Majnu said: “I am Laila” (A story of Ishq e Haqeeqi)
Narrated by Zaheer Khan Mohammed
Pleasanton, California, USA
Many centuries ago, in a land far away, there lived a poor slave by the name Khais. He fell in love with the princess of the land, Laila. It was said that Laila was not that beautiful to look at but Majnu’s love for her was so intense that he saw her face in his mind every moment and whatever he did, he did only for Laila. Whether it was putting on his clothes, washing his face, eating a meal, he saw Laila before him. He was so absorbed in her remembrance and so completely overcome by her love that the people of the land thought he had lost his mind and called him Majnu (the crazy lover). However, Majnu’s love was unrequited. She was beyond his reach. After all, he was a poor slave and she was a high princess.
When the king heard of the mad love of Majnu for his daughter Laila, he was furious. In his rage he ordered his army to arrest Majnu and banish him to the desert. The king’s orders were immediately carried out. Majnu’s life in the desert became harder by the day and mere survival became a challenge. But Majnu was oblivious to these privations. He was so absorbed in Laila that his thoughts and his longing were only for her and for her alone. The hardships did not bother him or become a hurdle in his love.
Time went by. Laila was married off to a prince from another kingdom while Majnu wandered through the desert calling out for Laila.
After a few years, while Laila’s caravan was passing through the desert, the amir-e-caravan (leader of the caravan) reported to Princess (now Queen) Laila that her old lover Majnu was roaming around the forlorn wilderness of the sand dunes calling out her name. Laila stopped the caravan and ordered her soldiers to bring Majnu to her.
The soldiers went around and found Majnu in the desert. His clothes were tattered, his long and dusty hair covered his face, his body hung from his bony, emaciated frame. On his tongue, there was only one word, Laila. Yet, he appeared at peace with himself as if he had achieved everything that he wanted to achieve.
The soldiers called out to him: “O crazy Majnu! Do you want to see Laila? She is here today and is traveling through this desert”.
Manju turned to them and replied: “I am not sure who is traveling with you but I am Laila. She is in me”.
When they heard this response from Majnu, the soldiers were perplexed. A few of them thought that his craziness had turned into madness. They returned to Laila without taking Majnu with them.
The soldiers returned to Laila and informed her of the conversation. Laila listened carefully and understood the deeper meaning of Majnu’s madness. She ordered the soldiers to go back and bring Majnu in whatever condition he was in.
It was not difficult for the soldiers to relocate Majnu as he was just wandering around in the desert in the vicinity. As they approached him, they called out to him: “O you crazy Majnu, do you want to see Laila? She is traveling today through this desert”. Majnu’s reply was the same as before: “I am Laila, she is in me”. But this time, they took Majnu to the queen – Laila.
Now, Majnu was standing in front of his Laila. They were seeing each other while the soldiers were just watching them.
Laila started the conversation with Majnu: “O my lover, see I am here in front of you”.
Majnu replied: ”Who are you?”
Laila: “It’s me, Laila”.
Majnu: “No, you are not Laila, I am Laila”.
Laila: “No, no, you are Majnu, and I am Laila”.
Majnu: “No, you are not Laila, I am Laila”.
Laila: “No, I am Laila. Look at me, look at my face, my hands, this jewelry”. Laila showed Majnu her ornaments but he kept repeating: “No, you are not Laila. I am Laila”.
This interaction was being watched by the soldiers and the people of the caravan. Then, Laila thought she should give a proof so that Majnu could not deny her anymore. She hit her feet on the sand and a loud sound came out from her Ghungroo (A ghungroo is a collection of small metallic bells strung together and tied around the anklet as a piece of jewelry). She said to Majnu: “Did you hear the sound of that Ghungroo, which is tied to my ankles? Listen again”. She hit her feet on the sand and a loud appealing sound came out of her Ghungroo.
Majnu looked on carelessly as Laila tried to convince him. Then he pulled up his torn clothes and hit his feet on the ground. The whole crowd including Laila listened as Majnu’s bones, locked together as if in a tuned instrument, produced a delightful sound, identical to the sound of Laila’s Ghungroo. Majnu went into a twirling rhapsody, repeatedly hitting his feet on the ground. Each time the Ghungroo sounds from Majnu’s bones became louder and louder, penetrating the cool stillness of the desert air. Those who were present was astonished and speechless as Majnu kept twirling in rapturous abandon and singing: “See I am Laila and I found her in me”. Gradually, he disappeared into the desert, twirling and singing as he went.
The essence of Love is to find the beloved in you. Love makes two human beings into one. That is just ishq-e-mijazi (earthly love). How much more sublime is the state of Isq e Haqiqi (True love, the love of God). As Mevlani Rumi said:
Ever since I heard the song of love,
I started looking for my Beloved,
Not knowing how foolish I was.
Lovers do not find one another,
They are always in each other.
O dear one who is on the path of suluk (path to the Truth), your goal is to reach the door of your shaykh. He will take you on the journey of Ishq-e-Haqiqi, the journey to the essence of all Love.