The Reader

The Reader’s mind is filled with nonsense and wonders others cannot comprehend. It is a world of its own, separate from the imagery of reality. In it, the Reader creates a dimension where she lives, both eternally and ephemerally.

*

The Reader ages and identifies differently. She shares the soul of a black girl living in the 1930s; the anguish of the romance between two philosophical boys; the heroic aspirations of a group of demigods; the prudence and faithful suffering of a 19th-century family; the hunger for God of a Hindi-speaking sea survivor; and the cynicism of a Henry Wotton.

But does that come along with wisdom? Although unfortunate, the Reader soon finds the wisdom she knows applies not to the world of people, in which she feels like a toddler crawling from one point to another. Not knowing; not understanding.

*

The Reader used to be the sole ruler and subject in her kingdom, where she granted and was granted limitless freedom, but under the invasion of a reality against which she is powerless, the pain she feels for breathing in the wrong air is almost oppressive. Her opaque world becomes more defined with definitions that are both clarifying and confining; intensifying.

Among those definitions, there is a love she once acknowledged and now tries to ignore. To no avail, of course, as the cracks in her world leave the Reader open to the watchful eyes of the object of her affection, who lets her not forget, but reacknowledge.

*

He causes her sorrow, her beau, as he lives in pictures and scenes and has a stronger grip and firmer footing on reality than she ever would. He refuses to let the Reader fly and refuses to let her root; refuses to leave the Reader be and refuses to care. Still, the Reader loves like there is no tomorrow for that is all the language of love she knows.

Their love is lost in translation, or so she would love to believe, but it takes no time for the Reader to realize that the love she keeps is too much for still and moving pictures, too intense for a person outside her sphere, too overwhelming for her beau.

*

Upon knowing this, she writes for the first time a cry for help lest she dies in his world.

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“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…”

albaqarah
QS. Al-Baqarah

I have often heard people quoting this verse. I have heard various translations of this verse; the point is the same: “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear.” Yet, today is my first time realizing that the quote is only a part of a long verse.

The quoted part itself has been one of my strongest supports in trying times. When I was logical, that is. When I was done with telling people and leaning on them, counting on them to make me feel better; when I was done trying out mobile apps and sites for depression; when I was done raging at everything… there would be times when I would look up Quran verses to find peace, and this verse always came up.

When it did come up, I thought, “Allah believes I can survive this.” Somehow I would make it through and made it through I did. And those realizations were so cheesy and cringy,  but it was just what I needed. Maybe it was some kind of The Secret thingy; you know, the law of attraction or the power of suggestion or such – yet I thought it was good to believe in something, especially when you were born and meant to believe in that.

Anyway,  I just found that the longer verse is quite humbling. While the often quoted part is more like Allah confirms that the burden we carry is within our capacity, the longer verse illustrates more about the plea of the worshippers to be pardoned and given mercy if we commit any mistakes, both deliberately and unintentionally, and to avoid that burden.

I think I am likely to arrogantly and wholeheartedly believe that I can take the blame for any mistakes I’ve committed; that the errs I’ve made is completely on me, and that I’ve expected certain consequences will follow. What I do not think of is whether or not I can actually take responsibility of all that.

Well, this verse reminds me more than what I had originally expected.

***

[UPDATE]

Adding this because it is a bit creepily coincidental: Muslim Pro’s Verse of the Day is this exact verse. The notification popped out right after I clicked ‘Publish’. Guess I really need to be reminded that whatever’s going on in my life right now, whatever’s hard for me right now, is within my capacity. I can survive this (looking at you, demanding and rude clients). 

“And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself.”

luqman
QS. Luqman

Twelfth day.

My fourth verse.

I’m starting to believe I’m not good with commitment.

Anyway! Here is a verse that basically says we have to be grateful for what is given to us, and it will affect us positively.

Today, I am grateful for a chance to retrace some of the memories I cherished the most. I am rarely at peace with my past, but this was the past I would’ve paid to stay.

The visit to this past also made me realize that I’ve grown much since then; I’ve discovered myself more, and I’ve changed, but change is good. Change is liberating.

It’s amazing how some places can make you feel better about everything.

“Unquestionably, to Allah do [all] matters evolve.”

asshuraa

In my doubts and my certainty; in my desperation and my confidence; in my wishful thinking and my reality… this verse is something I need to remember. That Allah decides everything and settles every matter. That who am I but a mere human. That it is okay to let go and accept how it has been written to be.

It is hard. Still hard even after years and years and pain. Still, I need to remember.

“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?”

arrahman

Four days into August, and already I broke my commitment.

The past week was so hectic with my new responsibility at work and my tight-deadlined side job, so here I am, finally free, finally have the whole hotel room for me, finally get that quiet time just for myself – accompanied by a pretentious glass of hot chamomile tea and a black office-looking desk facing the pool and the flickers of lamps – reminded of this certain verse, and I am grateful for nothing but the peaceful silence I rarely had lately.

I feel safe enough, with four of my friends next door, probably already sleeping (well, I hear their steady breath). That is also something to be grateful for.

And then there is the prospect of having fun today. The daydreams of what we’re going to do. The jokes we’re going to tell. The things we’re going to see. And the sky… I wonder how the sky will look like today.

And then there was that one phone call right before I doze off to sleep while writing this.

Oh, all the little joys in life.

So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?

 

 

 

“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease…”

QS Ash-Sharh
Quoted from QS. Ash-Sharh

August 1, my first verses.

Tonight I had a discussion with my friends about our choice if we (God forbid!) happened to be cheated on in a marriage. The discussion was sparked by a situation in a novel I am editing, in which a woman was cheated on, ran to her sister for protection and a shoulder to cry on, but once the overly dramatic, cheating husband came over and putting on a stupid, soap opera-like show, she ran back to her husband’s side.

Being the *mostly whiny* singles that we are, the discussion quickly took a turn to our *miserable* lives. Some of us whined about the possibility such things occurred. We are average, solo company workers in an age where most of our friends are either getting married or having flashy jobs or travel to exciting places and enjoying the time of their lives. Things get hard at times. The thought of being cheated on as a future potential can kill our *delicate* hearts, so someone prayed that our lives will only get better from this moment on.

That was when I remember these verses.

In the dark abyss called 2016, when things were awfully not great for me (much, much worse than how it is these days; comparing them makes today seems like heaven!), I collected quotes of Quran verses just to keep me going and sane. These two verses, especially, gave me strength. They always bring the promise that things will get better and that what we’re going through is tiny compared to the greatness of the spiritual world, of Allah and Allah’s power, of Allah’s plans and of what Allah has in store for us. Therefore, whatever’s going on with us now, it is somewhat true that things will only get better. These verses just make me want to believe that.

It is only right to start off August with these treasured verses.