He was short, old and thin, his eyes dim, his face full of wrinkles. He sat and walked with a stoop; his dress was poor and untidy.

On summer afternoons he sat on a straw mat under a spreading -pepal tree, with a staff on one side, and a pile of Persian books on the other. Nobody knew his name, they called him Mullah Hakim. Some good women of the village kept him supplied with bread and boiled vegetables, which he ate once a day. At one time he used to smoke an eastern hubble-bubble, but for no known reason he gave it up. As he sat, he constantly told his rosary, repeating La llah Allah hu. If men and women gathered round him, he read stories of Sufi saints or extracts from the Quran to them. Never did he indulge in a personal or private conversation.

The boys of the neighbouring village came to him for lessons in elementary Arabic grammar. He charged no fee. At night he slept in a small, half dilapidated hut without any light. He had two old blankets, a few books and a worn-out pair of shoes. This was his whole outer world ; he seemed to have no earthly ambition.

On Fridays he used to go to the local mosque, but did not join in the ritual prayer, his excuse being that his coat was not clean, and that he could not stand the cold water used for the ritual ablutions. Instead he chose to clean the shoes of the congregation, and kept jars of cold water for the thirsty.

It cost him considerable effort to walk. It appeared that some part of his body was in constant pain; his legs moved all the time.

He could be seen talking to the birds as he scattered crumbs for them: “ You come from Allah little creatures, and you will go back to Him, you remind us of His grace ”; such were the words he uttered.                                                                                          ‘

If anyone died in the village, the Mullah joined the family in prayer, and gave his sympathy to the bereaved.

He did not accept any money or new clothes. He said to those who offered gifts: “ I am old and my needs are few. Allah may call me any day, it is enough for me to contemplate His name. Many thanks.”

On the day of the Id festival, the village folk put on their best clothes and give gifts of sweets to their friends. Some young men said: “Let us take Mullah Hakin to the mosque and make him the leader of the ritual prayer. He is such a holy man.”

He performed his ablutions, donned his old turban and coat and walked with them to the mosque to pray. They forced him to be Imam, the leader of the prayer.

He bent low, put his head on the ground as he said the prayer. He did not rise, and the congregation waited. When they touched him they found that he was dead; his face radiated peace.

Before going to the mosque the Mullah had been heard to say: “ If I fall in prostration before Thee, I will not lift up my head again, O Allah, Thou art all, everywhere.”

The village gave him a public funeral. The women shed tears; many children missed their kind uncle.

When they searched for his savings in his hut, all they found were a few letters written to him by his Sufi teacher.

In a small leather case were some papers which proved that the Mullah was a prince of the Delhi Mogul House, a direct descendant of Timur and Akbar. May his soul rest in peace in the shadow of Allah.                                                                                              ;

 

 

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