Iranian Stories and Fables (143)
Welcome to another episode of Iranian stories and fables. Just like the previous programs because of the importance and the global status of the one thousand and one nights stories we are discussing this precious collection. And for today we follow our program by telling the new story of the Liar Servant.
If you remember we said that the most important theme in the stories of One Thousand and One Nights is the issue of wonder. We also said that though the circumstances change during the course of time, the characters of the stories have stable traits. People in the stories of the one thousand and one nights remain the same from the beginning to the end of the story. As you might recall we told you the story of a caliph called Haroun al- Rashid as an exceptional one who is after change. This character makes the characters around him wakeful and is not the only character who does this task in the stories of the one thousand and one nights.
It should be mentioned here that the style of the stories of One Thousand and One Nights is Islamic. Some of the stories of this collection resemble wonders and are just in the style of Muslim mystics.
In one of the stories we read about a black man whom everyone humiliates, but God listens to his prayer and makes his wish come true. Once in the time of drought he asks for rain and God sends rain and saves a caravan from thirst. Then he becomes well known and people flock toward him to revere him. Then he appeals to God to hasten his death as soon as his life in this world is meaningless. And he passes away. This is a kind of death that is common between mystics and followers of Sufi order.
Dear listeners, now it is time to continue the program with the rest of the story of the Liar Servant. We hope you’ll enjoy the program.
We said that once upon a time the caliph Haroun al- Rashid ordered his vizier Ja’far Barmaki to change their clothes and go around the city to get informed of what the people were doing.
So the caliph, his vizier and the caliph’s swordsman called Masroor set off.
They went on and on until they reached an alley where they found an old man who was carrying a basket on his head. He had a staff in his hand but was too weak to walk properly. So the caliph approached him and asked him if he needed help.
The old man said he was poor and hadn’t caught any fish since early in the morning and that had made him tired. So the caliph promised the old man to buy whatever he would catch for one hundred dinars. The old man accepted happily and as he brought up his net he found a heavy box which the caliph bought for one hundred dinars. The old man went home happily and the caliph and his officials went back to the palace with the box which they were unaware of the content. Arriving at the palace, they opened the box and saw the corpse of a girl immersed in blood. As the caliph saw the corpse he promised to find the murderer of the girl and punish him very severely. So he ordered his vizier to find the murderer and gave him three days to do the job. However the vizier couldn’t find the murderer and the caliph got angry and ordered his officials to hang Ja’far and his family at the entrance of the city. And now the rest of the story.
The day arrived when J’afar was going to be punished in public. J’afar and his family were taken to the gate of the city and people had come to watch the capital punishment; while they didn’t know the reason. As the hangman was waiting for the caliph’s order a young handsome man suddenly went to the vizier and said:
“Your Excellency, o vizier of our city! I am the one who has killed the girl you found in the box.”
As Ja’far heard this he got happy but he was very upset the young man would be punished. Then an old man among the crowd came to the vizier, saying,
“No! Don’t believe this young man’s words! I have killed the girl!”
Then he told the vizier:
“My son, I take the responsibility of killing the girl! You are young and haven’t lived a long life, but I am old and lived my life to the full. Let me accept the responsibility.”
So Ja’far along with the two men went to the palace.
Inside the palace Ja’far told the caliph that these two men claimed to be the murderers of the girl.
Then the caliph asked:
“Which of you has killed the girl?”
The young man volunteered to say:
And then the old man said:
“No I killed the girl.”
So the caliph said:
“Hang both of them!”
But the vizier suggested since only one person has killed the girl, it would be unfair to hang two persons.
In reaction to the vizier’s words, the young man said:
“I swear to the creator of the earth and heavens that I have killed the girl.”
He then gave some proofs and evidence that he had killed the girl. So the caliph asked him,
“Why have you done this? Why are you confessing without being tortured?”
The young man replied,
“Oh caliph, this girl was my wife and my cousin. And this old man was her father. I married with her and she gave birth to three boys. She loved me so much, but early this month she fell ill and I brought a doctor which treated her well. But when she wanted to take a bath she told me: “I want an apple to smell and eat.” So I looked for an apple all over the city but I didn’t find any. That night I couldn’t sleep out of sadness and the day after I searched again but in vain. At last I found a gardener who told me what I was looking for could be found in Basra in the garden of the caliph. So I went there as I loved my wife so much. And after finding the apple, I bought three ones for three dinars and came back happily. But my wife was not happy at seeing the apples and became sick again. After she got better I went to my shop to continue my business. Suddenly I saw a slave who was playing with an apple in his hand. I told him, “How did you get the apple.” He said, “I took it from a woman who loves me and hates her husband. I haven’t seen her for days. Today I went to her and found out that she was ill and I found three apples in her house. She told me that her husband had bought the apples for her from Basra and I took one.”
The young man then continued:
“And as I heard this I felt dizzy and fainted.”