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The Suffering Moses

Why does past claw its way like a creepy reptile into our present?
01:06 AM Mar 16, 2024 IST | AIMAN SHABIR
the suffering moses
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The stoic autumn scene strangely stirred up distant memories. As the rusty leaflets fell from grace, I felt the claw of unhappiness scratch on my heart. With my footsteps hurting the fallen florets, His ruminative words flashed into my mind, unwittingly; 81:26- “So, where are you going?” Jehlum’s right bank was a blistering milieu; heavy emptiness daubed me. The thorny winds straight from some barren land-bare life plateaus whispered the words of a wonder wordsmith “In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?” The warmth of golden sun-rays were too lazy to stroke my skin. As the flickering flame of hope took me many moons back, downheartedness drenched me inside out. Lifting feet to take steps felt like pushing mountains. The road to recovery was clearly endless; the palpable piercing pain numbed my mind. The stinging smell of the sinful streets pushed the ridiculously misfit me to pangs. Why does past claw its way like a creepy reptile into our present? Meanwhile, I dragged myself to an empty bench; sat down to stare into oblivion. A shriek of longing awakened my half-slept soul; “Hello Ms. Misplaced! How long has it been since you have met yourself?” I realized that the end has begun. Fag days have started receding into shrivelling winter. Lifelessness is on its arrival; so are the mouthing profanities. The mad in me started getting madder. So exactly where would I bury my madness; settle with my suffering?

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I resumed my walk - inch by inch. Across the sulking, moss-green Jhelum, my eyes froze at a store signboard. The Suffering Moses- it caught me off guard. In a moment, dryness in the air receded. Silence inside me swelled like bloated stomach. Pruritus thoughts poured upon me like icy sleet from hell. A crisp photograph of my dead companion squeezed its layered colours in my eyes. “Suffering makes people beautiful”; had laughed it off then. The companion- a maniac masterpiece was irritatingly knowledgeable. His grave, his mind. His redeemer, his heart. His people, his poison. His abandonment, his aazaadi. Would always have a telling tale to tell; was “suffering at the hands of life” personified.

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As the supreme fear which accompanies existential questions started sinking in, there I was, getting weak in the knees. The conflict-compliance between the self-asked and self-answered holds an absolute bewilderment. For whom is suffering written? Don’t human agonies move God to tears? What does Faiz mean by Badaa Hai Dard Ka Rishta? Is God’s love for his creation a hollow tall claim, given the miseries? Are humans conditioned to follow rectangular arrays of problems throughout their lives to have a “happy” ending? God-mind-logos theories aside, how does matrix-matter-energy conspire to respond to heartbreaks? Are mind wrecks and heart aches even real, for God’s sake? Are all the pervasive and prevailing agonies some purposeful characters in the theatre of absurd?

Just like that, what crossed my cerebrum were the holy unclear hints from Gabriel to Mohammad Sahab (SAW). What awaited the Prophet of patience was suffering. His dolour and depression led him to a realization which Gabriel (or God) wanted him to seek. Nothing meaningless. Nothing inconsequential. As a sawalee, my petition was plain- Is my suffering meant to shake my faith foundation or dismantle disbelief?

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Whatever the answer, what is undeniable is that suffering, in any shape and size, colour and contour, mould and manifestation, stirs souls of seers but breaks backs of bearers. Fans the flames of sympathy but burns the bridges of peace making. Stimulates sensitivity but strips off sanity. Anaesthetizes aspirations but strengthens storms. Is paradoxically read but ironically lived. Is subjectively discrete but covers a gamut. Is authentic in nature but abstract in spirit. Builds humane bonds but triggers unwanted harshness.

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Suffering- universal, inescapable, undesirable brings sorrowful sobs, painful pangs and harrowing heartaches. Big bitterness usurps the thrones of tender hearts. Self-pity finds a route out through unquantified tears. The vortex of void swirls to swallow self-confidence. The punishment hidden in suffering is suffering itself. What is it and isn’t it is not the question. Definitions differ but dread is the same. Is it bleeding profusely while collecting the shards of failed relationships? Or is it carrying the baggage of an emotional investment which got zero returns? Is it a striking realization of being on the receiving end for every deceitful trick? Or is it absorbing the indigestibility of “letting go”? Is it in witnessing one’s dripping sanity in search for the lost stability? Is it in the acceptance of personal syndromes and amputations? Is it being in a perpetual state of unwanted psychological response to a childhood trauma? Or is it loving more to remain more unloved?

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Amidst this outer mayhem and inner melancholy, dusk started falling. As the chirps of retreating birds echoed against the vast expanse of crimson sky, my footsteps became interspersed with long sighs. Before I could ponder upon what my melancholy is meant for, the Muezzin called for evening prayers. Unwillingly, I had to retrace my path. The creepy confusing coldness continued. The activated grief neurons sent more “sad signals” to the pituitary and there I saw myself- defeated, broken and suffering.

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An Afterthought

Suffering might not be in postures slumped, speeds reduced, mouth corners lowered, eyes wet. It might be in hearts craggy due to sins countless. It might be an “inner drift” from one’s own reality. In wrestling hard with the winds of time while questioning the ability of one’s adjustment skills. In surrendering before the challenges which play dirty tricks to bog one down. In the inability to replace hurt with harmony, mourning with memory, remorse with resilience. Not in crossing the threshold of tolerance but in bearing for too long. In remaining frustrated with the plans of providence. In giving up on self to watch the divine designs unfold.

In a parallel world, may be suffering lies in not recognizing that “pain is a path for elevation.” May be in not acknowledging that those who suffer are renewed and recharged. May be in not cracking the code of how suffering is the crucible by which we find our personal centre. May be.

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