He arose with gleaming eyes and the traces of last night
still smouldering from the ardour of the tryst.
From her side of the bed, she sat up, carefully observing
Pangs of suspicion swelling, sensing some foreboding:
“Where did you go last night? Why came you home so late?”
Then like a hawk she scanned for clues upon his face.
But he just sighed so sweetly and smiled forever.
“Well?” She replied, her fears making her shiver.
He said: “after all this time I finally met Her.”
“Her!” she cried, “I should have known better!”
And then her hands fixed round his neck like a pair of fetters.
“Who is she? What’s the name of this strumpet!?”
Just audible he gasped: “some call Her Layla, but She’s not a harlot.”
She dug her nails deeper into his neck:
“How many nights this floozy have you met?!”
He winced and said: “last night was our first meeting.”
“And this morning I will inflict upon you an almighty beating!”
Shaking him like a rag doll she screamed: “what is she like?”
He coughed out: “none can compare to Her delights.”
Enraged, she roared: “where does this minx live?!”
“You’ll never find Her with your five senses.”
She sat, head in her hands, broken and tearful:
“Why did you this to me for I was ever faithful?!”
And sobbing like a wretch she dashed into the street.
He just sat there, feeling the winds of love so sweet.
But though the Beloved One had brought him so near,
As the hours passed he began to fear
For his wife, because deep down he really did love her
She was his trusted friend, his partner, his succour.
The night closed in, his heart filled with regret:
“My love for You has chased away my dear pet!”
And through the night he couldn’t taste any sleep
He was overcome with worry and raw grief.
Then as the dawn broke clear and light shone far and wide
She appeared in the doorway, with the deepest, piercing eyes.
He started up: “where did you go last night? Where in heaven!?”
To his joy, she said: “well, you see, I finally met Him!”
In Sufism, Islamic spirituality, spiritual aspirants sometimes address the Divine Presence using the feminine pronouns in their attempt to describe the beauty of the presence that has entered their hearts. Thus, in Sufi poetry, it is common for Sufi poets to address Allah Most High with epithets like Layla, Salma, Ainee, Lubna and others. In the above poem, the wife’s initial misunderstanding of her husband’s revelation comes full circle, as she herself experiences the Divine, to her husband’s surprise. Here I am exploring the time-worn concept of divine love through the prism of marital relationships.