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Modern Tales Of Mulla Nasruddin -11

Arun Prakash Ray

Modern Tales Of Mulla Nasruddin -11

Arun Prakash Ray

MORE BYArun Prakash Ray

    I had recovered this note from my hotel drawer in Konya. The cover of the writing pad was beautifully inscribed as ‘Nasruddin Hodja’. “It was 2 am in Konya, Turkey. A short flight from Istanbul. The hotel I had checked in was just a kilometer away from Maulana Rumi’s Mausoleum. There was a snow shower outside. I took the elevator to the lobby, the front office staff wished me a very good morning. I adjusted my hood, it was biting cold on the pathway. I started walking briskly towards the Maulana museum. The blue minaret was glowing in the dark. The city was in a deep sleep. Not a single soul on the wet streets. My friend Uzeyir Ozyurt had told me about the windows of wishes, they were situated at my neck height on the museum’s boundary wall. I craned my neck into one and started praying for a secret wish of mine.

    Suddenly I heard a phone ringing. A few windows ahead, a girl in a dark parka, and boots, crying her heart out. She didn’t hear her phone ringing. I caught her attention with a brief hello and gestured with a cupped hand in my ear. I saw the childlike, innocent smile. She said, ‘please ignore it, it’s my ex from London.’ I shrugged and moved ahead. She had increased her speed to catch up with me. A sudden glow from a streetlight fell on her face to let me have a clear look, I have seen her before in my hotel lobby. The name is Betul, she said. Quite an unusual one. She has been to India, to all the metros, knows all about the backwaters of Kerala, and the mountain ranges of Himachal. Had worked for a European Airline as a crew, she exuded natural confidence, standing tall at almost my height with her boots on. We reached our hotel in fifteen minutes. I shook away the snowflakes from my jacket.

    The hotel coffee shop was empty, we sat for some time. She drank a macchiato and I drank a lemongrass tea, very slowly. I have a strong recommendation for people visiting Konya, stay if you can manage a booking at the Hilton Garden Inn. Extremely spacious and brilliant staff attitude, the rooms come at par rates with any Homestay in India. The coffee shop attendant served warm crisp biscotti at that hour. We both forgot to touch it. I told her about my small little work on Sufi poetry, and she shared her half a decade-long career as a crew in an award-winning airline and about an ex-boyfriend who treated her like a trophy till he found out a younger one. She fell in love with a valet in a next-door hotel, and she had booked her Hilton room for the entire month. Every morning she went out to ‘meet’ the Maulana. Read Coleman Barks’ translation of Maulana’s works and Brad Gooch’s account of Rumi’s life for hours while sitting on the floor. I did the same for almost six hours the previous day there, so I could feel the way she had felt. I was feeling sleepy, excused myself to walk up to the elevator. She was fiddling with her iPhone and had ordered one more coffee to continue reading at the coffee shop. The next morning I was there at the Maulana Museum at ten. I spotted her in a corner, seating next to her was a very handsome young man. I waved at her, both of them crawled to my corner of the floor. She introduced him to me. His name was Serdar, he was Kurdish. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up by a small-time baker. He can’t read or write, but can understand English, and loves Maulana’s poetry. Learned driving while delivering freshly baked Simit (the local bread) to all corners of the city.

    For the last few days, Betul has been reading out the poetries to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. Both of them had dried tears on their rosy cheeks. I held their faces with both my hands and kissed them on their foreheads. This is what Maulana teaches you, or does to you. To fall in love with strangers. I had promised to cook for my friends at their Hanegah (khanqah). I hugged the couple once more before I left Maulana Museum, mumbling… ‘Earth-love, spirit-love, any love looks into that yonder, and whatever I try to say explaining love is embarrassing! Some commentary clarifies, but with love, silence is clearer. A pen went scribbling along, but when it tried to write love, it broke.’ Ya Hazreti Mevlana…”

    I had recovered this note from my hotel drawer in Konya. The cover of the writing pad was beautifully inscribed as ‘Nasruddin Hodja’. “It was 2 am in Konya, Turkey. A short flight from Istanbul. The hotel I had checked in was just a kilometer away from Maulana Rumi’s Mausoleum. There was a snow shower outside. I took the elevator to the lobby, the front office staff wished me a very good morning. I adjusted my hood, it was biting cold on the pathway. I started walking briskly towards the Maulana museum. The blue minaret was glowing in the dark. The city was in a deep sleep. Not a single soul on the wet streets. My friend Uzeyir Ozyurt had told me about the windows of wishes, they were situated at my neck height on the museum’s boundary wall. I craned my neck into one and started praying for a secret wish of mine.

    Suddenly I heard a phone ringing. A few windows ahead, a girl in a dark parka, and boots, crying her heart out. She didn’t hear her phone ringing. I caught her attention with a brief hello and gestured with a cupped hand in my ear. I saw the childlike, innocent smile. She said, ‘please ignore it, it’s my ex from London.’ I shrugged and moved ahead. She had increased her speed to catch up with me. A sudden glow from a streetlight fell on her face to let me have a clear look, I have seen her before in my hotel lobby. The name is Betul, she said. Quite an unusual one. She has been to India, to all the metros, knows all about the backwaters of Kerala, and the mountain ranges of Himachal. Had worked for a European Airline as a crew, she exuded natural confidence, standing tall at almost my height with her boots on. We reached our hotel in fifteen minutes. I shook away the snowflakes from my jacket.

    The hotel coffee shop was empty, we sat for some time. She drank a macchiato and I drank a lemongrass tea, very slowly. I have a strong recommendation for people visiting Konya, stay if you can manage a booking at the Hilton Garden Inn. Extremely spacious and brilliant staff attitude, the rooms come at par rates with any Homestay in India. The coffee shop attendant served warm crisp biscotti at that hour. We both forgot to touch it. I told her about my small little work on Sufi poetry, and she shared her half a decade-long career as a crew in an award-winning airline and about an ex-boyfriend who treated her like a trophy till he found out a younger one. She fell in love with a valet in a next-door hotel, and she had booked her Hilton room for the entire month. Every morning she went out to ‘meet’ the Maulana. Read Coleman Barks’ translation of Maulana’s works and Brad Gooch’s account of Rumi’s life for hours while sitting on the floor. I did the same for almost six hours the previous day there, so I could feel the way she had felt. I was feeling sleepy, excused myself to walk up to the elevator. She was fiddling with her iPhone and had ordered one more coffee to continue reading at the coffee shop. The next morning I was there at the Maulana Museum at ten. I spotted her in a corner, seating next to her was a very handsome young man. I waved at her, both of them crawled to my corner of the floor. She introduced him to me. His name was Serdar, he was Kurdish. Orphaned in his childhood, he was brought up by a small-time baker. He can’t read or write, but can understand English, and loves Maulana’s poetry. Learned driving while delivering freshly baked Simit (the local bread) to all corners of the city.

    For the last few days, Betul has been reading out the poetries to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. Both of them had dried tears on their rosy cheeks. I held their faces with both my hands and kissed them on their foreheads. This is what Maulana teaches you, or does to you. To fall in love with strangers. I had promised to cook for my friends at their Hanegah (khanqah). I hugged the couple once more before I left Maulana Museum, mumbling… ‘Earth-love, spirit-love, any love looks into that yonder, and whatever I try to say explaining love is embarrassing! Some commentary clarifies, but with love, silence is clearer. A pen went scribbling along, but when it tried to write love, it broke.’ Ya Hazreti Mevlana…”

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