Friday, March 05, 2021

3118 : The one who got waylaid

 As a non-believer, I don't believe in prayer or rituals. And when my friend says "Insha Allah", I feel a tinge of envy. She is honoring a belief that she holds dear to her heart. 

She has lived a tough life, but her heart is strong like that of a tiger. She told me many years ago, that the "Lord" watches her back.

I smiled sheepishly and told her, that this was "nothing but a catch all".

Instead of convincing me, or even pushing back, she lovingly held my elbow and smiled, "One day". That's all. With a touch of finality, it was "one day".

I almost wanted her to argue, to defend....wanted to drag her into a mental fistfight, where I would quote physics from my high chair and she would give me her "blind faith", and the righteous bastard in me would smirk. But that never happened. "One day".

I met her recently after years. Both of us are older. Much older. I am not wiser, but I am hoping more inclusive. I always envied her faith, but now I craved for it too.

As we were sipping coffee, she told me, "You have changed". And I smiled and asked her "how is that?". "More mellow" she said. 

"For the better?"

"Possibly", and she smiled benevolently. And then as an afterthought, added "You were always rooted, always letting the other person be.".....and another thought later, "you can be mean, but never mean-spirited. You are Allah's little soldier."

She is my age, or slightly younger, but I felt like she was mothering me, and I mean that in a very good way. I smiled awkwardly. I strangely found immense comfort in being "Allah's little soldier".

We spoke about books, music, poetry for some time. As we approached our second cup of coffee, she stared deep into the black liquid and muttered, with a tear in her eye, "Dad's gone."

I felt like I had hit a brick wall. Her dad was an inspiration always. I learned a lot of my poetry from him. At least my love for the verse.

After a pause, I asked, "How?". 

She said, "Pneumonia". And then added, "I was with him before he went on the ventilator and never recovered. One of the last things he said was, 'I am not sure of Jannat'.But on this earth life was fun."

And then we veered to talk about other things. A little more lighter.

As she prepared to head back, she hugged me tightly. She told me, "He loved you for the son he never had. He wanted you to have his copy of the Quran. He instructed me specifically on this. Will you have it? I know you don't believe in anything. But for him, will you do this for him?"

I said, overwhelmed with emotion. "You are right, I believe in nothing, including life itself. Nothing is sacrosanct, but I shall do this for you, for him, for the Allah."

After a pause, as she handed me a small cloth bag (which contained his book), I added, "One day. And today is as good as one day. I love you. One day".

We walked out of the coffee shop, hand in hand, one sure of her faith, and the other sure of exactly the same.....her faith.

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