It is said that once, long time ago, an archaeologist found, in the hidden library, among the dust, the diary of the famed Zuleika, the Potiphar's wife from the Genesis & the lover of Yusuf in the Qur'an. Nobody knows how he found the library, even less so how he got the keys. Perhaps it was revealed to him in a dream. His name, too, remained anonymous, assumed to be using different pseudonyms (this was the accepted conclusion of the later scientists). Not much of the diary was left alive, but God's Comedic Grace is such that even when the Father Time or Mother Water corrode & destroy, that It keeps & maintains, the very part of text that contains the Essence of every other text or Wisdom. One day, while having my breakfast, the postman made the usual knock on my door - the mail for the day has arrived. Expecting the standard collection of advertisements, catalogues and bills, I took a nonchalant look at it & found, among the standard collection, a beautiful envelope from an anonymous sender, with my full name and the recently acquired new address on it. Terrified as I was curious, I opened the envelope to find the pages of Zuleika's diary. With his permission & permission of angelic guardians & Zuleika herself, I bring her diary entry, telling the famous story from her own perspective, translating its expressions & words into language understandable to us, the people of the 21st century: "Lethargy has consumed my past few days & weeks. I looked for the ways to fight it, but its fingers kept reaching for my neck, arms & legs. Today I decided to resist the seductive call of death. I told my maidservant to prepare my clothes & jewellery. I was to take a walk on the summer's day & allow the Sun's rays to bring warmth to the winter I found myself in. My maidservant, a girl of sweetest face & even sweeter character & nature, brought me my most beautiful clothes, jewellery & perfume. 'Is there a festival happening in the city? Is the Pharaoh coming for a visit? ', I asked her, but she responded, with a uniquely sweet & seductive voice that could persuade me of anything, that my coming out into the Sun is just like the Goddess' journey out of the Underworld, and that I should dress appropriately. I gave into her desire to make me into her dressing doll. When she was done, in the mirror, I looked at & not through myself, for the first time in a long time. We headed out, the Sun was pleasantly warm. The chatter of the streets, the sounds of life moved the life within me. My maidservant was adorning me with compliments and encouraging words, glad, as myself, to be the part of my breakthrough from the World of Dead. We walked by the bazaars, bought a few things for the pantry, and then, without a plan, walked by the slave market. I would not have stopped, had I not seen the very Sun shine on me from the slave market. I told the maidservant to come nearer, to inspect, and the closer I came, the more I was pulled in, as if by some force beyond me. At the slave market, stood a slave, to be sold & bought. 'He cannot be a slave.' I thought. The beauty of his was enough to make the gods bow, how could he be in the slave market? I sent a quick gaze towards his body, the limbs of which, even in the position of tiredness & shame, humiliated & enslaved, projected both power & grace. His head stood firm, yet there was no pride or desire for domination in his dark, penetrating gaze. It was a type of strength I could not properly & accurately identify. I caught his gaze for a second, and he caught mine, and in that moment, from the World of Dead, I was cast into the World of Fire. The fire began in my feet & moved to my hips. It refused to move from higher & in that instant, I heard an order, coming from parts of myself previously unknown, that said: 'Buy him, he an be all yours! You can give him comforts, wealth, love, pleasure! He will see in you a Goddess, His Benefactress, the Saviouress without whom his beauty would wither & fade. Isn't it shame? All that beauty, youth & vitality & yet alone. A slave without a master is a slave without purpose. Buy him Zuileika!' I, myself, became the slave to that voice & obeyed without thinking. How was I, a married woman to explain this handsome male slave that I do not even need, did not occur to me. To have him under my roof, in my chamber, I would invent every excuse & cause harm to anyone who tried to distract me from my pursuit. I moved to the salesman & asked for the price. He was expensive, the most expensive of them all. I gave the dearest jewel of my neck to obtain the shining jewel of my bed & took him home. He kept quiet the whole time. In my home, he kept quiet too.
