Monday, 5 September 2011

A letter to Bushra ... On your wedding day ...

My dear friend, my beloved sister. There are days left, nay, a few hours, till your life changes forever, till your existence is no longer your own, till you become joined, physically, spiritually, in this world, and in the next, to another soul, who is forever your own, and you forever his.
Its hard for me to believe this is really happening, and to reconcile that you are leaving us, that geographically, you are leaving this place, emotionally too, your ties to this place will fade as silken threads, fraying till they barely hold; yet all these things, are secrets to you; half-truths the old and the cynical like me tell you, though they make no sense to you. Nothing makes sense to you beyond the red mendi on your hands, the bangles that sing on your arms and the gold that sparkles around your untouched body and anxious heart. Tears fill your Cole encased lashes and fall down your crystal cheeks, you wonder why you cry, what the soul knows that you don’t, but even the tears do not stem the fire that is gently kindling somewhere within you.
Did you ever know? Did you ever believe this day would come? Do you remember when you and I first met; sitting quietly by the wall in the masjid. You noticed something in my eyes too; and you wanted to understand it. Every one wants to understand the token revert; because they are the stuff of curiosity! Still; you saw something beyond the obvious; and we went for lunch. We talked about life and relationships; and after food; you, I and your sister, sat by the water and poured our hearts out. At that time, your sister was engaged, I was in a broken relationship; and you, well, you had a dream! Years have past since that day; and my duas for you have only ever grown with time. I have to confess that, the dream I saw in your eyes felt far, so far from becoming a reality, but time has brought truth and certainty; today, your sister is married to another man; I have found my soul mate; and you, my sister; your dream is coming true this Saturday; for once, for now and forever!

I’m still lost, trying to understand the look in your eye and the innocence on your face. I wonder what that anticipation must feel like, pure virgin innocence and the knowledge that you have waited and prayed, and fought and then been granted your heart’s greatest wish. Only people like me say it though; express the need to contain it, to bottle such expression and passion. You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about! If I could go back in time I’d experience it, I’d know and taste it. For years, I only linked men to pain and suffering, and when I came to know love, I was too broken to see it in its entirety. These are all things light years away from you tonight as your mendi grows dark, yet I know that when you leave and travel far and return to me, that look in your eyes and sparkle that shines bright from your soul will look different. Those big dark eyes will have slept wide shut and saw too much, and I wonder what happiness and joy and sorrow will fill their mysterious depths. No one can guess tomorrow, yet if I could I’d hold it back; I’d be the dam that saves your precious heart. It feels too heavy a burden for your smile and I know the things you don’t, but tomorrow, your journey will begin and there will be nothing that I can do to soften the blows or the feelings of reality when they take you over.

Just the other day, you asked me for advice, for those things that make a happy marriage. I’m not sure I know what to tell you, I’m not sure any one really knows. Shall I tell you a secret my lovely? Right up till I married Reza, and after too; I had doubts; I questioned myself, wondered if I’d done the right thing. I had lived in a world of pain; and wondered if I might break him too with my sharp edges. Moreover, the strange universe I’ve built around me is insular for the most part, with only room for temporary thunderstorms, no space for stability! Yet one day as we drove to our home in the Tehran mountains with the wind caressing our hair, saying nothing at all, some tears stung my eyes; and I hid them in my head scarf. For the first time, tears of joy filled my eyes. They would visit me sometimes, falling down my face as I scrubbed pots at the kitchen sink, as we watched a film on TV, walked in the park or played with his little nieces. I knew I had found my soul mate; and knew that I could sacrifice my entire existence and beyond for that moment alone. That’s what a happy marriage is; no hearts, flowers or thunder storms. Each season has its time; and there is a place for the shooting star and the lightening, but I thank Allah that you saw the beauty of candlelight in your youth.

My dear believe me, all the duas, all the clich├ęd wishes people load upon your head are mine too. I too wish for your happiness, your long life, for love to be placed between you and for your marriage to be a source of refuge, comfort and restoration to both of you; an inspiration to others. Know that this love is a trust to you; it might be strong; but its also priceless as the most invaluable gem; and brittle as glass and gold leaf. Keep it close to your heart; and know that when you cry, as you surely will, those tears must be put away till another day. Each time a leave falls down, I am reminded of my tears; and my husband’s smile. Life is short; and if you are alive, be thankful for the time, the day, the moment, remember that only love should shine with the moon after isha.

As you sleep; under the last sky of your single life; sleep well my sister, enjoy the feel of the stars in your eyes; and the angel wings that propel your body on to a new realm of discovery and being. Carry my love with you in the boxes of memories and new beginnings you take with you. Somewhere in the recesses of survival; always remember there is a place, a refuge for you here; and as long as I breathe; my space is yours; and my heart will keep hoping, keep reaching out, keep sustaining you; where you are; and wherever you need to dwell.

Shaadi Mubarak!