Ever since I can remember , I have questioned life. I have searched. And I think I have found.
While our life is mostly shaped by what we can see and touch, our upbringing, cultures, location, parents, attitudes and perception, it makes me wonder if your life and mine is subject to what limited experiences and knowledge we have gathered throughout our life starting with our parents’ lives as they shaped us as children. What if my life, your life and everybody else’s life was subjective and limited to our ways of thinking, what we consider as right and wrong way of living, our religious beliefs, culture, what everyone else is doing that has become the norm, and therefore, dictated over a hundred years later how a certain thing needs to be done and should be done in what way as to identify a person to that tribe, religion, culture or background? If my life is the design of partly my decisions and the limited knowledge and experience I have gathered over the last 25 years of my life, and partly the result of the influence and outside factors which I was born into, like the geographical area I was born and up to this point, live in, my religious affiliation to which I was born, my tribe and clan and the culture and routine of my people’s lifestyle and norm, what then is the real life that is objective and is originally how we were supposed, all of us , to live by?
I am writing this, knowing for a fact that some of you reading this will probably frown, dismissing my thoughts as the typical rankings of a weird person who is probably delusional, some of you will think it is better to use your time reading something else more applicable to reality, to your reality rather, something like,”Best swimwear for your summer vacation” or “How to bake the world’s moist cake”. I, however, understand that there are a few of you, who will grasp my message, some, who will already know what I am talking about, and to you I say, welcome to this particular blog, because it is meant for you.
I recall with nostalgia, my days at school when I was a thirteen year old girl, who was clearly different from all the other girls in my town( and later I came to realize , my entire country, perhaps the entire world? I don’t know). Different in what way exactly? I will tell you… But first I need you to take a tiny detour into my past and understand a little bit about me.
I was nobody special in particular.
I found myself born to a brown-eyed beautiful woman and to a foreign father who was visiting Africa, and in this case, my town, on his charity and philanthropy assignments, of building wells and mosques across the world. He met my mum on one of his visits, and proceeded to marry her. My mum was this beautiful brown-eyed divorcee at 18 years old with already one daughter, my eldest sister, whose custody remained with her father. Which means, if you didn’t know her history, you would think she was a lovely maiden with brown eyes and a sharp nose with high cheekbones, accentuating her most beautiful face( not to brag, my mum is the bomb even in her late forties, you could easily mistake her for my sister). Well all I can say is, my father would have been a fool if he did not hurry up to marry her. And then I was born. And whatever it is that happened before that, was irrelevant because just when I turned 3 years old , barely, my parents divorced so there is very little to nothing I could recall about my family being all together in one place. So years pass on by, I get to see my dad once or twice a year sometimes, over an impersonal formal,lunch with his friends, where they would mostly discuss progress of all my father’s projects here in my town and abroad.
Puberty set in and I found myself grappling to make sense of my world like everyone else. My mum at this point was so stressed out with life-she has always been as long as I can recall, complaining about how life did her dirty all these years- so it was no surprise when she would leave and escape her town for somewhere else, much more dear to her. I would stay with granny, poor granny, in a house full of grannies. This did not mean I did not have a good time though, on those rare occasions my great granny would tell me stories and long tales from the “One and a thousand nights” a tale of the arabian nights so called,”Alfu leyla u leyla”,among other stories. Tales of Alladin, of worlds far away, of wisdom, of fantastical rags to riches stories, of witches and people turning to stone, and of lovers reunited after painful separation,as was the case for Kamaralzaman and Badoura. She opened my mind to new life, to interesting new possibilities, to fantasy,and to a whole new world.
Every time my mum would come back she would buy me stuff, this time I made sure she bought me story books. I would read about Sinbad, his journeys and strange lands far across the sea. I don’t recall when I became an obsessed reader, but it was not long before I turned 13, I had found myself reading novels, about absolutely anything. There was only one formal library in my town, I would go there and make sure to read as much as I could in one sitting. What made it difficult was the fact that they required membership for me to carry my book home, which discouraged me since at 13 years old, there was very little I knew about subscription or membership. But as it turned out, in the school which my father built as one of his charity community projects, there was a library, which was stocked with Arabic and Islamic textbooks about Islamic History, Islamic theology, philosophy and the like.If you did not bother to check the shelves properly, you would have missed a rare treasure, in some neglected dusty shelves in the corner, lay old novels stamped “discarded” which were in English, and that is how I started binge-reading novels. The librarian knew me so he let me borrow the books,carry them home, and I would sign in my name and the book title of the book I borrowed every day in the register. I would read a book into the night until I knew how it ended. This meant that sooner or later I would exhaust the dusty shelves off of the few old novels. And I did.
My life changed ever since. How I viewed the world around me was different. I felt different. At school, while people ran about during recess, I would retreat to a quiet corner by the trees and away from the noise to reflect on life, admire the ants on the ground, how hard at work they were, doing God knows what. I would enjoy looking at the trees and how they whispered in the wind. Because of how different I seemed, because I was not turning out to be just like everyone was at my age, because I REALIZED MEDITATION at 13 years old but didn’t know exactly what it was called, because instead of playing during recess or gossiping with my friends I would be somewhere contemplating about the universe, deeply reflecting on verses from the Koran about God saying how He would think of whoever remembers him, فاذكروني أذكركم and my little beating heart would reply, “Here I am God, whoever you are, wherever you are, thinking about you, admiring your creation, I remember you.”Because of all this, I was weird to some, crazy to most, and bewitched and in need of urgent treatment in the eyes of my mum and granny. What can I say? I remember very little from that time, and who is to say? Maybe, I was not spared from inheriting the many psychological disorders found in the genetic strain of my maternal family. According to my father, my mum is crazy, and he spent a better part of his efforts ensuring I was not going to turn out like her. (Don’t tell mum ,but sometimes I also think that there is some truth to what Dad was saying all these years, haha). He sent me to law school, broke my engagement with my fiancé-now I see why, then at the time, I was blind- all this in an attempt to stop me from self-destructing in what he calls , me being “crazy like my mum” moments.
If only dad knew, that everything that has been happening in my life served a purpose. If he only knew that without me being born into these circumstances, having to go through a rough childhood, being called crazy and weird, and living with a highly stressed-out mum while he was thousands of miles away, if only he realized all these things had to happen to make me who I am now; to reach me to my self-actualization and spiritual ascension. Who said the price of reaching a full understanding of self, of will power and determination, of learning the world’s secrets, of learning the omens and following them as Santiago in the “The Alchemist” was told to by the King of Salem, was easy?Good things, come at a heavy price. Someone once told me this. I got to see the light only after total darkness descended down upon my life, only after I had struggled in my childhood, lived in toxic situations, neglected and lonely for the most part of my childhood and young adulthood. I went over the edge many times, battling depressive moods while in law school, struggling to understand and reign in my emotional outbursts, working hard to fit in because I fit out, twisting in low self-esteem and confidence, self-isolation,panic and anxiety attacks. Yet here I am sometime later in my life, reading through Paulo Coelho’s the Alchemist, and feeling strangely familiar with Santiago’s journey through realizing the real world of learning omens and following them-which by the way I was skeptical of and thought if I read too much into the omens I was becoming delusional, what we normally call in my mother tongue, “baridi ya bisi or wasiwasi”( a sort of mental delusions). I searched, I questioned, life and its meaning, always hoping, always desiring, that there is more to this life, to this world, than what we see or touch, than our beliefs and lifestyles, than the life we have, each one of us across the world, created for ourselves,than all these illusions, and I think I have found the right way to live life.I have found my priceless treasure which will henceforth be my compass throughout life.