an empty circle

Dear grandfather,

You told me once that our knowledge moves like the compass on paper – the most vital thing is to stay focused at the centre as our thoughts twirl around.

‘Stable thoughts create a stable circle’ you said, ‘and whoever holds your compass at the top will guide your thoughts forever’

‘What do you mean, grandfather?’ I asked you.

‘No one forms perfect circles in the beginning. Once you reach the age of reason, your mastery over your thoughts is still at a premature level, and the circles will turn out weak, unsteady, and incomplete,’ you paused, ‘hold this compass, Abdullah’.

I held the compass firmly.

‘Now draw a circle’.

I secured the needle of the compass at the centre, and then with my right hand, turned the compass across the page.

‘Think about one thing, one thing only’ you repeated, ‘and keep all your thoughts in line with it. Do not let your mind jump off to extremes, or to quick conclusions. Just focus on one clear line’

I did as you said. I thought of one thing: my father. Why does he no longer see us? Are the rumours true? Did he ever love us?

‘Abdullah, take care’ you raised your voice, ‘you are losing control of the circle, it is not steady’

I took a deep breath, and then started from the beginning.

Why does he no longer see us? I asked again. Was he lying this whole time?

‘Abdullah, you must control your thoughts as you control the circle’

‘But I can’t do it,’ I replied in agitation.

‘Let me help you.’

You placed your right palm on top of mine and then guided the compass.

‘Your thoughts represent the circle. If they are disconnected, the circle will be incomplete, and if they are too fast, it will be shaky’

I watched the compass slide carefully across the page, creating a clear and even line. My focus was now less on my thoughts than it was on the compass and the circle.

‘What are you thinking now?’ you asked.

‘Nothing. Just flashes of questions…but each one of them keeps disappearing’

‘Ah, yes’ you nodded, ‘this is how you master your thoughts. Focus on the circle, and all the irrelevant thoughts will vanish,’

‘And then, what will remain?’ I asked.

‘The centre’ you replied, ‘and this applies to everything else in life, Abdullah. Everything you’ve once had will flash into non-existence, whether it is work, money, or family – they all leave. At the very end, it will be the centre that is most precious’.

It was then that the compass completed the circle, and there was only one thought in mind: God.



‘Dear grandfather, how do you still hold onto love, wisdom, and faith amidst all the evil in this world?’ I asked.

He lowered his glasses and looked at me through his sharp blue eyes. The room was silent and he was sat in his usual position: the feather quill pen in his hand, the opened books on his desk, and his left hand covering his forehead.

‘I do not hold onto it, Abdullah, these things exist independently. They do not need my help to come to being’

‘But how?’ I demanded.

He lifted his glasses back to their position and then presumed writing,

‘Dear Abdullah, all the events of this world – all the tragedies, the joys, the cries and the laughter, the beautiful and the ugly – are found in the example of a grain’ he put down his pen and then looked towards me, ‘each seed grows seven spikes, and each spike has a hundred grains. If a tragedy can grow in one spike, then what makes you think that growth shall cease from there? Growth is infinite, it is unstoppable; it can travel in any direction. It can expand to cover the universe or shrink to the size of a cell. Each and every thing in this world is made up of layers – layers on top of layers on top of layers. The petals of a flower, the soil under the ground, or the strands of hair on our head, all follow the ultimate rule: to constantly and perpetually grow. If evil can grow in one spike, then goodness can grow in a hundred grains again. The tragedies of this world, dear abdullah, follow the rules that nature itself follows; they are not separated from beauty, but grow within it and from it. If you ever feel that there is too much hate in this world, or even inside your own heart, then remember that growth has no boundaries, and there will always be space for love to grow’

I contemplated his thoughts for a while, and then nodded in agreement.

Remember that growth has no boundaries, I repeated to myself, and there will always be space for love to grow.

Lost Kingdoms

“Ah, but dear King, Life does not exist but through Command,

And whoever does hold this Power,

Has both Death and Life in his hands,

It is but through One voice, and One order,

That these planets learn to orbit,

And that these citizens learn to follow it,

And if you, by Nature’s will,

Fail to let the stars follow your Orders,

And let the soldiers align your borders,

Then Life in this kingdom shall cease to remain,

As do souls without command die away”

The Stranger

‘Ruler of the land, King of the people, what is it that bothers you today?’

The King, with his thick white beard, and wide, round eyes, looked at his Servant with the sentiment of a father to his child, and then turned back to witness the sun setting the land.

‘It is near night time, again’ he said.

‘Yes, my dear King, the markets are now closed, and each citizen has drifted off to his own dwelling’

‘It is the worst time of the day for me, Mustafa’ the King expressed.

‘Why, dear King? It is the most beautiful time for anyone, see how the skies begin to reveal its secrets out to the human eye, and how the moon furnishes your land with its dreams – your land, my dear King, never once looked as charming as it does on this time of the day’

‘But none of all this is mine, Mustafa, it is all Nature’s works on her own possessions’

‘Yes, dear King, but it is your land! You claim the rule over it, you have built it and modernised it. Each building, each road, and each side of the city, they all go down in history by your name, and your own genius making’

‘Ah,’ the King sighed, ‘but how strange is it that after the work is all done, I feel no belonging to it. All of it – the trees, the buildings, the roads and gardens I made, they all look back at me with the eyes of a stranger. Each time I watch this land at the quiet hour of the night, I see it transform, change…convert into a whole different being! As though I never once touched it from the very beginning. And this title of mine, this title of the ruler, the King, suddenly evaporates…and I begin to witness this land live by its own without me, and be guided by a whole other King,’

‘Do not distress, dear King, this is common for all those who once ruled – for parents with their children, and artists with their art. Man never fully possesses his own making; it always takes its own shape outside of him’

‘Yes, Mustafa, which is why a wise ruler must not ever believe that he possesses anything he made, nor think that he is the maker’

‘Then how shall we speak of you in history books, dear King? What sort of role does a ruler truly perform, and what are his possessions?’

The King looked down, and then looked back up with a sigh,

‘The ruler has no role, Mustafa, but to rule his own self,’ he paused, ‘and by that, he may – if he is lucky – be able to rule others well.’

‘And his possessions?’

‘Possessions?’ the King laughed, ‘I have nothing to get out of this grand world… this magical existence. All of which I hoped to call my own, all of which I sought to own as a King, have broken all their links with me. I now look at this land as a beggar, Mustafa, yearning to earn but a penny of Nature’s richness’

‘But you will remain to be our King tomorrow morning, am I right?’

‘Yes, Mustafa,’ the King smiled, ‘only in the daylight’.