On the cold morning of December 25, 2004 a young man named Jonathan swallowed 5 sleeping pills with tap water and tried to go to sleep. He wasn’t trying to commit suicide but had no intention of being conscious either for some time to come. The memories of what happened just a few hours back still haunted him. His pulse rate was at least a hundred twenty and he had a throbbing headache. It was 6.30 in the morning.
The night before had started off like any other Friday night. Jonathan and his half girlfriend Nicole had dinner together at home (home delivery from KFC), made love twice and started getting dressed to party. Between 9 and 10.30 they fought twice about Jonathan being too jealous and how Nicole cannot loose her male friends for him. At 10.30 Nicole’s ex boyfriend called and she talked on the phone for exactly 49 minutes. When she hung up Jonathan said that he doesn’t feel like going out anymore. Nicole informed him that that’s his choice and she left the house alone.
Jonathan waited three hours before realizing that she wouldn’t call to ask him to join her after all. So he forgave her silently for all that she has done, and decided to go and join her in the club where they usually hang out. He decided that after everything, she is still with him and that’s definitely “proof of love”.
When he reached the club it was already two in the morning and it was steadily snowing outside. Inside however, people were almost sweating as they danced to the intoxicating beats of loud R&B music. By the time Jonathan found Nicole, she was already making out with a pilot who went by the name “K”. Jonathan got the impression that K was a prize winning asshole the first day he met him.
For nearly seven minutes Jonathan watched Nicole make out with K right in front of him. He felt like throwing up. When they finished, Jonathan was still standing there looking pale.
The first thing that Nicole said to him was “What are you doing here? I thought you don’t want to be with me.”
“I’m here now. What’s going on baby?” “Nothing. I want to get a drink.”
Jonathan stood there as Nicole went to get her drink and came back after nearly half an hour. When she got back, she went straight to the group K was with and waved at Jonathan to join as if nothing has happened. Jonathan decided that Nicole was just testing his patience and he decided to play along. For the next two hours he tried to act cool and with an inhuman strength of will power did not loose his temper. Most of this time Nicole danced with K on the dance floor while Jonathan sat with the group.
When the lights came on and it was time to go, Jonathan patiently waited for Nicole to finish her drink and dancing and to finally leave the club.
“Baby let’s go. Its very late now” said Jonathan when he couldn’t take it anymore.
Without missing a bit Nicole said “Fuck off! I’m going with K.”
Jonathan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew that she wouldn’t do that, she couldn’t but the fact that she said it in front of so many people made it so embarrassing. The music was off and people who still haven’t left was enjoying the drama that was going on.
“Honey you are drunk. Let’s go, please don’t embarrass me here.” He said again.
“What are you fucking deaf? I said I’m going with K. He will drop me home.”
“Please don’t do this. I know you are not thinking straight. Come with me.” And as he said, he took Nicole’s hand and tried to pull her. At that moment, K came in between and said “If she wants to go with you, she’ll let you know. Now leave her hand!”
One last time Jonathan tried to change her mind, “Baby please don’t do this.”
The last thing Nicole said before she walked out of the club with K was “Fuck - off!”
Jonathan slept for about nine hours straight and he woke up with the same headache that he went to bed with, only it was worse now. He was half hoping that Nicole would send him a SMS saying that she was sorry and she made a big mistake but there was none. As he walked towards the kitchen like a drunken man, he wondered one more time if his best friend Kip has been right about her all the way.
Jonathan met Nicole six months back in the same club she walked out from last night. Jonathan quickly fell in love but she said she wasn’t ready for a relationship yet. She also had an ex boyfriend who lived in South Africa for whom she clearly had feelings for. And even though she claimed that everything was over with them (after he dumped her before leaving for Johannesburg), she refused to tell her ex boyfriend about Jonathan and insisted that Jonathan maintain the secrecy as well. She said it would hurt him to know that she was dating someone else so soon.
It was Jonathan’s idea to get an apartment in the city so they can move in and live together. Nicole never moved in entirely but slept with him about 3-4 days a week. As the days passed by Jonathan’s life became more and more expensive as they both liked to regularly dine out, party and travel. Since Nicole had no income of her own, Jonathan paid for everything.
In the six months after they met, Jonathan’s successful internet marketing business suffered enormously as he became more and more irregular in his professional activities. Life mostly revolved partying out every other night and waking up late every morning. But on average he was happy as Nicole was a stunningly pretty woman and all his friends were jealous of him. Everyone except Kip.
