Aab's Musings

Aab's Musings-17 -No goals

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab thinks he is an aberration; an anachronism and an imposter. He wonders whether he was born in the wrong place or at the wrong time – or both. When he sees people going about their tasks and duties so seriously, when he sees the intense belief and purpose with which individuals lead their lives, he knows there is something missing in him. But he has no regrets. While he knows, even teaches the youngsters who at times gather around him, that one needs to have goals and aim in life, he himself does not have one. Perhaps that is the reason why Aab never had the privilege of receiving a wage in his entire life. He has never been employed and has never known what it means to look forward to remuneration for work. He is a drifter, a rolling stone who gathers no moss. In one such rolling he found himself sitting in a gathering of highly religious and high status people. For some unknown reason, he was catapulted onto the stage, and was asked to address the gathering. In fact such occasions happen quite often with him, but he never ceases to be amazed by the “why” of his being chosen. This occasion was on a pleasant evening, in a massive hall that was already brightly lit with expensive chandeliers and floodlights, even though the sun outside was happily providing free light to the entire countryside. Aab finished what he had to say in a short time, as he usually does, and sat down to listen to the wiser souls. But he could not help being fascinated by the fall of the evening outside the illustrious hall -- the shadows lengthening, the trees and leaves changing color, the slowly stirring breeze and the branches dancing in rhythm – and the inevitable setting in of the dusk. For quite some time Aab felt compelled to run out and welcome the end of the day and the beginning of the night, amidst nature. But etiquette and norms held him back. He had to force himself to sit for an hour and listen to sage discourse on Eternity, knowing that the beautiful moment is passing by. When the function ended, he stepped out and breathed the cool breeze of the first hour of the night, and stepped right into the shadows to merge with them.

 

Aab's Musings-16 -Between birth and death

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab does not know the date when he was born – nobody does. He may not have been very welcome in this world, or maybe people were just too busy to keep track of mundane things like an insignificant baby’s birth. He does have an idea how many calendar years he has spent on this earth, but he actually feels that he has spent at least double that time experiencing life. For he has experienced life in double-shifts, often leading a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde type of life. Not that he went around murdering people, but he has seen the brightness of the rich and powerful days, and hobnobbed with the murky and diseased nights. Even today Aab lives a life that denies definition. He never had, and does not have even now, a profession. He has never known what it is to receive a salary. He has built castles in the air, and donated them to others. He has nurtured others’ dreams, and packaged them in dainty bubbles to give to those who look forward to life. Aab does not look forward to life. Not that he is suicidal or desperate, he just does not have any desires or aspirations. It is not even as though he is an ascetic or a sanyasi. He lives very much in the material world, partakes of all worldly activities (selectively of course), and has no knowledge of anything spiritual. Yet he feels more curious to know about his death date than his birth date. At the same time, he is knowledgeable enough to know that he will not know his death date, till the date has arrived – and then of course that knowledge will be of no use. It is just that he could start celebrating the anniversary of his death in advance if he were to come to know, by any chance. Aab knows that he could not in any way be in the good books of God. He does not even know where God lives, whether it is a he or a she, and – he often wonders why the omnipotent and all-powerful God requires people to worship him. If he does get an opportunity, Aab would rather meet up with God and share a cup of tea on a street corner. But that is blasphemy, so Aab does not talk about this desire of his to anyone.

 

Aab's Musings-15 -What is loneliness?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab knows what loneliness is. He has not only experienced it, he has seen it written in bold capital letters on people’s faces – people who laugh, dress up well, mix freely, and communicate with ease. Because when he looks at faces, he does not stop at the surface. His eyes go deeper into the mind, and there he sees a completely different picture. Aab knows that people are like the theatre stage. Under the bright spotlights, with full make-up and rehearsed lines, there is glamour, attraction, thrills and laughter. Look just a little behind the edge of the stage – and there is the ugly side of unkempt faces and irregular material, coupled with minds that show anxiety and maybe even frustration. Yet, it is these minds that make the show entertaining for others. So are the lonely people. They are the ones who make life better for others to enjoy the show called life. But then, Aab is disturbed that anyone in this world should actually be lonely. There are people suffering from Living Together Loneliness, having relatives, family and friends all around them, but mentally cut-off. There are those who are more lonely in crowds than they are when they are alone. Great spiritual leaders talk about overcoming loneliness. They show the path to merger with the Creator, thus surrendering your very being and becoming one with the Universe. Aab is a very small, ordinary and un-enlightened person. He can feel one with a stray dog, with a row of ants, with a paper boat flowing with rain water -- but not beyond that. The funny thing is that these very beings, according to Aab, can take away loneliness. But some of us doggedly hang on to our individuality, isolating ourselves from so many wonderful things around us. He wants to help them. Some listen to him, some don’t. Some listen and forget; some do change and enjoy their newfound warmth

