The Naked Beggar
The Naked Beggar
And Other Stories
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Ever since man started to create stories, there has existed a seemingly invisible yet eternal bond between fictional tales woven out of words and the actual truth. It is undeniable that the truth always reigns with magnificence and glory within any culture and its people. It is this very truth, seemingly shrouded in lies, that a writer attempts to capture and jail forever within intricate cages of letters and words. Doing this is an attempt, on his part, to relieve the heavy hearts of society from the burden of these lies. Although the need for guile exists as the requirement of the times, it is nonetheless preferred to be kept anonymous and unidentifiable. Consequently, the writer too has to alter the identity of these lies. Hence, borrowing unknown shrouds and cloaking these fibs with torn, soiled, and beleaguered words, he is forced to present them as being true. "The Naked Beggar and Other Stories" is also a similar attempt of a writer to go within the heart of truth and weave out tales that, though born of honesty, cannot be presented as anything else but falsehood. That is the need of the time, and it is the only way these truths will ever be accepted. These stories are strewn all about us but are visible only to the discerning eye and a sensitive heart. Man's intellect can only attempt to capture the essence of these tales. It is ultimately up to the human heart to inject meaning and life into them. For this reason, this collection is not just stories but living beings that have the potential to touch our lives as potently as mortals do. Should the circumambulation of the world seem tedious and wearisome, and should you feel the need to slow down and look inside your heart for peace rather than search for it in the meaningless rowdiness around you, then the stories in this collection will not disappoint you.
Solitude Very few people in the world have an actual realization of how solitude is such a great blessing. Solitude is a double edged sword that has the power to make somebodies out of nobodies or nobodies out of somebodies. It has swept millions to dust. Those of us who are busy have no time to be alone or to enjoy solitude. On the other hand, those who have nothing to do will spend their free hours in trying to figure out how best to spend their time. Free time or solitude should be left alone sometimes just for the sake of it. If people were aware of the real worth of solitude, they would beg for it on the streets. Solitude is referred to as a meeting with the self. When all the meetings are over, all the talking for the day is done, all the crowds have returned to their homes, all travelers have found their destinations, all companions are lost, then man meets himself. And this is referred to as solitude. It is not actually getting there, but the quest for the destination is the real challenge. For when the destinations are found, everything becomes meaningless. Even the destination itself. When you meet people, they ‘consume' you. It is only in solitude that you make contact with your Creator and reenergize yourself and your soul. Solitude is a mirror to the self; it shows you who you really are. This is the mirror in which one sees not faces but only characters. It is a special spot where there is pandemonium in silence, quietness speaks, and thoughts perspire in the form of tears. Solitude is also a craving for the potential for doing good. The effect of deeds invariably cascades upon the character. One of my friends says that the closeness of Allah (swt) is forbidden upon the one whose solitude is not pure. You should be at least a hundred times more respectable, honorable, and reputable in your times of solitude as you are in the presence of people. It is this solitude that gives weight to a character. If the solitude is pure, it will automatically attract the potential for good deeds. And if the solitude is impure, then it will definitely prove to be a magnate for ill company and ill deeds. Solitude is also a thirst that forces water to be dependent on life for its existence. The day thirst rises above its dependency upon water, and water beseeches to find thirst, then thirst will turn into Karbala and annihilate Yazeed's progeny. Therefore, thirst always needs to exist because it is this thirst in which millions gain their daily bread. Solitude is also a paradox. Whatever deed you carry out in solitude, you get a reverse reward for it in life. After crying for years, you are awarded the unique skill and dexterity to make people laugh and the insight to share their sorrows. The more you cry in solitude, the more life smiles for you. Those who have erased themselves in solitude have historically proven to be the most notable of men. Giving your heart to the Creator in solitude means to lure the hearts of all creation towards yourself. And keeping an account of remorse and penitence in solitude means passing the very difficult exam of worship with the greatest of ease. The art of measuring, weighing, testing, appraising, and screening the self is also awarded during solitude. The tribulations of the fate can only be eased through lamenting and crying during solitude. It is also solitude that has the power to enhance and adorn the ugliness of a broken, twisted fate. Cherish your solitude. You will understand the real meaning of blessing.
Dr. Usmani is a Fulbright scholar and Eisenhower fellow. He holds a PhD and MS in computer science from the Florida Institute of Technology. His PhD work focused on simulation and modeling of blast waves in open and confined spaces. His work has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, AOL News, Wired Magazine, NPR, MIT's Technology Review, Florida Today, the Economist, Brown Journal of World Affairs, and the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation. He has authored dozens of research papers, articles, and several books. His research strengths include real-world simulation, programming human emergent behaviors, and modeling of catastrophic events. He was a visiting scholar at Brown University and an industrial professor at Coventry University. Currently, he is the CTO at Cosmic Insights. He divides his time between Cary, North Carolina, and Islamabad, Pakistan.

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