Kip never really liked Nicole and kept telling Jonathan that someday this woman will be the reason for him to destroy himself. Jonathan laughed. He said Kip was just jealous. And Kip said that he pretty sure she is a gold digger. Jonathan asked Kip to shut up. But this morning as his dream world was shattered into pieces, he wondered if Kip was right after all.
As he managed to fix himself a glass of water and some Panadol, he noticed the final notice from the credit card company lying on the table. It reminded him what a terrible mess his life had become. Six months and he virtually lost everything just to pursue this dream called Nicole. And now she dumped him in front of so many people! As the memories came flooding back, drops of tears came rolling out of his eyes. More than the pain of loosing Nicole to that certified moron, it was the guilt and shame of what he has done with his life that made him cry.
Sitting there staring blankly at the wall for half an hour, Jonathan made a definite decision. He told himself that this cannot go on. Life has got to change. This is not the way he is going to live it. But as he looked around, everything reminded him of Nicole. He tried to shake the cobwebs off his brain and decided that what he needs is some fresh air. So he went for a walk.
Jonathan walked aimlessly in the streets for nearly two hours. He enjoyed the cool winter air on his face. He looked at the men and women passing by and wondered how their lives were. He saw the lovers hold hands coming and going and wondered if they also fought when they went back home. Seeing people made him forget about going back to his apartment and facing the demons of his memories. As he walked he entered a beautifully manicured park with a large lake in the middle. He found himself a stone bench and sat down to rest. The sun was getting bright orange now and the air had become extremely still. It was going to snow again. Jonathan loved this time right before it started to snow. It’s as if everything slowed down and gradually became still. The air felt like it was as pure as the snow itself. He took a deep breath and wrapped his jacket around him tightly trying to warm himself a little more.
“You mind if I sit with you mate?” It was a young man probably in his late twenties with South Asian features. He was wearing a pair of track pants and a thin sports jacket. It looked like he just finished jogging.
“Sure” said Jonathan although he would have preferred to be alone.
“You know, it’s amazing how a lot of wonderful things can happen when you are at zero.” He said as he sat down beside Jonathan.
“I said… a lot of amazing things can happen when you are at zero.”
Jonathan wondered for a brief second if this was a druggie or something. Druggies usually come to this park after dark. He took a good look at the stranger sitting beside him. He looked pretty normal except his eyes. It was as if he was not looking at him, he was looking at his soul. “I heard what you said. What do you mean by that?”
“I mean if you are at zero, you should be happy. A lot of interesting things happen from there.”
“I’m not sure I follow you, why do think I’m at zero? And what the hell is zero anyway?”
“Zero is where you have nothing more to loose. It’s the edge. People go to the edge to either fall and die or to learn to fly. And it seems to me that you are not dead!”
Jonathan was too tired to take all of this rubbish. His headache was coming back again and he quickly blamed it on this weirdo who was hell bent on imparting wisdom upon him. How did he know all this anyway? Was he looking so bad that everyone could tell he just got dumped? He wanted to leave but the prospect of walking back all the way frightened him. He was too tired to walk right now. So he decided to keep quiet and hoped that the strange man would eventually go away.
“If you have lost someone, don’t blame her. You have created your own reality.”
Now Jonathan lost it “What the fuck man? Who are you? How do you know all this?”
“I don’t know anything that you are not communicating yourself. I am just reading all that you are writing.”
“Oh awesome! So now I’m writing all my misery for people to read. Nice! So what else did you read on my face?”
“I read that you have probably sacrificed a lot for a wrong cause. And in the end you have either lost it all or going to loose it soon. And I also read that in the process you probably have jeopardized your career as well.”
Jonathan looked at the strange man one more time, this time he got his attention. There is no possible way he could have known all of these things. He tried to remember if they had met before, but they have not. This man is not the type that you meet and forget. His eyes… It felt like he can see through.
“So what, are you like a fortune teller or something? Cause if you are, I don’t have any money with me.”
“My friend, neither am I a fortune teller, nor am I looking for your money. But I am helpless when I see another fellow soul almost close to waking up but waiting for a little nudge. I feel almost compelled to give that nudge.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I follow. How am I going to wake up? I’m already up.”
“I know you are up” his voice was calm and soothing, somehow it made Jonathan feel like he talking to a much older person, “but when you really wake up, you will see much more than what you see right now.”
“And how do you suggest that I really wake up?”
