Shishu Sansaar | Arabian Nights Stories-4

Arabian Nights Stories-4

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Story No 73-3-1/9

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73-3-1 - Three Qalandar and Five Women of Bagadaad (8 of 9)
The Story of the Eldest Woman: The Sisters Who were Changed to Dogs

The eldest woman said - "My story is very strange. These two black bitches are my eldest sisters by one mother and father; and these two others - she whose body is striped and the third one are my sisters by another mother. When my father died, each took her share of the heritage. After a while, my mother died leaving me and my sister 3,000 Deenaars, so each sister had 1,000 Deenaars. I was the youngest.

In due course, my sisters married and lived with their husbands who were merchants and traveled with them. My brothers-in-law were absent with their wives for five years, during which they spent all the money they had, became bankrupt, deserted my sisters in foreign lands. After five years my eldest sister returned to me in beggar's guise. First I could not recognize her, but later when I recognized her, I asked her what had happened. She told me everything. I sent her to bath, gave her my own clothes, fed her and gave a drink. I said to her - "Being the eldest one you are like my father. I am in good condition. I have made good money by spinning and cleaning silk, so you and I will share my wealth." I treated her with all kindness and she stayed with me for the whole year. We always thought about our other sister.

Shortly after, my second sister also came to me, in a sorrier condition. I treated her more honorably. Thus each of them had my share of wealth. After a while they said that they wanted to marry again. I said to them - "You have already seen some married days, and as you yourself have seen good men are not very common today. I do not reject your projects, but at the same time I do not approve also, because you have already seen that you have failed." But they wouldn't listen to my advice. They married without my consent, and I gave them dowry and clothes etc. from my money. Their husbands played with them, took whatever they could, and then left them. They came back again to me making excuse - "Pardon us for our folly. Although you are younger in age but are older in intelligence." So I took them in and treated them more kindly than before.

Thus one year passed. Then I decided to sell my things abroad and hired a conveyance for Basaraa. I loaded a large ship with merchandise and all things necessary for voyage and asked my sisters whether they would like to stay behind, or would they like to accompany me? They said - "We will go with you, because we cannot live without you." So I divided my money in two parts - one to take with me and the other one to be left in charge of a trustee person. If any accident happens, and we remain alive, we can come back safely and start our lives again.

So we set off our voyage. After a few days we came to know that we have missed our course. We had reached some other sea instead of our destination sea. For 10 days we went astray in the sea, but then we saw a city. We got happy and asked our Captain the name of the city, he said - "By Allaah, I don't know, because I have never been here. But since we have seen the land, we will try to sell your things here; and if we will not be able to any trade here, we will rest here for a couple of days, take provisions here and proceed further."

So we entered the city. The Captain went away and remained absent for a while. Then he came back and said to me - "Come and trade your things here." We landed there and saw men carrying sticks in their hands but as we went near them they became stone. Then we entered the city and found all people turned into black stones. There was no house which was inhabited. We were awestruck at the sight and went through the market streets where the goods, gold, silver were lying. We concluded that there was some mystery there. We dispersed and collected materials from there.

I went up to the castle and found the King seated among his people, but as I went near to him all became black stones. I became confounded at this. Then I walked in Harem and I saw the queen lying there in beautiful costly robes, but as I went in she also turned into black stone, although her clothes and ornaments were still in natural state. I went forward, a flight of seven steps, a room of marble and well furnished. Above there was a small room from which a light was coming in. I saw that it was coming from a pearl which was as big as an ostrich egg. I continued to explore the palace and appreciated it. 

The night fell. I thought to leave the place, but I forgot the way, so I returned to the small room and sat there on a couch and wrapped myself in a coverlet. I wanted to sleep but I could not sleep as I was feeling restless. When the midnight came, I heard a voice chanting Quraan in sweet accents. I rose and followed the voice and came to a closet. It was an oratory. Two candles were burning there. There was a copy of Quraan kept on its stand and he was reading from it. I was surprised to see him alone alive in this stone city.

