Wednesday, November 09, 2011 By Maryam
Then, I saw the man, the bearded man. How long had he been lying on the floor? How long had he stayed in the desert? He mumbled and then his voice became clear. He said that he had spent 40 days in the desert, trying to find a spot that others tried to veil for him. He had left his camel, and he didn't know if he would find him again. He spent whole nights under the stars with just water and dates in his pocket. He mumbled again. The youngsters asked him many questions, among them "did you see your daughter? God's willing you will pay for that in the Judgement Day". Well, I thought the man looked drunk, but that was not possible, he didn't smell alcohol at all, and he was a man of religion. A happy unconscious sad face, a man who didn't understand the meaning of his fatality. Who had spent days trying to find something without success. I could only ask "What were you looking for"? He became almost angry and replied : "I've been looking for you, and you, and you too, and you, and you...." pointing to all of us, with a trembling, infirm finger, with a long nail and fiery eyes. We are not people from the desert, and we are not better than you, I said. "Probably not", he replied, but what I was looking for was here, the mere life, the mere breath, the simple joy, the dirty laugh, the deep compassion." As I tried to get rid of his hand who grabbed me by my skirt, he looked to the sky and said: "I do not own anything, yet I receive so much mockery, so much help, so much attention". The youngsters looked at him startled. And he became a dazing voice, saying poems aloud, thanking God for the dust, for the so called empty days and nights in the desert if that was to find our love and also disrespect, for "all that comes from humanity becomes a necessary lesson in my life". He stood up, and left with help of a cane, his cloths dirty and his feet naked. We all spent a few talking about what had just happened, when the youngest boy pointed to the pavement where that man had been lying and said "Look!, a book he left!" I took the book, a little book, very old and used, and read the first sentence: "You helped me find my way, now I can die in peace. I could not speak, I had no time to, they all took my words before I was even going to utter them". You will never see me again in this life. I am free. And suddenly, the minaret let waves of candor come to our ears and hearts. The muezzin was calling us for a prayer.
The mysterious man never came again, and finally, the youngsters avoided that they had just invented the story of him beating his daughter. For they had never seen that man before. The following weeks I would stare at the same point but the man wasn't there. The youngsters would look at me with a question mark on their faces. "No, I haven't seen him". And after all, God always sends mysteries that can never be solved until we are wise enough to perceive the source of such mysteries. These youngsters now, when they see me, they greet me and look more serious than before. Somehow they have grown up a little more and they approach to give me some words of respect. About the woman, she screams my name until I turn and see her, and invites me to go to her house and try her dinner with her family. We have become good neighbors all of us, and still the minaret smiles to the crowd and to us, while the birds sing strange songs they only understand.