Shishu Sansaar | Arabian Nights Stories-4
|Arabian Nights Stories-4|
|Story No 74-1/7|
74-1 - The Three Apples (1 of 7)
It is said that the Caliph Haaroon al-Rasheed could not sleep one night, so he called his Vazeer Zaafar and said to him - "I wish to go to common folks and talk to them related to our administration, if they had any complains about us. So the Caliph went to the town with his Vazeer Zaafar and eunuch Masaroor. They were passing through a very narrow street that they saw a very poor man carrying a fishing net and a very small fish on his head. He was singing. The way he was singing, the Caliph felt that he was very poor. So he went to him and asked - "O Sheikh, What is your profession?" He said - "O Lord, I am a fisherman with a family to keep. I have been trying to catch a fish since mid-day but till now I could not catch enough that I can feed my family. I hate my life and want to die." The Caliph asked - "Will you come with me to Tigris River and cast your net on my luck and whatever you will catch, I will buy it for 100 gold pieces?"
The man agreed and returned with them to Tigris River. He cast his net and pulled a chest with a lock. The chest was heavy, so the Caliph gave the fisherman 200 Deenaars and sent him about his business. Masaroor took the chest to the palace, set it down, lighted the candles, and broke the chest open. He found a basket of palm leaves corded with red rope. They cut it open and saw a piece of carpet within it. They lifted out the carpet and under it was a woman's shawl folded in four. They lifted that shawl also, and found a young lady's body cut into 19 pieces.
As the Caliph looked at it, he cried, "Oh." And tears started flowing from his eyes. He said to Zaafar - "People are murdered in our reign and thrown in river to become a burden on the Day of Doom. By Allaah, We should take the avenge of this lady's death and kill him by worst of deaths. If you do not bring us the person who slew her, I will hang you at the gate of my palace with your 40 kith and kin." Zaafar said - "Give me three days, Sir." "OK."
Zaafar went to his house and thought, "How am I going to find her killer? If I bring any other person than the murderer, that is not good. I don't know what to do." The Caliph waited in his palace for Zaafar for three days, then on the 4th day, he called him to the palace and asked him, "Where is the murderer?" He replied - "Am I the inspector of the murdered folk that I should know who killed her?" The Caliph was furious at his answer and asked his people to hang him at the door of his palace and made a cry in the city that whoever want to see the hanging Zaafar with 40 of his kin before the palace gate, should come and see him.
People gathered there from all directions to see the hanging of Zaafar and his 40 kin, not knowing the cause. The Caliph's people set up the stakes and made Zaafar and the others stand ready to be executed. While every eye was looking at the Caliph's signal, and the crowd wept for Zaafar and his cousins; a young man pushed his way through the crowd and came directly to Vazeer - "You should be saved, I have killed that woman, so hang me for her and do justice for me."
Zaafar got very happy at his release, but in the meantime another man who was very old came forward and said - "Do not believe this youth, I have killed her." The youth said - "He is an old man who has said whatsoever, but I am the man who has murdered her." The old man said - "You are young, I am an old man, I offer my life as a ransom for Vazeer, his relations and you. No one murdered her except me, so make haste and hang me."
The Vazeer took both of them to the Caliph and said - "Here are the murderers of the woman." "Where is he?" "This young man says, "I am the murderer", and this old man says, "I am the murderer." The Caliph asked them - "Which of you murdered the young woman?" Both said, "I." The Caliph said - "Take both of them and hang both of them." Zaafar said - "Since one of them is the murderer, to hang the other one will be injustice to him."
The youth cried, "I am the murderer." And he started describing how he murdered the woman. The Caliph got assured that the young man had killed the woman. He asked him - "But what was the cause of murdering her and why did you confess your crime?" He said - "The woman was my first cousin, the daughter of my paternal uncle, my wife and the mother of my children. This old man is my father's own brother. When I married her she was a maiden, then we had three male children. She loved me, and served me well and I saw no evil in her.
On the first day of this month, she fell ill grievously. I showed her to a physician, but her recovery was very slow. When I asked her to take bath, she said to me, "I wish to tell you something before I go there." "OK." "I long for an apple, to smell it, and bite a bit of it." I said - "Even if you have a thousand longings, I will fulfill them." I went to the city and tried everywhere but I could not find any. I came back home and said to her, "I am sorry, I could not find any." She had got very weak and her weakness increased that night. I felt anxious and got alarmed at this. Next morning, I went again to the city but found no apple there.
