Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What makes you believe?

"God gave you your huge eyes and your little body. God gave you your heart and your mind, and He gave you your father and I. He loves you more than we can, and He's always listening to all the thoughts you have and the prayers you make and Helping you out. God is like the air- He's everywhere you go. When we're in the house or go outside in the car to your uncle's house, or even if we travel to another country, He's still going to be there. There's nowhere you'll go that God won't be there for you."

That's how God was first introduced to me by my mother, and if you come from a believing family of any religion, I'm sure you'd be able to relate to this too. It's easy to believe when you're a kid- when what our parents tell us about the magical world we're bewitched with is an unquestionable given- because who could know more than mom and dad?

But there comes a revolutionary point in time in life when you realize the shocking truth that your parents are not capable of being perfect one hundred percent of the time. That they're only human. And with that distressing realisation comes a second tiny one: that maybe- everything they taught you wasn't entirely immune from error either. What if they were making a big mistake and dragging you into it with them?

In my early teenage years, I went through a series of doubtful periods- doubting that the world really did work the way it was explained to me, doubting whether the values that were so strongly and beautifully intertwined into my character really were the ones I had to live by, and most of all, doubting whether the answers to all of these doubts really mattered in the end.

They say faith that does not doubt is a dead faith. I'm not entirely sure that's true. What I do know is that what my parents had been doing up until then was laying the foundation. It was up to me to continue with their work. I could choose to just leave it like that, a ground of bare concrete exposed to elements that will wither it away with time. Or I could choose to build upon that foundation, regularly polishing and maintaining it. Adding on to the bedrock that I was certain was not faith yet.

I knew when faith had really entered my heart. When no scientific or logical explanation for His existence, no matter how convincing, would matter anymore. Yes, it was and still is lovely to research and discover satisfying arguments and it's important to be able to logically refute counter ones. But there is no way I can stop believing in the God I have come to feel in my every movement and breath. The God that really is, no matter who says what, with me everywhere I go.

The God that our bodies have been created to naturally believe in, love and live for.

"For those with faith, no explanation is necessary. For those without, no explanation is possible. –Thomas Aquinas"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Baby You

Everyone loves hearing about what kind of a baby they were like, looking through their pictures and for the incredibly lucky ones, watching videos of their long silences, wails and goo-goo-gah-gahs recorded. My parents were not long-sighted or technologically-advanced at the time to own a video camera, and they weren't exactly what you can call the best photographers either (-_-), so I'm left to rely on the few two-decade old photos and historical accounts from the family.

My baby-hood is a passionate subject in my family. When my name and the word 'baby' appear in the same sentence, everybody rushes to inform me how much of a pain I was. Apparently, I was one of those babies that make you wish you had "tied your tubes" or didn't even have eggs to begin with. Actually, now that I think of it, maybe that's the reason there isn't much documentation of that period. You'd hardly want to take out your camera to picture a wailing baby.

I sort of feel guilty about the long, painful hours my parents spent wondering how to get me to shut up. And the long nights my mother stayed up trying to put me to sleep. Until they discovered an absurd solution that worked: spinach. All they had to do was feed me some spinach before going to bed and I'd be asleep for a good many hours. Our freezer those days was filled with container after container of spinach, waiting to serve as my hypnotizer.

When I was several months old, my mother started to work at a school very far away. The good news was that the school had a lovely nursery filled with the most cheerful babies ever and a warm nanny that loved her life and what she did. All of that changed when I arrived. My mother, teaching a class on the second floor, could hear my wails all the way from the ground-floor nursery. My cries inspired my fellow babies who joined in the choir. It was only a matter of days before the nursery closed down and the nanny ran home, probably vowing to never work with children or have any of her own ever again.

But now that I'm all grown-up and not into making the lives of everyone around me miserable, something I always wonder is what the baby me says about me. Was my baby personality my default personality that I was born with, which my environment then altered? Or is that personality still in there somewhere suppressed by social obligations? Or does all that behaviour have nothing to do with personality?

What about you? How was the baby you? And how much of the baby you is still in you?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Oh Why

Sorry for this pathetic little rant, I had to get it off me.

I cannot, for the life of me, bake something in the kitchen and get it right. It's pathetic, really. I don't know why I'm under the impression that my pathetic disability to bake is a huge hole in me that must be filled if I want to be perfect. Or close to perfect. And being the pathetic perfectionist I am, I continue on this impossible mission. The disappointment that comes with the pathetic results of my pathetic mission is huge enough to put me off for a while, accepting my short-comings, yet the rationality fades with time and eventually, I get back to my pathetic mission in trying to cure my pathetic disability.

Today, it was an attempt at baking chocolate chip cookies. FAIL. I would post some pictures if I wasn't so ashamed to prove what a failure they were. You see? That's how pathetic I was, taking pictures at every step, believing with every cell in me that this time would be different (just like each time). And what's more pathetic is that the feeling of oncoming success rising in me with each minute had reached such a height, that it took a while to register when I opened the oven door to check on my pathetic cookies that no, I was not looking at my first successful baking venture as I had so predicted would happen. Hence the existence of a picture documenting the pathetic-ness (taken during the time gap between expectation of victory and realization of defeat).

I have resolved to give up and succumb to reality, yet deep inside, I know my pathetic self will get over this failure and venture out into the kitchen again soon.....for another pathetic baking scheme.

Desperate for female skills that will make me as happy as this happy '50s housewife!
(Image from zeldalily.com)

"The time has come for you to get used to going to sleep without me"

This is the true story of a little four-year-old from over a thousand years ago. Her name was Ruqqayah.

Ruqqayah was her father's most beloved daughter. He re-named her "Sukaina" (Peace) because she brought peace to his mind. She was a princess in her home.

Ruqqayah was no ordinary little girl. She was the grand-daughter of Muhammad. Her father was Hussain- the leader of the youth in paradise. If things had turned out the way they should have been, she would have lived in the glory of a nation that loved and protected her for being the little girl of their messenger.

But things didn't.
Instead, the ruthless seized leadership. They set out to attack her beloved father. She watched, from a tent in a burning desert in Karbala, as the men of her family, one by one, were killed. She felt her tongue dry and shrivel up, denied water for three days, as the outline of the Euphrates River gleamed before her. She saw what was done to her uncle, Abbas, when she complained to him of her thirst. His two hands, carrying a container of water for her, cut off and his right eye shot at with an arrow. She watched what happened when her father went out to the enemy carrying her ten-month-old brother, asking for water for him. Her baby brother returning to her mother with an arrow in his tiny heart. On the tenth of Muharram, she was there when her protector was killed. When the skies wept blood. She spent the night pleading for her father.

Then she was dragged along the scorching desert with the rest of the women and children. For sixteen days, until they arrived at the palace of the "Muslim" leader- the killer of her father. She wept, asking for her father.

She was presented with his head on a tray.

She watched as his killer played with her father's lips with a stick. "Take your cane away from those two lips. For, by God, I have seen the lips of the Apostle of God kiss those two lips countless times."*

She died hugging the head of her father, in the palace of those that ruled in the name of Islam.

*Spoken by Zaid ibn Arqam, one of Muhammad's companions

See here for the full account of The Tragedy of Karbala according to The History of al- Tabari (the most popular historical chronicle concerning Muslims and the Middle East)

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