A story for 2007. An exercise asking what would happen if, ignoring reality we took the premise that things just get
better. People who find themselves in a low state of mind might try a similar exercise creating their own lead figure -
bearing in mind it is a story, a fantasy if you will, but also a kind of meditation that puts the mind in a positive mode.
At the end of it remind yourself that God knows best of all and nothing can be better than that.

Getting Better

The problem with writing stories is that one must invent some dire calamities to be
overcome, some daunting odds to be defeated before the final cathartic release of
victory and success or tragedy. Here we have taken a different route.

Equally, our hero may have lived in times past or in some mythic time of dragon
and monsters or a historic story of a golden Sufi age, and then our story would
have taken some different form with sword and sorcery or wise men and fools etc.
Instead we have set it in the present day, which changes the form but not the
essence of our tale.

Therefore our story, O reader, opens in an airport café. Our hero, though as you
will see the term ‘hero’ is a rather archaic term in the context of the story, is a fair
haired man who appears to be in his mid to late twenties, who could be described
as potentially quite good looking or ‘pleasant’ in appearance, but with a gloomy
aspect that rendered such terms inappropriate. There is a background of half heard
chatter, the sound of cutlery and plates being cleared, background music and
announcements across the airports sound system. These hardly penetrate the
sombre thoughts that circulate through his mind. He was a man who had reached
what is sometimes termed ‘rock bottom’. Indeed he had passed beyond thoughts of
suicide, ‘a coward’s way’. All about his life seemed to him grey, colourless. His
very body seemed a pain. Nothing seemed ever to go right.

Looking up he saw that opposite him was a young woman sitting at a nearby table
enjoying animated conversation with a man of her own age. He could hardly avoid
noticing her vivacious looks, elegant legs and impressive figure all set off by an
outfit that was tasteful without ostentation. ‘A classy lady’ sprang to his mind as
he averted his eyes to avoid the glance she cast in his direction. ‘What I would
give to meet someone like her’ he mused. He pushed the thought away – ‘I bet she
has everything’ he said to himself – ‘money, looks, probably dozens of boyfriends
and all the rest’. He caught the words of a Beatles song in the background…’
ve got to admit its getting better…’
 ‘Oh yeah, yeah’ he thought, with heavy irony.

Having come to the end of his coffee he was contemplating whether to make the
effort to get another when he noticed the woman’s partner had got up and left. She
sat back down after hugging him farewell and then her gaze appeared to turn
towards him and a warm smile spread across her face.  He glanced behind him in
classic fashion checking the smile was directed at him. She unwound her elegant
legs to stand and he assumed she was leaving but no – she picked up her cup and
walked directly towards him.

‘Do you mind if I join you?’
‘…Er..not at all, please do’.
‘I was just seeing my brother off’

She was pleasant in manner and an easy talker and gradually the conversation
became a little less one sided. Another cup of coffee later and they were talking
animatedly in a way in which he astonished himself.

Later as he watched her walking back to the table with yet another cup of coffee
for the two of them he began to speculate – ‘This cannot be happening to
me…wait a minute with my luck I bet she is some kind of call girl or something,
these things just don’t happen for real…’ He pushed the thought away determined
at least to enjoy the moment, but at the back of his mind clouds of suspicion and
doubt lingered.

The conversation turned to him and his flight – ‘To be honest’ he said, ‘I was
sitting here wondering whether or not to book a flight.’  He went on to reveal his
plans to return to his home country as he felt the present situation unbearable.

‘Well’ she said eventually ‘I had better go, but I live in a flat nearby here
overlooking the river, and if you decide to remain in this country you would be
welcome to come over to stay the night. I tell you what, I have to collect my car –
if you decide you would like to stay, meet me at the airport pick up place in about
15 minutes. If not I will understand. Oh! By the way we haven’t really introduced
ourselves formally have we, my name is Lucy but my friends usually call me
Lucky’. She flashed a disarming smile at him, kissed him easily on the cheek, and

He sat a moment contemplating – ‘Either things have really started to get better or
I am dreaming … or more likely there will be some sting in the tail – she really is
some sophisticated call girl or there is some con trick going on here…still what is
there to lose!

