Yeki boo, yeki nabood

Once, there was a wandering dervish of great piety and faith who was starving and lost in the desert. As he was walking along an old pathway in search of something to eat, he found an empty fruit sack that had been thrown by the road by a previous passer-by. The dervish picked up the sack and swung it over his shoulder while praying loudly, “Thank God for giving a starving man an empty sack of fruit,” as he continued to walk.

After he walked some more, he came across on old hunting bow whose string was broken. He picked up the bow and put it in his sack, and prayed out loud, “Thank God for giving a starving man a hunting bow with a broken string.”

A bit further down the road, he saw an old tree that was dead and bore no fruit. He broke a few dry branches off of the old tree and put them in his sack, and again said loudly, “Thank God for leading a starving man to a dead fruit tree,” and then he continued his way.

He walked some more and found a dented old cooking pot. He picked up the old pot off the ground, blew the dust off of it and put it in his sack too. He again loudly prayed, “Thank god for giving a starving man a dented old pot full of dust.”

As he continued walking, he found on the ground a fishing hook but no fishing pole. He picked up the fishing hook, put it in his sack and again declared loudly, “Thank God for giving a starving man a fishing hook with no fishing pole.”

Finally, after days of walking, his path ended in at a river that was so large he couldn’t see the other side. The old dervish fell to his knees at the river bank and prayed loudly, “Thank God for leading a starving man to a river so great that he cannot hope to cross it.”

Then, he tied the fishing hook to the broken string on the hunting bow, and using it as a fishing pole, he caught himself a fish that he cooked in the old pot over a fire he had made from the dried tree branches.

Yeki bood, yeki nabood

Far away from here there was once a lovely tree-covered valley, surrounded by high mountains. A mighty river ran through this valley, watering all the variety of trees and other plants that grew there. Many animals made this valley their home — rabbits, birds, squirrels,  and deer. They all lived happily in the valley, because there were no wolves or lions there to eat them.

But one day, a wolf climbed down the mountains and entered the valley. No sooner had he arrived than he started to chase after the helpless animals, and ate them one by one. Only on rare occasions would one of the animals manage to run away unscathed, but all the animals were worried that next, it would be their turn.

In their worry, the animals turned to the old owl, and asked him to find a way to rid the valley of the wolf. The owl replied that there was no way to fight the  wolf, whose fangs and paws were more powerful than any other animal in the valley, and so they must learn to live with the wolf, the old owl counseled.

The animals protested that they could live in constant fear of being eaten, and so they hatched a desperate plan: it was agreed everyday, one of the animals would be selected by the others, who would go to the wolf and be eaten. That way, the rest of the animals would rest peacefully, knowing that the wolf had eaten that day and would not be chasing them. 

Naturally the wolf, who was tired of chasing the animals and relished the idea of his food coming to him by itself, agreed to this plan without hesitation.

And so the following day, the animals gathered together in the early morning and decided that the the little rabbit, who was the smallest and weakest resident of the valley, was to be fed to the wolf.

The rabbit was scared and first tried to run away, but soon realized that he had nowhere to go. He then considered fighting the wolf, but soon realized that the wolf was far too powerful for him.  So he meekly trudged to the wolf’s lair, and once there, cried out “Oh wolf! Oh wolf! Come out of your lair, for I am to be your supper today.”

The wolf immediately came out of its lair, and sniffed the rabbit hungrily. “Why, what a delicious little morel you will make!” said the wolf, “I can’t believe my luck in finding this valley where the animals sacrifice themselves to me so willingly!”

“It is true, I was brought here by my own four little feet,” the rabbit sighed, “for I know that I cannot escape my fate, and such a mighty wolf as you, even though you’re not the scariest or most powerful wolf in the valley.”

At this, the vain wolf was dumbfounded. “Wha..? What do you mean, I’m not the scariest or most powerful wolf in this valley? I am the only wolf here, and there are no other wolves in this valley!” cried the wolf, indignantly.

“Oh, you don’t know about the other wolf,” said the rabbit. “No matter, you should go ahead and eat me now, for even if I escape your clutches, no animal could ever hope to escape the other, scarier and more powerful, wolf.” The rabbit then tried to climb into the wolf’s mouth.

The wolf bristled at the rabbit’s words, shook him out of his mouth and said, “Take me to this other wolf, and I will spare you for today, my delicious little morsel. Show me were this other wolf who thinks he’s better than me lives.”

The rabbit let out a little sigh and said, “Oh what difference does it make to me, for in the end I will be eaten by a wolf, whether it is you or the other wolf, with the bigger teeth and stronger legs. Follow me  then.”

“Humph!” said the wolf, “We shall see who is bigger and stronger. Lead on!”

