Tales: Leila and Majnun pt IV

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. In part III, Majnun comes to the town where Leila is and shelters in a ruined mosque.  By Divine guidance he unwittingly finds the cure for the exhaustion of crossing the desert to her home: drinking from a tank of water from which a snake has drunk, and hanging himself head downward to rest.

The next morning Leila put her food aside, and sent it secretly by a maid whom she took into her confidence, with a message to tell Majnun that she longed to see him as much as he to see her, the difference being only of chains; as soon as she had an opportunity she said, she would come at once.

The maid went to the ruined mosque, and saw two people sitting there, one who seemed self-absorbed, unaware of his surroundings, and the other a fat, robust man. She thought that Leila could not possibly love a person like this dreamy one whom she herself would not have cared to love.

But in order to make sure, she asked which of them was named Majnun. The mind of Majnun was deeply sunk in his thought and far away from her words. But the other man, who was out of work, was rather glad to see the dinner basket in her hand, and said, “For whom are you looking?”

She said, “I am asked to give this to Majnun. Are you Majnun?”

He readily stretched out his hands to take the basked and said, “I am the one for whom you have brought it.” He spoke a word or two with her in jest, and she was delighted.

On the maid’s return Leila asked, “Did you give it to him?”

She said, “Yes, I did.”

Leila then sent to Majnun every day the larger part of her meals, which was received every day by this man, who was very glad to have it while out of work.

Leila one day asked her maid, “You never tell me what he says and how he sits.”

She said, “He says that he sends very many thanks to you, and he appreciates it very much, and he is a pleasant-spoken man. You must not worry for one moment. He is getting fatter every day.”

Leila said, “But my Majnun has never been fat, and has never had a tendency to become fat; and he is too deep in his thought to say pleasant things to anyone. He is too sad to speak.”

Leila at once suspected that the dinner might have been handed to the wrong person.  She said, “Is anybody else there?”

The main said, “Yes, there is another person sitting there also, but he seems to be beside himself. He never notices who comes or who goes, nor does he hear a word said by anybody there. He cannot possibly be the man that you love.”

Leila said, “I think he must be the man. Alas, if you have all this time given the food to the wrong person! Well, to make sure, today take on the plate a knife instead of food, and say to the one to whom you gave the food, “For Leila a few drops of your blood are needed, to cure her of an illness.”

When the maid next went to the mosque the man as usual came out eagerly to take his meal, and seeing the knife was surprised.

The maid told him that a few drops of his blood were needed to cure Leila.  He said, “No, certainly I am not Majnun. There is Majnun. Ask him for it.”

The maid foolishly went to him and said to him aloud, “Leila wants a few drops of your blood to cure her.”

Majnun most readily took the knife in his hand and said, “How fortunate I am that my blood may be of some use  to my Leila. This is nothing. Even if my life were to become a sacrifice for her cure, I would consider myself most fortunate to give it.”

Whatever the lover does for the beloved, it can never be too much. He gashed his arm in several places, but the starvation of months had left no blood, nothing but skin and bone. When a great many places had been cut hardly one drop of blood came out. He said, “That is what is left. You may take that.”

Love means pain, but the lover alone is above all pain.

To be continued…

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