i remember watching him walk towards me in a loose t-shirt that bared his collar bones and a pair of really worn out cargo shorts and thinking: is there anything more beautiful in the world than the sight of this gangly, smiling man?
i remember watching him cross and uncross his legs uncomfortably at S’s place, flashing a sympathetic little smile from across the room at him and thinking how very similar we were: we both hated loud gay gatherings
i remember us, lying side by side on a very loosely woven charpoy on his rooftop. the sky is split in sultry hues of violet and ochre as i read agha shahid ali’s “tonight” and he, in his lazy, low voice points out shahid’s possible references to gay sex, making me giggle
i remember him brushing his fingers lightly across my arm as we walk under the amaltas trees on jail road one balmy may night
i remember his child-like excitement on spotting the thousands of fireflies hovering over the rose bushes in lawrence gardens
i remember our late night phone calls, listening to the sound of him sipping chai, him teaching me “new” words (bukkake, scat!) and laughing hard at my shock and disgust, his toneless renditions of ‘bahon may chale ao!’ and ‘kahin pyar ho na jae’
but most of all i remember his voice breaking when on a clear, starry night not very long ago, he tells me he cannot. that it’s too complicated
the muezzin in the mosque next door is blaring out call to isha prayer. suddenly it’s very hot. im sweating all over. i rummage through my pockets for a used piece of tissue paper. it’s killing me, his silence
‘im not comfortable with the age difference between us’, his voice is like a million tiny daggers cutting into my flesh. i want to cross my arms tightly around my chest. but i cant move. ‘you’re young and beautiful. you will find many others like me’
i want to shake him hard. tell me it’s him i want, not someone else. ‘it just feels so wrong. i was your teacher not so long ago. imagine what your friends would say. your parents. your brother’
i remember feeling helpless and empty. like someone had gouged out my innards. i remember opening and closing my mouth repeatedly in a failed attempt to argue, but knowing deep down that i have already lost this battle
i remember walking home later that night, sobs shaking my frame. the fakir in his red tunic and unshorn hair is singing about sultan bahu and the panjtan. i sit next to him on the shining courtyard floor of data sahib’s shrine and let my tears run. i cry like a bereaved widow, wailing. nobody here judges me
the homeless are starting to gather for their free sehri meals. my tears have dried. the fakir is curled up next to a stray kitten. his rejection is a distant memory somewhere in the back of my head now. i walk over to the young man doling out laal sherbet. my throat is parched
i feel so much better, lighter.
im seven and mummy’s taken me to data sahib. she’s giving out sweetened yellow rice to the many poor children who have gathered around her.
on our way back i ask her who’s data sahib. he is the patron saint of this city, she tells me, he always eases the pains and sufferings of his children
During the month of July 1951 a team of Russian archaeologist experts, were surveying the Valley of Kaaf. Perhaps they were busy in finding a new mine. They noticed a few pieces of rotten wood at a place. The group officer started digging the place. To his surprise he found heaps of wood pressed there under the earth. Experts by observing a few layers speculated that these woods are extraordinary and possess obscure mystery.
They excavated the place with deep interest. They found quite a good amount of wood and many other things. They also found a long rectangular wooden plate. The experts were surprised to observe that this particular plate ad measuring 14" x 10", was in far better condition among other wood which were on the verge of decomposition, due to aging. After investigation at the end of 1952, experts came to the conclusion that this particular plate belonged to Noah’s Ark, which had rested on the peak of Mount Calff (Judy). And the plate, on which a few words of some ancient language were inscribed, was fixed on the Ark.
After it was proved that the wood found in the excavation are that of the Noah’s Ark, the curiosity as to what was written on the wooden plate was aroused. A board of experts was appointed by the Russian Government under its Research Department to investigate the language of the wooden plate. The Board started its work from the 27th of February 1953. Following were the members of this board:
Prof. Solomon (Sula Nouf), Professor of Languages, Moscow University Prof. Ifahan Kheeno, scholar in ancient languages, Luluhan College, China Mr. Mishaou Lu Farug. Officer I/c fossils, manager of ancient monuments Mr. Taumol Goru, Professor of Languages, Cafezud/Kivzo College Prof. De Pakan, Professor of ancient monuments, Lenin Institute Mr. M. Ahmad Colad, Manager of general excavations and discoveries, Zitcomen Research Association Major Cottor/Kolotov, Head of Stalin University
So these seven experts after eight months of research come to the conclusion that this plate was of the wood used in making Noah’s Ark and that the Prophet Noah had put this plate on his Ark for the safety of the Ark and for receiving favor of God.
In the center of the plate, there is a drawing of a palm shape on which some words of ancient Saamaani language are written. Mr. N. F. Max, Expert, Ancient Languages, Britain (Manchester), has translated the words written on the wooden plate, in English as follows:
“O my Lord, my helper! Keep my hand with mercy and with your Holy Bodies, Mohammed, Alia, Fatima, Shabbar (Hassan) , and Shabbir (Hussain). They are all biggest and honorable.” The world established for them Help me by their names. You can return to right.
People were surprised to learn these writings. They were surprised as to how this particular plate after centuries of exposition to nature did not decompose but maintained its form. The plate is still preserved at the Center of Fossils Research Moscow, Russia. If you ever have a chance to visit Russia you would be able to see the actual plate, and it will consolidate your faith in Ahl-ul-Bait.
The Soviet Union has now hidden the plate and it is no longer under public view. Below are pictures from the researcher’s book.
The translation was documented in the following news Papers:
· Weekly - Mirror: U.K., December 28,1953. · Star of Britain: London, Manchester, January 23,1954. · Manchester Sunlight: January 23,1954. · London Weekly Mirror: February 01,1954. · Bathrah Najaf: Iraq, February 02,1954. · AI-Huda: Cairo, March 31,1954. · Ellia - Light, Knowledge, & Truth, Lahore, July 10,1969
From a hadith of our Prophet, the following is quoted:
Prophet Mohammed (S. A. W.) said: “My family is like Noah’s Ark. Whoever embarked on it was saved. Whoever missed it drowned.”