I stared at their faces. For quite too long too. Wrinkles decorating their saggy and sun-beaten skin. At one moment, I thought as if I could see stories drawn on those faces, screaming to be expressed and to be told to me. Trickles of sweat were constantly swept out due to the bothering heat and the absence of a ventilation system within the cafe did not help either. Those faces I kept on staring. I thought to myself. These faces somehow looked strangely familiar but unique in their own ways at the same time. The stories that they are telling must be different but similar in the exhaustion that they manifested. I could hear something. I could hear their silent sighing. I was curious. And there I was making up assumptions in my head and drawing out conclusions of the possibilities of me getting their stories right based on my limited knowledge of history, politics and sociology meshed together.
But in truth, I did not need to do that. I did not need to know their stories to feel something for them. For I saw my mother and father in them. I saw the looks of a warrior in every single one of them. The struggling life is a battlefield for them. They physically and mentally toiled daily to achieve a modest victory of feeding their kids at the end of the day and getting them properly educated so that they will not have to fight the same battle in the future.
I did not know who they are. I did not know their names or where they came from. Some of them I imagined must have hailed from a place far from here. I tried to imagine the journey that they had taken and the views that they have captured with their minds on a voyage here to seek a better life. Probably their hearts are broken, unmendable having to part from their loved ones in those faraway lands. But I felt close to them. I felt the warmth within their souls. I saw the exhaustion that they were trying to camouflage with their warm smiles. The smiles that came from a belief having to be digged from deep within. A belief that through His azza wa jal’s will, their kids will not go hungry that day. That one day they don’t have to live hand-to-mouth anymore. In their tired smiles also, I see not only hope, but gratitude. The kind of gratitude that makes them wealthy and rich inside. These warriors are beautiful. No, they don’t have the obsessed, desired flawless skin or curves like those on TV or magazines, but something about looking at them gives you immense tranquility. Perhaps, its their strong connection with Allah that gives them that radiant, impeccable beauty, rare of this world. Sometimes, in looking at them and their unabated perseverance, I grew in conviction that paradise will be filled by them.
These people are everywhere around us. We might usually ignore them or assume that they’re simply part of the facilities that assist and help make our life a tiny bit easier. Sometimes, we might also think of them as nothing but a nuisance. But, these people are human beings with a soul. They have dreams, hope, ambitions just like we, the privileged, do. Appreciate their contributions in your life and give them the best of gifts, a sincere du’a.
Sometimes, a real beauty has to be seen closely in order for it to be appreciated wholeheartedly.