Quantcast IMOW - Heaven in a Grain of Sand
Stories
Themes
Love
Relationships in changing times. See the Stories>>

Money
Working women talk finances. See the Stories>>

Culture and Conflict
Are we destined to disagree? See the Stories>>

The Future
Envisioning the next 30 years. See the Stories>>

Highlights
Highlighted stories in film, art, music and more. See the Stories>>

War & Dialogue
Speaking from war. Advocating peace. See the Stories>>

Young Men
Our generation: young men speak out. See the Stories>>

Motherhood
Women get candid about pregnancy, parenting and choice. See the Stories>>

Image and Identity
Appearances aren't everything, or are they? See the Stories>>

Online Film Festival
31 films from women directors around the world. See the Stories>>

A Generation Defined
Who are young women today? See the Stories>>

Best of Contest
You came, you saw, you voted. Here are the winners. See the Stories>>
Conversations
What Defines Your Generation of Women?
selected theme



HOME  |   EXPLORE OTHER THEMES     |   STORIES     |  CONVERSATION    |  EVENTS  |  TAKE ACTION  |  ABOUT
Search:  
  GO  
REGISTER  |  LOGIN Change Language»    Invite a friend »
STORY OPTIONS
READ STORY IN
PRINT
SAVE TO YOUR SAVED STORIES
SUBSCRIBE TO STORY
SEND THIS STORY TO A FRIEND
ADD YOUR STORY
TAKE ACTION
Check out UNIFEM’s portal on women, peace, and security
Help women rebuild their lives after conflict.
Donate to the Global Fund
Help the Global Fund for Women promote women's efforts to protect their communities from the tragedy of war.
STATISTICS:
Islamic practices are defined by the Five Pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and alms.
Islam is a monotheistic religion founded by Prophet Muhammad in seventh-century Saudi Arabia.
Heaven in a Grain of Sand
Ayeda Husain Naqvi
PakistanGALLERYCONVERSATION
Excuse me for not being around the past year. I was possessed. And for all I know, I may still be.

As I sit in my garage obsessively burning the last copies of an article I wish I had never written, I realize how many people I need to apologize to – there is Danya, my five year-old daughter who looks at me curiously across the fire.

“Mamma why are you burning your books?” she asks rubbing her eyes, the thick, black-green smoke making them water. I have no answer for her. She gets up and goes inside.

If my mother was around, she would say that the smoke was the evil leaving. “See how toxic he was?” she would say.

“It’s the plastic that makes it smell,” I would snap. She would scowl and mutter something under her breath. She had become so irritable. And yet I couldn’t blame her. For she stood by and watched it happen. Sometimes quietly, sometimes not. “You are neglecting your kids,” she would yell every now and then. “You are giving me high blood pressure.”

Everybody likes to believe that they are special. I was no exception. And so I fell for apocalyptic theory and a man who claimed to be a messiah. Like I said, everyone likes to feel special. And being one of the few chosen to save the world will make you feel that way.

The first time I met him, he was wearing a red sweater. A funny way for a holy man to dress, I thought. Yet he had these powers. He would sit on his rocking chair and stare at you till you had to look away. People swore by his ability to get their jobs done: whether it was babies, jobs or promotions, he could make it happen. He definitely had powers. It just took me too long to realize that they were not coming from a positive source.

As a child I was told that I would go on to do great things in life. Maybe I took them too seriously. I wanted to be around when “it” happened. I wanted to be part of something big. I needed to believe I had a purpose, one that transcended the mundane routine of my days.

With a husband too caught up in making money and a mother too infatuated with my kids to acknowledge me, where was I to go? I needed a fantasy – to belong to a wild story. Helping the Savior of the World certainly fit the bill. It was ok to let everything else slide. It was, after all, part of a larger plan and subject to a Higher Purpose.

And so, with time stolen from my family, I began to promote him. I wrote about him, introduced him to influential people and organized his social events.

But my problems never went away. He just turned me away from them towards an alternate reality.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this entire experience is that I was being sold Sufism, Islamic mysticism, which is all about negating the self, through an appeal to that very self. It was my desire to be appreciated, to be recognized, that allowed me to be manipulated. I wanted to believe that I was someone. And so I fell prey to my ego.

Sufi poets have long compared the “seeker” to the tiny raindrop that falls into the ocean, losing its identity. I have often wondered about the thoughts that might go through the mind of the rain drop as it plunges towards the water.

“Why should I lose myself in you? Why should I cease to be? Right now I am a raindrop. If I let myself fall, I will be nothing.”

“But you will be me,” thunders the ocean. And so the raindrop falls.

To willingly lose oneself in such a union, however, is not easy. In a society that attaches so much importance to being someone, the concept of being nothing is almost offensive.

We look for God in all the wrong places. We look everywhere but in our hearts. We put unworthy people on pedestals and ignore the wisdom within us. If we only learned to trust ourselves, to see how we are all reflections of the Divine, we would not be so disappointed when our idols reveal their feet of clay.

In retrospect, it all seems so simple. Why didn’t I see it then?

William Blake once wrote:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour

I don’t know if I ever will find heaven in a wild flower or even in a grain of sand, but I do know that I must keep on looking. Life is to be lived, not merely survived. And ultimately, the only lesson to learn is that one must keep on looking, and learning. That, is my purpose.
FLAG THIS STORY FOR REVIEW
COMMENTS ABOUT THIS STORY
Add
deZengo (United States)
Isn't it amazing after going through the fire how much stronger we all become. Our stories vary in some of the fine details, but our heart seeks the same.
As a young woman I did not comprehend - but WE must love our selves and invest time & energy in reaching our full potential. It can be frightening, and the journey is long-but realizing we are Loved and full of the divine.
Erynn (United States)
This is such a beautiful story. I personally find it a huge challenge right now in my life to free myself from the false ego. I believe in the US it is easy to get caught up in the ideas of fame and success and to define oneself in societal terms. I am hoping to rise above what I believe to be these false gods.
Sharon (United States)
Beautiful piece! Very moving and thought-provoking.
Jean Marie Bates (United States)
WOW! That was the most powerful and meaningful story I have read in a long, long time.

Great work!
Laura Ward (United States)
I like the way you've expressed yourself, especially at the end of your story. It made me reflect on Blake's famous poem differently from how I have in the past. Throughout my studies, travel and work in different countries around the world, I've always been intrigued by how happiness, or "heaven in a grain of sand" is culturally defined anyways. And as we change, what happiness is, does too.
 PAGES  1 2NEXT
ADDED STORIES (2)
Add
 Laura Ward
United States
Dewgem Yen
Malaysia
  
RELATED ITEMS (9)

 
Keina Davis Elswick
United States
I describe my work as urban folklore. The images meld...
GO TO STORY »
Achinoam Nini
Israel
Stop. It’s 3:15 You have one minute. Are you ready?
GO TO STORY »
Shirin Kouladjie
Iran
With this piece, ‘No Chain Prayer Please’ I was reflecting...
GO TO STORY »
Melysha Sargis Meraee
Iraq
One evening my family and I arrived home to find our...
GO TO STORY »

©2008 International Museum of Women / Privacy Policy and Disclaimer / Translated by 101translations / Change Language
The content in this exhibit does not necessarily represent the opinions of the International Museum of Women, or its partners or sponsors.