I saluted him and asked him - "What do you read from Quraan?" He replied - "First you tell me, how did you come here? And then I will tell you what has befallen me and the people of this city, and what was the reason of escaping their doom." So I told him my story and asked his own. He said - "Just be patient." He closed the book, kept it in satin bag and made me sit by him. He was looking like a Moon. I became captivated. I asked him - "O My Love, Tell me what I asked you?" 

He replied - "This city was the capital of my father who was the King whom you saw on the throne turned into black tone by Allaah's wrath. The queen you saw was my mother. They and all the people of this city worshipped Fire. My father had me in his last days of life. He brought up me with great affection. There lived an old Muslim woman with us who worshipped Allaah. My father had full confidence in her. When I grew well, my father handed me over to her saying - "Take him, educate him and teach him the rules of our faith. Let him have the best instructions." So she taught me the tenets of Islam, often repeating "Serve none other than Allaah." When I had mastered this much knowledge, she asked me to hide it even from my father unless he slays me. After that woman died, I came here.

One day the people heard a voice of a crier very loud - "O folks, Leave worshipping Fire, and worship Allaah." The citizens got terrified hear this. They came to my father (the King) and reported it. My father answered - "Do not get frightened with any kind of voice, follow your faith." So they continued to worship Fire for the whole year, when the same day, next year, they heard the same cry again. And they heard it again and again the next year, and the next year... But they continued to worship Fire as before, until one day the wrath of Heavens descended upon them - they all turned into black stones. None was saved except myself who was engaged in my prayers. From that day to this day I am constantly busy in praying, fasting, and reading Quraan. But I feel very lonely because there is nobody to talk to me."

I asked him politely - "Will you come to the city of Baghdaad with me and see the wise people in divinity and understanding and theology? I will be your handmaid, the head of the family and mistress over men and servants. In fact my life was no life until I met you. I have a ship laden with merchandise. Destiny brought me here to meet you." He got ready to come with me, so as soon as the morning broke, we went to treasury, took whatever we could take and came to the city where we met our Captain. They asked me where I was and I told them the whole story.

But when my two sisters (these bitches) saw my young lover, they felt jealous with me and plotted mischief against me. We embarked the ship with joy because of the goods we got, but they were jealous of me especially as I got the young man. As we sailed, my sisters asked me - "What will you do of this young man?" I replied - "I will marry him." Then I said to him - "I wish to tell you that you should never cross me. When I reach Baghdaad we will marry." He said, "Fine, Whatever you say." Then I said to my sisters - "This is my gain, and whatever property of mine others wish to take, they can take." They had already planned mischief against me.

We saw Basaraa city far on the shore in the evening. When we had gone to sleep, my sisters lifted me up with my bed and threw me in the sea. They did this to the young prince also. He could not swim, so he drowned. When I awoke I found myself in the sea. I found a piece of timber which I held and landed on an island - a high land and uninhabited. I walked through the island throughout the night, and in the morning, I saw a very narrow path leading to mainland. I ate some fruits and came to the mainland.

When only two hours remained to reach the city, a very thick serpent came to me. A dragon was following her. He was about two lances large. He overtook her. She was weeping. I took pity on her. Taking the name of Allaah, I picked a stone and threw on the head of the dragon. He died instantly and the serpent opened her wings and flew in the sky and disappeared. I was very tired so I slept where I was, when I woke up I saw a black girl washing my feet and two bitches (my two sisters) standing by her side.

I was ashamed before her, so sitting up I asked her - "O my sister, Who are you?" She answered - "Have you forgotten me? I am the serpent for whom you did a good deed, you killed my enemy, the dragon. I am a Geneeyaa and he as a Genie. He hated me and none saved my life except you. As soon as you freed me, I flew to the ship where your sisters threw you in the sea. I moved everything to your house, sank the ship, and changed your sisters to these black bitches. I am sorry for the youth, I could not save him for he had drowned."

After saying this she flew with the bitches and me and set us down on the terrace of my house. I found all my things intact there. The serpent continued - "I swear, unless you deal to each of these bitches 300 stripes everyday, I will come and imprison you forever under the earth." And she flew away saying - "If you did not obey me, I will change you too to a bitch like your sisters." Since then I have never failed to beat them. It is not my fault."

Then the Caliph asked Zafaar to ask the second woman, the Portress, how did she get the marks of lashes on her body?

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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 07/13/14