a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
Fresco by Maya Sultan (15, Pakistan)
[Content warning: death]
April 14th, 1912… Passengers, captain, crew, staff and Thomas Andrews himself impotently watched the once deemed “Unsinkable” Titanic sink to its culmination in the depths of the icy cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean taking down Her grandeur and glory.
September 11th, 2001… Americans and the rest of the world watched helplessly while two planes rammed into the World Trade Center, symbols of the economic monopoly of the Americans.
June 2nd, 1991… Qasim, his parents, doctors and nurses at Michael Sobell’s House for Cancer Patients all watched defenselessly while cancer played its final card on the immaculate beauty and physical fitness of this once envied athlete and charmer.
Everyone had done everything in their power to extricate Qasim from his suffering, but in the end it was God and His decisions and how fate pulverized Qasim to his eventual end.
Qasim lay writhing in pain at a relative’s house, in England. His father stood beside his bed, Qasim turned towards him, and asked. “Why me, Abboo?” His father contemplated the question for a while, but failed to answer his son and left the room with a despondent look on his face.
Upon hearing this question, Qasim’s father decided to call a faith healer. The faith healer was a Nigerian British Muslim, Dawn. Qasim sat on a sofa, by himself, while Dawn sat on a chair in front of Qasim.
“Ask me a question, Qasim,” said Dawn.
“Why me? Why has God chosen to cut short my life?” asked Qasim.
Dawn kept looking straight into Qasim’s eyes, and after a few seconds or so, started narrating an event from the Islamic history:
“So Qasim, now listen to me carefully. The Prophet Khidr was headed for a journey, when Moses came and requested Khidr to let Moses accompany him on the journey. Khidr agreed but told Moses not to ask any questions. Moses agreed and they began their journey. During their journey, Khidr saw a little boy drowning in a lake, but didn’t bother to save him; Moses questioned Khidr and he reminded him that he isn’t supposed to ask any questions. Moses apologized and they continued, until another event took place and Moses again questioned Khidr. This time Khidr told him that if he questioned him one more time, he would set Moses apart from his path. Moses did not fail to ask Khidr a third time, and Khidr stopped to answer all of Moses’ questions. Khidr started by explaining why he let the little boy drown and that was because...”
“...the boy would bring disgrace and disappointment to his very pious parents, and so to save them from the discomfiture the future withheld, Khidr let the boy drown.” Qasim completed.
Dawn kept looking deep into Qasim’s eyes and kept listening till Qasim completed the story Dawn had begun.
Qasim had understood Dawn’s intention of narrating this story which was for Qasim to make peace with his God and fate, and have faith in God that whatever was written in his destiny, was for his own and other’s good, but that wasn’t wholesome enough to convince Qasim because he had a counter question to this.
Qasim began, “If there is good in every decision that God takes, then what rectitude is there in not only giving me death, but in such a brutal way? What possible disgrace or discomfort would I have brought to my parents or to anyone else in this world? I have also lived life; few but a wholesome 23 years, and my life wasn’t going to be much different in the future than how it was in the past. So Dawn, please answer me when I ask what could I have possibly done to deserve this ruthless and vicious cessation?”
Dawn kept listening to what Qasim had to say. He got up from his chair and sat down on the carpet, as if a pupil had sworn allegiance to his guru. He touched Qasim’s feet, and kissed his hands.
“May God bless you, Qasim.” Dawn left the room to face Qasim’s relatives.
Qasim’s parents came forward in hope that maybe Qasim was in accord with himself and His Master, now. The faith healer joined his hands and stood bent down towards them and said,
“I came to answer Qasim, but instead I’m leaving with a question,” and Dawn left.
When someone endures a painful fate then probably a distinctive connection between God and His creation is also established. Qasim’s physical anguish didn’t lessen, but he connected with his God, and made a truce with Him to great extents.
Qasim had progressed from ‘feeling’ to ‘thinking’...
“Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel”
Days went by, and Qasim kept living, watching and waiting. Every passing second Qasim thought he was breathing his last breath. His anxiety of imminent death was unfathomable now. Nonetheless, there were days when Qasim felt free and as if ‘on parole’.
Qasim always had a fondness for gadgets, ones which would do his work for him and ironically enough, he was now at that stage of his disease where he was wholly dependent on others, but his freedom, power and control in terms of physical movement was precious to him and so he was given an electric wheelchair, which he could manage himself. It was the 1st of June, Qasim sat in his wheelchair and drove to the top of the hill where Michael Sobell was located. It was twilight time, the sky was a beautiful and uniformed mixture of warm purple, yellow, orange and blue. The horizon was serene with occasional chirping of summer birds returning to their homes.
Qasim’s mother followed him quietly thinking that he wouldn’t notice, and while Qasim took in the most of the last sunset of his life, his mother stood behind him. Qasim looked over his shoulder and asked, “Ammi, is this what Paradise is going to be like?...”
The much awaited transition had occurred. He had probably found an answer to all his questions, his pride had now given way to a graceful acceptability of God's decree. Qasim was now prepared to meet his Creator.
Human pride, courage, determination, optimism, hope and tenacity all make us believe that we are in control and have the power to make every wrong right. “Hope” is often a sensation which lets most of us down, often leading to a pitch dark whirlpool of confusion and despondency. But, man being the elevated creature that he is referred to, imagines himself invincible and omnipotent, often tends to forget that he too has a Master and Creator he needs to return to and He decides our fate. In the end it all comes down to how fate plays our game of life, and how God makes us helplessly watch while He commands the hidden edge of the iceberg to shatter a Titanic to pieces; or a vacuum filled plane pulverize WTC to a pile of insignificant debris...or bring upon an ignoble end to a beautiful life that was Qasim Bin Sa’adat.
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