Desires and principles
Desires and principles
George woke up at 8:30 in the morning; his body was heavy and exhausted. The night before he had suffered from a raging fever and so asked for an analgesic and antipyretic from the hotel reception. He summoned up enough strength to stand and take a shower, and afterwards he felt more energetic. He went down to the restaurant, ate breakfast and took the fever reliever again, and so he felt better.
After he had finished breakfast, he went back up to his room again at 9:10 am. He heard his mobile ringing to find the anxious beautiful voice of Levvi:
•Levvi: Where were you? I was worried about you and called you more than once, but you didn’t answer.
•George: Sorry, I went down to the restaurant to have breakfast and forgot my mobile in the room.
•Levvi: You aren’t usually late.
•George: I didn’t sleep well last night; I was feeling under the weather.
•Levvi: May God heal you; do you want me to give you a lift to the doctor?
•George: No thanks, sorry for being late. I am feeling better now.
George descended to the reception room and saw Levvi wearing decent covered clothes, but it didn’t hide her charming beauty. He shook hands with her and welcomed her …she said anxiously:
•Levvi: I insist that you should see a doctor; it isn’t advisable to not do anything about this.
•George: Thanks Levvi, but I’m better now. I would be grateful if we could go to visit the holy places.
•Levvi: As you like, I just want you to be okay. We can go to visit two or three places today, what do you think?
•George: I’d like to begin with the most important place, and it would be enough if we visited just two places, because I’m interested more in sitting and have a discussion with you, not just a visit.
•Levvi: So am I. So then we’ll first go to the Wailing Wall and Mount Yoria, and then if there’s time we will visit the tomb of the King David in Mount Zion and the ancient tomb in the Mount of Olives.
•George: That’s suitable. Hopefully we can finish our tour early before I get tired.
•Levvi: How was Habib with you?
•George: A very good choice, it seems that you understand me well.
Her eyes glittered, mouth pouted and face smiled…
•Levvi: Mmm… to some extent. Habib is cultured, aware and open-minded.
•George: You’re right, I benefited from him very much.
•Levvi: He said the same about you.
With amazement, George asked:
•George: How and when?
•Levvi: He phoned me yesterday straight after he had left you in the hotel, and told me that he had benefited from you very much. He spoke very highly of you, unlike his description of anyone else before.
•George: He is being polite, as all the time I was tiring him by talking with him, and exchange views and opinions.
•Levvi: If it is like your discussion with me, how sweet it is!
George felt very happy while listening to her sweet words with her soft voice, captivating body and wonderful spirit.
•George: Ha ha ha! It is a little different. You’re soft and beautiful, but he isn’t. I thank you for your choice of him and also thank you for your concern, and sorry for tiring you. What matters is fulfilling the main goals of the trip, namely signing the contract and also finding the path to happiness.
•Levvi: You’re the one who should be thanked; do you still remember the contract? I totally forgot about it. By the way, your session with Benjamin seems to have made him confused.
•George: How was that?
•Levvi: I don’t know, but after you left he said to me: “He is one of the strangest people I’ve ever met in my life.” I asked him what he meant. He said that you’re either a crazy person or a saint.
•George: Ha ha ha!! No third option? I don’t want to be a crazy person and, regrettably, I can’t be a saint as I’ve paid him a bribe.
•Levvi: I don’t know why what you said to him influenced him, as he repeated to me that we are wrong to think that the worldly existence is just about money. This is the first time in my life I’ve heard something like that from Benjamin.
•George: To put it frankly, despite me feeling uncomfortable with him, his words had a great affect on me too. Is it true that pleasures of bodies are the torments of the spirit? Isn’t there any way in which pleasures can be gathered and pain can disappear?
•Levvi: I wish I could find this way.
•George: So, you are exploring the path to happiness, as Habib told me.
•Levvi: That’s a beautiful expression, but what do you think the path to happiness is?
•George: It is the way or path you mentioned you wanted to find just a little while ago. I’ve been exploring it for quite a while now.
•Levvi: I’ve also been exploring it for some time now. She smiled, looked into his eyes and said to him: What kind of convergence is this between our souls?!
•George: Habib told me, but why didn’t you embrace Catholicism?
•Levvi: The idea is to escape from the complexity of Judaism and its deviations, not to exchange it with another distortion. On the other hand, Judaism is more ancient and holier.
•George: Tell me frankly, as you usually do, is this the only reason or are there other reasons?
•Levvi: In fact, changing religions isn’t an easy process at all. How can you imagine the one who changes his religion will be able to deal with people around him? How can I deal with Benjamin? Do you expect me to remain in my job one more day longer?
