Leyli and Majnun Stage Sets
I was asked to paint the stage sets for a production of “Leyli and Majnun” as part of the birthday program for Meher Baba on February 25, 2006. This I can tell you was a miraculous undertaking, magically executed in record time by Baba’s unseen guiding hand. I painted the three, 15-inch by 22-inch miniature paintings within two weeks. These would be projected on a twenty-foot movie screen, interchanging them for each new act and setting. In six days I was able to execute two, 18-foot by 12-foot shoji screens that would sit on either side of the stage as a frame for the interchangeable sets on the screen. Each was painted in three days, working through the night every other day. I had so much energy without ever being tired! I had started laying out the painting on one of the Shoji screens, February 14, when I got terrible sciatic pain. I didn’t see how I could continue, but then a chiropractor arrived who offered to see me and from that day onwards I was magically free to work again. It was a love gift on Valentine’s Day fitting for the love story of Leyli and Majnun about the highest human love that became divine love. I watched the production with great tears of joy because I was witnessing my longing, since 1972, to create set paintings for Leyli and Majnun manifest.
Majnun's father beseeches him to pray to God to extinguish his burning love for Leyli. Majnun travels to the Kaaba only to ask God to increase his love to totally consume his being.
Excerpted from Nizami’s: “Leyli and Majnun”:
“…When Majnun heard his father speaking he wept, then began to laugh. Suddenly, a strange thing happened. He darted forward like the head of a coiled snake, stretched out his hands towards the door of the temple, hammered against it and shouted:
‘Yes it is I, who knocks at this door today! I have sold my life for love’s sake! Yes it is I; may I always be love’s slave! They tell me; abandon love, that is the path to recovery—but I can gain strength only through love. If love dies, so shall I. My nature is love’s pupil; be my fate nothing, if not love, and woe to the heart incapable of passion. I ask thee, my God, I beseech thee, in all the godliness of thy divine nature and all the perfection of thy kingdom: let my love grow stronger, let it endure, even if I perish. Let me drink from this well, let my eye never miss its light. If I am drunk with the wine of love, let me drink even more deeply.
‘They tell me: “Crush the desire for Layla in your heart!” But I implore thee, oh my God, let it grow stronger. Take what is left of my life and add it to Layla’s. Let me never demand from her as much as a single hair, even if my pain reduces me to the width of one! Let her punish and castigate me: her wine alone shall fill my cup, and my name shall never appear without her seal. My life shall be sacrificed for her beauty, my blood shall be spilled freely for her, and though I burn for her painfully, like a candle, none of my days shall ever be free of this pain. Let me love, oh my God, love for love’s sake, and make my love a hundred times as great as it was and is!’”