Would you take you?

Am a dreamer, a daydreamer! I zone out and sometimes can’t even notice or hear someone talking right in front of me! I have scary thoughts not because of some grotesque creatures involved but the finality of the thoughts. End of the line stuff, no rehearsals, no second chances. Game over! I think of the day I will meet Him, the day my whole life will be played back to me. I ask myself will I be shocked by some of the things I would have done? Be in denial, fake amnesia, like it would help or be in total shock that I am actually unworthy. These are the thoughts that keep me striving for the best version of Hassan I can ever possibly be, am going to give it my best shot after trying a thousand times and it will be a wrap. One last scream of, action! A performance not for the audience but for myself, I have to know that’s the best I could ever have done no matter how many chances am given.

Don’t you ever wonder when it gets to that day, would He take you? Just simply ask yourself right now would you take you? Those thoughts I have, might make me sound suicidal but my religion encourages them. It says a man who thinks of death and the hereafter often can never be swept in by this passing dream that we call life. Yes it’s as useless as a dream, since we can hardly carry anything from this life to the next but our actions. Which takes me back to the question, would you take you? If you were your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend would you be pleased with you? What if you were your parents would you proudly announce to the world that this is my son or daughter? Would you want you for a child? How about if you were your child, would you want you for a parent? Would you never envy other children’s parents and wished they were yours? The weird thing is that, all that doesn’t matter, you can fool the whole of mankind but there’s only one judge. The world may never love you, it’s a tough audience that requires two faced people to please everyone. The task should be easier since it’s one almighty, one critic to please. I have always thought the best tact would be to become your own worst critic. Make sure you’re most honest to yourself above all else, so that when that day finally comes around and they play that reel it just brings a smile to your face. Make sure you would take you.

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I AM

l am ready to fight not because i’m strong, but because i’m brave. I see the beginning and see the end. I am neither old nor young, just living. I am not numb, deaf or blind but will pretend not to have felt, heard or seen.

I am no rock but can’t easily be moved, because my faith is strong. I have a few principles but love breaking rules, not my own though. I am sensitive but not the crying type because it won’t change a thing.

I am my mother’s and father’s son but i’m my own man. I am all these things and more, a citizen of the world, but above all, I am a Muslim first and total submission to the will of Allah is what i crave for most.

I am a black man, built strong and proud. Racism could never hold me down. I fought that fight better than the ones i had in the ring. That’s the fight that meant the most to me.

I duck, fly and jab, will never cow to any man. In that ring i float, glide and dance. I don’t flinch, i move fast and hurt with a menacing punch.

I talk a lot before i box because sometimes that’s the best punch one can throw. I have hurt many that way before the bell could go! The psychological blow my most effective weapon of choice.

My people are my love, pride and joy and these bouts are for them all. That’s why my fight could never end in the confinement of a boxing ring.

I am mean, tall and quick, like a machine when i step into that ring. I make my opponents freak out in their sleep. I haven’t met a man i didn’t think i could beat.

I am no doubt the greatest fighter that ever lived, a gladiator of modern times and i thank the Almighty Allah for this gift. I am the greatest.

Believe me i am.

“Channeling my inner Muhammad Ali”

Human masks

When I was a young unruly teenager, I had a more unruly very close friend called Apollo. He would kill me for the narration that follows, but since he lives in America, miles away, am going to take my chances. I will even flatter him in the hope that it soothes his ego. And there I go messing up my plan! Anyway Apollo told me things that have stuck with me for years. Back then his statements seemed mean and at times insane, but there had always been this mad genius side to him. So despite dismissing them as harsh words from a misguided errant teenager, a part of me always knew they could be some wisdom in there.

Over the years, my crazy friend’s statements have been proved right on so many occasions that i at times feel like those guys who thought Einstein was a fool. You see how I’m appeasing his ego, spoils it again, damn! Most of the things he used to tell me were his insights on human nature. He seemed to know people quite well and was a good judge of character. Maybe he will now be thinking, “I couldn’t have been such a good judge of character since I made you idiot who’s airing out my dirty linen a friend!”

