Wednesday, July 15, 2009

" The Woman: A Parable..............."

~ The Woman: A Parable ~

A man was walking through the marketplace one afternoon when, just as
the muedhin began the call to prayer; his eye fell on a woman’s back. She was
strangely attractive, though dressed in fulsome black, a veil over head and
face and she now turned to him as if somehow conscious of his over-lingering
regard, and gave him a slight but meaningful nod before she rounded the corner
into the lane of silk sellers. As if struck by a bolt from heaven, the man was
at once drawn, his heart a prisoner of that look, forever. In vain he struggled
with his heart, offering it one sound reason after another to go his way — wasn’t it time to pray? — but it was finished:
there was nothing but to follow.

He hastened after her, turning into the market of silks, breathing from
the exertion of catching up with the woman, who had unexpectedly outpaced him
and even now lingered for an instant at the far end of the market, many shops
ahead. She turned toward him, and he thought he could see a flash of a
mischievous smile from beneath the black muslin of her veil, as she — was it his
imagination? — beckoned to him again.

The poor man was beside himself. Who was she? The daughter of a wealthy
family? What did she want? He requickened his steps and turned into the lane
where she had disappeared. And so she led him, always beyond reach, always
tantalizingly ahead, now through the weapons market, now the oil merchants’, now
the leather sellers’; farther and farther from where they began. The feeling
within him grew rather than decreased. Was she mad? On and on she led, to the
very edge of town.

The sun declined and set, and there she was, before him as ever. Now they had arrived, of all places, to the City of Tombs. Had he been in his normal
senses, he would have been afraid, but indeed, he now reflected, stranger places
than this had seen a lovers’ tryst.

There were scarcely twenty cubits between them when he saw her look
back, and, giving a little start, she skipped down the steps and through the
great bronze door of what seemed to be a very old sepulchre. A soberer moment
might have seen the man pause, but in his present state, there was no turning
back and he went down the steps and slid in after her.

Inside, as his eyes saw after a moment, there were two flights of steps
that led down to a second door, from whence a light shone, and which he equally
passed through. He found himself in a large room, somehow unsuspected by the
outside world, lit with candles upon its walls. There sat the woman, opposite
the door on a pallet of rich stuff in her full black dress, still veiled, reclining on a pillow against the far wall. To the right of the pallet, the man
noticed a well set in the floor.

“Lock the door behind you,” she said in a low, husky voice that was
almost a whisper, “and bring the key.”

He did as he was told.

She gestured carelessly at the well. “Throw it in.”

A ray of sense seemed to penetrate, for a moment, the clouds over his
understanding, and a bystander, had there been one, might have detected the
slightest of pauses.

“Go on,” she said laughingly, “You didn’t hesitate to miss the prayer as
you followed me here, did you?”

He said nothing.

“The time for sunset prayer has almost finished as well,” she said with
gentle mockery. “Why worry? Go on, throw it in. You want to please me, don’t

He extended his hand over the mouth of the well, and watched as he let
the key drop. An uncanny feeling rose from the pit of his stomach as moments
passed but no sound came. He felt wonder, then horror, then comprehension.

“It is time to see me,” she said, and she lifted her veil to reveal not
the face of a fresh young girl, but of a hideous old crone, all darkness and
vice, not a particle of light anywhere in its eldritch lines.

“See me well,” she said. “My name is Dunya, This World. I am your
beloved. You spent your time running after me, and now you have caught up with
me. In your grave. Welcome, welcome.”

At this she laughed and laughed, until she shook herself into a small mound of fine dust, whose fitful shadows, as the candles went out, returned to the darkness one by one.

-How strange it is that we turn our back on He who offers us everlasting love and happiness, in our intoxicated state we give our souls to a treacherous fleeting world. Ya Allah, protect us from ourselves!

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