There was once a world without you. Someone was celebrating your expected and awaited arrival and some bore hardships and pains to bring you into this world. With the first click you land into this place which is a beautiful masterpiece of the creator. You are an adorable baby, a joy to your parents who bear those sleepless nights and support your helplessness with unconditional smiles on their faces. Just with a few more flicks, you are a daring toddler of your proud parents who cherish the first steps of your independence and confident walk. Your mind tells you that you can do it but your body disagrees. This still developing co-ordination between your brain and body makes you stumble. But there is always a pair of gentle hands to pick you and tell you, ‘You can do it’. Those hands and reassuring hugs make you fearless and failures do not scare you. Falls and bumps don’t stop you from experimenting new challenges.
You talk silly and they kiss you. You do not make sense and they hug you. You trip and they lift you high. You scribble lines and they appreciate you with raised eyebrows and dropped jaws. You do most silly things to catch their attention and make your presence felt. You go cross if ignored and they try to please you with hugs and kisses, hide and seek, ‘horse-rides’ on their backs etc. You can’t share them with any other child as you are too possessive about them.
With a few more flicks you are a confident school going child. Exams are the most difficult days in one’s life, you think. But, they support you and celebrate when you get down the stage after a performance or winning a race. Their world revolves round you. Their sleeps, social life, work and holidays; you are one factor that affects all of these.
Life is changing for you. You feel you are big and smart enough to know everything; a teenager filled with energy. Something in you tells you that you can conquer the world. Your ideals begin to change. ‘No’ is the word you don’t like to listen but would use often. You see colours in your life and with a few more flicks you have another beautiful person to fit in frame with you and soon the cycle repeats. You have a little one of your own and you are overjoyed with this little cry and chuckle in the house.
This album of life is strange; an overlapping connected series of circles where we all are in different stages of the track.
The lovely hands which cuddled you are now wrinkly and those bright faces are now sagging. The legs, which ran with you on the shoulders, are now weak. They trip and topple. Despite their physical weakness, their support makes your life and career successful. They are entering into the last phase of their lives. They have started talking silly. They sometimes make no sense at all. Laugh, cry or shout for no logical reason. Sometimes their ‘childish’ and attention seeking behaviour disturbs you. They need someone to talk to, sit with them and hold their disjointed wrinkly hands without even asking for a word, or sometimes just a word of love and a gentle smile exactly like you did when were young and silly but adorable to them, remember?
‘And whomsoever We bring to an old age, We reverse him in creation (making him go back to weakness after strength); so do they not understand?’ [Al-Qur’an 36:69]
Life goes on and a day comes when they reach their finish line in the circular track of life. (The circle doesn’t stop for anyone). The beautiful hands, the shady trees under which you felt safe, the warm hugs that gave you confidence are no more.
If you had any sleepless nights because of them, and you got a chance to feed and clean them like they did when you were young, consider yourself as an extremely lucky person, although no one can return the debts of parents’ love and hardship; not even a single scream of the mother when she cried and tried to bring you to this world and smiled immediately after you came in her arms.
Another flick! You’re a weak elderly with your children running for a ‘successful’ life and you are sitting in an armchair, reading newspaper with those glasses on and a walking stick by your side. Your mind is still young and keeps reminding you the highly energetic life you spent which involved struggle, joy, grief, and celebration, disappointment and hopes. But your body doesn’t agree. You know everything that the world holds with people around you who think you know nothing, but they don’t realise they are just a few steps behind in the big circle of life.
The circle of life never stops. We don’t have a special eye to look at the future but our parents are a mirror of where life could take us. Our boasting energetic bodies and minds do not allow us to see that we’ll be in exactly the same state of feebleness, frailty and dependence if we live up to that age. Life is too fast and unpredictable and we are all running after ‘God-Knows-What’ with too little time to love each other. It’s the love and the loved ones who make life worth living. Let’s give our parents their rights, our love and respect. We can try to return at least 1% of what they’ve given us; sit with them, listen to them, obey them in Allah’s limits, smile at them, hug them often and feel the contentment and blessings of Allah that come our way. If we have this treasure and guaranteed entry to paradise and God’s pleasure, we shouldn’t waste our chance.
‘And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.” (Al- Qur’an 17:22-24)