•George: So, you’re afraid of him?
•Levvi: I said to you I wasn’t convinced at first. But putting it bluntly, I’m afraid of changing my religion. Freedom has a precious price …infinitely precious!
•George: We are bound to pay this price to have our freedom because there is nothing equivalent to it.
•Levvi: I’m still exploring the right decision, or the path to happiness. When I’m convinced, I may bravely make the decision or may not. I don’t know... I really don’t know!
•George: Are you afraid of Benjamin?
•Levvi: Certainly! Do you think that the right and brave decision, or what you express as the path to happiness, is the thing that will make me embrace Christianity?
•George: You have an extraordinary ability to turn the table upside down, I don’t know why.
•Levvi: Didn’t I say to you that our spirits hover together and may have mixed at some time?
•George: You’ve become a philosopher O beauty, how can spirits blend?
•Levvi: Ha ha ha! I don’t know. All that I know is that bodies blend just as spirits do, and my spirit is floating with yours.
•George: It is better for spirits to hover happily than for them to hover in confusion and uncertainty.
•Levvi: You’re right, but let’s not talk about that now. It will be only a few minutes before we reach the Wailing Wall, or as Muslims call it the Buraq Wall. It is the last remaining monument of Solomon’s Temple. According to Jewish rabbis, it has been forbidden for Jews to enter the holy sanctuary since the destruction of the Temple. So the Wall is the closest point to the temple where Jews can pray, in accordance with the modern Jewish law. It’s named “the Wailing Wall” because of the rituals of mourning which are performed there.
•George: When did they start worshipping there?
•Levvi: Before the sixteenth century, the Jews performed their prayers and rituals of mourning on the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, in different places around the holy sanctuary. Then they gathered annually in front of a stone close to the wall of the holy sanctuary. It’s named the “Wailing Wall”, and Muslims name it the “Buraq Wall”.
•George: So, what is the Buraq Wall?
•Levvi: It’s also sacred to Muslims. They said that their Prophet was taken from Mecca on a beast called al-Buraq, and he stopped it at that wall.
•George: Do you let Muslims worship God at this place?
•Levvi: We left the holy sanctuary for them, and after that they want to take our Wall too! Muslims don’t worship God at places of monuments and don’t care about memorials and statues.
•George: Habib laughed at me and said to me that we, the Protestants, like Muslims, don’t like statues and photographs.
•Levvi: This is what has remained for us of our demolished temple, and we’ll unearth for the entire world the monuments which prove that.
•George: You haven’t found the monuments all of these years and you still hope to find them?
•Levvi: Ha ha ha! If we don’t find them, we’ll make them up.
•George: So, you aren’t convinced you’ll find them?
•Levvi: It doesn’t matter whether I am convinced or not, the fact remains that it’s a clear state of uncertainty. Some studies showed that the first time people prayed at the Wall was during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, i.e. not before the sixteenth century, as I told you. Muslims said that it was an obvious lie. But despite all that, it’s the most important sacred place to us. She turned around to George and said: It’s difficult not to train, invigorate and satisfy one’s spirit. Would you like us to not have any form of worship at all?
•George: You look different today.
•Levvi: Today is a day of worship when we go to the Wailing Wall. We should get out of the car here and complete the journey on foot.
•George: I hope we only have to walk a little in this sun, because I’m beginning to feel tired.
•Levvi: I hope it won’t be clear that you’re not a Jew.
•George: Why is that?
•Levvi: Take this hat and wear it.
•George: Okay, ha ha ha! Don’t take a photo of me while wearing it, as Katrina might get angry.
•Levvi: It seems that you love Katrina very much!
•George: Yes, she’s cultured and religious; her heart is white and pure, like yours.
•Levvi: I hope to find a person like you who appreciates religion, culture and thought. We must take a right, and then turn right again; afterwards we’ll see the Wall where the people are weeping.
•George: I’ll wear the hat, but I’m not good at pretending to weep.
•Levvi: It’s not important, a lot of people like you can’t pretend well, and you’ll find many others weeping or pretending to weep. You are allowed to enter, but women aren’t.
•George: Why is that? I won’t enter unless you are with me.
•Levvi: Go and enter, I’ll wait for you. Would you like that I enter and be pushed out like a dog? Please, go in by yourself.