 

Aab's Musings-14 -No Biography for self

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab knows he can never become an orator. He cannot shout, he cannot scream in the frenzy of artificial passions. He can only speak from the heart, whether he is speaking to one person or one thousand. He speaks only what is necessary, only that which can benefit the listener. He values the time of others, not his own. He believes that the time of the common man is as important as that of a governor. He finds it very difficult to talk about himself. Not because he has anything to hide, not because he does not know how to express himself. Not because he is too proud. Ironically, it is for the very opposite reason-he suffers form low self-esteem. He truly believes that no one is interested in him, his life or his experiences. And he has reason to believe so-everyone talks to him about themselves, hardly anyone asks him about him. They take it for granted that everything that is to be known about him is known. They feel a strong invisible barrier between them and him. No one knows why, least of all Aab. At times when he has tired to share something very personal about himself, he has found the listener either disbelieving, thinking it is a joke, or just ignoring due to intense discomfort of not knowing how to respond. The stage has come when Aab himself is forgetting his biography. His past has become a blurred hazy picture, his experiences seem as though they are of someone else, and his life seems devoid of any history. He is not unhappy with development. For him, the present is sufficient, this moment is eternity.

 

Aab's Musings-13 -Without self respect life is miserable

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Because of his unusual name, and since he does not have a surname, people often ask Aab what religion he belongs to. And as usual, Aab is stumped. He would himself like to know what faith he belongs to, if any. Everyone seems to have a religion, a community, a caste and a series of rituals. The only ritual Aab indulges in is – wandering on the roads and watching people closely. He wonders whether they can be a religion called “Life”. What a fool Aab is. He does not know that a religion needs to have a guru, a scripture, a long hierarchy of sub-gurus, and an elaborate system of do’s and don’ts. Every one seems to know that except Aab. He hears learned and pious men thundering from high platforms about God’s wrath. They sound so convincing, as though they have just come from a personal conference with the Almighty in His sanctum sanctorum. Aab even hears the common man quoting the pious ones, dead and alive, seen or unseen, with such conviction. At times Aab wonders if he is the only one who is illiterate in matters of religion, while others seem to be graduates and post-graduates. No, Aab is not an Atheist. He has enough intelligence to know that this Universe cannot be spinning away in abandon without certain forces controlling, directing and moderating it. He know enough to understand that the tiniest and most helpless creatures would not have survived on this earth for thousands of years side by side with predators, unless there was a law of balance of nature. But he is not intelligent enough to give a name to this cosmic source of energy that binds us all together. What he sees and has to acknowledge very sadly is that religion divides humanity, and any division goes against the laws of the Universe, which all stand for Unity.

 

Aab's Musings-12 - No Value for quotes from the living

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Because of his unusual name, and since he does not have a surname, people often ask Aab what religion he belongs to. And as usual, Aab is stumped. He would himself like to know what faith he belongs to, if any. Everyone seems to have a religion, a community, a caste and a series of rituals. The only ritual Aab indulges in is – wandering on the roads and watching people closely. He wonders whether they can be a religion called “Life”. What a fool Aab is. He does not know that a religion needs to have a guru, a scripture, a long hierarchy of sub-gurus, and an elaborate system of do’s and don’ts. Every one seems to know that except Aab. He hears learned and pious men thundering from high platforms about God’s wrath. They sound so convincing, as though they have just come from a personal conference with the Almighty in His sanctum sanctorum. Aab even hears the common man quoting the pious ones, dead and alive, seen or unseen, with such conviction. At times Aab wonders if he is the only one who is illiterate in matters of religion, while others seem to be graduates and post-graduates. No, Aab is not an Atheist. He has enough intelligence to know that this Universe cannot be spinning away in abandon without certain forces controlling, directing and moderating it. He know enough to understand that the tiniest and most helpless creatures would not have survived on this earth for thousands of years side by side with predators, unless there was a law of balance of nature. But he is not intelligent enough to give a name to this cosmic source of energy that binds us all together. What he sees and has to acknowledge very sadly is that religion divides humanity, and any division goes against the laws of the Universe, which all stand for Unity.

