Hundred-and-fifty-seven steps by Adnan Hamid, Kolkata

I was the hundred-and-fifty-seventh in the queue.

As the steps moved ahead slowly, I could the see the sea of white ahead of me winding its way from the basement right up to the sanctum of the masjid Al-Burhani.

With every step ahead, I felt I was getting closer to Maula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS). Closer and closer and closer.

With just one step away from Maula’s bethak, it was finally my time for doing qadambosi. The dream of a million mumineen had finally come alive. The moment of a lifetime had suddenly stirred to life.

A billion emotions ran through my body. I was excited, nervous, anxious, edgy, restless, eager, impatient… I felt like being on a bungee just about to be pushed off the cliff. I felt like an acrobat standing on the edge of an airplane waiting for my turn to fall into the sky. I felt like an athlete at the start point waiting for the trigger. I felt like an anxious father waiting to hear his baby’s first cry.

But Maula, Kolkata’s mumineen having been waiting for this occasion for ages now. But Maula, Kolkata’s mumineen have been craving to be graced by your radiance. But Maula, Kolkata’s mumineen have prayed for years to get a chance of being this close to you. And now Maula you will have to give me the courage.

But as I walked up, my knees trembled, my hand shook and my heart skipped a beat. Though I was less than fifteen steps from Him, I walked slowly to feel the warm glow. And then I saw it.

The intense eyes. The firm hand. The gentle demeanour. The strong radiance. The vast halo.

As I knelt and my feeble fingers came into contact with His hand, a shiver passed through my body. A shiver that I had never felt before.

Earlier, I had seen Him once in a year. Then when He came to our city, I saw him four times a week. Then on the occasion of Chehllum, I saw Him 50 feet away. And now, only a foot separated me from Him.

As Maula asked me my name, I mumbled something incoherent. As Maula asked me what I did, I fumbled with words. As Maula asked me if I was from Kolkata, I tumbled into a deep crevasse. I coaxed my mind to focus on the fact that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I forced my mind to do what I was preparing for, for ages. I gathered my courage to speak my mind. As I conveyed my araz, I could feel Maula’s vision studying me intently. And then He smiled at me and put His hand on my shoulders. I felt victorious.

And then I woke up from my dream.

The day had finally dawned. It was the day when I was going to offer my qadambosi to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

The wait of almost a century had finally narrowed down to a hundred and fifty seven steps.