Yoleen and Aaray

When I looked into her eyes, I saw that there in lived a thousand stories of love and war, heartbreak and hope, kindness and disillusionment all whirling around in the same ocean.
Since every young Israeli is bound to go to the army, she found herself posted at the border where she says she saw young Israelis return home from the land called India with ‘shining eyes’. Their eyes made her wonder what lay beyond and in a moment she made herself a promise that she would one day head in that direction.

When we first begin to speak in Manali, it was because Yoleen told the waiter to mash some garlic in warm water to soothe the sore throat and cold that I was complaining of.
A friendship formed slowly and yet deeply between Yoleen and I, as we walk through the pine forests speaking of our dreams. She is a teacher and this is her dream. For the longest time her parents who would rather have her work at the brilliant job she had, found it hard to accept, but Yoleen who loves children, unrelenting became one. And yet she had to come out here because she was journeying, searching for something and quite what she didn’t know yet…..

While she had learned the art of self-defense in the Army she still didn’t know how to defend her heart, wearing it on her brave sleeve. The last year had been heavy on her with her apartment getting burned down and heartbreak, that tricky thing that’s a part of life.

*****

I journey on and so does she and when I meet her again for dinner in McLeod Ganj, there is a man sitting beside her called Aaray, whom she happens to meet by chance. Aaray was here in search of a lost dream. A lost love, an Englishwoman called Dilayla whom he met in the very hotel where he is now staying. He has her number and her facebook but he wants to use none of these to contact her,
leaving it all to fate, but fate was working by the one who created fate.

Aaray does not meet Dilayla….  but he does meet Yoleen living right opposite him as his next door neighbour at the very same hotel. A conversation that starts over sharing a light turns into exploring the mountains together, unravelling the many sights that the magnificent mountains hold.

Aaray is a history teacher most fascinating to talk to with his deep insights on everything imaginable.
I ask them about the strife in Israel and Yoleen is replete with stories.
“When I was a child, they would announce for us to go into the ‘safe room’ in the house and put on the mask, when they knew the missiles were about to be fired. And we would go in there really scared, put on our masks and wait. Our parents who were so used to it, would step outside to watch and point to the missiles flying overhead and say, “No not here, it’s heading across to the other side”.
She says all this in such a humorous way, that ironically we all laugh.

Aaray is losing his eye-sight and this is impossible to tell. I only notice this when I stick my hand out to say goodbye one night after dinner and he does not reciprocate. I start waving my hand about in front of his face, until someone kindly points this out to me. He has been an athlete growing up, running on the football fields since he was a child.
“Yoleen I’m a mess.”, says Aaray who is not coping so well with the fading eyesight.
“All I see is a beautiful man with so much love to give the world.”, comes her reply.

The last time I see Yoleen is with a pink setting sun, a Simon and Garfunkel song to which she is singing along and a cup of cinnamon tea. Tears run down her cheek as she tells me Aaray is leaving back to Israel.
After two weeks it is time for Aaray to head back home and for Yoleen to continue her journey. She says she must journey on because she came here for her.

******

A month after she leaves back to Israel, she writes to me saying,
“Aaray lives an hour away. I just came home after a cup of coffee”,
six months later, “So we’re moving in together” and just a little later, “travelling with Aaray.”
And now 2years later her last message to me goes something like this,
“We’re getting married in the Mountains. You have to come.”

I think of the distances that all of us travel for love and God’s brilliant hand in our lives. If it wasn’t for one cigarette that needed to be lit, they wouldn’t have come together.
The hotel, the cigarette and they themselves needed to be in the space of time.
Even before she met Aaray, she says, “I know this one thing; the Yoleen that came to India is not the same Yoleen that goes back out.”
She tells me that when I finish writing my book, she will read it to him.

by SHENAZ WAHID

Fire

Fire is the star’s dreaming and the sun’s breathing, 
the earth to life.
Fire is the volcanoes seething,
as it spews forth its molten hate.
Fire is fury ravaging,
entire forests with its desire for revenge.
Fire is the warm blood of hope coursing,
in the river beneath our skin.
Fire is passion dancing,
between the lovers naked bodies.
Fire is what the walls of hell are made of.
Fire is the light of candles glowing,
in an altar full of blessed prayers.
Fire is the spark shining,
in the eyes of that one.
Fire is that protector,
in the dark night full of beasts out in the wild.
Fire is at once sacred and feared.
Fire warms the bread and sears the desert.
Within you sits a fire burning,
and what you choose to do with it,
is entirely upto you.

by SHENAZ WAHID

The Angels and the omens

I know without doubt that Angels are real.

