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Story No 3-2/9

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3-2 Three Qalandar and Five Women of Bagadaad (2 of 5) :
Zubaidaa Performs Strange Things

After all this was over, Zubaidaa got up from her seat, held Ameenaa's hand and said - "I hope our friends will excuse us to fulfill our nightly tasks." Ameenaa understood her sister so she collected all the dishes, glasses, musical instruments to put them away. While Zaidee cleaned the place and put everything in order. Then she asked Qalandars to sit on a sofa, the merchants to sit on their opposite and the porter to come with her to help her and her sisters.

After a while, Ameenaa returned carrying a seat which she put in the middle. Then she went to a closet signaling the porter to follow her. They soon came back with two black dogs in chains. Zubaidaa got up from her seat and came to the porter where he was standing with two dogs. She said with a deep sigh, "We must do our duty." She pulled her sleeves up, took a whip from Zaidee and said to the porter - "Take one dog to Ameenaa and give the other one to me."

The porter did as he was told,  but as he was doing this the dog started howling pitifully. But Zubaidaa didn't care and beat him till she was tired. She then took the chain from the porter, raised the dog on his hind legs and both looked into each other's eyes sorrowfully that their eyes filled with tears. Zubaidaa took a handkerchief, wiped the dog's eyes tenderly, kissed him and gave him to the porter to take him back to the closet and bring the other dog to her. The porter did as he was told. Zubaidaa treated the second dog in the same way as she treated the first one.

The Caliph was unable to see all this, so he looked at his Vazeer with a questioning eye, but Vazeer signaled him to be silent and pretended not to see anything. Zaidee rose and asked Zubaidaa to sit down as she also had her part to play. Now Ameenaa took out a lute (a guitar type instrument) from a yellow satin cover and gave it to Zaidee who sang several songs. When she was tired she called to Ameenaa to take her place.

Ameenaa took the instrument and sang the song with so much intensity that she felt warm and tore her dress open to get some air. To the amazement of all, her neck was a mass of scars. The Qalandar and the Caliph saw each other and told something which was not heard by anybody, because both sisters were trying to bring their sister into her senses.

Caliph asked - "What does it mean?" The Qalandar said - "We know no more than you do." Caliph said - "What? Don't you belong to this house?" "No Sir, We came her just one hour before you." - said the Qalandar. Then they looked at the porter, but he was also as ignorant as they were. At last the Caliph could not control himself and declared that he would ask the women what was going on. But the Vazeer requested him to remember the condition and wait till morning so that he, as Caliph, could summon the women and explain everything to him. But the Caliph did not listen to his advice and wanted to ask the women. Zubaidaa suspected something and asked - "What is that that you are discussing so earnestly?"

The porter answered - "Madam, They want to ask you why did you beat the dogs in the first place, then why did you weep for them and why is this woman's neck full of scars? They have asked me to put this question before you." Zubaidaa asked them - "Is it true, gentlemen, that you asked this man to question me like this?" "Yes, it is." - Replied everyone except the Vazeer who was silent.

Zubaidaa angrily said - "Is this the return of my hospitality that I have shown to you? Have you forgotten the one condition on which you were allowed to enter the house? Come here." She clapped her hands three times and immediately seven black slaves, each armed with a sabre, appeared there and threw the seven men on the ground to cut their heads at their mistress' order. All thought that now their death was certain. The Caliph repented that why didn't he listen to his Vazeer's advice. All decided to die bravely, except the porter who asked Zubaidaa "Why should I suffer for all the others fault?" And declared that all this happened because of the Qalandar, because they always brought ill luck. He requested her not to mix the guilty with the innocent and to spare his life.

There was something in moans and groans of porter that in spite of her anger, Zubaidaa couldn't help herself from laughing. She stood him aside and asked others a second time - "Who are you? Tell me the truth, otherwise you have no time to live. I don't think you are of any good position, because if you had been you would have had consideration for us." In spite of knowing that his life was at the mercy of Zubaidaa, the Caliph took a sigh of relief. He thought that the woman wanted to know his name and rank and then all danger will be over. So he whispered in the ear of his Vazeer to tell her the truth, but the Vazeer was wiser than his master. He said - "We have gotten what we deserved."

In the meantime Zubaidaa turned to the Qalandar and asked them if they were brothers, since they were all blind in one eye. One of them replied, "No Madam, We are not brothers but we are brothers because of our similar way of living." Zubaidaa asked the another one - "And you, Are you born blind of one eye?" "No Madam, I became blind by an adventure which might have never happened to anybody. After that I shaved my head and eyebrows and put on this dress." Zubaidaa asked the same question with the other two Qalandar and got the same answer.

The third Qalandar added - "Madam, It might interest you that we are not of low birth, we all three are sons of kings and of such kings who are respected in the whole world." At this Zubaidaa's anger calmed down a bit and she asked her slaves to give them some liberty. She said - "Those who will tell us their history and reason to come here will be allowed to leave unhurt and those who will not..." The porter understood that he had to tell his story himself to save himself. So he said - "Madam, You already know how I came here and rest I will tell you. Your sister found me at the place where porters wait to be hired. She took me to various shops and in the end we landed here. I remained here because of your goodness, that is my story."

Zubaidaa said - "You can go, and take care that we never meet again." The porter said - "Please permit me to stay here a little while more as all others have heard my story but I have not heard theirs, I wish to hear their story also." And without waiting for the answer he sat down on the end of the sofa on which the women were sitting.

Then one of the other two Qalanadar started telling his story...

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