Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mika and the Spirit of Soccer, Papa, and in the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

I kicked a ball around yesterday with Mika and my nephew Imran. Imran did alright but Mika doesn’t seem too bothered by the rules. He is quite willing to cuddle the ball in his small arms and try to run past me into the goal. Then he would repeatedly tap the ball against the net, saying “Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal!”. I think he beat me and Imran by about 24 goals to 1.

Imran on the other hand knows the rules, but the chap underestimates his kicking power. So often at close range, I am forced to making sure that the ball doesn’t hit me where it hurts. I haven’t touched a soccer ball in ages. But being hit by a soccer ball in the holiest of holies is like riding a bicycle. You will never forget it.

After a good half hour we three were sitting on the park bench, contented in an endorphin induced high. Suddenly, a philosophical look came over Mikhail, and he spoke in a grave tone, “You know Papa, it’s not just about winning. It’s about having fun. That is the true spirit of football, and it is in the heart”.

So that is my boy. Not very good about the rules, but he got the Philosophy and Spirit of Soccer down nicely.

Kids here call their father by all sorts of names. Some call their fathers ‘Bapak’ or ‘Ayah’, which for me has a rather formal ring to it. Other children address their pater as ‘Daddy’ or simply ‘Dad’. Sometimes, the word loses the second ‘D’ and my friends end up being barely acknowledged as a “Da” or “Dae”.

Before Mika was born, I thought hard about how I wish to be called. After much soul-searching, I concluded that I like ‘Papa’ best. I recall the simple gentleness of the word from an old 1993 Renault Clio advert when I was reading Law in the UK. I think that the word clearly affirms my paternal position, and most importantly, I felt it to be the softest and sweetest way by which my child can call me. After 6 years, I am happy to confirm that the experiment is a complete success. Too successful perhaps, for I give in way to often to Mikhail’s plaintive ‘Papaaaaa….’.

For us, God has revealed His 99 Names and Attributes. And I find it sweetly succinct that of all His Omnipotent Names, He invites His servants to call on Him by the names of ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim – Most Gracious and Most Merciful - The two holy names which to me, are the distilled essence and gentlest manifestation of Love. It is higher and finer than Love, you see. For love can often be tough and testing!
Of course 'Papa' isn't a divine name like ar-Rahman or ar-Rahim, but you get my drift, I am sure.
People are suppose to recite the heavenly names as a precursor of all actions. And when I mean all, I mean ALL, however mundane or insignificant the act may be. Of course, as a hopeless sinner, I myself regularly forget to do this. So, I will remedy this and say it here- In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful! Are you hearing me now, God? God? ....God??

Hehehe. He is hearing me, alright. And thank you too for hearing me.

Have a great Monday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

P/S - The Bismillah calligraphy is by the gifted Sudanese artist Hassan Musa.


Anonymous said...

Awwwww...This is by far the sweetest post of you... I enjoy the part of u losing to mika I guess..;)

Anonymous said...

From Anonymous 2,
Thanks for including the story of Abu Yazid, Abu Bakar and the End of Hell in the last post. I knew it would be great! Til later...