Tag Archives: faith

Widowed Souls


There is a piece of land between the railway tracks and the main road which takes me home. Its unkempt, stark and strewn with weeds. Although a pathway runs below the tracks leading to the other side of the road, the barrenness of this no man’s land, meant that it was not used by pedestrians. This week I noticed the widowed and utterly ignored space been adopted by vegetables vendors, adding vibrancy and attracting those heading home just like me.

It led to me think how uninhabited spaces get adopted into ghettos, slums, bazaars and markets, that we eventually forget how cold and unwanted that place was in the first place.

In the colorful montage of life as it surrounds us today, the white veil of widowed spaces and souls surrounds us, paradoxically wrapped in the most vibrant colors. Look past the garb and her eyes tell you of the story of betrayal. The tale of her first love, made companion, who no longer is the person she loved when she was 19, yet married to him now, the father of her child.

The hurt of abandonment emerges and lays bare the pain caused sometimes by a trusted parent or loyal friend now a stranger or a sibling now estranged.

The late Leonard Cohen who through his music soothingly embraced all of humanity’s corruption, in one of his songs says that a crack in everything is how the light gets in.

paige
Paige O’hara Sculpture

But if not all humanity is created equally (in terms of mental strength at least), then what is the price we pay for the cracks we endure?

No matter how much we take hurdles in our stride, cracks show up and create a shadow of souls widowed, and tugs at my heart to see it unable to trust too quickly, love unabashedly or give another chance to friendships that beckon.

We are never the same at the other bank of the river. Fighting the river that we thought would carry us ashore but unexpectedly tried to drown us leaves gasping with disbelief.

But Oh widowed soul
Do you know that love pleads for another chance?
Do you not feel the strings of intimacy playing your tune?
Does the beating drum not fire your loins with passion?

Why not let the wind shatter the wall of disillusionment
Give the chimes of hope a chance to dance in the rain
Allow chirping giggles to overcome the deafening silence you endure
Or simply try giving your widowed soul a chance to bloom again…

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There is an amazing illustration by Zen Pencils on Love….sharing it here:2013-02-12-lewis.jpg

This week’s poem by Parveen Shakir named Barish hui to phoolon ke tan chak ho gaye.

Transliteration

Barish hui to phoolon ke tan chak ho gaye
mausam ke hath bhig ke saffak ho gaye

baadal ko kya khabar ki barish ke chah mein
kitne buland-o-bala shajar khak ho gaye

Juganu ko din ke vaqt pakadne ki zid karen
bache hamare ahad ke chalak ho gaye

jab bhi garib-e-shahar se kuch guftagu hui
lahaje hava-e-sham ke namnaak ho gaye

lahara rahi hai barf ke chadar hata ke ghas
suraj ke shah pe tinake bhi bebak ho gaye

sahil pe jitne aab-gazeeda the sab ke sab
dariya ke rukh badalate hi tairak ho gaye

Translation

As it rained the flowers had holes in their bodies made
The weather now drenched became a tyrant

How would the clouds know that while waiting for rain
So many tall and mighty trees had turned to ashes

They insist on testing the firefly in the daylight
Children of today have become so bright

Whenever a conversation with those away from home rose
The evening breeze with their words grew moist

Unveiling the cover of snow, the grass now sways
Egged by the sun the straws are now fearless

All those who would out of fear the water shunned
Became swimmers as the river changed its course.

Ending with Mr. Cohen and his amazing voice.

 

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Beatify or Demonify


I am looking for that flawless symbol, like sterling gold,
To place them on a pedestal, and wait for them to show me the light,
Never swayed by temptation and never choosing the line of least resistance.
For faith requires to believe in the unblemished, the wise and the faultless,
In those who when at the crossroad, have made better choices..

Handed to me are stories of their deeds, wrapped in gold and velvet sheets,
Epic tales, mysteries revealed, and miracles delivered
By gurus, prophets, monks, oracles and saints.
With hope and a little trepidation I hope to uncover these,
And peel each layer, tantalized by their moments made indelible by history.

At the fulcrum, I feel the pressure of other faithfuls not to delve too deep,
Close your mind to those nagging questions they say,
And in that instance when you do, don’t let logic get in the way.
Heretics raise questions and let doubts mix in the fray
The light will escape you, the gates won’t open, the answers you seek will fade away.

Don’t talk about the knowledge of Ravan,  the failures of Sita’s husband nor the feelings she hadfor Karan.
Never speak of the tortures that the Imam reigns on his wife.
Nor mention the crimes sheltered by the Church on innocent minds.
Never question holy wars, inquisitions or religious warriors of yore.
Nor debate the decisions made by the woman now crowned a saint.

As each story leads me back to myself and I begin to question not them but myself

Why seek a symbol so unerring, virtuous and clean?

For every inspiring story was of a human somewhere in the past,
Made superhuman by kingmakers and partisans,
Justifying each shade of grey for the greater good.

Why try to beatify them when they never asked to be aggrandized?

For these expectations I have of them,
Are not they a means of justifying my own shortcomings,
Or a sense of resentment fueled by my flaws and blemishes.

Why try to demonize them completely?

For every villain has a heart, something that makes them go soft.
Even as I feel entitled to forgiveness every instance that I falter,
I chose to pick on every culpable fault of theirs.

Can gods, saints, gurus and prophets be all white?

Even though we know of their anger that can destroy the world,
Their act of abandoning faithful wives for the sake of wagging tongues
And watch as the dedicated Mother chooses comfort in her time of death.

husain_mf_mt

This long tirade of words has been simmering inside me for the past 2 weeks, fueled by controversial stories about Mother Teresa of India, a Noble Laureate and the women behind the Missionaries of India movement.

