(22): We are Individuals; they are also Individuals (II)

We are, yes, individuals. But we are, sometimes, stupid individuals. Perhaps I and you are among the latter group; who knows? Forgive the affront and don’t take any offence. None is really intended. It’s baffling, to say the least, what we humans sometimes do with our lives. I strongly believe that we all are endowed with one or another intellect with which we use to lead our soul and body towards some mental gratifications such as to eat food and drink to quench our hunger and thirst; wear clothes to cover our nudity; communication ability to express feelings and wants; etc. But yet, we tend to do other things so glaringly self-destructive for no constructive reason whatsoever in the name of fashion, passion and thingamajig. I am not moralizing or sensationalizing anything, for that is, or can be, relative and subjective; I am rather rationalizing them. Often it happens, we utter: to each his own. I shake head at this pomposity and respond: to each his ruin.

It was only a few days ago in the prequel to this piece I extolled one baby-faced teen girl named Veena as the “most intelligent girl I have so far come across since my first day in India a year ago”. She of course is, but she’s equally the wildest, the least cautious and highly heedless girl I have met. Never in my life have I known any girl of her age who smokes. Yes, she smokes cigarette. This is, at best, pathetic and, at worse, pathology! I think you must accept my words in the above paragraph, for I can’t help but wonder where the intelligence, the conscience and the foresight she supposedly possesses are. A simple question: why does she smoke? Give me a single medically proven benefit of smoking and I will start it today. Smoking is incontrovertibly deadly and is morally, socially (and religiously too) an aberration. But why? I can’t understand. Veena gets her life all before her, yet she intentionally sets out to destroy it herself. A quick inquest, however, reveals to me that many other Indian girls in urban areas are taking up the same habit. The liberty guarantees to us in this 21st century does not mean permission to commit a slow suicide. 

Nonetheless, as the saying goes, we are the architectures of our lives, un-fatalistically speaking. And I say: we are the drivers of our lives, whereupon the control of, say, the car could sometimes get out of our hands. So we are always given instructions and guide for a safe drive. Thus, one instruction says: don’t drive recklessly as “fast drive maybe your last drive”. It’s the same with smoking. It’s enshrined in its international marketing regulations that a warning: “tobacco kills” has to be boldly written on its package, sometimes along with a pellucid picture of a damaged lung. It is up to its consumers to believe or not.

On other developments; first, I have met another Indian who yet again reshaped my view. His name is Gurnoor, a 25-year-old Indian navy. He so much knows about, and likes, Africa especially the western region where their marine ship navigates on its coastal ports. Moreover, he told me that their Chief Officer was born in Kano, my state, in Nigeria. I literally felt euphoric. Second, among the attendees of our workshop there is a Muslim girl named Anam Kazi. But one can’t figure out anything ‘Islamic’ in her. I only got to know that sometime I finished prayers (sallah/namaz) beside her and she asked: “Are you Mohammedan?” I answered in affirmative and added that I am Muslim, correcting her usage of the misnomer. My being called Muhammad by everyone didn’t ring a bell to her that I was Muslim until that day. Thus, I had to quiz her to verify her claim that she’s also “Mohammedan”. Individualism is multifaceted.

Why would I care about all the aforesaid? You might have asked. I am not a saint, nor a pious. But I only often try my best possible to dispassionately look at things, proffer a particular analysis and express my opinion. I may be right or wrong as any other human being. We are taught in Islam to correct wrongdoing in any of these three ways: (i) by hands (instituted authorities do that); (ii) by words of mouth (which I do) and, (iii) or to feel sad about it, which is the weakest of the trio options (I also do that). This is the main motivation behind this and similar write-ups. I can’t do more than that. Veena's life, for instance, is her’s and her’s alone. We may never meet again as the workshop was completed; but I know for sure that she can hardly forget me or my words. That’s why I stake our friendship, which I, in fact, think I overvalue right from the beginning.

Anyway, I will accept any correction; likewise any constructive criticism or censure on whatever I say on this blog. Always.

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