The one I recall most is the fracas we once had with a guard to the hostels of the girls we dated back then. We were denied entry just because we were not parting with the usual small fee that we had made a habit as our prerequisite to be granted permission to sleep over. We tried to explain that we were broke that day, and, the “chai” as we referred to the small bribe, should be carried on to the next time we visit. The guy refused and later got physical when he found Apollo trying to climb the security perimeter wall to gain access to his girl’s room. After exchanging vulgarities and almost physically fighting we walked away horny and defeated.

As for Apollo it was even worse as the barbed wire had torn through his favorite shirt and trouser. That’s when he told me one of his wise words about humans, in a nut shell, he said, “never look at someone and feel sorry for them because of their miserable situation or standing in life. A good example being that guard, God knew if he gave him a position of more authority he would have been a tyrant. Look at how he treats us with the little power he has!”

Back then I laughed because I knew that it was the bruised ego and horniness talking, it turns out he was right as i have come to realize. Most people are exactly where they deserve to be, not all but most. Scratch that all, scratch that again, most.

We meet people in our everyday lives in misery and think they need to be rescued, yet some of them for society’s sake need to be exactly where they are. Otherwise, our world would be filled with vile little despots, making everyone’s life miserable. There are those whose lives changed so early because of an incident that they can’t remember and so all that has happened to them ever since, is what most folks refer to commonly as karma. Then there are those that act like they have it all but are so sad on the inside, you wouldn’t want to be them even for a millisecond. Be careful what you wish for!

There are those who don’t know who they are, because they have spent a huge part of their lives pretending or acting like others and thus lost track of their real selves. A few people can never be understood because they’re so damaged and conflicted, so with them you have to expect the unexpected. They’re like a ticking time bomb. There are those who seem to be born in the wrong life time, these never fit in and will forever feel disillusioned. In fact they’re shocked at how normal we think we are.

I for one am glad many humans pretend, we can never understand them all. And I wouldn’t want to. Few can be truly themselves and am grateful for the masks they wear because this would have been truly an ugly world if they revealed their true selves. Some would light up our world obviously, but these are the very minority among the mask wearers. So keep those masks on, because some of you really need them. For the very few you’re truly diamonds hidden in mud, be brave and let out the glow.

I hope you don’t assume that I don’t realize that back then we were spoilt little brats and the guard was well within his rights. It also doesn’t escape me that we were best buddies with the guard when we had the “chai.”

Though since then I have grownup and been in or observed many situations where guards, receptionists, clerks, nurses e.t.c have abused their power. So the next time you see someone with a crappy job acting all bossy, just picture them with a better one with more authority and then you will understand why God with His infinite wisdom never gave them more. The best way to ever know the real character of a person, is to observe them when they have nothing and when they have everything. If they are the same person, then that’s the real them.

Otherwise, misery and comfort usually will bring out different sides to someone. Hence why the poor seem so humble and the rich so arrogant. However it’s very possible that even the humble poor person, could be as mean as the rich guy. They are all wearing masks that help them survive. Perception is everything. The rich will explain it away as what he has to do to command fear, to get things done. The poor are humble because they can’t afford to be arrogant as it would cost too much. Besides, sympathy can make people do things for you that they wouldn’t have done if they didn’t feel empathy. I guess you can never know till tables are turned! Genuine humans are really few and very hard to find just like precious stones. Most of us just wear human masks.

True Greatness

I have always been a staunch admirer of great people. Those larger than life individuals that leave a permanent mark and redefine or change our perception of life. I have envied such people for as long as I can remember and it explains why am a big fan of epic movies and biographies. Movies like “Brave heart” and “The Gladiator,” had my heart racing and ready to charge onto the battle field like I was personally aggrieved. I have always wondered what inspired them! What kept them going to overcome what seemed like insurmountable obstacles.

So then what makes a man or woman great? Is it their timing? Or is it Love, passion, pain, a willingness to die for a cause? Or could it be greed, persistence and a resolve to never settle for less? Could it just be that unmatched hunger or thirst that isn’t easily quenched! Could it all be destiny, a story already written for these towering humans and therefore a favor from God bestowed at birth?

