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Arabian Nights Stories-1

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Story No 3-1/9

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3-1 Three Qalandar and Five Women of Bagadaad (1 of 5) :

During the reign of Haroon-al Rasheed, there lived a porter at Bagadaad. He was very humble and intelligent man. One day he was sitting at his place with his basket to be hired, when a tall young lady whose face was hidden behind veil, came there and asked him to follow her. The porter got very happy to get a customer, he picked up his basket and followed her saying to her "Good Morning." The woman stopped before a closed door which when she knocked, an old man came out of the house. The woman gave him some money and the old man went inside the house and brought a large jar of wine. He kept that jar in the basket of the porter and both the porter and the woman set out again.

Next she stopped at a fruit and flower shop. There she bought a large quantity of fruits and flowers, then she proceeded to stop at a butcher's shop, then a grocer's shop and then a poultry shop. The porter could not carry so much in his basket, so he said to her - "Madam, If you had told me before, that you would buy so much, I could have brought a cart or a horse with me." The woman smiled and said - "I have not finished yet." Then she bought various kinds of scents and spices and came to a palace and knocked the door.

The woman who opened the door was quite a beauty and the porter could make out that she was not a slave. She spoke to the woman with the porter - "Why don't you come in, my sister? This poor man is so heavily laden that he is about to fall." So all three went inside, passed through a court, to a platform where stood a throne of amber supported by four ebony columns. In the middle of the court was a marble basin in which water was coming from a golden lion's mouth.

All was beautiful, but the porter was especially attracted to a third woman who was sitting on the throne. She was more beautiful than the other two. She was the eldest. This woman's name was Zubaidaa, the second one was Ameenaa, and the third one who had hired him was Zaidee. At the order of Zubaidaa, Ameenaa and Zaidee took the basket from the porter and paid him handsomely. But the porter didn't go away even after taking his money, so Zubaidaa asked him what was it he was waiting for? Did he want more money? The porter said - "Oh Madam, You have already given me lots of money, but I am so surprised to see the three beautiful women living here by themselves. A company of women without men is as dull as the company of men without women." The he told them some stories and persuaded them to ask him to let him stay for dinner with them.

The women were amused at the man's stories and thus he was allowed to stay. Zubaidaa said - "But listen, If we are allowing you to stay here, it is on the condition that you will behave properly with utmost politeness, and you will keep our way of living as secret, which by chance you have seen." Then they sat down at the table for dinner to eat those dishes which were brought in by Ameenaa.

Ameenaa poured some wine in a cup, she first drank some herself according to Arab custom, then filled it for her sisters. When the porter's turn came to drink, he kissed Ameenaa's hand and sang a song composed in the praise of wine. All women were happy and the dinner lasted longer than the usual time. When the Sun was about to set, Zaidee said to the porter - "Now you may go. It is time for you to go." The porter said - "Madam, How can you ask me to go in this situation - when I have drunk wine and seen you, I can never find my house. Let me be here till morning, when I will be in my senses, then I will go." Ameenaa said - "Let him stay in return of the amusement he has give to us." Zubaidaa said - "If you wish my sister. But if you are staying here, I have to put one more condition - don't ask any question about what you see; if you ask you might have to hear what you don't like."

Then Ameenaa brought supper and lit the hall with many candle lights. They all sat at the table to eat, drink and enjoy. As they were eating they heard a knock on the door. Zaidee rose to open the door. She soon came back reporting that three Qalandar, all blind with right eye, all clean shaven head, face and eyebrows, begged for admittance; as they  had newly arrived in Bagadaad and the night had already fallen." She further said - "They look pleasant but you can never tell, their presence may look odd."

Zubaidaa and Ameenaa didn't want to let them in, and Zaidee knew the reason, but she pleaded their case so strongly that Zubaidaa asked her to let them in with the condition that what doesn't concern them is none of their business; and be sure that they should see the note written on the door - "Whoever interrupts which is no business of his, will have to hear the truth that will not please him." Thus those Qalandar were admitted, they thanked the women for their courtesy. One Qalandar saw the porter whose dress was very unlike to their own. He said - "He is certainly one of our Arab brothers who has rebelled against our ruler." The porter, half drunk-half awake scolded him - "Mind your own business, didn't you read the note written on the door?" "I am sorry." -  said the Qalandar. The matter was smoothed out and the supper began in good mood. When the Qalandar had finished their food, they expressed their desire to play for their hostess any instrument that was in the house. Zaidee brought two instruments - some flutes and a tambourine. Each Qalandar took an instrument and started playing and the women sang songs.

In the midst of this entertainment, a knock was heard on the door. That evening the Caliph had left his palace with his Vazeer Jyaafar and Masaroor, the chief of the eunuchs, wearing merchant's dresses. They were passing  by this house and when they heard the sound of music and laughter, the Caliph wished to go to this house. The Vazeer said - "Some ladies might be enjoying themselves and it does not look good for you to go like this amongst them." But the Caliph insisted on going. Zaidee opened the door carrying a taper in the hand. The Vazeer got surprised to see her beauty, he bowed to her and said - "We are three merchants coming from Moosool. We got late in reaching our inn and its doors were closed. We were just wandering around for shelter when we heard music and saw lights on in this house, so we came this side.  Could you give us shelter till tomorrow morning? If you will allow us, we will also help you in spending your time happily."

Zaidee told them that she should first ask her sisters, if they would allow them to stay here. She went inside and soon came back to let them in to spend their night there. Zubaidaa said to them - "You may see with as many eyes as you can, but no tongues, so ask no questions about anything you see, however strange you may find it." The Vazeer agreed and then all drank to welcome the newcomers.

While the Vazeer was talking to women, the Caliph was thinking "Who they could be and why these three Qalandar lost their right eye only?" He wanted to ask this but could not because of Zubaidaa's condition, so he also started talking. After a while Qalandar danced some curious dances which entertained everybody.

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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 09/19/13