“By accepting that reality is the product of your mind. By understanding that you are creating your reality right now, all of it. By realizing that all your experiences are created by you and you only. And finally by taking responsibility for all of what you have created.”
“So you are saying that I am responsible for all my problems?” Jonathan asked.
“What I am saying is you have control to change it to whatever you want. Would you like a chocolate?” from somewhere the stranger brought out a Sneakers bar and held it out.
“No I’m fine. Thank you. I got a bad headache right now” Jonathan said.
“Would you like to get rid of it?” asked the stranger.
“Are you kidding me? I’ve already popped two panadols and its not working.”
“Okay, let’s see if we can do something your medicines cannot. Take a look at my eyes, good, take a nice deep breath, exhale and relax.”
As Jonathan looked at the strange man’s eyes, he was suddenly overpowered by a sense of calm and peacefulness. The soft light of the setting sun, the fresh air flapping on his face, the sound of distant church bell ringing ding dong, ding dong, ding dong…
The stranger kept talking slowly and softly, “See thoughts have energy in them and your conscious thoughts can provide great insight into understanding how you are creating your reality. If you can learn to study your thoughts, you will understand where you are going.”
As Jonathan listened to him speak, he felt his mind float like a little boat. He felt too relaxed to ask questions at this point. Looking at the stranger’s black eyes, Jonathan felt like he was having a time distortion. Everything slowed down and it felt that they were the only people in the entire world.
“You have a conscious mind to take inventory of what is going on in your life. If you don’t like what is happening around you, you can always change it by changing your conscious thoughts, subconscious beliefs and expectations. Remember, your thoughts are the beginning of creating your reality. So instead of blaming others or yourself for what is going on, simply learn to change your thoughts and your reality will change.”
The stranger suddenly stopped talking and started to eat his chocolate bar. He looked like he was greatly enjoying the process of eating it. His eyes started shining as his looked straight and watched people walk by. He had a weird smile on his face that did not fit with the act of eating a chocolate. Jonathan watched him eat for a few minutes before he broke the silence.
“So what, you are saying that I can change all that is happening to me. How do I do that?”
The stranger started talking as if he never stopped and Jonathan didn’t ask the question. He looked back at Jonathan and started speaking in the same relaxed and calm voice like before.
“Every thought that crosses your mind has an effect, and the thought that you repeat over and over will most definitely manifest itself in the physical terms. But because we don’t understand this, we blame others, sometimes we blame god, sometimes our childhood, yet some other times we blame reincarnation and karma if you believe in those kinds of things. In which case you say that you understand why it’s happening but you are unable to change it because it’s predestined.”
“The truth couldn’t be further away!” The stranger smiled as he spoke “Sometimes you might take pessimism as the principle of life and decide that being pessimistic hurts a lot less than being optimistic. Sometimes some people even take sorrow as a way of living life, or become recluses from the society. They call it being spiritual! It’s as if, if they stayed away from people, they’d understand more. What a joke!”
“These people, for whatever reasons feel that the real freedom is outside. Sometimes they actually do get the glimpse of the outside and decide that it’s a far better place to be. What they don’t understand is that they have become afraid of what they might have seen. But they become so fascinated by the idea of “outside”, they declare that not only that this world is a bad place, they are not even part of it!”He smiled as he said this with as much sarcasm he could muster.
“I personally enjoy being outside and inside at the same time. The trick is to understand that the only way out is through. Trying to pretend that this place is bad, its all someone else’s fault, its karmic debt I’m paying off, I belong
somewhere else, I’m too damn spiritual to enjoy this physical reality --- all of these ideas only take you one way: backwards! ”
He stopped to bring out a bottle of water from his small backpack. Jonathan wondered if he saw the backpack when he first saw him.
“See John, or Jonathan, whatever you name is, you have infinitely more power than you think you do. In fact, as we speak you are becoming more and more aware of something changing in you.”“Hold on, how do you know my name?”
Jonathan was totally taken aback.
“I don’t. I just guessed it would be either John
or Jonathan. So which one is it?”
“It’s Jonathan. But how did you guess?” “Oh it’s nothing Jonathan. Once you learn to
observe people a little more, you will be able tell
“So what’s your name?” Jonathan couldn’t
remember when he was more surprised. “Shafin… My name is Shafin. Let’s go have a
hot chocolate somewhere. It’s getting cold out
The shadows were falling as they walked out of the park and went towards a coffee shop across the street. Jonathan’s headache was long gone.
