Monday, March 6

One-Legged Guy on the Ka'abah

I went Umrah recently — it's a Moslem pilgrimage to Al-Haram Mosque in  Mecca.

In Umrah, we do Thawaf: walking around the Ka'abah (a cuboid holy structure) in seven laps. It's not a very long distance, what makes it hard is the crowd. Thousands of people do Thawaf at the same time, making it literally an ocean of people. Look up a video on youtube if you want to get the clear picture. When you do Thawaf, you will be pushed around, get your feet stepped on, get elbowed, and sometimes on the most crowded times it's even difficult to breathe due to lack of air.

Bottom line, it's a struggle.

And then I saw that guy, on the floor near the Ka'abah, two hands on each side of his body to pull him forward. He has only one leg, the other's a stump. Yet he was doing Thawaf by himself. No cane, no wheelchair, nothing and no one. He's just......crawling right there. It's a slow pace, and people just keep bustling around him, careful not to accidentally step on him. From a quick glance he didn't seem bothered, doing a seven laps through the outer line of the Ka'abah, which  mathematically is a longer distance.

The sight all of a sudden made me somehow emotional. I was ashamed of myself, how often I'm being a snob who  whines. No struggle in my life is as noble or as hard as that guy's. Linking it back to my previous post about privilege, I'm privileged to have functional limbs. I don't have to drag my body around, because I can walk. I don't have to do the things that guy has to do.

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I think sometimes I'm too critical and cynical to be grateful. I analyze too much ane I end up forgetting to be grateful at all times; grateful of simple facts like being alive, being healthy, being safe and sound. There are just so many things we all take for granted, and sometimes we need that reality check. Normally I don't believe in this kind of sentiment (curse my skepticity), but at that moment, I guess God is telling me something.

I'll have to remember that one-legged guy on the Kaa'bah.
Couldn't take a decent pic, but heres the Kaabah.


It was Thawaf Wada', or the farewell thawaf of Umrah before we leave Mecca. How serendipitous. When I walked out of Masjid Al-Haram, it was the perfect morning. Cool breeze, bright sky, doves happily flying. Such a fitting scene for my farewell. I threw such a childlike tantrum of having to leave classes for this Umrah trip, but looking back at that one-legged guy, I wanted to slap myself across the face.

Written from Madina,
6th March.

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