I waited until my shadows began to elongate to recite my prayers. PHOTO: PINTEREST

I got dreams, dreams to remember

I was left here, on this prayer mat, talking to the one thing that I didn’t believe in until a few months ago.

Mohammad Nazar Syed June 06, 2019
“I got dreams, dreams to remember.”

I repeated this for hours on the soft prayer mat that cushioned my knees. My hands were cupped close to my chest, a tear falling occasionally on the lines of my palms.

I got dreams, dreams to remember.

There was a quiet drizzle outside my window. The wind picked up and the branches brushed across the glass. The tapping of the water on the window pane was the only noise I could hear, apart from my own breathing and that of Zamzam’s.

I opened my eyes into darkness.

I felt as if the blur from my tears hindered my eyesight, but the truth was that the darkness had taken over; it took over months ago, maybe even years. It had been so long since the darkness took over that I’ve forgotten to even tell time. Irrelevant, irreverent, irrespective of life. Time does no favours when time is the only thing left.

I don’t remember how it happened either. Was it a wind? A howl? A dust? A storm? I couldn’t tell you even if I tried. And by God, I’ve tried. I just don’t remember. Or maybe I never did.

For me, it was like waking up to silence. To loneliness. To despair. To the inevitable. It was like waking up in your coffin, except the planet was the shroud. It was everywhere, and it reminded you every so often – you’re alone.

I don’t miss my parents; they have been dead for years. I don’t miss my wife, or my new born child. I think it had my eyes, but I could be wrong. I don’t miss my brother, whom I hadn’t spoken to in six years, nor his child, whom I named Ahmed. I don’t miss the kids around the block and their insufferable laughter in the evening when they played cricket. I don’t even miss my house, that I worked so hard to build.

No. What I miss is the feeling of being remembered.

What a selfish thing to long for, I know. The world has ended years ago, and yet my ego still lives on. But it is the truth.

I miss the feeling of walking into the house and my wife eagerly waiting to hug me. I miss the feeling of my new born baby waiting for me to hold it. I miss the thought in the back of my mind that I always had tomorrow to call my brother, to speak to Ahmed. I miss the begging and the pleading of the kids who would wait for me to give them their cricket ball back. I miss the echo in that house, how my voices would bounce from wall to wall, letting even the jinns know who owned that land.

And now it’s just me and the jinns, isn’t it? Even they don’t come out to talk. Did the wind take them as well?

Before the world ended, I never prayed. I never had to. I always got what I wanted. Why did I need Him when all I needed was in front of me? I never prayed for a house or a wife or a kid. I just got it. I read it in the Quran years later, that the people of Moses were given man-o-salwa, free food from the sky. My whole life was man-o-salwa.

I didn’t even find God after the world ended. Oh no. I found Him recently, when I was walking down a road trying to find the least painful way to die, and out of nowhere in the middle of the night appeared Zamzam.

Not the well that sprouted water in Arabia. No, this was a black cat with patchy fur.

Zamzam was the first living thing I had seen in years. A breathing, moving organism that yawned and talked and purred. It was God telling me to stop dying and start living. So I listened.

Zamzam led me to an old, abandoned house where he lived. You might say all houses are abandoned now, and I’d agree with you. But this was a special kind of abandonment. It was left by the people who owned it thinking the cat that lived in the shadows was a jinn.

Zamzam was no jinn, and if he was, he hid it really well.

So now I’ve made it my solace, this house that the jinn cat Zamzam owned. I redid the floors, the stairs and the rooms. I gave Zamzam his own space and made peace with mine. But every so often, I find Zamzam sleeping in my room and living as close to me as he possibly can.

I got dreams, dreams to remember.

Tonight is Shab-e-Qadr, the night of power. This is my first Ramazan where I kept all the fasts. I made sehri for me and Zamzam and I did iftar at sundown. I waited until my shadows began to elongate to recite my prayers, and more often than not I was left here in this room, on this prayer mat and in this position, talking to the one thing that I didn’t believe in until a few months ago.

I got dreams, dreams to remember.

I heard these words in a song a long time ago. I close my eyes, and I can hear the words echo in the corners of my mind. It has become my prayer, my calling. In the darkness of the night when not a soul but Zamzam and I exist, these words remind me why we do. I have dreams, pal. Dreams to remember.

I vaguely remember some of them. I’ve mostly forgotten them all. But the thing with words is, the more you repeat them, the more they make sense. I was never in love with my wife, but I told her I loved her every day. I never understood what love was, but one day, out of nowhere, I got it. I understood it. This was love. And I have loved her ever since.

Even now, in my whispers to re-dream my dreams, I slip in the occasional phrase. And somewhere in my mostly empty soul, a spark is lit, and my purposeless existence remembers to be purposeful.

I got dreams, dreams to remember.

Eid is around the corner, and I must find new clothes to wear. It was tradition to wear new clothes and to drink milk and pass dates. That’s good, because Zamzam loves milk and I fancy a date or two myself.

If you find this, know that I made it. Know that I finally found something important in the bleak wildness of the nothingness that existed. I made it on; I lived.

But if no one finds this, then that is okay too. I’ve been found by something far greater than you or me anyway. It consumes me and lets me live along until I no longer can and then I too shall pass on; where the wind blows. If I make it to the other side, I’ll tell you where everyone went. Until then?

I got dreams, dreams to remember.
Mohammad Nazar Syed Nazar is a writer and poet based in Canada. His debut publication is called 'A Rush to the Stars' and is a collection of his poetry. He tweets as @mnazarsyed (https://twitter.com/mnazarsyed)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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