Moses and Halan
A Story based on true events, about self-doubt and new beginning.
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While Moses was resting under the shade of a date tree in the Sinai desert, in the evening sun and while the sea of people who followed him were preparing to take the day’s rest, Halan one among them, came to Moses.
Between them, a sense of communication hung in the air that both acknowledged and respected. The presence of the invisible, inaudible language made both realize that they needed each one to ponder the moment’s existence. Moses knew that Halan would address him ‘Master’ and that he wished to continue the conversation until the night fell, even though they did not speak about this meeting before with each other.
“Master,” began Halan, “Why have you chosen to rest under this tree, alone? Can you see angels? Do you talk with them when you are alone?”
“I am very happy you came, Halan. I was praying to talk with an angel, to find the answer to a question.” Moses gestured him to sit down on a nearby rock. The wind was getting stronger and it was playing with the sand on the ground and the leaves of the date palms that surrounded them.
“Why have I rebelled against the Egyptians?” Moses asked.
Halan put on an expression that was between uncertainty and fear. He looked at Moses curiously, thinking there would be some clues whatsoever, in order to explain the meaning of the question. Moses thoughtfully dabbed his right hand on the long stick that Jehovah had revealed magical.
“Why are you silent, Halan?”
“Don’t you know the answer?”
Halan felt uneasy and regretted his decision to meet the great man at this time of the day. He had expected Moses to enlighten him with his accounts of meeting with angels and talking their tongues. But here Halan was encountered with a question; and that too about the reason of Master’s Great Rebellion.
How I am to know the answer? Isn’t that Jehovah who asked Moses to do so? Halan thought.
“Why should I answer this question, O, Master?”
“Because, I need to know how to explain it, if an old friend crosses my path and asks how my life is.”
Halan stood up. He was about to walk away, but stopped for a moment, and said to Moses, “Master, I’m sorry I don’t have the answer now. I will come back tomorrow evening and then I will answer your question.” Although Halan regretted saying this to Moses, he felt at peace thinking that at least he did not behave defiantly towards their great leader.
He walked away seized by the thrust of the unusual event and also by the concern that if he could ever be able to resolve the question the great master had just asked him. He turned around once again and said, “Master, there are no answers for questions of significance, but only opinions!”
Halan saw Moses silent and he went away, pale in face and puzzled in heart. Moses looked up at the heavens. The stars were slowly making themselves visible now.
The next day at a different place, the group made their halt. Moses was sitting at the centre of an assembly of leaders, when Halan came to meet him. Moses excused himself from the group and came out of the gathering to greet Halan. The members of the group first looked at each other and then at Halan. There were confusion, curiosity and contempt in their looks towards Halan, such an unimportant member.
“I spent all the previous night, thinking,” Halan said. Both of them started walking away from the group. There were some date palms nearby giving shade to those who desired it. They stopped under one of them.
“Tell me,” Moses insisted. His eyes were wide with interest.
“Master, I …I don’t know if I have a real answer. In the morning, as I was preparing the grass for the camels I found a mother and a child in the nearby abode. The child was very young and was just in its early days to walk. The toddler stood up wobbling before it took hold of his mother’s long dress for balance. It started walking away from the mother. The sand was not hot yet; however, the pieces of stones that protruded from the earth were deadly sharp, even for the careless grownups. The child walked toward a cluster of rocks. The mother was mending her long torn apron and seemed not to see this. I did not have a good feeling about the mother, for what mother with a beating heart would let her little child to wander in the treachery of the land, alone?
“I shouted at her, telling her that the child might fall down. But she did not give any heed. By the time the child reached the rocky terrain, surprising enough, the mother was there, picking the child up. It was as if by a miracle. I did not know how, but she was there. Surely, a mother knows what her children need!”
Halan stopped and looked at Moses, who was waiting to know how Halan wanted to communicate what he came across during that unusual experience.
Halan saw Moses closing his eyes in contemplation. He thought he should continue; “I asked the mother why she let the child wander freely. She merely looked at me and did not utter a single word. Suddenly, she went inside her tent.
“I turned away from that disgusting silence. Then someone called me from behind. It was a man. He came to me and said; ‘Sorry friend, my wife doesn’t speak. She lost her capacity to speak at a very early age, because a soldier had once poured hot oil into her ears as punishment for infidelity towards Anubis, the god of the Pharaohs. It’s she who insisted me to come out and apologize to you.’
“‘Oh, I did not know her sad story,’ I said. I felt bad again, for thinking critically about the woman, the mother who could not hear anything her little child or anyone else said. The husband continued talking. He said; ‘she was not yet married when this happened to her. A little girl she was. I met her only later. I could not stop thinking about the girl who is so firm in her devotion towards the True God, and was even ready to sacrifice her ears for what she believed to be true. I never saw anyone like her. Her father told me, later, that the hot oil came out through her nostrils, burning and melting the delicate tissues on its way. Oh!…I can’t even talk about it.’ the man held one hand on to a date palm to support himself.
“‘You are great too,’ I said. ‘It requires great devotion to marry a deaf girl, when you are such a healthy and handsome man.’
“This, I regretted saying, master, since true love is bound to nothing, except one’s soul. But a word spoken and a fruit fallen cannot go back to their original place. That the tradition had taught me.
“‘I apologize for saying that,’ I said to the man once I realized I should not have said what I just mentioned.”
Moses was listening to Halan attentively.
“That husband smiled at me and I saw forgiveness, love and peace in his eyes. I know these are not many, but one. I drank from it. Instead of forgiving my foolish remark, he thanked me for accepting the apology for his wife’s indifferent behavior. ‘Why do you do that? I don’t think I did anything noteworthy. Your wife did not respond to my call, because she could not hear me. Not because she was arrogant. ’ I told him.
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“The soldier died due to the beating. The young prince ran away seeing the soldier dead. The boy came close to the slave, whom the young prince had saved. Seeing a kid coming closer to this bloody scene, the slave shouted at the boy to go away. But the boy moved closer still. He asked the slave, why had the prince killed the soldier. The slave, through his blood and sweat murmured; ‘Because life is movement and change.’”
Halan looked at Moses at a pause, which he thought would give some room to the great man to ponder over this amazing story he was told, by the husband of that young deaf woman.
Moses looked astonished at the end of the story.
Halan could not wait. He said; “Master, I think…perhaps I found the answer to your question. You asked me; “Why have I rebelled against the Egyptians?” And the answer is because life is movement and change.”
Moses smiled. He blessed Halan and said; “Let’s cross the sea!”
I wish a Merry Christmas to all my readers.
This is an excerpt from Wall of Colours and Other Stories. Get your copies from major online bookstores across the world.