Sunday, May 18, 2008

In Death, It Lives

This past week and more, I have been very reluctant to open my working email box, doing it every 3rd day or so just to delete rather than read. Since 2 Fridays ago, I have been feeling very much unsettled; my mind constantly preoccupied by matters, personal at that, but which are out of my control. And in doing that, the things which are within, are left much unattended. Quite like living sitting in a canoe that's moving down a rapid, but not wanting to do anything about it. Or caring.

Then I came across this chapter of a book I am reading. Nothing much, just some thoughts and reflections of a Brazilian writer by the name of Paulo Coelho, an author of some 12 books including 'The Alchemist" which I had just finished reading. The "Alchemist" by the way, I find it to be a very enjoyable tale of a boy searching for a treasure across the Sahara Desert, with a touch of mysticism that would enchant many a reader. It, is has a different writing flair than this book I'm reading. Off course, one is a tale of wander, while the other is not. Still, several chapters of this "Like the Flowing River" is quite a gem by itself. Like this particular chapter where I will reproduce 3 paragraphs which sort of woke me up from my stupor:

"People do not think very much about death. Thy spend their lives worrying about absurdities; they put things off, and fail to notice important moments. They don't take risks, because they think it's dangerous. They complain a lot, but are afraid to take action. They want everything to change, but they themselves refuse to change". - Quite true when you look at the results of the PRU12 where not enough Malays voted for the Pakatan Rakyat. Yet, they are the ones who are making most noise. Hmm...quite like what RPK wrote a few months back too.

"The Indians say: 'Today is as good a day as any to leave this world.' And a wise man once said:'Death is always sitting by your side so that, when you need to do something important, it will give you the strength and the courage that you need'. - When I reflect this back to a hadith, this is quite true; "Perform the solat as if you will die tomorrow. But work (hard and honest) as though you will live for a thousand years".

"I hope that you, dear reader, have got this far. It would be foolish to be frightened by death, because all of us, sooner or later, are going to die. And only those who accept this fact are prepared for life". - Somehow this para reminds me a drive along Karak Highway. I find the twisting mountain highway fascinating and rather romantic, perhaps because of the surrounding greenery and the cooling atmosphere. Upon negotiating a bend, my eyes caught a rather contrasting sight though. High on top of a ridge, stood a tall tree. Though its very sight cannot be said to be majestic, it stood tall distinguishing itself in a very prominent manner from all the other tress and plants around it. While it is very difficult to tell the difference between one tree and another, especially when one is driving, this tree seem to 'scream' of its presence, simply because it is dead. In a sea of green, the deathly brownish-dark colour of a tree which is more of a rotten wood, the tree stood tall - it, is more alive than the surrounding living trees.

When the morning sun comes around tomorrow, I don't know whether I will be dead or alive...none of us do. But I do know it will not make any difference; if I die, insyAllah, I will be buried as a Muslim and there's nothing more I can do. If however I do survive the night, then I have to continue fighting the deathly emotional transition of life I am going through, for there's an awful load of work to do. And its called living.


mOEha Aziz said...

salam ya akhi,

or death...

both are as mysterious and promise a whole lot of new adventures...

now i'm humming des'ree's song .. life owh life... :)

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Muha,

How true. Perhaps, you would would enjoy 'The Alchemist' :)

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

awesome shah. wonderfully written. deep, serious and meaningful. i thought the title was about the death casting their votes.

you know what bro, it normally takes me a while to understand a certain words of wisdom. had a long chat with one very wise man and naturally ada dia petik dari Hadith. i was struggle to keep up with the conservation and this got me worried. Nauzubillah, tapi mintak dijauhkan la hati ini digelapkan.

i guess i'm guilty as charged la shah. memang lama dah tak sentuh Al-Quran saya mengaku. always take things for granted. kena mintak org sepak dari belakang baru nak sedar.

tokasid said...

Salam akhi Shah :

Death visits us about 5-6 times a day just to make sure if our time is up or not.

Reminding of death is to keep us on our toes as not to go 'overboard'in whatever we do.

But as the worldly world had sort of take up 85% of my mind I always forget about death. I fail to think about death. When we forget about death we become over confident in life and that can be a starting point of doing vice.

I remember yesterday at Masjid Al-'Azim Pandan Indah, Ustaz Abdullah Yassin was kuliah-ing us about fear and hope(takut dan harap):

1- ketika muda ,sihat dan cergas biarlah takut menguasai harap.Biar ada takut pada ALLAH dan laranganNYA.Jika tiada takut akan timbul overconfidence. Dan bila sudah mula overconfidence dan lebih mengharap akan memulakan bibit maksiat.

2-Bila sudah merumaur atau lemah anggota badan biar lah lebih harap dari takut.Ketika tubuh tidak bermaya lebih lah berharap segala amalan dahulu di terima ALLAh.jangan lebihkan takut.Jangan takut ALLAH tak akan ampunkan kita.Jika terlalu takut dan kurang pengharapan akan timbul perasaan putus asa dan .

cakapaje said...

Salam kerpie,

Bro, we have the same problem...almost every does. As for kicking your butt, well, you have to stand up for me to do that as I sure would not want to be kicking your arse while you are sitting down. What, with all the metal bars of your chair, I'd be crazy to! lol!

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Doc,

Syukran. I like that excerpt from Ustaz Abdullah Yassin, thank you :)

Anonymous said...

dear brother,
coelho's the alchemist is one of the finest work from the author. it rekindles our awareness about things we wish to do but somehow have forgotten to do it.
The way you linked it with the PRU-12 is quite correct. I remember a line from the main character in Nicholas Evan's The Loops - 'the thrill of getting there is actually much better than getting there'. Or, if im not mistaken another line, from Ayn Rand - 'when you get there, there isnt any there'.
But honestly, for the sake of all of us and our future generations, i certainly hope that there is "there".

Kata Tak Nak said...

Typical Malay shouting and screaming for change but ask whom they voted for? Yes, your guest is as good as mine.

Anonymous said...


I'm a big fan of Paulo Coelho! You will love this! He's the first best-selling
author to be distributing for free his works on his blog:

Have a nice day!


cakapaje said...

Salam shirzad,

Stangely, when I first picked up 'The Alchemist', I did not like the first chapter. But I carried on reading and am glad I did.

Er...between the 2 lines you mentioned, I would prefer the more optimistic Nicholas Evan's The Loops - 'the thrill of getting there is actually much better than getting there'. The other, only when I want to be sarcastic :)

cakapaje said...

Hi aart hilal,

Visited your blog, and I must say: my, you are A big fan of coelho! But out of curiousity, are you a Malaysian? No difference to me, just wondering.

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

Lol! I love it when you make such comments. And yes, you know-I know - tst :)

arsaili said...

salam..good tips

Ydiana said...

Hello Shah

A very interesting deep thinking article. Makes one ponder if we had done enough to make sure that we have a happy ending. We all know (or do we all?) that life is temporary and that afterlife is permanent. If we remember death, we'll always be in the state of 'bersyukur' and berusaha for the betterment, life and death. Thanks for the 'reminder'.

When linked to the PRU12, those politicians who still fights arms and teeth (???correct or not?)to keep their positions when people do not want them, I feel, forgets that they can die anytime.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam arsaili,

Thank you. But perhaps you commented on the wrong entry? Just wondering :)

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam ydiana,

Thank you. And yes, I too think those politicians you mentioned do forget they are mere mortals as we are.