The Exorcism Of Fawad Hashmi
“Slowly Fawad, You’re scaring me,” implored Mehar, holding on tightly to her seat.
“Chill, babes. The intoxication of speed, of uncertainty, of fathoming into the unknown, is irrepressible,” replied Fawad.
Fawad was steering his wheels at an incredibly brisk pace. He’d the uncanny knack of trespassing limits, time and again. He’d say: “Limit, boundaries, perimeters-these are apocryphal notions developed by debased men; men, who failed to intrude certain checkpoints owing to their personal weaknesses and hence smudged these perimeters on the society to save their grace.”
Fawad Hashmi belonged to the elite aristocratic class of the society. He was born with a silver spoon. However, Fawad did not let his privileges affect his academic records. In astuteness, sharpness of intellect and scholastic brilliance, Fawad was second to none. With all the opulence and affluence came the brash and phlegmatic attitude, which donned him to a condescending stature in his friends circle. He always thought that lust, and not love was the most unadulterated emotion in the world. Lust is to passion what nervous fluid is to life; it supports them all, lends force to all our infatuations. In fact, all of our passions and yearnings, be it for success, money or women are laid on the edifice of lust, in one form or another.
As for money, he’d plenty of it. As far as success and worldly adulation were concerned, they’d trace their path into his life, given his brilliance in academic pursuits. His suave and beefy looks ensured that girls would be instantly checkmated at the assaults of his charms and chalices. Whenever he’d be tense about anything, he’d visit a brothel and ease his anxiousness by enjoying a couple of hours of full on rearguard action. He’d sporadically ask his friends:
“What is there after lust?”
“Satisfaction,” they’d say.
“All right. What is there after satisfaction?”
“More satisfaction! There’s no end to satisfaction.”
Fawad, however, was never contented by their answers. Surely, there’s got to be something beyond the realms of satisfaction. Something, which would transcend the limits of time and space. Something, which would be eternal and not ephemeral.
Fawad was strolling nonchalantly, along with his friends in the college garden.
“Hey Wafa, what’s up?” he inquired casually.
“Salam Alikum,” Wafa responded.
Fawad smirked a wee bit, “Walikum As Salam,” he replied.
Wafa Nadeem was his batchmate. She was the butt of all the gags and jokes, owing to her queer and antiquated sense of fashion. She’d come to college, in an incredibly plain and simple Salwar Kameez, her head being draped with a white Dupatta. She’d spend her time sulking her way, in solitude and seclusion. She wasn’t the brightest girl on both fronts-looks as well as grades. She’d date entities from a totally different ilk, as compared to the other girls of her age. While all the other girls giggled and gagged about boys and film stars, she was more interested in entertaining people about the perils of the hereafter.
Fawad had lost complete control of his senses. He was least concerned about maintaining due decorum in his friend’s marriage ceremony. He was dwindling back and forth from one corner of the room to another, struggling intensely to maintain his gait. Fawad lodged his hands on Sara’s shoulders and moved his lips stealthily towards her cheeks.
“Gim..Me a kizz, c’mon”
“Stay away from me, you inebriate asshole,” Sara wanted to say. She gulped down her exasperation, fuelled by Fawad’s libertine display of impropriety. “This is Fawad Hashmi. You only speak what he wants to listen,” she mumbled to herself.
She reluctantly moved her cheeks forward. “Faadi, my baby. I am all yours.”
Fawad picked up his glass, and took a sip. He looked at Wafa from a distance. She was removing her anklets, so that she could properly wash her hands and feet, and get ready for the midnight prayers. Fawad walked towards her. She was washing her face and her sleeves were rolled up to her arms. Her face was radiating like the full moon and water droplets were skiing through her glossy skin, like pearl drops. The serenity on her face was awe inspiring, as if she did not give a damn about the infernal wiles of this sadistic world. How could someone be so much at peace with herself? Fawad longed to see her rich shades of mahogany, which were draped by her dupatta. Down in there something was rising. Fawad picked up Wafa’s prayer bead. He knew what he wanted. He wanted Wafa Nadeem, by hook or by crook, by word or by sword.
It was raining cats and dogs, aided by wolves and jackals, you might add. Fawad saw her, completely drenched, in white raiment, waiting for her bus. Fawad’s un-seraphic yearnings were taking hold of his conscience, thereby obscuring his moral perspicacity. He got off his car and approached her in slow, measured steps, taking all the necessary precautions to ensure that she remained scrupulously oblivious to his hidden agenda.
“Walikum As Salam”
“Look, I know, you don’t like me, but, for God’s sake, please come with me. I’ll drop you at your place”.
