Qissa Zubaida Ka – Alif Laila
Zubeida bowed her head in front of the Caliph and requested, Rajadhiraj, my story is very strange, you must not have heard any such story. Me and those black bitches are all three real sisters and these two women who are sitting with me are my half-sisters. The name of the woman who has black marks on her shoulders is Amina, the other woman who is with me is Safi and my name is Zubeida. Now let me tell you how my real sisters became bitches.
Zubeida said that after the death of the father, the five of us sisters divided his property amongst themselves. My half-sisters took their share and started living with their mother and all three of us started living with our mother because our mother was alive at that time. Both my sisters were older than me. They got married and moved to their respective husbands’ houses and I started living alone.
After some time my elder sister’s husband sold all his goods and after mixing my sister’s money in that money, he went to Africa with the intention of doing business and took my sister too. But after going there, he started luxuries instead of business and in a few days spent all the money of his and my sister, but also sold her clothes and ornaments etc. Then he divorced my sister on some pretext and threw her out of the house too. She reached Baghdad in a very lowly state, suffering a thousand sorrows and since there was no other place for her, she came to my house.
I gave him a warm welcome and asked him how did you get into this plight. He narrated his sad story, hearing which I cried a lot. Then I gave him a bath and took out good clothes from my stock of clothes and put him on. I told him, ‘Now you stay here comfortably. You are my mother’s place. God has shown great mercy to me that after you left I started trading in silk clothes, which has benefited me a lot. Now consider whatever I have as yours and you also do the same business with me.’
Since then, both of us sisters started living with satisfaction and happiness. Very often we would remember our third sister not knowing where she would be. For a long time we did not get any news of her where she is and in which direction but suddenly one day that middle sister also came to me in a poor condition like elder sister because her husband also destroyed her entire property And then divorced her and threw her out of her house and she also came to Baghdad to take shelter in my house.
I also welcomed her like an elder sister and gave her a lot of comfort. She also started living comfortably. But after a few days, both of them told me that our stay also hurts you and your money is also spent on us, so we will get married again. I said, ‘If my inconvenience caused you to think that you should get married, then it is useless because by the mercy of God I am getting so much profit in business that all three of us sisters can live happily and comfortably for the rest of our lives. Huh. You will not have any trouble with me. I am very surprised to hear your desire to get married. You have suffered so much at the hands of your husbands. Still want to get into trouble. It is very difficult to find good husbands. So you drop the idea of marriage.’
That’s how I explained a lot to them. But both of them stood firm on their point. She started saying to me, ‘You are less in stage than us but more in intelligence. But we will not stay in your house more than the number of days we have lived because after all you will consider us as your dependent and in your heart you will not respect us more than the slaves.’ I said, ‘What are you guys saying? I consider you as senior and honorable than myself as I used to think in earlier times. Whatever wealth I have is yours. Saying this I hugged him and consoled him a lot. And all three of us started living together as before.
After a year, by the grace of God, my business flourished so much that I wanted to expand it to other cities. That’s why I thought of setting up business in some other country by loading the goods on the ship. I came to Bushehr from Baghdad with the merchandise and my two sisters, and having bought a small ship, I loaded my merchandise on it and set off. The wind was favorable for us, so we reached the Persian Gulf and from there our ship started for India. Twenty days later, we reached an island, at the back of which was a very high mountain. A big and beautiful city was situated on the island by the sea.
I was very bored sitting on the ship, so leaving my sisters on the ship, I sat on a canoe and went to the shore. A large number of troops were stationed at the gate of the city for defense and many soldiers were agilely standing in their places. His appearance was terrifying. I was a little scared but I was surprised to see that there was no movement in his hands and feet, but his eyelids did not even blink. When I reached near, I saw that all the soldiers were made of stone. I went inside the city. There also he saw that everything was made of stone. Market shops were closed. There was no smoke coming out of the halls and neither from the houses. So I understood that here too everyone must have turned to stone.
