The Signs And The Hearts- 1:
The last sun that rose and set had left Ahmad with no more than those common beliefs that had been commonly shared by his parents and other significant people in his family, and by the much larger community he had been born into and bred within. But today, he wavered in doubt and disbelief in most of the common beliefs and convictions he had acquired in his lifetime. He was overly arrested by the extraordinary visions he had seen in his dreams, the unbelievable way some had manifested, and by the perspectives and convictions of Professor Salim they had been sharing recently.
‘Human behavior and responses is largely influenced by its predominant environment,’ the Professor asserted, as he watched his new intern scribble away on his notepad. ‘The common man adjusts to his environment in a manner that affords perceived favorable advantage.’
Professor Salim and Ahmad, the Professor’s new intern from the Literary Arts Department of the University of Lagos, carried on with their intern lessons in the serene atmosphere of the Professor’s home.
Ahmad was a twenty-three year old, average bodied, dark, Nigerian male, taking internship with Professor Salim to complete his training in Literary Arts. His intern project was to create and write a fiction book.
Professor Salim was a Sixty-nine year old Professor in Philosophy, slim, fair skinned, grey-haired, Nigerian male, an academic scholar, and civil veteran. He had studied Philosophy in his undergraduate year and had devoted nearly his entire life to further study of the subject until he retired two years ago. He had been active in the civil affairs all his years before his retirement. As Professor Emeritus, even at retirement, he accepted sessions with interns specially recommended to him by local and international institutions.
Ahmad had spent a week taking internship lessons with the Professor. They had examined the basic founding principles of philosophy and now entered into an overview of instances and situations that explained the principles and concepts in the field and school of thought.
The subject investigated and explained the nature, causes and principles of physical and non-physical reality, knowledge, values and beliefs based on logical reasoning and rational arguments concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships. And in Professor Salim’s words, it was, ‘the understanding of form and formless norms deduced from patterns of existence and interactions.’
The professor’s teachings and convictions continuously provoked Ahmad’s curiosity, thoughts and convictions about the common life and his recent extraordinary visions and experiences. He quietly scribbled on, taking the Professor’s words into his note and lost in his own turbulent thoughts.
The Professor stopped.
Ahmad continued scribbling.
The Professor watched him bury himself in an unusual manner into the note scribbling away while he had stopped speaking.
‘Ahmad!’ Professor Salim called. ‘Ahmad!!’
Ahmad jerked as if snapping out of a trance and raised his head up to look at the Professor.
The Professor observed him carefully. ‘You seem unusual today, what is happening to you?’
Ahmad shook his head from side to side, ‘Nothing, Professor,’ he replied, ‘I’m fine sir.’
Professor Salim silently and calmly studied him. ‘Okay, go home, have some rest. We’ll continue tomorrow.’
‘Thank you Professor.’
Ahmad found himself walking towards a large building. His vision and the atmosphere of the premises remained blurry but he felt an impulsion to keep in the direction his spirit was moving. There were people scattered around in various manners. One moment, the premises seemed unknown, and suddenly it resembled that of the university where he studied. As he walked into the building, he was struck by the group of Army officers gathered together at the far end corner of the building. And almost immediately, he caught the glimpse of a pipe, fully stuffed with a coal black material, running out of the floor just to the right of where he stood. The material stuffed in the pipe seemed like an explosive. His spirit trembled in fear and strove for strength to avert the tragic fate that was about to unfold. And he woke up from the dream dumbfounded.
Day had barely broken when he woke from his dream. Ahmad lay in his bed reviewing the vision he just had. He feared it would manifest just as his previous visions had. And just like the previous ones, he had no idea nor could he try to guess what building, or in what manner it would manifest as. He was deeply concerned about the people he saw in the premises and in the building. He tried, as always, to find any link between the significant subjects and objects he had seen in the vision, but in every way he tried to relate them all together, it all seemed ridiculous and made no sense. The only thing he could partially ascertain was the likelihood of a nearly similar occurrence in the near future.
As the first light filtered through the window blinds into the room, Ahmad got off his bed, and ran through his morning routine- prayer, body care, room care and food. His mind intermittently ran through the vision over and over again, seeking to find any hint that could be helpful, but nothing surfaced. He wondered if he had only been disillusioned by something he had earlier come in contact with, but he couldn’t associate any of his recent experiences to it. He sipped the remaining tea in his cup, cleared his table, cleaned the dishes, and left for his lessons.
Ahmad wondered if Professor Salim could have an explanation to the phenomena he had been experiencing, and that meant he would have to share his experiences with the Professor. He had made up his mind not to share his visions with anyone, not even people he may have identified from the visions. He believed doing so jeopardized the perception they may hold of him and, where it involved people he knew in the real world, endangered those it may concern. He had preferred single-handedly averting the occurrences of devastating parts of his visions with prayer and good faith, or with every possible effort he could dedicate to hindering it.
