August 15th, 2018

Of realizations late…

Evenings, rains and my reflection in the mirror often make me melancholy. What is surprising is that this is a rather recent discovery. Up until now, I had been convinced that I loved the three – though perhaps not necessarily in the order I have mentioned them in. I love trees too, and babies as well – but they do not make me melancholy. The human heart is such a strange organ. It conceals much and betrays little. It plays games which amuse none but itself. Then, one fine morning, it ceases to find itself amusing, and decides that it finds evenings, rains and a certain reflection in the mirror, any mirror, a tad less pleasant than before.

The tragedy perhaps is compounded by its complete callousness towards the three objects, and the drama heightened by the wailing of the said objects. OK, may be not all the three objects – but one can serve as a spokesman for others. After all, there is no evidence to suggest that collective wailing is more reliable a form of lodging a complaint with the powers that be as compared to an individual (and less ambiguous)… well… wailing. Wailing is wailing. If one does not serve the purpose, pluck at the strings of the heart, literally so in this case, with its soulful retelling of the wrong one has been done, chances are many won’t either. There is quite likely something wrong with the strings, which makes them un-pluck able; Urdu poetry is replete with stories of such hearts which have faulty strings, too many strings, not enough strings, and so on and so forth.

Evenings are beautiful, and if I were blessed with the gift of articulation through verbal imagery, I would have sketched to you the many shades, smells and sounds of evenings for you. But, you do not need me to sketch an evening for you – evenings are amongst those of Allah’s blessings which have been for the most part available to mankind (and all His other creation) in abundance and free of charge. Too often though, many of us take such blessings for granted, and while we toil away at the other often menial and meaningless aspects of our lives, we let these blessings sneak past us without ever noticing them. Evenings are short, and if it were up to me I would make it mandatory on myself and every one else to drop whatever it was they were doing when evenings approached, and witness the miracle of Allah’s creation and beauty which evenings are.

Aren’t we humans, perhaps, the only beings who do not stop for the evenings? Who do not come out to meet and be a part of the evenings? Nonetheless, it is not mankind’s callous attitude towards the daily opening of this beautiful, mystical and heart-rendering window in their lives that makes me melancholy. Perhaps, it is the knowledge that this evening too, like all the others before her, will desert me and leave me to my devices to grapple with the silent and suffocating darkness – the darkness which inevitably follows in her footsteps. Or perhaps it is the painful fact that I get attached to my evenings – savor every moment of their existence. Quite possibly though my sadness is rooted in something intangible and obscure – something more like my intellectual faculties the very existence of which is the subject of many a heated debate.

Do you know what makes the evenings ever more enchanting? Trees do. Trees prepare to welcome the evenings long before anyone else even starts thinking about the imminent trickery of twilight. They invite all kinds of birds to their branches, then they spread their leaves far and wide to hide the birds from view, in the process also partially obscuring and lending an even greater beauty to the setting sun,  and partially basking in its soft parting light. Then arrives the evening to a rousing welcome, with the chorus provided by all the birds hidden from view and the orchestra played by the rustling leaves.  Does it not feel at these times that time must learn to stand still, even if for a short while?

Who then could not love evenings?

My love for rains is deeper and more real. It is deeper because unlike the case with evenings I do not have the luxury of knowing that if I miss rain when she comes thundering, threatening and prattling, I can always meet her again same time, same place the following day. We live in a desert. All year long we brave the sun’s cruelty, its wrath, its suffocating watch during nights, its scalding reminders pouring out of our taps, and its altogether over-bearing presence pretty much all the time. Rains are scarce, and even when it does rain, it hardly ever pours.

Our lifestyles are ill equipped to even handle rain. As soon as the first showers arrive, the general public loses all sense of objectivity on roads, (and we all know that the general public spends a large percentage of its waking time on roads in this country) or perhaps fails to acquire the new and different levels of objectivity required on the roads now. This fact is plainly reflected in the number of accidents we have during rains every year. There are quite likely people out there, who do not even know what the windshield wipers are  installed on their cars for, and still others who are perfectly aware what the wipers are for, but for the life of them cannot figure out which of the many switches in their cars turns them on.  At least this is the only plausible explanation I can offer for the ten-fold increase in the number of accidents on the roads with the arrival of rains.

Then there is the more sinister matter of the road system’s capability to put up with water of the non-bottled kind, or lack there of. Last year, we had rains for only three days, but for the three days we had actual rain. What do you think happened? The word puddles had to be dropped in favor of pools. On the Emirates road, the erstwhile crown jewel in the Road and Transport Authorities’ (we have more than one, quite likely seven of them) crown, there were cars submerged in water! By the third day, the roads network was not visible and many people were actually stranded in their homes, since they could not get to their cars.  Yet, I reckon there is hardly a soul in this country who does not harbor an unconditional love for rains. The minute the clouds begin to gather, the various radio stations dig out their rain songs collection (Cue “hai hai yeh majboori” on all desi stations), people make plans to head out – to the neighboring state or own balcony – and facebook status updates quite unanimously announce the profile owners’ unbounded delight at the advent of showers.

Personally, however, I happen to be the person who lived, merrily and deliriously happily, through five monsoons in Pakistan, enjoyed every day and every night of rainfall, and welcomed every inch of rain with open arms – literally. There is something about rains which echoes in the very depths of my soul, something about water falling from the high skies which has no parallel in the many miracles that surround us. Rains come with the promise of washing away all sorrows and doubts which weaken the heart. They are such a beautiful and apt reminder of Allah’s bounty, His mercy upon mankind, His  blessings and His promise to provide for all His creation. It has, therefore, come as a surprise to me – this realization that rains make me blue – metaphorically speaking.

The reflection I can understand.

One Response to 'Of realizations late…'

  1. 1gh
    February 10th, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    A meticulous post!

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