بخش 22

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بخش 22

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PART TWO

Water

THE THINGS THAT ARE FLUID, CHANGING, AND UNPREDICTABLE

Rumi

KONYA, OCTOBER 15, 1244

Bright and plump, the gorgeous full moon resembled a massive pearl hanging in the sky. I got up from the bed and looked out the window into the courtyard, awash in moonlight. Even seeing such beauty, however, did not soothe the pounding of my heart or the trembling of my hands.

“Effendi, you look pale. Did you have the same dream again?” whispered my wife. “Shall I bring you a glass of water?”

I told her not to worry and to go back to sleep. There was nothing she could do. Our dreams were part of our destiny, and they would run their course as God willed it. Besides, there must be a reason, I thought, that every night for the last forty days I had been having the same dream.

The beginning of the dream differed slightly each time. Or perhaps it was always the same but I entered it from a different gate each evening. On this occasion I saw myself reading the Qur’an in a carpeted room that felt familiar but was like no place I had been before. Right across from me sat a dervish, tall, thin, and erect, with a veil on his face. He was holding a candelabrum with five glowing candles providing me with light so that I could read.

After a while I lifted my head to show the dervish the verse I was reading, and only then did I realize, to my awe, that what I thought was a candelabrum was in fact the man’s right hand. He had been holding out his hand to me, with each one of his fingers aflame.

In panic I looked around for water, but there was none in sight. I took off my cloak and threw it on the dervish to extinguish the flames. But when I lifted the cloak, he had vanished, leaving only a burning candle behind.

From this point onward, it was always the same dream. I started to look for him in the house, searching every nook and cranny. Next I ran into the courtyard, where the roses had blossomed in a sea of bright yellow. I called out left and right, but the man was nowhere to be seen.

“Come back, beloved. Where are you?”

Finally, as if led by an ominous intuition, I approached the well and peered down at the dark waters churning below. At first I couldn’t see anything, but in a little while the moon showered me in its glittering light and the courtyard acquired a rare luminosity. Only then did I notice a pair of black eyes staring up at me with unprecedented sorrow from the bottom of the well.

“They killed him!” somebody shouted. Perhaps it was me. Perhaps this was what my own voice would sound like in a state of infinite agony.

And I screamed and screamed until my wife held me tight, drew me to her bosom, and asked softly, “Effendi, did you have the same dream again?”

After Kerra went back to sleep, I slipped into the courtyard. In that moment I had the impression that the dream was still with me, vivid and frightening. In the stillness of the night, the sight of the well sent a shiver down my spine, but I couldn’t help sitting next to it, listening to the night breeze rustle gently through the trees.

At times like these, I feel a sudden wave of sadness take hold of me, though I can never tell why. My life is complete and fulfilled, in that I have been blessed with the three things I hold most dear: knowledge, virtue, and the capability to help others find God.

At age thirty-eight, I have been given by God more than I could ever have asked for. I have been trained as a preacher and a jurist and initiated into The Science of Divine Intuition—the knowledge given to prophets, saints, and scholars in varying degrees. Guided by my late father, educated by the best teachers of our time, I have worked hard to deepen my awareness with the belief that this was the duty God had assigned me.

My old master Seyyid Burhaneddin used to say I was one of God’s beloved, since I was given the honorable task of delivering His message to His people and helping them differentiate right from wrong.

For many years I have been teaching at the madrassa, discussing theology with other sharia scholars, instructing my disciples, studying law and hadiths, giving sermons every Friday at the biggest mosque in town. I have long lost track of the number of students I have tutored. It is flattering to hear people praise my preaching skills and tell me how my words changed their lives at a time when they most needed guidance.

I am blessed with a loving family, good friends, and loyal disciples. Never in my life have I suffered destitution or scarcity, although the loss of my first wife was devastating. I thought I would never get married again, but I did, and thanks to Kerra I have experienced love and joy. Both of my sons are grown, although it never ceases to amaze me to see how different from each other they turned out to be. They are like two seeds that, though planted side by side in the same soil and nourished with the same sun and water, have blossomed into completely different plants. I am proud of them, just as I am proud of our adopted daughter, who has unique talents. I am a happy, satisfied man both in my private life and in the community.

Why, then, do I feel this void inside me, growing deeper and wider with each passing day? It gnaws at my soul like a disease and accompanies me wherever I go, as quiet as a mouse and just as ravenous.

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