So the wolf followed the rabbit as they walked a ways, until they reached an old abandoned well.

“There,” pointed the rabbit, “There is the lair of the other wolf, who is stronger and meaner than you. All you have to do is look down into the well, an I am sure you will see him in there, resting from his last feast.”

At this, the wolf jumped up onto the well wall, and peered down into the darkness.

“I don’t see anything, it is too dark!” said the wolf.

“You have to look more closely, for I am sure he’s in there. Put your whole head down into the well, and you will see him looking back at you,” replied the rabbit.

So the wolf bent over, and stuck his head into the well. After a few moments, when his eyes had a chance to adjust to the darkness, the wolf saw his own reflection in the water at the bottom of the well, as if it was another wolf looking back at him.

“Aha! Now I see you, you coward!” the wolf yelled into the well. No sooner had he done this, than his own voice echoed back from the bottom of the well.

“Did you just call me a coward? How dare you! Come here, and we’ll see who is the nastier wolf!” yelled the wolf. But again, his own voice echoed back to him from the well.

The rabbit, who had witnessed the wolf arguing with himself in the well, told the wolf, “I don’t think he’s coming out here. Naturally, the bigger and scarier wolf will have to chase after the smaller, less-scary one.”

The wolf heard the rabbit and without hesitation, jumped into the well, chasing after his own reflect in the water. But since the wolf did not know how to swim, he never came out of the old well, and the valley was rid of the evil old wolf — thanks to a small, weak rabbit.

Late one night, an old fortuneteller was returning home from the bazaar.

It was getting dark, so the fortuneteller decided to take a short-cut though the woods, to get home faster.

Along the way, she encountered a hungry wolf.

 The wolf was about to eat her when she cried out, “Oh wolf! Spare me and I will tell you your future!”

The wolf agreed, and the fortunteller held the wolf’s ear as she concentrated.

 After a few minutes of deep thought, the fortuneteller told the wolf, “You will become a shepard.”

The wolf instantly sat down and started crying, much to the surprise of the fortuneteller.

“Why are you crying,” asked the fortuneteller.

“I’m afraid you might be lying,” replied the wolf.

Yeki bood, yeki nabood

There once was a fox who lived near a garden. Many a day, he would slink through a hole in the garden wall, and eat his fill of the delicious fruit that grew there. Juicy persimmons, tasty peaches, and delectable tangerines, he would eat them all, before trying to catch a chicken or two.

So went the days for the fox, until one morning the gardener caught sight of him, and chased him around the garden with a broomstick. The fox tried to jump through the hole in the wall, but discovered too late that the gardener had patched the hole with fresh mud plaster, so he could not escape.fox

Seeing the gardener approaching while waving a big stick, and knowing that he had no way of escape, the fox decided to simply play dead. He dropped to the ground, rolled over onto his back, and shut his eyes tight.

When the gardener reached the fox, he saw him just lying on the ground as if dead. The gardener poked at the fox a few times with his stick, but the fox would not move. Assuming that the fox had died of fright, the gardener picked him up and tossed him out of the garden.

Days passed, and the fox was not able to find another way back into the garden. With each day, he grew hungrier and hungier, so he hatched another plan. He decided to visit a lion he knew that lived in a nearby forest, in the hopes of eating some leftover scraps from the lion’s table. He walked and walked until he reached the lion’s den in a cave near the forest.

The fox sat near the entrance of the den and yelled out, “Hello lion! It is the fox here to pay you a visit, my old friend!”

“Hello fox, what brings you here and how have you been?”, the lion roared as he came out of his den to greet the fox.

“I decided to walk all the way over here just to visit you. After all, what are friends for, if they can’t visit their friends once in a while,” said the fox, “but don’t ask me how I am doing, for I carry many burdens and much sadness today.”

“Why, fox, what has happened?” asked the lion, only slightly concerned.

“The truth is that I haven’t eaten in days, and my belly is empty because I was not able to find any food on the way over here”, replied the fox. “Do you have anything to eat, for I have traveled a great distance to see you, and I am very hungry!”

“I am ashamed to say that I have no food for you, fox, for though I recently caught a fat boar, I’m afraid I ate him all up and have nothing left to share with you,” said the lion. “However, if you can wait a bit longer, I’ll see what I can hunt in the forest tomorrow.”

The fox, who was too hungry to wait another day, thanked the lion and said, “My dear lion, I don’t wish to cause you any trouble. I happen to know of a stupid and dull camel that works in a grain mill nearby. Perhaps I can trick him into coming here, so we can both eat well!”

The lion agreed with the fox’s plan, and said that he would lay in wait for the camel to approach.

All the fox had to do now was to go see the camel and somehow convince him to come near the lion’s den. So the fox went to a neighboring village, where indeed a camel worked at a grain mill. The camel spent days going around and around in circles, moving the millstone which was used to grind wheat and oat into flour.

