Mr. Nobody

Through the eyes of Octavio Paz:

“We dissimulate in order to deceive ourselves and turn transparent and phantasmal. But that is not the end of it: we also pretend that our fellow-man does not exist. This is not to say that we deliberately ignore or discount him. Our dissimulation here is a great deal more radical: we change him from somebody into nobody, into nothingness. And this nothingness takes on its own individuality, with a recognizable face and figure, and suddenly becomes Nobody. Don No One, who is Nobody’s Spanish father, is able, well-fed, well-respected; he has a bank account and speaks in a loud, self-assured voice. Don No One fills the world with his empty, garrulous presence. He is everywhere and has friends everywhere. He is a banker, an ambassador, a businessman. He can be seen in all the salons and is honoured in Jamaica and Stockholm and London. He either holds office or wields influence, and his manner of not-being is aggressive and conceited. On the other hand, Nobody is quiet, timid, and resigned. He is also intelligent and sensitive. He always smiles. He always waits. When he wants to say something, he meets a wall of silence; when he greets someone, he meets a cold shoulder; when he pleads or weeps or cries out, his gestures and cries are lost in the emptiness created by Don No One’s interminable chatter. Nobody is afraid to exist: he vacillates, attempting now and then to become Somebody. Finally, in the midst of his useless gestures, he disappears into the limbo from which he emerged. It would be a mistake to believe that others prevented him from existing. They simply dissimulate his existence and behave as if he did not exist. They nullify him, cancel him out, turn him to nothingness. It is futile for Nobody to talk, to publish books, to paint pictures, to stand on his head. Nobody is the blankness in our looks, the pauses in our conversations, the reserve in our silences. He is the name we always and inevitably forget, the eternal absentee, the guest we never invite, the emptiness we can never fill. He is an omission, and yet he is forever present. He is our secret, our crime, and our remorse. Thus the person who creates Nobody, by denying Somebody’s existence, is also changed into Nobody. And if we are all Nobody, then none of us exists.”

Reflections on the Quran

I’ve been a devout Muslim growing up listening and learning about Islam. Going to the mosque, praying and then hating the concept of it being an obligatory ritual to carry out five times a day. Often making family members and parents angry for questioning obedience.

I was really young when I had started memorizing the Quran. But that was it. I had read it, completed it when I was eight years old in which my mother took joy for I had accomplished something that was considered essential for every Muslim household: the members of the family were supposed to know how to read the Quran and should have read it all at least once in a lifetime.

Why? I had no idea. It was just my rote learning and pronunciation doing the trick. To be honest, reading it felt nothing. Nothing at all. Why? Because most probably I didn’t understand one single word that was written in it. It was more of a ritualistic practice similar to my prayers that I loathed. It was too much of an outside experience for an inert introvert like me. The aspect of praying was beautiful and somehow magical – asking an all-powerful entity to grant you a wish! Every time at the end of my namaz, I would ask God to somehow turn me into Spiderman and then every morning I would try swishing my hands to see if I could actually shoot webs. Certainly pissed at my wish not being granted I would skip a prayer or two and would ask God more angrily again.

Over the years, my bargain for becoming Spiderman changed from the embodiment of a certain special hero to being given superpowers to believing shit’s not gonna happen. But one fine day, out of extreme curiosity that always gets me killed, I decided to go for the i’tikaf. Now, i’tikaf is more of a spiritual retreat in the month of Ramazan where one spends time in prayer and the remembrance of God. It’s very common for Muslims to boast the number of times they’ve read the Quran in Ramadan. People claiming as much as reading it ten times over a period of thirty days. Really? I would often find it very difficult to believe.

Quran has 30 siparahs or sections in a booklet form. These booklets consist of 114 chapters. So dividing 114 by 30 would give you an average of around 4 chapters a day, the length of which varies on their own. Some of the chapters are but a few verses while some are 2.5 sections long. So for a person to claim to have read the Quran ten times would have to read 40 chapters a day!

Anyhow, I had gotten a brand new copy of the Quran with a very simplified translation of the Arabic as a birthday gift from my dad. It was really neat considering the way it was annotated and indexed. Every part of the Quran was referenced in the index based on the topics being discussed in the chapter or the general issues relevant to the time of the revelations of the chapters with references to such chapters numbered in the index. This got me hooked, literally.

Yes, I’m saying that I was reading the Quran with interest for the very first time in my life at the age of eighteen. What was different this time? I was actually reading the translation verse by verse and actually understanding what it meant and why it meant the way it was! The feeling was literally out of this world. It was just like the first time I had learnt how to ride a bike, or completed one of my jigsaw puzzles.

