Jan 17, 2017 17:42 UTC

In this episode of the series Iranian stories and fables we conclude our discussion on the role of Shahrzaad, the heroine of the stories of one thousand and one nights.

Our program is followed by a new story called Sindbad chosen from the One Thousand and One Nights. Keep us company until the end.

We said that the One Thousand and One Nights is the story of a woman called Shahrzaad who gets married with the cruel king of a land. The king is an oppressor who after finding that his wife has been disloyal to him, marries a new girl each day and beheads the previous day's wife so that she would have no chance to be disloyal to him. He had killed 1,000 such women by the time he was introduced to Shahrzaad. However Shahrzaad volunteers to get married to such a man against her parents' wish. Indeed, through her marriage, Shahrzaad goes to war with ignorance and folly and her weapon is her intelligence. We told you that Shahrzaad survives by telling a story to the king each night and at the end of the one thousand and first night the king falls in love with her and makes her the queen of the land.

But how is it possible for the misogynist king to spare Shahrzaad's life? The fact of the matter is that such a cruel man finds out the gentility of Shahrzaad until the end of the one thousand and first night. The heroines of the story that is all the women who are murdered by the king from the very beginning till the end are not the same; they include different ones from the most roguish to the most pious one. And by telling stories, Shahrzaad changes the king’s mentality about women; as if Shahrzaad mesmerizes the king by her stories. In these stories, there are women who among them are scholars, musicians, writers, and more specially women who are loyal to their man. And gradually new images of women do appear in the mind of the king. He learns that beauty of face without the beauty of mind is nothing. And the king discovers the true love by Shahrzaad in the way the stories are told. Shahrzaad actually teaches the king the art of living.

As usual the second section is a story. Today I start a new story on Malek Sindbad chosen from One Thousand and One Nights.

In the land of Persia there was a king called Malek Sindbad. Malek Sindbad had a hawk which he loved so much. Malek Sindbad had ordered his servants to make a drinking bowl out of gold and hang it round the hawk's neck so that the bird could drink water whenever it was thirsty.

Once, Malek Sindbad went on hunting along with his servants. The king had taken his hawk with himself as always. While hunting, Malek Sindbad finally shot a gazelle. The king's entourage circled round the wounded gazelle which tore up the trap and wanted to run away.

At this moment Malek Sindbad shouted:

"Catch it! Don't let it go! If you let it go, I'll order your decapitation!"

The king hadn't finished his words yet when the gazelle rose up, looked directly into the king's eyes and ran away.

The king's servants looked at the vizier and stayed silent.

The vizier whispered in the king's ears:

"The gazelle ran away by your side. What can we do now?"

The king realized what the vizier meant so he immediately mounted his horse and cried out:

"I won't get back here until I take the gazelle."

The hawk resting on the king's shoulder spread his wings and flew away. It flew and flew until it found the gazelle. The hawk then gouged out the gazelle's eyes with its sharp beak. The gazelle got blind and couldn't move.

Malek Sindbad came by. He took the gazelle, cut its head and threw its carcass on the horse back. He then rested under the shade of a tree. While resting there, drops of water from above wetted his head. He became happy as he was thirsty. So he opened the golden bowl from around his hawk's neck and placed it beneath the water drops. The bowl was filled with water and as Malek Sindbad took the bowl close to his mouth to drink, the hawk flapped its wings many times and the bowl fell, making Malek Sindbad angry. This time the king took out his sword and injured the bird with it. Though the poor bird was immersed in blood, it flapped its wings for sever times until Malek Sindbad realized that a big poisonous snake was above his head. Yes! The poor bird was trying to make his master aware of a danger. Malek Sindbad said regrettably:

"Oh my kind bird! What have I done to you?!"

He then watched his dear hawk breathing its last.