An arduous path, fate has set before me. The kind which relentlessly taxes my spirit and has begun to slowly erode the very seams of my sanity. The deafening cries inside my mind keep me awake and the deception, lies and manipulation have made their mark on my thoughts. The decision to forgive and not seek retribution has now weakened the once willful patient man. They say that those who leave such matters to faith and goodwill eventually find peace.
Does the father, who withdraws; not because of the unending repression by the ruffians hiding behind their false agenda, but due to his deliberate choice of not separating his daughter from her mother, not deserve better? Or would it have been wiser for him to have unleashed his wrath until he could have had her in his arms? On this path, I have found that a father who withdraws for the sake of his child has a love far greater than the one who does not. I would have never forgiven myself, for letting you be used as leverage by those who sought mischief. I left you in God’s care and I hope you have the same heart as me for you will need it to climb out of the moral-less abyss.
I could write a hundred words, to express how much I miss you and how I long to see you, yet when I start, there is little I can muster. So, for this Father’s Day, I managed to get a painting made for you which I hope holds true to the adage; a picture is worth a thousand words. May you always be happy and healthy and may you always choose the right path, no matter how hard it gets. May you find peace through morality, like I did.
I was standing on the porch of my house, which was slowly decaying as the principals that I had made the house from waned. There was a strange whisper in the wind that carried a vague message. It seemed to be a message of hope. Rain was coming. I stood there and stared at the vast sky and anxiously waited, so I could greet it. The sun slowly grew a little colder, from blistering hot to a pleasant warm as the dark clouds that carried rain slowly entered the scene. A smile appeared on my tired face after a very long time. I clapped my hands in joy and stared at the sky and the fields. The rich blend of colours in the scene gave me a new kind of energy, perhaps a fresh perspective. The brown fields, thirsty for rain, moving in waves as wind passed through them. The brown faded into blue and the fields became the sky, which had grey clouds slowly covering its entirety. The yellow of the sun was scarce now, but it was still present.
The first drops of rain came gently, slowly moistening the dry ground. I put my hand forward and let the drops fall on my arm. I took a deep breath and reveled in the smell of rain. The dry soil and the rain drops created a pleasant petrichor which reinforced my bones. I laughed and watched the rain wash and water my fields. For a moment, all my principals grew as strong as ever and my house was renewed. My personality and my character which I had used to decorate the house was enhanced. The floor of empathy and the walls of honesty grew stronger. The roof of kindness and the doors of generosity, the windows of love, the furniture of simplicity, the curtains of hope, the fence of loyalty and the foundations of modesty; everything was suddenly restored or so it seemed. The paint of honour and integrity that covered the house was as bright as ever. I smiled and stepped into the gentle rain. There was a calmness that I had longed for quite a while now. I closed my eyes and let myself soak.
There was a sudden flash of very bright light, followed by a great sound. My eyes opened and I was shaken. I looked up to the sky in question, and there was another bright flash of light and another noise. It was thunder, and it worried me more than it scared me. I have found that loud, invasive and immoral people bring ill things with them, and the same applied to the thunder. It was not just rain; it was a storm. The calm before the storm was but a device of nature, much like the treachery of people who build trust before deceiving you. The rain grew in volume and in intensity and there was a relentless onslaught. The field, I saw were now drowning, and the mischievous water seeped into my house and soon, I was waist deep in a flood. As I waded towards my house, It disappeared right in front of me. There was nothing left, and I stood there in disbelief. All those years, all the hard work gone.
“Today, she would have been a year old” he whispered to himself. It was past midnight and the there was no light around him as he lay still on the bed. Distant sounds of the city were softly breaking the silence around him. He reached for his phone and held it close to his face letting its bright light pierce his eyes. He stared at the screen, blinking as little as his watery eyes would allow. A lone tear slowly made its way down the side of his face leaving a trial of sorrow. He kept staring at the phone without moving. There was a cool breeze outside, which was making a soft whistling sound as it passed the slightly open window and ran across his room. He had a profound smile on his face and sleep was long gone from him.
He had spent the last year, counting days and trying to come to terms with his fate. He gathered as much information and as many images as he could. He wrote countless words on every surface he owned. He spent his time preparing for the day he would see the tree again. It was growing, and soon it would be beautiful and perfect. There was anger inside him. Anger against those who deceived him and took away the tree from him. There was good in him though, for he had forgiven them. He did not seek vengeance. Instead, he chose to forgo all the torment that had been set on him. He was strong, but not strong enough to be kept away from the tree; and that was an everlasting torment, designed by those who failed to trap him in their webs.