George walked the rest of the way alone, although began to feel tired, until he arrived at the Wall. There were a large number of Jews weeping, and also many others pretending to weep, but not weeping well. He stood beside them to watch them, but he felt annoyed and wanted to leave quickly, especially since he had become even more tired and his temperature had started to soar. He looked around him and didn’t see any woman. This made him upset and increased his desire to leave. He decided to go, but his steps became heavy and signs of fatigue appeared on his face. He summoned up his energy until he managed to reach Levvi, whom he found sitting, waiting for him.
•Levvi: Why did you come back so quickly!?
•George: Because I’m extremely tired and feel sick; can we go to the car quickly?
•Levvi: Alright, as you like.
•George: Would you be able to bring the car here?
•Levvi: You look very tired. I’m sorry, but I can’t. Lean on me, come on…
George was obviously very tired. Levvi put George’s hand around her neck so that he could rest on her shoulder. He tried to raise his hand to walk properly but fatigue had tired him out completely, so he leaned his head against her shoulder. The flow of air moved strands of her hair across his face, the smell of her body tickled his nose and sometimes his cheek touched hers.
•George: Sorry, I tired you out before and am tiring you again now. I seem to be chatting you up.
•Levvi: Never mind, it’s important that we get to the car quickly. There’s a nearby hospital that we’ll head to. You can continue chatting me up after we make sure you’re well, ha ha ha!
When they arrived Levvi took George quickly to the emergency room. The doctor gave him an injection which resulted in him falling into a sudden sleep, so Levvi went to the doctor to ask about his condition.
•Levvi: What’s the matter with him?
•Doctor: Don’t panic…I gave him a narcotic to help him rest and the blood tests will show what the problem is in an hour. He smiled and said to her: It seems that you care for him very much, is he your husband or boyfriend?
•Levvi: Only my friend.
•Doctor: In any case, the results will be ready in an hour, but I think he’ll wake up before then.
Levvi sat by George and looked carefully at the features of his face while he was sleeping. She wiped his forehead and passed her fingers between his strands of hair; she felt a strong connection with him. After a while, George opened his eyes while Levvi’s hand was still stroking his hair.
•George: Where am I?
•Levvi: Thank God you are conscious. We’re in the hospital and you’re okay.
•George: Where’s the doctor?
•Levvi: He’ll come in a few minutes with the results of the test. Relax and don’t tire yourself out, George.
George held her hand, which was still stroking his face and hair. He rubbed his hand on her hand gently.
•George: I’m very grateful to you, Levvi. I didn’t expect to tire you like that.
•Levvi: Don’t say that. I’m here at your service, George.
A few minutes passed without any words, but looks and touches were stronger than the language of logic. The doctor came to see George…
•Doctor: You’re awake, George, good. Your girlfriend… sorry, I mean your friend, has been extremely worried about you
•George: What are the findings, doctor?
•Doctor: It seems to be an acute viral inflammation from the initial results, and the rest of the results will be available tomorrow.
•George: When will I be released?
•Doctor: In an hour or tomorrow, if you like; whenever you feel completely relaxed. When you leave, the nurse will give you your medicine. Excuse me, I have to go now.
•Levvi: Please stay here until tomorrow, George. This is safer for your health.
George held Levvi’s hand firmly, and looked at her gratefully.
•George: Thank you, Levvi. I wish to go to the hotel, and I apologize for not continuing the trip.
He took her hand and put it on his chest. Then he raised her hand and kissed it.
•George: I apologize to you.
Levvi was very confused and seemed shy, although she felt a lot happier and blissful. She smiled at him and wanted him not to rush in leaving the hospital, as it was Saturday daytime, and the sun was still shining.
•Levvi: What are you apologizing for? Don’t apologize; what matters is for you to be in good health.
Levvi completed the procedures of George’s release from the hospital and took the medicine. She booked an appointment for the next day at ten o’clock in the morning.
•Levvi: Must he come tomorrow or can you tell me the results?
•Doctor: If he’s tired again, come together. Otherwise, it’s okay for you to just come tomorrow to get the result of the remaining tests.
•Levvi: Okay good, then I’ll come tomorrow if he’s well. Will he leave by ambulance or can we take my car?
•Doctor: You can take your car because he will leave on foot, as you can see. Then he turned around to George and told him that he was officially released and could leave.
•Levvi: Wait here please George, I’ll go and get the car.
Levvi returned and held George’s hand until they reached the car. She opened the door for him and remained by him to help him. He looked into her blue eyes, which were full of kindness and affection.
•George: Thank you, Levvi. I don’t know how to thank you.
Without thinking, he turned to her, drew his body near hers, hugged and gave a long kiss. She felt extremely confused, although there was a smile on her face she tried to conceal it.