Ahmad knocked the Professor’s door repeatedly until there was an answer. Professor Salim welcomed him in, then walked into the room, poured himself a cup of coffee, and gestured to the young intern to join as well. The Professor leaned into his arm chair with the cup in his hand after the intern had politely refused to join.
Ahmad stared at the Professor as he sank into his arm chair.
‘You’re looking better today my young friend, please have a seat.’ Professor Salim remarked. ‘I hope you’re fine.’
‘Not really, Professor.’
‘What is wrong?’
Ahmad paused and gathered himself together for what he was about to do. ‘I’m seeing things I can’t explain, Professor.’
The Professor sat up and placed the cup in his hand on the stool beside the arm chair.
Ahmad casted his eyes down as the Professor stared attentively at him.
‘What do you mean?’ The Professor inquired softly.
‘Professor, this is hard for me to share with you but I don’t know if you could help me with any reasonable explanations that’s why I have decided to share it.’
‘Good! Let me help you if I can.’
‘Umm… I started seeing things in my dreams manifest. I never had dreams like that until my first year in the university.’
Professor Salim rose from the arm chair and took the seat next to Ahmad. ‘Go on my friend.’
‘And Last night it came again.’ Ahmad sat up. ‘I found myself in the premises of a public building. It ridiculously looked like it was the university premises. In the building there were particularly a group of Army officers gathered around each other, and next to where I stood, a pipe, stuffed with a coal-black explosive-like material, ran out of the floor. I panicked. Then I woke up shockingly.’
Professor Salim sighed and sat still. His mind raced through his own past memories of such experiences.
Dreams were common among men but not all manifested. He had experienced manifestations too. And he had known that there were only certain people that experienced such, the ones they called the Hearts- as he had learned from the guru that had appeared to him from nowhere. Professor Salim knew there was more to Ahmad’s experiences. He knew the vision was a Sign- as he had also learned from the guru.
‘Ahmad, this is very critical. Dreams are common to men, and some dreams manifest.’ The Professor wondered how to share the secrets with Ahmad, and feared the fate to come.
The Professor continued. ‘You confirmed yours manifest, but there is no way to be sure about that or not.’
‘Professor, sometimes they do, I have seen them manifest, especially the ones that are unrelated to my normal life and I have such a strong feeling about. There have recently been cases of bomb attacks in the country.’
‘Yes, Ahmad. This is a significant deduction,’ the Professor concluded.
‘Please, Professor, I don’t want to share this with anyone,’ Ahmad added.
‘I understand my friend.’
‘Thank you, Professor.’
The Professor resolved within himself to share the secret he knew with his intern friend. ‘Ahmad!’ he called, ‘I have to share something with you.’
Ahmad sat up and focused on what the Professor was about to say.
‘This is a secret about people like you. I know this because I have had such experiences too.’
Ahmad’s eyes widened.
The Professor went on softly, ‘I was in undergraduate year when I first witnessed a manifestation. I was just as young as you are. I had lost some neighbours and friends. It was a very fatal gas explosion. Two weeks before the accident, I had a vision of myself, and the same friends and neighbours I had lost, in a room choked up with gas fume. The room had no resemblance to the real room where the accident took place. I was the only one choking. They were talking and laughing loudly. I struggled to alert them of the gas fume and woke in the middle of that. I ignored the vision after trying endlessly to find any reasonable explanation. But the day the gas exploded, I was shocked and disappointed.’ He sobbed.
Ahmad was filled with awe as the Professor burst into a feat of emotions.
And the Professor continued, ‘Then I met a man who claimed he knew about dreams. That was days later. He had appeared from nowhere. He told me of a secret only known by few men. He called it ‘the secrets of the signs and the hearts’. According to him the Signs were significant directional messages transmitted in extraordinary forms to gifted people called the Hearts. And that they were mostly transmitted at certain moments of sleep and in rare cases, out of sleep. He also emphasized that the Sign was particularly significant to the Heart receiving it.’
Ahmad listened in amazement.
‘I haven’t been able to explain how the man disappeared that day. He visited my dream that night, and has continued to visit. He never mentions his name to me but he was always there trying to guide me. I call him the ‘Guardian of Hearts’.’
‘What did he look like?’ Ahmed asked, curiously.
‘Wide bright eyes, fair skin, brilliantly dark hair and beards.’
Ahmad was completely baffled about the secrets of the Signs and the Hearts that had been unveiled to him, and also by the other experiences the Professor had shared, but he felt a little relief and hope knowing. He now understood the reason for the visions. Being a Heart was a responsibility, a much higher purpose than just seeing things- it was understanding the Signs, and having the courage and ability to wield it.
(Extracted from the fiction short story, ‘THE SIGNS AND THE HEARTS’, written and created by Ahmed Hassan.)
(c)2011, Ahmed Hassan