“Who, being loved, is poor?” ~ Oscar Wilde

 Japan, Tokyo, homeless man on park bench

The hungry do not go to heaven. Even if you don’t believe in afterlife and judgment, you don’t need a lot of demonstration to know what hell is like.  Poverty creates and breeds heathens “كاد الفقر أن يكون كفراً”


Since there are seven elements of wellbeing, logically there are also seven elements of hunger.

I’m not talking about one-time off kind of hunger. I’m talking about ingrained, prolonged and excruciating starvation. The kind that creates the greedy, lonely and anal persona that never seems to be satisfied. Or see beyond their hands-to-mouth rituals.

The Maslovian Hierarchy illustrates the order in which these needs be fulfilled. You can’t expect the hungry to excel at handling temptation. You can’t think about intimacy if you barely had anything to eat for days. You can’t think of pretty things if you have been cold all winter.

The quality of your character is defined by your most dominant type of hunger.

Which is why prophets and social leaders only come from wealthy and well-established families. Prophecy and leadership can only be entrusted to the well-fed, well-protected, well-educated and well-loved. The integrity of their character could have only become theirs through years of satisfaction, across all the elements of wellbeing.


The good thing, though, there are religious days where the poor can have a chance at enlightenment. Days are marked with lavish feasting. Days, in which the gluttonous act of stuffing of one’s belly with so much protein and carbohydrates borders on piety and enlightenment.

Eid, Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Holi feasts are marked with the enlightened rich flipping the Maslovian pyramid head over heels, bringing momentary satiety to the hungry poor.

…because satiety is supposed to us closer to detachment, and the answering of universal questions.



“Tell your friend a lie. If he keeps it secret, then tell him the truth.” ~ Proverb

silenzio What is it about identity that makes it so sacred? What is it that makes “being known” so fearful and obtrusive to our privacy? Why do we insist on “you don’t know shit about me”? Why do people say “I know you” with conceit? And why are we often find ourselves defensive when someone says that to us?

I once had a friend who was so possessive with his secrets that it filled him with dismay knowing that I kept very little to myself. He said something about “devaluing my identity” since everybody has a piece of it. I rolled my eyes at that. I guess I wasn’t so valuable for him then.

And what is it about wedding invitations in Saudi where the groom’s name is mentioned, and not the bride? Wedding invites in Saudi usually say something like “Fulan bin Fulan is to be married to the daughter of Fulan bin Fulan.”

Furthermore, why is the bride in Islamic wedding ceremony never asked her opinion? Why is it necessary for the Wali to speak on her behalf? Isn’t marriage a business between man and woman, not between man and the woman’s father?

Now, back to that thing about being known, yes, so I do realize that there is a matter of safety in keeping parts of our identity mysterious. But I’m talking about intimate relationships. The stuff we have with our parents and lovers and spouses and children. Why do we keep secrets from the people we love? Why the inherent fear that people would take advantage of our secrets in doing us harm?

Is it just so vulgar to have our secrets exposed, our movements predicted and our dreams obvious?



“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” ~ Einstein

Man walking alone on beach in winterOne night, the young master got on his horse, and rode away from his family and mansion home, princely duties and worldly wealth. When they asked him why he left, Buddha said because the house was too “dusty and crowded” for him.

Basically he didn’t know why he left. He just had to.

In another place and time, there was a child so lucky to be saved from the poverty of his social class, to be adopted by the King, and be raised in the King’s splendid palace. Problem is, none of that brought Moses contentment. Pretty soon, his attention went astray and he walked RAN back to his miserable, impoverished and tasteless kin.

Let’s start again, one last time.

There was a guy who was so lucky to marry a successful businesswoman. His wife completely trusted him with the management of her wealth. They had six beautiful children. The society looked up and spoke well of them for they had the world in their hands and were kindly about it too.

Mohammad, however, caught a serious bout of insomnia somewhere around his late thirties. The insomnia made him take long walks at night, occasionally resting in caves like a hermit. Puzzled by an itch that he could not name.