As he worked, the camel saw the fox approaching and said, “Hello fox, what brings you here?”

“Hello camel! I am happy to see you,” said the fox, cheerfully. “I have come a long way just to visit you, old friend, for what are friends for if they don’t visit eachother once in a while?”

The camel thanked the fox for coming, and asked, “How have you been?”

“I have never been happier, camel, for I am on my way to a secret land I recently discovered, where the grass is always green, where is plenty to eat, and there’s no need to work.” Then, feigning concern, the fox lowered his voice and asked, “Tell me camel, why do you spend your days going around in circles? Is this how you plan on wasting away your life away?”

The camel thought for moment, and replied, “I have to work to earn my keep. I turn this millstone every day from dawn ’til dusk, and in the evenings, the miller gives me some food and a safe place to sleep. True, this is hard work, but I am content.”

The fox pretended to go into deep thought as he absentmindedly flicked and fluffed his tail for a while, and then he excitedly said, “But I have an idea! Why don’t you come with me to my secret land? I can use the company, and there you will never have to grind a millstone ever again, my dearest friend!” 

The camel stood still and thought this over for a while, and then agreed to accompany the fox. The fox chewed through the camel’s yole, and freed him from the millstone. Then he said to the camel, “My dear friend, as you know I have been walking for a long time to reach this place . Do you mind if I ride your back as I guide you to my secret land?”

The camel agreed to this, being an agreeable sort of camel, and the fox jumped onto the camel’s back as the two headed towards the forest. All the while the fox whispered many lies about the secret land that he had supposedly discovered into the camel’s ear, hoping to keep the camel distracted.

The camel walked and walked until they approached the lion’s den. At that moment, the camel caught sight of the lion hiding in the bushes, and discovered the trap that was laid for him. “Oh, how can I go to my doom with my own four feet!” the camel reproached himself. “I must find a way out of this trap before it is too late!” So he immediately turned around and started walking back to the mill.

The confused fox asked, “Why have you turned back now, camel?”

“Oh, my goodness! I have forgotten something very important, and I must fetch it immediately, for I cannot go anywhere without it!” cried the camel.

Frustrated, the fox yelled, “What! What have you forgotten which is so important?!”

“A book of advice that my father left me. I must sleep with it under my pillow every night, or else I have bad dreams,” the camel replied, as he increased his pace to get away from the hiding lion as quickly as possible.

The fox saw that he was powerless to stop the camel, so he decided to play along, and try to convince the camel to return to the spot the following day. “No matter. We will fetch your book, camel, and then we can come back tomorrow.  But tell me, what advice did your father write down in this book which is so important?”

The camel, who was growing breathless, replied, “There were five. The first one was ‘Never go anywhere without this book of advice’, but I have forgotten the remaining four. I’ll remember them as soon as I get back to the mill.”

And as soon as the camel reached the safety of the mill, he sighed in relief and said to the fox, “Ah! Now I remember the other advice that my father gave me. The second was ‘There’s no shame in honest work.’ The third was, ‘Be thankful for what you have.’  The fourth was ‘Never be friends with tricksters, for in the end they will trick you too.’ But the fifth and most important thing my father told me was… ‘Don’t go close to lions!’ “

And having said that, the camel shook the fox off of his back, and returned to his millstone.

Yeki bood, yeki nabood

There was once a poor farm worker named Abdul Karim who, with his wife, Ziba–“the beautiful one” — and his two children, lived in a sheltered valley, surrounded by hills, the sides of which were covered with fine gardens and in which grew peaches,  grapes, mulberries, and other delicious fruits in great profusion.

2rze9onAbdul Karim was only a poor laborer on the land, receiving no wages, merely being paid in grain and cloth sufficient for the wants of himself and family. Of money he knew nothing except by name.

One day his landlord was so pleased with his work that he actually gave him ten rials to do with as he wished. To Abdul Karim, this seemed a great sum, and so right after his day’s work was done, he ran home to his wife and said: “Look, Ziba, here are riches for you!” and spread out the money before her on their table cloth.

His wife was delighted, and so were the children. Then Abdul Karim said: “How shall we spend this great sum?  I think I will go to the famous city of Mashad, which is only twenty miles from here, and after placing two rials on the shrine of the holy Imam Reza, I will then visit the bazaars and buy everything you and the children desire.”

“You would better buy me a piece of silk for a new dress,” said Ziba, his wife.

 “I want a fine horse and a sword,” said little Yusuf, his son.

“I would like an Indian handkerchief and a pair of gold slippers,” said Fatima, his daughter.

“They shall be here by tomorrow night,” said the father confidently, and taking a big walking stick, he promptly set off on his journey.

