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On a cold windy night somewhere downtown in North America, my friend and I got slicked up for the new year festivities.
By festivities, I meant my friend’s friend’s friend’s birthday party which also happens to be on new year’s eve. She graciously told me she’d added my friend and I on the guest list-must’ve been a pretty generous guest list, I thought.
The other thought was “D*lay be grateful, kissi nai tou lift kerai”.
We dressed up, I borrowed his hair wax because “bhai baal set kiyai baghair toh niklnay nai wala”. While I stared into the mirror admiring a fabricated version of myself, my friend brought the prayer mat and offered his Isha prayers because according to him, he won’t find time to offer his prayers once he’s at the party. You see, offering prayers was his way of balancing out everything haram he was going to indulge in later that night.
For me that ship has already sailed. My best bet is to believe God is this super merciful entity and will judge us on our character. But then I thought I’m not a super charitable person either. I definitely tell lies to get things done; they’re not harmful lies but they’re lies nonetheless. I also drink and indulge in drugs time to time. I don’t think I’m addicted to them, but on a given Saturday, I’m no better than a homeless drunkard.
As I muddled over my chances of being pardoned by God, the hash brownies had already kicked in and before I knew it, we were in the apartment drinking our miserable lives away.
One desi guy came up to me and asked, where I am from? I tell him I’m from Lahore and he tells me he’s from Kashmir. I reply, “Occupied?”. Just because I said that, we end up becoming fast friends. This made me think, even though mankind tends to be cruel most of the times, it can also be pretty simple and friendly-albeit maybe mankind needs to be drunk or high to be that way. So, does that mean addiction is good?
The Jews of Nazareth drank wine; Jesus drank wine (allegedly). Actually there is a whole line of Kosher wine available at stores. And then it hit me, what if the Muslim world needs halal wine!
The adventurous lot had started snorting already. Easiest tell is when you see a bunch of people sneaking into a room or a bathroom, and consciously wiping their noses when stepping out. I did a line, because well why not. However, I did think of getting out of there, but no one else seemed to move and I didn’t want to be the only prude at the party.
Slightly coked up, I stared thinking what lengths a person goes to because of peer pressure. What if most people in that room were taking drugs because they just felt pressurised. What if all of us are just bunch fools following fools?
Hunger had struck and some angel said he’d order pizza when a voice intercepted saying, “Bro that place isn’t halal.” Everyone gave him a death stare because what in that party was halal! We ordered him a shawarma from a halal place, while all of us ate the “haram” pizza. Come to think of it 3 AM wasn’t that exciting, except for eating haram pizza.
We discussed the existence of God while munching on pineapple’s on pizza, we talked about everything. Ironically, not a single person talked about climate change. I mean that’s what’s going to kill us in the end.
When the Uber came, I sat in the front, the driver turned out to be a bearded Pakistani uncle. There was no way I wasn’t going to get a religious lecture now. And that is exactly what happened. First, he gave me a judgemental look and then he started with his rant. Me being me, an inebriated fool just sat there and listened on.
The immigrant boomer mullah went on a rant of how my generation is getting corrupted by drugs and alcohol. Basically everything haram. He went on and on about how the biggest problem Pakistan is facing is “deen se doori” and for a political touch he threw in “sharif’s a chor.”
I couldn’t help but ask him that if he hated western traditions so much, why is he here? I can’t possibly be the first drunk person he’s picked up! He replied, “Bachoun kai liye”. I had to break it to him that his kids were also going to grow up learning Western values.
He remained silent and then said, “Unko Allah ka shukar hai sahi tarbiyat di hai.” I chuckled replying, “meray baap ko bhi yehi lagta hai.” Thankfully this broke the ice, and we listened to Nusrat’s Qawali for the remaining way.
I don’t know if we are going to hell or heaven. However, what I do know is that we’ve made silos of our own beliefs and faiths. We may all have our different versions of God, but what’s definitely common among all the believers is the tenacity to judge others.
The fact is people aren’t going to change. Problems aren’t just going to solve themselves and even if they do, a new problem will arise. But I’m here to tell you that’s fine. That’s called life.
So here’s to a new decade, new silos, new problems and hopefully a way to counter climate change! And just as my brain started to shut down, I looked at my friend and said, “bro fajr ka time ho giya hai” and then I passed out on his bed.