Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chapter no. 6: The Second Meeting (III)

It was a very long road at one side of which, were thick and shady trees. At this hour of night, the shade of those trees was making the dark night darker, and if those street light poles with dimmed orange light, would haven’t been present at the other side of the road then perhaps it would have been difficult for him to walk on that darker road. The road was wide and deserted.

He was walking quietly; unaware of destiny, both hands in the pockets of his pants, like his only purpose would be to walk on that long road.

For a while he kept walking like this then as soon as he turned his neck on the right side, saw a human shadow walking parallel to him. He stopped and tried to see the man who was walking under the shade of the trees and that’s why it was difficult for him to guess who he is? He kept looking him with a surprise standing at his place.

That human outline had moved somewhat ahead by walking but then he looked that shadow stopping and turning back and the style of his turning was like as he would be looking him.

“Why did you stop, Ilaaf? Come.” He heard a grave, commanding and little bit kind tone of an old man. On an unknown way, hearing his name from a stranger was certainly surprising for him.

He walked and came ahead in a mechanical fashion.

“Who are you? And how do you know me?” The man moved towards him and just after his few steps, Ilaaf was able to look him because the man was coming out from the shade in the light of street poles. Ilaaf looked, he was an old man but his health was admirable; age would probably be between sixties and seventees, had softness on his face but his white hairs, white eye brows and white beard was enhancing his looks as a commanding one.

Ilaaf kept looking his mysterious personality for a while. The man was wearing long blue color robes and had a girdle around his waist of the same color; had a turban like cap on his head whose color was like his robes.

Ilaaf really had seen him from head to toe. The man was not felt to him of his city or country; neither from his clothes and perhaps nor from his features. His eyes were big and shiny whose color was unrecognizable for Ilaaf in the orange light. His complexion was a mixture of white and red.

“I am your friend.” The oldman said smiling.

“But I don’t know who you are. I am meeting you first time today then how can you be my friend?” He was puzzled.

“When a child is born into the world, he doesn’t know anyone but then he starts recognizing everyone. You too are born in this world just now therefore don’t know anyone but there is nothing to be worried about it, you will know everyone slowly and gradually like as you are knowing me right now.” He smiled in a very meaningful way and started walking on the road again.

Ilaaf was so confused, but was not able to understand anything so he had no other option except to walk along with him.

Then while walking he said again.

“What is your name?” Perhaps he was supposed to say due to his nature.

He turned his head and looked Ilaaf smiling.

“I have no name or if had even then now I don’t have any name. Some people call me guide, some call alchemist. You can call me whatever you like to.” He was talking to Ilaaf just like a friend.

“Are you really an alchemist? Do you really have capability to transform the metal into gold, water into elixir of life and stone into gem?” The smile of the man grew deeper.

“This can’t be decided by me. This has to be decided by you, Ilaaf. Stay with me in this journey and decide yourself that do I possess the quality of an alchemist or not?” For a while, Ilaaf couldn’t say anything then another question came from somewhere.

“What’s this place? Where are we right now?”

“This is a city, Ilaaf. A city every man has to visit at least once in his life, however somebody spends many years out here while somebody can’t stay just for few moments. Everybody here is in search for something, the wish to get or acquire something or anything brings everyone here. Here everybody will found to be in search of answer of a question. Questions, whose answers can’t be found in books, can’t be searched in words of a scholar, can’t be filtered from the lesson given by a speaker, just are found on having a quest for them. Sometimes even after searching hard the books for the entire life, man remains unsuccessful to find the answers of some questions, and those answers are found in a unique way again and again on the roads, on the paths, on the round-abouts, on street corners, on the house tops of this city and open a gate of awareness on man which was hidden earlier. The right to ask question is given to those, who are blessed with the courage to find their answers, Ilaaf.” He became silent.

The road was turning towards the right side somewhat ahead. Ahead from that turning, there was a lake at the left side. He was moving towards the lake.

Ilaaf was quiet and in a deep thinking. He understood half of the words of the alchemist while half of them passed above of his head.

There was a bunch of trees near the lake. One after other both of them crossed the bunch and came out, there was a road and across the road there were many houses in a series. All of those houses were double story and were completely identical; somebody could be just able find a difference among them with so much difficulty.

