Iranian stories and fables (133)
In this episode we continue the rest of the story of the Bogus Caliph (Khalife-ye Qollabi in Persian) chosen from the One Thousand and One Nights.
We said that special names belonging to the characters of the story play special roles in the process of the story. Though this feature is about the long stories of the One Thousand and One Nights and has nothing to do with short stories of this collection. Special names in the stories of the One Thousand and One Nights are for religious and historical characters. There is sometimes a similarity between the names of the characters. For example, in the One Thousand and One Nights stories we have two names of Shahrzaad and Shariyar which have the word Shahr (meaning City) in common. Shahriyar in Persian means the king of city or the one who guards the city. The similarity between these two names indicates that there would be a close bond between these two characters. These similarities are also seen between the names of sisters and brothers. For example in a story we come across two names: Shaddad and Shadid, one of whom dies in the beginning of the story and the other one is survived. Researchers believe that these bonds showed the historical reality of the close bond between Muslims and Arabs.
Researchers believe that the similarity between the name of the male and female character heralds a deep love between them so that the reader thinks that the couple have been for each other from the very beginning. The story of Aziz and Azizeh is of this type. In the beginning, Aziz doesn't care about the love of his cousin Azizeh for him, but at the end he regrets his behavior. The story of Qamar-o-Zaman is the same. Two brothers named Assad and Amjad are the heroes with similar adventures and the same destiny.
Here we wrap up our discussion and skip to the next part of our program: the story of the Bogus Caliph. We hope you'll enjoy it.
We said that once upon a time there was a caliph called Haroun al-Rashid who set out from his palace, along with his vizier Jafar al-Barmaki and a swordsman, in order to see what was happening in the city under his rule. They all took off their royal costumes and dressed like ordinary citizens, in order to stay incognito. They went on and on until they reached a river bank where they spotted a ship. The people said it belonged to the caliph. This shocked the real caliph and his companions. Therefore, they decided to come back to the river the same night to see whom the ship belonged to. But the following night when the trio sailed to the river along with the boatman, the soldiers of the bogus caliph arrested them, but since the trio introduced themselves as traders, they let them into the palace and the bogus caliph served them with different foods and drinks. While they were in the palace they were witness to the fact that the bogus caliph for several times tore up his royal clothes as he heard musicians playing and wore new clothes and when Haroun al-Rashid asked him why he did so, he answered that it was from the property he had gained through his efforts.
And now the rest of the story.
Finding that the bogus caliph may have been hurt by the questions the trio asked him, Ja'far Barmaki told the bogus caliph:
"Your Majesty you have the right to do whatever you wish."
The bogus caliph liked Ja'far's words and granted him a thousand coins.
Haroun al-Rashid, who was surprised by the bogus caliph's actions, came closer to Ja'far and whispered in his ear:
"Tonight we have to realize what this man’s job is and why this man does such things. Ask him about the scars of lash on his back."
Then Ja'far said:
"Your Majesty, don't hurry. We may spoil everything! If we wait we will realize about everything little by little."
Then Haroun al-Rashid said:
"I swear if you don't ask him, I'll order my soldiers to cut off your head!"
The bogus caliph realized their whisper and asked:
"What are you talking about? Is there anything that should be kept secret from us?'
Ja'far cut his words immediately:
"Again we are praising you. There is nothing secret about you."
Then the bogus caliph said:
"Tell me the truth."
Then Ja'far said:
"Your Majesty, if you do not take it as impolite, the time you were changing your clothes behind the curtain we spotted scars of lash on your back and we are keen to know why you had such scars on your body."
The bogus caliph laughed and said:
"Ha ha ha ha, if you had asked me sooner, I would have told you. It has a long story. So listen to me."
Ja'far then said:
"We are all ears."
So the young man started telling his story:
"Now that the story came to this point, let me tell you that I recognized you from the very beginning. I know that you are the commander of Muslim lands. I know that your vizier is Ja'far Barmaki and that man accompanying you is Masroor, your swordsman. That is why I served you with royal foods and drinks. And the reason why I didn't tell you that I know you well was because I thought you may not like it. Now that you want to know my account, I am telling you the story. But before I tell you my story I warn you that my life is brimmed over with ups and downs which may hurt you."
Then Haroun al-Rashid said:
"Tell us your story young man."
Until next program and the rest of the story, goodbye.