Power of a Boy’s Tears

Power of a Boy’s Tears

This story comes to us from Iran. Jalaluddin Rumi recounted it in one of his works. I tell it in my far poorer style. Also, I take the liberty of giving imaginary names to places and people.

In the famous city of Shiraz there once lived a man named Sheikh Abbas. He belonged to a family of wealthy merchants, but he was totally different from other traders. He was unattached to money and his sight was fixed far beyond.

After his father died and Abbas became the head of the business he gave it a different turn. Whatever worthy cause came to his attention he gave it his energy and money. He set up several hospices to serve the ailing poor. In them he personally washed and bandaged festering sores, washed and dressed weak bodies, administered medicines to patients like a dutiful nurse. So devoted was he to this work that he never hesitated to spend whatever he had.

Soon all his wealth was gone, but his work continued. To carry on he began to borrow. But he was unable to repay and one day his creditors swarmed on him cursing, abusing, and demanding immediate repayment. Abbas sat in a corner of the room with his head covered with his shawl thinking, ‘I must take all this abuse without rancor. They are right in demanding their money back and there is no blame in their action.’

Suddenly Abbas heard the call of a halwa seller ‘Halwa, very good halwa, tastiest halwa in Shiraz.’ He thought a little sweet might cool the tempers of his angry creditors, so he sent his servant to buy and bring the whole lot.

The servant found that a young boy of about 15 carried about 3 kilograms of halwa in a tray. He quoted half a dinar and a bit for the entire lot. The servant haggled. The boys attracted by the chance to sell all the halwa in one go agreed to half a dinar for it.

The servant took the sweet inside the house and began distributing it to the irate creditors. The halwa was soon gone. The boy watched the scene and quickly realized what was going on. When it became clear to him that he too had become one of the gathered creditors, his grief became unbearable. He began to cry, “Oh, Allah, I am ruined. When I return empty handed my master will surely kill me. Oh, please God have mercy on me.” Big tears began to flow from his eyes as he sobbed uncontrollably.

Mysteriously, a man came carrying a covered silver tray. Everyone gaped when he took the cover off and revealed two bundles in silk cloth. The larger one contained a thousand dinars, exactly the amount owed by Abbas. The little packet contained half a dinar and a few dirhams. The boy was given his packet first; his face burst into a smile even though it was wet from crying.

The merchants were mystified. They went up to Abbas and apologized for abusing him. He answered, “You did nothing wrong. All creditors faced with your situation would behave like that, some even worse. We must thank the boy for what has happened. It is his tears that have brought God’s mercy to the melting pot.”

February 18, 2006