Monday, September 13

I Am a Freak

WARNING: Gratuitous self indulgence follows. You have been warned.

Saturday night was a close friend's surprise birthday party. Except I was late. The reason? Well as we're approaching the winter period and the days become shorter the time for Esha is getting earlier and earlier - and on Saturday I decided to read it first before I left. Don't worry, we're getting there.

Now a particular conversation with a friend I hadn't seen for a while turned to how screwed up I was. But this wasn't meant to be an insult, oh no. My friend was in fact noting how I manage to incorporate quite disparate behaviours into my own. In particular the two of religion and Everything Else.

Now this got me thinking. I was pretty sure that I was the only one in that hotel bar that night who had read his Esha already. And I didn't see anyone else perform their Salaat during the Bollywood Star auditions late last year. I made sure I read my daily quarter chapter of the Quran today before The O.C. Between completing Dead Air and starting To Kill A Mocking Bird, I'm squeezing in volume one of Ibn Kathir. I'll go cinema twice a week, but never touch a club.

I haven't skipped a fast in Ramadhan since God knows how long, and I go out to eat at least once a week. I've holidayed in Europe, Bali and Singapore with my non-Muslim friends, and have always asked them for assistance in finding the direction of Makkah. And I've visited Saudi to perform Hajj with my folks (although funnily enough I didn't have to ask them in which direction to pray).

I'll hang out with friends who happen to be female. Sometimes I'll greet them with a hug and possibly even lock arms with them as we walk down the road. But I've never embarked on a deeper relationship and never will unless it's with a view to marry (despite the implicit permission from my folks to do so - "Are you sure you haven't got a secret girlfriend, Shak?" they'll ask, and a bit too desperately come to think of it).

Let me make this clear - I'm no example of a pious-liberal-modern-Muslim. I'm not claiming that my way is the ideal way, or that the world would be wonderful if you all took a leaf out of my book. Like anyone else I am what I am. Why I am like this, I don't know but I have a feeling it has something to do with my paradoxically strict yet liberal upbringing. And I certainly am not preaching, so spare me the accusations of hypocrisy - I know where I stand regarding my practice of the religion.

So what exactly is the point of this article? Apart from an obvious excuse for sheer self indulgence? Perhaps if I continued telling you what else we had discussed that Saturday: We were actually analysing why I was still single (and no I didn't bring it up. This time). And we basically concluded that it was 'cos I was so screwed up - and questioned whether it really was possible to find someone to partner my quite wacky and almost contradictory lifestyle.

I refused to believe that I was that unique... Hey, it's a fine idea in theory but mathematically improbable as well as immensely depressing (in fact I could name a some guys, but few girls, that are the same). We did agree that it makes life somewhat difficult though - would I really be able to find someone who would briefly interrupt our current karaoke session so we could pray (in Jamaat, of course)? Someone who'll protect their Salaat but would not feel uncomfortable reading it at a non-Muslim friend's house? Or not out of place making a complimentary visit to a friend's birthday in a hotel bar? And most importantly someone with all these things that I'd, well, like?

I don't think I'm being selfish here - this isn't just about my expectations but also about what is expected of me. Should I expect someone who is relatively religious to accept things about me which they may feel a bit... Contrary? And vice versa - would someone who is relatively "social" (for want of a better word) become irritated at how I repeatedly request that we pop off to pray in the middle of a DVD?

Who knows? Perhaps my friend and I are wrong. Perhaps I don't need all this - I mean who wants someone who is just like them (but perhaps of the opposite sex) anyway? Perhaps someone different will add to my behaviour, just like I would theirs, resulting in not one but two even more screwed up characters...


  1. Bollywood Star auditions? have i just missed a beat?!

  2. Interesting, I kinda empathise with u on certain point... altho i dont pray as often as u .. I have a certain sense of spirituality that I don't see reciprocated in many if any people (especially femmes) that I know.