Safe Haven

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Talk.

Don’t stop. Talk.

Talk about those things we know about. Talk about the new Black Panther movie that you love so much. Talk about everything you know about Christopher Nolan and Wes Anderson. Talk about The Dark Knight. Tell me everything you know about method acting. Tell me about The Grand Budapest Hotel. Tell me about the way Wes Anderson’s movie scenes were shot. Tell me about Sicario. Tell me about I Kill Giants. Explain to me the incorporation of culture and women empowerment in movies. Explain how Hollywood is changing. Explain how post-racialism is nonsense, and discuss with me how Django: Unchained proved it. Show me your passion for movies and joy for acting. Show me the fire and excitement that keep you alive inside. I will listen.

Talk about nothings because nothings keep us present. Don’t mention my anger or your indifference. Don’t mention other people because they are not here. Don’t mention her because you love her and don’t mention him because it shames me. Talk instead about the road and the night and the striking full moon and how they are all ours. We connect in our disconnection to the world, and so it is safe for me to visit that night again and again and again for a temporary zen.

Today, when they ask me to imagine a safe place, my thoughts will run to you, your motorbike, and the road with which we have become too familiar.

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Letter

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Hi,

You’re in a tough spot again, aren’t you? You left your comfort zone, ended a best-friendship, opened up too soon, fell too fast, and shared too much. Then you got lost in your head.

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

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.”

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.”

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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?