Two weeks or perhaps three months ago – after all it was Bergson who knew, I was asked: What is your ONE favourite book out of all these books?
Without realizing the consequences, I pulled the book out of the shelf: This one. The Forty rules of love
While flipping through the book haphazardly as if such action would force the book to reveal its content, they said: “What is it about?”
“It is a relic from my past when I had a master when I loved with all that I had” but I kept my mouth shut like I normally do with people who are ignorant and arrogant and instead said, “Rumi’s life”
The person continued to flip through the pages and somehow magically acquired a mastery of the subject at hand, they started to teach me about something I had devoted three years of my life to. I kept quiet because the discomfort and the pressure this person was under, in my presence, was apparent. They wanted to establish that they were smart enough.
Anywho, the pseudo-intellectual banter was followed by not asking the ultimate question, “Can I borrow this book?”, followed by the book slowly moving out of my house into a car and gone.
It was not the first time this particular book had left the warmth and comfort of my life. I had given it to the people I trusted and loved – a million times. This time, it was different. It went with someone who had no respect for books nor had ever picked a book up nor had a single book in their house nor knew what it meant to have a favourite book.
Days passed but there was no sign of the book. No mention of the book. I had given away two of my favourite paintings as well. It did not bother me. I did not care about them. They were a gift. The book was not. My obsession was my book.
Every morning when I went out of the bedroom and saw the empty space on the top shelf, I cringed and desired for the book to be back. That empty space haunted me.
I wanted to order a new copy but that particular copy had a story. The pages were alive. They talked not just about Rumi and Tabriz but spoke of my unwritten love story. The passion I felt was engraved just above the pages.
It was read in deep devotion and ultimate love. It was one of the last remnants of an unrequited love for a master, for my Tabriz. Tabriz had left. I had discarded everything that belonged to him. As I came to terms with his loss from my life, I tried to recreate and build upon the lessons he left me with. This book was one of them.
Now, how can a brand new copy replace the highlighted bits which evoked so many memories, emotions and the love? How can a brand new copy replace the notes I made in the columns? How can a brand new book replace the touch of the master? I could buy a new copy and ask Tabriz to bless it but Tabriz is no longer Tabriz and I am no longer in love. Our story is imprisoned in those years, in that book and a brand new book will never be able to bring any of it back. A brand new book will not have knowledge of me nor him.
I knew I could not afford to lose those 4 years so I asked for the book which was not a gift but an amanat but they no longer know where the book is.
They have taken away part of me and with a heavy heart, I had to order a new copy.
The copy is yet to arrive.
In the meantime, just last night, I filled that empty space so that my heart does not continue to mourn.
These notes were from when I had first met the book:
Parallel to her story, another story runs – one golden rule at a time. The story of the mystic poet and the scholar – Rumi and the dervish, his teacher, his lover – Shams-i-Tabrīzī.
I felt the story, I felt Rumi, I felt the ache of unrequited love, I felt the passion, I felt the whole universe come together inside of me.
It is one of those books, that you do not want it to have an ending and if it does, you do not want to reach it.
It is one of those books, that forces you to hold your breath while you are carefully treading through the last few chapters and then suddenly you gasp for air, not realizing how long you held your breath for.
It is one of those books, that makes you burn the midnight oil while silently crying, not because you are sad but because you have seen beauty.
It is one of those books, that when you come across a passage, you could swear that it was written for you, and all you do is highlight it feverishly feeling strange within.
I do not think that there is another equally brilliant representation of love. Or if there is, it has not passed through my eyes. I will leave you to decide what impact it has on you.
“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.”