Half a dream

The winds eventually lost strength. Silence shadowed the trees like scares on sunburnt faces, which too would grow out soon. The air around was surrounded with thickness of cold. It reeled under the weight of clouds that had gathered for long in weeks of winter’s short daybreaks and endless nights.

The snow was the respite that everyone’s been praying for.

It snowed when the road seemed insurmountable. First on the sides, on the trees and on the mountains. The gray was slowly being washed away by snowflakes. Everything living or dead was covered with a patina of white much like paint of morality which some believed had crept into hearts of a few.

But on that day, road lost its path for travelers. Somewhere in those sharp turns over the mountainous terrain it turned itself into the mountain, tired of lost travelers. And on that day, a man brave enough to act lost walked on the road. Some said he had lost his soul and was searching for it. He walked tall covered in black.

But his heart cried and eyes choked. He couldn’t see white, all he ever saw was red, blood red. On that day he saw red everywhere even in the glowing snowflakes. He was trying to run away. On that day snow on road showed him the path away from chaos of screaming walls, away from flickering nightmares, away from vortex of spieled confessions. He walked on, as if this was the end he prayed for all his life.
Snow slid off his umbrella with as equal an ease as it fell from sky. His boots crushed fluffy fresh snow squeezing all color out of it. He waited for none.
In the landscape of white, darkness couldn’t turn him away. He walked on.0124_BW_web


“Awwal Hamd sanaa elaahi, jo maalik har harr da
Us da naam chataaran aala, kise vi maidan na harda”
First, all praise is for almighty who is lord of all
Who so ever recites his name, never loses in any life

I don’t remember reading this Kalam, but it has been ingrained within my subconscious. I even don’t remember the first time I heard it. And I am not alone, a community has been bonded together with this age old Kalam.  The mountains of Pir Panjal, the Dhoks and the Margs right from across the Jhelum to Badharwa and even beyond resonate with words of wisdom.Awal Hamd is the first couplet of Saif-Malook( also called Saif ul Malook, Safar ul Ishq) and is an introduction, a prayer and praise of almighty. Saif Malook is the magnum opus of Mian Muhammad Baksh. It uses a lovestory as an allegory to describe Sufi’s journey. The magic of Saif Malook lies in its simplicity. It has been intricately woven into the local parlance and yet it is able captures magnanimity of Sufi thoughts and ideas. Text is concise and mostly deals with trails and tribulations of day today lives. Themes of friendship, ego, kinship and adoration are dotted throughout. The text opens up as the tale of Price Saif-ul-Mulk who falls in love with fairy princess Badi-ul-Jamal. It describes prince’s journey towards his goal faced with existential questions and the white Giant- Deuo Safaid. The genius of Muhammad Mian Bakhsh is in creating couplets which are complete in themselves and yet when projected together, they form small parts of a much bigger plan. Text contains over nine thousand such couplets which share a metrical form.

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Distance doesn’t matter when memory is strong. Flashes; I call them the alternate reality, rather the true reality. They don’t faint away, change and cannot be lost easily. Perception of the reality is based on this truer reality, the reality of mind and the universe within.I tend to see things, as they are shattered passing through the prism of alternate. Physical reality, the cold, the heat, the winds are all measured, against the scale of comparison with units of inner universe. My universe contains Snow and ice, Chirs and Deodars, Apples and Apricots, Valleys and Streams, Walnuts and whatnots. It snows here when it’s winter and the cold breeze blows in summers carrying with it the unruffledness of peaks. And sometimes, it turns green, fresh green when it rains in plenty and then muddy waters gush underneath the green hanging bridges, waters that hides all the haze and clouds and in such days the drops falling off the distant grasshopper’s tail reflect the shining sun straight into my eyes, blinding them at times, such is the thinness of air. I would count the number of tin houses on the other side of the valley, across the border and then recount the mud ones all over again and at other times would search for eyes gazing at the marvel of white capped mountains

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تے فور ٹرانسفورم

This post should have been in Urdu or hindi, but for that I will need to learn one new script or learn typing of other. Or I can pass the burden onto you “read Urdu in Roman”.

