First Step towards Friendship
30th April 2018
Respectable Miss Rabia,
First, I wish to extend my heartiest gratitude to you for having read my creations and sending me a friend request on Facebook. I am also grateful to you for having asked for my short stories along with my picture for inclusion in your upcoming short story anthology.
Now I want to make a literary confession.
When I look back over my past years that went by exploring the literary world, I came across two kind of writers, scholars and intellectuals. The first group include those, with whom my dialogue is possible. If dialogue is possible then friendship too is a nearby possibility. With the second group, dialogue is not possible which implies that friendship too is a remote possibility. However, a two-way monologue can take place between me and the people who belong to the second group. But unfortunately, monologues are like two banks of a river. Since a bridge of communication cannot be built over the banks of monologues, an estrangement exists despite numerous interactions.
After having read your short stories, I realized that a debate can ensue between us. And if debate is possible then hopefully friendship might also find a place between us. To cut it short, your stories motivated me to start a correspondence with you, to embark upon a homework that might pave way for dialogue and friendship. If you were in Toronto, I would have invited you to dinner and dialogue. I do it for my local and foreign friends. My friends are my precious assets, they inspire me, and I take pride in their friendship.
Having read your Afsanas, your short stories, my first impression is that you are well versed with the psyche of modern man and woman. You know the built-in intricacies of multifaceted relations between men and women, yet while expressing the notions of love you do not heed to metaphors of sin or reward. That is the most stunning color of your stories. Reading your Afsanas was a treat, rather a pleasant surprise for me. I wonder how you acquired such a delicate consciousness, awareness and insight. It’s been quite some time that I have been living in Toronto. I am a psychotherapist. It is understandable that I learnt the agonies and comforts of human relations through my patients, friends and foes here in a foreign land. But how you learnt all that, I can’t believe…
Psychological aspects of romantic discourses between man and woman have been creatively depicted in your stories; Sweetheart and Camouflage. These two stories relate romantic discourses with social aspects. You have boldly painted the romantic bond of a man / woman with the vibrant colors of life. This is a fictional miracle and I am impressed with it. I congratulate you on writing such wonderful pieces of fiction.
Like other evils, our writers too have peer-rivalry. They amply criticize as critics, but when it comes to appreciating a genuine work, they feel a dearth of good words. Most critics place works of fiction against religious or cultural mirrors. They forget that the fine arts have no religious, cultural or geographical boundaries, rather they have their own criterion to measure strength in any piece of fiction. . .
Your Afsana not only contains the psyche of the man / woman relationship but also reflects the importance of family life, its latent meaningfulness, innocence and love. The Afsana Darakhtu Wali Gali amply covers this important aspect of life. While reading the Afsana, this sentence caught my eyes and I could not resist reading it repeatedly: “Beta aurat thak jaati hai, Maa nahi thakti.” (Look son! A woman gets tired, but a mother doesn’t.)
Dear Rabia! I have related your Afsanas to real life and identified the sensitive subjects that you brought up to convey the naked realities of it. In the backdrop of my own observations and experiences, I am a witness to the trueness of your stories. I have a gut feeling that a dialogue and ultimately a friendship is possible between us. Pinning this hope, I am sending this first epistle of mine to you. If this letter inspires you, it can be a starting point of our discourse. How do you find the idea?
Admirer of your Afsanas,
A Pleasant Surprise
1st May 2018
Your letter was a pleasant surprise. Although I feel that the row of surprises has already culminated at nowhere than myself.
In today’s fast-moving life, taking out a few minutes to go through someone else’s work is in fact devoting your precious time to the writer. It certainly is a great gesture. In my university days, I had read Khalid Sohail’s articles while sitting on the library floor. I had your name in my memory lane. I had never thought that two literary wanderers would ever come across on ‘Hum-Sub’ internet platform like this. On the contrary, the observation of life has taught me that nothing is impossible in this world. It would feel good to me if two creative minds could continue with the literary dialogue. Yet, Time plays a vital role in our lives. At times one feels feeble to deviate from the dictates of Time.
You have raised some questions in your letter. I will answer those soon. For now, suffice to say that I find myself a quiet observer of life around me. I have been watching life dancing around and moving ahead from the observatory of my self-imposed prison. It continued for decades. The art of penning down my observations into words is a blessing of my Creator. He, in his magnanimity, might have bestowed upon Rabia the talent of writing, as a reward for her loneliness and solitude.
