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Qamar A Abbasi

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By Qamar A Abbasi
Wednesday, August 07, 2002

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"Sir, do you know what time it is?" I asked an old man sitting on a bench waiting for his bus to arrive.
"Quarter after.." he replied.
"Thank you". I said.

"Do you know if the bus 10C has passed already?" I asked.
"No young man, I am also waiting for it to arrive." he replied back.

I sat down on the same bench waiting for the bus to arrive. I was dressed up since I was going to an interview. I sat down my resume folder next to me and was trying to rehearse for the interview questions in my mind.

"Are you looking for a job?" he interrupted me while I was rehearsing for the interview questions.

"Yeah, I am." I didnt pay much attention to him and kept rehearsing.
"What kind of job are you looking for?"
"Man, you need to shut up." I said to myself. "A civil engineering position." I replied back.

"You know, when I was your age, I too wanted to get a degree and become a successful person. But fate had something else for me and now I am just an ordinary person...." he kept on talking about his personal life what he wanted to be and why he couldnít do it. However, I just didnít give a damn at that point cause I was so looking forward for that interview since I was going to be graduating soon and I did not have any job offers.

I was just not in the mood to listen to his story, but one thing just struck my ears and at that point I just wanted to listen to that old man..." ...No matter how you plan your life, you will wind up the way God has intended it to be.."
"OK, whatís that supposed to mean?" I asked and was waiting so anxiously for him to answer me back.

"You seem to be a nice young man. I am guessing you have planned your life the way you want it to be... but how sure are you that you will succeed... you have spent 4 yrs in college, 12-13 yrs in school... meaning you have lost 16-17 yrs of your life just reading books and understanding them... Now you are waiting for a bus to arrive so that you can go to your interview... right?" he asked me.
I was like... yes... "Just imagine you do not get the job and you end up working at a restaurant or any other place where a degree just do not mean anything. What will you do then?"
I was speechless... I was like... "Well, I donít know what fate has fixed for me, but I can try to achieve what I want."
"Are you going to be able to dodge your fate?"
"All I can do is try...." I answered back.

Now this conversation was driving me nervous... I just wanted to get away from that freak... but didnt want to be rude...
He took my resume folder and started to read my resume... I was like what the hell are you doing? I didnít mention my feelings to him.
I just ignored it.

"So, you will be graduating in 4-5 months...Ē
"You know when I was the youngest in the family; I lost my older brother in a car accident right after he graduated from college. My older sister fell off the stairs in her high school building and died after 3-4 days. I was a lot younger and had not started my high school. My other brother who had just graduated from college could not find a decent job so he started to work in a near by fast food restaurant and killed himself out of depression..."
"I think my bus is here...Ē I interrupted him because I did not want to listen to his bullshit as this entire conversation was making me nervous.
"NO NO, its not a 10C bus... so I was saying that.... blah blah blah... ďThatís all I could hear...
I wanted to relax now. So I took my folder back from him and stood away from him and looked for a cigarette in my pocket. I did not have any...
"FCUK", I said to myself.
Right at that moment, he took his cigarettes out and asked me if I wanted one... I didnít not want to accept his cigarette but I just needed it so I took it... I knew it was not a good decision, but couldnít help it.
"...Do you know what I do for living??"
No, mister I donít know." I replied back.

"When both of my brothers and sister died I was like 10 years old. When I got older I realized one thing that getting degrees played a major role in their deaths. I felt like it was some sort of a curse for my family to get a degree so I gave up the idea of continuing with my education and I started work in a near by restaurant. I too wanted to be rich and stuff but I didnít have any money. So I started to play lotto and one day I won big bucks. Do you know how much I won?" he ended talking with question.
No, I donít know since you have not told me yet." I was so annoyed by now... I just wanted to ban him from talking for the rest of his life.
" I won 15 million dollars...."
"What the fcuk......" I controlled my feelings, "Wow, thatís a lot of money.."
"hahahah, yes it is... I won that money when I was only 19... I didnít have a degree but I had what degree holders (back then) wanted... My siblings went to college and got their degrees but they all died... I didnít go to college and I survived and became rich"
"If you did win, didnít you buy a car?" I asked him.
"I lost everything... in gambling.... well, the bus is here.. So I m going to board on now.. and you ... ahh.. ahh. I forgot your name.. anyways.. good luck with your interview...."

"I didnít tell you my name..." he interrupted me while I was still talking..He got up and sat in the bus. I was like.. what an A$$H0LE...he got me all confused and nervous..."

"Why the fcuk did I have to ask him about the time..."
anyways, I got onto the bus but didnt sit next to him this time and got off it when my stop was there...but until I got there I had just one question in my mind... "what if he hadnít gambled and had not lost his money.. he would have been a millionaire now.. he didnít go to college and did not spend his early years reading books... but he still got what he wanted.. actually what all of us wants- money."
"On the second thought.. nah.. it aint me" screw his story.. I will still stay focused on what I want to do... "

With this thought in mind, I went to the interview and after a few days I found out that i had been offered a job....