That unnamable, unreasonable “itch” was so powerful that it drove men out of their given comforts. Their itch started changes that rippled for thousand of years. It may look cool from over where we stand today; because we know how well Buddha, Moses and Mohammad did at leading social change.

However, had these men been our neighbors, we would have severely criticized them. Starting by calling them losers, jobless or just plain selfish.

What was wrong with their perfect lives? Why couldn’t they shut up be grateful?  Why did they – eventually – take up unpaid jobs that would bring hardship and sorrow to the people they loved the most? Did the boredom of living in comfort screw them up?

Or was there something more to life than the obvious?



“When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Water droplet in a pool of water Right now

I just. Hate. Writing.

I barely made it half way. The words sound like shit even in my head. I feel like I'm vomiting every step into this novel because I write down everything that pops into my head. I don't ferment the words in my head. Words that do not ferment will fail miserably at seducing and altering minds.

The same goes with my blog. I skipped posting dates. I haven't written anything in weeks. I don't know if you've noticed. I don't know if you actually felt relieved. Have you? Do you actually read?

Do these articles mean anything to anybody out there? Does it matter whether or not I write?

Frustration piled that at some point last week my head froze. The dialog halted at mid-sentence. I went into a verbal paralysis, and said "Khalas. Fuck you nano, yuck fou Hning. I'm done."


A month ago, I was in Ubud. For lunch, I sat with a girl named Mary. That’s basically all that I know about her because it was the only time I met her. She could have been a fairy, for all I knew was that we were just a couple of tired volunteers; irrelevant and unfamiliar with each other.

Insulting the silence, I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if rocks could talk back?"

And Mary said, "What if you know that it is nice, and you know that it is the right thing to do, but you can't do it because you're not familiar with it?"

Is it reasonable, Mary, to expect fluency at unfamiliarity?

"You mean you can't suddenly be good at something, no matter how much your heart wants it?"

Then I said something to Mary that – to my alarm - made her cry with abandon. With nothing else exchanged between us, not even an explanation; she poured quietly, shamelessly, messily.

As if failures were forgiven. Hopes renewed. Or burdens relieved.

Before, Before

Few months ago, Aysha K wrote a blog article that I don't remember what it was about. The title, though, stuck. The title was the phrase – the wonderful idea – that made Mary in Ubud cry.

The phrase reminds me why I still write in this silent blog. With very little feedback. With very little resources or guidance on where I'm going from here.

The phrase, the title that Aysha K. used in that post, assures me that it doesn't matter if only one phrase is caught. It doesn't matter if it's only one article that sticks. Or if any of this is really doing anybody any good.

Because some day it will. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far it travels, some of these words will do some good. Some day, these words will ripple - like how Aysha's title traveled to Ubud - reaching the right people - like Mary - and ease some burdens and pardon some mistakes and renew some hopes.

Even a little. Ever so brief. These words will do (have done) their job.

All I have to do is write them down.

"Faith is a muscle."


Bored Parents

"Any event is welcome in prison, even the threat of cerebro-spinal meningitis and unpleasant needle jabs." ~ Wole Soyinka

Angels Detail After the Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Adam and Eve were miserable in heaven. They didn’t need to work or earn a living or fight over bills. They had everything they could ever imagine provided for them. They didn’t have a life purpose. THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A TO-DO LIST.

I think our first parents were bored the hell out of their minds!

So bored that I don’t think Adam needed much convincing. It might have actually went like this:

“Eve, let’s invent a sport where we can kill for fun!”

“Dude, you wouldn’t even pluck a Cherub's feather!”

“That’s only because…oh forget it! Come on, let’s do something, ANYTHING! How about chasing the Wildan? Or vandalizing all the gates? Swim in the booze river? Let’s do it against the stream to make it harder!”

