Monday, 9 November 2009

King of Self

This weekend was the first in ages where I’ve been able to do absolutely nothing! The GCIL audit was done, most of the housework was up-to-date (well, to my standards any way, which are not visit ability standards; but then you cant win em all!), friends were mostly away: Asif and Rizwana are both off to Pak to get married (not to each other), Sonia’s mum was off to ziyerat, most significantly my own family were away; which meant no check-in phone calls, no visits (I love my parents to death; but we all need a break, hence them going away!).

Any way, the time gave me the opportunity to eat chocolate, watch pointless TV, and dig out some old music! While trundling through old alap and heera music and raising a few floor boards (thankfully no one was watching; my current size doesn’t make that a pretty sight!), any way, in the process I found some old Sajid and Zeeshan music from 2007. Old? I hear you cry? Not really! But given the speed at which Pakistan is churning music out these days, 2007 is like last millennium!
I don’t know if you are familiar with the guys, but they are a pashayvir based outfit, who perform light rock, mainly in English: read more at: -
Very few Pakistani bands can do English well, but these guys combined some of the most stunning guitar work I’ve ever known which subtle yet poignant lyrics! Sajid and Zeeshan always have this power to transport me right back to the days when I discovered their music (2007 its self!).
I do know that memories have a powerful art of saving the best and extracting the worst from their real content within the fullness of time! But 2007 feels like a year when I actually knew where I was going (the first of them since Pakistan). I had a decent job, wasn’t earning much but was happy in it. I was spending more time having fun than fretting: work was effortless, the sun seemed always to be shining, there were loads of good friends around (Maryam and I were close them), and Masooma, Anees and myself always seemed to be bunking work/university to go for lunch, or just drive around in the car singing silly songs!
You might be thinking me a bit too old for such nonsense at 25 as I was then, but having missed out on the bulk of my teenage years because of marriage and other forms of torture previously discussed, I figured I had lost time to make up on! Not only that, but I truly had not smiled since Pakistan: since returning, I had felt lost, unfulfilled, like I didn’t belong any where and that the best days of my life were gone! 2007 was not the best, not by a long shot! But it was as close as I was going to get! And, there was another reason for my happiness: Zuhair and I were together! I’ve written loads about Zuhair and I on this website, we had a very fleeting, very intense long-distance relationship: it was passionate, loving, all encompassing bliss which took us both over for months! We spent our days and nights together, talking, sharing more in our distance than most couples do when in close proximity and intimacy! It was incredible! Its not so much that I was in love with Zuhair (I’ve been in love before meeting him, and many times after), but it was the fact that we had such a seamless understanding: he could read my thoughts, finish my sentences and slip all my insecurities away from me without my even noticing: and the most surprising part is, I loved the fact that he could do it! I had none of the normal hang-ups and emotional desires to run which are characteristic of all my romantic connections: this was one I wanted to keep, this was a man who I wanted to marry and have children with! Fast-forwarding a few months: as fast, fleeting long distance relationships tend to do, ours fizzled out as well. I don’t quite know how it happened: we stopped talking, for a day or so, and a day is a long time when you are virtually glued to each other: a day turned in to 2, 3, 4, then a week, a month: and only a few non-descript Emails filled the chasms that were growing between us. Before I knew it, Zuhair had gone, without a goodbye, an explanation: for a couple who talked so much, I thought we might have at least analysed things! But I was left alone with the reality that Zuhair was the one to run this time, and I was left to deal with the debris I usually pollute other’s lives with! It wasn’t a nice place to be! 2007 ended badly: the house got flooded, my health deteriorated dramatically, and things were just never the same again! I don’t quite know what happened in the 2 years in between, time just went by: special things happened (ziyerat in particular!), I experienced happiness, but never quite on that same level. Not only that, but my personal relationships became more and more manic! People came and went, rishtay were investigated and polite declines were sent out (not by me but by them). Now, as 2009 draws to a close, I am left with more questions than answers: I may get married I may not, things may work out with Reza, they may not: my health may/may not ever get better, I might get a job: but if I don’t I’ll have to give up my home, and the freedom of movement that comes with it. On top of that, a significant other X from the past has suddenly reappeared out of no where, expecting that we can start over, as if he didn’t walk all over me and treat me like a vile piece of rubbish when he’d had his fill! All of this is disconcerting, it poses questions, the answers to which lie with the almighty I guess! But what worries me more than the questions, is the fact that I’ve almost perfected desensitisation to it all: I may marry: I may not, but I know I’ll be able to cope on my own, and in reality its probably better for me to be alone as my ability to deconstruct relationships is more powerful than my ability to sustain them. Most of my friends interpret this stoicism as strength: I don’t, I think it is the inevitable consequence of emotional damage: the only realistic recovery one can expect is to be able to box up your emotions and have them display themselves as cancers, migraines and lethargy, rather than emotional outbursts and childish fits of tears and tantrums!
