The story of the man who had all four thumbs cut off – Alif Laila
He said that friends, my father was a resident of Baghdad and was in the time of Caliph Harun Rashid. I was also born at the same time. Although my father was counted among the rich and big businessmen, yet he was very luxurious and addicted. That is why he could not take care of the business properly and there was a lot of mess in it. When he died, I came to know that he had taken loan from many people. I had a lot of difficulty but I grew the business with diligence and gradually returned the money of all the creditors.
Now I used to do business sitting in my clothes shop at a leisurely pace. One day I was sitting in the shop when a beautiful lady, who was riding on a mule, with one servant in front and two maids behind her, came near my shop. His servant took him by the hand and brought him down from the mule and said, ‘Mistress, you came to the market in vain this morning. No shop is open yet, how long will you wait.’ He said, ‘You are right, only one shop is open. Let’s go there.’
|Alif laila kahani 57 alif laila bhejo|
|Alif laila kahani 58 aladdin ka chirag alif laila|
|Alif laila kahani 59 alif laila bengali|
|Alif laila kahani 60 papiya sengupta alif laila|
So she came and sat at my shop. When he saw that there was no one except me and the servant, he lifted the mask a little to get clean air. I had never seen such a form. I kept staring at him with a sly gaze. Seeing my anguish, he reversed the entire mask and I started savoring his beauty with all my heart. In no time other traders and customers came and the crowd in the market increased, so he again put the mask on his face.
He said to me, ‘I want to buy zari clothes. If you have such places, then show them. I said, ‘I sell simple thanan, but if you ask, let me bring good places for you myself from other shopkeepers, this will save you the trouble of going from shop to shop to see and buy clothes.’ She was very pleased with this and kept talking to me here and there for a long time.
After some time I went to many shops and I brought many zari bags in front of the woman. He liked some places in it. Their value was 24,750 currencies. He accepted the price and I gave it to his servant. The woman took leave. I was so engrossed in the fascination of her beauty that I did not ask her for the price of the police stations and she did not give it either. I didn’t even ask him where do you live.
I was worried that if I did not get money from him, then from where would I fill this twenty-five thousand. Assured the shopkeepers that I knew the woman and would get the price. But I could not sleep during the whole night worrying. The next day I promised the merchants to pay within a week and they accepted it. The woman was not traced even for a week.
On the eighth day, the beauty came to my shop on the same mule with the same servants and said, ‘Why didn’t you come to collect the money. Now I had to bring them myself. Now I have brought all the money. Check with the Saraf whether the coins are fine or not. When I showed the Saraf all the coins turned out to be true. That beauty kept talking to me for a long time and from the conversation it became known that she was very intelligent. I called the cloth merchants and gave their money. They were all very happy and my behavior increased my reputation in the market.
That beauty asked for many more places and I brought it from the merchants and gave it to her but still neither asked her name nor place of residence. After his departure, he again started thinking that once he has given money, now if he does not give, then I will be ruined. Then she thinks that it is impossible that she should cheat, she is testing my modesty. He will definitely take care of my loss, gain and reputation. She knows for sure that the merchants have given places of clothes on my credit. Sometimes I would think of my possible loss and sometimes I would forget all sorrow by meditating on its beauty.
This time he did not send money for a long time and Bajaj people impatiently started asking for money from me. I used to send them little by little from my income and satisfy them. A month later she came again with her servants and paid the price for the clothes she had bought last time. Then he asked me whether you were married or not. I said, it hasn’t happened yet. He pointed to his servant and he got up smiling and took me aside and said, ‘What do you think the mistress comes to buy clothes from you. I know you are obsessed with them but you have hidden this from everyone. Now know that she also loves you, that’s why asked about your marriage. You have turned out to be so stupid that you do not even understand his gesture.’ I said, ‘Brother, When I saw your mistress for the first time, I fell on her. But I didn’t expect that she would love me too. Now if you help me in this matter, I will never forget your favor for life.’
He got up from me and reached his mistress and told her about me. The beauty stood up, pointing something to her servants and then said to me, ‘I will send my servant to you, do as he says.’ Saying this she left. I kept looking for the servant for many days. When he came, I asked him about the well being of the beauty. She said that you are a very lucky person, she is very much fascinated by you, if her bus had gone, she would have reached you now.
