Sunday

Sunday came,

and with it rose a slow, bright sun.

Dragging rays of exhaustion over cities,

over houses, over beds,

and over her.

And she awoke with heavy-hearted fatigue

that kept her body still,

but her mind in a frenzy of thoughts

and regrets.

Her eyes were wet and red

and her head pounded with a rhythm

of having slept fitfully.

Nightmarish beings wrapped their cold,

bony fingers around her heart

and squeezed.

Crushed it, stabbed it with the thorny past

that’s come back to haunt her.

She rubs her hands together,

and remembers the way you held them

You didn’t know

And she didn’t tell you,

but when you held them,

You were keeping the nightmares away.

You were holding all of her together,

and you kept the darkness at bay,

By the grace of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,

you were the brightest star in her darkest sky.

Nesha Usmani

Stars

Night does not come,

There is no star that radiates

darkness.

The window to the universe

is simply left open by a departing sun.

But the soft pink tips of night

do seem like an approaching guest.

The stars, so enticing, so rich and lush

in their seemingly infinite abundance, subhanAllah.

I wonder what they hide and what they distract from.

If Paradise is a few miles or a few dimensions above them.

If their size is a thousand times the earth or one-tenth of it.

How my heart still beats as they collide, explode, freeze and melt.

How I sink my nails into the dunya as galaxies swirl into the hungry maws of

holes in the universe.

How, no matter how severe the calamities are in the heavens,

the emptiness of the stomach feels more severe.

And all that my Lord creates, changes, and destroys

He does with the knowledge of the unseen,

which is always for the best.

But the chaos of the stars and planets combined cannot compare

to the chaos of the heart.

The sin and the greed.

The heedlessness and ignorance.

Impatience. Cruelty. Ego.

The fragility in decision making is terrifying.

And I think of the day my heart stops. And the Day all of this ends.

I hope I am not the only one who thinks like this,

like the greatest calamity is not any natural occurrence.

No. No burning star, no deadly meteor. No mysterious black void.

But the emptying of the heart in favor of the filling of hands.

The drop of an anchor in dunya; choosing this minuscule ball of water in space,

instead of waiting for something purer, unseen, un-defiled by shaitan

and the empty hearts of men.

Nesha Usmani

7/21/2013

As I Try to Describe Happiness

Assalamu Alaikum

Bismillahi Ar Rahmani Ar Rahim

You’ve probably noticed by now that a lot of the content on my blog is a bit melancholy. Whether that turns you off or not isn’t the point; it’s just that this blog picked up speed during a time in my life where…well…due to a lot of circumstances, I guess I lost the meaning of the emotion.

I’m not emo! Please, don’t think that. I’m just one of those people who thinks too much, over-analyzes, and then analyzes the analyzations (why does this word look weird).

Happiness.

Sometimes, I think that there really isn’t such a feeling. I suppose, I feel that that it’s sort of a morsel, something tasty, tied at the end of a fishing pole and attached to our heads. We follow it, chase it, like one of those cartoons of dogs who are forever chasing a bone, but never actually getting it.

Or like this cat.

Poor cat. What happens to her moment of thrill when she tackles the thing, yanks it away from her human’s hand? The process starts all over again. The chasing and the endless jumping and snatching. Bloody flipping hell. Is that happiness?

Setting our sights on what we like … be it a career or status or cheeseburger, and then once we have it…what then? What happens next?

When I was younger, it was so much easier to be “happy”. I was so carefree back then, you could have put a smiley face on a french fry and I would have made it into something to laugh about.

But now, everything seems so devoid of meaning. I don’t want to say “pointless”, because that makes it sound like I’m two minutes away from jumping off a cliff (thankfully, not the case).

When I think of happiness now, true, real, honest-to-Allah happiness…well, I think of Allah.

And I think of children, having a family. I think of a time in the not so distant future (inshAllah) when I’ll most likely still be struggling, but I’ll have someone to struggle with. Someone who will wipe my eyes and kiss them, and I’ll do the same for them. Someone to share my beliefs and my hopes.

Happiness, now, is not instant gratification, anymore. For me, I think it used to be. It’s not getting what you want when you want it. It’s not an elevated level of emotion or excitement. It’s not bright, sunny days or cold glasses of lemonade. A day off or a good movie.

