently or rather they have actually been different all along’

‘You are uselessly pushing yourself to confusion and nihilistic attitudes. We are Muslims MJ, we are surrenderers, our lives have been bought, we have sold ourselves for something we cannot imagine, but something great, something which is a source of unimaginable bliss, we have been promised, we are told that we do not have to worry, we are told to be steadfast and wait!’

‘Why such long wait?’

‘God knows! Look brother cutting yourself off from other people will not help you gain satisfaction. We are animals but social. Seclusion is good but its excess, extremely bad.’

‘That’s your opinion. I don’t have courage to meet people with false smiles’

‘At least be good to your parents’

‘Hmm. What should I do with her?’

‘Marry her’

‘I don’t love her’

‘She does, and that is important’

‘What about other complications? How will I tell mother and what will my betrothed say? This can’t be done, it is impossible’, he stood up and we walked towards the house.

‘You said all I’ve to do is distribute my love, is love distributable?’

I didn’t answer.

 

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I Have Borne It

An extract from Ghazali’s Revival of Religious Sciences:

 

Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah honour his face!), whenever worship time came, used to shake, and his face used to change colour. So he was asked, “What is the matter with you, O Commander of the believers?”

And he would say,

“There has come a time of ‘trust’ which Allah ‘offered to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it and shrank from it (Quran 33:72) and I have borne it”

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Bedtime Stories for Young People OR The Star which Outshone the Moon Itself

‘I feel so humiliated Safdar, I cannot tell you how much I am!’

‘What has happened? I’ve never seen you like this before!’

Imran had called me about three hours ago and expressed his wish to see me as soon as possible. I agreed and we decided to meet at his flat near Abdul Qadeer road in Johar Town. He lived alone in his big apartment. I rang the bell outside his door, it didn’t ring and I thought its not working but he came out in an instant with an expression of guilt on his face. As we sat down, he started playing with his long beard as was his habit since long. I told him that he didn’t look too good and asked if he was keeping supererogatory fasts.

‘No!’

‘Then?’

As I uttered this word with childish curiosity, lights went out.

‘Lets go to the roof and I’ll tell you’

On the roof of that eight-storied building I could see few lights in the entire Johar Town immersed in darkness. The building was away from the road but I could hear the horns and usual traffic noise. In the sky shone a solitary star which outshone the moon itself. Few clouds floated but their existence could not be felt. The star shone fiercely as if feeling alone it cried for company of lost friends. We went towards the boundary wall and facing the open view before us I sighed. At a small distance away from the parapet on the same roof, a fire burned in a yellow used ghee can and around it sat an old man in his chair and a young bearded man who sat silently and listened to the old man while he spoke slowly in a muffled voice.

‘I feel so humiliated Safdar, I cannot tell you how much I am!’

‘What has happened? I’ve never seen you like this before!’

‘You know I’ve been living this flat for a long time and I have good relations with all my neighbours. There lives a family in block C right opposite Merhran’s flat. They have a son who is mentally retarded and often his parents let him loose and he does things which irritate people. Once he peed on Mehran’s car. We have talked to his parents, they are really good people but they haven’t been able to keep him from irritating people. I think he is twenty-six or something and he was born like this. His parent love him too much and the idea of leaving him in a sanatorium bursts their heart, as they tell us. One day, as I left Mehran’s flat and walked towards the elevator he came running behind me and pushed me hard enough that I fell. I stood up in rage and slapped him so hard that it even hurt me. He looked at me with such furious eyes but didn’t say a word. Tears ran over his face. I left him standing there and went down through the stairs to avoid his look which may have left me horror-struck if I gazed too long. Similar events happened with many people but most of the time people just controlled their anger and only complained to his sorry parents. Even I often forgave him for his foolish actions but that time I could not handle myself too well. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I regretted that slap.

A few hours ago I locked my flat and went down for Isha prayers, did ablutions and waited for the congregation prayers to begin. After a few minutes all of the people in the masjid arranged themselves in the ranks, the muezzin said the takbir and the Imam began the prayers. As he recited the Fatiha and began an additional surah which was at that time ‘Iqra’ , somebody behind the jamaat shouted in a very loud, fearful voice ‘Allaaaaaaaahuakbarr’ and we heard gunshots and a really powerful explosion, the whole jamaat , myself included, scattered and ran for the door but there was no one, the masjid stood at its place and there were no bullet marks on any wall and no sign of any explosion, everything was properly arranged, the books in the cupboard, the calligraphy and duas on the walls, the pillars. There had been no explosion. Only the Imam and few people in the second and first rank had not moved. The Imam continued his recitation but stopped when the buzz of people’s talk became too loud and broke away from his prayer position!’

