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A mirage from the past

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- Shameela Yoosuf Ali

I got down from the bus and walked along the famous Akbar bridge of the University of Peradeniya.

It was a misty morning and early birds were twittering. Months after months University doors remained closed because of the never ending strikes. At last University was re opened and here I found myself walking towards my dreams once again.

I have really loved striding out on this bridge. My restless soul would take a stop at the serene view of Mountains across the violet sky. Tall and lavish green wonders would stand spreading their thousand hands taking the breath away. Beneath the bridge, water ran in a miraculously harmonious manner, dawdling silently.

As I was stepping into the bridge I could see monkeys chattering here and there sitting clinging together in the bridge parapets. A young couple was taking self photographs of them making weird faces.

Suddenly I saw and old rickety bicycle in the farthest end of the bridge. As I drew closer I saw him clearly. An old man clad in a partially torn shirt and worn out sarong. He was trying to tie up a bundle of wooden logs into the carrier of the bicycle.

Each time he tried a log or two dropped breaking the stillness of the atmosphere.

I felt sorry for him. A debate emerged from nowhere Me vs Me.
Why should I bother, I am a woman and there are men around and compared to me they are physically stronger.

I am clad in my long black coat neatly pressed and this offering to help might ruin my whole attire.

He is not a Muslim, is he?

What a string of inhuman thoughts. I abruptly cut short my mental conversation and turned. I had almost passed that weak soul - who stood like a mirage from the past.

I saw his fingers, they were trembling with feebleness. He does not resemble my father at all but something in him reminded me of my father.

He Should be a father of someone yet I saw my father in him.

“Uncle, May I help you’

He lifted his glance from the wooden logs in bewilderment.

No, No Madam, you would get late ‘

I picked the fallen logs one after one and brought together at the bicycle carrier .

I held the logs for him to tie up. That was the least I could do.

He did not say ‘Thank you’ to me but I felt something more than that in his wrinkled face.

A saying of prophet Muhammed flashed across my mind.

Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "If a young man honors an older person on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to show reverence to him in his old age"[At-Tirmidhi].

I turned and walked with my heart full of butterflies of contentment. Alahmdulillah.

2012.09.13

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