I saw a large field on one side of the city with a big gate on one side and gold-plated in it. When she went inside the open gate, she saw a big door with a silk curtain hanging over it. Clearly it looked like a palace. I lifted the veil and went inside and saw that there are many Chobdars present there – some are standing, some are sitting – but they were all made of stone. I went inside and then entered the third building from there. Seeing everywhere that there is no living human being, whatever is there is made of stone. The fourth house was made very beautiful, Its gates and chains were all made of gold. I understood that this room would be the residence of the queen. Going inside, he saw that in a hallway many negroes were made of black marble. Inside the hallway was a decorated room in which a stone woman is seated wearing a jeweled crown on her head. I assumed she would be the queen. There was a sapphire necklace around his neck, each grain of which was equal to a betel nut. I went near and saw that even after being so big, those gems were absolutely round and smooth. I was surprised to see the precious gems and clothes there. There were rugs on the floor and the masanad and mattresses were made of valuable fabrics like kamarvab etc.
I went in and out from there. Many houses looked very beautiful. Through all of them she went to a huge building where a golden throne was placed high above the earth and around it were hanging pearls. One strange thing was that there were like flames of light coming out from above that throne. I was curious and I climbed up and saw that on a small tripod lay a diamond shaped like an ostrich egg and had such a brilliance that eyes could not stop on it. Flames of light were emanating from the same giant diamond. There were pillows all around on the floor and a wax lamp was burning. Seeing him, I knew that there must be a living person there because a lamp does not burn without lighting it.
I roamed around the office-houses and warehouses in which great valuables were kept. Seeing all this, I was so surprised that I forgot the ship and my sisters and was curious to know the secret of why all the people of this place were made of stone.
In the same way, I did not care about the time in traveling and it was night. I was worried where would I go in the dark. So I went to the room where the diamond was kept. Going there lay down and thought that in the morning I would go to my ship. But it was a wonderful and deserted place so I could not sleep. In the middle of the night, I heard such a sound as if someone was reciting the Quran in a melodious voice. I was curious to know who this living human being is. Picking up a wax lamp, she walked and after crossing several rooms she reached the room from where the sound of Quran recitation was coming.
Going there and saw that a small mosque has been built. This reminded me that as a thank you to God, I needed to offer Namaz. There I saw two big wax lamps burning and a very handsome young man sitting there reciting the Qur’an and concentrating on it. I was very happy to see that young man, because after seeing the crowd of stone men, I had seen the only man who was alive. I went to the Masjid and offered Namaz, then started reciting the wazifa in a clear voice and thanked God that our sea voyage went smoothly and in the same way I hope that by divine grace I will reach my country safely.
The young man, hearing my voice, looked at me and said, ‘O beauty, tell me who you are and how you have come to this deserted town and palace. After this I will tell you my story about who I am and also why the inhabitants of this city have turned to stone.’
I told him my condition, how my ship reached the shore here after a journey of twenty days and how I came to this palace after landing alone and what I saw here. I asked him to tell me your condition, as you have just promised, and also to reveal the wonderful things here.
The young man asked me to wait for sometime. Then he finished reading the prescribed part of the Quran, wrapped the Quran in a zari cloth and placed it in a niche. Meanwhile I kept looking at the young man and was fascinated by his handsome appearance. He made me sit beside him and said, ‘Your prayer shows that you completely believe in our true religion. Now let me tell you my whole situation.’
‘The king of this city was my father. His kingdom was vast. But the emperor and all his subordinates were fire worshippers. Not only this, they also worshiped Nardin, who was the chieftain of the jinns in ancient times. Although my father and his companions were fire worshippers, I was a Muslim since childhood. The reason was that the midwife who was hired for my upbringing was a Muslim. He made me memorize the whole Quran. He taught me that there is only one God to be worshipped, you should not worship anyone other than Him. He also taught me Arabic and Tafseer (interpretation of the Qur’an). He did all this work by hiding it from others.