 

Aab's Musings-11 - Religion of love

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Because of his unusual name, and since he does not have a surname, people often ask Aab what religion he belongs to. And as usual, Aab is stumped. He would himself like to know what faith he belongs to, if any. Everyone seems to have a religion, a community, a caste and a series of rituals. The only ritual Aab indulges in is – wandering on the roads and watching people closely. He wonders whether they can be a religion called “Life”. What a fool Aab is. He does not know that a religion needs to have a guru, a scripture, a long hierarchy of sub-gurus, and an elaborate system of do’s and don’ts. Every one seems to know that except Aab. He hears learned and pious men thundering from high platforms about God’s wrath. They sound so convincing, as though they have just come from a personal conference with the Almighty in His sanctum sanctorum. Aab even hears the common man quoting the pious ones, dead and alive, seen or unseen, with such conviction. At times Aab wonders if he is the only one who is illiterate in matters of religion, while others seem to be graduates and post-graduates. No, Aab is not an Atheist. He has enough intelligence to know that this Universe cannot be spinning away in abandon without certain forces controlling, directing and moderating it. He know enough to understand that the tiniest and most helpless creatures would not have survived on this earth for thousands of years side by side with predators, unless there was a law of balance of nature. But he is not intelligent enough to give a name to this cosmic source of energy that binds us all together. What he sees and has to acknowledge very sadly is that religion divides humanity, and any division goes against the laws of the Universe, which all stand for Unity.

 

Aab's Musings-10 - Comfort in not belonging

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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“Where do you belong to ?” People often ask this question to new persons they meet. Whenever someone asks this to Aab, he is puzzled. He would perhaps be able to answer the “where” if he knew the meaning of “belong”. On the one side, he firmly believes that everyone and everything in this universe is connected. On the other, he wonders who belongs to who. When we cannot even own the air we breathe, how can places own us ? Aab sits on a patch of ground and wonders whether he can belong to it. He walks on a road and muses whether he belongs to it. He walks on a road and muses whether he belongs to the path. He looks up at the sky and clouds and refuses to believe that he can belong even to a tiny patch in it. And as if to prove his point, the clouds move away, change shape, disintegrate – and disappear. He listens with amusement when people talk proudly about their ancestry, their roots, their “native” place, and their possessiveness over it. There is such a strong need to belong as though by ourselves we are incomplete. We need to reassure our fickle minds and appease our insecurity by the reassurance that we are not alone and we need not fend for ourselves. But Aab finds a strange relief in not belonging. He has no home town, no mother tongue, no family tree. Every moment that he is with any friend or stranger, he feels belonged to that person. When someone reaches out to him, he holds the hand, when someone moves back, he moves on.

 

Aab's Musings-09 - The road does not go anywhere

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab used to love traveling. He would explore cities, but would revel in the countryside. He would blossom out seeing the rain rejuvenating the perched earth. He would walk miles in the jungle, or sit back and watch in fascination the fields and rivulets whizzing past a train or car window. Then age and tiredness caught up with him. Also he found that humans are as humans anywhere – so there was no need to explore humanity and being humane anywhere was the same. So now Aab likes to sit by the wayside and watch the world go by. He has realized the motion is relative to two objects. One can be stationary and see the other move in and out of views. He remembers the old adage “If Mohammed does not go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed.” He remembers with a chuckle how he was sitting on the kerb when a harried traveler asked him “does this road go to ___Nagar?” Aab had replied much to the irritation of the impatient traveler, “No, the road stays right here,” and before the latter could get more angry, had added softly “but you can travel on this road and reach ___Nagar if you want to.” Obviously the person-in-a-hurry had neither appreciated the sense of humour nor the wisdom in Aab’s words. But Aab has learnt the hard way that roads do not go anywhere. He knows that men move on, they have to, while the path the destinations the whole world remains where it is. He has seen with his own eyes how kings and landlords have fought for acres of land, for control over vast territories, for supremacy over land and sea - and finally have been interred in two square yards of land known as a grave, with even the grave dissolving their bones into nothingness.

 

Aab's Musings-08 - Relating to Relatives

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab has no relatives. In fact to him “relatives” is a very relative term. He prefers to relate rather than to have relatives. He watches people who seek the comfort and security of their clans, and wonder whether they would be better off without them. He sees brother fighting brother over pieces of land, and finally watches when both are eventually lowered into six feet pits for their graves. He sees relatives who are close to each other, sometimes so close that it can become suffocating. Aab very much lives in the present, but at times reflects over the future. He wonders how relatively different life would be if humans are cloned. Since cloning is still far away, he knows that everyone has to make do with relatives – blood relatives, in-laws, distant cousins, et al. Everyone has relatives – except Aab. When Aab sees relatives relating relatively well, he is happy. But when he sees so many families where the relationships with relatives are strained, and at times, hypocritical -- he wonders whether community, relatives, and even family, are on their way out. He would certainly be happy with it – but only if the entire population of the world converts itself into one big family – Vasudaiva Kutumbam. He knows that is only wishful thinking. Right now people do not know how to relate to themselves, and are living as lonely islands emotionally separated by a vast ocean of turmoil, selfishness, misunderstandings. “Will we wake up before it is too late?” he wonders.

