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My Friend

I have to learn to make time for reading and writing, which has slowed to a crawl ever since I am slowly getting back to life.
Hence these untimely letters.

This week, I present a little story I read when I was, oh, about ten years old.
Thirty years later, it still guides my actions and affirms my faith.
It has always given me a strange kind of freedom, when it comes to my how I go about life, encouraging me to do my best, and not to worry even if I stumble.
It planted the very powerful seed, that God if (s)he exists, is more loving than just.
I just ought to be a good human.


Malik, son of Dinar, was much upset about the profligate behaviour of a youth who lived next door to him. For a long time he took no action, hoping that someone else would intervene. But when the youth’s behaviour became intolerable, Malik went to him and insisted that he change his ways.

The youth calmly replied that he was a protégé of the sultan and so nobody could prevent him from living the way he wanted.

Said Malik, “I shall personally complain to the sultan.” Said the youth, “that will be quite useless, because the sultan will never change his mind about me.”

“I shall then denounce you to Allah,” said Malik. “Allah,” said the youth, “is far too forgiving to condemn me.”

Malik went away defeated. But after a while the youth’s reputation became so bad that there was a public outcry about it. Malik decided that it was his duty to reprimand him. As he was walking to the youth’s house, however, he heard a voice say to him, “Do not touch my friend. He is under my protection.” Malik was thrown into confusion by this and, when he was in the presence of the youth, did not know what to say.

Said the young man, “What have you come for now?” Said Malik, “I came to reprimand you. But on my way here a voice told me not to touch you, for you are under his protection.”

The profligate seemed stunned. “Did he call me his friend?” he asked. But by then Malik had already left his house. Years later, Malik met this man in Mecca. He had been so touched by the words of the voice that he had given up his possessions and become a wandering beggar.

“I have come here in search of my Friend,” he said to Malik, and died.


This lovely parable is just one of many, in Anthony de Mello’s beautiful compendium of parables, The Song of the Bird.

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