As we’re both speaking of Angels tonight,
I begin to say that prayer to my guardian Angel written down in the Bible,
but he completes it before I can……
“Angel of God, my guardian dear,
His love has committed me, to your care,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.”

My 18yr old cousin who I’m meeting after almost 3years goes on to say, “I use to say that prayer in the 2nd grade and I haven’t said it in so long.”

After they finish reading their Namaz, every Muslim turns to the right and then to the left, to greet their Angels. In the Holy Quran, the Holy Bible and other scriptures, Angels and Archangels are written about as very real forces of life,
but not everyone calls out to them.

After reading about them for the very first time, I light a small-white candle and call out to them on the candle-stand I’d taken from Nana’s attic, I open my eyes slowly to find that grandpa Philip’s old rusted candle-stand is an Angel with wings as if to tell me teasingly, “We’ve always been here, you just haven’t noticed!”

That same book said, “It’s the simplest thing to call out to them, they’ve just been waiting for you all your life. Let your prayer to them be a simple one.
Lead me in all matters of my life, for my highest good. Give me a sign that I can understand that you are here.” It went on to say that Angels are God’s creatures that can’t be commanded for a sign, you have to ask with love!
not something quite like, “hey Angels if you’re real make me fly!”
And then it said that although it wasn’t the rule, one of the common signs was finding pennies in unexpected places, someplace you really don’t expect to see them like your bathroom or your porch! That same day my eyes darted around and well….. nothing, no pennies or anything!

So I stepped out that evening to meet my best-friend for coffee and after some time she pulls out a book from her bag that she opens first and flips around, saying “Someone gifted me this interesting book on Angels.”
“Can I see that?”, I ask her
I open it and a penny falls on my lap from the book of Angels!
I literally jump on her and she has no idea why I’m doing this inquiring,
“Where’d that coin come from?”
That penny is now wrapped in a purple ribbon around grandpa’s old candle-stand so that I never forget they are here!
If you believe in Angels, then they’ll be right by your side.
God loves us so much, to the extent that he made for each one of us creatures of heaven, called guardian Angels to lead us to our highest good! Your highest good is simply that which, will in the end bring you true joy and love. There are paths I’ve chosen that I thought were excellent choices at the time I made them, but nothing made me feel more miserable. The Angels see far beyond what we can, all that’s invisible in the future and all that’s asleep dreaming within our soul. Asking them to show the way, is walking toward love and joy.
After all they come from the one who made us.

The day before I meet my cousin, I asked God and my guardian Angel,
“This stranger I met ‘xyz’ feels so important to me. I don’t know why and all of this just seems so ridiculous. Give me a sign, an omen that I can understand if this person is really that important to my life.”
So the next day, Jovin who hasn’t met me in three whole years, barges in inquiring about this stranger. There are so many things he could ask me first, after all this time, but it’s the very first thing he says.
I hug him for bringing me my Omen and I know that my Angels will lead that stranger, to read the words I now write.

Wait there’s more…. the day after that, my cousin’s dad, my uncle in Bahrain whom I haven’t seen in eons, who has no clue about our conversation and who sends me an email once a year, just to wish me for my birthday or Christmas or new year, sends me a message that midst all the things my heart needs to hear in this moment, says, “There are Angels all around you!”
……………..

by SHENAZ WAHID

The flame of love

I know them as boys who love to party, the adventure daredevils and renegades,
but tonight in the mountain, they show another side.

We sit by the fire on the moonlit terrace. Every one is perfectly silent watching the flame dance.
“What do you see?”, I ask.
“I can’t quite explain nor describe it.” says Pat who is most entranced by the flame and gleaming like a child to himself.
Z : “I see a woman dancing.”
Me : “It’s like love, ever- shifting, ever-changing, never the same.”
Gor puts in a few more twigs.
Z : “She’s right, it’s like love, you need to feed it to keep it alive.”
Gor : “The spark needs to be there in the first place, to keep it alive.
Without that initial spark, nothing can keep it alive.”

