The Fallen Leaves
Islamabad has been particularly sparkling the past week. With nice puffy clouds floating above the hills like mushroom outgrowth on rotten broccoli, and the intermittent spells of refreshing rain, everything seems so surreal. It is so surreal that one would want to spend the rest of the day sleeping at home, or watching the clouds float away, or sit back in your comfy couch in front of the telly with a cuppa of chocolate milk and watch the magic of day sweep you away! Well, that’s what nature lovers would say on a nice day, which clearly implies that all nature lovers are lazy people who just can’t wait for the weather to get nice so that they can indulge in the little pleasures mentioned above (woops!).
The rain has been pouring relentlessly over the capital for some days, taking away most of the heat and humidity that was making life difficult for the citizens. The complainers will, however, continue complaining. Like that taxi driver who took me to work one rainy morning, in the days when people were worrying that there was not enough water for their crops, and that those dams and rivers of ours were drying up. He was annoyed by the fact that the mud would ruin his tires, and something else which I can’t recall right now. So no one is happy at any point in time in this country, even if we might think that everything looks perfectly OK.
Nature has his ways of maintaining a Balance. And that is Balance with a capital ‘B’. This balance is essential, even if we might not like it. Too much of everything is bad for your health, they say, and too much of happiness or sorrow can be bad too. So, if we get too happy about something at a particular point in time, the system that governs the universe adjusts that and makes things a little less happy some where else, or at the same ‘location’. You get my point? The average human has been endowed with the capacity to feel every kind of emotion, and depending on the circumstances he may or may not feel happy or sad at a particular point in time. And do we know what the future holds in store for us? Can we tell if we are going to be happy tomorrow or sad the next week? Can we tell that someone is going to leave us tomorrow or come home and bring joy the next?
Can we tell if we, or someone we love, would die on a beautiful surreal morning, when everything seemed so perfect?
We were told by elders, and our religious studies textbooks, that there is a large tree in Heaven, and for every human being on earth there is a leaf on that tree. When a leaf withers and falls, that person dies, and the leaf is replaced by new little ones… another example of the balance that is being maintained. We never know when our leaves would fall, and how we would make our exit from this wonderful thing we call life. For most of us, death is usually painful, and this pain comes from the fact that we do not want to leave this life, and that we want to get so much more from it. We do all in our power to stay there a little longer, just to see what would happen ‘next’. But the most unwelcome of all guests, the angel of death, does not pay any heed. And like Imam Ghazali said, his countenance is horrendous for those who love their material life more than anything, and angelic for those who accept the inevitable.
The leaves fell for around 152 people on the 14th Sha’baan, the unfortunate passengers on Air Blue Flight 202. Those who missed the flights must be in a state of utter shock, and would be thankful to the Almighty that they did not board that plane. What transpired during those last 18 minutes when the airport lost communication with the aircraft is still a mystery, but we can well imagine what would have transpired in the hearts of those people strapped to their seats. Some would have been screaming for mercy, some frantically fiddling with their phones to make a call, and some sitting still with a morose expression on their face, accepting the fact that whatever happens in this world happens for a reason, and that whatever would happen in the next few minutes would be beyond their control. Some would even have been fasting on the 15th of Sha’baan, and one would ask why were lives of these pious people taken that day?
May the deceased rest in peace.