All is not lost, and yet:
all is not yet found.
You have struggled with your self, and with your doings, and with yourself in relation to other people, and with some of the goings-on within this world, and within your own. This pretty much goes without saying.
You had hopes and expectations, searched for it in certain people, and in fleeting pictures, and in structured races. Then, poetry and debate; embroidered cotton shirts, dried flower petals, and clay pots. Until suit-and-tie, and dangling summer scarf, and strides towards ‘professionalism’ and ‘propriety’. Checklists of items to get done; plates of veggie patties and such to eat, by sunshine-framing big window. The ‘aesthetics’. There was the makeup-and-new-adventure part, too; messing-around; ‘vlog’-style, attentions, and then the realisation that
None of this had ever really been sustainable. Or that meaningful, anyway.
[Nostalgia is known to dispense with the ‘lesser-than’ parts of things, I know, but] I so miss those days when I had been, maybe ten or eleven. I would pray Fajr – late, pretty much always. A cup of tea with breakfast. Wear checker shirts and floral headbands; play football, and then go to Maths Club, and then to Journalism. Reading Qur’an made me feel grown up, and centred. And Ilaahi heard every single little thing that I had made Du’a for.
And now, at times, I worry that I might be ‘too religious’ for some people; ‘too ‘academically’-inclined’ for others. ‘Too quiet’, in many situations. ‘Weird’. ‘Too much’ of this; ‘not enough’ of that. Everybody has their particular insecurities: physical, personality-based. And even these things: they fluctuate. Enter as loves and strengths, perhaps. Flash on and off, vacillate between sureties and their very opposites, from time to time.
Ten years later: I know that I love certain things. My Deen, my people, writing and reading and teaching, and ‘observing’ and wanting – and coming – to know. I love hearty meals and electric conversations and the (muddy and celestial) wonders of the natural world, and stupid little forms of fun, and I know that everything that I am, will be, in varying ways, ‘too much’ for some, and ‘too little’ for others.
I cannot act like I do not care. Everybody cares: caring makes a human, human. And, still:
The essence of faith is this: it is not unreasonable or irrational. It is not wholly immunising, against grief and/or fear. But there are more than a million and one reasons to believe: more reasons than there are stars in the sky, even. Faith is about knowing that all of those steps that we had hazarded before… ended up working, if even in ways that we had truly not expected them to.
Right now, and as usual, some things are good and okay, while others (perhaps deeply) do not feel quite so.
Many things, frayed threads, do not seem so neat: and I am writing this article to say that
I suppose it is absolutely inevitable that each of our stories are at least a little ridden with pain. Losses, and betrayals of trust, and feeling less-than. ‘Wasted time’, and feeling so, so, far away from home.
And you know that some days are thoroughly more difficult than others. You know that each moment is a flower-bed, and that while we have control over our intentions and actions… the bigger picture, the garden, is not ours to inspire to grow.
(Flourish. Even invisibly.)
Dear reader, whomever you are, and wherever (and whenever) you may be reading this from: a Du’a for you, and a Du’a for me. To be able to see through paper things and illusions, and to be able to choose what is Better – and what is Best – over and over again, as many times as it will take, necessarily, to get There; Āmeen.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.