I said, she seems to be very modest that she acts with so much restraint. He said, ‘You are astonished at their modesty because you do not know them. She is the friend of Zubaida, the wife of Khalifa Haroon Rashid. Bibi loves him very much, she has brought him up since his childhood. She makes all the arrangements for the Janakhana. Zubeida has asked him to marry him many times. Now he said that there is a businessman, if you allow, then I should marry him. Bibi said, it is good but only after seeing that businessman once, I will give permission for marriage. That’s why I have come to get you.’
I said, I am ready, take me whenever you want. He said, ‘Okay. But you know that no outsider can enter the palace of the Caliph. I’ll take you with some other trick. You see my way this evening in such a mosque built on the bank of the river.’ I accepted it with great pleasure.
In the evening I went to that mosque and sat down. In no time a canoe came and hit the shore. There were many boxes in it. The sailors tied the canoe to the shore, brought a long box, placed it in the mosque and went on the boat. A servant who came on the boat remained there. After sometime that beauty came there. I said, ‘What is the ruling for me?’ She said, ‘Things will happen later, there is no time to talk at this time. You just go and lie in this long box.’ When I was lying in the box, he locked the box and told the servant to take it to the boat. The servant called out to the sailors and carried the box in which I was in the boat. That beauty also sat on the boat.
Lying inside the trunk, I started cursing my fate that what trouble I got stuck in leaving a good life. The boat started near the main gate of the Caliph’s palace. All the boxes were delivered to the door. The gatekeepers had all the keys and nothing could go inside without being seen. The head gatekeeper was sleeping at that time. When he was woken up, he got very annoyed and started saying that I will see every thing of the boxes. The beauty quietly told her servants to take all the boxes inside without showing them to the gatekeeper, lest she should open the boxes and see the secret. But the gatekeepers did not allow this to happen. They took all the boxes to the chief gatekeeper. First kept the same box I was in. Sundari started arguing with the chief gatekeeper. I used to get drained inside listening to this debate. It was clear that if I was found in the chest, the Caliph would surely put me to death.
But my girlfriend did not allow the chief gatekeeper to open the box. She said, ‘You know very well that nothing is taken in without Zubeida’s permission. In this box, many valuables and delicates bought from big merchants are kept, if you take them out, then those things will break. Apart from this, there is holy water of Jamzam brought from Maize in a thin glass pitcher. If that glass jar is broken or other things are destroyed, then you will have to take responsibility for it and you will get harsh punishment at the hands of Zubeida.’
The chief gatekeeper was frightened by this. He was silent. Sundari asked the slaves to bring all the boxes inside and they did so. But even after going inside, my trouble did not end. Before the boxes were opened, suddenly the caliph came there. Seeing many chests, he asked what was in them, and not knowing what was in him, he ordered that the contents of all the boxes should be shown to me. The beauty made big excuses but the caliph did not budge. He compulsively opened the box one by one and started showing my chest in this hope till the end and he ordered to open the last box in which I was locked.
Friends, you can imagine what must have happened to me because of fear at that time. If someone had bitten me, blood would not come out of my body. But that beauty acted very wisely. He folded his hands and said, ‘Government, do not insist on opening this chest. It has special features of Zubeida’s work. I cannot open it without Zubeida’s permission. The Khalifa laughed and said, ‘Well, don’t open it again.’ And saying this he left. My life came to life.
Sundari got all the boxes from the servants to her residence. When all the servants had left, he opened my chest and showed me a live and said that sit in the upstairs room, I will come in a while. When I went upstairs, he put the lock of life. It was not even two moments that the Caliph came there again and, sitting on the same box, began to inquire about the city for a long time with the woman. That beauty kept talking to the Caliph for a long time. When the Caliph went to his bedroom, she came upstairs and said, ‘You must be in great trouble because of me, but now be at ease. I will take you to Zubeida in the morning.’ Then we both had dinner and she left.
I slept with great joy in that grand palace. I was very happy that although it took great difficulties and dangers to reach here, but now there is no danger of anything. I was also glad that such a beautiful and intelligent woman herself is falling in love with me. In the morning she came to me and said to me that let me take you to Zubeida. Along with this he also told me the ways of talking and dealing with the wife of the Caliph. He told me all the possible questions Zubeida could ask me and also told me how to answer them. He took me to a place and made me stand and said that Zubeida comes out of her dormitory and sits here. Saying this she left. The room was so wonderful that I stood dazed and looked around with tears in my eyes.
Twenty maidens came first. They stood in two rows in front of the throne that had been laid for Zubeida to sit on. Then Zubeida, walking like a swan among twenty other maidservants, came and sat on the throne. She was so laden with jewelry and heavy dress that she could walk at a slow pace. She sat on the same gemstone throne. All the maidservants stood at their proper places and my beloved, who was Zubeida’s special companion, stood on the right side of Zubeida with great gusto.
