Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPINESS & THE NEW YEAR 2014... an adventure at sea with Mr. Ikhlas

"It was happiness." said my old friend, Mr. Ikhlas, as he recounted a tale in his distant past. "I was about 17, I think, and our family headed for a fishing trip off the east coast, near Kuantan, Pahang. If I recall well, there was my grandfather and me, my two uncles, one auntie, and our family's driver who was also my good friend and confidante. The sea was calm, the sky was bright and blue with no hint of dark clouds in sight. Then, about noon the sea turned mean and high. Out little boat was tossing and turning helplessly before suddenly a giant wave overturned us and I was flung into the treacherous ocean.

He then paused before continuing, his brown eyes glinting in a sea-grey outer ring that I always found interesting. "I managed to grab hold of a floating plank and an empty water tank. I could not see anyone else although my friend managed to join me. Of my grandfather, auntie and two uncles there were no sight or sound, nothing but the constant rise and fall of the waves beneath a bright afternoon sun. Perfect day for fishing, I remember recalling, except that we are now two rather desperate men, being carried further and further into the vast South China Sea by the low tide. I divined this as I noticed the satellite dish on top the cliff near Sungai Karang (Karang river) slowly drop out of sight over the rising horizon of the sea. 

Unhappy though I was, I was grateful for my little pieces of wood and tank, which helped us to stay above water. I would have to last as long as I can, and the thought that the next day would be Friday, on which no fishermen would go out to sea, left me concerned about my mortality. Is this to be the end of me? To lighten myself, I considered taking off my trousers, which was hampering my movement and was not a little damn heavy. But to be indecently exposed? After all, I was not alone, my friend was still with me, gamely hanging on. It was then I began a conversation with God... 'Surely God, You would forgive me this little sin? After all, survival is also a duty in religion.' After a while, I felt confident that God wouldn't mind at all, and so I unbuttoned and dropped my trousers into the dark blue depth. But not before I checked my wallet, and carefully took out my identity card. This identification paper I then carefully secured in a knot tied at the bottom of my shirt. 'Well, at least people won't find it hard to identify my body if it comes to that.' I remember thinking.'

The day quickly turned into night, and despite our predicament, what I recall best of all was the night sky. For you see, there was no artificial light anywhere near us to spoil the magnificent beauty of the million of stars and constellations that dot the heavens. The celestial lamps were as bright and twinkling as they were millions of years ago and as I looked on, I felt privileged. Privileged and honoured. This, and many other thoughts I shared with God. 

Then, as if by plan, we noticed the lights. They were a bare glimmer in the far horizon, but they were unmistakably lights! We began to swim towards them, but now our journey made easier by the current of the rising sea, carrying my friend and I back to shore."

Happily, everyone made it alive. Either picked up or able to swim to safety. Such was the story related to me by Mr. Ikhlas (with a little poetic license on my side). The crux of his tale was that the maritime episode was probably the first ever occasion in which he really spoke to God. "And I have never stopped since. I talk to God all the time."

Today is the last day of 2013, sunshine. Did anything happen to you this year that availed you to conversations with God? Some unfortunate illness? Some pressing financial difficulties? Perhaps a marital upheaval that made you open up to God? It is funny (to me) that as Muslims we are suppose to already be in intimate congress with God Almighty at least five times a day. And yet troubles continue to dog our life, biting at our heels like many malevolent hounds... and in the process chasing us to Him. It is as if God is saying... "I want meaning when you say you need Me. I want passion when you say you love Me. I want true gratitude when you say you adore Me. And if you won't talk to Me, I can make you talk to me."

He he he.

I guess I don't have the answer. Perhaps if I was cast overboard like Mr. Ikhlas, I may find the answer. But maybe this form of oceanic intervention is not for everyone. "Do this to Taufiq?" an Angel might inquire God. "O' God, he will sink like a stone."

He he he.

Have a happy new year and may you find new fulfillment talking to God, sunshine. I am told He listens.  All the time.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way 

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