“Oh, go stuff yourself with a fruit! Stuff a forbidden fruit if you must, but leave me – AND MY HAIR - in peace.”



“You know something? I think I might.”

“What? Adam? Adam! NO!”

I don’t know about you, man, but having everything provided for you can be nice in the first couple of days, months and years. Wait, maybe for 2.5 years - at most. Then it gets unbelievably boring.

Seriously, boredom is a natural hunger for stimulation. Hence, hunger of any kind motivates. Inspires. Sparks. Let’s be grateful for things we DON’T have.


The Adulteress

“The guilty catch themselves” ~ Proverb

 Photo by Marili Forastieri

“M’Lord, I am a married woman who’ve committed adultery, I beg you to bequeath my consequence.”

And his heart sank, for what parent could bear a child’s self-appointed doom? “You needn’t cometh, child,” said the Messenger, “for there were no witness testifying, nor have you been required to.”

“M’Lord,” she insisted, “I have committed an irreversible sin, for I carry that burden within me.”

“Then you shall leave and care for the life within you, for a child yet to be born is innocent and has a right to live.”

Hence the woman left.

Months later, the woman returned. Uninvited, self-appointed, by her own will and on her own feet, with an infant child in her arms.

She said, “M’Lord, I am a woman who hath committed adultery, and herein lays the the living proof to my sins.”

The Messenger’s heart sank deeper. For what parent could bear a child’s self-appointed doom? Gravely, the Messenger responded, “You needn’t cometh. A child in your son’s age needs to be loved and fed from your bosom. Go home and tend after your child’s needs. For his survival necessitates yours, whether or not there is a point to be made or a heartbreak mended.”

Thus she left again.

Years went by, in which campaigns cycled; religions’ spread. In which men had died and others were born. In which memories were erased and faults forgiven.

But a woman scorned would not forget, would not forgive, and - with a heart of stone - would rather not live. The adulteress, from the depths of a father’s dread, returned FOR A THIRD TIME. This time, she presented a robust, healthy and upright toddler.

“M’Lord,” she said, “This is the proof of my sin, able to feed himself and walk a path of his own. He lives on, and so hath my sorrow and shame. If I’ve managed to keep the reminder of my sins alive, then - by God, Prophet – either you free me from this burden or be accounted for a suicide.”

And for her the Messenger’s heart broke, “Have you no reasons enough to live? Have you no reason enough to let bygone be bygone?”

“Reason enough not to kill myself, my Liege. Reason enough to consult you. I have lived in wrong, and would have lost my way again, so the least I can do to amend, is dying in right. Can’t you see the rejection I have for a life betrayed, despite sanity and maternity?”

Hence the father, who could not bear his child’s living misery in spite of worsening his own, replied, “Then all shall be well, my child.”



"Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures." ~ Samuel Johnson

Ark, 2004 (acrylic on canvas) There was time when sex and reproduction posed as an existential threat to all: When the entire population, humans and animals alike, were stuck on a single, dingy, barely-afloat boat. With no shore in sight, as thunderous skies clapped; snuffing every hope of sunlight.

The captain of the ship ordered a decree, applicable to all the passengers of his overloaded ship: “NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED UNTIL THE SHIP DOCKS! We can’t afford the extra weight. If this ship sinks, we’re done for it!”

Naturally, at the risk of sinking the entire chain of evolution, everyone refrained from canoodling. Pious or not, begrudgingly or relieved, the sexes segregated and a silence fell in the divide.

For what could possibly be more interesting than talking about sex on a doomed ship?

Anyway, nine weeks later, and right under the captain’s nose, a handful of kittens and puppies chased each other on the ship’s deck. “Hmm, that’s odd,” thought the captain, “I don’t remember bringing more than a pair of adult cats and dogs on board. Where did…no, wait…PROPHETIC OATHES!!”

Hence, for risking the survival of their fellow passengers, cats and dogs since then were cursed to copulate aloud, shameless and publicly, for ever and ever and after.

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