By Mahrukh Aftab
Growing up with a faith that wavers is tough. Faith that breaks so often you start to question everything, every fact. A short-tempered person never dares to waste a second in reacting to or challenging common beliefs. I never had a stable relationship with my faith nor did I ever try diving deep. The concept of ‘soul’ was foreign to me. Read about it everywhere but never seemed to grasp it fully. Why is it mysterious to the point it leaves you in a trance? My mind often draws the concept of faith and soul together. A soul seems to have a white almost transparent touch to it, while faith when strong, turns a bright yellow and when weak, turns dark with a hint of red to it.
Surrounded by individuals who refuse to accept opinions, passing down the words they once heard despite knowing they could be wrong. It infuriated me, wavered a child’s faith. Is God unforgiving? Like they show him to be? A 10-year-old me desired to explore but was always held back. Hesitating to know more about the one who created me. What if I cross a line? What if I’m not supposed to know more? The hesitation made me pull away. My faith only turned bright yellow when it was convenient for me. Every slight inconvenience would make me waving red flags, constantly complaining.
I never thought being quarantined would make the shade of yellow permanent in every situation. My anxiety rose instantly upon hearing the lockdown announcement. Trapped within four walls that seem to block air. Living in a neighborhood where not even a second passes by without hearing someone talk, nobody dares to whisper anymore. Day one of the quarantine passed by in a flash with my long-forgotten anxiety making a drastic appearance. The void kept growing, from being non-existent to covering everything, leaving my core pitch-black.
Longing for some sort of connection I picked up the phone, scanning the contact list, I never dialed a number, didn’t text anyone. Sat there with tears brimming, the peak of melancholy I’ve never felt before. A week passed in the blink of an eye being physically present with my soul wandering around in search of a place to call home. Do you ever wonder what a lost soul might be feeling when you keep neglecting its basic needs, for example, a home? Imagine the world as pouring rain and the quarantine as a raincoat. Now in my state, I felt dejected. Of course, why wouldn’t I be dripping wet when I forgot to bring a raincoat.
You see, the droplets of water pouring over me weren’t cold, they were boiling, burning my skin like I accidentally splashed acid. I shouldn’t be making this so intense, but trust me it felt intense. Something inside me refused to keep going like that. So, one day I decided to walk away. I told myself that the pouring rain wouldn’t stop if I keep standing here. I took a step forward, turning to a fast-paced walk, and ultimately running as if searching for an escape. My knees buckled, coming across a place lit with a light that looked like it was breaking through straight from heaven. ‘Guidance.’ Hesitating to walk in first but doing so anyway.
Coming to a halt when I saw someone who seemed content and familiar. Couldn’t recognize her but she felt magnetic. It wasn’t anybody, it wasn’t someone from a mystery world. It was my long-lost faith reaching out, trying to reconcile with my wandering soul. From then on spending the nights in a place, wrapped protectively in my faith’s embrace promising to hold on to it even when things go downhill.
Mahrukh Aftab, a student of English Literature, is a Lahore-based blogger. Twitter @mahrukh_aftab