“Come here, I have to tell you something. No, a little closer, I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear it. It is the most interesting thing and I don’t really know if I should be telling you this. But you have to promise that you will never ever tell it to anyone, anyone at all, not even your ……..”

Normally such words are followed by a story that is part truth, part exaggeration, part slander, part blasphemy, part absolutely inconsequential stuff. But you can be fairly certain of two things, first that the truth part will be minimal and second that whatever story is being told will be absolutely irrelevant to anything that matters in anyone’s life.

I must be missing something here because I find juicy stories about other people’s fights, their affairs, their sins, their views completely unappealing. I mean I would rather watch a Pakistani movie than listen to what someone said or did to someone else. I am not a psychologist or a philosopher so neither do I know why such an activity is so attractive for people nor can I frame a theory about it. I just have this weird idea that relating (or making up) stories that make oneself look good or someone else look bad (and consequently make oneself look good in comparison) is pathetic. And to anyone who protests that is not what they are doing, my response is simple, “Oh Puhleeease!”

Ali Bay; Remember

Alif & Bay:

Alif: Remember our neighbor, Mr. Azam?

Bay: Remember what about him?

A: Remember him?

B: In general?

A: In whatever. Remember that he existed?

B: Yes, and as far as I know he still does.

A: Actually no. That’s what I have been trying to tell you. He died yesterday.

B: Ha! Was that in the papers?

A: No, I….

B: TV?

A: No.

B: Radio?

A: No, but….

B: Facebook?

A: No.

B: What? Not even on facebook? Twitter then….

A: No, you idiot, it wasn’t on any of these things. I went to…..

B: I don’t believe you then. If it wasn’t on any of these, it didn’t happen.

A: Of course it did.

B: How do you know? Was it on facebook?

A: No, I ….

B: Then it didn’t happen. Stop your lying nonsense, and let’s talk about something else.

A: What something else, you moron?

B: I was thinking we should go visit Mr. Azam someday. Seems like a nice person. Puts up really good quotes on facebook.

Don’t try to understand. Just relax. Falling leaves. The indescribable aroma of spring mixed with the anxiety of winter. All exists in our minds alone. What actually exists does not need to be felt. It just needs everything that does not exist to not be felt. Truth is what is left when everything goes.

Shuntoo on doing enough in our lives

“We want the consolation that we are doing enough with our lives. And since we know damn well that we are not doing even close to anything that can be mistaken by a blind man to be enough, we want others to reassure us. We want to exaggerate every hardship, anything that remotely resembles a difficulty when viewed from the most pessimistic angle possible. We want to go on and on about how the world is unfair to us. What a crappy thing to say, as if the world or nature or God owes us anything at all. As if we deserved a single thing we actually got.”

“And by proving that we have been dealt a bad hand, we want our audience to tell us that under the conditions that we live in, our mere existence is enough. That whatever shit we are doing in the world is an act of supreme courage. That we are heroes, we do not need to do anything else. Donkeys! If you can’t get off your asses, if you can’t face the world for whatever little stupid reason, at least admit that you are not great and live happily. If we are too meek to attempt greatness, why can’t we find solace in our meekness? Why insist that for us the rules change, and meekness become greatness?”

“And then to be pathetic enough to feel that if a few other people assure us of this, the thing will be final. Vying for second hand greatness through weak and crying arguments. What can be more miserable, man!”

Okay, maybe some people are like what you said. But, instead of ignoring them, shouldn’t you listen and help them. And what if some of them are actually in trouble and not ……….” he cut me short in the middle of my sentence.

“I am not here to help or teach. Those who want to learn find teachers. And what you always forget is …… I don’t give a damn about other people.”~Shuntoo

Shuntoo’s encounter with Tableeghi Jamaat

A couple of months ago, some members of the Tableeghi Jamaat found Shuntoo walking on a street and decided, may God bless them, to try and put some hidayat into him, but they surely got a taste of what jihad actually means.

Here is a part of the conversation between the head of the Jamaat and my dear obnoxious Shuntoo.

Head: Son can we talk to you for a minute?

Shuntoo: I don’t believe I am your son, sir. And I am even surer of the fact that if I say yes, you’ll talk for much more than a minute. You seem like a nice man, why lie twice in such a small sentence, less than ten words. Doesn’t it bother you?

H (taken aback): I am sorry. Mister, can I talk to you for a while?

S: Sure. How can I help you?

H: Our success lies in following the path of God. That is our aim in this life.

S: Sorry, but why are you telling me your aim in life. What makes you think I’ll be interested in knowing?

H: By our, I meant yours and ours. It is your aim too.

S (smiling): And what makes you think you know what my aim is? You hardly know me.

H (a little irritated): Don’t make fun of religion, son! God has said that that is the aim of all humans.

S: So God talks to you? Wow!

H (very irritated now): Do you even believe in God, son?

S (smiling even more): Okay, for the last time, I am not your son, sir. Anyway, what is God? Tell me and I can respond to your question.

H: God created the universe and all of us.

S: I didn’t ask what He did and did not do. I asked who He was.

H: He is the Sustainer of all the worlds, son! The Ever Living.

S: You’re still telling me what He does, Dad! At least have an idea who you are asking people to believe in.

H(extremely annoyed now): Forget it. I just wanted to invite you to the Mosque for evening prayers. We’ll have a talk on how to get to the straight path.

S: Straight path to where?

H: To Jannah.

S: You mean you have found that path. A path on which, all the different sects can agree. Hurray!

H: I don’t care about all sects. We talk about fundamentals of Islam and try to convince brothers like you to join us in spreading the message.

S: So you’re a fundamentalist then?

H: NO!

S: Strange! Anyway, why would you want me to spread the message when I don’t know the message myself?

H: You’ll learn too.

S: So I’ll learn the message and even before I have learnt, I’ll be spreading it. Ok I get it. I’ll be roaming around with you, convincing my brothers to join us in spreading the message.

H: Absolutely.

S: So what is your target? You felt that the Muslims had strayed from the path. So you decided to gather all the strayed Muslims and ask them to guide the other strayed Muslims. Wonderful! And do you aim to achieve a state of affairs where all the Muslims of the world are spreading the message and hardly any of them knows the message. Sounds twisted to me!

H: May Allah guide you son! You are under the influence of the Devil.

S: Some cool strategy for guiding me huh? If I don’t agree in five minutes, start giving pathetic excuses. Ok I have a few questions. Answer and I’ll come to the evening prayers. One, why do we end our fast with the Maghrib prayers when the Quran clearly asks us to fast till night?

H: Stop. Allah save the world from people like you. You misguide people from the Quran.

S: So no point in convincing me to join you, right?

H: Bye son! May Allah bless you.

S: Amen! And you too, Dad!

When Shuntoo told me about this incident, I was shocked. I had always thought he had a religious bone in him and when I asked him why he was so opposed to tableegh, he simply said,

“Opposed? Not at all, they are really sincere people. I just wish they spent some energy in learning what they want to propagate. But, they are great people, God must like them. Such simple beliefs.”

And then he started laughing.