When he had come down from the mountains to the plain below, Abdul Karim saw stretched before him the glorious city of Mashad, and was lost in wonder at the sight of the splendid domes, where roofs glittered with gold, and the minarets, from the tops of which the priests were calling the people to prayer.

Coming to the gate of the shrine, he asked an old priest if he might enter. “Yes, my son,” was the reply. “Go in and give what thou canst spare to the mosque, and Allah will reward thee.”

So Abdul Karim walked through the great court, amidst worshipers from every city in Asia. With open-mouthed astonishment he gazed on the riches of the temple, the jewels, the lovely carpets, the silks, the golden ornaments, and with humility he placed his two pieces of money on the sacred tomb, leaving him with only 8 rials.

Then through the noise and bustle of the crowded streets, he found the bazaar. He saw the fruit-sellers in one place, in another those who sold pots and pans, then he came to the jewelers, the bakers, the butchers, each trade having its own part of the bazaar, and so on, until he reached the silk-sellers.

Abdul Karim entered one of the silk shops and asked to see some material, and after much picking and choosing, fixed upon a superb piece of purple silk with an embroidered border of exquisite design. “I will take this,” he said loudly. “What is the price?”

“I shall only ask you two hundred rials, as you are a new customer,” said the shopkeeper. “Anybody else but you would have to pay three or four hundred.”

“Two hundred rials!” repeated Abdul Karim, in astonishment. “Surely you have made a mistake. Do you mean rials like these?” taking one out of his pocket.

“Certainly I do,” replied the shopkeeper, “and let me tell you it is very cheap at that price.” But when Abdul Karim told him that he had only 8 rials to spend, and had to buy a horse, a sword, a handkerchief and golden slippers in addition to the silk, the shopkeeper became angry and threw Abdul Karim out of the shop. “Here I have been wasting my time and rumpling my beautiful silks for a fool like you,” cried the angry merchant. “Get out of my shop!”

Disappointed,  Abdul Karim then went to the horse market, only to find that the lowest-priced horse would cost two hundred and fifty rials. The horse dealers mocked him when they found he had only eight rials, and suggested that he buy the sixteenth part of a donkey for his little son.

As for a sword, he found that it would cost at least thirty rials; a pair of golden slippers would run into many hundreds of rials; and for an Indian handkerchief, the price was twelve rials.

Sad and tired, Abdul Karim decided to return home. Along the way,  he met a beggar crying: “Dear friend, give me something, for tomorrow is Friday”–the Sabbath. “He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and of a certainty the Allah will pay him back a hundredfold.”

“Of all the men I have met to-day, you are the only one with whom I can deal,” said the simple Abdul Karim, who was by then sick of money. “Here, have my remaining eight rials. Use them in the service of God, and perhaps I will indeed get them back a hundredfold.” Wrapping up the eight rials very carefully, the beggar promised some day to return them a hundredfold.

At last Abdul Karim came in sight of his cottage, and little Yusuf, who had been all day on the look-out for him, ran breathlessly to meet him. “Where’s my horse and sword, father?” he cried. And Fatima, who had just come up, called out, “And my handkerchief and golden slippers?” And Ziba asked for her bit of silk. But when she heard his story, and above all that he had given eight rials to a beggar, Ziba got very angry, and marched off to complain to the landlord.

The landlord was even more angry and yelled out, “What! the blockhead gave his eight rials to a beggar? Send him to me!” And when Abdul Karim came before the landlord, he said scornfully: “You must fancy yourself a big spender, Abdul Karim. I never give more than a copper coin to a beggar, but Your Excellency gives them silver!”   So as punishment, the very next day, the landlord instructed Abdul Karim to go into the desert and start digging for water, and not to return until he found it. 

For many days Abdul labored under the scorching sun, until he had dug a deep well, and then he came upon a brass vessel, finely chased, full of shiny jewels and dazzling gems. Being simple, he did not recognize the value of the treasure he had found, but he remembered that he had seen pretty pieces of glass like these for sale in Mashad, and made up his mind that at the first opportunity, he would again visit the city and take the stones with him. 

 Abdul did not have to wait long for an opportunity to visit Mashad again, for on finding water a little lower down, the landlord was so pleased that he gave him a well-deserved rest. 

With still a pocket full of jewels, he went straight to the shop where he had seen such stones, and spoke to the shopkeeper who was seated at the entrance to his shop, calmly smoking his water-pipe. “Do you want to buy any more stones like those?” he asked, pointing to some in the window display case.

“Yes, have you got one?” replied the merchant, for Abdul did not look like a man who was likely to have more than one, if any.

“I have a pocket full of them,” said Abdul.

