What is life when you don’t experiment with things at all? But experimenting with people’s emotions, now that’s something deplorable. Despite being reminded several times, both directly and indirectly, that the idea of ‘forever’ in teenage does not last long and ends up in hurting people, I felt I needed to find that out myself.
“Maybe,” I thought, “I am different.”
That teenage frenzy. I can handle complex situations. I can manage to keep my mind open at all times. I can handle a fast-running car. It’s okay, there’s plenty of time to do this. Yeah dad, don’t even worry about me. I’m your favourite son. I’ll live up to it, whatever you expect of me.
“115 km/h, whoa man! Slow down now,” I said to myself as I drove past the flyover on Thandi Sarak.
The car decelerated. The teenager didn’t. The bright young man who should have been doing what was expected of him – to stay in his right mind – perhaps did not realise that the expectation was still valid. It had not expired; it was never going to.
We often don’t pay attention to the things we say. Though trivial these things might appear to be, we don’t realize the impact they have on our surroundings, the tensions that they create in our society, and the mindsets they give birth to. Though clean our intentions may be, the listener doesn’t always interpret things exactly the way we see them.
A while ago, I finished praying Fajr. My sister pointed out that I was a bit (which was a few minutes only) ahead of schedule and that I had prayed according to Shia timings. I answered simply that they are Muslims too, and I think that was the most reasonable answer. The Azaan may be a bit different but it serves the same purpose. The method of praying may be different but it serves the same purpose. The interpretations of religion may be different but the Quran is exactly the same. We all fulfil the criteria to be called Muslims.
The other day, I was casually talking about how I wanted to marry an Irani girl. Dad said, “Well then she would be Shiite,” implying that she didn’t qualify to be called Muslim. I am a fairly conservative Muslim but hearing a person say (or imply) that Shias aren’t Muslims is as offensive to me as a westerner saying that Islam supports violence just because some maniac decided to blow up the Times Square.
When we create such mindsets and promote such beliefs, we only create more and more distance between us. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why there’s no such thing as ‘Muslim Brotherhood’.
It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the New Year’s Day, and it’s July already. In fact, it feels just like yesterday when I used to occasionally bunk the Physics class at school three years ago to hang out with friends at a spot where there were less chances of getting caught, or when I used to fly kites with my friends every Basant more than eight years ago, or the day when I finally learned to ride the bicycle with both hands off the handle. The list goes on and on. God, how fast the days and the months and the years go by. The best things in life always drift away from us. The worst things do too, but it’s usually the good things that leave their mark the most, that either directly or indirectly define who we are, and it’s the good things we never wish to let go of.
But it is always when we lose something do we realise its importance. When it has slipped out of our grip way too much. Almost always. And most of the time, there is no way getting it back. I think that if you’re even a 16-year old, you’ve already been struck by this reality several times.
It feels just like yesterday we all were making promises to ourselves, those goddamned ‘New Year Resolutions’. Now I don’t even remember what I promised myself. But I do remember you telling me that in time, I’d be alright. How much longer do I still need?