It seems to me as if the characters show up, tell me the tales and walk away. This might be the very reason that I do not attach any meanings to eternity. I have a different understanding of life altogether. Certain lives do not measure up to the criterion of society. When they don’t, the very criterions become questions for those people. I was entangled in such questions at a very young age. I was weak in oral expression and there was much to hold within. Then I found a weep-hole in shape of my pen. I started to write…
However, I was born with abundant love. The fragrance of love touched me like first touch of lovers, droplets of first summer-rain and fragrance of early spring flowers. I was the only daughter to receive all the love from my family. Some people are born to be loved yet the abundance of love has its own fretters. These shackles prevent you to live a life of your own choosing. I am perhaps one of those people… This is a hidden and strange feeling of remorse. While commenting on one of my Afsanas you talked about metaphors like Sin and Reward. I would like to add here that the meanings of Sin and Reward are quite different to a radical like me. To me, life itself looks like a sin at one time and a reward at the other.
There was a time when Rabia was fond of Khalid Sohail’s ideas as they were ripe with peace and tranquility. But after having spoken to you, I found you struggling in the swamps of human psychology. It adds to my conviction that you are devoted to humanity and sincere to your profession.
You said you had a chance to meet various people and observed life closely. Rabia’s life too has been taking her on a similar voyage of observations. Life is still treating her in the same manner. But the journey of Rabia’s quest is quite different.
So far, I have concluded that there are certain waves that move along humans. These waves always reveal the truth. What we feel is always true. What we profess might not be. Any utterance not supported by an inner feeling is not true as it lacks sincerity. And any seed sown without sincerity can never make a strong tree.
Rabia- A Character of Islamic Mythology
3rd May 2018
Rabia presents her Salam to Dervish!
Rabia is not just a name. It is rather a renowned character of Islamic mythology. This character is woven with the threads of an unknown obsession, a rigorous trail, an unbelievable belief and a symbol of altruist love.
It’s after midnight here. At this hour of night two kinds of people usually stay wake; a saint or a sinner. Who is who, should be decided on the Day of Judgment. Over here, the chilly winds are blowing with a thunderous pace. The natural hide-and-seek of lightening and thundering sound of clouds in the sky is urging a creative mind to scribble something on the waiting chest of paper. But the hard rigors of a day’s work have tired me so badly that I do not find enough wits to place a few petals of creativity on the paper.
My heart aches. I wish to cry but cannot… Such condition of helplessness is at times unbearable. My heart is filled with pain. There is nothing else left in it than pain. The heart that pulsates in the chest of a sensitive writer feels the agony of others as well.
I have a question for Dervish. Like Prophets and Saints, are writers also born as writers? Or can someone become a writer through sheer hard work? If it could be done through struggle, then why I cannot write whenever I wish to. Sometimes you hold a pen and paper for hours but cannot write a word, but other times numerous pages are inked within a few minutes.
I am exhausted at this moment, but nature always overwhelms Rabia with all its facets. That is the reason my heart is telling me to write. My tiredness sitting across the far away mountains, has whispered to my heart: “Creativity is your lifeline. You must write else you would die.” Hence, I wrote a letter to Dervish. Dervish who while sitting at the pedestal of humanity, prays for rain. The rain that showers all without discrimination, it holds the message of existence of an invisible Power.
Rabia will not wait for a reply from Dervish. The notion of waiting has long since relinquished from my life. The wait creates a hope and the hopes bring an agony. I have no place left to house any more pains in my heart.
I wonder as how the weather is across the seas in Dervish’s land. I do not know whether it’s day or night with him. Over here it is just before dawn. There is a peace and quietness all over. An overwhelming force has arrived to take Rabia into its soothing arms for a slumber. Since Rabia needs to go with it, she says Fi-Amaan-Allah (Be in God’s custody) to Dervish. While doing so she is not even sure whether Dervish’s and Rabia’s God is the same or otherwise. But she leaves Dervish in her God’s custody. To live one needs the eternal support of a Divine Power. Rabia is yet unaware of any superior power than Allah. Her world is not very vast.