29/05/2016 by Siddiqui Fayesal
It was a Friday.
Of course, it was. After all, that is the entire basis of this story. If not for that, I wouldn’t have let my train of thought run wild and get lost within its slipstream and let myself be fed upon by these misgivings.
It was the weekly Friday namaaz during which it all started.
During the Khutbah, a crow decided to include his rapturous croak to the Imam’s. We all ignored it; Friday prayer was a big deal for all those in the congregation. It’s funny, to be honest. Various hadiths and religious commentaries inform us that the daily afternoon Zuhr namaaz is more blessed than the once a week Jummah (Friday) namaaz. But people throng to these weekly prayers like it’s the one road to salvation. I can understand, if not agree, to the sentimentality. Isn’t it easier to make yourself believe that you’ll fly with the angels if you pray this one prayer with clockwork regularity instead of praying 5 times every day?
It’s convenient, isn’t it?
Anyway, the croaking beauty let rip his throaty croak. I thought initially that it’s the usual crow behaviour. You know, find a quiet place and keep croaking till you’re shooed away; only to skip sideways or do a 7-hop and promptly start croaking all over again.
This crow, though, was a veteran. He altogether ignored the 7-centimeter hop and he continued his rhapsody with only a sideways skip to deflect the trajectory of the hands and skull caps and gamchhas accompanied with a ‘shushing’ sound like the ones young mothers do when trying to make the baby pee. The crow simply stayed perched upon the window sill and croaked at each individual namaazi with clockwork precision.
It began from his extreme right, limited by the swing of his head, and ended with every recipient acknowledging the croak he received with a wave and a shush.
I was in the second row and wasn’t of much interest to the brute. I wasn’t in its path, you see. I sat and observed the manner of its croaking and was astounded when I noticed the way in which he bowed, so to say, his head and let it out. It honestly felt like he was beseeching the recipient of the croak. He cranked his head a bit lower and extended his smooth coat of black grey plume while he lowered it.
It really felt like a pleading. And that got me thinking.
Isn’t it said that animals, and more so, birds can gauge and predict doom and natural disasters! I began seeing that crow in a different way. My mind went racing and started rationalising the thoughts which until now were just time-kills masquerading as deep thoughts.
An angel sent down to help us out of a building that was probably going to fall or be struck by lightening? A physical projection of the goodness of the regular namaazis that wanted us saved from some misadventure of the evil twin?
I sat there and wondered when I would start hearing the faint rumble of the foundations giving away accompanied by the slight shivers of the beams and floors. Or, perhaps, it would start from the top! The ceiling would give away and we, all 150 (almost) on each of the 4 floors would be crushed to death. But not instantaneously, of course. It’d be painful. If the Lord wanted us to die in a disaster he would make sure we’d hurt.
What’d be our last cry? Would we be the one whom would be rushed to the Doors directly because we died in a state of purity and that we were in the middle of the Khutbah? How many of us would have the presence of mind to give voice to the Kalimah just moments before we saw the end?
And suddenly I thought of something even worse.
A bomb blast! A piece of shit stinking excuse of a human, drunk on obnoxious crap blowing himself up and killing innocents. That too in a mosque! May they burn in Hell. I’d ask the Lord (If I was in Heaven) to let me have a look-see of them burning in Hell.
I wasn’t even listening to the Khutbah anymore. I was deeply immersed in the last moments of my almost 30 years of life that I had wasted and ruined and which was about to end.
Did I hear a distant hum of a plane? Nah.
My thoughts became personal. I no more thought of Heaven and Hell, I didn’t care anymore of the manner of my dying; I homed on to the loss of the ones left behind.
My mum had had a root canal and she was in pain since the night before. Imagine what would she say if I didn’t turn up home in one piece in time for lunch?
My dad had a recurring pain in his right knee which refused to go away. It would be my fault that he would have to continue working till his last breath!
I hadn’t spoken to my youngest sister in almost a week. I was her only brother.
My PT teacher!!!
Ya Allah! I had borrowed a buck from him to call my mum asking her to pick me up from school when practice (football or a play?) was canceled. I had promised him I would return it to him the next day.
I was six. Now, more than 2 decades later it was too late.
Wasn’t it a sin to break a promise?
I am sure I broke many more promises, and even bigger ones, but this one pained! I was 6 and I broke it!
After a long time, I wept during namaaz. After a long time, I sincerely prayed and said my sorries. After a long time I meant every couplet that I recited. The Dua was especially long and personal that day.
The crow was still there during the 2 raka’ats and he still made a lot of noise.
I didn’t care anymore.