As he made his way with his luggage towards the airport exit, he thought ‘I bet I
either can’t find the pick up point or she has changed her mind and doesn’t show’.
But even as he thought that, he saw a clear sign pointing to the pick up spot and on
arrival he found a smart white sports car just pulling up. ‘Jump in’ she cried, and
before he knew it they were speeding through the traffic. She seemed a skilled
driver and had a knack of weaving through the traffic and catching the lights on
green. It was not long before the crowded city gave way to a pleasant park at one
end of which the road wound up a large hill. At the top she pulled up outside of an
elegant mansion and they took an elevator to what turned out to be a spacious
apartment covering the whole of the top floor. In what seemed no time at all he
found himself sitting with her on the veranda overlooking a winding river below,
having just finished what undoubtedly must be the best meal he had ever eaten.
Doubts about her being a call girl had evaporated – he had never met one, but
there was no way they could have behaved like this woman.

Whilst she cleared away the dishes he sat on the veranda musing. Things just
seemed to be getting better – but now a new set of doubts entered his mind.
‘Perhaps she just likes to take in waifs and strays’ he thought – ‘I suppose
tomorrow I will be lugging my case back to the airport. Or else she is married and
her husband will arrive’. Several other scenarios all ending in ignominy for him
presented themselves to his imagination. However the evening continued to get
better – sitting on a lamb’s wool rug by a large open fire; (‘this just cant be
happening’), he discovered that she was single and unattached and was not in the
habit of inviting strange men back to her apartment but found him really
interesting. Talk soon became more intimate and when the hour became late he
began to have thoughts of making a pass at her, but felt sure he would mess it up
and end up being kicked out. He always misread signs from women. However she
took the lead and indicating it was time for bed kissed him just long enough to be
passionate and inviting,  giving him just the confidence he needed to feel in
command. She showed him to the guest room she had prepared for him and they
took one further kiss, lingering a bit longer with even more hint of promise.

On his bed he contemplated the situation with rising excitement. Things just
seemed to be getting better and better. Something would surely go wrong soon.
But they just kept getting better. As he lay awake with a restless vibrancy of
anticipation mixed with an expectation of disappointment. He imagined her
appearing at the door ready to fulfil the promise in that kiss, but then thought  
‘Even were that to happen I would surely disappoint her for I am no sexual athlete
and that would surely be followed by awkwardness in the morning as she finds
excuses to get rid of me’. Then again he felt he was surely reading more into that
kiss than he should. Despite what she had said may be she was just one of those
girls out for a bit of 'fun' with no strings.  But even whilst in the middle of these
thoughts the door opened slowly. ‘ I am sorry to disturb you,‘ she whispered, ‘I
thought you might like some company’.

O reader we must draw a veil over the scene that followed or risk offending
sensibilities, but suffice it to say that thing just kept getting better and better and
better. By morning they were lovers many times over and it was well past midday
before they even thought of getting up for food. In fact it was many days and
nights before they even contemplated leaving the apartment for walks in the park
or along the sunlit river. When they did, people who passed them moved on with
lighter hearts for observing two so obviously in love. Things were clearly getting

‘Love like this must surely end in heartbreak or losing its vibrancy’ he pondered,
as he sat watching the sunset one evening whilst she was clearing the dishes from
yet another superb meal. ‘Or perhaps we could marry, but then too the harsh
realities of life would eat away at our joy day by day. 'More likely,’ he said to
himself, ‘this will be one of those short once in a lifetime romances that leave a
lingering hole in one’s heart’.

But, O reader, things just kept getting better. They married quietly with her brother
and just family and a few of her friends present. He expected opposition from her
family, or the usual in-law problems, but no opposition arose and they turned out
to be both delighted and delightful people.

He felt sure the strains and complexity of making arrangements for a wedding
would lead to problems but as it happened the arrangements were made by Lucy’s
brother and proceeded with ease. He was concerned about how they would
manage financially but the flat was her own and she turned out to have
considerable financial independence. ‘This puts me in a position of financial
dependence and that can easily mar a relationship’ he thought.  Two days later he
received a call on his mobile notification him that his doctorate had been
recognised and an offer of a lectureship was available requiring a limited amount
of time at a nearby college. ‘Life does not work like this,’ he thought, as he
switched off the phone. There will surely be some downside to this – but, O
reader, things just kept getting better and better.

Now he had someone so dear to him he wondered what would happen if she were
to fall ill or meet with some accident.  He felt he would be inconsolable; but
nothing like that did happen. She and he continued to enjoy good health, and
instead of their love growing less intense it matured into something deeper and
better. Sexually it was different every time – like having many wives. Some nights
would be intense and very physical others gentle and warming, sometimes she
would be submissive others demanding or experimental.

