The Fakir

It was a cold winter evening, twilight was ushering in the splendor youth of the night. The last train slowly approached the station. As the train halted on the station, so did some of the anxiety that was rumbling in Ajay’s heart, for the past 14 months he had worked like a dog, work seemed to be a form of escapism, through which he got rid of his worries in life that had haunted him in the past. But now after 14 months of slogging at the office, he finally got a well-deserved promotion and decided to go on a vacation, to explore a new place before the bigger responsibilities of office invaded his peace of mind again. As the train stopped at the station, Ajay jumped out of the train, he wore his stylish leather jacket and with a spring in his step, walked on the train station in his prime, he felt like he was the king of the world.

As he was walking with his swagger on the railway station, he saw an old fakir sitting in a dark corner. The fakir sitting in the dark was a brown lanky old fellow wearing a ragged pant, he was so thin that one could count his ribs by merely looking at his upper body. The fakir was in a degraded state, deprived of food and proper clothing, yet for some reason he had a contended smile on his face. He was poor, but he had a certain charisma that intrigued Ajay.

Seeing the old man’s plight Ajay’s heart filled with a sense of disgust. Ajay saw that the fakir was a victim of starvation so out of pity for him Ajay arrogantly threw his uneaten sandwiched towards the fakir and moved on. As he was walking past the fakir, the fakir in a deep yet gentle tone said “Thank you sir for you act of kindness but human is an emotional creature, feed him with food and his stomach shall be content, but if you feed a man with your love, then his soul shall be imbued with a feeling of gratitude towards you and in his heart an ever flowing river of respect shall flow for you. He shall remember the bliss of your kindness with every breath he takes.”

Upon hearing this Ajay’s pride was hurt, his young blood boiled in anger and he replied in an aggressive way “Old man, I took pity on your helpless state and gave you my sandwich, in return I get this judgmental lecture from you? No wonder you are in such a poor state no matter how much we give to people like you, you guys still beg for more.”

Hearing the harsh words of the angry young man the old man said “I am not at all disgraced by my poverty, my poverty is my biggest treasure to be honest.”

Ajay was perplexed hearing this and he mocked the fakir “How can you regard poverty as your biggest asset? Your ability to think in the right way has obliviously been affected by your age.”

The old man smiled again “Poverty has evolved me into a better human being, it has taught me that like seasons, people and circumstances too change. Poverty has taught me the ability to take setbacks in my stride and evolve as a stronger individual. My poverty has made me master the art of receiving, be it a sandwich or judgmental comments I receive them both with utmost humility and pure emotion of gratitude towards the giver. I am a free man, I have no house, I roam as a wanderer and I consider this world as my playground. Now I ask you sir, has your rich lifestyle enabled you to master the art of giving? Can your rich lifestyle ever enable you to embrace life in the way I do?”

Ajay’s pride had been shattered by the questions that the fakir, asked for the first time his rich life style seemed so shallow to him. His ego bowed down to a poor man’s humble question. He realized that he was wrong in belittling the poor man. He held his head down in shame and he apologized for his harsh behavior.

The fakir continued in a humble tone “In life materialistic thing don’t matter, you are blessed with the ability to give the needy. Make sure to wipe the tears of despair from the eyes of the helpless people around you, leave them with a smile and not tears, for tears are like diamonds. Tears aren’t mere salty water from the eyes but instead they are powerful emotions oozing out directly from the soul. While giving, give a fragment of your soul to the needy this way you will not only touch his life but his soul as well. Life isn’t measured by the number of breathes you take it is also measured by the number of souls you touch in your lifetime. While giving, give like a rose that spreads it’s fragrance without any expectations of joy or pain in return. Don’t be biased while giving for the sun doesn’t differentiate while giving us it’s light, it’s integral existence depends on shining and blessing us all with the treasure of it’s light in the same way. Don’t let your soul be intoxicated with pride like the tides while giving, for tides are bound to come crashing down, instead give with a smile as big as river Nile exhibiting unconditional love and the kindness of your heart.

As Ajay pondered & understood the very essence of the art of giving, the old man stood up gently smiled and humbly thanked Ajay for the sandwich. The fakir then went towards the dark porch of the railway station to sleep. As Ajay saw the old man going away towards the porch, his introspection forced him to reflect that he had given the fakir a sandwich and in return the fakir gave him words of wisdom; he degraded and mocked the fakir’s plight while the fakir gave him the true meaning of life; he felt like the king of the world on getting the promotion while a fakir owned something far more precious, the treasure of poverty. Ajay had a rich lifestyle yet was cursed with stress from various aspects of his life, while the fakir being blessed with poverty relished a stress free life. Ajay had come on a vacation to explore a new place after getting a bigger status in office, but he ultimately ended up exploring in life how shallow his thinking and life condition really was.

The Victim

In this short story I have tried to go against the stereotypical notion that regards Aurangzeb as some sort of a “Darklord” from the past & I have to tried present him in somewhat positive light by writing the story from his point of view.

 

 

  The Victim

 

 

 There was a rumor going around that Shah Jahan was planning to build a black Taj Mahal for himself just opposite the white marble one which he built for his Begum (Queen) Mumtaz Mahal. This is when Aurangzeb planned to launch an attack on the emperor & Dara as he saw this as the best opportunity to catch them off-guard.

 

 “Is Shah Jahan really planning to build a black Taj Mahal?” inquired a surprised Aurangzeb. As he heard the news he had an ominous smile on his face.

