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Writing Competition Entry: ‘Professor Hussein and His Normal Colleague’

Look at him, ah shabby! Why is this tear idle inside here, at the corner of his eye, It should leave its temporary abode right now. It is not its glory to remain in the eyes, who have never witnessed anything that could fill a slight spark of nobility in them, but downfalls… destruction of dreams, ashes of affection…. ashes…ashes…ashes… end of everything… ignoble incompletion of the most desired completion! But Beard… he resembles much like Tagore, but not his eyes..no… Tagore had a depth of sea in his eyes, his face much resembled the terribly melodic features of Arabian Sea.. But his beard.. is much like that of a  man, who loses his rationality, not like Tagore.. Probably Tagore’s! Ah… Nothing… his beard is the symbol of his enmity towards his self… it has grown white, undergoing the darkest days like their complexion once was.. Dark Beard, Dark Days, Darkest Days, terribly Darkest… Charles Dickens must rephrase it for me “It was never best of the times, it was always worst of the times, it had never been a spring of hope, it was always … always a winter of despair… Deepest divine despair”… But, see him, a mere Professor from Pakistan, suggesting Dickens… Shame! Professor, you need a doctor”
There was knock on the door. Professor Hussein left his mirror and unlocked the door. His friend Ibn-E-Hayat, a Professor in Psychology, had come to see him.
” Dear Hayat, I had almost forgotten its Sunday evening and that You would be here , as per our routine. So Pardon me, for not cleaning up my room, dust the chair, which has always been yours, upon which, nobody ever sat, its almost crumbling now, I have been planning since last two months, to get it repaired, but have once again Proved my self, a marvelously fail man. I couldn’t even wash the cups, for our tea, I was just here reading some notes on Tagore, I almost forgot everything”..
Hayat interrupted him:
” Anyways, I came a bit earlier, but overheard your voice, I thought, you are again convincing someone to believe in the lifelessness of Life, but None is here, were you soliloquizing?”
” I did not know actually, when I stopped reading, and went to the mirror and start talking! But this should not surprise you my friend. I have undergone such tragedies in  my life that , now I am unable to follow its disciplines.  I have been deprived of the sanctity of every tenderest relation in my life, I have viewed my ego, hanged naked in Public, I have viewed most precious assets of my life , stolen by those, whom I doubted even have the ability to think negative, Such a Poison dear Friend, I have tasted that now even wine delights me not! I have learnt to romance with the despair, I feel content when somebody promises to help me and leave me when he is most required! I feel content, when the ladies, in whose admirations I wrote Poems, mock my melodies, laugh at my madness with their friends, and the collective laughter, that insults my passion, fills me with a deepest joy of despair! Such a life have I lived my friend, that now, it troubles me not to take care of what I am unconsciously doing… Ah Pardon Dear Fellow!”

Silent prevailed for five complete minutes. Hayat seemed to be unmoved by the devastating speech of Professor, and kept on Smoking his Pipe.

” Why don’t you restore yourself to Normalcy?, Hayat asked in a dominating tone.
” What, according to you is Normalcy? I am a Professor, I have never missed any of my classes, I teach with passion, I contribute to research Magazines.. ”
” No , I mean, the most important element of one’s life, a family, a disciplined life, a wife to share bed with, child to have love with”
“Professor Hayat, I have joined your University recently, We have become good friends, due to your intellectual plight, but a part of my life remains startlingly shrouded. Probably what you call, Normalcy, is an state of perennial problems, but Since, You are “Normal”, I respect your opinion.”
“Oh, Pardon me for intruding your mysterious Privacy, I thought, I know you completely”
“Oh No Please, there is no need for the apology, I just don’t have enough emotional capacity to share my past, and the way it has shaped my philosophy of living. I love it when, In the Play, “The Misunderstanding” by Albert Camus, Mother Kills his own Son by misconceiving that He is the guest at her INN, because he left home, 20 years ago, and now a grown-up, he was not recognizable to his Mother. You see now, It is all trash, that speaks of Motherly affection, a universal subject of care! I love it when Elliot says ” Would that She dies some afternoon, afternoon grey and smoke, and leave me sitting with the pen in hand”.. Imagine, Hayat, Imagine, Person without whom , you think your life would be a Dungeon, dies before your eyes.. Ah What a marvellous Melancholy! .. You seem distracted, relax Dear Friend, I am not a misogynist, nor a realist, I am just an ever-devastated, Professor Of English Literature, Ignoble Hussein Haetim, who is supposed to be put into Dustbin, when his breaths stop violating Planet earth.

 

