Excerpt of The Geometry of God by Uzma Aslam Khan
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Inside me, a devil is unleashed. Like Al Khwarizmi, God needs empty space to create. Without it, He faces an impasse. His intersections get crammed, like the roads in Lahore.
By the time Ive done the algebra and Aba slips through the gateway againstoops, steps back into his shoes, walks toward meIve finished my soda, and calculated that God has left this country. And this is why Abas changed.
From now on, I pray for the return of the bloom of sifr. For the Unreal Zero.
Zahoors long arms motion a downward sweep. Please. I have something you will want to hear. Another couple sneaks away but others return to their chairs. [
Now. You have all heard of the French philosopher Pascaltwo others slip awayI want to tell you what happened to him one night. It is a good story, you will enjoy it.
He paces, eyeing everyone, including me. He was standing in a wheat field. The sky was clear. The stars, bright. It was a very fine night indeed. But then something changed. Pascal suddenly noticed a flea crawling up a wheat stalk. He had excellent eyesight this man, all philosophers do. The older girl giggles. He smiles at her. You laugh but what did Pascal do? He cried. Now others laugh as well. Why? Because when he looked up at the sky and saw the infinite world above, it felt right. But when he saw the tick in the wheat, he realized there was a second infinite, and this one worried him.
Zahoor stops pacing and looks around, making sure everyones paying attention. Except for the young girl asleep on the others shoulder, everyone is. He saw that the tick was arranged like him. With a head, joints, veins, blood. He says the next sentence rapidly, like a riddle. In the drops in the blood in the veins in the knuckles in the feet there was heat. What caused it?
A man in the front row murmurs, The Almighty. Others mutter and nod.
Zahoor smiles. Pascals mind blazed. He saw the heat churning, the blood burning, the fingers twitching, the wheat bending, the wind causing tiny flea wings to flutter, as the creature struggled for balance. He saw a chain of reactions with no beginning and no end. He saw the universe inside himself. He stops. Repeats, He saw the universe inside himself. But not the way he saw the outside universe. He would never see the one inside. But hed recognized it. So from now on, the only way to see was by searching. And that is why he wept: his mind would never rest again.
He stops. His skins old but his stride, young. He wears red leather slippers.
Pascal should not have wept. He was given a gift, the most precious gift there is, the gift of infinite curiosity. Many have had it. Few have not been punished for it. We can recall the fate of Ibn Sina and Al Kindi. Who cares about them today?
The gift of infinite curiosity, he repeats. His voice is a low rumble, a gentle thunder capable of extreme cruelty. I feel the menace in him as much as in Aba, though his words have the opposite effect on me. They revive; Abas deflate. My granddaughter Amal has it too. He points to the curly-haired girl. Startled, she blushes. A lot happens beneath her feet. He smiles broadly for the first time today. His skin sheds a thousand layers. He glows. She was only eight years old when she found this, he picks up a bone, a copy of the diamond key, he looks at Henry, who doesnt acknowledge him. Her sister Mehwish also has the gift, even while she sleeps.
Excerpted from The Geometry of God
by Uzma Khan. Copyright © 2009 by Uzma Khan.
Excerpted by permission of Interlink Books. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.