“You have a pocket full of pebbles, more likely,” thought the jeweler, but when Abdul Karim showed him the contents of his pockets, he was so astonished that he could hardly speak. Leaving his apprentice in charge, the jeweler hastily left the shop and fetched a policeman. 

“This man is obviously a thief! ” cried the jeweler.” His pockets are filled with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls of great price. Without doubt he has found treasure belonging to the King, which he is trying to sell!”

And so it was, since according to the law, all treasures found became the property of the King, though Abdul Karim knew nothing of this. Abdul Karim was searched; the precious stones were found upon him; and  he and his whole family were sent under a guard capital for further investigation.shah

While all these things were taking place, the King saw in his dreams, for three nights in a row, the Holy Prophet, who, looking steadfastly at him, proclaimed: “Abbas! Protect and favor my friend and servant.” On the third night, the King took courage and said to the Prophet: “And who is thy friend and servant?” The answer came: “He is the poor laboring man, who despite his poverty gives one-fifth alms at the shrine of Mashad, and now, because he has found the King’s treasure, they have bound him, and are bringing him to this very city.”

So the very next morning, the King rushed forth two days’ journey to meet Abdul Karim along the way. First came one hundred horsemen. Next, poor Abdul, seated on a camel, with his arms bound tightly. Walking behind the camel were Abdul’s weeping children and their mother. Then came the foot soldiers guarding the treasure. The King made Abdul’s camel kneel down, and with his own hands the King undid the cruel bonds on Abdul Karim’s arms. With tears running down his face, Abdul knelt before the King and pleaded for his dear ones, saying: “If you imprison me, at least let these innocent ones go free!”

Lifting Abdul from the ground, the King replied: “I have come to honor, not to imprison thee. When thou hast rested, thou shalt return to thine own province, not as a prisoner, but as a wealthy man!”

And smiling, the King added: “Already is the silk dress prepared for Ziba; the horse and sword for Yusuf; and the Indian handkerchief and the golden slippers for Fatima have not been forgotten.” The King had read in the report of the chief of police and knew all of the details of Abdul’s case.

And so it was that Abdul’s piety and gift to the shrine had come back, not a hundredfold, but beyond his wildest dreams, and the shrine and the poor benefited greatly thereby.

Yeki bood, yeki nabood

There was an old widow who had a son named Kian. Kian was fine boy, who worked hard to support his aging mother by managing the farm that they had inherited from his father who had died a few years before. He spent dawn ’til dusk working on the farm everyday, tending to the sheep and cattle, and raising grains and grass to feed them.prince-small

One day, Kian told his mother than he had met a particular girl in town bazaar where he went to sell his cattle and sheep, and they had fallen hopelessly in love with each other. As was the tradition in those days, he begged his mother to go ask for the girl’s hand in marriage from her parents.

The old widow was initially happy to hear that her fine son and grown up and was considering marriage, and asked the name of the girl who had stolen his heart. To her surprise, her son replied that the girl was the Princess, and the Shah’s only daughter. The widow tried to convince her son that the King would never accept his marriage proposal, but Kian was insistent, and so she reluctantly agreed to visit the King the very next day, and ask for his daughter’s hand.

And true to her word, the widow appeared at the gates of the Shah’s palace early next morning, and asked to see the Shah in person. The King received her graciously, and patiently listened to her as she explained the reason for her presence before him. The courtiers, officials, and royal guards were aghast when she told the King that her son wanted to marry his only beloved daughter, but the wise King showed no reaction, and only stroked his beard quitely as the widow spoke.

After some thought, the King replied, “I knew your husband, who was honest and hardworking. By all accounts, Kian has followed in his footsteps, and has proven himself to be dutiful son.  However, your son is still a young man. He has no education, no skills, and has seen nothing of the world except for your farm. Tell him that he can have my daughter’s hand once he proves himself worthy, and not before then.”

Later that evening, Kian heard the news from his mother, and was crestfallen. He immediately swore to dedicate himself to gaining skills and knowledge that would make the King proud of him, and decided that he would set out the very next day to travel far from his home to learn as much as he could about the world. His poor mother was again not able to dissuade him, so she baked him a loaf of bread and blessed him as he started on his journey the following morning.

Kian walked for months and months, across valleys, forests and mountain-tops, and passed through many towns and villages where he learned a great deal about the world and its inhabitants. Eventually, he came to a river and decided to rest a bit under the shade of a nearby walnut tree. As he sat down, he said “O-ah-o! I am so tired and weary from all this walking, but all I have learned is that the world is the same everywhere I go!” 

No sooner had these words come out of his mouth than a strange little man appeared on the pathway to the walnut tree. His height reached only to Kian’s knees, but his beard was so long that it dragged on the ground behind him. He wore an enormous green turban shaped like a fresh walnut, and his slippers were made of tree bark.