•Levvi: Sorry, this is a day which is only for worship. You don’t need to thank me; I acted according to my conscience.
•George: I’m sorry, I might have embarrassed you, but I didn’t know how to express my thankfulness and gratitude to you. So I kissed you.
•Levvi: Don’t worry. You have to relax now. She smirked and said: Kach kissed me a lot and didn’t apologize! How much I hated it.
•George: I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to insult you and I don’t know why I did that. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness from me because of my illness. Or as Habib said “admiration of the beautiful spirit is blended with admiration of the beautiful body.”
•Levvi: It may be the blending of spirits we were talking about. Leave it for now. How are you feeling?
•George: I feel embarrassed in front of you, and also I’m ashamed of myself. I have been weak due to my lust. Take it from me, I didn’t intend to embarrass you, but it was an expression of what was in my heart.
•Levvi: Please, close the matter. I said to you that the dirty Kach kissed me and actually forced himself on me more than once, and he never said sorry. Rather, I sometimes felt that I enjoyed it. Imagine I enjoyed being forced to relinquish my principles. Benjamin might have been truthful when he said that we give our bodies pleasures in ways that harm our spirits.
•George: Or perhaps we haven’t found the path yet on which our bodies can conform with our souls, when our spirits make our bodies happy and our bodies make our spirits happy.
•Levvi: Your search of the path to happiness might help you reach that. Don’t forget to tell me if you reach it, or else I won’t forgive or excuse you.
•George: I wonder when I will finish this path to happiness. Everyone I meet seems to be waiting for the result. I repeat my regret and also my gratitude to you, Levvi.
•Levvi: We’ll reach the hotel in a few minutes and I want you to rest well today in your room. I’ll arrange for supper to come to you in your room too, and your breakfast in the morning. Tomorrow I’ll go to the hospital to bring the results of the tests for you, and then I’ll come to you. When will you travel back to Britain?
•George: I’m at a loss for words. Thank you so much. My plane leaves at six o’clock in the evening.
They reached the hotel and Levvi went up with him to the hotel room and made sure he went to lie on his bed.
•Levvi: I’d like to sit with you, but I’m afraid of bothering you with our discussions, so it’s better that I leave.
•George: You don’t know how happy I am when I have a discussion with you, but go home and relax. Sorry, I wore you out very much today.
•Levvi: The sun has set and I’d like to do something, and I don’t know why. Explain it as you like.
•George: I don’t understand.
Levvi approached George, hugged and gave him a long kiss which made George feel like he was a desert plant being irrigated with water. In spite of his tiredness and exhaustion, he wished she would have hugged him even longer.
•Levvi: Saturday is over; I’ll leave the meaning of what I did for you to work out, because I’m actually just as surprised as you. Goodbye.
Levvi’s kiss was so unexpected to George. He didn’t understand the reason behind the kiss, and he also didn’t understand the reason why he kissed her. He said to himself: “Do we act without choice? Or is the illness the reason? Or perhaps the blending of spirits can explain that? Or the blending between the admiration of the spirit and the body, as Habib had said? Whatever the reason, it shows human weakness. Perhaps it shows our need for Jesus to make atonement for our sins.” His mind was preoccupied by thinking about Levvi, remembering how she helped him and how she feared for him. While in such a state, his mobile rang. It was Katrina.
•Katrina: My darling, how are you now?
•George: Fine, thank God. I left the hospital and I’m well. Who told you about my illness?
•Katrina: Your illness! Which illness? All that I know is what Tom told me during the church ceremony yesterday, that you sent him a message telling him you were tired.
•George: Tom again?
•Katrina: My darling, are you still suspicious of me?
•George: No, I’ll return tomorrow and I’m okay. The plane takes off at six o’clock in the evening.
•Katrina: We’ll wait for you with an ambulance.
•George: There is no need, I’m okay, really.
•Katrina: I’d like to be sure that you’re well. I don’t want to bother you too much now. Try to relax. May the Lord be with you.
•George: May the Lord be with you, my darling.
George ended the call while contemplating over the fate which made Katrina phone him just after Levvi’s kiss, which reminded him of Katrina’s kiss with Tom and how mad he was about it. He wondered: “Were we a feather being blown about by the wind? Or perhaps fate drove me to a thing I had no knowledge about? Do the pleasures of the body mean the misery of the spirit and principles? Can’t we just combine them?” It seems as though the next few days will be full of unpredictable events.
In the meanwhile, the waiter came to his room with supper. He entered the room smiling, and greeted George.
