A Sweet Stranger

Sometimes it takes ages to know someone and at times just a moment is enough.

Bollywood (Often)

Well, in my story this is partially true.

Around a month ago while I was up for a morning walk in the park, I was interrupted to slow down by someone I met for the first time. He walked towards me with a smile, greeted a good morning, gave me a sugar toffee and went on to walk in the opposite direction than mine. After a few minutes, we crossed our paths again and this time he gave me a small piece of coconut that he got as an offering from the nearby temple. I accepted it with a smile of gratitude. Next day I saw him again and he saw me too but he didn’t look at me and I too randomly ignored. Ever since then we kept seeing each other in the park quite often and occasionally exchanged smiles.

Two days ago, I met him again. This time, reading the inscription on my t-shirt he came to me with a broad smiling face and said, “You don’t look weird.” and gave me a small coconut piece. I laughed as I knew what he was talking about and popped the soft chunk into my mouth. When I walked a few steps ahead, again in the other direction than his, I realized that I was fasting that day and wasn’t supposed to have it. Unfortunately, I had to spit it out but could not hold on to my amusement as what just happened was rare. I don’t ever remember myself mistakenly putting anything in my mouth ever since I have been fasting for Ramadan or otherwise.

His charisma was such that I forgot about my Roza. He is a 70-year-young man whose name I know not. I call him a sweet stranger.

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Disguised

Robed in white
posing pure
hearts malign
self-proclaimed
descendants
using Allah
to acquire
their God —
palaces, scents
velvet carpets
goblets of gold
gifts from fools
conferring them
as their heads
since ages long
and then by those
who pay them by
the sweat of their brows.
They turn brothers
against brothers
friends into foe
for their realm
shouldn’t go
the power hungry
write their own Quran
and preach with a fee
adorning it as spirituality
they who walk down the aisle
with men hired to
sing ode of their praises
how they enjoy the spree!
The curse casted
decades ago
shall continue
for decades more
the prudents care not
and the nincompoops
continue to grow
for they are blind to know
those disguised as swan
are in real crows.

© Nazneen Kachwala
24-05-2019

Aspirations

I started to study at a very humble playschool located nearby our home in the early 90’s. I was barely three-years-old when my father accompanied me to collect my very first progress report card. My class teacher was a very kind lady. I still remember standing near the door of the classroom as I saw her handing over my report card to dad with a broad smile. My father walked towards me, I held on to his finger and moved towards his blue-colored Bajaj scooter parked somewhere around the building. He didn’t tell me anything regarding my progress at the school. Probably he thought I was too little to understand. However, on reaching home my first question to him was, “Pappa what happened at the school? What did my teacher say?” “You’ve done better than anyone else in your class”, he responded. I somehow knew that my dad was proud of me and it was at this occasion when the seeds of aspirations were sown in the wet soil of my mind for the first time.

Since then, I did well academically, studied Engineering and secured a good paying job. Years passed in the blink of an eye and the overwhelming dose of aspiration injected into my mind was now dozing me off. Needless to mention, I became a sheep with no firm goals and a part of the rat race very soon. My life was reduced to completing daily tasks on the desk, going back home, watching a TV show and repeating it all over again the other day. I was 23 and by then had received some seven-eight marriage proposals. I aspired to have a fancy marriage of my dreams which seemed unaffordable then so turned down all such offers. I aspired to pay off my family’s loans, buy a new house, a new car, travel across the world and donate a share of my earnings to those in need. But how was all this possible by doing something which I never had fun with? I dreaded going to work almost everyday. The corporate life took to my nerves but I had no choice. It was too late as I was by now shouldering a major portion of the financial responsibility for my family. Taking that ‘bold’ step of leaving the job could bring down everyone’s expectations into dust. And I wasn’t courageous enough too. I dragged myself to work everyday, cursing myself, my family, and the whole social structure. I was drained out of emotional energy and reduced to bones, until one day I randomly happened to write down something in my phone. I called it to be poem then but today after four years, I am convinced that it was far from being one.

Fortunately, since then there was no looking back. I spilled everything in my heart on the paper. The sky now appeared clearer than before and small efforts each day laid down the foundation of what I aspire to do for the rest of my life. Never had I thought I’ll be writing for the big names in the country, nor I ever had a scope to think out of the box. However, I now find inspiration everywhere, there’s hope looking straight into my eyes and smiling at me. Although I haven’t quit my job, I have found means to take up whatever excites me alongside. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. And trust me there’s nothing that could be more enthralling than that!

And the best part is —

My aspirations have changed and I haven’t stopped aspiring. For aspiration is life and I am yet alive.

— Nazneen Kachwala