“Why hello my weary friend, what brings you here, and why did you call my name?” the little man asked.

“I did not call your name, and I do not know who you are!” replied Kian, who was surprised at the sight of the curious little man.

“My name is O-ah-o, and you clearly called out my name when you sat down under this walnut tree. Tell me, what world do you come from?” said the little man.

“Are worlds like hen’s teeth, with many more besides this one?” asked Kian, bewildered, to which the little man replied, “Perhaps many, many more! But please tell me want you want from me, I would be only happy to help.”

Kian thought for a moment, and decided to tell his story to the little man. Once O-ah-o heard Kian’s story, he laughed out loud and said, “You have clearly come to the right place, for I am O-ah-o, the greatest magician who has ever lived, and I am looking for a worthy apprentice. I will show you one of the many other worlds that exist, but only if you only follow me into this walnut tree.” After saying that, he waved his walking stick at the walnut tree, which immediately split right open. A bright light came through the opening in the tree, and the little man stepped into the opening, while beckoning Kian to follow him.

Kian was hesitant to follow the little man, but when he peered into the opening in the tree, he saw a lovely scene. There was a small house made of walnut shells, neat and tidy,  on rolling hills covered with strange plants and flowers. A small river ran near the house, and there he saw a beatiful young girl, dressed in tree leaves, playing in the water. Curiosity got the better of Kian, and he followed the little man into the tree, which promptly closed up behind him as soon as he had set foot on the other side. 

The girl, who was named Pari and was O-ah-o’s daughter, ran to meet them. She graciously welcomed her father and his guest, and helped them settle into the house. She helped her father remove his curious shoes and turban, and prepared a meal for the weary travelers. While her father was washing-up and changing out of his dusty travel clothes, she quitely asked Kian what he was doing with his father. When Kian explained his quest, and that he wanted to become an apprentice to O-ah-o, she became fearful for him.

“You are in grave danger,” Pari warned Kian, “for while it is true that my father is a great magician, the magic has turned him into an evil person. He has trained many apprentices, but when they learn anything from him, he puts them to sleep, and places them inside the pickle jars in the basement. Once he is too old and tired to work, he plans on reviving them and forcing them to do his bidding.”

At hearing this, Kian was extremely frightened, and begged Pari to help him escape back to his own world. Pari told him that only her father could open the walnut tree, but she had a plan which could save Kian: “No matter what magic spells my father tries to teach you, pretend you can’t learn anything. Always play dumb, and then perhaps he will eventually simply let you go.” 

Kian took Pari’s advice, and for the next months, whenever O-ah-h tried to teach him a lesson in magic, he would deliberately pretend to not learn it. Kian acted dumb so well that even the old magician was tricked and perplexed. O-ah-o tried to show Kian how to change form into different animals, how to read people’s thoughts, and how to predict the future, but the harder O-ah-o tried to teach magic to Kian, the less Kian seemed to learn and the dumber he seemed to get. After many frustrating months, when it seemed that Kian had not learnt a single magic spell, O-ah-h decided that enough was enough, and he wanted to be rid of his dumb apprentice. He told Kian, “My boy, you have been away from your home for a long time now, and your mother is no doubt concerned about you. Perhaps you should go back and visit her?”

Kian, who was of course waiting for this opportunity to escape, immediately agreed with O-ah-o, and they both set off towards the walnut tree. Oh-a-o waved his walking stick, and as before, the tree opened up. Kian quickly bid O-ah-o farewell, and stepped through the opening, happy to be back into his own world. No sooner had Kian crossed to the other side than O-ah-o yelled out after him, “Good bye and good riddance! You spent months eating my daughter’s cooking, and learned nothing of magic no matter how hard I tried to teach you. Go, and never try to come back here again!” Then he waved his stick, and the tree closed with a thump.

Kian, who was happy and relieved to have escaped the magician, had no plans to ever come back anyway and immediately rushed back home. His old mother was happy to see him again, and said, “Tell me my son, what can I offer you after such a long journey to reward your effort at gaining knowledge of the world?” But when Kian looked around his old house, he noticed that his mother had nothing to offer, for she had grown poor in his absence, and the farm was left untended.

Kian felt guilty for leaving his mother destitute, so he smiled and said, “Don’t worry, for I have a plan. Tomorrow morning, when you go into the barn, you will see a fine goat there. Take him to the bazaar and sell him for 10 silver pieces, and nothing less — but make sure to remove the bridle from the goat before you sell him, and bring the bridle home.”

