31 MARCH 2020. DAY 5
I never knew loneliness can be so alone!
Today my thoughts were drawn to an old man I saw a while back wobbling along the road pulling a trolley with all his might and his walking stick appeared a burden of weight too. Alas! I did not help him because I did not know him and; in a short while he disappeared into the wilderness of the human jungle. Instantly, the flash before my eyes was an image of myself as an old man and; I recall parts of Jaques description of the seven stages of man in Shakespeare’s As You Like it and could not even hobble off that image as I was left paralysed in thought – the thought that one day I, too, can be like that old man: Only a symbolic image for inspirational poem, article, photo or a sympathetic story to teach spoilt kids a lesson of gratitude. Oh! the old and lonely in this time of overbearing loneliness wrapped deeper with the quarantine into an isolation that otherwise for them can be called: solitary confinement.
Earlier today in conversation with my wife after her ZOOM madressah (religious class) spoke about part of the discourse. The part that she mentioned was the lesson on old people and their plight in today’s world that is bereft of compassion for them. The discussion was short but intense because it made me think of the three old women in our complex whom we would pay an occasional visit and a call but, the time spent with them is so ephemeral compared to the quality time their children do spend with them. A pleasure to witness and a blessing too. However, I wondered empathetically on how old people, living on their own, take their days out being alone in their homes. The thought fired up scenarios in my head and they bordered on ecstatic idealism of caring for all frail, weak, desperate old souls and the reality of their suffering that is largely ignored by the world.
The LOCKDOWN has also shut these vulnerable old people deeper into their loneliness while we have our lives full of children’s laughter and happy but sometimes nagging presence embracing the long hours with inner fulfilment. Therefore, lets indulge in a possible scenario of a lonely old man, as an example, who lives on his own and yearns with all his heart for his children.
The day began at 5:00am with the call to prayer soothing him like a calming embrace of a loving daughter but, the struggle to get out of bed felt like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly because the intensity of pain wreaked havoc on his frail, skinny body. In what seemed like hours, he crawled out of bed and dragged himself to the bathroom, relieved himself with frustrating difficulty, did the ritual ablution like a shivering kitten in the cold and made his way back to his room like dragged sack of stones by a limp man and began to pray with the sincerity of a saint. It was only 5:40am.
The morning slumped along like a tired dog panting on a blazing hot day under the shade of a tree that stood alone. At 8:00am with slightly more ease he hobbled out of bed, washed up in slow motion and went to his little kitchen nook to prepare himself breakfast. Whatever was available sufficed because to warm milk, make and egg or boil the water for tea was just too much of an effort but, the nagging pangs of hunger got to him to make a cup of tea and he savoured it like a little boy given an ice cream he cried for on a hot day. It was just 9:00am.
Need I go on to explain the rest of the day? I guess not because it is painstaking just thinking about the loneliness eating away at his sanity too coupled by the struggle to withstand the issues of the day, whatever they might be. These images are probably real life scenarios and there are worse ones too. The worse ones are too burdensome for our weak hearts because we know little suffering but know great desires we chase with our health, wealth and time totally oblivious of the world around and in particular; the plight of the old. It could be that our parents too are in some old age home and are longing for your company – your voice.
COVID – 19 has in its wake affected the old and frail and for those who have parents but cannot see them in these days of LOCKDOWN, call them and say hello. It will soothe their heart. I recall the ayahs (evidence from the Holy Quran)
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 17 Surah Bani Israel verses 23-24:
Your Lord has enjoined the following: You should not worship anyone but Him Alone! Treat your parents with great kindness; if either or both of them attain old age, do not even say ‘uff’ to them; nor rebuke them; but speak to them kind words. Treat them with humility and tenderness and pray, “O our Lord, be merciful to them, just as they brought me up with kindness and affection in my childhood.”
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 31 Surah Luqman verse 14:
And We have enjoined on mankind (to be good) to their parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.
Together with that I am drawn to the hadith (traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad s)
Allah’s Messenger (Blessings & peace be upon him) said:
‘Let him be humbled into dust!
Let him be humbled into dust!’
It was said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger (Blessings & peace be upon him) who is he?’
He (Blessings & peace be upon him) said: ‘He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise
(through his deeds of service towards them)!’ Sahih Muslim Hadith 6189 Narrated by Abu Hurayrah
My night ended with a jovial ZOOM VIDEO call arranged by my brother with our immediate families and the happiness it generated could electrify a town. My mother, and sisters who are mothers and my niece who is going to be a mother appreciated the warmth of the conversation more than anything I could imagine because, these days of LOCKDOWN has made us realise the value of family and the spiritual intensity of a caring environment wherein, the old amongst us are cherished more than gold. While the ZOOM VIDEO call became more hearty with laughter, I honestly thought of the many lonely mothers and fathers who would die for this gracious moment of happiness. The ZOOM VIDEO CALL ended with a recitation from the Holy Quran and the words rang true on Allah’s mercy and greatness.
Let us therefore, lower a wing of kindness to the old and lonely and make special prayer for them. Please take some more time and click on the link to read something more deep regarding taking care of the old. A picture speaks a thousand words but you need words to confirm.
DAY 6 IS FAST APPROACHING. Have you got a goal for the day?