We continue with the telling by Hazrat Inayat Khan of the story of the two lovers, begun here. In part II, we saw that the hope of the couple uniting in marriage was broken by Majnun’s extreme devotion even for Leila’s pet dog.
…and Leila’s parents refused their consent to the marriage.
This utter disappointment made Majnun’s parents altogether hopeless, and they no longer kept watch over him, seeing that life and death to him were both the same. This gave Majnun the freedom to wander about the town in search of Leila, enquiring of everyone he met about her.
By chance he met a letter carrier who was carrying mail on the back of a camel; and when Majnun asked this man Leila’s whereabouts, he said, “Her parents have left this country and have gone to live a hundred miles from here.”
Majnun begged him to give his message to Leila. He said, “With pleasure.” But when Majnun began to tell him the message, the telling continued for a long, long time.
The message of love has no end.
The letter carrier was partly amused, and partly he sympathised with his earnestness. Although Majnun, walking with his camel, was company for him on his long journey, still, out of pity, he said, “Now you have walked ten miles giving me your message. How long will it take me to give it to Leila? Now go your way, I will see to it.”
Then Majnun turned back, but he had not gone a hundred yards before he returned to say, “O kind friend, I have forgotten to tell you a few things that you might tell my Leila.”
When he continued his message it carried him another ten miles on the way. The carrier said, “For mercy’s sake, go back. You have walked a long way. How shall I be able to remember all the message you have given me? Still, I will do my best. Now go back, you are far from home.”
Majnun again went back a few yards, and again remembered something to tell the message-bearer and went after him. In this way the whole journey was accomplished, and he himself arrived at the place to which he was sending the message.
The letter carrier was astonished at this earnest love, and said to him, “You have already arrived in the land where your Leila lives. Now stay in this ruined mosque. This is outside the town; if you go with me into the town they will torment you before you can reach Leila. The best thing is for you to rest here now, as you have walked so very far, and I will convey your message to Leila as soon as I can reach her.”
Love’s intoxication sees no time nor space.
Majnun listened to his advice and stayed there, and felt inclined to rest, but the idea that he was in the town where Leila dwelt made him wonder in which direction he should stretch out his legs.
He thought of the north, south, east, and west, and thought to himself, “If Leila were on this side it would be insolent on my part to stretch out my feet towards her. The best thing, then, would be to hang my feet by a rope from above, for surely she will not be there.”
The lover’s Ka’bah is the dwelling place of the beloved.
He was thirsty, and could find no water except some rainwater that had collected in a disused tank.
When the letter carrier entered the house of Leila’s parents, he saw Leila and said to her, “I had to make a great effort to speak with you. Your lover, Majnun, who is a lover without compare in all the world, gave me a message for you, and he continued to speak with me throughout the journey and has walked as far as this town with the camel.”
She said, “For heaven’s sake! Poor Majnun! I wonder what will become of him.” She asked her old nurse, “What becomes of a person who has walked a hundred miles without a break?”
The nurse said rashly, “Such a person must die.”
Leila said, “Is there any remedy?”
She said, “He must drink some rainwater collected for a year past, and from that water a snake must drink, and then his feet must be tied and he must be hung up in the air with his head down for a very long time; that might save his life.”
Leila said, “Oh, but how difficult it is to obtain!”
God, who Himself is love, was the guide of Majnun; therefore everything came to Majnun as was best for him.
Verily love is the healer of its own wounds.
To be continued…