I asked numerous people around me, what they thought about it, and these conversations led to ever more disputable opinions that touched upon different religions and its many icons made dust by controversy. I think what bothered everyone was duplicity, hypocrisy and using human misery to promote either themselves or their faith.

Illustrating once again our own expectations of ourselves and of the others.

We may not fully agree with some of these humans, who by example have shown us their amazing work, inspiring millions around them.  But the operative word here is ‘human’. Every faith-religion-clan defies this logic, by creating reasons such as touched by god, incarnations of that supreme power or holy blood. Thereby reasoning that each of them received some kind of revelation from that universal power up there making them unblemished and obviously better than us the lower mortals.

But I choose to believe that each one of them was human, although an exceptional one, who shone because of their actions and sacrifices, something I can only aspire to do. And like me, imperfect, blemished and aspiring to the best version of themselves.

Before I share the poem of Javed Akhtar on Mother Teresa, where he questions her acts even as he praises and celebrates her, I want to share an excerpt from an essay written by Robert Fulgham about Mother Teresa in his book, ALL I EVER NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN, admiring her work:

mother-theresa

There is a person who has profoundly disturbed my peace of mind for a long time. She doesn’t even know me, but she continually goes around minding my business. We have very little in common. She is an old woman, an Albanian who grew up in Yugoslavia; she is a Roman Catholic nun who lives in poverty in India. I disagree with her on fundamental issues of population control and the place of women in the world and in the church, and I am turned off by her naive statements about “what God wants.” She stands at the center of great contradictory notions and strong forces that shape human destiny. She drives me crazy. I get upset every time I hear her name or read her words or see her face. I don’t even want to talk about her.

Read the Full Article here: continue reading

Transliteration

Mother Teresa
By Javed Akhtar

Aye Ma Teresa
Mujhko Teri azmat se inkaar nahi hai
Jaane kitne
Sukhe lab aur viraan ankhein
Jaane kitne
Thake badan aur zakhmi roohen
Kudhedaan mein rooti ka ek tukda dhundate nange bacche
footpath par galte sardte buddhe kodhi
Jaane itne
Beghar Bedar Bekas insaan
Jaane kitne
Toote kuchle bebas insaan
Teri Chaoon mein
Jeene ki himmat paate hai
Inko jo apne hone ki jo sazaa mili hai
us hone ki saza se
thodhi si hi sahi
Mohlat paate hai
Tera lams masiha hai
aur tera karam hai ek samandar
jiska koi paar nahi

Aye Ma Teresa
Mujhko Teri azmat se inkaar nahi hai
Mein thehra khudgarz
bas ek apni hi khaatir jeene wala
Mein tujhse kis mooh se poochu
Tune yeh kabhi kyu nahi poocha
Kisne in bad-haalon ko bad-haal kiya
Tune yeh kabhi kyu nahi socha
Kaun si takat
Insaano se jeene ka haq cheenke
Unko sadko aur kudhagharo tak pahuchati hai
Tune yeh kabhi kyun nahi dekha
Wahi Nizaame-zar
Jinhone in bhukho se roti cheeni hai
tere kehne par
bhooko ke aage
kuch tukde daal raha hai
tune yeh kabhi kyun nahi soocha
nange bacche
bhuke kodhi
bebas insaan
Is duniya se
apne jeene ka haq maange
jeene ki khairaat na maange
Aisa kyun hai
Ek jaaanib mazloom se tujko hamdardi hai
Doosri Jaanib
Zaalim se bhi aar nahi hai
Lekin sach hai
Aesi baatein
Mein tujhe kis mooh se punchoo
punchunga toh
Mujh pe bhi woh zimmedaari aajayegi
Jisse mein bachta aaya ho

Behtar hai khamoosh raho mein
Aur agar kuch kehna ho toh
yahi kahoon mein
Aye Ma Teresa
Mujhko Teri azmat se inkaar nahi hai.

Mother Teresa!
Translation by David Matthews

I cannot deny your greatness.
Who can tell how many
dry lips and vacant eyes
Who knows how many
exhausted bodies and wounded spirits
Naked children searching for a crust on rubbish tips
Old lepers, putrefying and rotting on the pavement
Who knows how many
Destitute human beings, homeless, without roots,
Broken trampled, helpless human beings
In your shadow
Find the strength to live?
The punishment they have received just for being,
From that punishment for their existence
They find some respite
However small.
The touch of your hand is their Messiah
and your kindness is an ocean
which knows no bounds
Mother Teresa.

I cannot deny your greatness
But I am selfish:
All I do is live for myself.
So who am I to ask you this?
Why have you never asked
Who has made these miserable people so wretched?
Why have you never thought
What power
Has robbed humans of their right to live,
Bringing them onto pavement and the rubbish tips?
Why have you never seen
That this very system of gold and riches,
which snatched the bread from the hungry
Because of your word,
throws down scraps
Before the starving?
Why have you never wished
That naked children,
Old Lepers,
Helpless humans,
Should ask from this world
Their right to live
And not juts charity to live upon?
Why is it that
One one hand you sympathize with the oppressed
But on the other
You are not abased by their oppressor?

But this is true,
How dare
I ask you such things?
If I ask,
Then I shall I have the responsibility
From which so far I have escaped.

Perhaps it is better to keep silent,
And if there is anything to say,
Let me say this one thing:
Mother Teresa!
I cannot deny your greatness.

This is my 50th post on Bikhre Lavz…..hope the poets continue to inspire! 🙂