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STRANDED ON AN ISLAND

By ABDUR-RAFAY WASIM

Once upon a time…
When there was half an hour left before completing my dreadful flying practice I wasn’t usually too excited about, especially when I have to pilot one of the propeller planes. The planes that only have space for one pilot. To be honest, the only reason I hate it is because by the time I’m down back on the ground, safe and sound, I’m starving like a grizzly bear that hasn’t eaten for three days.

While I was having some fun, that I usually don’t have in the plane, flipping up-side-down and doing 360s, my red light turned on, which is not a bad thing, just a warning that indicates that you are running out of fuel. So, I did what other pilots WOULDN’T do and ignored it, instead of turning back and flying towards the base. I kept flying on and on, doing more flips and 360s, and not repeatedly looking at my gas gauge.

15 minutes later…
As I said, I wasn’t looking at my gas gauge until a very, very annoying alarm and buzzer went off. My fuel was running out fast and the pin soon came down to one line above the word “empty”. I was worried and horrified that I would run out of fuel and fall right in to the middle of the Pacific, which as you know, is mostly water. So now I tried to do what other pilots would do, which is turn back, hoping that Inshallah I would make it back. I tried as hard as I could but the turbulence was overtaking me. I tried to contact the air control base using my CB radio but I could not make out what they were saying as I was way too far away from the base. I was sweating as if I just came out of the shower. I was continuously repeating LA Ilaha Ilallah, La Ilaha Ilallah while looking for some land, Alhamdulilla I found an island with a few trees and dead logs.

After landing on the island…
I landed safely on the island, I opened the plane’s door, and took well-deserved deep breath. I really took a moment to think about how ALLAH (SWT) has blessed me by letting me live, then I dropped right into sujood. Then I got up went into the plane and tried to communicate with the air control base again, thinking that what happened before was just a flaw at that moment, but nope, it didn’t work and I was all out of fuel as well. Remember what I said earlier, I would feel as hungry as a grizzly bear, that’s exactly what’s happening right now.

After a long stroll looking for food…
After an hour and a half of searching I find 2 coconuts, I heard weird moaning sounds as if someone or something was hurt, it was getting pretty late. It was about 6:30pm, but I still decided to follow the growling. I soon followed the noise into a small forest type area I didn’t notice from being in the air because I was panicking way too much. Then suddenly my eye spotted something I mentioned earlier, and I think you know what I’m talking about. Yes, I’m talking about a grizzly bear, but I don’t think that’s what an adult bear would sound like, and I’m sure, that’s definitely not what a dead bear would sound like. Suddenly, I heard the sound again, but this time, it sounded as if it was coming from somewhere around me. Then I looked to my right and saw a bear cub. Now do you understand why I said it didn’t sound like an adult bear growling. The cub was lying down next to a berry bush while in pain, to me it looked as if it hurt its paw, so I walked up to the cub and sat down next to it. And then it looked at me, as if I was any hope that could stop the pain, then it looked back at the paw with a pretty big thorn stuck in it.
I felt like it was indicating that “Hey, my paw has a thorn. Could you please take it out.” To me, the cub looked pretty innocent and harmless, so I did what I think the cub wanted me to do, and took the thorn out. Immediately, the cub stopped growling and got right up, then hopped on to my lap, stood on its two back legs, and cuddled with me. I wasn’t alone anymore, I mean, it’s a cub, but at least I have a good friend. By this time, I hope that Inshallah, someone from the air control base is out there looking for me.

After five long hours of hard work and hope…
It’s 11:45pm. It has been a long and tiring day but don’t worry, I will never lose hope in Allah (SWT). I have been looking for wood to build a fire. Luckily, I found lots of dead trees and small sticks and twigs, which is a good thing because I didn’t come prepared with an axe, because who except for Allah knew I was going to get stranded on an island.

Next morning (5:00 am) …
Every single part of my body feels stiff like dried up cement. I don’t understand how this bear sleeps on the hard ground and then wakes up fully re-charged and fresh, what a great system Allah has made. The adhaan on my phone and the birds chirping woke me up. I was always told when birds are chirping it means they are praying Allah. Now, you might be wondering that, if I had a phone this whole time, why did I not make a phone call, well that’s because the network on phones aren’t supported in the middle of the Pacific. So anyways, I got up, made wudu with extremely salty water and prayed Fajr after using my phone to find the direction of the Qibla. Afterall you don’t need WiFi to use the Muslim Pro app.

After a small nap and Zuhr…
For some reason this time I woke up fresh and didn’t feel stiff at all. It’s probably because after praying I made duaa and asked for Allah’s mercy. Soon after I got up, I saw the cub go to another berry bush, but it looked similar to the one that was hurt before. So I picked him up and brought him back to the place we slept. Since he was going towards a berry bush, I knew he was hungry. So I shared half of my coconut with him, by the way, if you’re just wondering, bears do eat coconuts.

Right after Asr…
Right after I ended my 4th rakah for Asr, I heard the cub growl from inside the forest again, but this time, it didn’t sound like the cub that got hurt again, but instead, the growl sounded sad. Again, as I did last time, I followed the growl into the forest and I found out that the adult bear that I found dead in the forest earlier was actually one of the parents of the cub. After a pretty silent moment of grief, not knowing if the cub was a boy or a girl, named it Tony.

Finally, they’re here…
I finally heard a sound up above, somewhere in the sky. It got louder and louder as it got closer and closer. Yes, Alhamdulilah, it was a rescue helicopter. Finally, I can go back home. I was so excited about the rescue helicopters arrival that I totally forgot about Tony. They dropped down the rope ladder and I immediately climbed up into the helicopter, looked back down at the island and saw Tony standing at the edge of the island, right by the water, staring right at me. I remembered that Tony didn’t have anybody else in the middle of the ocean. So, I told the pilot to stop, I dropped the ladder back down, grabbed Tony and brought him up in the helicopter.

Back, safe and sound…
Finally, I’m back on land. I don’t know what happened to my plane or if someone is going back to get it but, I took Tony directly to an animal shelter where he would be safe. The lady working at the animal center asked me the cub’s name so they could put a name tag on him and I proudly told them that “Tony and I are best friends.” Then I told the lady that I was never going to forget Tony, and will always come to meet him.

3 years later…
I happily went back to the shelter to check on Tony. I asked one of the employees where Tony the bear was and they led me to him. When I arrived at his part of the shelter I didn’t see him. I yelled “Tony”, he didn’t show up, I yelled his name again, he didn’t show up. I yelled his name one last time, hoping that he would show up, and that’s exactly what happened. He came running right at me but this time he wasn’t the old Tony. Now, he was a big, fat boy. In fact, so big, he knocked me down. I knew Tony was never going to forget me and I will never forget him either, INSHA ALLAH!

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