•Waiter: It seems that the lady loves and cares about you very much. She personally made sure of the quality of food and gave us instructions to remind you to take your medicine. She also didn’t leave until she had made sure that we had brought up your food.
•George: Good. Thanks a lot.
He had supper quickly. Then he flung himself onto the bed, thinking about everything that had happened that day. He really wished to check his mail, but then he thought it would better to delay that until the next day.
George woke up at nine o’clock the next morning when the waiter knocked at the door with breakfast.
•Waiter: This is as per your girlfriend’s instructions, who called half an hour earlier to make sure that we were preparing your breakfast. She also called us at two o’clock in the morning to make certain we’d contact you to take your medicine. You’re lucky to find such a captivating beautiful loving woman and girlfriend that loves you like that!
George thanked him, but he didn’t say more than that. He just repeated in his head : “captivating girlfriend that loves you like that.” He ate breakfast and then opened the computer in order to check his emails and reply to as many as he could. Afterwards, he wrote a message to Adam and Tom to tell them about his illness and his intention to return to London. He asked them if they knew anything about the joys of the spirit, or if the spirit had only misery and that all pleasures were only for the body. He asked: “Can we make both of them happy, or is it necessary that in order for our spirits to be happy, our minds and bodies have to be miserable?”
Levvi went to the hospital to get the results of the tests. The doctor told her that George had a virus that was rare and scientifically, it was the first time that it had ever affected the brain... The doctor recommended that George should go back to hospital for a period of one week to ten days. He said that they couldn’t predict what the final result of George’s state would be because the virus could become active at any time. Furthermore, he said that sudden changes could occur in George’s state which might require the presence of a doctor. Levvi wept uncontrollably because she was afraid for George and didn’t know what to do. As a result she called Habib, who came to her in the hospital. She asked herself, and also Habib asked her why she was so attached to George. Was it a sensual attachment with a man who refused to sleep with her, as a kind of retaliation to her femininity? Or was it a spiritual attachment with his thinking, innate nature, and culture? Or was it due to both of them being open-minded and exploring the route to happiness? Habib tried to calm her down while she was weeping. Then they went together to visit George in the hotel.
George’s mobile rang while he was still checking his emails. He answered and Levvi said to him:
•Levvi: I’m with Habib, can we come up?
•George: Yes, sure. You’re welcome.
Levvi entered with a sad smile, greeted him and shook his hand.
•Levvi: Habib is with me; can he come in?
•George: Sure, your guest is my guest. Let him in.
Habib entered. George welcomed him and was happy to see him.
•Habib: It seems that your illness is due to me, because when we last met you looked a little bit sick. But I can assure you that Levvi has nothing to do with it.
•George: Levvi is innocent of any defect. She is more righteous than righteousness.
•Habib: What’s this flirtation in my presence!
•George: Ha ha ha! I forgot that you’re our guard.
With a shy mocking smile looking at George, she said:
•Levvi: I don’t understand what you meant by saying Habib is our guard - our guard from what?
•Habib: Never mind, George’s just trying to harbor hatred between us. He turned to George and said to him: How is your health now?
•George: As you see, I’m much better now. I was worn out yesterday and I made Levvi tired too.
•Levvi: You didn’t tire me at all. I didn’t know what to do? I’m always confused in embarrassing situations. I hope I didn’t tire you. We should have cancelled the visit when you told me you were tired. A misunderstanding might have been the reason!
•George: You’re never wrong. What happened to me was sudden.
•Levvi: The doctor recommended that you should go back to hospital for two or three days. What’s your opinion?
•George: The plane takes off at six o’clock this evening. Thus I must head for the airport in two and a half hours from now, and you say to me two or three days!
•Levvi: Please George, two or three days only. Just so that we make sure that you’re well.
•George: I’m well, don’t worry. What were the results of the last test?
•Habib: Give it to him, Levvi. This is a good report; the doctor just wants you to go to the hospital to be sure that you are well.
George took the report from Levvi while looking into her eyes. He promised her he’d look after himself and go to the hospital immediately after his arrival in London.
•Levvi: You must go to see a doctor the minute you land in London, and then tell us that you’re fine, George.
•George: Katrina, my wife, heard that I was ill and she said that she would wait for me with an ambulance at the airport. I begged her not to do that, but she insisted. She is stubborn like you, Levvi.
•Levvi: Katrina did the right thing so that we can make sure that you’re fine. There’s nearly two hours left, you should have your dinner, and then prepare your suitcases to travel.
