The Good Sleeper

     
 

"A well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well-used brings happy death." ~ Da Vinci 

It was time to go. Abdullah son of Amr had spent all the hospitality due to him with that curiosity gnawing at him worse than it had three days before.

Three days in vigil. Three days of paying the snottiest attention that politeness allowed him to stretch. All for what? To be impressed by his own obtuseness?

***

It started last week, when the Prophet and his companions were at the mosque, and the Prophet said, “A future resident of Heaven shall be amongst us.” And this man, Abdullah's soon-to-be subject of obsession, walked in. He was an Ansari dressed in common garment, his face shone with remnants of ablution, and he offered the most ordinary prayer under the gaze of the least ordinary figures of al-Islam EVER.

If that was not curious, imagine hearing it repeated for three days straight. “That man is going to Heaven,” insisted the Prophet.

For wearing common garments? Abdullah had thought. What, Heaven is as easy as a stroll in the mosque, now?

***

On another day, the Prophet mentioned that a man's destiny, whether he was going to Heaven or Hell, was apparent in his daily conduct. If a man were going to Heaven, you would feel the centered calm surrounding their movements. Likewise, if he were going to Hell, you would smell the sulfuric singe. And neither just for a little bit.

Based on that, Abdullah started his close surveillance on Ansari by asking for shelter in his house, using an imagined terrible disagreement with his father, the Islamic Army Commander Amr son of al-‘As, as cause for homelessness.

So far, none of this was extraordinary. In those days, it was trendy for the natives of al-Medina to lend refuge for the Muhajireen from Mecca, the Ansari welcomed Abdullah in his residence.

***

That was how Abdullah became the guest who snooped on his host.

Oblivious to snoopiness, the Ansari offered ordinary prayers, held an ordinary job, ate and slept on regular schedules. Save for mumbling the Lord's name when he turned in his sleep, the Ansari seemed to spend exactly the amount of nothing to present him with the airs of someone who would make it as market’s gossip. Much less psychic ecstasies.

Hence, shredding whatever was left of his dignity, Abdullah spread his cards: He told his host of the real reason why he spent three days in his house. How the Prophet Prophesized thrice where the Ansari was going next. Moreover, that Abdullah had missed all the signs that made his host so special to receive tidings of Heaven.

(Or Hell, by the way.)

***

On the record, there is no mention on how the Ansari reacted. Probably because he reacted the way people of his kind do: As explosively merry as a brick wall.

Funny isn’t it? People who are going to Heaven do not really care about tidings. Wherever they might end up in this life or the next, they would stick to their habits anyway. They would faithfully carry out their work quietly, with nothing more, nothing less or besides.

***

The Ansari might have shrugged at Abdullah's confessions; or even reddened at the thought that he was the trending topic among the folks of Medina. Then explained himself eloquently in biblical silence.

Giving up, Abdullah said his thanks and asked for leave. The good Ansari, with the reluctance of a good host failing to satisfy his guest, almost gave his leave when it crossed his mind to say the biggest secret kept amongst Heaven’s Residents To-Be.

"I sleep well."

"Sorry?"

"I sleep well. When I go to bed, I take no jealousy, grudge, or ill will towards God or His creation with me. That's all."

Indeed that was everything. To sleep well was to give up the world in return for respite. To build enough faith to plunge to the abyss of mindlessness. To have enough faith that there shall be a worthwhile tomorrow to wake up to.

(And, in case there wasn’t any tomorrows left, to have the courage to go to bed anyway and know that even that was alright too.)

It seemed so little! Banally unheralded heroism! Yet name an uneasy, undone and unimpressed soul who is capable of such a feat. To sleep well in a world of constant chaos and it was offered to all, but who would care? To surrender in the perfect calm of a small-death was possible for all, but who would dare?

And Abdullah smiled; his defeat was fair. "Aye, it’s what none of us would bear."

 
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