Time and time again…

A couple of days back, I gave the first paper of another demented semester. And it didn’t go as good as I would’ve wanted otherwise. It was easy, pretty much expected and according to the drill we had put up the whole time. So what went wrong? Time. Of all the things that could’ve messed up the paper, it was time. Utterly deluded that I had 3.5hrs to complete the paper, I snailed accordingly, only to be told 15 minutes before time-up that we were supposed to wind up. In my head, I had 45 minutes to kill. So that announcement was kind of a shocker. I glanced at the paper- a good three times and stared the duration (which, like every fine print goes unnoticed) expecting it to change- “Time: 3 hours”. This was definitely one of those moments when I wanted to scream. So all frustration aside, I obviously had to cut major chunks of a question that I knew so well but was compulsory to attempt, unfortunately enough.

“How was the paper” became the most painful question then. I should’ve said it was the easiest ever but all is bad that ends bad, right? I just couldn’t get over the fact that I had missed half of a very important part. If only I had known about the time before…if only the invigilators would’ve told us earlier that time is closing in… if only I could “kill” time in every meaning of the word. TIME yeah. It’s such a cruel cosmic joke.

Anyway, while I was sinking in the aftermath of my own stupidity, I realized how familiar all of it was to a scenario we will be witnessing some time soon.  The D-day. When all of us will be regretting the lost time and reeling from our very abrupt life that would look like a “bubble” as the cliché has it. When we would really wish we could go back and undo our foolishness. Things we were aware of but didn’t do… Obligations that were compulsory but we skipped chunks of them for whatever reason. The regret I’m spiraling into now is nothing compared to the one I would be feeling then. When all of us would be summoned in another realm- to the point of no return, that’s when our lies will catch up with us.

وَأَنِيبُوٓاْ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمۡ وَأَسۡلِمُواْ لَهُ ۥ مِن قَبۡلِ أَن يَأۡتِيَكُمُ ٱلۡعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنصَرُونَ (٥٤) وَٱتَّبِعُوٓاْ أَحۡسَنَ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكُم مِّن رَّبِّڪُم مِّن قَبۡلِ أَن يَأۡتِيَڪُمُ ٱلۡعَذَابُ بَغۡتَةً۬ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَشۡعُرُونَ (٥٥) أَن تَقُولَ نَفۡسٌ۬ يَـٰحَسۡرَتَىٰ عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطتُ فِى جَنۢبِ ٱللَّهِ وَإِن كُنتُ لَمِنَ ٱلسَّـٰخِرِينَ (٥٦) أَوۡ تَقُولَ لَوۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ هَدَٮٰنِى لَڪُنتُ مِنَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ (٥٧) أَوۡ تَقُولَ حِينَ تَرَى ٱلۡعَذَابَ لَوۡ أَنَّ لِى ڪَرَّةً۬ فَأَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ (٥٨

Turn passionately towards your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes to you, after which you will not be helped. And follow the best of what has been sent down to you from your Lord before the punishment comes to you suddenly when you do not even expect. Lest someone should say, “Pity on me for I fell short in respect of Allah and in fact, I was one of those who mocked.” Or lest someone should say, “If Allah were to show me the way, I would have surely been among those who fear Allah.” Or before someone should say when he sees the punishment, “Would that I have a chance to return, so that I may become one of those who are good in their deeds.” [39:53-58]

Read the verses again and notice the emphasis on the deadline that is being repeated over and over again. And if you’re smart enough, you would have also noticed that the statements of regret that have been highlighted here are exactly similar to my whines about not doing the paper nicely. “Pity on me for I fell short of time… if the invigilators would’ve kept us updated on the time, I would sure have finished the paper… if only I could control time, I would redo it nicely…”

Regrets are the same, only I was being shallow. The mishaps and blunders that I do on a daily basis, there’s more to them than what meets the eye. They are subtle hints from Allah to take heed and worry about a greater trial which would be similar to the one I just went through, only greater in magnitude and far more serious. Hints on letting go of trivial things and focus on the big picture. It’s when we mope around at small things we get side-tracked.

Tunnel vision, you know. It’s blinding.

It’s not just the big problems that are supposed to jolt you back on the track. For if you think enough, your whole life is a calling. In moments of happiness, in sorrow, in pain. We need think out of the box. The box of silly things we hold on to and refuse to let go. Things do not matter as much as we make them matter. We tend to clutch at the apparent demise of whatever-it-is-that-our-life-so-depends-upon and forget the real thing. The one we’re all hardwired for.

Isn’t this life but a preparation for the Hereafter?

So I guess this is what it means to learn from mistakes. I made sure to check the duration and other instructions in my next paper. 🙂 And of course, trying to not err in my other responsibilities. Though I’m far from being perfect at them, but I’ll keep trying. Don’t want another run-on with regrets. Especially not on D-day. It sure is a horrible feeling.


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