•George: Dinner will be ready in an hour in the hotel restaurant. I’d like to invite you two, and don’t turn down my invitation. I only need fifteen minutes after dinner to have a bath and prepare my suitcases.
•Levvi: We agree on condition that dinner will be in your room, and not in the hotel restaurant, so that we won’t tire you out.
•George: Oh, Levvi, I’d like to move a little and I won’t be tired at all if it’s in the restaurant.
Habib tried to cut the hidden flirtation between them…
•Habib: In order to benefit from our remaining time, what’s the news on the path to happiness?
•George: This is the second time I’ve traveled to explore the path to happiness, in addition to many gatherings, dialogues, and meetings. This subject has taken me a long time and a lot of effort. I hope all of my efforts will end in success.
•Levvi: Your success is a success for us all, and we are waiting for the results that you will reach.
•Habib: Where did you travel the first time?
•George: I’ll tell you the order, in the same way Katrina said it: “The land of wonders, the land of legends, then the land of churches.”
•Habib: We know the land of wonders, which is India, and also the land of legends. But where is the land of churches?
•George: Rome and the Vatican. It’s supposed to be my next destination.
•Habib: Jerusalem is very important; it’s the cradle of religions, and their origin and conflicts. And it is possible to appreciate the significance of your visit to the Vatican, since it’s one of the most important places for the Christians and their different denominations. But why did you choose India as your first destination?
•George: Do the heavenly religions have priority over man-made religions? I went to India to find that out, and then the question was…
•Levvi: Sorry to interrupt you, but the first question should have been: what is the best, religion or atheism?
•George: You’re right, but I used to and still do argue that atheism is a psychological disease which has a bleak view of life. This is because atheists believe in the existence of God in their heart. You can’t find any people who are more worried, diseased or worse off than atheists.
Habib smiled while looking at Levvi, and said:
•Habib: He’s right, but he’s supposed to explore that while being impartial and scientific.
•George: In fact, I did research it. But to where do you want me to travel to verify that?
•Habib: Ha ha ha! Travel inside the head of any atheist and you’ll verify what you said!! I don’t know how they put up with themselves!!
•Levvi: That is why they’re the people who commit suicide more than others and feel depressed the most.
•George: Let me continue… the second question was: which heavenly religions are the best? That was after I had concluded that manmade religions are made up of superstitions and impostures. So I travelled to the holy land to learn about Judaism at first hand. Then he turned to Levvi and said: I was happy because you accompanied me on this trip.
•Habib: So, our discussions before yesterday about Christianity, its sects and wars, were in haste before the third trip?
•George: It’s actually in perfect timing, if you think about it. And the third trip will be to the Vatican to discover about the Christian religion.
•Habib: Then all that remains is to discover about the religion of Islam.
•Anger seemed to show on Levvi’s face. She said:
•Levvi: The religion of barbarians, go to Mecca to discover it. They won’t let you get inside, no matter what you do.
•George: Ha ha ha! Calm down. In fact, I hoped to have met some Muslims here in Jerusalem. Don’t forget that the majority of the population here are Muslims. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that because of the shortness of my journey and my illness. Anyhow, I might not need to travel to a Muslim country.
Habib looked into Levvi’s eyes…
•Habib: As for preventing non-Muslims entering Mecca, it’s just like the Jews who prevent the Muslims from going to the Wailing Wall, preventing women from entering the Wailing Wall or preventing the youth from performing prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday or…
•George: Take it easy. Didn’t I tell you that you’re a Muslim hiding in Catholicism?
•Levvi: Ha ha ha! He’s always like that. Now we have with us a person who has the same religion as you but who is against you.
•Habib: Don’t ask for George’s help against me because George is travelling today, and we will continue with our discussion. But you should study Islam as you studied Judaism and Christianity, in order to be just, George. Didn’t I ask you to study atheism? Is atheism better than Islam for you two?
•George: Ha ha ha! Perhaps.
•Habib: It’s late, do you want us to go down to the restaurant before you, or we’ll go together?
•Levvi: We must help him go down as he’s tired.
•George: No thank you, Levvi. You two go ahead to the restaurant, and I’ll meet you there. I just need to go to the bathroom.
Habib and Levvi went to the restaurant. They chose a good table and sat waiting for George to come. During this time, Habib said
•Habib: I’m afraid that you admire him more than you should.
•Levvi: Why do you say that?
•Habib: Sorry for interfering, but your looks at one another are suspicious as well as your words. It is as if you two were lovers.
•Levvi: I don’t know why you reached that conclusion! However, as I told you from the beginning, he refused to sleep with me. He said to me that he loved his wife and regarded that as a form of unfaithfulness to her.