At last I met an old gardener, so I asked him also about the apple. He told me that it could be found only in the Caliph's garden where his gardener kept it for the Caliph. I loved my wife very much, so I decided to undertake the journey to the Caliph's gardens. I set out for a travel for 15 days and nights, to and fro. I brought three apples for three Deenars. But when I gave them to my wife, she took no interest in them and kept them aside, because her weakness and fever had increased. She started getting better after 10 days.
So I left my house for my shop and sat there for selling and buying. About mid-day time an ugly black slave passed by my shop playing with one of the three apples in his hands. I got very surprised to see that, so I asked him - "Oh, Where have you got that apple? I may also like to get it." He laughed and answered - "I got it from my mistress, for I had been absent and when I came back, I found her ill with three apples by her side. She said to me - "My husband went to Basaraa and bought them for three Deenaars." So I ate and drank with her and took this one from her." I was severely out of my mind, I locked my shop and went home.
I looked for the apples, but found only two apples there. I asked my wife - "Where is the third apple?" She said laughingly - "I don't know where is it gone." This convinced me that that slave had taken the apple. I brought a knife and cut her throat. Then I cut her into pieces and wrapping her in her shawl and a rag of carpet, hurriedly sew up the hole, set it in a chest, locked it tight, loaded it on my mule and threw it in Tigris. Thus I killed her, you should hang me soon.
When I went home, I found my eldest son crying. He did not know what I had done to his mother. I asked him - "Why do you weep?" He said - "I took one of the apples which lay by mummy, and went down to play with my friends, that a big black man came and snatched that apple from my hand and asked me - "How do you get it?" I said - "My father went far for it and brought from Basaraa for my mother who is ill and two other apples for all of which he paid three Deenaars." I asked him to give me back that apple two-three times but he kicked me off and went with it." I was afraid, lest my mother scolds me because of that, so I went outside the city with my brother and stayed there till evening. Then I came home, please, don't say anything to her. It may make her more ill."
As I heard this, I wept bitterly for killing my wife wrongfully. Presently this my paternal uncle came and her father came in and I told them what had happened, so we continued to weep till midnight. We have been mourning for her for these five days. This happened only because of that black slave, and this is how I killed her. Now please, make haste to kill me and do justice to her."
The Caliph said - "By Allaah, This young man is excusable and I will punish that black slave, and I will sooth the suffering people. O Zaafar, Bring that slave to me, and if you will not bring him in three days, you will be slain in his place." Zaafar again wept and said - "Two deaths have already been set on me, now this one will surely take me away. Only Allaah can save me. I am not going out of my house for all these three days." So he remained in his house for three days and 4th day he called a few Qaazee, made his last will and took leave of his children weeping.
Presently a messenger from the Caliph came to Zaafar and said - "The Caliph is asking for you." Hearing this Zaafar wept and weeping he took leave from his children, except his youngest daughter. In the end he proceeded to take leave from her, because he loved her very much. He embraced her, kissed her, and wept bitterly. When he embraced her, he felt something round in her breast pocket. He asked her - "What is it in your breast pocket?" "Father, It is an apple with the name of our Caliph written on it." Rehaan, our servant brought it for me four days ago and would not let me have it till I gave him two Deenaars."
When Zaafar heard about the slave and the apple, he was so glad that he took out the apple from his daughter's pocket, called his slave and said - "Rehaan, When did you have this apple?" Rehaan said - "By Allaah, I did not steal this apple from your palace nor from the garden of the Prince. Five days ago, I was walking in the streets of the city that I saw some little children playing, and one of them had this apple in his hand, so I snatched it from his hand and beat him. He cried - "This is my mother's apple, she is very ill. My father has brought three apples from Basaraa or three gold coins; but I did not pay any attention to him and carried the apple with me. My lady had bought it of me for two Deenaars. This is it."
When Zaafar heard the story, he understood that that the murder of the woman has been caused by his slave. He grieved for the relationship of the slave to himself, but still he took him to the Caliph and related the story from the beginning till the end. The Caliph laughed till he fell on his back. He asked this story to be recorded. But Zaafar said - "Don't be so surprised at this story, for it is not more wondrous than the story Vazeer Noor al-Deen of Egypt and his brother Shams al-Deen Muhammad." "Then tell me that story." "I can tell you only one condition." "What?" "That you will free my slave." The Caliph said - "If that story will be more wondrous then I will free him, otherwise I will surely slay your slave."
Then Zaafar began his story---
Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 07/13/14