 

Aab's Musings-07 - The Love Affair

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab has a girlfriend. She loves him immensely, and is never hesitant in expressive her love. She also expresses her anger freely on him, sometimes pummeling him with her wrists, at other times hurting the choicest abuses on him. Aab smiles serenely regardless of how she treats him. He is not embarrassed when she kisses him or slaps him in public. Because ….. everyone knows that she is “mad”. Only Aab knows she is saner than most people. Only he can see her heart, feel her pulse, and sense her innermost feelings. Aab’s girl friend was a stunning beauty years and years ago. She was ambitious, charming and vivacious. Few know when, and none care why, she was repeatedly raped by a bunch of goons who promised her a film career. Her body survived the onslaught, her mind did not. Society forsook her. Friends disappeared. Having no wealth left, she was reduced to wandering the streets. Some roadside eateries would give her leftovers. A few neighbourhood ladies would give her their discarded garments, more because of their own embarrassment to see her half naked in public. Periodically she would be raped again. Now it neither affected her mind nor her body. She would laugh at the men who raped her, the women who shunned her, and the urchins who teased her. Until she met Aab. The first time she looked deep into his eyes, she saw her past, present and future rolled together. She saw time standing still, and eternity rolling by. And she fell in love. Aab did not need to fall in love. He was always in love with her, as he was in love with all women scorned by society. He had no desires from her, but he had so much love to give. To her it made no difference how often he met her. She would greet him depending on what mood she was in. He would accept. The love affair goes on. There are moments when they sit under the shelter of a closed shop, share a bun dipped in hot tea, share the warmth of their bodies, and ignore the scandalized stares of passers-by. When the rain stops they get up and walk off – Aab to his homestead, and his girlfriend to find a dry footpath to sleep on.

 

Aab's Musings-06 - Fascinated with authority

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab is fascinated with authority. He watches with fascination how human beings don the garb of their power and glory, and forget their individuality. He marvels at Creation that has made humans so equal that even the King and the Dictator have to visit the toilet as often as the commoner, that even golden plates and spoons cannot take away hunger but for a specified period. At times he wonders whether he is jealous of those who command awe and respectful fear from others. But he could not be, because he spurned every effort to acquire status, whenever it came his way. And it did come his way many a time. Aab has been nothing more than Aab. He never held a title, never moved in the regalia of the powerful. But he has rubbed shoulders with them, and has smelt them from close range. The odour is intoxicating, far more powerful than the best of wine. He has often visualized the high and mighty in their utterly naked form – shorn of their finery and ornaments. He has seen many of them being lowered into their graves, leaving behind everything that they owned, powerless to even prevent people from mixing them with dust, from lofty thrones all the way down six feet into the earth. Aab has also seen, in many decades of his existence, how the meek rise up to become mighty and forget their meekness; he has seen the mighty bite the dust and yet not learn a lesson from it. Aab often looks at dust and looks at man, and fails to notice any difference between them, except in their deeds.

 

Aab's Musings-05 - Love is in short supply

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Once upon a time Aab used to live in the biggest city of the country …. and the busiest. He used to work hard, but not too hard. Towards the end of the day, he would sit quietly at a roadside corner (space on corners is also limited in big cities – you have to pay for it) and watch everyone rushing by. He would see people getting angry when traffic comes to a standstill, he would see human beings literally bumping into each other and pushing their way through. “They are all in a hurry”, he would muse “obviously they have greater purpose of life than I do”. For Aab hardly every seemed to be in a hurry. He would always adjust to time, but would never expect time to adjust to him. Aab loves all creatures, because he believes there is something inherently nice about each and every living being. He has a soft corner for human beings, partly because he is one (though many a time he still doubts whether he genuinely is, for he never seems to fit into the mold others expect him to). Yet sadly (or happily?) he has never loved human beings so much that he could get pulled down by their behavior, nor can he feel the ecstasy of being loved and adored. For deep down he has learnt the hard way that humans don’t really love other humans – they love the desire to love, they love the fulfillment of being in love, and they love possessing (even mentally) the object of their love. The clock tells Aab that it is time to get up from the corner and move on. His body knows where to go, but his heart does not.

 

 

 

Aab's Musings-04 - Love is in short supply

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Aab feels very sorry for poor people. Not those whose pockets are empty, but those whose hearts are empty. For, the poverty of the pocket touches the skin, and at best the stomach – but the poverty of hearts encompasses the whole being. The poverty of the pocket can be alleviated very easily, the poverty of the heart requires a great deal of love for removal. And Aab knows, love is in short supply in this world.

 

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