Every one and everything falls back into silence.
In the silence, I think it is the divine that ignites the spark between two souls, that indescribable thing called Love, no money can buy it, no person can dowse it & when it is found between two such people,
they become tenders to the sacred flame of Love;
that God first sparked.

Not a word is said. Everything is in the flow. The river beside us, the wine in our veins and we ourselves,
as the full moon watches.

by SHENAZWAHID

The boy with the guitar

I had been there before 2yrs ago in search of Agape, thinking that if I was away from all that was known and familiar, she would show me her face of grace.
In what was just a glimpse, as I sat in my favorite café, the ordinary world around me turned extraordinary. As the music played in the café, the rain and people walking past by on the street, everything danced in tune and perfect harmony. I sat there alone, listening to the couple laughing beside me, the conversations of friends buzzing and I was whole. Without needing reason, it was simply there. For that moment, Agape soared in my soul showing me she was real.

2years later as I am walking out of my favorite café, now..
I saw a boy sitting beside it and he seemed to have a magnetism to him. I smiled and he smiled acknowledging me, and then because I had nothing to say to this stranger, I walked on and explored what the hours held.
While walking to the waterfall, I had to pass my favorite café and all of a sudden, the music that poured into the street took me back to that profound moment from 2yrs ago. Agape!
I stood still, thinking it was more magic music being played from my magic café , but I looked up to find that same boy with a magnetism, strumming his guitar.

This time I didn’t hesitate nor pause momentarily. As I sat down to listen, for the first time, I noticed that he was so beautiful, with clear eyes the blue of an ocean and wind-swept brown hair.
But it was easy to see that his beauty pierced deeper and his eyes held a million stories.
When he began to sing, I sat there speechless at the ways through which God speaks to us, for the words of his song held the things I needed to hear in that moment of time.
The things I couldn’t get myself to listen, being sung out to me.

When I played that song to my loved ones, his voice & words pierced them too and it sang to each one differently. To a friend, it was about the “time to let go” an obsessive love relationship. A loved one said, she needed to get her whole family to listen in, because for her, it meant the “time to let go” of the past and respect the closed doors.

Did that music know from 2yrs ago, that I would find his music in the same place?
I thank that boy with the blue eyes of the ocean.
I thank him for being a river of beauty that flows deep inside and bringing it forth, like the river that rises to be a wild cloud after its wild journeys and pours forth as sweet rain from his mouth. As his voice breathed into the air, it filled with a haunting beauty that drifting days did not erase from the womb of time.
It was both a place I didn’t know enough of, and one I was revisiting.

I think all those around him can see he is already a gleaming star, from the beautiful Goddess women to his friends. To me he is the boy that taught me so much, in such a short time :
All you need is music to feel Agape, and the world is yours.

by Shenaz Wahid

http://parkerainsworth.bandcamp.com/track/time-to-let-go
“Oh let go of what has been,
there’s nothing there for you my friend.”

Mom and dad

When I let Dad go to the light, was the first time I put pen to paper.
It wasn’t so much a sad song, as much as a sure celebration of the Angels who were welcoming him. My first true poem from the heart was inspired by losing the man I feel I have never lost.

He lives in me, as that confident voice when I made my first soup that was a disaster. I was 8 and threw in all the vegetables with two maggi cubes. He sat there, ate it somehow and told me that it was the most delicious thing, he had ever had. After that I made it for him often, even on the night when he didn’t get to taste it.

I find his diary from 95, the year in which we parted, to find in it a business meeting with the Queen of England. I smile to myself and while I am proud of him for reaching the skies quite literally, this is far from what makes me love and adore that man.

When we were young, every Sunday we would go the marketplace to buy crabs, prawns and lobsters, and he would cook for us and mom. I went there a year ago on my birthday to put together a seafood dinner for friends. The fisherwomen who hear I am his daughter, grab my face with their fishy fingers and kiss it.
The rich may forget but the poor never do, those whom touch their heart. For they have no other reason but love, to remember. It is they, who make me feel my father’s heart.

In my memories he isn’t the dreamer busyman that people tell me he was. He is the man who told me stories and sang me songs to sleep, the man who danced and laughed with me, and drove us home like a proffesional race car driver after dinners, with my mom and me screaming terrified and my brother delighting in the same skill of drifting that has flowed into him.