The coffee shop was warm and cozy. It looked more like some colonial mansion’s living room. A real fire place was lit at one corner of the room and the furniture was huge and comfortable. Jonathan wondered how come he never saw this coffee shop before. They took a place in a corner. The sofa looked like it was at least hundred years old redone with new upholstery and cushions. The man called Shafin grew very quiet but his face glowed like something amazing was about to happen. Jonathan wondered who this guy really is, and what does he want with him? His thoughts were interrupted as the waitress came to take their orders. Jonathan looked at her with surprise. She was an extremely cute girl somewhere in her twenties. Her short blonde hair reminded him of his high school crush. He couldn’t help but smile noticing the odd resemblance.
“I… I’ll have a… cappuccino. ” Jonathan stuttered for no reason. She wrote down his order on her notepad and waited for the man called Shafin.
“You know… Your handwriting says a lot about you” said Shafin. Jonathan wondered who he was talking to, him or the waitress.
“Really? What does it say?” asked the waitress smiling.
“It says that some of your expectations from life tend to be pretty unrealistic. At times you are extroverted and sociable, at other times you are introverted and reserved. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. And you are not so disciplined and controlled that you look from the outside.”
She didn’t know what to say for a few moments. Then she asked “You read all that from my writing on the notepad?”
“Well I see a lot more but my friend and I have some urgent business to discuss. Let me just say that I see your basic honesty is getting on your way in getting ahead in life. Especially in your personal relationships! Can I have a hot chocolate please?”
By now she was hooked “How do you know that? It’s true. What else do you see?”
“I see… that…” He had a knowing smile on his face before he said the next few words, “time is running out and maybe I’ll tell you more next time I’m here.”
The waitress was clearly not so happy but she went away. Jonathan was however totally amazed.
“How the hell did you do that man? And why didn’t you ask for her phone number, she’s hot!”
“Well, Jonathan, if you give too much too early, people loose interest. Attraction is a give and take business. If you give too much without taking, the business starts loosing. And we don’t want a loosing business do we?”
Jonathan let the words sink in for a moment. Isn’t that exactly how it went with Nicole? He kept giving and giving without getting back. Now that he thought about it, he lost almost all his savings in the last six months. Is that what this strange man was referring to?
“A big problem with our perception of love is that we learn about love from movies and songs and poetry and fiction. That’s all great. I love romantic movies also. But the problem starts when we forget that movies and stories and songs are there to entertain only. They don’t represent the reality. Also a big problem with these entertainment things is they are typically created by some very creative people who are absolutely messed up in their own personal life. Take a look at all your favorite rock stars and actors and directors. Any idea how many times they got divorced or went to the rehab? Do your research, you’d be surprised.”
“So what are you saying, don’t watch movies and don’t listen to music?” Jonathan was smiling also.
“What I am saying Mr Smart Alec, is that learn to treat entertainment as entertainment and not a way of life. These people are brilliant at entertaining people and showing you what you want to see. Would you like to learn that skill? By all means do. But don’t try to find guidance on how to deal with life and love from them. Just like you don’t jump off the thirty sixth floor just because Superman can.”
“So tell me how did you tell so much about the girl?” Jonathan was really in awe.
“I just told her what she wanted to hear. It was really a cheap trick though. What I said applies to her, you, me, almost everybody. But she doesn’t know that. Because she wants to feel the drama of meeting someone who can read her mind. I am just feeding into that need.”
“Awesome man! Can you teach me this stuff?”
“Sure I can, but these are really insignificant little techniques. What is important, however, is your inside. How comfortable you are with your thoughts feelings and emotions, how well you understand your priorities, how free are you from social and cultural expectations, how aligned are you with your true purpose in life… When you have taken care of the inside, the outside automatically takes care of itself.”
“I really don’t know my true purpose Shafin. I have always wondered what I am here to do, why I was born, what I will have left behind when I die, but I got no clue man.”“Well I got good news and bad news for you.
Which one do you want first?”
“I’ll take the good news first. I’m a little tired of
bad news today.”
“The good news is that it is very much a
learnable skill and… if you are willing, you can
become a lot more than you can even imagine
you can become.”
“So what is the bad news?”
“The bad news is it’s going to take a little time
and investment on your part to go from this level
to the next level and its not going to be an easy
“Okay… so how much do you want?” Jonathan
was afraid that this would come down to money
“It’s a hundred thousand dollars!”
“What??? Are you kidding me? I don’t have
that kind of money.”
