Saturdays, that are working, have some characteristic moods; a winding up rush, postponing (even slightly) demanding tasks to Mondays (no wonder why Mondays are cursed, always), just in time or even earlier than scheduled sign offs. The intention is very clear, to embrace the flavors of Sunday as soon as possible after an eventful week (the feeling stays exactly identical even in case of an uneventful week). Dear reader, this typical Saturday (off course working) I am talking about, was different. I had concluded my task table at work and there was nothing that could potentially involve me away from signing off on time, yet there was no intention at my end to leave office. The mood as I recall it was typically that of lingering on, maintaining the status-quo and other similar expressions likewise. Post hours I just aimlessly stayed back, met the evening shift teams, had some chit chat, conversing haphazardly with the staff and lingered on a bit more.
As I was there with my brains on a complete vacate, though somewhat physically involved in the surroundings, there came the event my subconscious in fact had awaited all this time. A tweet from a friend announcing the countdown to midnight. A brief conversation that ensued thereafter had all the ingredients to entice the heart into something though obscured but was destined to happen…
Two hours to midnight…
— Noor Rathore (@NoorRathore) November 8, 2014
@NoorRathore some sorcery, exorcism, witchcraft or what!
— Muhammad Imran Saeed (@meemainseen) November 8, 2014
@meemainseen all of the above. Peer sahabs birthday
— Noor Rathore (@NoorRathore) November 8, 2014
It was a simple exchange of words primarily conveying the impeding birthday of Sir Muhammad Iqbal that midnight (Iqbal Day). What made it special was the context in which a few phrases were exchanged and the person I was in conversation with. The reply “all of the above” and “Peer sahab’s birthday” and a few more conversational exchanges left me startled as these contained a degree of awareness on Iqbal that was far greater than normal and were sufficient to generate the waves at a typical frequency that tempted me to benefit from my tweep a bit further and eventually embrace Iqbal for the hours that were to follow. Things, though random in happenings, do have an underlying purpose. Dear readers, it was the inspiration in these magical words that chalked down a plan and pulled me out straight from my office to be in attendance with Sir Muhammad Iqbal by midnight, on the eve of his birthday.
Driving straight from my office to Iqbal Park, Lahore, having negotiated the outer police cordons, I encountered the main compound of Hazuri Bagh padlocked and guarded. A Pak Rangers’ soldier came to my rescue and though initially puzzled but having deciphered my intentions got the gates opened and escorted me to the Mazar of the Maestro. Having been through the rituals of ablution to relentlessly clean but the exterior of my being, the doors were opened and I stepped inside the tomb. Dear readers, pardon me if I appear to be evasive here in stating that the things that succeeded are nothing but a fuzz in my mind. Exposed to the combined magnificence of the aura and the person I was there to pray for, my being in all humility got diminished and gradually lost into nothingness. There must have been some awfully meaningless body postures in a futile effort to exhibit respect and some ritualistic repetitions of the sacred words from my subconscious, I don’t vividly recall. Out of sheer guilt I got expelled from the interior of the tomb and started heading towards my car parked at a distance. At that particular instance there was absolutely nothing I carried less one couplet from Iqbal swarming my head:
عقل و دِل و نِگاہ کا مُرشدِ اوّلیں ھے عشق
عشق نہ ہو تو شرع ودیں بُتکدۂِ تصوّرات
(the disciples of) logic, heart and vision, all need nothing but one patron; (the unconditional surrender in) love
religion and its scriptures, without this (patron of) love are but the idols of illusion
Dear reader, in true sense, I am not aware of Iqbal, I haven’t read him that thoroughly, but I got directed to his tomb by the blessings of a more learned soul. I dearly put myself in attendance that night with a devotion of an ignorant follower, with no idea of the procession’s etiquette, got conferred with the murshid’s blessing , a couplet my tongue shall be reciting in endless repetitions with my heart devoid of the slightest clue to its true essence. I am one follower who will be happy wearing the Taweez from Peer Sahab awaiting to be blessed one day with the curiosity of getting to know its contents…