The Seeker and the Sought
By Rafiq Ebrahim
Winfield , IL

 

The present age of selfish goals, utter disorder, violence and terrorism, crumbling family values and the mad race for materialistic pursuits, has put the human mind in disarray, and peace is hard to find.

The Seeker, always craving for peace and love, was now passing a restless life. He felt himself different – if not better – from the people who called themselves civilized and formed the bulk of humanity, and so was having a hard time to adjust in society. Since long a desire to shun people had taken hold in his mind. At first the desire was a little spark, but soon kindled into a mighty fire, engulfing his very soul. Unable to bear the storm of the age, he left his abode for an unknown destination – a place where he might find peace. Mind frustrated, heart heavy with grief, he took a train for a little mountainous town where his father frequently took the family for a short vacation when the Seeker was just a child.

The place was mostly a wilderness. He dragged his feet to ascend a peak, his restless soul in search of a restful nook. He walked on. Now being an old man, the muscles of his legs felt strained and stiff, but he went on. He trod upon a thorny path and his feet began to bleed. His shaking knees soon gave way and he fell down on a soft patch of earth. A cool mountain breeze blew and ruffled his hair with a gentle sway. He looked around and his eyes perceived a chain of sapphire-like lakes with clear blue water which reflected the verdant shrubbery around. Beauty! He was always fascinated by beauty. In how many forms does beauty exist? But why is it that beauty fascinates first, and then hurts?

He lay still, unable to solve the riddle. His mind began to wander….

The fascination for beauty has perils, particularly when it is in a human form. The seeker had fallen prey to such a beauty a long time back. It was love, but he was unaware of the pitfall.

Love! It was gone! What is love? Does it really exist? The thing called love is often harnessed as a tool to achieve one’s objectives. How many times his own love was used against him by people – people who were so dear and near to him? People – some are labeled good, others bad – have one thing in common; desire to get help and favors from others and afterwards abuse the helpers without hesitation. How few are those who help others in difficulties without any selfish gain? And how often these true helpers suffer – suffer at the hands of none other than their own friends?

Friendship? What is it these days? It is just a carriage people board to arrive at a destination. Once the destination is reached, they alight from the carriage, go away without even saying goodbye to the carriage. Of course, at times, they praise the carriage during the journey.

They move with the time, or so they say. Time! What has time brought? A continuous struggle in which there is survival for the materialists, of the cunning, of the stone-hearted people. Time has hardened human hearts, making them indifferent to the misfortunes of others. Self-indulgence, with complete disregard for human lives, has led leaders to make wars, cause vast destruction and killings. Religious misconceptions have created armies of terrorists, spitting havoc. What is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir, Somalia and many other countries?

But this is also the time of speedy communications, hi-tech endeavors, rapid strides of science and technology. This continuous progress is helping mankind in many ways, is a boon to humanity, but at the same time, man has developed dynamic tools of destruction such as nuclear weapons with a promise that they would be used for peaceful means. Ah, what a mass-deception! Destruction and wars, that’s what prevail in the world.

Men are fast becoming beasts, even more dangerous than beasts; because men can think, and a thinking beast can be crueler than a jungle beast who just acts on instincts. Man – God’s perfect creation – has stooped so low. Enshrouded in the mist of deception, cruelty, selfishness, hatred, racism, prejudice and violence, man has forgotten God, his Creator.

The Seeker heaved a sigh, lying there in the wilderness. His soul now was in desperate search for a nook, a place where he could find peace. He got up with an effort and walked on wearily. He raised his weather-beaten face towards the sky as if asking the Creator to show him a restful nook. He came to a place where a little brook flowed, gushing crystal-clear water with a soft murmur. The flow was going on in a mad rush, as if saying the very words of the poet: Men may come and men may go; But I go on forever…..

He dropped down on the untrimmed grass by the brook and a shade of relief came over his face. How serene Nature looked here!

On this pasture he saw a lush green valley with long slender trees. At a distance in front were snow-capped peaks of lofty mountains, glistening with amber glow imparted by dying rays of the sun.

How perfect harmony of beauty prevailed here, he felt. Could this be the nook his soul was searching so vehemently? A nightingale gave a shrill and enrapturing note somewhere around. A deer came running from the glade, paused for a while, looked searchingly at him, then darted off...

The Seeker sprawled leisurely in the lap of Nature; sweet, ethereal fragrance coming to his nostrils from the woodland. A delicate azure-colored bird rose from a bough and flew up, displaying its golden wings and crimson beak. How happy and contented this lovely bird appeared! Free from all dangers and deceptions that prevailed in the society he had left. A sudden feeling of glee crept up in his heart as he watched the bird soar higher and higher.

This was the nook, the Seeker felt sure. This was the world his soul was searching for. Here was everything he craved for. Here Nature was wild, untamed, but kind! Yes, there was a world of difference between this wilderness and the modern society. A happy smile came over his face as he kept watching the progress of the bird high up in the air.

Then suddenly, a big black raven appeared from nowhere, and in a lightning dash pounced upon the bird. The bird uttered a protesting cry, and fell down - dead.

Something choked in the Seeker’s throat.

Something shattered.

He closed his eyes.

The sun went down.

Next day, a few natives of the village found his dead body.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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