 

“This is what a fellow soldier told me. Isn’t it incredible news?” the army chief said with immense excitement.

 

“I’m not fascinated by his desire to construct a black Taj Mahal close to the white Taj Mahal. They would look more like pieces of chess close together, rather than monuments. I see this as an opportunity to seek revenge ” said  Auranzeb in a stern voice

 

The army chief perplexedly asked “Revenge for what? Hasn’t Shah Jahan provided you with all luxuries”

 

“Except for the luxury of having a loving father… There is more to life than materialistic objects.” Aurangzeb went towards the palace as he said this in a sad tone.

                                               

 

The following conversation took place at the army camp next night where Aurangzeb was restlessly walking, waiting for the right moment & the army chief was preparing the troops for war:

 

“This night seems endless. I have waited for this moment all my life, when I brush off mediocrity & claim what should be rightfully mine. Army chief, I want to attack them at the crack of down. Tomorrow, the first ray of the sun would be their moment of reckoning.”  The dark age representing a new era was slowly tip toeing it’s way as an impatient Aurangzeb planned to launch an attack on his brother.

 

Army chief informed him, “Sir, he has the support of emperor Shah Jahan , are you sure you want to attack your own brother & go against your father ?” 

 

Aurangzeb with a tear trickling down from his eye, said in a deep cold voice “Father favoring Dara isn’t some sort of breaking news; it’s always been the case. Dara may have his father as his ally but there is something divine which I possess & that is my determination. It’s my ultimate ally”

 

With vengeance clouding his mind Aurangzeb looked like a blood thirsty warlord whose being craved the decay and death of his enemies. To some extent the army chief had sympathy for Aurangzeb; the emotional turmoil which had victimized him from his childhood was known to everybody. 

 

As the dawn cracked, the first ray of sun proved to be the messenger of massacre: a fierce battle ensued, many great warriors were slaughtered to death. After the intense war ended; Aurangzeb emerged victorious. With the sword of defeat hanging above his head Dara had to flee for his life. Shah Jahan was captured and chained and imprisoned in the coldest corner of a ruined fort. Aurangzeb became the new emperor. 

 

It was a stormy night when Aurangzeb decided to confront his father. The storm seemed to be an external manifestation of the emotions which were raging within Aurangzeb. Just like a predator stalking its helpless prey, with a vindictive smirk, Aurangzeb approached Shah Jahan.

 

 What do we have here ? An arrogant king of the past now in dismal despair? Aurangzeb propounded, sarcastically

 

An aggressive Shah Jahan’s fury knew no bounds. He replied in a nerve chilling way, “I can’t believe you are my son”

 

Aurangzeb retaliated by saying “You never made me feel like you were my father, either. Dara was your blue eyed boy whom you showered with your  love while I was no less than a low level circus clown to you. I used to look upto you; I used to desperately  yearned for love from you. I learnt the Quran, mastered Arabic & Persian just to make you feel proud of me but love was a luxury solely reserved for the apple of your eye (Dara). Where were you when I needed to share my problems with you? You were busy solving problems of people in Diwan-e-Aam /Diwan-e-Khas! Where were you when I designed a Persian poetic symphonies? You were busy designing & constructing some fancy monuments! You always had time for Dara, which you never had for me. You loaded him with precious gifts; all you gifted me was loneliness. You gave respect & fame to him. But you blessed me with depression as a result of which tears have become the jewels of my eyes. I burnt in the agony of inferiority while Dara earned respect in your heart. When love towards you made me weak & helpless, hatred towards you gave me the purpose to exist. … You sowed in me the seed of hatred & I watered it with  my tears. My hatred grew with each  passing day & here I am today,  presenting myself as the ultimate incarnation of evil. You have made me the beast I am today. My heart once had emotions of love & respect for you but as the wheel of time carelessly moved on and as your neglect towards me increased, this heart of mine was transmuted into a stone. All the emotions it once possessed  are now replaced by the poison of hatred.”

“What do you know about being an emperor?

  When you are an emperor you need to pay attention on the overall functioning of the empire! I treated Dara with love because the level of his maturity was simply incredible. In him I saw the ideal ruler & I was training him to be the future king. He would have been the perfect person to carry on the Mughal legacy” said Shah Jahan in a loud & clear voice.

“Is that so, father? Even though I exhibited my superiority over Dara in warfare, still you glorify him, as someone better than me. As always your blind and partial love towards Dara eclipsed the value of my capability. You still question my capability. I may have won this battle against Dara but from my childhood days I have always lost the love of my father to him” replied Aurangzeb .

 

Shah Jahan finally began to realize how unfair he had been to Aurangzeb. He decided to admit his mistake & emotionally said “I am guilty of this injustice towards you. But I did not mean any harm. Everything I did was for the welfare of the empire. Please forgive me for the sorrow I caused you,” his voice cracked as he said this.

 

Turning his back on Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb wiped his tears & said “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether I forgive you or not, the question is whether your own self conscience would forgive you. You are my father & I can’t punish you. I’ll leave you here in this dark cell where you would be haunted by loneliness, just the way I was for ages. I’ll leave it up to your introspection to decide your punishment”

 

Finally, Aurangzeb exhibited his true potential & became the writer of his own destiny. He became a powerful emperor but the love he had sought from his father never became his. People feared him but nobody loved him. He was the most hated emperor in the history of the Mughal empire. He was a victim who later created many innocent people the victims of his immense hatred.