In the days he thought there must be occasions of conflict as there were in all
marriages, but she seemed to detect his every mood and adapt to it with ease so
that even the daily routines became a kind of extension of love making in a
different sphere.  

His grasp of his academic work somehow became easy and his students learnt
with enthusiasm and hung on his every word. He became feted in the academic
world for the quality of his scholarship.  Things just got better and better.

He found physically he grew in strength, vigour, and coordination on an almost
daily basis.

Meanwhile Lucy bore him two sons and a beautiful daughter.  He felt sure this
would bring pressures in to the home situation but instead of difficulty all three
proved a delight to raise and loved their father and mother immensely; responding
to their words with loving obedience. At times he would muse on the situation and
wonder when some turn of events would bring the rain that must fall into every
life; but no such event materialised instead, O reader, things just got better and

He made some financial investments and despite concerns that these were risky
and could put their growing wealth at risk, each one proved better than the last till
he could be described as more than merely affluent – indeed he became first very
wealthy and then extremely wealthy. ‘Wealth can destroy a man’s values’ he
thought, but along with it came wisdom and generosity. In fact O reader things just
continued to get better and better,

Midlife arrived and he began to notice his attraction to some of the female
students began to increase – surely this he thought will be my undoing, but Lucy
anticipated the situation. ‘If you feel attraction to these beautiful girls you must
not resist’ she begged. He contemplated the morality of the situation and sought
the company of a number of known stern divines from various faiths but though
they were known for their righteous attitudes in general, when they sat with him
they found themselves unable to be critical in his case of anything he might do.
Thus he found himself with an ever ardent wife, the loving mother of his children,
and with the occasional company of beautiful young girls. Surely there will be
some consequences to such philandering he thought, either some emotional
complexities or physical disease or some such, but this never happened instead
things just got better and Lucy’s happiness grew too.

Surely, he thought, in the after life I will have to pay for all this happiness or
perhaps my good fortune is at the expense of the suffering of others. So he sought
for the company of some mystics of great knowledge. From each he learnt of the
various ways of attaining knowledge of the inner secrets of life. He found he
mastered each way with ease and without the kind of hardship the masters had
undergone to attain their knowledge. In fact they all proclaimed him their own
master. He saw for himself the inner workings of man’s soul. People flocked to
him for guidance and help and he gave it freely. He wondered about the effect his
growing fame would have since he understood fame can bring with many
problems, but these problems did not materialise; instead things just got better and

In older age his health and vitality continued to grow and his looks took on a
maturity that added to his attractiveness. He pondered the effect of the probable
death of his dear wife but when this actually happened he was already so much in
contact with the unseen world that her passing from the body seemed to him a joy
and things continued to get better.

He reflected on the responsibility he had to deal with the misery and hardships of
life experienced by others and undertook to bring greater happiness not only to
those close to him but to the community, indeed the nation. He felt sure this would
be a great burden but in fact the nation’s moral and even material wealth
flourished under his inner and indeed outward direction and under the direction of
those he trained. In fact, O reader, things just got better and better.

One day death came to him – I mean, in the form of a man death walked in
through the door and stood respectfully near by. ‘So my time has come too has it?’
he asked. ‘No! Not so, sir’, death replied. ‘I came merely ask at what time and in
what way you would  wish me to come for you’. ‘I will call you when I am ready’
our hero replied. O reader things just kept getting better.

At the age of 120, revered by all, he finally called death and asked him to take
him. He wondered whether this would involve some difficulty of passing over.
‘Not so in your case’, death replied, ‘If you would just step through this door sir’.  
He followed him out of the room and found himself in the other world, greeted and
feted by all who had passed before. However he paused a moment and said to
death – ‘Is it possible to return for a moment there is one thing I would like to say
to those who may be grieving’ ‘In your case sir you can pass in either direction at
any time.’ death replied.

He returned back and found his sons and daughter and some disciples in the room.
‘Sir’, they said, ‘we were wondering where you were!’. ‘I am leaving this world
now’ he replied. ‘I came to make my farewell but I can return when I wish so look
out for me from time to time’. ‘Sir,’ begged one of his disciples, ‘tell us the secret
of your success in life please’. ‘My secret’ he said, ‘is simple, it is due entirely to
my good luck. I cannot explain it except to say
things just kept getting better
and better’.

O reader, may Lady Luck walk in to your life this coming year.

Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri
Southampton, December 24th 2006.