‘After a few days, the midwife died, but I stood firm on the religion she had told me. I feel very sad that all my countrymen are fire worshipers and worshipers of jinns. After several months passed after the death of Dai, there was a voice from the sky that you people, you people, give up the worship of Nardin and fire and worship the only Almighty God. This Akashvani continued for three years, but neither the emperor nor any other resident of the city paid attention to it. He stood firm on his false religion. After three years there was a divine wrath on this city and the person who was in the same place and condition turned into a stone. My father became of black marble and my mother became a stone just sitting on the throne as you have seen. I was the only one who was saved from this punishment because I was a Muslim. From that time on I started practicing Islam even more sincerely. hey beautiful
Hearing his words, I fell in love with him even more. I said, ‘I am from Baghdad. Here on the shore stands my ship, laden with many furnishings. I have left my home in Baghdad as much as I have in it. I will pick you up from here and keep you in the comfort of my home.
‘The Caliph in Baghdad is very just. They will definitely give you a title worthy of your respect. My ship is at your service. You leave this place and go with me.’
The young man gladly accepted my offer. I kept talking to that charming young man all night. The next morning she took him to her ship. My sisters were sad because of my concern. I narrated the experiences of my previous day and also told the story of that young man. Then on my orders, the ship’s men took off the trade items from the ship and their ships filled the priceless gems etc. which I had found in the palace. All the belongings of the palace could not come in one ship, so I loaded only selected valuables and also loaded the food items from the palace to the ship. Along with this, the prince was also put on the ship. After this, having the pleasure of being the owner of innumerable wealth and being in the company of my beloved prince, I started my journey towards home.
But my sisters were not happy. The prince was very handsome and sweet-spoken. She got jealous of me. One day he asked me where will you take this princess and what will you do with it. I laughed at his condition and asked to tease him that I would marry him in Baghdad. I told the prince that I want to become one of your slaves and serve you with all my heart. The prince also understood my ridicule and said with a laugh, ‘Do whatever you want. I promise before your sisters that for your happiness I will make you my wife. Don’t talk about being a slave, I myself will become your slave.’
Hearing this, my sisters’ faces lit up and their hearts became deeply hostile to me. His condition remained the same throughout the journey, but his animosity kept increasing. When our ship came so close to Bushehr that it would have reached there in a day when there was a favorable wind, at night while I was sleeping soundly, I picked up the princess and threw me into the sea.
The poor prince drowned at the same time because he did not know how to swim, but as soon as I fell in the water, I jumped and started swimming. I was not quite old, so I accidentally started moving in the right direction even in the dark and in a few hours was on the shore of a desolate island. The port of Bushehr was ten kos from that place.
I took off my clothes, dried them and then put them on. Looking here and there, I saw some fruit trees. I ate fruits in my stomach and then took water from a sweet water source to get rid of my fatigue. Then she lay down under the shade of a tree. After some time I saw a long snake whose body had wings on both sides. The snake came first on my right side and then on the left side and all this time it kept wagging its tongue. I learned from it that it was in some trouble and that it wanted my help. I got up and looked around. I saw that another snake was after him and wanted to eat him. I first picked up a big stone to save the snake and hit it on the head of the big snake, due to which its head exploded and it died there.
The first snake now opened its wings and flew into the sky. I was surprised to see all this, but I was very tired, so went to a safe place some distance away from there and slept. On waking up, I saw a Haritavasana beauty sitting by my head with two black bitches. I stood looking at him and asked him who are you. He said, I am the same snake whose life you saved from its enemy, now I want you to take revenge for the favor you have done to me. She said that I am actually a fairy, after leaving from here I took my caste sisters along with me and went to your ship where we gave your sisters – who avenged your favor by trying to take your life – made bitches, Picked up all the cargo of your ship and sent it to your home in Baghdad and sank the ship there. After saying this, the angel picked me up with one hand and flew away with the other to bring all of us inside my house in Baghdad.
There the angel said to me that I say by the grace of God that the punishment of your sisters is not complete, my command is that you should punish them every night with a hundred whips and if you do not listen to this, then everything will be ruined. Well, we fairies have become your friends and we will come whenever you call us. Zubeida said that every night as per the orders of that angel, I beat my sisters, who have become bitches, a hundred-hundred, but the spirit of blood also works, so I cry and wipe their tears. Now listen to Amina’s story from her mouth.
The Caliph was surprised to hear this story. He asked Amina why you have black marks on your shoulders and chest. He told this.