The fact of the matter is, I miss God.
I sit here writing this with a cigarette dimly glowing in the ash tray, an inch from a still glass of golden whiskey, and a fresh lungful of smoke- the irony, is not lost on me. But I’ll persist. I can’t wait to talk about this anymore. It has to be now.
For months now, my sense of loss has been growing. It’s like an abrasive tack pierced inside the wall of your heart. Time and movement help the wound grow, and moral stagnation helps the infected edges fester. I’m afraid that my spirit’s grown rusted, and I know why.
This is the precise reason I didn’t want to write about it, and wanted to talk to a friend about it instead. Too much explaining to do before I can get to explaining my need to be understood, and my edges are dulled tonight. But there is a decided lack of Muslim friends who are ready to talk reasonably about the effects of ‘promiscuity’ and alcohol and living in sin on the soul. Indeed, I could name one, and not even another, who would agree to such a conversation without resentment and judgement lacing their tone. That implacability and refusal to bend, denial of the existence of another approach to faith, was one of the prime reasons I migrated away from accepting such ramrod people as friends at all. The lack of understanding, the lack of empathy, for something as basic and essential as religion or the lack of it in a person, was completely unacceptable to me, and still is. But in leaving all the stout and rabidly vocal believers behind, I seem to have left all believers behind, and it would take some looking to point to one of those who are dearest to me and do not take the concept of God with a pinch of salt.
I left those other people behind a long time ago. The ones who would point a finger at me because I’m ‘ungrateful’ and ‘disobedient’ to my demented father, or would shun me because I refused to marry the man who ‘ruined’ me, because in time, he turned into a monster too and I’ve had enough fucking monsters in my life for a lifetime. It mystified them that I could love to meditate in the morning, after praying. They rejected the idea as alien, and foreign. Some of my closest friends in our community were appalled that I could sit at a Hindu puja all day, when my mother’s best friend had her annual party, and like every year, I was there after dawn to help her prepare the masses of fruit and flowers. Those who can’t accept that I could sit in a room full of ‘strange’ boys but love them like brothers, and want to nurture them that way too. Those who could not understand how I laid my immortal soul down at the feet of an atheist, and how he raised me up to understand my God more than the religious monsters before him could have fathomed.
And none of them could even begin to understand how those seemingly godless men were my blessing. How each of us bowed to a different name and some, to no one, and yet, they make my life so full of meaning that I overflow with love. My days were and are blessed- but I miss being able to give thanks, because these are not the things I’m supposed to give thanks for.
I miss waking up blessed. I miss making my ablutions for prayer, sitting down with my earmarked and well thumbed Quran and flipping to my favorite verses for a quick read before I moved on to the parts I’d planned to read. I miss hearing a few lines of the call to prayer while on my way to or from work, passing some mosque or the other, and repeating them. I miss those moments when I would hold back from swearing or unleashing a torrent of fucks on whoever deserved or didn’t deserve it, because I knew at the back of my mind that I would have to answer for it one day. I miss looking at the sky and knowing I was sheltered, Even though, at a stage, I grew to be constantly angry and bitter, resentful of the freedom God chose to gave to those who deliberately stifled me, and in turn, resentful of God Himself.
I don’t know how to describe this basic need, this hollowness in my head and heart, this absolute emptiness. Somewhere on the path to independence and fierce self definition, I stopped walking under God’s hand. I didn’t feel comfortable to take His name with a mouth that reeked of alcohol or smoke, so I stopped praying when I drank, and eventually stopped praying at all. It didn’t make the slightest difference in the quantitative analysis f my faith- indeed, I fought, argued, and debated more vociferously for the honor of my religion than I ever had in my regularly praying life. I used to make it a point to dodge talking about Islam at all. In today’s world, my belief is an expletive, and while I was NEVER ashamed, I was non-confrontational with those who wanted to make a scene about it, even while I blessed them and walked away. And after I stopped praying, I believed and believe more strongly than ever. I just never counted on missing the peace of a prayer mat so much.
And all the while, the deficiency kept building. These days, it’s become an almost physical ache. I deflect my mother’s questions as to whether I’ve prayed. She knows that I’m going through a struggle, and she’s letting me find my way out myself. I ignore my sister’s silent accusatory looks, because I was the only one who she respected, when it came to religion and practicing it. Other friends who I’d spoken to about this before, gave me some strange answers about a girl of my intellect being duped by these archaic Abrahamic religions, after which I never turned to them. I didn’t want to answer to anyone, and I didn’t have to, did I? so I stopped. I stopped and at some point, I realized that God had stopped answering too. I had been looking away from the lack of communication so determinedly that I didn’t see that it had stopped.
I can hardly complain about being forsaken when I walked away, can I?
A heart knows, a heart always knows. I knew His presence so closely, and now I know the silence. And I know that all I need to do is repent, ask for forgiveness and He will, He will, He always does. He loves His flock to come to Him willingly, rather than from fear of pain or fear of His wrath forcing the realization. And instead of watching from behind the curtain when my mum wakes up in the middle of the night to watch the Live telecast of the Friday prayers from Mecca, and bursting into hot tears and going back to bed, telling myself that this life isn’t for me anymore, if I just directed those tears to Him, He’d listen. It’s not as if He’s not already listening. I don’t even know why I picked up the laptop and started hammering away at it, it makes no sense to me. I’m half drowned in whiskey and the ratio of oxygen to carbon monoxide in the room has shifted a long time ago. But I was still mocking myself, and I think I’ve had enough of chasing distractions and hiding behind excuses. I’ve had enough of this enforced spiritual loneliness.
It’s raining outside. Are you listening, God?