While I might still like those things…none of then mean anything to me, anymore.

No. I can’t even describe my definition of happiness to you.

Or, maybe I can.  Your mind doesn’t just store memories of events. It also stores memories of emotions and sensations. Things you felt, tasted. SubhanAllah.

Somewhere along in my life, my definition of happiness went from instant gratification to remembering a sunrise from years ago.

It was 2005. My family and I were on vacation in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. We had rented a little house on the beach during spring break.

I think I was 16 at the time, but I could be wrong. The days were cloudy, just the way I like it (no joke). In the afternoons, dark thunder clouds would roll in and the ocean and the space between it and the sky would melt together, forming this ethereal gray-blue-black-white of impending stormy weather. Combined with the hot smell of sand and the caress of gentle, sea-infused humidity, it was intoxicating.

Lightening would strike in the distance and it was all I could do not to run out onto the beach and just stare.

One morning, my mother woke me up to watch the sunrise. I remember the sheer, exploding whiteness of it.

It was like the entire ocean had turned to silver, or gold, or some weird combination of both. My brain couldn’t really comprehend it. I took pictures, but I’ve lost them.

They wouldn’t have done it justice, anyway.

The edges of my vision seemed to darken; blotting out all but the sun. It rose like it has done in all of the memories of the earth, but, witnessing it from the beach was like watching some once-in-a-lifetime cosmic event. The entire sky seemed to be the sun, the ocean as well. Everything became one and the same. I actually started to worry I might go blind. My eyes were watering even though I kept them in a tight squint, blinking away the tears, or shielding my eyes from it altogether in intervals, like a panicky vampire.

I remember it now and I feel a rising in my heart. But, I don’t really remember the actual sunrise when I think of being “happy”. I just see a explosion of bright, white light over a molten ocean of silver. There’s a lump in my throat.Tears come to my eyes and I don’t feel excitement or thrill. I just feel content, at peace. Some mixture of longing and love threaded through with a ribbon of sadness, fear, and awe. 

Is that my definition of happiness? A perfect balance of emotion?

Could be.

Happiness.

Once something all about instant gratification, turned into what I feel when I see something so much bigger than I could ever be.

My mother likes to say this one thing a lot. I don’t remember it verbatim, but the gist of it goes something like:

“Human beings are so arrogant. We’re surrounded by things so much bigger than ourselves, so much more powerful and out of our controls, and yet, we are the most arrogant of beings.”

She’s right. In our arrogance we’ve taken granted of so many things, including each other. Chased after meaningless, fruitless things thinking we’ll find satisfaction, when all we ever find is more temptation, more emptiness, and a hunger for “more” (whatever that is).

I’m reminded of the simple lifestyle of our beloved Prophet (SAW). Who lived and died a simple man, and yet the greatest who has ever lived subhanAllah.

I am reminded of the hadith, according to Bukhari & Tirmidhi, in which the Prophet (SAW) held the shoulder of Abdullah Ibn Umar and said 

Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer or a stranger.

Travel light. Don’t live in excess. Don’t chase worldly things. All it will get you, as it’s only ever gotten me, is greed and suffering. Don’t plant roots in the dunya, for the dunya will not keep you. Inna lillahi wa inna illaihi raji’oon! From Allah we came, and to Allah is our return.

I just finished a book (which I enjoyed a lot) and in it, the author makes a lot of references to the Dicken’s character Jacob Marley (from A Christmas Carol). One line in particular, in which Marley supposedly said:

“I wear the chain I forged in life.”

::Shudder:: Isn’t that the damn truth? Doesn’t what we do in our lives bind us or free us in the next, depending on Allah’s mercy? SubhanAllah.

Well, I’ve done my best, describing happiness. Happiness according to a 24-yr old Muslim romantic. anyway.

If you decide to comment, which I hope you do, what’s happiness to you?

Sources

http://dailyreminders.wordpress.com/2008/07/16/live-in-this-world-as-a-traveller-or-a-stranger/

A Glimpse of Beauty

On my way back from the library, I decided to stop by a local grocery store. Before turning into the parking lot in front of the store, I braked for some people walking towards their cars.

