In the Company of Oceans — One of Contentment and the Other of Tranquility
On a sojourn at the beach during the covid-19 era, I bumped into a man for the first time. This day, I carried with me my father's copy of Usman bin Fodiyo's Ihyā'us Sunnah as I needed all the tranquility I could get while reading. The beach thing had been a tradition for long. I'd go there whenever I felt the world was closing in on me, to clear my mind and read.
While at my base, oblivious of prayer time, I sighted from afar a man trying to perform ablution at the ocean bank. I looked on as I was sceptical about the reality of what he was trying to do. Later on, I saw him prostrate. Then, I realized that like me, he's a Muslim man who's probably come there to find some quiet away from all the noise. I packed my backpack hurriedly to go join him. I managed to get a raka'ah with him after trying.
Two strangers out in pursuit of peace. Brought together by God in prayer. We sat on the bare floor of the ocean bank. As predictable as we are as men, we got talking without proper introduction. Facing the ocean. Talking about life and all its intricacies. A young man in his early twenties and a gaunt middle-aged man. We talked about a plethora of issues. The conversation oscillating between religion and our earthly struggles.
•Does the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم have knowledge of the unseen?
•Can charity be done [ostentatiously] with the primary intent of encouraging others?
•Why there's the need for Ghanaian muslims to forge at unity.
These are but a few of the pertinent issues we spoke about. Before my pessimism sat an optimism that made sense. He laid it bare. Made jest of his own worldly struggles. Clinging onto hope. He said he knows things are going to be better. If not for him, for his son. He spoke so well of him. His son.
"He's like you," he said. "Younger than you are, but studying to become a Mallam." He would pause in the middle of the conversation to say a prayer for him. The fondness. His eyes would brighten whenever he mentioned him. He was pleased with the son and it was very glaring.
He didn't shy away from his struggles either.
"I can barely make ends meet," he said smiling. "But I have life, my son, another chance. I'm accepting of these bounties. I don't need more."
I don't know how my parents talk to others about me, but if there was a way, I'd wish they do like this man spoke of his son to me.
After hours of talking, we introduced ourselves properly and parted ways. This man. This talk. This day. I needed all of that. I was in the middle of an existential crisis when he showed up. Held my hand through it with a single conversation. He reinforced in me the belief that sometimes, our answered prayer is a person we met. If there’s a way I could go back in time to meet him again and express gratitude, I gladly would.
Among other things, he taught me contentment. I miss him. He made me a new man. A better man.