I wanted to share the books I have read in 2020. If you are on Goodreads platform, I will be happy to connect and expand my network. Please send me an invite via the Goodreads app to email@example.com
‘Here you go with your large flat white with skimmed milk and croissant’ Mr Iqbal’ said the server at the ‘Glorious Day’ café on George Street, Sydney, Australia.
Iqbal was a regular at this café and hence the staff knew him and his name.
Perfect late Saturday afternoon is what Iqbal loved in his adapted (adopted) country. Sit back, relax, and reflect. Taste the caffeine in the cup and see the world go by.
He could watch the light rail go by transporting people from one place to another.
He could see the many shoppers with shopping bags which provided the holder with some form of comfort coming from the purchase they had made.
He could see couples enjoying their time together walking by or shopping or eating or drinking or just being on either side of one another.
He could see families having some wonderful time together at a restaurant across the road or just walking past him.
He could see friends huddled together catching up on the events that may have impacted them in a good or bad way.
But there was one common theme in all these observations, ‘happiness and joy’, if you know what that is though!
‘How absolutely wonderful would it be to sit by my friends at this moment?’ this is the thought which came to Iqbal.
Sipping his coffee, he thought of the days and evenings he had spent with his friends, years ago.
Iqbal left his country of origin in pursuit of greener pastures. He kept moving, from one country to another in search of his aim ‘happiness’.
Six boys who seemed to be in their late teens came by and installed themselves on the table next to him. He watched them in silence and envy. The boys ordered a large pizza to share amongst them. Ten minutes was the time it took the pizza to come to their table. Precisely six pieces, one for each of them. The slices were big enough to satiate their need of hunger for food. Each had its own requirement of sauce and chillies. For instance, one poured tomato ketchup on his slice, one sprinkled crushed chilli, another wanted to have it as is and so on. While talking and humouring each other.
Watching them, carried him to back in nostalgic times and his teen days and friends. Oblivious to the future, they were together enjoying each other’s presence.
Wherever he looked, it was crowded. It was merry and cheery as much he could fathom from the looks on the faces. After all it was a weekend when everyone is real.
Why am I sitting here alone when the world is enjoying itself? Asked Iqbal to himself.
‘Hi there Iqbal’ said Aeon walking towards the café. Aeon was a colleague from Iqbal’s office and had become a good friend.
‘Hey mate’ said Iqbal.
‘What are you up to? what are you doing here?’ said Aeon.
‘Just having a cuppa, would you like to join me?’ asked Iqbal.
‘Sure bro, I was just getting bored at home, so thought I would go out for a walk, saw you and came by, I hope you don’t mind!’
‘No, not at all, it’s great to see you and thanks for coming by’
‘Do you come here often?’ asked Aeon
‘Unsurprisingly you will find me here every Saturday, same time, with the same coffee and croissant, possibly the same chair and table, ha ha ha’
‘How ironic, I find myself in front of the television at this same time every Saturday, watching something incomprehensible’ said Aeon
SOUNDS OF LAUGHTER
‘Why are you left watching television on weekends? I thought your family was around and I would assume you would be enjoying time with them’ asked Iqbal
‘No, they live further in Armidale, I go see them on long weekends or whenever time allows, we have a decent sized hobby farm and a quite house, where my parents live with their grandchildren and my wife’ said Aeon
‘Why don’t you bring them here? or be with them?’ if you do not mind me asking you.
‘I have always wanted to live in a city where everyone is on the go, so that I don’t have time to whine away – during the week is when I live my dream but on weekends, everything slows down’
‘Ironic, I left my country of birth to do the same and you are doing or chasing the same objective in your own country’
‘I am sure you miss someone, something, your home?’ asked Aeon ‘why did you want to leave all that you had?’
