Struggling to find my way through this busy maze, just like these New York taxis, I arrived in this city with many other hopeful and naïve dreamers. ‘The American dream’: so bright, so ambitious, so tantalizing. It was the brightest star of a dreamer’s sky, promising for a better life which couldn’t be bought anywhere else.
The heat of New York was like a mother’s warm embrace to me the first time I placed my tiny, desperate feet upon the American soil. I remember feeling so new; nothing compared to the magnitude of this city. Enamoured by the flamboyance of the giant edifices and cafes, I gladly used to stroll down the streets- a disillusioned fool- almost as if I were happy to be lost, void of any navigation. I was a defenceless ant in front of these colossal giants and any moment I would be devoured mercilessly into an oblivion where dreams never come true; only I didn’t realize it. The city was too incredible, enticing my childlike eyes with colours that never had encountered my sight before. Cacophony of car horns; the screams and swears of New York drivers; frantic typing on old-fashioned typewriters were a melody sung by a fantastical fairy to me that I slept to every night, ignoring the fact that I was so tired. So exhausted.
Suddenly, pushed violently into the reality of my fantasy city, realization poured down on me like hailstones. A realization that only came too late. Searching for a map to find myself, horns threatened to run me over whilst impatient office workers trampled on my unsheltered desires, rushing to enter the closing doors of the lift. The discordance- that I mistook for an orchestra- soon became terrifying cries of an abandoned child.
The American dream: a fairy tale stitched by a wicked witch to beguile us who perhaps dream a little too much.
On a quiet summer morning, a lone soul went out for a walk. The trees were slowly waking up, their young leaves shying away from the morning light. “The world is mine for these few moments.” He thought as he roamed through the empty streets. The lone soul picked up a flower from the ground that beamed the most under the sunlight and gently placed it in his pocket. The lone soul continued his silent voyage until he reached a lake of scintillating water and sat down on the step leading down to it. He closed his eyes for a moment and opened them again. He thought back to the day when his father had asked him what he wanted to do in life and how he had no answer prepared. That question played on his mind for several days like a broken, old record and he hated himself for losing to such a simple ask. The lone soul felt agitated and closed his eyes again. But this time he didn’t open them. Rather, he thought back to the day he fell in love for the first time. The left side of his mouth curved up slightly at this charming thought. He remembered how the girl was a few years younger than him and had eyes like a hypnotizing black night, and had lips like rose petals that GOD had sculpted with His own hands. The young girl had no name, but he called her ‘Gentle Night’ because he would imagine that his pillow was her lap that he laid his head on, and the night sky that he surrendered himself to was her eyes, and the whistling wind was the melody of her laughter. “I wish I could touch her, her soft fingers brushing against the skin of my palms. How complete I would feel.” The lone soul basked in this warm, whimsical thought and gently opened his eyes. A small bird flew by. He marvelled at the bird’s freedom and began to feel caged again. He stood up, breathless. He walked away from the lake and to a nearby mosque, where he prayed to GOD. The lone soul let his heart speak:
“GOD, what is the reason behind my emptiness? Why did You make me so foolish and naïve? GOD, You made me enter this world only to abandon me in isolation. GOD, You make me fall in love and then leave me void of her touch. GOD, You make me realize beauty, then make my heart restless. GOD, am I not a loved child of Yours?”
The lone soul raised his head and wiped away his tears with his sleeves. He went outside and saw that his sandals were stolen. “This world has a good sense of humour,” he thought and softly chuckled to himself. He walked barefoot, still aimlessly roaming the streets. The rest of the world had woken up, laughing at the lone soul’s fruitless expedition. “When will I receive GOD’s reply?” He pondered. And as though the boy’s mind had a voice of its own, the rain started to pour down with fervour and with much needed generosity on the parched land. The boy- defenceless and shivering like a dying, autumn leaf- ran back into the mosque, ruminating on the hopelessness of his little life. He attempted to remember a time where he had wronged someone so terribly that could justify the reasons behind his fractured heart. But the boy’s good soul had failed to. Though the young soul may not have been of any stunning talent, he never believed in the act of deception, even if his life had kept him under the shadows. Maybe he was not cunning enough to think so intricately, but the boy always saw deception as the last resort when all else had become obsolete. He was not there yet.
The lone soul quickly prayed and sat on the steps of the mosque. The rain was still continuing to beat against the morning spirit, and the few people left on the street had covered their heads with their hands and scurried away like ants back home. It wasn’t long until the lone soul was left alone again with only his thoughts and the raindrops as his company. The boy laughed at his loneliness and wandered whether the girl he loved so tenderly was also alone on a rainy morning like him. He envisaged how her sweet scent would mingle with the fragrance of the rain to comfort him against a bad day. He fetched a prayer mat and laid himself onto it. He imagined how it would be easy to mistake him for a beggar at the House of Faith if anyone were to walk past him. The thought of his grandmother rushed into his head, and how whenever she would stroll past a beggar holding his dirt-stricken palm out to her, she would say: “Young man, you don’t need my silver coins, but what you need is love. And unfortunately, I can’t give you that. I have none left.” The lone soul wandered whether his grandmother would’ve said the same thing if she had seen him in this poor state.
The rain had become more violent and his quivering more desperate. The boy hugged himself and began to cry. He screamed and screamed, but his cries became muffled by the cries of the rain. “How selfish!” he thought. For a long while, the only sounds that played in the background were the vehement downpour and the occasional reciting of prayers in the mosque. He wanted to fall asleep, but the cold kept him awake as it stabbed through his damp skin. He contemplated his admiration for rain and all of beauty in that moment and eventually giving up on his life- which now seemed to resemble an oblivion- when quite unexpectedly, his rumination was interrupted and the constancy of his hopelessness was broken by a small sound, trying to speak up amidst the monopoly of the rainfall. The lone soul stood up and looked out of the mosque. And in the distance he could see a beautiful girl cycling up the empty street, ringing her bell.