Kalam approached me about a week ago and just randomly started opening up about how he has been suffering from depression for the past six months. I wasn’t really surprised, since the neighbours have been complaining about his performance quite a lot and were on the verge of firing him several times. After multiple warnings he finally got his act together. What did surprise me was the fact that he knew that word, given his generally weak English, I was quite proud of him.
“So why were you so depressed?” I asked him. With a seemingly ashamed smile he said, “ladies”.
I found it quite amusing, not at his sad plight but rather how lucky and unfortunate he is at the same time. Lucky at the fact that he was in love, and unfortunate that this love was not reciprocated in the way he expected.
“So how did she break your heart?” I asked. He said that he was constantly sending her pretty much all his money which eventually made him broke, and when he finally had nothing left, she ditched him.
My heart really went out for him. I told him indeed, a true woman would be looking for your love, not what is in your pocket. Making sure he understood what I mean by love, I asked him what is the word for Mahabbat in Bengali, he said Bhālabāsā. Fortunately, he mentioned that he is feeling much better now and that he is getting his life back together. I said great, then good luck with that and to watch out from those ladies!
I have for a long time felt great empathy at the plight of immigrants that move here from less-developed countries and are hoping for a better opportunity in life. I sense that they have not been given a fair deal that every human being deserves, especially when it comes to blue-collared and lower-skilled individuals. Without getting into the politics of it, I am observing this matter from a purely humanitarian perspective. As a simple example, immigrants that move to the Gulf region are seldom on a path towards citizenship, especially if they are labelled under the above mentioned “category”. This means that their hope and chance at an equal opportunity for living is suppressed. What do I mean by equal opportunity for living? Well, the fact that they are not given citizenship means that they will always systematically be considered as “less worthy” than everybody else. Unlike the green-card system in the United States for example where the holder pretty much retains the same rights as a citizen with the exception of voting, a resident here will always need a local sponsor to remain in legal status. This means their entire fate rests upon the whim of their boss, so I guess they are dependent solely on extreme luck to have someone who is kind to them and would not take advantage of this “upper hand”, maybe even allow them to form relationships or possibly treat them like a family member, while also ensuring they get plenty of leisure days and such. For example, there are many stories of those who work ungodly hours and rarely ever given time off, while being paid barely anything which they mostly remittence back home to their families eventually. This means they are left with pretty much nothing for themselves.
Consequently, their sole purpose to live here is to just to make money. Meanwhile, the lifestyle that is imposed on them, makes it hard for them to form relationships, close friendships and even a chance to call this place home. Making money is great and is indeed an important pillar for life and an excellent set up when starting out young. However, I believe life is definitely more than that for anybody. Take Kalam’s story as an example, despite him being in an environment that is safe, fairly free from poverty and holds abundant access to basics such as internet, electricity and water. He has to go out of his way to find love, far away. I’m guessing his love was back home where he did not even attain an opportunity to visit since pre-covid times. Hence, his only form of expressing that love to his beloved, was likely only through sending her money, and maybe even sweet-nothings over the phone, where she most likely desired something way more significant from her partner, such as his actual physical presence. In the end, he lost that love and completely shut down. What is wonderful for him now is that he said from now on he will focus on putting his life together through building himself and save money. Therefore, his learnt lesson from this seemingly false transactional human love is that it will transform into self-care and character growth.
Now there is a concern here is that an individual could be so heart-broken from their experience of love, whatever the category be it a romantic one or friendship-based, is that they could never open their heart to anyone ever again. Leading their once generous and kind spirit to turn into a mean and aggressive one, ultimately to a life of extreme selfishness and self-preservation. This is exactly why self-healing is too important, and that instead of denying the existence of love, maybe the programming of how that love was channeled is the actual culprit at fault? In conclusion, how does one even dream of such an endeavour when a very basic need is taken away from them, which is, among other things: the close presence, friendship and intimacy of another human being.
Most authentic spiritual traditions always have love at its central theme and goal. The difference between a spiritually-oriented love and contemporary human love is that the former emphasises on the point of expecting nothing is return. How liberating is the experience to love without expecting anything in return, and what wonders would such a love hold and how much could it unveil our own potential as human beings?
I can only point an answer to those questions through the words of Alireza Nurbakhsh, Master of Nimatullahi Sufi Order where he writes: “Divine love may begin with our loving another, but gradually our love grows to embrace everything, and as our love encompasses everything, we transcend the norms associated with human love...” - link to article