Al was a gifted Daf player, he had spent his entire life immersed in playing this Iranian cultural drumlike musical instrument with chains that beat rhythmically, intricately against the skin. He also played the Dayareh, and pretty much anything that could be tapped in the sequences that played through his mind even when he wasn’t playing. He even drummed in his sleep, his grand children teased him about it one night when he woke them up by sleeping through rousing pattern of thumps and tumps. Not wanting to harm him, having heard all the urban legends about waking sleep walkers, they danced wildly about as he played and once finished, he put down the drumsticks, returning to bed and having no further recollection in the morning.
He was disappointed, none of his three sons showed the remotest signs of interest in playing. As his eldest Jab said one day recently, they never thought they could ever be as good at drums, when they were all so good at other things. Jab was good at talking – he was a criminal lawyer that never lost a case, Bel was good at cards and fast women and lived a single life his father almost envied, and Zed was a cunning businessman. It was a little disappointing to think that they would never really change the world for the better, or contribute much to the world’s offerings, but they’d married well for themselves and the grandchildren made up for it almost. His daughter Mol quite liked playing the drums. Strangely enough this annoyed Al more than anything his sons had ever done. She wasn’t good enough to be allowed to continue. There was a limit, and Al couldn’t have her practicing drums poorly being heard by the neighbour.
Some days you wake up and wonder if today is the day you’re going to die. From the age of about sixty, that was what Al found himself wondering every day. And so, he lived his life as if his last day was today. He played his drums. He picked a flower in memory of his recently passed wife – just in case she was waiting on the threshold of the afterlife – he didn’t want to give her something to complain about. He found that he’d missed the complaints more than he’d thought that he would before she died, considering it was incessant, the silence had been a shock. Yet, he didn’t want to give her cause for complaint.
And so Mol continued learning the Daf, and the Drums, eventually discovering that she quite liked the Iranian flutelike Ney instrument, and as it turned out, she was quite good at it. Being pretty, she’d made a good match and her husband let her get away with playing her music, as long as it was discrete. For a select group of friends, Mol was allowed to play.
Then one day Al woke up and he was correct. It was his death day. He wondered, as he always wondered, and he played the Daf, the Dayareh, and a few other instruments he’d always played. It was his daily meditation after all. As he was preparing to go to his youngest grandson’s piano recital, he slipped down the stairs and was rushed to hospital instead. The wounds were extensive, but there was just enough time to get the family gathered around to say their teary goodbyes before he slipped down the tunnel of light to the great beyond he’d spent every day of his life wondering about. He told Jab that he was proud of him, he told Bel to settle down and father some legitimate children with a proper name, he congratulated Zed on having steel nerves and heartless dispassion that led to wonderful financial rewards to the tune of trillions, squirreled away all over the planet. Moreover, to Mol, he said, “If you are blessed to have a son, please name him Al, and if it’s a girl, you may use your mother’s name.” And nobody thought it was weird at all because within their family, this was perfectly acceptable behaviour.
So Al tootled up the hill of white light, his life flashing before his eyes. Some realisations started coming clear with all the haziness of confusion dissipating. He could see his daughter didn’t seem as upset as his sons. It didn’t bother him, she was just a girl, she was living God’s will for women since Eve disobeyed God’s direct order.” He saw his late wife, she was also called Eve, she didn’t move toward him, she simply stood for a while before disappearing. He didn’t much like the look on her face.
And then he was in a white room. Nothing surrounded him for quite some time until a figure appeared. It looked exactly how he’d imagined God would look. He held up a hand to prevent Al from bowing down before him and instead said kindly, “I see you had a large family. You played Drums very well. You accumulated a lot of wealth…” and in a process indescribable within 3-D terms, gave Al a perspective of himself as told from each and every person that Al had ever come into contact with. As you can imagine, by the end of it Al felt wrung out, and desolate. Every poor decision had been inflicted one upon the other, until he could just watch with the dawning realisation that the things that he’d considered victories in his living life, were actually failures in the greater scheme of things. That he’d had so much faith that he’d lived his life according to the rules, without stopping to consider the wider implications of those rules, and whether or not a benevolent being like the God he worshipped would hold with the more nasty rules, the ones he cringed about following once he realised what they’d meant.
He also discovered by means impossible to describe that his daughter was almost about to be pregnant and that God had him in mind to be the baby. Al wasn’t happy with that, but he was informed that the alternative was a random place in the middle of nowhere with a low vibration related leg of his family that required some intellectual upliftment. This time he would get it right, this time he’d stick to the way, this time he’d take his drumming places and be the best drummer in the world.
He entered the slipstream to birth, perfectly calculated to engage maximum conception, and entered into the warm fuzzy pink glow of foetal development.
“What will my name be?” he found himself wondering… and resonating deep within his arms as he tapped out the familiar drumbeats he’d played everyday in his life as Al, was one word.