Shishu Sansaar | Arabian Nights Stories-1
|Arabian Nights Stories-1|
|Story No 3-3-1/9|
The Story of the First Qalandar: The Story of the Eye That Paid For an Eye
The first Qalandar started - "Before you know how I lost my right eye and before you know why I wear such clothes, you should know first, Madam, that I am a son of a King. My father's only brother ruled over a neighboring country and had two children - a son and a daughter who were of similar age as myself.
As I grew up I usually went to my uncle's court and stayed there for two months. That is how my cousin and I were very attached to each other. Last time I went there, he was very happy and gave a very grand feast in my honor. When we had finished our food, he said to me - "Dear brother, You can never think of what I have been doing since we met last time. After you had gone, I set a number of men to work on a building of my own design. It is now completed and one can live in it. I should like to show it to you, but you must keep it secret and be faithful to me."
I could not say "No" to him and I said "Yes" without the least hesitation. He then asked me to wait and disappeared; in a while he reappeared with a beautiful richly dressed lady. Since he did not tell me her name, I also didn't think proper to ask. We sat down at a table to eat and drink, and we talked on various topics, then suddenly he said - "Brother, We have no time to lose, please take this lady to the spot where you will find a newly built dome like tomb. Go there and wait for me, I will not be long."
I took the lady by the light of the Moon to the place he told me. As we reached there, he also joined us. He was carrying a small pot of water, a pick axe and a little bag containing plaster. He at once began destroying the sepulcher in the middle of the tomb with the pick axe. After he had destroyed the sepulcher, he started digging the earth and after a while I saw a trap door. Down the trap door was a spiral stair case. He said to the lady - "This is the trap door which will take you the place I told you about." The lady started climbing down the stairs, he followed her, and following her he raised his head to me and said - "I don't know how to thank you for this. Bye." I cried - "What do you mean? I don't understand." He said - "Doesn't matter, you may go back the way you came here." Surprised and sad I came back to the palace and slept.
When I woke up in the morning, it seemed like a dream to me. So I sent a servant to see if the prince was up. The servant told me that the prince did not sleep in the home. I ran to the cemetery. There most domes were so alike that I could not identify the one I came to last night. I spent four days there, but could not find the one. Unfortunately, my uncle was on a hunting trip for all these days and nobody knew when he would be back. I returned to my home without telling anything to anybody.
When I came home I found that many guards were gathered at the palace's gate. They surrounded me and I asked them the reason of this strange behavior. I was horrified to learn that my father was killed and the Vazeer was crowned as the King, and by his order I was under arrest. This Vazeer hated me since I was a child. Once when I was shooting a bird with a bow, I shot the arrow at his eye by mistake. Although I offered him my regrets and apologies but all in vain. Since he was in power now, I thought that he wouldn't show any mercy to me. I was right, because he came to me in prison and tore my right eye - that is how I lost it.
Then he locked me up in a large case and sent me to an deserted place to cut off my head. The case, in which I was locked, was kept on a horse and was taken to deserted place. But the people taking me were soft hearted so they freed me saying - "Go from here immediately, and never come back otherwise we will also lose our heads along with yours." I thanked them gratefully and escaped. This fear made me so cautious that I walked slowly and only during the night and stayed at odd places. At last I came to my uncle's kingdom where I was sure to get protection.
When I came home, I found my uncle in great trouble because of the disappearance of his son. We both wept for our own reasons. Then I thought that my father was already dead, he could not come back; but his son was alive, he could come back, so I should break my vow I took with the prince. I told everything about what I knew to my uncle. He got a great relief and said - "Son, Your words have comforted me a lot. I knew that he was building a tomb, so I think I can find the spot. But since the prince wished to keep the matter a secret, we both should go there alone."
We both changed our guise and sneaked out of the palace through a garden door which opened in the cemetery. It didn't take us long to identify the tomb that I had looked for so long in vain. We had great difficulty in raising the trap door as the prince had fastened it from under after he went away with the plaster he brought with him. My uncle went down first, I followed him, and when we reached the bottom of the stairs the place was filled so dense smoke that it was difficult to see anything around.
We went through the smoke and came to another chamber which was brilliantly lit. We saw a platform on which the bodies, that of the Prince and the lady were kept. Both bodies were half-burnt, as if they were dragged out of some kind of fire. I was surprised to see them like this, but my uncle did not show any surprise at all, but a little anger. He said - "I knew that my son was attached to this lady to whom he could never marry. I tried to divert him by showing many beautiful princesses but he did not agree with me and now he has ended his life like this." Saying this he broke into tears, I also wept with him. As he recovered, he drew me close to him and said - "Dear nephew, You have come to me in place of my son. I will try to forget that I ever had a son who could his end his life like this."
We came back to our palace. Shortly after we were surprised to hear many instruments being played. A thick cloud was coming fast towards us. It was an army which was coming towards us. I found that the army belonged to my own Vazeer who was now coming to take the kingdom of my uncle. The King was unprepared for this, resistance was useless, and the gates were opened. My uncle fought very bravely, but fell; I managed to escape, shaved my head and took refuge with an officer I trusted. I then shaved my beard and eyebrows and put on the clothes of a Qalandar and wandered around. It was easy now because nobody could recognize me in this guise.
Traveling, I came to the kingdom of Haroon-al Rasheed. Here I had no fear of my enemies. It was my intention to ask his protection in Bagadaad. It took me months to come here, and I was thinking about which way to go, when I met this other Qalandar who stopped to greet me - "You look like me, a stranger?" "Yes." = I said. And then a third Qalandar joined us. He was also a stranger to Bagadaad. Being similar in misfortune we decided to share whatever we might get.
By this time we were very late, we did not know where to go. Luckily we saw this door, took the liberty to knock the door and ask for shelter which was given to us immediately, for which we are grateful. This is my story." Zubaidaa said - "Strange, You may go whenever you like."
This Qalandar begged to stay until the other two Qalandar had told their story. This was granted.
Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 09/19/13