He blinked but his eyes were no longer moist. They were empty, just like the smile he had. He ran a finger across the screen trying to feel her. She looked a lot like him and that always gave a certain comfort to him. He began noticing the breeze and the city noise seemed louder now. “I hope you have the same heart your father has. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, it will guide you and someday you will find your way back home” He whispered again, “I celebrate your first year alone, but I know someday we will celebrate one of your many years together”. He looked at her beautiful picture on the phone one more time and then put the phone against his chest and closed his eyes.
I had a dream last night while I was sleeping inside the house I made in the middle of the field. I was flying by a million stars. I was awestruck and glanced at all the passing stars, each more beautiful than the other. I flew across the Orion’s belt and came upon Betelgeuse. There I hovered in front of its magnificence. I tried to shield my eyes with my hand in hopes of getting a glimpse of the star’s beauty. Its light was so bright, it pierced my iris and penetrated my soul. There, I froze for what seemed to be forever, trying to steal a glimpse but never succeeding. The strangest thing happened though, as an eternity was spent in the effort. The star slowly faded. Its light diminished as if it was ready for me to gaze upon it. I looked straight at it and what I saw was severely disturbing.
Countless spirits were leeching off its light. Syphoning it away into their bottomless bellies. These were not the good spirits, but the wretched ones. They all had collars around their necks and they were being held there against their will by leashes which were held by deceitful men and women. Who were they? Why were they devouring the starlight? I ran towards them, hoping to be able to save the star but no amount of force could eliminate the imposters. Soon I had no more strength in me, and while floating away quietly, I closed my eyes and wished kindness and healing upon the spirits and their masters. There was a long silence. A blast of radiant light covered my floating body again. The spirits had broken free from their leashes and the men and women were no longer there. A tiny drop of tear escaped my eyes and floated away into the emptiness.
I woke up to a bright day outside. I rubbed my eyes, and went to the door and pushed it open. A few steps outside revealed the fields around me. They were full and the vast landscape was thriving with life. Towards the east, I had planted love of all things. The west field held the crop of honesty. The north had trees of empathy and in the south, there was an endless field of flowers of hope. In the middle stood my house. I was proud of the realm I had created. I held my tools in one hand and started another day of work in the fields. I labored away that day, thinking about how in the dream, only a mere charitable wish had the power to save the star.
Have you ever held fresh soil in your hands? On which no foot has ever walked and it has never been disturbed before? A field, full of soil that has only been touched by the soft hands of nature? Have you felt its purity? Have you ever held It close to yourself to experience the earthly aroma and experience a state of natural bliss. A field much like that I once was. A fresh canvas, ready to embrace the entirety of life. You see, when we enter the world it seems like there are endless horizons to traverse. Much like the farmer who plans for his fields, the world plans for you. The painting on that canvas could be anything.
In the folds of time I slowly developed myself to embrace the worldly life. I prepared myself to be measured against the conformity standards of society and slowly evolved into an acceptable human being, ready to work the field of life. In the very same field, I stood upon the soil and held it in my hands. The rich earth beneath me promised endless opportunities. I walked impatiently and felt my feet sink in the soil with every step I took till I reached the middle. Standing there, I could see the entirety of the field all around me. A vast landscape of fresh soil I saw, ready to be tilled and seeded.
I settled down in the middle of the field and built a shelter for myself. I decorated it with my personality and furnished it with my character. The floor, I made out of empathy and the walls from honesty. The roof overhead was made out of kindness and the doors were carved out of generosity. The windows were large and had love in them. The furniture was made out of simplicity and the curtains were sewn from hope. The fence around the house was made from loyalty and stones of modesty were in its foundations. The entire structure was painted with colors of honor and integrity. From there I started my work: to work the field, to paint the canvas and to create serenity.
He stood in the middle of a never ending landscape. Vast flat fields over barren land. All around him, he could see nothing but the drying earth and the scorching sun high up in cloudless skies. The rest of his journey will be through these unforgiving lands. Every day, he will wonder about where he is headed. Every day he will wonder why does he always feel like there is something missing. An endless walk which was more taxing on the mind than on his legs. A weary traveler he has become, yet he cannot turn back. For as he moves forward, the ground behind him is no more. The sands of time devour his footsteps. The path he walks is only known and remembered by himself.
There are many
things one cannot hold on to for a life time. Regret is one of these things.
