How Could I Be All Stupid If God Is Within Me?
The day after I spoke to
Matthew's mother, I had a follow-up visit from a
woman in her seventies. The woman had initially
consulted me for the swelling of her legs, varicose
veins, arthritis and concentration difficulties. She
brought her copy of RDA: Rats, Drugs and
Assumptions and asked me to autograph it. I
complied with her request and thanked her for asking
me to do so. Curious about how she managed the book
with her considerable concentration difficulties, I
asked her how much of the book she had read.
"Up to the book mark," she
beamed, showing me the bookmark at about the middle
of the book. Then, turning suddenly sullen, she
added, "But I don't understand it."
"You will when your concentration
improves," I tried to reassure her.
"It's not that. I don't
understand because I'm stupid," she spoke, a hurt
expression spreading over her face.
"That's not true," I countered.
"Oh yes, it is!" she grinned.
"That's what everyone tells me. I know I'm stupid.
If I wasn't stupid, why would people say so."
"There is part that is stupid in
each of us," I persisted. "But, there is also a part
that is wise in each of us. I do things that are
stupid, then I regret why I did them."
"Don't say that, Dr. Ali, you
write all those books and you help all those sick
people," she countered eagerly, then fell silent.
"There's a part in each of us
that is demonic. Then there's a part that is
divine," I tried to cheer her up.
She stared at me with blank eyes,
as if trying to figure out whether I was being cruel
or compassionate. I returned her stare in silence.
She regarded me for several long moments. I wondered
what conclusion she would finally arrive at: Did I
mean what I said, or did I make fun of what she was
convinced was a sluggish mind? Finally, she broke
into a broad grin, shook her head approvingly and
"Dr. Ali, I'm a Christian. I know
God lives within me. You have to be right. How could
I be all stupid if God is within me?"
There are no stupid people in
Fayemi's Africa. Nor do I remember any in Kirto, my
ancestral village in Pakistan. Yes, there are people
who see, hear, smell or imagine things differently
in Kirto and in Africa. Kirto folks, as well as
tribal Africans, have ancient traditions of seeing
such people differently, but they know they are not
stupid. They know being different is not being
stupid. I once knew someone like my patient in Kirto.
He roamed the village alleys, sometimes talking to
himself, sometimes to goats and sheep. We knew he
was different but not stupid. Sometimes he spoke
words that seemed incongruous when uttered but
seemed to hang over forever after he uttered them.
Days and weeks—and sometimes months—later we
understood what those words meant. What did he see
when he spoke those words? We wondered. What did he
hear? Or smell? We realized God bestows gifts on
people in ways that aren't always clear to us.
After finishing my visit with the
woman with concentration difficulties, I saw her
older sister who suffered from crippling arthritis.
She told me about her (patient's) many dreams that
accurately predicted—in stunning detail—events that
later came to pass exactly the way they were
foretold. Whose voice did she hear? Who told her
about the shape of things to come?
Who knows who is stupid? I wondered.
List of Related Stories
* The Sword Story
Soul's Sweat Stories
Bullet for Hypertension
The Bite of the Neck