•Habib: I said to you before: do not mix the admiration of the spirit and ethics with sensual sexual admiration.
•Levvi: A very strange thing happened yesterday; I carried him after he became tired and fell down, and then he kissed me. So when I put him on his bed in his room, I gave him a kiss in return.
•Habib: Regrettably, kisses are seen as being entirely normal in both of your societies, but what isn’t normal is that you give up your principles.
•Levvi: I don’t know why that happened. I think it’s as you say, or perhaps human weakness.
In the meantime, George arrived and sat at the table with them.
•George: The restaurant is offering an open buffet for dinner today. Would you like to go and serve yourself now?
After fetching their food and being seated at the table again, Habib suggested completing their discussion with George and Levvi. He thought that it was a golden opportunity, because the three of them were now sitting together.
•Habib: Let’s continue where we left off. I feel it’s important to travel at least once to a Muslim country, in particular.
•George: Although I always seem to differ with you, but I agree on this point, because you defended atheism as you defended Islam.
•Habib: Ha ha ha! I didn’t and won’t defend atheism or Islam. I’m speaking about the scientific methodology that should be used in order to reach the truth.
•George: Every time I travel I have many long discussions, which are similar to our discussions. Also, every time I travel I gain extensive information, a deep understanding and I participate in long dialogues following my return from my travel; though there is more information this time than the time available to contemplate. Perhaps I can think deeply especially after my return to my home, because it has been a very fruitful travel.
Levvi, while looking in George’s eyes flirtatiously, said:
•Levvi: Could I ask you a question, George? I hope it won’t be embarrassing.
•George: Yes, okay, go ahead.
•Levvi: If you are convinced that Judaism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy or even Islam or Protestantism is the path to happiness, will you convert to the right one directly or will you begin to evaluate the profit and loss involved?
•George: I think all evaluations of profit and loss would end if you find the path to happiness. It’s entirely profitable. Is there a path happier and more profitable than this path. Anyhow, the important point is for me to find it.
Habib looked at George firmly and said to him:
•Habib: You will definitely find it, but I have doubts about what you are saying.
•George: What are your doubts?
•Habib: About the easiness of finding the path to happiness, and the absence of any need to assess the profit and loss involved. Some decisions are difficult to take!
•George: How is that?
•Habib: Let me roughly explain the idea to you. All of the people who suffer from diabetes know that eating sugar is harmful to them, but they continue to eat it. Also, all the people who are obese know that unnecessary unhealthy eating is harmful to them, but they still over-eat.
•George: What is the connection here?
•Habib: Changing religion is certainly much more difficult than changing an eating habit. Rather, it’s a change to the meaning of life, its reason and motives. Then he turned to Levvi and said: I think that Levvi understands that well. In any case, you’ll definitely find the path.
•George: Why are you so sure of that? Aren’t you also searching for it and haven’t found it until now?
•Habib: It’s not possible to be so insistent on seeking the path to happiness, and then not find it. It’s not part of the Lord’s Generosity not to help whoever wants to reach the truth.
•George: Your words are very similar to that of an old man who I met on the street not too long ago.
•Habib: What did the old man say?
•George: You may be shocked about what I’m going to say, but hear me out. I was going through a bad phase in my life and feeling depressed, and I thought that the only way out was to commit suicide. But before I was able to do that, I met him and he looked so happy, so I asked him if he was happy. He told me that he was, so I asked him how I could reach this happiness? Actually, he was the first one to coin the phrase “the path to happiness”.
•Habib: How did he answer you?
•George: He didn’t really have an answer for me, and said that if I was insistent and determined, I would reach that path.
•Habib: Didn’t you keep in touch with him afterwards?
•George: Regrettably, I didn’t take his number or address. He took my number and address, but he never contacted me.
•Habib: Wow! Look at the time; we’d better eat our dinner quickly so that you can finish packing your bags.
•George: I won’t be late. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. Then he went upstairs to the room.
•Habib: I admire George’s bravery and simplicity.
•Levvi: And so do I.
•Habib: As for me, I can admire him as much as I want, because I am a man. But as for you, be careful of what you say.
•Levvi: You Arabs make a distinction between men and women.
•Habib: Arabs or Jews? I think we closed the subject of debate between us, but there remain some differences you can’t ignore.
•Levvi: What are they?
•Habib: Ha ha ha! I’m not beautiful like you, and I’m not a woman. Do you want to change the nature of things? Eating will always be different from drinking. Also, everyone has their different roles, and you will remain a beautiful lady who is partaking in the discussion, and me, the male partner in the discussion. As for making women similar to dogs, trash or impurities, that certainly doesn’t come from a person or a religion which respects those who embrace it.