Hayat never had a chat like this before, To Him Hussein was a man of high intellectual Plight, Students loved to be around him. Though irresponsible but highly sophisticated Man. He knew that the reason. his University was improving its rank in the country , was only  due to the research Papers of Professors like Hussein. The only Pakistani Professor, published in the Shelly Number of Oxford Literary Magazine.
“Professor, You remind me of Nietzsche, a genius, polluted by the circumstances, misunderstood at large, and deficient in receiving care and affection”
“Yes, My Mustaches, may remind you of him, but my sufferings..may be.. I am not having Migraine attacks yet.
Hayat Laughed, Hussein’s eyes enfolded his Laughter in the deepest calmness of his room
“Let’s go out, have some tea, you seem extremely exhausted”, Said Hayat
” Why not, an evening without  tea, is a smile without sentiment”
They went out, Professor Hussein was bit disturbed. Hayat sensed that he desperately needs loneliness but couldn’t ask him. They were both silent, until Hayat realized that Hussein was far away from him. He went to him and asked to return as he was not feeling well, but Hussein assured him of his normalcy  , so they continued treading towards the Cafe. Pedestrians in Karachi, face severe troubles in crossing the roads, all the vehicles, roaring like monsters, all set to kill you. Same was going to happen with Hussein, thought Hayat, though he ignored such thought, sensing it a sheer nonsense, until he heard Professor saying:
” Are You thinking, that I would be hit by one of the Vehicles in this heavy traffic and fall dead?”
Hayat, had always believed that Telepathy was an illusion, but this time, he had no choice other than switching his belief.
“No, How could I dare to allow such a thought, travel unto my mind”, He Lied.
They entered cafe, took tea, and returned  home, safely.
“Professor, continued Hayat, In your recent research Paper, you have written that ” Love your beloveds but devastatingly”, It is more than a normal oxymoron, I mean what do you mean by this”
” Don’t take my writings too seriously, they are mere loads of hogwash”
” A load of hogwash to you, is for us, a work, washed with water of supreme artistry, tell me What do you mean by the word “devastatingly” ”
Hussein sighed deeply, closed his eyes, Hayat  watched a tear kissing his cheek. He went to another room. There was a death-like silence in the room. Half hour passed, Hayat felt guilty of asking such a question, he was about to leave until he heard the steps of Hussein approaching him. Hussein had a letter in his hand, almost soaked with his tears.
” I am so sorry Professor, I never knew, that this would leave such an impact on you” Hayat regretted
Hussein gestured NO with his hand, and waved his hand to him, signalling him to Sit down, They both sat.
” Hayat, My Friend, You have such an aroma of Loyalty and greatness in your personality, that I find it curse to myself, If I lie to You. This, my dearest, is a letter written to me by a Girl, I loved during my student Life, it reads:
” Mr. Sad Man, Just because I admire your Poems, doesn’t mean, I am Physically attracted to you. Your shabby bear, boneless nose, and dark complexion make you look like almost a terrible African. Humanity is almost touching the year of 2000, grow up! writing Poems , while sitting at the bay of river, won’t earn you anything. It is therefore my tenderest request to you to please be a human, start a normal life, there are the bundles of girls around you, get to any of them, have relations, and start another, just as that. Don’t burn you mid-night oil by writing over me, I am lifeless, I have already undergone many tragedies in my life, please don’t spoil my education. Yes, I laughed at your poems, which saddened you I know, but believe me , Love with such a desperation is only fictitious. See me tomorrow, I need to tell you something, don’t let your that old-fashioned friend know this…
Regards, Heera”

Now, Hayat, what stroke me most in those terribly young years of mine, was the contradictory approach in that girl’s thought and lifestyle. At one side, It was okay for her to have bundles of Romances, while on the other side,  she said, it was not possible for her to have any relations. She admired my poems, and laughed at them. I appreciated her almost magnetizing physical appearance but she always added miseries to my already unpleasant look. But one thing was for sure, I loved her devastatingly. Though, her actions and words had poison in them, but I always liked to get grilled by the tyrant like her. At the day, when she asked me to see her, I fell depressed. Because, I had only two Pents Shirts, Of which one I sold to buy a whitening cream, of whose add , I recently watched on a TV in a hotel, and the other one was terribly stained with a dirt. I had my Kurta, that my mother sewed with her hands, so that I can wear it during Jumma offerings, sign of her religiosity. So, that Kurta, which my Mother sewed with Love, seemed to me, an insult while meeting her. I contacted Dad for the money, as I can buy new cloths, He repliedd, that the Landlord has not yet released his year-long detained funds, and that Family was having severe crisis, almost a famine-like situation was in home. So ,  my deepest despair of clothing, and feeling of happiness of meeting her, made me an epitome of Nostalgia. I went to her anyhow. She opened the chapters of the miseries, life had caused her. Of all the miseries, that she told me, one was that She was raped by her own Uncle!! Such an incestuous crime, sent an electric wave unto my body, I felt ground shifting beneath, but to my surprise, she said that, now she feels sympathies for him, as he cares alot for her!  You imagine Hayat, In Psychology, it is simply an “Stockholm syndrome” , where you develop feelings of sympathy for your oppressors but to me, it was something not acceptable to a young mind, who loved a lady devastatingly. I , never again dared to look at that girl. But, She always dominated my thought. Just a fort-night after that shock, my father told me, that My Mom fled with a Man, who owned some land, next to our village, leaving behind me and my younger brother, who was then 13, and I 19. And, as a boy, grown up in a Feudal society, I asked father, to behead the man, but was replied that “They are powerful”.. Such a helplessness Hayat, such a misery! Can You Imagine the traumas, I underwent in a young age as such, but still Both these Ladies, dominate my writings, I, at some tenderest corner of my heart, loved them “devastatingly”!

Hayat, felt his heart throbbing in chest, he was completely electrified! ..

” Ah, Hayat, feel free to leave me alone, a man like me, can only add miseries to your happy life”
“No, Professor!”
“Please, Leave me, my dearest”

 

Hayat left Professor’s Home, came to his house , burnt his thesis , written on a “Importance of Normalcy in Behavioral sciences “.
Professor Hussein, never married, and soliloquized often, when Hayat went to meet him, but he never inquired him about restoring the life to normalcy or why to love devastatingly!

By: Gohar Ali Memon

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