Updated: Nov 13, 2021
“Do not despair my girl…” you once told me. “Learn to trust people, learn to love, learn to smile even when it hurts, and always keep your heart on your sleeve…”
Your words echo in my head even after 5 years of separation every single time I replay my life’s videotape. You were a wise woman, you were my inspiration, my tame light of hope when I was hurt yet curious to know if there is a chance of recovery out there. “…Keep your heart on your sleeve…”, you told me. And I did so, but I waved my sleeves in vain, to the vain people, to the vain achievements, to the vain desires. And how could I know to whom I should extend my arms? How could I find the right person who will embrace that heart that I kept right there at the edge of my sleeve? How could anyone even begin to understand this gift I gave them? How could I know what you meant, if I did not know myself that this heart is not, in fact, mine?
That heart that beats non-stop day or night, that heart that skips faster when someone begins to caress it, that heart that aches when it is afflicted by indifference, that heart that is ready to stop when it witnesses its counterpart pass away…that very heart in fact is not mine….how amusing… isn’t it? How many times have I dropped it, picked it up from the dirt, washed its wounds, and then placed it back on my sleeve, only for it to be taken and dropped down again by someone. That someone, that entity, that cruel creature that dropped my heart so many times into the pool of vain desires, vain pride, vain happiness, vain veneration; that entity I later realized was Dunya. Ah, how alluring she was, how beautiful, how inviting, yet she proved to be cruel and deceiving. “I gave her my heart,” I thought, “it was right there right on my sleeve, isn’t it what she wanted, why would she play with such mercilessness?” Yet again, how could I not know that that heart was not mine, and I could not dispose of it the way I wanted. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that something that sits so deep inside of my own body, something that beats in unison with my own breath in fact is not really in my possession. That heart that I thought serves me, was in fact serving Allah. Since the moment when that lump of flesh was created and the soul has been breathed into it, it never belonged to me. That heart that keeps beating for the appointed time period is actually the creation of the Most Exalted, the Most High. That heart that was given to me for a while can be truly caressed only by the hands of the Most Loving, of the Most Gentle.
You told me to keep my heart on my sleeve and I am still keeping it there ya maa… But my arms are not extended in front of me anymore, they are extended up to the sky, and to Allah, I belong, and to Him alone, I will return.