“God is sufficient as a protector, and he is the best disposer of affairs.”
Fawad tried to keep his composure.
“Undoubtedly, he is; but he won’t descend on Earth to protect you. He’d send someone. I implore you to give in to prudence, setting aside your faith and fervorism.”
Wafa thought for a moment and then moved steadily towards the car. As she stepped into the car, she let out a sigh, whispering a prayer to herself – “God is the best custodian and he is the most merciful of those who show mercy.”
“Why do you drink so much?” enquired Wafa, casting a sly look at Fawad’s dishevelled appearance.
“Why shouldn’t I drink? And by the way, how does this concern you?” retorted Fawad, taking a sip off his bottle.
“You should give up drinking, because God has prohibited intoxication in all its forms and varieties.”
“Yeah, I should stop drinking, just because, a completely anonymous entity commands me to do it in a archaic language. There’s your example of the dogmatic, doctrinaire and irrational thinking endorsed by your religion.”
“ Alcohol- It is the mother of all evils.”
“Oh, really? Is that written in your sixth century, self proclaimed holy book?”
“The name is Qur’an.”
“The Prophet, peace and mercy of God be upon him said it.”
“So, I should stop drinking alcohol, just because a sixth century, illiterate bedouin, says so. Win me over with your arguments, and not your outlandish religious, ‘You’ll go to hell crap.'”
Wafa was immaculately calm and composed. “The intrinsic point of difference, between animals and human beings is the presence of conscience and a natural ability to differentiate between the wheat and the chaff, among human beings. When a person is intoxicated, he loses his discerning abilities, thereby demoting himself to the status of an animal, completely oblivious of the moral and ethical repercussions of his actions”.
Fawad was completely astounded by her answer. He couldn’t think of a suitable rejoinder, and decided to change the topic altogether.
“What is there after lust?” he asked.
“What is there after Satisfaction?”
“What is there after Nothingness?”
“What is there after death?”
“Loneliness, dragging you incessantly, towards eternal perdition-Hell.”
“How do we avoid eternal damnation?”
“Make sure, you feed your companion well in this worldly life, so that it could defend you in your turbulent times.”
“Companion, after death?”
“We spend our lives casually, until out of the blue, death stiffens its grip over our throat and we realize that the time for action is over. Life is but a fleeting moment of enjoyment. It deludes man into believing that he is an immortal. Man gloats over his riches and treasures, thereby completely immersing himself in his quest for material gains. He incessantly sprints along the alleys of life, thereby blindfolding his conscience, layer upon layer, under the effect of the seven deadly sins- greed, pride, gluttony, lust, wrath, sloth, and envy. He keeps doing so until he completely seals the door of the divine light- the light which enables him to discern appropriately between right and wrong.”
“How do we acquire good deeds?”
“By obeying God, helping the poor and needy, standing up for the oppressed and exploited class of people.”
“Who will prosper in God’s presence on the day of judgment?” asked Fawad, sounding geniuenly interested in the conversation.
Wafa recited a verse:
“That is the day when neither money, nor children’s can help. But only he will prosper that brings to God a pure heart.”
“A pure heart, unadulterated by the charms and chalices of the worldly life. A humble heart purged of satanic platitudes. A person who did not hold rancor or spite against anyone in his worldly life. The soul of such a person is a soul at peace, eager to meet its creator.”
“But, scaling such immense echelons of virtuousness is an extremely difficult task,” retorted Fawad.
“The secret of redemption lies in humbleness. To err is to human, but as soon as a person realizes his offence, he should seek forgiveness for his sins, and should endeavor vigorously to rectify his mistake.”
If your God wanted,” said Fawad in his customarily disdainful tone,” I’d have obeyed him.”
“God is, as you think of him. If you approach him by a hand span, he’d come closer to you by an arm’s length. If you approach him walking, he’d come to you running. Your soul is a fragment of the divine. He is part of you. Everyone has an innate moral compass, should they choose to use it. When you raise your hand against another, you raise your hand against Him too, when you help another, you help Him too.”
The honks of cars, interrupted their conversation. It’d been an incredibly long journey. Couple of long and arduous traffic jams ensued that Wafa could reach her hostel, only after midnight. To her utter dismay, it was locked, and no matter how much she banged the doors, no one would let her in. Fawad offered her a ride to his home, which she politely declined. Thereafter, both of them killed time, in the car itself.
The college was abuzz with clamor. Wafa was sitting in the library, immersed in her thoughts.