‘What?’

‘There had been no explosion. All of us gathered and went outside. At the main gate stood the 26-year old mad man with a loud speaker in his right hand and a matchbox in the other, laughing as mad men laugh. He lifted the speaker to his mouth and with a hysterical laugh said:

khuda tum ne namaz dekhi in logon kee? ek awaz se darr gaye aur chor diya tujhe! hahahahahahahahahah!’

(God did you see their namaz? fearful of only a sound they left you hahahahahahahahaha!)

He dropped both the things and ran away but people caught him and……………………………………………..’

I was silent and kept looking at Imran whose eyes were wet and in them glittered the few lights in the dark Johar Town.

‘Ek awaz sey dar gaya mein yaar aur chor diya khuda ko’ , said Imran , his words choking. Then he cried with all his might. The men around the fire looked in our direction. I waved at them and the old man continued his tale. I could hear his indistinct words now. Imran kept crying for a few minutes and then suddenly lifted his head and said:

‘ Ek paagal ne mera eeman mujhe dikha diya, ye rozay, ye namaz, yeh tilaawat, inhon ne kuch asar nahin kiya naa eeman pe, zindagi tou utni aziz hai jitni her jaandaar ko hai, eemaan tou waisa hee kacha dhaga jo ek awaz se honey wali vibration sey hee toot jaye’

(A mad man exposed my faith, these fasts, this prayer, this recitation haven’t affected my faith at all, life is as precious as it is to every living being, faith is as weak as a string which breaks even on a vibration of a sound)

‘Come on Imran, one must think about his  life’

‘My life, my death, my prayers my sacrifices are all for Him’

‘Yes I know but that was a reaction, any other person must have done that too’

He sobered up and stood silently facing the open view.The lights glittered in his eye, the wind blew his hair. He turned towards me and said:

‘How strange is this life? How strange? Look at this, look at these hands, look at all of this, will this hand be like this in hundred years? Where do we come from and where do we go? I have lost it Safdar, I have lost it!’

I took his hand and pressed it and patted his shoulder. He had sobered up now, completely. He said, ‘The administration has asked the family of that mad man to leave the flat within a week and until that to keep their son inside the house at all times otherwise he’ll be handed over to the sanatorium.’

We were silent for a minute, I heard the old man saying something in his slow way. As I looked at the men around the fire Imran said:

‘Thats Mr Ayaz and his grandson’

I looked at the boy. Apparently he was listening to his grandfather with extreme reverence. We walked towards them and stood close enough to hear  Mr.Ayaz’s words clearly. He was saying:

‘Then there were people who thought the sun is their God. There were people who thought the lion is there God, some thought the fire is their Creator, some consider things made of stone their Sustainer, some think that all this is a joke and that there is no God, some say what they perceive exists. You see Abdul Sami, there are many kinds of people, there are some kinds of people who think that little star in the sky which outshines the moon itself is their God.Then there came a man who told people that his words were words of the God, he came and lived for 63 years on this planet, he once told people that his God says:

“and it is He alone who sustains the brightest star”

The man has long gone my dear Abdul Sami but I’ve believed in his every single word. I believe that ‘it is He alone who sustains the brightest star’, do you understand what I’m saying beta?’

Suddenly the the whole Johar Town came to life as the power came back. We went down to Imran’s flat. As he opened the door, he said in a grim tone:

‘Do you know Safdar that this boy is deaf and they have named him Abdul Sami?’

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Notes by the translator:

1) ‘ and it is He alone who sustains the brightest star’ – this is a verse from Quran, the Holy book of Muslims. The verse 49 of chapter 53

2) the star which outshone the moon itself may be Sirius, a star of the first magnitude, belonging to the constellation  Canis Major.

3) Sami is the name of Allah. Sami mean All-Hearing, The Ever-Listening. Abdul Sami means ‘servant of Sami’