Tales: Leila and Majnun pt V

With this instalment we conclude 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. In part IV, Leila discovers the imposter who has been taking the food she is sending to Majnun by asking for the gift of some blood; the imposter renounces his claim, but Majnun eagerly offers what he has–though only a single drop remains.

Majnun’s coming to the town soon became known, and when Leila’s parents knew of it they thought, “Surely Leila will go out of her mind if she ever sees Majnun.” Therefore they resolved to leave the town for some time, thinking that Majnun would make his way home when he found that Leila was not there. Before leaving the place Leila send a message to Majnun to say, “We are leaving this town for a while, and I am most unhappy that I have not been able to meet you. The only chance of our meeting is that we should meet on the way, if you will go on before and wait for me in the Sahara.”

Majnun started most happily to go to the Sahara, with great hope of once more seeing his Leila. When the caravan arrived in the desert and halted there for a while, the mind of Leila’s parents became a little relieved, and they saw Leila also a little happier for the change, as they thought, not knowing the true reason.

Leila went for a walk in the Sahara with her maid, and suddenly came upon Majnun whose eyes had been fixed for a long, long time on the way by which she was to come.

She came and said, “Majnun, I am here.”

There remained no power in the tongue of Majnun to express his joy. He held her hands and pressed them to his breast, and said, “Leila, you will not leave me anymore?”

She said, “Majnun, I have been able to come for one moment. If I stay any longer my people will seek for me and your life will not be safe.”

Majnun said, “I do not care for life.  You are my life.  Oh, stay!  Do not leave me anymore.”

Leila said, “Majnun, be sensible and believe me. I will surely come back.”

Majnun let go her hands and said, “Surely I believe you.”

So Leila left Majnun, with heavy heart; and Majnun, who had so long lived on his own flesh and blood, could no more stand erect, but fell backward against the trunk of a tree, which propped him up. And there he remained, living only on hope.

Years passed and the half-dead body of Majnun was exposed to all things, cold and heat and rain, frost and storm. The hands that were holding the branches became branches themselves; his body became a part of the tree.

Leila was as unhappy as before on her travels, and the parents lost hope of her life  She was living only in one hope, that she might once fulfil her promise given to Majnun at the moment of parting, saying, “I will come back.” She wondered if he were alive or dead, or had gone away or whether the animals in the Sahara had carried him off.

When they returned, their caravan halted in the same place, and Leila’s heart became full of joy and sorrow, of cheerfulness and gloom, of hope and fear. As she was looking for the place where she had left Majnun she met a woodcutter, who said to her, “Oh, don’t go that way. There is some ghost there.”

Leila said, “What is it like?”

He said, “It is a tree and at the same time man. As I struck a branch of this tree with my hatchet I heard him say in a deep sigh, ‘O Leila.'”

Hearing this moved Leila beyond description. She said she would go, and drawing near the tree she saw Majnun turned almost into the tree.  Flesh and blood had already wasted, and the skin and bone that remained, by contact with the tree, had become like its branches.  Leila called him aloud, “Majnun!”

He answered, “Leila!”

She said, “I am here as I promised, O Majnun.”

He answered, “I am Leila.”

She said, “Majnun, come to your senses. I am Leila.  Look at me.”

Majnun said, “Are you Leila? Then I am not,” and he was dead.

Leila, seeing this perfection in love, could not live a single moment more. She at the same time cried the name of Majnun and fell down and died.

The beloved is all in all,
the lover only veils him.
The beloved is all that lives,
the lover a dead thing.

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