Testing the tested [part 2]

Dervish ’Abdullah is reading an email from John Lempière, the project manager of an orphanage in Jersey. John explains that the project has “successfully transformed the lives of many orphans in Jersey, except for a boy called Little John. He turned away from every helping hand and became an alcoholic. Thinking back on my meeting with you, in some way or other, a real rose, a rose with a thorn of its own [Little John], manifested itself. The only element that is missing is the fire…”.

Dervish ’Abdullah closes the computer. His thoughts about John Lempière, who asked him years ago to retrieve a rose from a burning fire, come to a stop when he looks at a piece of wood that contains a quote from Helen Keller:

The best and most beautiful things in the world
cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.

Dervish ’Abdullah starts working in his carpentry workshop. He has named it Workshop 7. Loud sounds from outside interrupt the flow of his work. He runs outdoors and sees a young man lying severely hurt a few metres away from his door. He takes him in, dresses his wounds, and puts him to bed. The next day, the young man does not remember what happened. He does not even remember his name. As he has a tall posture, dervish ’Abdullah starts calling him Little John.

We are now six months into the future. Little John is still in the company of dervish ’Abdullah. He has become an assistant carpenter in Workshop 7. In exchange for his labour, Little John receives food and lodging in the house of this Sufi. To tell the truth, Little John is a rather lazy assistant. He has learned some basic aspects of carpentry. Today he has only done one thing: writing the following text by Yosy Flug on a piece of wood:

Death, my friend,
cuts the strings of change
and leaves the departed
growing old no more,
glorious and unchanging,
reposing forever
in our living memory.

Months go by, and the wounds of Little John have healed, but his memory has not returned. Dervish ‘Abdullah finds it hard to change Little John’s lazy attitude. He offers the young man a partnership in his workshop. Little John accepts but doesn’t really change.

One night, when dervish ’Abdullah is asleep, Little John climbs out of the window and leaves a candle burning to make it look like he is still in his room. He walks to a pub and starts drinking one glass of wine after another. When he hears the siren of the fire brigade, he starts singing loudly.

He returns to the workshop early in the morning. A fire has almost completely destroyed it. A few tools and workbenches remain intact. Of dervish ’Abdullah, all that remains are four or five scorched bones, which are buried in the cemetery under a stone with the following epitaph carved by Little John:

I’ll do my best, dear dervish ’Abdullah.

Little John undergoes a transformation after the death of dervish ’Abdullah. He begins to repair the workshop, utilising everything he has learned from dervish ’Abdullah to turn it into a success. It is as if dervish ‘Abdullah is watching his work.

Do we need to say goodbye to dervish ‘Abdullah? No, not at all. I have seen dervish ‘Abdullah moving about on a cycle in Lille in France. How can this be? The solution to the mystery is always inferior to the mystery itself. It is really dervish ‘Abdullah in Lille. He is wearing a colourful coat with the words Workshop 8 written on the back of this coat.

Dervish ‘Abdullah goes about unnoticed in Lille. The bones found in the ashes of Workshop 7 are clearly not his bones. He is sitting in the park listening to a woman with a guitar who sings these lines:

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start
They tell me I’m too young to understand
They say I’m caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
Well that’s fine by me…

Dervish ‘Abdullah stands up, gives some money to the singer, and leaves the park on his cycle. It is easy to follow him, not only because of his colourful mantle which has a text Workshop 8 written on his back, but also because I am not alone in following him. A large flock of birds is flying behind him and I wonder why.

He stops at a city square quite nearby, opens his bag and starts feeding the birds. Afterwards, he puts his coat in his bag and walks away. I don’t follow dervish ‘Abdullah, because I wish to listen to a singer who opens his guitar case and sings:

I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
Hope I get the chance to travel the world
But I don’t have any plans
Wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is a prize

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn’t know I was lost…