•Levvi: I understand totally what you mean. I wish you wouldn’t criticize me.
•Habib: Sorry, but it’s important to admire him for his way of thinking, insistence, ethics and spirit, but not for his body. I told him that before and that’s the meaning of “I’m your guard”.
•Levvi: Ah, now I understand the meaning of “my guard”, and I’ll be careful. It’s more than enough what happened yesterday.
George went down to the reception area quickly and finished the hotel procedures involved with checking out. He went to Levvi and Habib, who were waiting for him.
•George: The time has flown by, can we go now?
•Levvi: Yes, as I’m afraid that there’ll be traffic or checkpoints on the way.
•Habib: May the Lord protect you; sorry that I can’t give you a lift as I have an appointment, but Levvi will be happy to bring you. Don’t forget to tell us about the latest developments on the path to happiness.
•George: Won’t you complete being the guard?
•Habib: Ha ha ha! God is the One Who is the Protector, and principles prevent man from doing wrong.
•Levvi: I’ll go and get the car.
•Habib: Thank you, George. We had a good time with you. I’ll wait for your news; may the Lord protect you. Don’t forget to go to the nearest hospital in London as soon as you arrive. Also, don’t forget to take the hypodermic which is with Levvi.
•George: What hypodermic?
•Habib: A hypodermic you can take if you feel sick on the plane, the doctor gave it to us.
•George: Okay, and thank you.
George went outside to find Levvi waiting for him with the car. After he put the suitcases into the car, he got in the car and off they went to the airport.
•Levvi: We’ll miss you, George. Your stay with us was short, but you left a memorable and definite impression on us.
•George: No, your shining smile, culture and thinking are the ones that can’t be forgotten. I’m the one who benefited from you, and tired you out. Thank you.
Levvi’s eyes were filled with tears.
•Levvi: I’ll miss your discussions, dialogues and stares. So I’ll return to the state of persecution in which I used to live.
•George: Benjamin doesn’t deserve such tears.
•Levvi: The problem isn’t with Benjamin or the Jews. The real problem is inside of me because I can’t find the path to happiness, and I felt a lot happier with our discussions.
•George: Our discussions can continue with each other and so will your discussions with Habib. You are right, as since I started to explore the path to happiness, I haven’t felt the distress that didn’t use to leave me.
•Levvi: I regard it as a promise from you to tell me all that you reach in exploring the route to happiness, and I’ll tell you what Habib and I reach too.
•George: A promise, but on one condition.
•Levvi: What is it?
•George: To wipe your tears and smile. I wish to see your face smiling.
•Levvi: Okay. I apologize to you for what I did when I left you yesterday. Believe me; I don’t know why I did that.
•George: I understand you completely, because I’m like you, I don’t know why I kissed you in the car on the way to the hotel from the hospital. Ha..ha..ha! Perhaps due to my inability to weep at the Wailing Wall.
•Levvi: Why didn’t you weep?
•George: Why should I weep? Should I weep at a temple that hasn’t been proven to be authentic until now in spite of all that they have done to try and find it!
•Levvi: Don’t you see that you are exceeding the limit in speaking about my religion?
•George: Ha..ha..ha! Sorry, I’ll exceed the limit in Protestantism to atone for what I’ve done, as the Protestants are the ones who killed millions of Catholics in Europe. There, are you satisfied and have you forgiven me, ma’am?
•Levvi: I forgive you, sir, but on one condition.
•George: What is it?
•Levvi: Tell me how you are tomorrow, even with only just one message.
•Levvi: We’ve arrived. This is Ben Gurion Airport, named after the first prime minister in Israel. Did you know that this airport previously won the prize of being the best airport in the Middle East?
George went to finish the check-in procedures for travelling while Levvi waited for him. When he went to enter the departure gate, Levvi stretched out her hand to give him the hypodermic. She said to him that it was from the doctor, and that he should take it if he had a high fever or felt tired, since it would relax him until he reached London.
•George: Thank you.
Levvi’s eyes were once again filled with tears as she extended her hand to shake hands with George. Then, she said: Thank you from the depths of my heart for every moment you spent with us. George shook hands with her. He felt as if he would lose a sweetheart he had known for many years. But he constrained his desire, just like she did.
•George: May God be with you and Jesus protect you.
•Levvi: May God be with you and the Lord protect you.
Then she turned back, heartbroken by George’s parting.