The Lamp-Bearer of Konya
Flash Fiction | Duration: 3 Minutes 11 Seconds
Welcome to the Storyletter. There’s a special relationship between reader and writer, something unique to the medium. Without you, there’s no story. True, the writer facilitates a journey, but it all comes alive when the reader makes it into their own. So here’s a story for you and I can’t wait to see what you make of it. ~ WM
Sitting cross-legged on the carpet of the samahane, the chapterhouse of the whirling dervishes, Sheikh Hüsamettin smiled at little Mehmet. The little boy was bent over his Qur’an, mouthing the words quietly. Beyond the door, the members of the Mevlevi order, white-robed with cylindrical hats, whirled to the slow music.
“Now recite what is engraved on your heart,” Hüsamettin said. And little Mehmet spoke from memory:
“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. A parable of His light is as a lamp in a niche. The lamp is in a glass, the glass like unto a gleaming star lit from a blessed tree—oil not of east or west, oil luminous in and of itself, though the flame touches it not.—Light upon light, Allah guides to His light whom He will, and sets forth parables for men, for all things are known to Allah.”
“Good,” Sheikh Hüsamettin said, rising from his seat. Mehmet laid the Qur’an on a stand in the corner of the room. Sheikh Hüsamettin walked into the adjoining hall into the midst of his disciples. The dervishes continued their dance. They orbited him in a slow, strange ecstasy. The old man raised his palms to the sky and prayed.
Mehmet lifted the chain of the glass-covered lamp that hung from the low hook by the door. He exited the samahane at dusk. The orphan Mehmet spent his evenings and early mornings providing light for the poor people of Konya. He took no money. He kissed the hand of the maim. He received the tender blessings of the elderly in abashed modesty. Women who feared the evils that hid in the shadows of the alleys breathed a sigh of relief when little Mehmet walked before them. Mehmet was proud of the lamp which he cleaned each day. He admired its intricacy of design and the lucidity of its glass.
One morning, Mehmet stood on a hill outside of Konya well before the first glimmers of dawn. He was troubled because the morning star was missing from the sky. A boy about his age approached him and said, “I, too, was a light-bearer but I’ve lost my way. Will you guide me?”
Mehmet took the boy by the hand, and, holding his lamp high, guided the boy down the hill and into Konya. They came to the covered ablution fountain in front of the samahane.
“What's your name?” Mehmet asked.
“Iblis,” the deceiver said and slapped the lamp from Mehmet’s hand. He ran off into the dark. It was the fallen angel! The one whom the Latin Christians in Konya call Lucifer, the Light Bearer.
Mehmet fell to his knees and wept. The glass was broken, the fire extinguished. The lamp was unusable.
He passed under the triple arch of the samahane and into its central hall with its upper gallery supported on thin wooden rails. Mehmet was ashamed and walked downcast along the edge of the room.
It was not yet dawn. The members of the order were already awake and were whirling around Sheikh Hüsamettin. Mehmet had no sooner entered the hall than the music and the dervishes stopped and turned to him. They looked at Mehmet in amazement, one even put his hand to his lips.
Sheikh Hüsamettin smiled at the orphan boy and went to him. He reached down and put his hands under Mehmet’s arms and lifted him up. He carried him to the other end of the hall and placed him in the marble niche opposite the tomb of the order’s master, Jalal al-Din al-Rumi. The music resumed, the dervishes whirled, and the samahane was bathed in the light of morning and the strange glow that issued from the niche, a light upon light that seemed to fill all the world.
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