But what sort of regret is warranted? I ask this questions from myself often.
Should you really hold yourself responsible for the actions of others? Should
you continue to regret and continue to blame yourself for the unfortunate
outcomes made possible by others through actions you could not control? At what
point do you accept the reality and try to overcome everything that put you in
a state of constant regret? A continuing desolation consumes oneself slowly.
Perhaps the most unfortunate lesson I have learnt is, that only those who have
a clear conscious are the ones who are affected by this desolation. The latter
have a plethora of justifications for their actions, most of which are
illusions behind which they hide while deflecting all responsibility and blame.
What is regret anyway? Especially when we are told to believe in destiny. I feel constant pain, constant hurt and constant desolation because of being unable to hold you while those who forced this, hide behind their illusions. This will always be my burden to carry. The other day, I came across a passage in a book. To quote it; “Destiny, I feel is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over, half of it is absolutely in your hands and your actions will show measurable consequences . . . ” I have done everything I can for you and will always be willing to do more yet I have no control over a lot of things. This is why, I leave you and your future in the hands of our Maker.
Time seems to have frozen. There is always a permanent state of wonder. Like the continuous falling of leaves from a tree which never runs out of leaves to shed, during an endless autumn. The days become colder and darker and the slowly decaying leaves surround the doomed tree. There is no wind to carry them away. The still air laments between the empty branches . The tree however, has to withstand the autumn. It cannot withdraw from the fate that awaits it. The winter that will follow seems like a distant tale told by wanderers who take shelter under the tree.
He sat under the tree in the endless time counting the falling leaves but if you asked him how many have fallen so far, he would not know. Repressing everything related to the tree, the falling leaves and the never ending autumn, had become a way of life for him. Because regardless of the fate of the tree and the frozen time, he could not sit there any longer. The world does not wait. The day came when he had to get up from under the tree and continue the walk of life. Pretending to never have known the tree and its fate. Silently stepping on the decaying leaves on the ground around him. One step at a time he walked towards his path. A path he had never meant to have taken and did not know where it led.
Is it ok for him to
come back and count the falling leaves every once in a while? To see if the
autumn has finally transformed into the long dreaded winter? He does not know.
But he will always think about it. He will always think about the silence in and
around him. A normal walk on a normal path is not what he was destined for.
Maybe he will never travel on the road he wanted to, for that road was built
for two. But there is one thing he is sure of. When he got up from under that
tree and started on the path he did not ever plan to go on, he left a part of
himself under the tree. While this was not easy, but he wonders if the falling
leaves will ever stop and the part he left behind will follow the path he took
to find him at the end of his journey.
It was the twenty second day of March. The year was 2019. He woke up with a strange feeling. His world was colourless and he lay in his bed, trying to gather his thoughts. He did not have much to look forward too. Lately, he had not been interested in anything at all. He lay there quietly, soaked in his anhedonia. He did not want to do anything or see anyone today or for a long long time. He wondered what was different about today though. Alien emotions and discomforting anxiety was taking over him. While he did always feel like withdrawing from everything, something unusual was brewing inside him. He sat up and tried to shake it away. Like every day, he began pushing himself to getting dressed and going to work.
He had barely gotten up when he received a message. A message that shook his entire world and he almost collapsed. Frozen and broken, he tried to control himself. He held his face in his hands as he lay lifeless again. A cold darkness overcame him. Every feeling in his physical existence was gone. All he could feel was being cast into an endless abyss with nothing to break his fall. There was a light far away in the darkness around him. A light he could not reach. A light he had to let go. What was the message? He repeated the words to himself while his tears burned against his skin, cascading down slowly. He had just become a father to a beautiful baby girl. A daughter he could not see or meet.
If he wanted to, he could fight for it. Fight against those who stood between him and his daughter. He let himself suffer. He became the delinquent father. He told himself, that no matter what they did to him, no matter what she did to him . . . He will not separate the child from her mother. Even if that meant never being able to see his own daughter. This was the most painful decision he had ever had to take. Imagine giving up your rights for the people who caused so much pain for you and robbed you. For him, it seemed selfish to fight for his right to be a part of his daughters’ life if it was going to make her life harder.
He has not been able to sleep properly yet and may never be able to. Whatever you will be told and taught; I can only imagine. You will only hear slander about your father. They will instill hatred inside your heart for him. But he passes his days knowing that there is a God above. He passes his days knowing that his blood runs in your veins.
