By Musa Askari
ONE OF MOST BEAUTIFUL ENCOUNTERS OF MY LIFE. This is the beauty of trying to notice people. Everyone has a story so moving to their lives. Last night I had the privilege to meet a stranger and I was brought to tears. He inscribed in to the rock face the love in his heart to his departed beloved.
My two sons and I went to the movie The Current War last night. The late show. We walked in to the theatre and there was an elderly man sitting alone in the middle of the theatre. My sons and I took our seats and doing so I said hello. He smiled and we chatted a little.
I had an inclining he was a special Soul when to my amazement he said this was the first time he had visited the cinema in 40 years. He remarked he wanted to see the story of Tesla and how influential Tesla was. I was still trying to take in not been to the cinema for 40 years. Little did I know before the night was over his story would electrify us all more than the one we had come to see.
The movie started but I could not stop thinking about this humble man. I felt so privileged that we could be there with him to share this moment after 40 years. Why this late show I wondered? We four were the only ones in the theatre. Any other show we would have missed him. Later he said he came for the earlier show but missed it and so waited in his car for two hours reading his book so that he could see the after ten pm show. As it happens my sons and I were thinking of going to the earlier show but changed our minds and decided on the later one.
The movie ended and now began perhaps one of the most memorable 25-30mins of my life of encountering Humanity. As we left the theatre, out in to the corridor, walked through the foyer and outside we did not stop talking and listening to one another all along that path until we stood outside continuing the dialogue. He opened his heart slowly and nothing could have prepared us for the transformation about to come our way.
What he shared of his life was deeply moving, a dedication to life, a simple life, a deep life, a love story, poetry, humanity, anti-war (he despised how in history it is the everyday people who are sent to war, not the sons of the rich and powerful). He admired the story of the “Fastest Indian” motorcycle speed record and highly recommended the book. He spoke of his £15.00 weekly wage decades ago and his ask of a fair wage rise from his employer. He advised it was better for a person to have a steady, fair and dependable wage to live on rather than uncertainty. It reminded me of the unpredictable and worrying nature of zero hours contracts.
He spoke of his three sons and how immensely proud he was of them.
His dear departed partner of whom he carried a picture. Her name was Pauline. His name is Ted. It was all there.
It was what I had dreamed and hoped for throughout my own life; that to meet someone in their authenticity and in Peace. Share the beauty of your life and if so willing some of the pain, walk away enriched. I was renewed innerly by meeting him, that there was hope in abundance in the goodness of Life in the midst of all the divisiveness. It is when meeting as individuals we encounter more deeply.
I was so happy my sons could meet him. I cried innerly standing there before him as I looked in to his eyes and behind them I saw my friend. My late father witnessing this encounter. Only hours earlier I had messaged a friend about meeting “Hasan” again.
I asked Ted how he occupied himself and enjoyed life. He told me he was retired and wrote poetry. He reached in to his jacket pocket and took out some papers and in between them were some photographs.
It was as though by the act of reaching in to his pocket we had elevated to another level of consciousness. As though he had reached in to the inner dimension of spirituality and clutched some of the treasures he had within him to share with us. What treasure he showed us indeed.
He showed me a fading picture of his love, Pauline. He carried it always near his heart after she had sadly passed away. She was beautiful. I said hello Pauline. There was another photograph. It was of a rock face on a cliff. I asked what is the writing on the rocks?
It was his poem to Pauline chiseled in to the rock by him after she passed away. I was taken a back. He recited it to us and I cried. I looked at him, he looked at me. I looked at my sons. We were speechless. The words, the act of inscribing. Leave your mark on the World they say. Here was Ted a living embodiment of that par excellence. What a man, what a Soul.
He allowed me to take a photograph of his work of art. He did not want to have a photograph of himself. He wanted the anonymity. I did not ask him his last name. Then in the paperwork he opened up newspaper cuttings from last year. It was all about him and his poem to beautiful Pauline. He had asked the paper to respect his privacy. The photograph in the newspaper was of him from the back and here we were face to face. What joy, what a gift.
I asked him how long it took him to inscribe in to the rock face. He said it was a couple of months or so. He would start early mornings. He stencilled it first and then started the carving. I imagined what must have been going through his heart and soul each morning. In secret to carve the love of one’s love upon the face of the earth. What dedication, what perfection. What artistry of life. I wondered how it must have helped him to plow the seeds of his sorrow in this Act to beautify the World. I was so humbled he shared with us his life so deeply. He was a man of great heart and made my heart more lighted. I needed it. God Bless You Ted and Pauline.
My late father once said in a speech on spirituality in 1995,
First Jesus, then later the Prophet of Islam and much earlier Buddha in India. These three taught us how to greet one another. When you say Salam, when you say Peace, when you say Namaste one soul greets the other soul. You are paying tribute to your mutual recognition as the miracle of self conscious organic thinking Life.”
That speech transformed my life. It was an honour to be with him as he delivered that speech. And here almost a quarter century later I was meeting those words as a living being. An honour once more.
Life is so softly powerful. It is not fragile because it is weak but because it is Beauty.
It was a bright spark from the home of Beauty to meet Ted at that hour past midnight. In the darkness of night his Love for Pauline was a Star that shone brightly. It was his inner North Star about which he navigated his life now I felt. What he inscribed but a glimmer of what was inscribed upon his Heart which we will never know and should not know for that is his inner sanctuary. A safe haven.
In the newspaper article Ted says,
I think he has built a magnificent monument to Pauline within his Heart.
(See PD Ouspensky’s account of seeing the majestic Taj Mahal for the first time and the tombs of the King and Queen).