The millennium was anticipated with bated breath. I remember my wife, Anjail, my 7 year old daughter, Anjail Ahneda, and my daughter, Ihsan, and her fiance', Rasheed counting down the minutes to the epic event. Once in a thousand years. What could it possibly signify?
A thousand years ago was a great age for Africans; a thousand years later, not so much. I was apprehensive about the possibilities that the infamous Y2K foretold. Dick Gregory, Shaherazade Ali, and numerous others were predicting doom and gloom - the computers (a recent phenomena) were going to stop because their digital mechanisms had not been set to go past 1999. The ATM's (also, relatively new), and indeed, the whole worldwide banking system had been similarly shortsightedly constructed, and there would be an international collapse of monetary systems.
Survival kits were selling fast and, I was smiling on the outside, but overwrought with second thoughts. 'Had I considered my disaster plans? Escape routes? Orders to congregate with my huge family, assiduously?' Although I had little respect for the conspiracy theorists, openly confronting them every chance I got. But, what if the nuts, for once, were actually right?
5 minutes, 4 minutes... This was just like any other New Years Eve. Times Square's big ball had dropped 3 hours before. Would the end of the world start with the first arrival of the new year on any part of the planet, or would it wait until the last arrival on the planet? Had the utter destruction already begun? Could we expect the Big Apple to crumble and the rest of the country to fall like dominoes?
Then, I came to my senses and realized the enormity of what was happening. Allah was blessing me to experience a monumental event. What I said and did were very likely to be around a thousand years from now in some form. My thoughts and deeds, seen from the proper perspective, could influence the thoughts and deeds of countless numbers of people, ad infinitum. What an awesome responsibility!
Two minutes to 2000 A.D. It didn't matter who the President was, the police chief, whoever, or what they did. Nothing could stop me, now.
When I was born in 1944, my life expectancy was 55 years, meaning I was programmed to be dead in a couple of minutes, which did not seem likely, so I was celebrating, softly, my survival. I grabbed hold of Anjail and hugged her hard, then, I hugged her and little Anjail. We raised our glasses and toasted the New Millennium with the traditional Martinelli's Apple Juice. One minute... to realizing a million dreams of millions of Baker/Bakeers - ancestors who could not have even fantasized about the blessings, the good things I had been honored to have.
My Daddy and Momma got a glimpse, but they could barely dream of me making hajj. Fortunately, they had seen and loved all of my kids, put their indelible marks on their morals and much else. They had shared the books, the movie, my houses, my careers, Al hamdullillah. Still I reflected upon my successes - more than any of our ancestors could possibly imagine.
Anjail, Sharon, my kids and I had eaten better, dressed better, been housed better, been educated more, travelled more, driven better cars, spent more money, probably studied more Quran and Bible than any of our ancestors. What more could possibly be waiting for us in the 3rd Millennium? It could only be better. No matter how grave the problems of the past. It always got better. So, let us greet 2000, the future, the next millennium with the triumphant chant that it was due. Something fitting to be remembered for at least another 1000 years:
"Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Happy New Millennium!
My wife, Anjail, and I kiss a truly historic kiss.