It has been weeks since I brought him. He is as obedient & as quiet as a slave must be. Yet every time I look at him, I am consumed by desire. When I am away, my desire becomes quieter, transforms into tenderness & Love, but it is in these moments, when I want him even more. I would rip his skin & rip mine in an instant. 'I am a married woman' is my only prayer now. It is what I speak when I wake up, when I eat, when I sleep. 'I am a married woman' has consumed my being, and yet it is sent to its grave whenever he is in front of me. I forget my status & what I am to the world & my husband. Today, while he was in front of me, I confessed my love & feelings. I even invited him to my bedchamber. I didn't care for the humiliation & for how low I would fall in his eyes. I was dying of thirst and the pitcher containing the sweetest, most intoxicating wine was in my room. How was I not to ask, beg if needed, for my Cupbearer to bring me but a Cup? I stood frozen in front of him, his dark eyes gazed into mine, his locks moving under the gentle breeze that came from my open window. It was sunset, Sun & Moon met, and him & I, he, the Sun to my coldness, met too. Those dark eyes looked at me, not with pity, but with Love. I recognised it because I knew it too well within me. He broke the silence, saying out loudly, the prayer I have been telling to myself: 'You are a married woman. It cannot be. Not in this time Zuleika, and not in this place. '. 'You are a married woman' became my condemnation, my hanging rope. How I wish the one who made me a married women were dead! How I wish I were free! In that grief, I said to him: 'Ask anything of me, I shall rid of my husband if you demand. ' I wished that he asked of me to kill him, but he didn't. Instead he said he would never ask me to stain my hands with the innocent man's blood. 'Our Love wouldn't be our Love if we did that. " A part of me was soothed by his words, the other was furious, angry, melting & burning with grief and fury. And in that death, I tried to reach for the sole Source of my Life. I moved towards him, held onto him, but he moved me away, apologised & went through the door which I swore were locked. Without him in the room, I was Zuleika, the Wife again, and I looked through the open window, worried that someone may have heard me. I saw nobody but the feeling wouldn't go away - if it spreads, not only will I be dead as Zuleika in the intimacy of my own world, but also in the publicity of the outer one.
The word did spread, someone did hear & I became the joke of the ladies in my circle. Yet the more they laughed at me, the more firm I came into my Love. "A lady to fall for a slave. That is quite a romance.", one said with the mocking giggle. "I could never fall for a lowly slave. How could one?", said another. Not one of their words hurt me, rather, in me, I felt the desire to show my Beloved to everyone. So that everyone, the whole world can see his Beauty & Majesty, grow humble, small, invisible before his greater being. I gathered the ladies and said: "You just say so because you have not seen my Yusuf! Do you want to see him?" They were shocked & surprised, but the curiosity of their minds & the hunger of their slandering tongues were stronger & they accepted. I organised a beautiful evening, with musicians & feast. My Yusuf was to bring the fruit, and the moment he came into the room, the ladies, taken by the Majesty & the Love that flew from my Yusuf, cut their hands & fingers. They were taken over by the insanity & instability, the only legacy & gift of the pride they so dearly held to. Love is murderous to the prideful & source of all delight to the Lover. My Yusuf was their Wrath & my Mercy. That is the night, when I knew, that in the Journey of Afterlife, when the Great Scales emerge, it is Love who shall be the harshest judge, more severe than any Wrath. The ladies, holding onto their names, were left with cut fingers. I, Zuleika, holding onto nothing, had my Yusuf & had Everything.
'It cannot be, not in this time. ' He told me. And he was right. My husband found out, the world out, and Yusuf, with his innocence & beauty was imprisoned. I faced my own death - to myself & to the world. Disgraced & humiliated, neither my husband nor the world would look at me, and I had no blame for them. I have set them all on fire for the sake of the only One I could ever see & wish to look at. Yusuf lived, and so did I, separated by this world, united in Another. In this world, I was but a corpse, but elsewhere, in the World without cruelty & without the burden of duty, I am his shining, dancing maiden & his reigning queen. Love has sung the funeral hymns to our sorrowful Romance. And Love has sung the wedding hymns to our Eternal Union."
Disclaimer: Everything written here is the work of fiction. There was no archaeologist & no letters, at least not in the physical world. :).