It was a quite night. The trees were still under the night sky, as if afraid to make a noise. The ground was silent and there were no stars above. Just a lonely moon, behind the dark clouds peeking down. He sat quietly on the stairs of his porch, as if behind a curtain which drowned all the noise around him. He felt like he was alone, with only the silence to keep him company. It seemed as if time had stopped and everything he cared for no longer mattered. He sat there, staring into the endless night and letting every thought his mind ever carried scream inside his head, for no amount of pain could intimidate him now. In his loss, his heart started to turn into stone as he let his thoughts carry him into a hopeless dream.
Life is always full of impediments and difficulties. For, him the past year was much like a never ending storm. A constant, relentless onslaught of difficulties. Of all these troubles, the one that really took a toll on him was his failed marriage. He had been lied to, deceived, used and threatened. But the disintegration of the abusive marriage was not what brought him down. The slandering and constant black mailing was not what he feared either. He endured all these storms until this very night. He gazed at the peeking moon and wondered if he will ever see his child. He could fight against everyone and everything to get that chance. But just because he could, he thought deeply and questioned, should he?
In many societies
and cultures, men lose so much when a marriage ends. I’m talking about the good
men, who are honest, hardworking, sincere and who go out of their way to make
things work. I’m talking about those who meet people who take advantage of their
honesty and their sincerity. I’m talking about those gentle souls, who
repeatedly forgive even after being hurt in every possible way. In the end –
they rarely find support. They are left alone, abandoned and they lose material
things as well as their mental well-being. They are seen as weak if they try to
reach out. They are just expected to bear all the burdens even in death . . .
He was being manipulated and being drained in every possible way. He held against everything. He waded through continuous waves of relentless abuse. But the day they tried to use his unborn child as a bargaining chip . . . he broke. He broke in a way not many of us can imagine. He stopped caring for everything. He let them take whatever they wanted but he finally decided to end things. Little did he know, the storm was just beginning. Till the day she was born, he had to endure a lot more. The very place he sat this silent night, had been a war zone a few hours ago. His house was run over and his family, his home and his life was being threatened by the very same people he used to call his family. How much time does it take to see through the lies and recognize who people truly are? For him, it took over a year . . .
Emotional intelligence is essential when taming oneself. The key to controlling situations and retaining your inner peace is restraint. A famous quote comes to mind, which is of disputed origin; ‘You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass – Unknown’. This is the only task he had assigned himself for a while now. To practice restraint. The art of self-control. In learning self-love, he found that perhaps the greatest accomplishment of a mind, is to have the ability to control itself. It was on our way back home when he revealed the purpose of our journey. All this time, I had thought that the answer to everything related to ‘self’ was the experiences we all have in our lives. That everything that happens to us and around us defines our image, or rather our understanding of ourselves. Little did I know, that it was quite the opposite.
The way we react to situations, problems and challenges in our lives is in our control. To exercise that control, we need to practice restraint. We need to learn to control our emotions and hence our reactions by being calm and restraining ourselves. This gives us power over ourselves. This gives us the power to define ourselves and in turn, understand ourselves. This is the pinnacle of self-love, awareness and discovery. When you get there, nothing can control you and disturb your peace. When you get there, nothing can impact your self-image and nothing can affect your ability to love yourself. When you get there, you understand your worth. You ‘restrain’ yourself against negativity of all nature. You grow bigger than the everyday noise. You stop indulging in activities and company that drains you. Your emotions are in your control. You embrace your feelings, and give yourself enough space and time to let logic and restraint define your reaction.
“So how do you
do that?” I asked, wondering how one can develop restraint and emotional
intelligence. “Solitude” he replied. “You spend time with
yourself. You look around yourself. You understand yourself and you embrace
your emotions. You let every possible thought into your mind, and let yourself
react to the thoughts. You repeat this, till you understand that your reaction
does not change the original thought, but only the thoughts that come after it.
Only then, you understand how to control the thoughts, through your reaction.
Understanding this is enough to realize that your reaction is in your control
and you define the outcomes by exercising this control via restraint” We
kept walking downhill as he spoke in slow, careful speech. I made mental notes
and did not feel the need to respond. While this worked for him, I knew that
there are many ways to achieve restraint. Some practice meditation, some
practice other spiritual ways and many find their own path through constant
struggle to find and improve themselves. Regardless of the method you choose,
if you are trying or even just thinking about it, you have already started your
journey. The answer to the simple impediment of ‘self’ is restraint …