But the best part of it was something that I had not realized it earlier. At twenty-seven years of age now, I see Quran as being the source of expanding my horizons to think and ponder and concentrate and reflect. It sounds too cliche, I know. But it wasn’t just this scripture, of course, I read the bible afterwords and then the Torah (translated version) and then more books on religion. But it all started with understanding the Quran, which meant that it lifts from me the burden of adhering to the ONLY mainstream highlighter version of the Quran that a lot of people know. It is the ONLY version that most people use all around the world to justify their Islamic belief and present circular counter-arguments. I assure you I was like the general people for a very long time when I had only heard what the Quran said and had not read it myself, believing the word from the mouth of my peers and the clerics, never trying to even move an inch and play my part into learning more about my religion!

And this book has been my go-to place when my heart is broken. This reflection of my mind coming from a sceptic like me is but an astonishment. For a major part of my life, my belief in science and religious dogmatism has been headstrong, but somehow the love and respect religion holds over me stays ironclad.

The Word: ISLAM

So let me shake some dust and make a few walls tremble while you read. It is the book that is meant for the finality of time for Islam. And if it claims to be so, then it must surely have knowledge and guidance for times to come. And then it should surely have references to its predecessors before it which it confirms in various verses. I have decided to share with you my reflections on my scripture.

For once, Islam DOES NOT mean peace! The consonants S L and when combined transliterates into Salama which means peace and blessings. However, Islam means, subjugation, obedience, letting go!

WAIT, WHAT!

Hell, NO! Would be the first response of the majority of people reading this. I said the same thing in my head too. But let’s proceed further.

Subjugation to what exactly?

We’ve all heard about democracy being the general rule of the day, right? What exactly is a democracy? People choose someone from among themselves to lead them for a certain period of time-based on the individual’s ethical and moral beliefs. Fair enough. Unfortunately, God usually hasn’t worked in this way. Let’s look at the lot of messengers and prophets [approximately 124000]. They never put up their name for a vote, and NOBODY among the people voted for them. It was more of a “yep, you are a prophet, do as I say now” thing from God.

As most of the religious scriptures being the word of God go, it is believed that the prophets spread the message of God and guided the people in order to lead a better life. Fair enough. But then Quran and Islam? What exactly is the Quran? A step-by-step guide to subjugate people or force them into obedience? Oops, this is totally a bad pun. (Please don’t hang me for blasphemy!)

Let’s look at the word: QURAN

It means ‘The Reading‘ or ‘The Lecture‘ in very simple words which is more analogous to the word sacred writing or Scripture. And, in times of grief, this reading has given me hope saying that things will get better and one must never give up and lose hope!

So linking The Reading to Obedience means that there are predefined instructions that one MUST follow if one needs to accept Islam as a deen. Often debated that deen is a concrete codex of life and is more rich and vast in terms of just a list of holy do’s and don’ts given by the word religion.

In simple words, Islam has a set of rules. If you are to be a Muslim, you must OBEY those rules and LET GO of the things, ideals and ways that are against Islam which are basically ethical and moral values preached in all the scriptures. (Hey! No religion allows you to lie or prevaricate or break people’s hearts or use them or shed innocent blood – not even Islam!)

It simply means to SUBJUGATE yourself to the will of the Lord. Which by all means is still your choice. You HAVE a choice. But when you choose Islam, you adhere to it as much as you possibly can. There’s no leeway.


This post is just a personal reflection and not meant to hurt or humiliate any religion or individual. Every religion is sacred and love is the most sacred of all.

Music when soft voices die

I put my headphones on and a strange feeling engulfs me. It ebbs from my sternum and slithers across my ribcage reaching my heart where it muffles the sound of it pulsing memories in and out of my veins. For a moment my heart feels like it’s drowning just the same way it had a few months back when I had walked into the waters wanting to drown.

A few moments later, my lungs run out of the air. I struggle to catch my breath. My throat runs dry with words stuck midway in my trachea.

The feeling weaves upwards. I feel it pulsating up my throat and through the carotid artery. I can feel it making my jaw heavy and my hands and feet lifeless at the same time.

I lift my head up reclining it slightly as I close my eyes catching one last glimpse of the sky. A flash of bright yellow turns reddish-brown dissolving deeper into more earthly tones and dissipates into nothingness. Then, your laughter rings in my ears as if an alarm has been set off. The darkness dissolves with the appearance of your smile. A twisted half crescent is drawn across your face.

My cheeks twitch as though following suite and I sense my face arching into a curve. The feeling is indeed working its magic. I’m stuck in hyperspace, my mind going at infinite smiles per hour. When it finally slows down and head feels lighter, I sense that the feeling has finally left its hold.

I press my fingers to my eyes ascertaining the wetness of my face. The world in front of my eyes appear blurry but as I wipe away my tears it gains more clarity. Like a dusty window suddenly turned pristine after a rainfall.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, 
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed; 
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone, 
Love itself shall slumber on. 
– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Still

I wish I can let you flow through my fingers
Like grains of sand from the hourglass of my life
That you mercilessly smashed on the floor
I wish I could squeeze you with my arms
To give a sense of how weak I am without you
Just like you squeezed the life out of me when you left

Gently and then all at once, I still miss you.