Kian’s mother agreed, and the next morning she was surprised to see that indeed, there was a handsome goat in the once-empty barn. It had long, luxurious and silky kashmir wool, bright eyes, and massive horns.  She took the goat to the market, and offered it for sale. Many people asked about the price of the goat, and when she said that it cost 10 silver pieces, they all balked. However, at the end of the day, a wealthy landowner came by, and when he saw the goat he decided that he had to have it at any cost. When his friends advised against purchasing the goat for such a high price, the wealthy landowner declared that he had never seen a finer goat, and it was well worth the price since it was better than any goat his neighbors had, and would no doubt have many kids of a similar quality which he could sell, thus recouping his money and eventually making him even richer. He counted out 10 pieces of silver for the  old widow, but when she removed the bridle from the goat he got upset. “Will you begrudge me that old piece of rope for the handsome price I paid for this goat?” the buyer asked half in jest, but the old woman was adamant that she had to keep the bridle, as her son had instructed. The wealthy landowner sighed, put his own bridle on the goat, and trudged proudly out of the market, followed by his friends and his new goat.

The landowner had walked a bit out of town towards his own property, when the goat suddenly jerked and tugged so hard on the bridle around his neck that it fell out of the landowner’s grip, and the goat was free. The landowner cursed, yelled for help and tried to catch the goat with the assistance of his friends, but the goat quickly ran into some bushes and thorny shrubs, where no one could see or reach it. There, the goat suddenly transformed itself into a mouse, and scurried back to the market. 

In the meantime, the old widow had used the money to buy as much food and other necessities that she could carry, and had started walking back home, not noticing the mouse that was hidden inside one of her packages. When she got home, she put down the packages and was busy changing her dusty clothes when the mouse quitely snuck out of his hiding place, and with a puff of smoke,  turned back into Kian, her son. He had learned the lesson of changing form from O-ah-o rather well, after all!

The old widow proudly showed her son the money she had earned from the sale of the goat, not knowing that the goat was really just her son. They ate well that night, and slept soundly, but before the widow went to sleep, her son told her that the very next morning, she should go to the dog house, where she would find a fine hunting hound. She should then take the hound to the bazaar, and sell it for 40 pieces of silver, but Kian reminded her that she should not sell the dog’s collar with the dog, and must instead bring it back home.

And the very next morning, the widow was surprised to see that there was indeed a fine and noble-looking hunting dog in the once-empty dog house. The dog was long and sleek. It had a powerful back and long legs, but was also friendly and obedient. “This dog is no doubt the best hunting dog in the Kingdom!” the old widow marvelled. She put a leash on the dog’s collar and took it to the market, where it attracted a lot of attention from the lords and noblemen who hunted. They each tried to bargain with the old widow, in the hopes of paying a bit less than the 40 pieces of silver that she demanded for the dog, but to no avail.

Image4

Finally, a wealthy and proud nobleman agreed to pay the full price for the dog. When the widow was about to remove the collar from around the dog’s neck, the buyer objected.”What if he runs away if you remove the collar?” the nobleman asked. The old widow sought to assure him, and said, “Don’t worry, for this is an obedient and well-trained dog — it will not run away.”  So the nobleman put his own leash and collar on the dog, and walked proudly out of the bazaar gates.

But no sooner had the nobleman walked a distance from the bazaar than the dog caught the scent of a hare, and pulled on his leash with such force that the nobleman tripped and fell, releasing his grip on the dog’s leash. And with that, the dog was off, never to be seen again no matter how much the nobleman called after him. And just as before, the dog turned into a mouse, and returned with the old widow back to her home.

Again, the old widow and her son ate well that evening, and marvelled at the amount of money that they had managed to obtain from the sale of the dog and the goat. Even though it was more than enough money to last them through the next planting season, and even the one after that one, Kian wanted to ensure that his old mother would never have to work again, and would instead be able to live like a noblewoman. So before they went to bed that night, he told his mother that the very next morning she would find a horse in the stable like no other horse in the world. She was to take the horse to the market, like before, and sell it for the highest price that anyone offered to pay, but not for less than 100 gold pieces. “And remember,” Kian warned his mother, “never sell the horse’s bridle, even if they offer you a kingdom for it!”

And so the very next morning, the old woman found in the stable a marvelous Turkomen stallion worthy of a caliph. The horse had long, muscular legs, a long and graceful neck, and a shiny, metallic coat. “This is no doubt a fine horse,” the widow thought as she led it to market, “but I doubt that even this horse can fetch the price of 100 gold pieces!”