Well, itís been 3-4 months now since I met that funny fellow. I am starting my job in early September, 2002.

When I think of it, it makes me wonder about life... what is life?.. what is fate.. is a person helpless?? Canít a person achieve what he wants if fate has something else for that person.

I donít know... whatever..

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Reviewed by Robert Williams 2/11/2004
Greetings in Peace,

This story has all the nuts and bolts in place to become a really deep philosophical piece. To me it seems that if one has God-consciousness ("taqwa" in Urdu), then one knows the purpose of life, the power of free will, and that Fate is a false god of the Greeks.

The protagonist's lamentations are peculiarly familiar to me of many Americans who try to discern meaning from tampered texts without aid of lost scriptures thanks to the Romans at the Council of Nicaea. Yet, the protagonist and his fellow Indo-Pakistanis have the Last Testament in its original and pristine tongue, as well as fantastic translations and explanations of it meaning from such noted scholars as Maududi.

Is the protagonist not one of those who follow God's Guidance, which "on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve"? (Last Testament 2: 38). I have read from that Revelation, which talks about the heavens, paradise and hell, the Awakening and the Resurrection of mankind, the gathering of souls for Judgment Day, the weighing of sins against good deeds, and the Straight Path. I do not understand those who are unwilling to countenance what our Creator has revealed.

It seems that too often their own appetites become their god ("Be not among those who join gods with God"; LT 30:31), because so many place their delight in those things that they possess ("I, the Sovereign, have granted them abudance of wealth and sons"; LT 23:55). They seem to be lost in gathering up the crumbs of this world. "The mutual rivalry for piling up the good things diverted"(LT 102:1,2) them from more serious things until they come to their graves.

Of course, the enemy of mankind is Satan who actively works to terminate every one of us humans. He was there in your story, whispering distractions to impede the protagonist's goal to do right by himself by trying to make hiim believe that he had no free will to choose what he will do in this life.

It was a good story, but the protagonist did not apprehend that he was probably holding a discussion with Shaytaan himself, who was hoping for another log in his fire. That realization, perhaps at the point when he looks to the rear of the bus to find that the antagonist has vanished into thin air, would make a profound ending.

Reviewed by mahmood mufti 10/15/2003
Great!! Not because of the idea of the story nor due to its melo-dramatic suspense. But it is the cool and simple narration of the
the two opposite facets of life: an old man who knows the futility
life as he spent and a young man who wants to believe that life is
worth the effort he is making at living it. Futility versus Hope.
Mr.QA,keep it up, and forget about poetry. Poetry of the verse is
what is your forte. And think about a few things in your life which you will not trade for a million dollars. How many??
Reviewed by Birdie Houston 2/6/2003
You know this story was absoluetly great !
Reviewed by uzair 8/31/2002
I liked this very much.I liked to know about you keep your self strange and bee confidence not become nervous. GOD helps you

but it was GREAT
Reviewed by Anis Ul Rehman 8/29/2002
While interviewing, an employer never expects a young engineer to erect a building on his own, but he certainly looks for the potential in him, to do the job at later stage. So I believe U have the potential to communicate to mankind.
Reviewed by deepa 8/15/2002
very nice story. makes us think about life
in a different prespective!!! well written!
Reviewed by Erum Abbasi 8/12/2002
No doubt, this is an excellent write
I enjoyed a lot.
Your views about life are really strong and powerful.I wish you best of luck and a cheerful life.
Reviewed by Cles Wilson 8/12/2002
Wow. I really enjoyed this story. Excellent flow.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 8/9/2002
enjoyed this very much, qamar! great write!! hope your new job is a success; i will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!! love from america, your new friend, karen lynn.
Reviewed by Masarat Daud 8/8/2002
Hey QB,
I think there's a lot of depth in your story which you yourself haven't realized. Keep aside the spelling and grammatical errors, they can always be corrected..but your essence of the story is strong.

You've posed a lot of questions about life because of that one meeting with a stranger. And you're ending shows the fact that you didn't find the depth of this conversation, which you should. But of course, not to a point which will leave you confused.

Life has many faces. Some people are just lucky and some people are not. Life isn't a's a variable which changes with seasons, which changes with circumstances and which changes from people to people. Money isn't the only contributing factor...even relationships change lives. There's so much to say about life, from our own experiences. If you have a follow-up of this story where you ponder over these questions...or if you just want to write it for yourself...or something, that would be great. It's these things in life that makes us think about the bigger things ahead. If things went wrong with person, doesn't mean they'll go wrong with you.

You have my best wishes BOY...(lol) and hopefully, have a great job and life after your graduation. And you better not take this story off - I spent so much time typing this comment....LOL!!!

Good write!!

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