None of my friends will ever have to contemplate being alone: they belong to massive families, and all will be forced in to some marriage or another whether voluntarily or under duress! Most of these marriages shall be tolerated: even if they don’t work, children will doubtless result from the unions thus dictating the patterns of their lives: my own reality is something very different: following my disastrous first marriage, my parents have made it clear they do not wish me to marry again (especially not to another Muslim overseas!). If I do, I’ll have to face their resentment and rejection all over again, which may end up breaking the relationship in the long term as it did first time around! (even though it broke the first time, I was still a stronger person the first time around, so, according to my calculated calculations the odds of success are considerably less!). Life in this strange no mans land of maybe/maybe not will be painful, but possible: if I have to, I will! I think this is also why I find it so difficult to get close to even my closest friends: I love them, and enjoy spending time with them, but there is a certain juncture at which our paths diverge: their lives are mapped out, clear for them, they don’t have to put much effort in to surviving or saving their souls from their own selves: life can be painful, but allot of the stress is taken out when some one else is dictating the direction for you, and when you know that even if you don’t like it, their chosen direction will only make you conform at worse, will not hurt you, alienate you or damage your emotional well-being.
I know I perhaps sound rather self-obsessed in this post, either that or I’m taking the bog-standard “grass is always greener approach”, but actually I’m trying to draw out something much deeper. There is in fact another way of looking at this: screwed though my head may be, emotional indifference gives you allot more freedom in terms of thought, creativity, action and commitment i.e., I want to get married and settle down, but my life won’t end if I don’t! I have no family limiting my movement: I can travel, study, work, hibernate or behave recklessly, and in reality, my behaviour will have very little impact on any one else (that is to say, a negative impact: only good can come out of it if any thing!). Why all this immerging from Sajid and Zeeshan I hear you ask! Well, their music heels me and stirs my thoughts; moreover, ‘king of self is a legendry track of theirs which explores that very concept! The idea being that it doesn’t matter what you achieve, (or not as the case may be), in the outside world, if you get there in your head, you’ve already achieved it! For if you are not there mentally, the physical achievements tend to drift in to insignificance (this has happened to me with too many things I’ve tried and failed to attain). From an Islamic point of view, elements of the inner self are to be looked down on, chastised and tamed, and in general I’d agree with that, but freedom of thought tends to let them blow themselves out: ask the questions, walk the walk and then tire of it, quickly returning naturally to where they were destined to be, but with a deeper sense of understanding the world. I’m glad I explored other religions, have a wealth of relationships behind me and did not metamorphosis in to a prood whenever sex or any thing controversial came up in conversation as many of my friends still do, for had I done so I would not know the human spirit (good and bad), as I feel I do now, and above all, I would not know myself!
Imam Ali (A.S) narrates in a hadaith that to know one’s self is to know Allah (SWT). I find myself meditating on this sentiment allot, and in general terms I feel much of it is concerned with not giving yourself such a hard time for being who you are! Sure we all strive for perfection, and rightly so! But continual fretting over appearances, past mishaps or unfulfilled ambitions is only to drive one’s self deeper in to depression: isn’t it more to do with embracing your lot and learning to love yourself, eccentricities and all! If you loathe your own inner self, then the desire to improve it, connect with it or build a relationship with it is surely going to be furthest from your mind! Mastery over the self takes time, patience, suffering, but above all love, and you can only reach out to others when you’ve reached in to your deepest recesses. So, just for today, kick back, have a huge bucket of coffee and a slice of cake, and throw off the shackles that stop you from being who you need to be: bow to be the king of self, and revel in the moment: if you are not utterly appalled by what you see, take the feeling with you: if the world gets on top of you, its always somewhere you can return to, and it’s the one thing that the world and all its finality can’t take from you, and it’s the one thing you will take with you in both worlds: so if you cherish it, you’ll nurture it: it might not be how you dreamed it to be, but one thing is for sure: it’s the only one you’ve got!

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