“You must’ve had an awesome night yesterday. Such a hypocrite you are. Atleast, I don’t boast of my piousness and God consciousness,” exclaimed Mehar, glaring at Wafa with contemptuous ire. Wafa sensed that something was amiss. She could hear whispers about herself, everywhere. She scouted for Fawad in the whole college. She found him sitting in the college cafeteria along with his friends.
“Can I have a moment?”
“Ah! Darling, I thought you’d skip your classes today. I mean, whatever happened yesterday was pretty exhilarating. You must’ve enjoyed every bit of it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“C’mon, babes. We spent the whole night together. Didn’t we?”
Wafa was totally unruffled by the impending predicament.
“Is this some kind of a joke?”
“C’mon baby. You are hurting me now. I thought we loved each other.”
Wafa gazed at Fawad with disbelief, intently trying to reassure herself that everything was a mere figment of her divagating imaginations, and any moment, the alarm clock will detach her from this illusionary world and land her straight amidst the realms of substantiality.
“This is a manifest slander,” she countered, dispassionately staring at Fawad.
Fawad caught hold of her hands and dragged her aside.
“Yes, it is. You can approach the law governing authorities or do whatever you like. How’ll you prove your innocence? Who’ll testify in favor of honor and dignity? Who’ll help you?”
“If God helps you none can overcome you. If he forsakes you, who is there that can help you,” argued Wafa, further irking Fawad’s temper.
“God…humbug. Why don’t you implore your God to help you? I bet you’ve been one of his most ardent servants. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon him to come to your assistance. As for me, I am Fawad Hashmi. I don’t need anyone.”
“A time will come in your life, when you’ll realize the insignificance of all the riches and luxuries, you’ve encompassed around yourself. You’ll recognize the triviality and the perishable nature of all the worldly assets, be it your mansions, studded with white marbles, or your fleet of cars. Ultimately, all the materialistic possessions and relationships will come to naught, except for one entity: The Alpha and Omega –God. You’ll have to answer all those questions you’ve been evading all your life. The journey is long and perilous, and I am afraid, you don’t have much time to spare.”
Fawad stomped his fists on the table. He couldn’t take it anymore. “Just get lost from my sight. I don’t want to see your face, ever again.”
“One of these days, you’ll wander around in disgust and remorse. Your conscience will be frozen with mortification and all you’d crave for is redemption.”
Fawad probably saw a tear or two in her eyes. The tears of helplessness, submission and perseverance to God’s will.
Two months later.
Fawad was feeling perturbed by the loneliness engulfing him. His mom and dad were off to London for a family wedding. His head was aching woefully. He decided to sleep to relieve himself of the disquietude which had intrusively enveloped his whole existence.
Fawad woke up. His head was burning with fever. The excruciating pain in his entire body rendered him incapable of even moving an inch. He tried to call his parents, which went unanswered. He tried to call his friends, again to no avail. He was all alone, suffering from regular bouts of migraine attack. He tried to get up off his bed, but fell down instantly on the floor. He felt as if some unknown entity was squeezing the vitality out of his body. He closed his eyes.
“What is there after Satisfaction?”
Fawad instantly opened his eyes. His eyes were fiery red. He could sense the emptiness, the void around him, and perhaps, for the first time in his life, he was scared.
Wafa Nadeem – he hated her, with some passion. “She’s a witch. A wh…” . For some totally inexplicit reason, he couldn’t complete that word. Slowly and steadily, blackness descended over his conscience, amputating him from the realms of consciousness.
There was only one way to clear off the clouds of despair and misery hovering over his life. He decided to fuck his way out of trouble.
“Henceforth, everything will be fine,” he reassured himself, as he stepped inside the elevator looking forward to spend a night, completely immersing himself in sensual pleasures.
Suddenly, the power source of the elevator conked off, thereby arresting its march. Fawad tried to open the doors, but they wouldn’t budge an inch from their position. He started shouting maniacally for help. Fawad was a chronic claustrophobic. The eerie darkness, in the elevator was asphyxiating him.
“Help, please, someone, for God’s sake, let me out of here,” he bawled hystetically, ultimately dropping down to his knees. Fawad closed his eyes.
The sky was fiery red, like the molten brass, and the mountains were transformed into tufts of colored wool. Fawad could see a vast multitude of people around him. The hearts of those who usurped the rights of their fellow beings in the worldly life were trembling with fear. Petrified by the impending consequences of their hideous deeds, these criminals were running amok in search of a sanctuary, but in this flat plane, there was no place where one could hide or avoid divine justice. This is the day of Adjudication. This is the day of Judgment.
All of a sudden, Fawad’s name was announced. He was sweating profusely. He marched forward.
“How did you spend your life?”
Fawad wanted to say something. Instead, he heard a voice.
