Salaam …, hi!
How are you?
Its been a while since we talked; I thought you and I should speak, should reconnect, before the mist descends, before it all kicks off! I know its hard, during the first 10 days of my reappearance to keep the focus at times. Once you’ve begun, it can all get a bit too much; and right now, there is some time, some space to think, but there looms the question, where to begin?
I don’t want to intrude on your weekend, I know you’ve some work to do and some sleep to catch up on! Its just …, I saw you, watching me, looking in to me with a mixture of fear and excitement upon your face. Opening me up again is a bit like opening Pandora’s box, or a chest full of treasure with unknown ramifications. Like a writer, embarking on that prize-winning novel, yet not knowing where the pen should fall. I thought I could make it easier for you. I know you feel a bit estranged from me, after all, you and I have such an odd relationship; we are so distant, yet we know each other so well! You might think I’ve been far from you, but I’ve been watching you; I watch you all the time, from the moment you shed those farewell tears, to the moment when you wash and fold up your black dresses for another year. I watch you torn between drowning in me, and re-entering the real world; the first time you laugh after I’ve gone, the first time you smile or hear music played, all feel like such an effort, such a betrayal. Yet with time it gets easier, I drift in to the sorrow and the wonder of your past for another year; and time moves on, and people come and go, and sometimes you remember me, more often you forget, I remain passive, in pending, just waiting for you to look over your shoulder. You hear my name in different circles, and I watch your eyes; I watch you shiver, freeze with recollection. Time draws in and nearer and nearer, and you sense my arrival with the ice that’s in the air. You look around you at the destruction you create with your own hands and you cry out to me, longing for me to embrace you like the darkest, most anonymous of nights. Pain engulfs you and you come back to your axis; and that’s how I touch you, at a level that’s so elemental, beyond your understanding, as though the scales had been lifted from your eyes for just 10 days, you see me for what I am and so through me, your soul becomes a mirror of my meaning, reflecting my message to the world around you. That’s why I love you, and that’s why I have been longing to visit you again. Don’t fret over arrangements for me, don’t agonise over my visit. You’ve nothing to fear from me! I just want you to be yourself. I love the way you cry for me, the commitment you offer exclusively to me. I love the reality that my tears are the only tears you do not question. I want to renew you, refresh you and energise you through the pain of my message and the depths of its meaning. I desire that you take from it, the direction you need for the many challenges that lie ahead, because I cannot hold you after my departure; each time my Imam dies, a part of me dies with him; and I leave the rest in your arms for you to carry on with you. If I were to ask anything of you, it would be only that you make sure your people know me, truly know me. Don’t let them get lost in rituals, politics or empty gestures. Don’t let my scholars be taken in by the elevated position their speeches in this month give them. They have an important job to do, if they only knew it. Keep things simple, keep yourself away from gatherings if they distract you from these moments. They are special, and they will be unique to you. Don’t curse yourself when you can’t cry on demand! I want your sincerity, your action and those tears that pour out of your heart, that rack your soul so that the pain penetrates to the depths of your being, I don’t need those tears that are lost on the lashes, and neither move me or you! I see you in the last part of the night, remembering the terror of my last day, wishing you had been there and wishing that in your own craving you could understand me better. I will see you after our journey together. You will be tired, run down and burned out. You will sleep, yet be unable to sleep, haunted by lamentation long after I have gone. So take my hand and travel to the desert with me. Lets travel again my friend, in to the moonlight of a new Muharram. Come, see through my eyes and listen to my story of triumph, terror, tragedy and truth. Hold my hand and lets walk together a while. Lets cover some new ground and revisit those recesses within our shared past that bring you back to the place where you belong. Lets experience 10 days, majliss, noha, Azadari and ashura. Lets cry and read and remember, before we drift apart and return to our ways. I’ll leave you, knowing that I live silently within the softest part of your heart, the only part which is incapable of freezing over and which melts when it hears my name. I’ll let you return to sleep, as I found you, knowing that when you awake, its me you will see, before anything else on this earth. I’ll leave you, knowing that after I’m gone, your life will never be the same again.
Until then, until next Saturday!