Ilaaf with alchemist kept walking between the streets of the city being so much amazed and kept praising the architect who had designed the city. It was a piece of architectural beauty. Ilaaf had never seen so much organized and amazing infrastructure in his life like this. Streets were wide; houses were the outstanding evidences of the art of construction. The doors and windows made up of elegantly cut wood and polished artistically, and the piece of art engraved on them. The airy balconies that were opening towards the road and charming floral plants hanging with them; the chimnies of red bricks and the gloomy lighting of colorful bulbs set on the walls, spreading in the form of the patches; on round-abouts the fountains bathing in blue lights; the endless series of trees on both sides of the roads; the big marble pillars on both sides of the street corner, and the arch that was connecting those pillars with each other.

Ilaaf kept looking everything being stunt. The city was deserted at this hour of night; perhaps it was a resting time for everyone.

Both of them came out of a street and then sat on a wooden bench that was set near the marble pillar, and just then Ilaaf remembered that he should ask another question.

“Alchemist! I want to ask a question from you?”

“Ask.” He looked Ilaaf smiling.

“The city is so beautiful but neither I saw this city before nor heard anything about this city. Where is this city? I mean where is it situated?” He looked the smile of the alchemist grew deeper on this question.

“Inside you.” The voice of the alchemist went strange and the tone was mysterious.


  1. A city that is lying inside us is a fabulous anecdote, and a perfect guide to show that is an alchemist.

  2. Does this alchemist live inside us? Is he what is better known amongst us as the heart?

  3. I cant help keep coming here. MashaAllah! A very profound piece! One more question: does this city symbolize our aqal which through the aid of the alchemist( which is the heart)lead us to work towards creating a harmonious environment inside us, by generating within us some sort of a self-exhortation system which would in turn "make" us to utilize our outer body parts such as limbs, eyes, ears, mouth etc in order for that harmony to be engendered, and ultimately, our body, (both its inner and outer forms, that is) finds peace. And i think, the process doesnt stop here. It goes one step further and that is when our body lives in perfect harmony with our soul. And technically speaking, the English word "heart" does not fully encompass the urdu word "qalb", which i think is alluded to by the alchemist in your story. So whereever I have written "heart" in my comment(s), i actually meant the "qalb".
    Once again, I am extremely proud to have known you not only as a dear friend, but as an "already accomplished writer" too. Thank you for sharing your precious moments with the stupid person that I very much am!

  4. Dear Sadia, thank you so much for coming and giving a detailed comment about your personal reflections about this world inside you.

    I personally request to Sir Akhtar, to give the answers of the questions you have asked because I think he can explain these things in a better way.

    And finally, you are not stupid infact talking to you help me to think about new options and thus that increase the canvas of my inside world:D

  5. Andheri raat hai saya tu mera ho nahi sakta
    Phir ye kon hai jo meray saath chalta hai
    Alchemist is neither real nor unreal, what an alchemist does? It simply produces Gold from amalgamation of certain ingredients, and what are those? This only the Alchemist knows. Each one of us live a dual life, one that is lived for others and the other which is lived for oneself. The duality is the result of two lives that man knows. The life of Jannat (Paradise) and the life of earth. The life of Paradise was for oneself and again on second visit it would be a self bliss only. But the life of this world, is to be lived for others and the only meaning in this life comes when it becomes selfless and for others.

    Qalb and Heart are simply same, the center, and what is the center? Center is a square where left, right, north and south, meet vertically and horizontally, the dual life that is in our veins meets at this center and the Gold of alchemist gets minted into the currency called love. Who is the Alchemist? Where is he? Alchemist is the one that lives between our duality and walks with us in dark nights.

  6. Urooj, what to say more after this beautiful post and the thoughtful comments of Sadia and Sir Akhtar..

    I remember when I read this part/scene of your novel in Urdu I was like 'lost' in it. But the sequel of this scene is more engrossing..

  7. Sir Akhtar, Sadia and Komal! thank you so much for coming, reading and sharing your words here.

    Sadia, I hope now you well got the answers of your questions.

    Sir Akhtar, you have described this process of alchemy beautfiully. Thank you so much.

    Komal, yes I remembered how you reacted on reading this scene, and well I can't say anything about its sequel. Let it come and others to decide how is it?

  8. “When a child is born into the world..." i likes this para!

    "... The right to ask question is given to those, who are blessed with the courage to find their answers, Ilaaf." i likes this too!

    yar it's amazing scene! After the dream (which 3 people saw) i loved this scene! don't know why... mmm... may be due to these keywords:

    alchemist, his personality, his way of speaking, a student and a master, kindness, wise old man, master of chemistry, ending, traveling in heart...

  9. After reading Sir Akhtar's comment... I want to meet the alchemist residing in me!

    Yup! u've posted another one! so m jumping over there now. :D

  10. rIZ, thank you for reading and liking the post.