My Truth Fairy
She has been my companion from childhood. She is a jigsaw puzzle with a difference. The picture is there, an outline suggestive of ethereal, unblemished and immortal beauty, but the pieces are not provided! They come to you at different times in life or lifetimes. They are no ordinary pieces. These are precious gems. All equally priceless regardless of their physical attributes, because even if the tiniest one is missing, the exquisite picture remains incomplete and marred.
I discovered my first piece when I was all of seven years old. I was very attached to my maternal grandmother. I loved to sit on her small cot and watch as she arranged clothes in tidy piles in her beautiful old cupboard. I would admire her dainty gold sari pin, the fascinating set of scales and tiny weights (the kind jewelers have) and a lot of her other desirous possessions. I loved that cupboard with its Belgian mirror, glossy polish and a little carving and always wanted one like that. Then one day she died, heartbroken after her young son's demise. She just went away leaving every well cared for and admired thing behind. A few days earlier my dad's sister had died and she left behind even more things she was very attached to. I felt lonely. I missed grandma and tried to make sense of what was happening around me. One day I sat on her bed, contemplating the cupboard, which had somehow lost its charm and then it struck me: 'What use is it to run after these things if we have to leave them behind?' Shorn of its gloss, the true aspects of materialism became evident, and an awareness that there is plenty more to life dawned on me at that tender age.
Soon after I was sent off to the boarding school to join my elder sisters. Each time going back after a grand vacation was torture. My sisters began their act, crying two days in advance to arouse pity and prolong the vacation. They would try to force me to do the same. One day I snapped back: 'What use is crying? We have to go so we have to go.' That I believe was another piece of the puzzle. It taught me the futility of fighting the inevitable. What has to be will be. Accept it and flow along with it. In the meantime I had grown attached to my grandpa. I instinctively sensed his loneliness even though very loving and caring children surrounded him. His quiet desolation reflected the years of intimacy and companionship, love and togetherness brought to an end by grandma's passing away. As he remembered and talked about their life together I learned about the permanence of love in impermanent relationships. One more piece clicked into place.
A few years later when I was in high school, my father left this world. I had grown close to him in the intervening years and I began to blame myself for his demise. It was very obvious that anyone I got attached to was embraced by death. Was I jinxed? My mother's fortitude, her indomitable faith in God and her selfless love even during the harshest times, was soothing balm for my tormented soul. She, together with my dad, helped me find some of the most elegant pieces to go into my puzzle. Long after they have both passed away they continue to inspire us.
Humor was one very prized and charismatic bit that I found in my parents' home. It was more a gift from my elder sisters. I learnt to laugh at myself; I learnt that life's burdens were less heavy if you looked at the lighter side and most importantly I learnt that it is far more profitable to laugh with others than at them. That truly is one of the grandest pieces.
The mindless violence I witnessed during the 1992 communal riots dropped a blood-drenched piece painfully into place. Violence is etched deeply in our minds, unceasingly reinforced by ego-fed beliefs of superiority. Peace can heal the world community only when individuals reconcile the tyranny of violence within them, by truly understanding the nature of violence and the oneness of all humanity. Until then we will have only a semblance of peace, a treacherously fragile fabric, which can be fortified exclusively by loving acceptance and understanding of our unique differences.
Loving acceptance and understanding of our unique differences ' it is an incalculably rich mosaic piece. A tiny puzzle in itself, its pieces were fitted in amongst others, by a marvelous husband and later by an equally remarkable friend. I taught myself to emulate their exceptional qualities, the sympathy and empathy they bring into their relationships and so to keep enriching other interpersonal transactions of my life. It also brought home another truth. Every life that touches ours, however remotely, weaves into it an inextricable pattern with threads that bind us together forever. It is detrimental to our own spiritual growth not to acknowledge the unity in our apparent disparity.
Life is an endless game of treasure hunt. Each unraveled clue is magically transformed into another alluring piece that slides into the jigsaw fairy. And yet much of my puzzle is still unsolved. It will be fantastic if I can achieve that in this life. Otherwise I will have to keep coming back till it is complete. Some day I will merge into my Truth Fairy and we will fly away into eternity together, Inshallah never to return.
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