If it’s supposed to be sad, I have never seen it this way. For in losing him, I have learned early the fragility of fame and wealth, and the strength of love that towers far beyond it! I will meet him again, of this I am certain!
Perhaps I was too young to realize or feel the gravity of it all, or if I did, there was that woman, who has for ever shielded me from everything with her mountainous love.

Mom is the epitome of love and patience who has borne everything : from my complete refusal to study those pages of boredom in school, to my changing dreams. Mom I want to be “a cricketer, a dancer, a model, a pilot, a businesswoman, an interior designer, no wait a fashion designer.”
From being called in to the principal’s office for accidentally jumping on top of a teacher, to the teenage years of rebelling and breaking everything from rules to plates, she has been there patiently and despite who or how I was, lovingly.

Even when I have chosen wrongly and made a mistake.
Even though no one had asked me to, somewhere in my heart I wanted to reach the skies like my father and in my own version of it, I envisioned fashion lines all over the world, not realizing how foolish that was. While in London studying fashion, I found myself alone without all that I had always known myself to be, and in that time I remembered how I have always loved words. How I could never get past single digits in Math class, but how my hand was perpetually raised in class if someone had to read or tell a story.

I wrote here often and visited the ‘British library’ more than I did any fashion store. I was so scared to admit it to myself then. Not another mistake, that I had come so far to make, in another country.
After it all, tears streaming down my face, I turned to my mother, “Mom I don’t want to do this. I just want to write, to travel and dance.” I was expecting a storm of utter disapproval but instead all I got, from the woman who has let the world be my playground was, “It’s okay, leave the past behind. It’s done, so now do what you want to do.”

Mom, Dad thank you for falling in love, being love and weaving our lives with the love that you are.

by Shenaz Wahid

The golden necklace

That golden necklace woven so beautifully glimmers, in the sunlight dancing through the window.
But should I have no one to wear it for,
And should it be worn only in my company,
it would all but lose its meaning.

I love this necklace,
but without love it shall turn into a thread, heavy and empty in its lonenliness.
With love, a magnificent sun beam, born and found in the heart of a mountain.

by Shenaz Wahid

Dear twin soul

Dear soulmate,

We were separated so we could know the deliciousness of union.
so that when we come together,
with what you’ve learned and what I have by being so far away,
we can be more.
This was love’s strange command.
the hurt of seperation,
to know union’s joy!

(twin soul/ soulmate)

Hardwork

Hardwork has a stereotype.
An “office or a place” you go to and put in “x” hours and finish “x” amount of work.
I’ve often heard it being said, either with pride or respect “He/she is such a hardworker”, but I’ve begun to wonder What does that word really mean?

For Beckham hardwork is hours of tossing and playing with the ball. For Mozart, its endless hours on the piano creating new tunes. For a dancer its endless hours of training her body in movement. For a singer, its endless hours listening to music, practicing with their voice and messing with the guitar. For a painter, its staring for hours at things and then playing with colors to capture it on a blank canvas. To the photographer, it’s the endless clicks on his camera. To the designer, it’s playing with lines and bending them to create new form.
To the gardener, its hours of meddling with the soil.
To the journalist, its being out in the world, capturing what’s happening in words and pictures. They ALL “work hard”.
And for many its travelling endlessly to unearth new treasures, meeting people and being inspired to create something new; an idea, a piece of Art or a new way of working even!

I think its high-time we redefined that word, not as something that tires us, making us weary and exhausted, not without reason or passion.
And be saluted, why? Neither should it be revered aimleslly. Someone could put in endless hours at a job that means nothing to them, just because they feel important only by “staying busy”. Even if being busy has no greater purpose.
I don’t think the same rules apply if you’re a filmaker or a gymnast.
Hardwork isn’t only an office. It’s giving all that you are to what you love, to your purpose and reason for being here on earth, to your dreams. It’s time to respect that word when it’s endless hours of passion in motion, whether its in the office or the playground that is, this beautiful delicious world.

I’m all for the discipline, dedication and enthusiasm that any task requires, neither am I against the office.But it’s time we expanded our limiting definition of that word.
Rumi says “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”
I’m saying lets respect every heart’s unique desire.
It’s time we respected everyone’s definition of hardwork. Heck its time we respected everyone’s own unique definition of everything!

by SHENAZ WAHID