“O God, he was blessed with all the luxuries and opulence in the worldly life, yet, he lived a life of wretchedness, usurping the rights of people and treating your servants with utter disdain and revulsion.”
“How did you spend your youth?”
“O God, in the plush of his youth, he engaged himself in licentious activities, completely disregarding the feelings of others.”
“How did you earn your money?”
“O God, he earned his money through unlawful means.”
“How did you dispose your wealth?”
“O God, In his worldly life, he was a shrewd and tight fisted person, who did not spend a single penny for the welfare of the underprivileged section of the society.”
“Did you act upon the knowledge you acquired in your worldly life?”
“O God, he emphasized upon following his personal whims and quirks, rather than acting upon the knowledge he’d gained in his worldly life.”
Fawad opened his eyes. Wafa’s words were reverberating volubly in his ears, thereby unleashing devastating blows on his heart and soul:
“You’ll have to answer all those questions you’ve been evading all your life. The journey is long and perilous, and I am afraid, you don’t have much time to spare”.
Please, God, let me out of this predicament. He flipped his pockets and found Wafa’s prayer beads. He started repeating the attributes of God he’d learnt in his childhood, from the Maulvi.
“Al Rahman – The All Merciful”
“As Salam- The Source of Peace”
“Al Ghaffar- One who forgives”
“Al Khafid- The Abaser”
“Al Rafi’- The Exalter”
“Al Mujib-The Responder to prayers”
“Al Qayyum- The Self existing one. The one who maintains the heavens and the earth, and everything that exists.”
Fawad was sobbing uncontrollably. He’d heard Wafa saying, that the heart of a person derives reassurance in the remembrance of God. He flipped through the Qur’an. The sixth century book he’d flouted throughout his life, and yet, this was the book, which would help him to exorcise his demons. He felt as if the holy book was referring to him in explicit terms.
“He invoked us from the depths of darkness, saying, there is no God, but you. Glory is to thee. I’ve indeed committed a wrong. So we heard his prayer, and delivered him from affliction”.
“O my servants, who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of God. Indeed God forgives all sins.”
“He brings them out, from darkness into light….”
“Indeed, I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant, when he calls upon me”
Two years later.
Life had taken sundry summersaults for Fawad Hashmi. He realized that the therapy to his trauma and remorse lay in action, rather than prayers. The most difficult dilemma for a person is perhaps when his heart testifies to an inevitable reality and yet his tongue does not proclaim it, when his mind screams in acceptance of truth but he can’t bring himself to state it. He prayed diligently, seeking God’s guidance to traverse the alleys of this worldly life. He started visiting an orphanage, on weekends, divesting himself from his busy schedule to spend some time with children, teaching them, and more importantly, listening to them.
Akshay wanted to be a pilot when he grew up, and Rhea wanted to marry someone as handsome as Fawad. He recognized, that the mere thought of being able to satisfy all your worldly cravings was irreconcilable with human mentality. Desires, be it sensual or worldly, are like sea water; the more you drink, the more your thirst increases. The yearnings for all those pleasures which appease the flesh are aggravated by indulgence. One who desires peace of mind, should endeavor to dispense his efforts in pursuance of intangible possessions. He was intently trying to search the answers of the five questions. He realized that our existence is confined to our being. Our demise makes not a whit difference to the world around us or, to the scheme of things. Rarely do we contemplate on our utter insignificance, in relation to this universe.
He realized that he’d never hated Wafa. He’d always loved her. From the past couple of years, neither had he touched, nor had he thought about any girl, other than Wafa Nadeem. He’d hated himself, for not being an idealist, a role model for someone, and in some way or the other, this feeling, perpetrated that dastardly act. Every night, after his midnight prayers, he’d raise his hands in front of God and say, “O God, I was lost, and you guided me, to the straight path. Undaunted, they cross the darkness, whose brows are illuminated by your magnificence. When the soul is cloaked in deep layers of darkness, stuttering and stumbling, to find its way, your radiance steers it out of the layers of misery and despondency. I want Wafa to be safe, sound and happy, wherever she is. I don’t deserve her forgiveness. Wafa’s words were echoing volubly in his ears:
“One of these days, you’ll wander around in disgust and remorse. Your conscience will be frozen with mortification, and all you’d crave for is redemption.”
“I don’t deserve redemption,” he said to himself.
As per Islamic beliefs a person will not be able to move on the day of judgment until and unless he has answered five questions.
1. How did he spend his life?
2. How did he spend his youth?
3. How did he earn his wealth?
4. Where did he spend his wealth?
5. How did he use the knowledge he gained in the worldly life?