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Sweethearts and Rascals WHAT

June 11, 2011



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For a brother now both here and gone— For my dear friend Mehdy, there is at once everything and nothing to say. He was a man singular in his depth of vision and his strength of heart, a man who was striving always to balance his passion for our human world and his passion for God—and who somehow did justice to both. He was a spiritual man and a worldly man, although he never needed the things of this world to make him happy, and he, like myself, wished to always infuse his quotidian life with the breath of poetry and the vigor of youth and passion. But these things everyone knows now—for praise, which Mehdy himself surely would have shunned and begged us to send instead to God, has been the happy product of these unhappy times, and many who had not seen the beauty of Mehdy’s perspective have come to know him at least secondhand through memory and attestation. It is my pleasure, now, to relate to you a few personal tales, truthful tales, that are to me simple strands of the tapestry. Although words will never be able to impress you with the power of the unseen soul which was the essence of Mehdy himself, I hope that in remembering I will give to you a moment of our relationship, that you may glimpse the love I bore and still bear for that young man whom I would like to call my brother. Our junior year, I asked Mehdy, a few weeks prior to the event, if he was planning to go to the prom. He said, “No, I don’t think so,” and so in a bout of hopefulness I told him that he could name for me any girl, any girl in the entire school, and I would ask her as my own date in exchange for his attendance. He replied that this seemed a very enticing offer, but that he didn’t think he would be going junior year. Instead, he made a deal with me that the following year, each of us would choose the other’s date. Much to Mehdy’s chagrin, I would not forget this promise, and when the time came to think about senior prom, I brought up the topic (this time after Calculus BC instead of AB). He said that he would honor his promise if I insisted, but that he wouldn’t be going if it were up to him. “Why not, Mehdy?” I asked, and he replied, “I only want to go if it will bring me closer to God.” “And how do you know it won’t?” To this he had no immediate answer, for we both knew many secret and unexpected ways that a man may find his way to God. But let me back up. It was a regular joke between him and I that we started conversations too numerous to continue or even to remember. Conversations about poetry, about literature, about Islam and God and Faith and Truth. Conversations about life and love and this peculiar, remarkable thing called “being human.” Now they will be left unfinished; I have come to terms with that. I remember that one day I told him, “You have your God, and I have mine. They are the same; we simply call them by different names.” That delighted him, to hear us connected in that way. For really, we believed much the same things, he and I. I have become very fond, since

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believed much the same things, he and I. I have become very fond, since June 4, of telling people that he wrote “you are [one of] the truest Fundamentalist Islamists I have ever met” in my yearbook. I don’t know under what authority he made that claim, but it has been one of the most profound compliments of my life. I like to think that underneath the surface traditions, we are bound together much more strongly than we imagine. I loved him so much. Now we find ourselves strangely advanced in our journeys. He is with his Beloved, past the limits of mortality, and I am alone in my dark nights, but searching still. It was Mehdy who gave me the will to continue in impossible endeavors, for he was always the one who scaled the unassailable mountain, who swam in the impassable sea. He was my model and, I hope, I his. Together we dreamed. Alone, now, I dream. “The one who is sure of getting water feels no thirst.” I do not despair, Mehdy, because I am sure that when I find God, I find you. Wait for me, Mehdy. God grant you patience, Mehdy. I will come around eventually. In the meantime, smile your good smile and think your grand thoughts. And remember, if you can hear me, that I love you.

Filed under Mehdy, delivered June 10, oration, memorial

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