COMPASSION

I saw a man in the crowd. He was lying there, with dust that he had carried on his clothes from the desert. His clothes were dirty with the mixture of the desert dust and from the city. He was wearing a beard but it was almost difficult to perceive it, as his face was almost covered by one side of his brown rather black from dirt covers. He didn't wear sandals, and his feet were filled with dust and callouses, even on his plants. There, lying this way, there was a group of youngsters who were laughing and making fun of him, trying to find his beard and pull out some hair, while peasants were looking from time to time, but directly going to the market to get some goat and cheese. Be the wall where the man was leaning on the floor, stood a high minaret, all with its joy and silence while birds would dance to and fro, and the sunbeams still were waiting to leave. The man seemed so tired that I looked inside my bag and found some water still remaining from a plastic bottle I was wearing. Crossing the street I approached the group of youngsters and showed the bottle to one of them and said "here, give him some water, for he is exhausted". The young boy looked puzzled at me and started laughing, as if I was not even aware of the meaning of what was going on, a total stranger in a strange land. But that was not the case. I asked him " Do you know who this man is?" And he replied with another question "Do I care"? And he, with the others, continued laughing about him and leaning on him to tell him stupid things. The man was uttering words of tiredness, and of some mysterious happenings that I could not clearly hear. Then I approached him and told the youngsters to stop the mockery and listen. The desert was not close to the city, these youngsters had just left the faculty for the day, they had not gone to the desert, they did not find it attractive, they were occidental, they all were having ear plugs to listen to music, hanging on their shoulders, pockets with music gadgets, and cell phones, some in their hands. They did not like the desert at all, and whoever came from the desert was someone who is lost in its barbaric silence. They were speaking about getting a sandwich on a chain restaurant, and I insisted: "Listen to this man". An old woman approached, wearing a bag filled with fish, it smelled strong and she put the bag on the pavement and started screaming to the youngsters, as if she was their mad mother, and they would laugh secretly as if they were children. But I insisted: "Listen to this man". The woman looked at me and asked me if I knew him, what was happening, was he ill, was he someone I know, and such things. Then the man managed to sit on the pavement, even though he was completely exhausted. He looked to the empty void, with eyes filled with dirt and dry. But then he started to cry. I knew that he had things to say. I took a paper handkerchief and handed it to him. The youngsters started saying that the man was crazy, that they had seen him other times in this same state, that I was crazy to give him attention, that he was dangerous, that he had beaten his daughter years ago and was left alone. I helped him sip some water and the old woman became interested in the story. Probably she would have something to speak about during dinner time in her house with her family. She loved talking! We could hear the sounds from the cars here and there, the stressed rhythm of the market not far away, but somehow that moment was absolutely important, and it isolated the sounds with mastery.
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.




13 comment (s):

  1. Mo'in said...

    Dear Maryam,

    Thank you very much for sharing this story. It's beautiful.

    This brought to mind a story recently on this mind, a story of the companions asking the Prophet (s.a.w.), O Messenger of Allah, what are the most excellent of actions?

    The Prophet (s.a.w.) replied:

    To gladden the heart of human beings,
    To feed the hungry,
    To help the afflicted,
    To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and
    To remove the sufferings of the injured.

    Kindest wishes,

    mo'in

  2. Maryam said...

    Dear Mo'in, thank you, it is very beautiful. I loved reading these words by the Prophet (SAW). My best wishes always,

    maryam

  3. somia said...

    this is really nice...

  4. Maryam said...

    Salam somia, thank you, God bless.

  5. Teresa Silverthorn said...

    Hello Maryam - I hope you are well and happy.

    (Confessions of a Mystic)

  6. Melvin Adrian said...

    Hi Maryam! This story is very meaningful and a very good way to let know readers about Prophets brilliant sacrifices. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Usman said...

    Maryam did you write it by yourself???

  8. Maryam said...

    Teresa, thank you, yes! I hope the same and more for you.

    Thank you Melvin for reading it.

    Ussman, yes: my English mistakes while writing it are a living proof of it:) Thank you

  9. Usman said...

    it's not about the Egnlish mistakes it is the Idea that matters..you made a good attempt

    Actually i am building a website called www.projectsufism.com
    it will take few days more
    the theme of the site to gather a quality content
    about sufism, saints, remove misconceptions about sufism, sufi music and spread the true essence of sufism.

    Regards
    Usman

  10. Usman said...

    Hi Maryam

    i have something to share with you can i contact you by your email? if you don't want to mention here you can contact me on usmanabid84@gmail.com

    looking forward for your prompt answer

    Regards,
    Usman

  11. Jonathan Spencer said...

    This story bought tears to my eyes, it is very powerful. You seem to have come along way since first I book-marked your page.
    You complain earlier about not being able to write but if this is an example you must write, communicate, because you have something to say and I for one am listening.

  12. Maryam said...

    Dear Usman, I will contact you.

    Jonathan, thank you for your thoughts, i wish i could write more, but it will happen soon. Thanks again.

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