Among them was a couple with a little blonde toddler in the seat of the grocery cart. The man pushing the cart was wearing a T-shirt and what looked like your run-of-the-mill blue hospital scrub bottoms. The woman, her blonde hair tied up in a pony tail, was pregnant. From the looks of it, I’d say about 7 months (just a guess).

I felt like a creeper because I couldn’t stop staring at them. The man was pushing the cart  away from him and letting go; sending it coasting along in front of them, to the sheer delight of the child in the cart.  The man had a big smile on his face as he pushed the child but was also responsibly taking precaution by walking swiftly to catch up with the cart.

Behind him, his pregnant wife glanced up, a content smile crossing her features as she watched her husband and child have a moment of fun together.

The whole scene lasted less than 10 seconds, but it had such an effect on me. Tears sprung to my eyes and I felt sadness, envy, awe, and happiness all at once.

Maybe it was just over-active hormones. Maybe it was also the knowledge that I came so close to having what they have, not just once, but twice. InshAllah I’ll have it, one day.

I think my friends think I’m weird, to want so badly to have a husband and children.They think I’m too young, that I haven’t “lived” my life, yet. I just think that’s silly. But the truth, sometimes, can only be found in the present. And the truth is, it’s just not meant to be, right now. Like so many things recently, just not meant to be.

Alhamdulillah for what I have. I’m still young, I’ve gotten to see the world. Everyone I love is still alive, alhamdulillah. InshAllah, I’ll go to Chicago in the fall to start my MPH program. I have so much, alhamdulillah.

But, astaughfirullah, there’s that empty feeling. An emptiness, loneliness, sadness that just won’t go away. I can only blame my nafs and shaitan. Authubillahi min-ash-shaytaan-ir-rajeem.

I just keep telling myself that whatever God wills, will happen whenever He wills it.

Ya Allah, give me patience.

Nesha

Silent Place

Would that the world were a silent place,

That is, void of the chaos of mortal men

Filled instead with wind and water,

And mountains cutting through thick forests.

Walking, feel both the warmth and coolness of soft

fertile earth

As it rises beneath the soft weights of my toes

And I, like wandering root do feel,

walking under the looming trees.

Inside a humid fog, repose,

and awaken, not wet, but warm

The smell of vibrant moss suffusing the air

and the senses.

Above me,

The clouds, turbulent in color and size

Wage war, though fruitless, to claim the sky

from the sun,

But none dare challenge the resplendent moon,

who, with her starry subjects, rises against

a midnight-blue canvas.

She is whole, tonight,

and the clouds have become still and light,

The forests have retreated to mystery,

and the mountains lose their arrogance.

And there is nothing to fear,

No chaos of mortal men.

 

Nesha Usmani

Lost

Do you believe the beauty of a soul

Outweighs that which sits on the skin?

I dare not wish to inquire

The weight of what lies within.

I spent too long wandering

Among these frostbitten trees

I lost my way so long ago,

And my limbs have begun to freeze.

Am I a shadow among these branches?

Am I that which they have begun to fear?

I’ve forgotten the taste of happiness,

I’m not sure what I’m doing here.

But now and then the forest changes,

A green leaf blinds me as I pass,

The small yellow sun of a dandelion,

A fresh, dewy patch of grass

I wonder then if I’ve found a way

A way out of this cold place,

But the hope is frightening and I stray,

Do I deserve the sun’s warm face?

I think not and turn my feet,

Step back into the shadows and frost

Too scared of all that is warm and sweet,

Too ashamed to admit I am lost.

Nesha Usmani

December 22, 2012

Confusion

water drips in the quiet of Eden,

held temporarily by the lush green leaves

of trees.

Through the drip-drip-drop,

hushed whispers weave through the branches,

and plumes of steam rise from the ground,

timid heat caressing the forest bed.

Above the canopy,

look closely.

stars twinkle in a sky of sapphire

A competition of beauty,

for the sun blazes gold, throwing

constellations to disarray.

I do not know -nay-

I cannot tell,

Whether this is Heaven,

or a part of Hell,

For I glanced over my bare shoulder,

and saw you looking back at me.

Your eyes, an addiction

I used to feed,

by dreaming of you constantly.

Are you ghost

or are you flesh,

and if flesh you are,

there must be an apple.

Rotting somewhere

behind the trees.

 

Nesha Usmani