Iqbal took some time to respond to Aeon
‘You see those six boys, sitting next to us, enjoying their time on a Saturday’ – I miss that. You see that family across the road, children having ice-cream and parent holding each one’s hand’ – I miss that. You see behind the father and son walking hand in hand – I miss that. You see the couple walking together in the park across – I miss that’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I ventured into this world of materialism and greener pastures and do not get me wrong, it is green, where I am. You may say as you may deem appropriate, but the truth is that I belonged to a group of six friends. We were as much together like the six pizza slices, but we were as much further like each person in the group wants the slice to taste differently. We were a small happy family, but I had difference of opinion and anything and everything, as compared to my family. We are a happy couple, but there are things we ought to do independently. Today I sit here with you, in a country which does not want me, but I still want to be here, why because I want to be happy. It has been almost two decades that I have left my country of origin and friends with whom I had promised to be with whatever happened and family who yearned for me to return but being who I am, I will not but I had promised them I will be there whenever and in whatever circumstances. All those words had no true meaning. The fact is that I sit here miles away thinking of the life I left behind – not that I ask you for sympathy or empathy. Also, I do not regret the journey I opted to take and have endured all this while. The part which I had forgotten at the beginning of the voyage is that when I would reach my aim and objective, I might be alone. Did I want it that way, maybe, but when I am here today, I want to revere whatever I have today with my loved ones. Where are they?’
Croissant was crusty and tasty with the hot beverage. As it is always, the crust and the tasty beverage finished, so did the enchanting afternoon which turned into heavy evening and darkness. Time was upon us to leave for the day and say goodbye to a nice evening, cherishing the good old memories in loneliness.
Since the day I began understanding this life, I was told not to go there, specially not alone. I, being me always wanted to do what I am told needs not to be done.
Who goes to a cemetery or graveyard especially when you are in another country on a visit? I did that when I was in Cairo, Egypt, a long time back. My mother would have been screaming from the heaven above when she came to know about this (obviously I never told her what I did, like the many other things!).
Egypt and its culture, already something which fascinates me to this day. One step out of the Cairo International Airport and the mesmerizing mystery of the country enveloped me. Imagine a person skimming through historical artefacts and paintings, etc. when in a museum and going through the whole place in sixty minutes. I spent two full days back to back inside the Cairo Museum, like a child, curious for everything, I remain mystified to this day. Some-day, One-day!
I wanted to visit the Gora Qabristan when I used to live in Karachi, Pakistan. I do not know why? But I could never gather the courage to enter the always open entrance. Though I went to other graveyards in as many funerals I was part of.
Why do I only mention Egypt out of the many countries I have been fortunate to visit is because I have only been to a cemetery while in Cairo, with a purpose and I can still recollect the images of the mummified bodies in the museum. What was the purpose! I do not know, or do I?
While sitting in the comforts of the fully covered train cabin, a bus, or a car, I see various cemeteries pass by and I see the last resting place for the people lying there in peace and silence. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, friend, child, female, male, gay, straight, kings, queens, emperor, priests, pundit, maulvi, student, teacher, accountant, scientist, doctor, martyr, murderer, thief, police, Pakistani, Indian, American, Britisher, Australian, Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Jews, Bahais, Christians, and …
Some graves lie in the heat and some in cold, some covered under sand and some under snow, some under shade of a tree and some in clear sunlight.
I do not understand, why are we afraid to go to a graveyard or why are we told not to go into one, when one day we all know we will be amongst them.
I do not know what lies beyond, people who claim they know are either ignorant or …
Is it a transit or a final place? I do not know, people who claim they know, believe we are stupid or …
When a person breathes the last breath, either is cremated, buried or vultures come down to live on the flesh.
Only three ways I have identified how people exit this world in human form (I believe souls leave the body only in one way, I may be wrong as there are many who know better than me).
Until the bombers started blasting people away, latest means to an end.
I will go one way too one day, which way, I do not know! But I am not afraid to visit the ones who have gone as they too lived once!
If I do not believe in God, then I do not believe in heaven or hell, do they exist? I do not know.
Lives which have disappeared, are they in heaven or in hell? I do not know.
I know that one makes heaven or hell while alive, that means I believe.
I wanted to rise above like smoke
I realised to late, I was down like ash
Like air I vanished
Like dust I remained
I could be smelt
I could be felt
As smoke, I went far
Like dust I settled
As the winds grew strong
Smoke was no more
But where did dust go?
Settled somewhere unknown