The wind howled eerily and the leaves of trees rustled vigorously outside. It sounded as though it was raining, but it wasn’t. The only window of the room lost against the strength of the wind as it crashed open, sending a jolt to the young boy who was sleeping on the hard, cold gravel flooring. Dust, sand and scraps of white paint from the ceiling above littered around him. He looked over to his younger sister who was shivering, hands cupped between her thighs. He pushed his woollen blanket towards her and tucked her in, then hugged her tightly thereafter, embracing in each other’s warmth for another fifteen minutes. “Thank you Fawad bhai,” his sister whispered in a mumble as she yawned back to sleep. The young boy slowly loosened his embrace and stood up to make his way to the window sill.
This has been bothering me for many months, and I guess it’s time to come to terms with it.
I don’t know what I’m praying.
Every night, before I sleep, I pray … but the words that come out of my mouth are just mere words written in Gurmukhi script of which I have no idea what they mean — at least 99% of them. But I still continue to chant them each night without fail because it has become a routine, and the thought of not doing so meant that some negative sanction will befall upon me, my family and friends.
I always pray for something at the end of the prayer — something that comes right from the bottom of my heart. But is that enough? Do I need to say the prayer words from the bottom of my heart too? How is that possible when I don’t even know what they mean?
I know what my religion is about, its values and beliefs, at least most of it. And I believe these are preached through the prayer words. But is merely believing in the religion enough to be truthful to it? Must you know what the prayer words mean?
I have a list of meanings of the different sections of verses up in my room. It has been there for more than seven years. But as much as I try to remember them, I fail to do so. But that won’t make any difference if I don’t understand the words in each verse right? Good thing is, I understand the meanings of those sections of verses, and believe in them because they reflect what a human being should be. And these are universal!
Whenever I go to the temple, I read the English translations of each verse that are usually displayed on the big screen, just to make sense of my listening to the prayers, and being there. Some of the hymms, however, are easier to understand as they are geared towards my native language, save for a few words of the script.
I wonder if I am battling with this alone, or are there others out there feeling the same?
Am I really the only one?
I know this sounds pretty crazy, and it’s really a confession. And I’ve finally let it out. Forgive me if I unintentionally hurt any one of you.