New Year New Me
2020 was undoubtedly one hell of a rollercoaster ride. We had all been anticipating the cursed year to end and for the New Year to begin. Every New Year feels like an opportunity to be a new version of self. It’s very common that we make resolutions about changing ourselves and updating ourselves just how we update the software of our devices regularly. But it looks like most of us fail to find that configuration.
Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. With the spirit of New Year and the quote above, I invite you to the city of Kufa.
It was a hot afternoon in the city of Kufa when the King walked in his darbaar, court, after offering his Friday prayers. All his ministers and the court artists and artisans seemed to be in laughter bout which was confined to silence on hearing the doorkeeper’s announcement on the arrival of the king. Some of the members in the court were visibly struggling to stop giggling. Some had a grin across their faces- ear to ear. The king himself was in a pleasant mood. His eyes were gleaming with joy and lips spread in a soft smile. Almost as soft as his favourite dessert Kanafeh stuffed with cheese and cream.
When the king asked the reason behind the risible atmosphere in his court one of his ministers retold an incident from the morning which broke the king and the court in a bout of laughter. But there was one person in the court with a straight face. His deliberately unintentional gaze fixed at the carpet conveyed his disconnected presence in the court. This annoyed the king.
The king asked the man “Miyaan, you seem stoic. Didn’t you understand the joke?”
The man looked at the king and then looked down with an uncomfortable smile.
The man was a scholar from a distant kingdom. He was offered to be the royal advisor of the king but he had politely declined the offer. The enraged king had then exiled him from his kingdom calling him a fool. He was now a wandering fakir who made his living by telling people the stories of God and the prophets. Kings and beggars. Men and their fears. Life and death.
“Huzoor, pardon me”, said one of the ministers of the court, “But the man standing before you is a fool. I don’t expect him to understand the joke.”
The king laughed. The entire court laughed. The man still had a straight face and he seemed to be analyzing the embroidery of the carpet. He was clearly in a different world.
“You are right”, said the king in a hysterical tone. He had found a medium to pronounce the insult the man’s silence had imparted on him. He called the man towards him and picked his walking stick.
The king handed the walking stick to the man and said “You are the biggest fool I’ve ever come across. If you ever find a person to be a bigger fool than you, hand him this stick.”
The court was filled with animated laughter as the darbaan escorted the man out of the palace.
Thirty years had passed. The king was on his deathbed. Every day dozens of delegates would visit the king and pray for him. The king who once used to stand tall with pride in his eyes now lay in his bed curled up. His eyes seemed to have lost their shine some time back and were now filled with emptiness.
One such day, a fakir from Cairo visited the king. After exchanging pleasantries the king requested the fakir to tell him about the afterlife.
“How did you prepare for the afterlife, huzoor?” asked the fakir.
“Prepare?” the king was confused.
“When you go out hunting or visit your in-laws with your wife, you send your men to march before you. They clear the road for you, arrange your stay and guard you while you rest. All this for short journeys. For temporary stay. Don’t you think you should prepare for a journey you take alone? For permanent stay?”
The king was silent.
“You were busy living your life, enjoying your luxuries, exploiting the fruits from the trees your ancestors planted and nurtured. You lived. But you never prepared for life afterwards. You thought the deeds of your worldly life will take care of your afterlife too. You thought the things you do every day will somehow, magically, produce different results. You, huzoor, are the biggest fool I’ve come across”.
The fakir handed the king the walking stick he had given him thirty years back.
The fakir gently touched the king’s forehead and prayed silently and walked out of the room followed by the moist eyes of the king.
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