SHE SHOWED HIM THE WAY
Years and years ago, says Maulana Rumi, there lived a God-fearing couple. They were a model of love for each other. She loved and respected him. He reciprocated. As best as they could; she served him and he looked after her. They prayed and worshipped God to the best of their capabilities. For livelihood, he had a small business and she, a household.
Life passed on thus.
Three decades later, she noticed that his business had finally shrunk next to naught and he was devoting more and more of his business hours to praying and thus trying to make up in terms of devotion and blessings for what he was losing in business in terms of money and time.
Soon there came a time when they had nothing to eat! Just as their clothes, worn out and threadbare, somehow hung on to the frail frames of their bodies, the waft and woof of piety and courage, patience and dignity held on to the tenuous fabric of their unflinching devotion. She never complained. He never lost composure.
For days and nights, he wouldn’t come out of his room. For days and nights, she would wait for him to come out. Perhaps then, she would sit with him and, perhaps, persuade him to do something himself rather than wait for God to do something for them.
Lo, and behold! He comes out. He holds her in his arms and they give each other a long helpless hug. (To give, they had nothing else!) Then he digs his eyes deep into her stony gaze and they lose each other as if in a trance.
He realised he was responsible for this miserable state. She consoled him giving him an assurance that she would never complain against him, even before God on the Day of Judgement. At the same time, she suggested he should do something because they did need food to survive and clothes to cover their bodies.
‘But what can I do?’ he bemoaned helplessly.
She said, “Take a little gift to the kind-hearted king, whose great palace stands in grandeur by the river that has never dried. Offer your humble gift to him and ask him for favour: a job to live by.”
‘But what will I take for the gift?’ he spouted in complete bewilderment. “I know! We’ve got nothing at all. But listen, we do have a pitcher somewhere at the back. We’ll put it out in the open, under the sky, for rain water to collect. When it is full, you’ll put it on your head and take it to the kind king. You’ll go there with all humility and offer this humblest of the humble little gifts to the kindest of the kind kings. Mark my words and say them in the humblest possible manner to the great king. I’m sure he’ll reward you well.”
He took the pitcher full of rain water to the palace. When he entered the king’s court with this pitcher on his head, the people threw disconcerting looks and chuckled. Suffering this ignominy stoically, he moved humbly ahead towards the king, remembering the words of his wife. Appearing before the king, he offered his gift following every word she had said.
The king accepted the gift majestically. Not only that, he rewarded him with silver and gold and a job in the court!
On his return, his wife said,” Your prayers to God are like your gift of ordinary rain water to the king whose palace stands on the bank of the river in which the water never dries”. He was enlightened.
She showed him the way!