بخش 44

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بخش 44

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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Kerra

KONYA, MAY 5, 1245

Branches that once sagged under the weight of snow are now blossoming outside our window, and still Shams of Tabriz is with us. During this time I have watched my husband turn into a different man, every day drifting a bit further from me and his family. In the beginning I thought they would soon get bored with each other, but no such thing occurred. If anything, they have become more attached. When together, either they are strangely silent or they talk in an incessant murmur interspersed with peals of laughter, making me wonder why they never run out of words. After each conversation with Shams, Rumi walks around a transformed man, detached and absorbed, as if intoxicated by a substance I can neither taste nor see.

The bond that unites them is a nest for two, where there is no room for a third person. They nod, smile, chuckle, or frown in the same way and at the same time, exchanging long, meaningful glances between words. Even their moods seem to depend on each other. Some days they are calmer than a lullaby, eating nothing, saying nothing, whereas other days they whirl around with such euphoria that they both resemble madmen. Either way, I cannot recognize my husband anymore. The man I have been married to for more than eight years now, the man whose children I have raised as if they were my own and with whom I had a baby, has turned into a stranger. The only time I feel close to him is when he is in deep sleep. Many nights over the past weeks, I have lain awake listening to the rhythm of his breathing, feeling the soft whisper of his breath on my skin and the comfort of his heart beating in my ear, just to remind myself that he is still the man I married.

I keep telling myself that this is a temporary stage. Shams will leave someday. He is a wandering dervish, after all. Rumi will stay here with me. He belongs to this town and to his students. I need do nothing except wait. But patience doesn’t come easily, and it’s getting harder with each passing day. When I feel too despondent, I try to recall the old days—especially the time when Rumi stood by me despite all odds.

“Kerra is a Christian. Even if she converts to Islam, she’ll never be one of us,” people had gossiped when they first got wind of our impending marriage. “A leading scholar of Islam should not marry a woman outside his faith.”

But Rumi took no notice of them. Neither then nor later on. For that reason I will always be grateful to him.

Anatolia is made up of a mixture of religions, peoples, and cuisines. If we can eat the same food, sing the same sad songs, believe in the same superstitions, and dream the same dreams at night, why shouldn’t we be able to live together? I have known Christian babies with Muslim names and Muslim babies fed by Christian milk mothers. Ours is an ever-liquid world where everything flows and mixes. If there is a frontier between Christianity and Islam, it has to be more flexible than scholars on both sides think it is.

Because I am the wife of a famous scholar, people expect me to think highly of scholars, but the truth is, I don’t. Scholars know a lot, that’s for sure, but is too much knowledge any good when it comes to matters of faith? They always speak such big words that it is hard to follow what they are saying. Muslim scholars criticize Christianity for accepting the Trinity, and Christian scholars criticize Islam for seeing the Qur’an as a perfect book. They make it sound as if the two religions are a world apart. But if you ask me, when it comes to the basics, ordinary Christians and ordinary Muslims have more in common with each other than with their own scholars.

They say that the hardest thing for a Muslim converting to Christianity is to accept the Trinity. And the hardest thing for a Christian converting to Islam is said to be letting go of the Trinity. In the Qur’an, Jesus says, Surely I am a servant of God; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet.

Yet for me the idea that Jesus was not a son of God but a servant of God wasn’t that hard to believe. What I found much harder to do was to abandon Mary. I haven’t told this to anyone, not even to Rumi, but sometimes I yearn to see Mary’s kind brown eyes. Her gaze always had a soothing effect on me.

The truth is, ever since Shams of Tabriz came to our house, I have been so distressed and confused that I find myself longing for Mary more than ever. Like a fever running wild through my veins, my need to pray to Mary comes back with a force I can hardly control. At times like these, guilt consumes me, as if I am cheating on my new religion.

Nobody knows this. Not even my neighbor Safiya, who is my confidante in all other matters. She wouldn’t understand. I wish I could share it with my husband, but I cannot see how. He has been so detached; I am afraid of distancing him even more. Rumi used to be everything to me. Now he is a stranger. I never knew it was possible to live with someone under the same roof, sleep in the same bed, and still feel that he was not really there.

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