Fear of Staying Alive

2014-01-15 11:13:45

I used to think I’d remain young all my life, for the sole reason that I felt I would die early.

And I used to think I wouldn’t have a long life. And I used to think this feeling would change as I aged. But what happened was that as I grew older I could smell death breathing closer onto my face.

Today a new year begins.  I was among those who never bothered to count days and nights, but preferred to utilize time to deepen my experiences thus extend my life depth-wise rather than length-wise.

Why do some of us feel life is short?

I have no idea!

Today I feel aged. No, I feel I’m not the youth I used to be. No, I feel ill, or I feel threatened. That’s it. That’s the right term. I’m threatened by threatening my very existence, a threat concerning my being as a human.

What’s a human?

A human is a living creature who remembers.

Some will say, but humans forget by nature. That’s how God (Allah) created us.

I will say, Praised be Allah. But when a human forgets his loved ones, when he forgets the intimate details, when he forgets the important matters of life, he becomes another person. A human who does not remember becomes a human ruins, or becomes like me: a threatened man. What value is one without his God-given memory chip?

How did I forget all these things?

I used to know by heart more than half of the Quran. I used to know by heart the greater part of Abu-Tamam’s “Zeal”, dozens of poems by El-Motanabby, Ibn El-Faredh, Ibn El-Roumy and many more. Sometimes I would start a quote and, to my shock, stop midway like a derailed train. I sometimes complete the verse by expectation not memorization.

Life has bestowed upon me more than I anticipated. I’ve won the major bets to which I devoted my life. I feel fully satisfied and I find no grievance in a quiet exit.

Allah forbids us to wish for death. But sometimes things happen to a person in life that make him wish to have died before their happening.

How will my life end?

Would God send me a little chunk of metal? The kind that sends one straight to heaven!

I’m not worthy...!

I used to be a young man with a sharp memory and keen senses. I used to remember faces however changed by time, memorize texts (that I liked) in record time, and recall phone numbers. I could recall car license numbers in an amazing way, as I used to read the license numbers of the cars behind me from their inverted reflection in the driver’s mirror. That kept me off the radar of all security forces because I could detect the chase right away without looking behind me!

Now I forget.

I forgot the passing away anniversary of my professor, father-figure, and friend, Dr. Ahmed Sidqy El-Dajany, my kind mentor, God rest his soul. I forgot the eighth anniversary of his passing away, which was on Thursday 29/12/2011. It’s the first time for me to be in Cairo on his memory and not recite the Opening of Quran at his grave.

If God extends my life, what more will I forget?

Some fear death, and some fear staying alive.


Translated from an article “Al-Khawf Men Estemrar Al-Hayat” by Abdul-Rahman Yusuf, published in Youm7 on 1/1/2012. Link to original article: