Chapter 9: A Stranger to Yourself
Ibrahim was a great king. A thousand and one worries were always waiting. He had been suffering from sleeplessness for years. Physicians had been of no help. Suddenly he heard somebody walking on the roof of the palace. Naturally, he became afraid. Kings are very frightened people. When you have, you have to be afraid - the fear of losing it. Those who don’t have may be fearless; but those who have, how can they be fearless? He became afraid.maybe some enemy, some spy. He shouted loudly, ‘Who is there?’
And the man laughed, and the laughter was either of a madman or of a buddha. Because only two kinds of people can laugh that laughter - laughter that comes from the very belly, laughter that has no politics in it, laughter that is not manipulated, laughter that is not managed by the mind. Laughter that comes from the deepest core of one’s being.
A child can laugh like that, or a madman, or a buddha. Ibrahim was more shaken. He said, “Who are you there? and why are you laughing? Answer the question: who are you there and what are you doing there?”
And the strange man said, “Don’t be worried. I have lost my camel and I am looking for it.”
Now, camels are not lost on the roofs of palaces. How can they reach there? “The man must be mad, utterly mad.” Ibrahim called the guards, told them to catch hold of this man, but they could not get him. They tried hard, but he was not found anywhere. He simply disappeared. As suddenly as he had appeared, he suddenly disappeared.
The king could not sleep. His other worries were there, now this new worry was there: “Who is this man? And what did he want? And why did he laugh? And his answer is a puzzle.”
The next day, when he was sitting in his court on his throne, he was still thinking of the strange laughter. It was such a laughter that you could not forget easily. It had that ring of mysteriousness around it. It had penetrated deep down into the very heart of Ibrahim. He had even felt many times jealous - he was not capable of that kind of laughter, that wild, spontaneous laughter. And was the man joking?
And then suddenly he heard the same voice at the gate. A man was quarreling with the gate guard, and the voice was exactly the same. And the man was saying, in a very authoritative way, “I want to stay in this house - this is a serai!” And the guard was trying to convince him: “This is not a serai - this is the palace of the king, his personal residence!”
But the man persisted, and so loudly that even the king could hear what was going on. And the man was saying, “This is a serai. And don’t try to be fool me!”
The king asked the guard, “Bring the man in. Maybe he is the man who was searching for his camel in the night on the roof. Now he is calling my palace, my personal residence, a serai - a free house for people to stay in. Bring him in.”