October 03, 2012

The Rising of the Dawn

I was born at around two o' clock in the morning of the seventy-second year of the twentieth century, as I have been told by my mother. If hospital records would concur, then this must be the fact. My mother once told me that she had a reasonable difficulty in her labor that it took her towards the beginning of dawn before I first breathe the air of this mortal world. That day, all Moslems went to the community mosque because it was also the day in the Hijrah Calendar to be the commemoration of the birth of Prophet Mohammad, the feast of the Maullud-din-nabi.

I had a very special affiliation with this coincidence because when there is nothing more to say, I always mentioned to my friends that indeed I was born on the day Prophet Muhammad was born. To be born in the day a known prophet was born may be a sign of some bigger things for me ahead I thought, something grand that I had a sentiment of grandeur because of the coincidences of my birth. There was some sort of pride in this; perhaps I was just like any Christian born on the twenty-fifth of December.

So I celebrated two birthdays each year. My aunt Minda would prepare me a feast and my cousins would savor upon Chinese ramen and chiffon when April came. My grandfather, Imam Unih, a Muslim preacher, on the other hand, would always hand me some money to celebrate my birthday when Maullud-Din-Nabi comes which I always used to buy lots of toys instead of a grand feast.

Mine was a very unusual childhood. As far as my memory takes me back, it had seemed that the first consciousness I have gotten was to be a child living with my grandfather, those memories where my grandfather was always there when I was still an infant. My grandmother, Hadja Daihanna, passed away when I was about three year old or so that I really had no substantial memories of her except to see her sitting stoically in her rocking chair for hours and hours, all day long due to general paralysis. I remember quite well that in my pre-school ages, I always dream about her (those dreams where I always fall from my bed; having that feeling of falling endlessly from a cliff).

I dreamt that I was flying furiously through the woods terrified from being chased by this being who looked like an old woman with graying hair l like wire fences on her hair and she had wings blacker than the night. And it was really uncanny that she looked like my grandmother, at least the stringed hair was similar as I observed her when sometimes she let her long hair spread out in order to dry it up after a bath. I had this kind of dreams and the winged old woman sometime had companions and they kept on chasing me. In one of those dreams, I also had these companions who looked cherubic and whose hair where curly like American babies. It was because of these dreams that in my waking hours, I felt some discomfort every time I stared at my grandma, though at that early age, I have learned to dismiss those dreams to be merely dreams and nothing more.

I had this particular dream that left me really screaming in the deadest hours of the dawn. Again as usual, I was speeding through the night forests being chased furiously by those dark winged creatures that looked like my grandmother Hadja Dayhana. I would bend my arms in front of my face in order to protect my body from the branches of the trees that I went into in my flight from the flying specters, speeding into nooks and caverns. As I escaped from the woods, I blurted into the wide-open night sky and lost those who were chasing me. I was huffing and puffing from the furious chase and flew to a nearby gathering of trees and there I found my companions, those cherubim with faces of infants. Without speaking in words, they instructed me to be quiet while we had a view of a assembly of people encircling a huge campfire. They were all kneeling and I saw some familiar faces, the ones who were chasing me, being part of the group, chanting and singing and howling as they faced the burning woods in the middle of the circle. It was a ritual. I was awe-stricken by the unusual event before us when suddenly, something from behind us moved and the winged serpents found us again and we scurried hurriedly, to flee again. When I woke up, I screamed my hearts out and my grandfather had to make me drink cool tap water.

These were the familiar nocturnal dreams that I had when I was so young and little. Each time I woke up, I always felt so surprised to find myself in bed instead of the caves and forests that were inside those dreams, as if I really was in those dreams that in fact whenever I fell in a dream, from trees and cliffs, I also fell from my bed.

Of cherubim I always had memories the most vivid of which was me afloat the clouds with many of them trotting throughout and food fell from the sky without end and we held baskets to collect the manna from heaven. I remember these dreams for they were happy dreams.

From my autobiography "A Prophet's Life"