Shafin had a big smile on his face “I’m kidding
weirdo! I don’t want your money. How many
times do you want me to tell you that?”
Jonathan suddenly felt a little embarrassed, “I’m sorry. So why are you doing this for me?”
“Let’s just say, I see me in you. I have been where you are right now. And I feel that with an extra push you will be able to fly. Besides, when you give, you always receive. There is no other rule. It always comes back one way or another… many times over. So it’s not only that I am doing you a favor. I’m also doing myself a favor!”
“Alright man… Thanks bro. That’s all I can say. Until I met you, today was probably the worst day of my life. But somehow I feel a lot better right now.”
“No problem mate. So do you want to tell me what happened?”
“Well don’t you know already? You seem to know everything?” Jonathan was smiling ear to ear.
Shafin laughed so loud that the people started to look at them from the counter. Fortunately there weren’t too many people in the shop. His laughter felt like it was coming from deep within from his tummy. Jonathan wondered how happy do you have to be in life to laugh like that. Does this person have no problems whatsoever?
When he settled down a little he said “I don’t know everything. In fact, I know so little that every day I’m overwhelmed by how much more there is to learn. And that’s why it’s so much fun. Everyday is a learning experience!” He stopped to laugh silently by himself a little more. “I guess what you are referring to was a form of cold reading technique that I applied. It’s handy in getting people’s attention but that’s all that is, a tool to grab attention.”
At this point the waitress came with their coffee and hot chocolate. She put them down on the table and waited for Shafin to say something. But he went totally mum. He looked at her straight in the eyes but he didn’t smile or anything. He just looked. The waitress looked like she was hypnotized or something. It was almost full thirty seconds that she just looked. And then suddenly, as if they were in the middle of a lively discussion, he said “Hey my friend Jonathan here needs to get some new clothes for himself. He is trying to change his style. But I don’t trust his choice too much. He just might get the same kind of stuff again. Can you take him out sometime tomorrow for a little shopping tour?”
Jonathan was more surprised than her at the suddenness of the whole situation. The girl however wasn’t too startled. She said “What makes you think I’ll be able to choose the right stuff?”
“Well it seems to me that you have a good sense of fashion and you are updated with the latest trends. If I’m wrong then you can tell me.”
“I’m free from noon to four pm tomorrow, give me call on this number.” As she said, she wrote her number on a piece of paper and handed it to Shafin. He took a look and gave it to Jonathan “He’s the one who’ll give you a call. And if I like his looks tomorrow, I’ll tell you some more stuff that you didn’t know about yourself. Deal?”“Deal.” And she walked away.
Jonathan was flabbergasted but he was smiling, “What the hell man? Did you just set up a date for me?”
“That’s what it looks like.”
“Hey I got a girlfriend you know.”
“No I don’t know,” He was smiling. “Why don’t
you tell me about her?”
“Well I don’t. I mean I don’t know if I still do. I
just got dumped this morning. In the most embarrassing way you can imagine. She went
with another guy right in front of me.”
“So there you go, the problem is settled then.
She’s got herself somebody, now you’ve got
yourself a date. Perfect time to start from the
beginning. But please don’t screw it up now
“No problem bro. I’ve had enough already. On
the other hand you are doing so much for me,
the least I can do is listen to you.”
“Good! Now tell me why you were looking like
a dead man in the park today?”
Jonathan took a few moments to gather up what he wanted to say. The memories of last night came back again. The rhythmic loud music, Nicole making out with that asshole, people staring at them, and the final two words that she said before she went with K… Sitting here in this coffee shop with this strange man, it all seemed like a distant memory. As he looked at the flickering flames of the fireplace, he suddenly felt very blessed. Life has strange twists and turns…
“To make a very long story short, there is this girl… I met her six months back. I love her a lot and I feel that she does too but there are some problems. She doesn’t want to have a
relationship and she also has this ex boyfriend who I’m pretty damn sure she wants to go back to, although she wouldn’t admit. She says I’m too jealous and I suffocate her. And last night she dumped me in front of a lot of people and went away with another guy! That’s the short version of it.”
“So how much did you loose?” “I’m sorry?”
“How much money did you loose over her?” As Jonathan thought about the answer to that
question, he was once again overcome with shame and guilt. What has he done with his life for this one woman?
“Lots!” That’s all he could say.
“Great!” The man called Shafin was smiling, “Well done. You are at the right place. I believe
its time for you to make the U-Turn.”
“Huh? You are happy that I lost almost
everything? Its not the money only man,