But as luck would have it, the Prince was visiting the bazaar that day, along with his tutor and royal guards. No sooner had the Prince seen the horse than he decided to pay whatever the widow was asking for it. He commanded the head of his royal guards to pay the old woman, and guard prompty laid out a silken handkerchief before the widow and poured out 100 gold pieces onto it from a sack of money. But at that very moment, a wealthy merchant appeared amongst the gathering crowd, and offered 500 pieces of gold for the horse. The widow was shocked and surprised by the new offer, but remembered what her son had told her about accepting only the highest offer. So, she accepted the wealthy merchant’s offer, much to the chagrin of the Prince. The merchant then tossed a large sack of gold pieces before her feet, which split open, and gold coins poured out of it. The widow was so busy gathering-up and counting the gold pieces that she totally forgot to remove the horse’s bridle before the merchant hopped onto the horse’s back and rode off. When she did finally remember the bridle, the rider and his horse were long gone. “No matter,” thought the widow as she carried her heavy sack of gold home on her back, “for what is an old bridle worth compared to all this money!” But little did she know that as long as the horse wore the bridle, Kian was trapped in the form of a horse and could not change back. When she reached her home, she was surprised that Kian was nowhere to be found. She was even more surprised when she opened the sack of gold and saw that all the pieces of gold had magically turned into walnuts!

Meanwhile, once they had ridden a way out of the town, the horse neighed and reared up on its hind legs, trying to toss off its rider. But the rider held on tight to the horse’s bridle, and dug his heels roughly into the horse’s ribs. “Don’t bother trying to get rid of me,” the rider whispered in the horse’s ear, “for it is me, O-ah-o! I heard that someone was selling marvelous animals in the market for enormous sums of money, and I became suspicious. So I visited the market today in this form of a wealthy merchant, and I immediately recognized you, even while you were in the form of this horse! Now, I will take you back to my farmhouse, and teach you a good lesson for fooling me!” And after saying that, O-ah-o rode the horse through the old walnut tree, and tied him up by his house. Kian felt very sorry for himself and cried out, “Oh, this end is what my own greed has brought upon me, for I tricked three people from their bargains in the bazaar, and now I shall be forced to work the fields like a common farm animal!  Truly, my magic had made me as evil as O-ah-o!”

But O-ah-o’s heart had turned into stone, and he ignored the horse’s lamentation. “Be careful of this horse, for it is none other than Kian, the scoundrel trickster,” O-ah-o warned his daughter.  Then he bade her to watch the horse, and said, “I will go and find a yoke to put on him, so he can work in my fields like a real horse!”  Pari was sad to see Kian in such a state, and so she brought the horse some food and water while her father went to find a yoke. She then took off the horse’s bridle to brush his coat. But no sooner had she removed the bridle than Kian turned himself into a sparrow and flew to the old walnut tree. He chanted the magic spell he had heard O-ah-o say, and the tree opened up for him as it had for O-ah-o,  so the swallow flew right through it.

Upon seeing this, O-ah-o cursed his luck,  immediately changed himself into a swift-winged falcon, and chased the swallow through the tree. The swallow beat its little wings as hard as it could, but the falcon was quickly catching up. Beneath him, Kian saw the King’s rose garden where the King was resting with his only daughter, and decided to hide there. He changed himself into a rose,  and sat among the other roses surrounding the King’s daughter. But then O-ah-o changed himself into an old dervish, and appeared at the gate of the King’s garden, demanding to see the King.

Once the King was informed by his guards that a dervish was at the door, he told the guards to pay a bit of money to the holy man, and send him on his way. “I seek not your money,” the dervish yelled out from behind the gate, “but rather, beauty. Allow me to pick the rose that grows above her head, and I will pray for your daughter’s good health!” 

The kind-hearted King granted the ascetic his request, but no sooner hand the dervish reached for the rose than it immediately changed into a large emerald and fell onto the Princess’s crown. The King, surprised at the sight of emeralds falling from the sky, jumped up in surprise. The dervish then grabbed for the emerald, but it immediately changed into a pomegranate. It fell onto the ground, split open, and the red seeds inside burst all over the ground around the Princess’s golden slippers. Much to the greater amazement of the King and his daughter, the old dervish then turned into a rooster, and hungrily pecked at the seeds on the ground. But when the rooster attempted to eat the last pomegranate seed, the seed changed into a fox, which quickly caught the rooster around the neck and ate him.

And so it was that Kian ate O-ah-o, and the world was rid of the evil old magician!

The King’s guard, however, had seen the commotion and started firing their arrows at the fox which was trapped in the garden. To save himself, Kian changed back into his usual form, and threw himself at the King’s mercy. “Forgive my intrusion, your Majesty, but I had nowhere else to turn!” cried Kian. He then told his story to the King, from the day he met the old magician, and promised to pay back the hunter and landowner whom he had cheated in the bazaar.

For his part, the King was so taken by Kian’s experiences and his honesty that the King agreed to give him his daughter’s hand in marriage. The King was also so impressed by Kian’s mastery of magic that he appointed Kian as his royal magician, and granted him a stipend more than sufficient for Kian and his mother to live happily ever after.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.