Whatever the answer to these questions are, the truth remains that these individuals despite hailing from different regions and eras in history, they were great men and women. This brings me to another important question: What is it that separates these people from the rest of us “mere mortals”? Over the years, I kept reading their stories and watched them being depicted in movies. They had simple upbringings. There was definitely no myths of stars aligning on the nights they were born. There were no prophesies like we see in epic trilogies. They were, unbelievably very simple humans just like you and I, if not simpler who, with dedication, timing, persistence and luck, rose to heights that make their stories leave you in awe.

Greatness, however, is relative. Different people have different versions of greatness. So no matter how great one’s story is, one will always find the naysayers or people who view your hero as the villain. Greatness fortunately or unfortunately is more often than not endowed by history to the victors and not to the vanquished, regardless of methods or morals or lack thereof used by the victor. In my opinion some great leaders like Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini among others were tyrants who are inappropriately labelled as great men. Granted they were military geniuses whose achievements and legacies are unfortunately tainted by the merciless tyranny they used during their eras.

On the other hand, Some of the greatest heroes and liberators of our time were once labelled rebels or insurgents. They were hunted by the “moral big brothers” of our world. Nelson Mandela was at one time on the FBI’s most wanted list! It sounded like a sick joke the first time I was told that. A Nobel prize winner and ultimate idol for millions, but viewed as a threat! Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X and Gandhi all these men were vilified just because they couldn’t tow the line.

Almost all liberators are viewed and perceived as rebels before the liberation is successful, they’re dismissed as mad men disturbing peace. Fidel Castrol of Cuba, Gadhafi of Libya, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia are just but a few examples. This applies to all those that fought colonialism in the colonial era. Great scientists were ridiculed, ignored and dismissed as lunatics. Albert Einstein was called a moron! Am guessing anyone that ever referred to him as that felt like the real moron years later.

When I look at all great men I realize that most of them share similar attributes. Some contradictory to each other. Like someone with bipolar disorder. You find that they will be selfless and greedy; the selflessness endears them to their followers but the greed also helps them not to settle for less. The likes of president Obama, for example had timing favoring him like it was pre destined, leaving you wondering whether he would have stood a chance if he had been born earlier. Or if it hadn’t been for a very poor performing republican president before him, would voters have been chanting his campaign slogan “yes we can”? Then there’s the message they carry, and the words they speak that strike a chord in their followers’ hearts. The hope in those words make their followers believe, trust and follow fanatically. Mandela had passion and persistence, not that Obama didn’t but each has a trait that stood out more than others.

I then realize that the most important thing these men or women share is the fact that God was on their side. Certain things are out of your control and only God can “align the stars for you”. They’re countless men and women who fought more,worked harder and sacrificed much but somehow it’s them that stole the limelight or struck at the right time. You hear of the unsung heroes but that’s where it ends, they stay unsung! History chooses to remember them as footnotes. All they did was do the donkey work, making it a smoother landing for the predestined hero.

We all can’t go down in history as great but we all surely can be great to someone in our own simple way. If in some way you have a positive impact on a fellow human being that alters their life path, that’s greatness. If you haven’t at one point in time compromised, sacrificed, or simply left your comfort zone for the sake of another, then yours is a wasted life. At the end of this life if it’s written on your tomb stone with sincerity “Loving husband or wife and father or mother,” then you’re a great person.

Ironically, this is where most so called greats fall short; for many their families never shared the world’s perception of the man or woman. Its either the price they paid to reach such heights of greatness or they just got their priorities wrong. Personally I would rather greatness to my family than adoration of millions, that’s if I have to choose. True greatness should be owed most to the ones closest to you, they should never come second. So love fiercely, fight for what you believe in, stand up for a less fortunate, live on the edge, be fearless, don’t settle, stand tall, inspire and aspire and above all have faith and trust in the almighty. If all fails, at the very least your life would have been fully lived. Be great.