Rehmatabad tehsil se bas 40 kilometer ki doori par waky tha. Vaise to abhi tak yahaan koi sadaak nahi thi aur qareebi bus adda dariya ke us par 1 km ki doori par tha. Pichle chand saloon se yeh baat to sunne ko mil hi jaati thi ki agle chand saloon mein yahaan bhi sadaak pahunch jaaye gi aur daily service bhi chalu ho jaye gi. Isi taak mein Rehmatabad ke Pahari aur Gujjar logoon ni qaayi nayi umeeden saja rakhi thi. Yeh dariya ke junuub par basa tha aur isi liya saal bhar suraj daer tak is par chamkta rahta tha. Yahaan ki zameen bhi bahut zerkhek thi aur saal mein khoob makki, gehon aur chawal ki paydawar hoti thi.
Lal Din Gujjar aur Rizwan Khan ke ghar bhi isi gaon mein the. In ke ghar kareeban 200 meter ki fasla par waqye the. Ghaaron ke beech ka rasta bilkul seedha tha maan kisi ne foote se ek sidhi lakeer keech do ho. Raste ki ek taraf Rizwan ke khet the, doosri aur Lal Din ki dogiyan thi.
Garmi ki ek subh, Chowkidar ka beta shehar se khabar lekar aa aya ki hakumat ne unke transformer ki maag manzoor kar di hai. Kareeban pichle do saal se logon ki yeh qwahish thi ki unke goan mein bhi ek transform ho aur un ke gharon mein bhi tez bijli chamke. Vaise bhi bagal ke gaon wale addat-tan inki taar gira deta the aur inke yahaan andhera kar dete the. Issi ki wajah se baachon ko chimney ki jhumti roshni mein kitabaen kholni padthi thi varna masterji ki moti chadi ke nishaan waftan hat-te nahi the.
Engineer Aftab Ahmed bijli ki rakhwali karta tha aur mahine mein ek baar daura lagane aa jata tha. Uske saath ek lineman bhi aata tha jo “ji jnaab” kehte na thakta tha. Yeh baat mashoor thi ki Aftab Ahmed ek neak aur din daar admi hai aur riyasat ke kisi bade college se diploma kar ke aaya hai. Sirf “Aftab Ahmed” kehne par woh yuk dum raang badal deta aur kayi baar to chilla padhta “Engineer Aftab Ahmed! ENGINEER.”

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Courtyard of the beloved

The chaos is contained. The demarcations are envious. Oberoi swears of its presence. Babur with all his might can’t dwarf lure of Hazrat Nizzamudin.

The path is deviant, intertwined with a series of tunnels, questioning the purpose of existence and may be reminding of the ultimate demise. The dust moistened by the sweat of the believers sticks to the naked feet, clinging on as a mark of attendance. Banality ends with visibility just as darkness with light. The grave is tangled up in green with scores of sheets, some plain, others with calligraphy of all sorts proclaiming the greatness of divine. All this is enveloped with a structure of what seems like gold, glittering and glimmering with hope, faith and belief with little threads of despair and desire tied neatly on all sides.
Across the qawwals, very near to Hazrat lies buried the mureed. Khusro sings in praise of his murshid through the voice of qawwals whose symphony resonates in entire courtyard. These verses of joy, separation and longing mesmerize many but are truly understood by a few. The dressed dervishes are the only ones working, fanning the audience and their spirits. The energy flows out to possession section as well guiding the disturbed to normalcy that prevails in society otherwise.

Strikingly the crowd is largely composed of lower middle class and the poorer sections. The sense of strictness and adherence that is associated with Islam is absent. The people may seem Islamic in their attire but are estranged from its practices if not completely ignorant of them. Muizeen’s call for prayer breaks the congregation. The faithful head to taps for cleansing, the believers start the journey all over again, heading back to their homes.Not far from the dargah, situated in a similar street is the national office of Tableeghi Jamat. Its presence is marked by the beards and hijabs. It is a centre for gathering for the many volunteers heading out on expeditions ranging from a couple of days to months into alien villages preaching Islam, the one that they themselves know of. It reaffirms their own faith going through the pains of separation.
Both seek answers through different means. Discipline binds one to ground, while other seeks belief.

In discipline peace persists, in belief the world

Couldn’t stop myself from sharing this

In the Courtyard of the Beloved from Andreas Burgess on Vimeo.

(Report for Field trip. “Sociology of Religion”)