Now a maid pointed to me to bow down and salute. I went before the throne and bowed my head so much that it hit Zubeida’s feet. I remained in this condition for a long time and raised my head only when Zubeida asked me to lift it. He asked questions about my name, profession, family, etc., etc., to which I answered appropriately. Zubeida was pleased to see my appearance and to hear my words. He said, ‘I want you to marry my estranged daughter. I order for the wedding preparations. After ten days you will get married. Stay intelligent like this for ten days. I will also take permission from the Caliph for your marriage during this period.’ ,
I took leave from Zubeida and went to my room. Many times my girlfriend would come to me after taking the opportunity and go away after talking. I stayed there with great comfort. Zubeida also took permission of the Caliph to marry during this period and gave a lot of money for the wedding ceremony. Every day there was singing and playing of various kinds. On the tenth day we the bride and groom took a bath and put on valuable clothes. In the evening, the maidservants served a variety of dishes in front of us to eat. One rakabi had the same garlic dish that you guys fed me. I loved it and ate it more than anything else. Unfortunately after eating, I did not wash my hands properly, just wiped my hands with a handkerchief.
As the night passed, the maidservants lit many lamps and candles there and there was dancing and singing for a long time. When the night was quite late, the maids led both of us to the dormitory. When I tried to drag my wife in my lap, she started screaming in a very angry voice. All the maidservants came running to see what had happened. I was so nervous that I could not even ask him what had happened. The maidservants asked that mistress, what has happened that you are so angry, if we have made some mistake, then tell me. My wife cried out, ‘Get this unfortunate thing out of me immediately.’ I asked fearfully, ‘Sundari, what crime has happened to me that you are taking me away from you?’ He said, ‘ You are evil as well as rude. You ate garlic casserole and didn’t even wash your hands properly. I am deeply disgusted by such a dirty man. The stench of your hands is still torn my mind.’
Having said this, he ordered the maidservants to keep me pressed on the ground. The slaves did the same. The beauty started beating me with a leather whip in her hand and continued beating till she was sweating herself. Then he told the maidservants to take it to the doctor so that he could cut off the right hand with which he had eaten the casserole. I began to repent in my heart that my hand would be cut off for such a small crime, that such a beating was not considered sufficient for me, the cook who had cooked it and the maid who had laid the rakebi before me before I could do so. Why didn’t you die?
My wife’s cruelty remained as it was, but every single bandi started getting unhappy with my condition. All of them said to my wife, ‘Mistress, now spit anger. There is no doubt in his guilt and stupidity, but what does this poor person know about your reputation and your taste? It has got a lot of punishment. Now forgive his offenses.’ She said, ‘Not at all. It should be punished in such a way that it should always be remembered that it is necessary to wash hands after eating garlic. It should have some sign so that it always remembers its crime and then it does not commit the crime. When the maidservants again pleaded with one voice, she remained silent and got up from that room and left.
All the maidservants also went after him. Locked me in the same room. I remained there for ten days. No maidservant or servant would even come to me for fear of my wife’s anger, only an old lady would come twice a day to give me something to eat and drink. One day I asked him about the condition of my wife. He said, ‘She is sick. He could not tolerate the smell of garlic on your hand. Why didn’t you wash your hands after eating garlic casserole?’ I said, ‘Now what has happened is done.’ I began to think that there is no limit to the beauty of these women and also to anger. Still, the surprise was that my love for him did not go away from my heart and I began to yearn to have a glimpse of him.
Ten days later the old lady said, Your wife has recovered and has gone to the hammam for bath. She said that she would come here after bath. It may not come today but it will definitely come tomorrow.
The next day she came to me but her anger had not subsided. She said that I have not come to love you, but to punish. Having said this, he again ordered the maidservants to drop me on the ground. They put me on the ground and held me tightly, and my cruel wife took a knife and cut off the thumbs of both my hands and both feet. A maid immediately applied the ground root of a particular tree to my wounds, which would stop the bleeding, but due to the pain, I became unconscious. When I regained consciousness, he made me drink some liquor, which brought strength to my body.
Still I had to please my wife because without her grace my life would not have survived. I told him that now I will never eat such foul-smelling food and even if I do, I will wash my hands one hundred and forty times. She said, ‘Then I too will forget the pain that you have caused me. So we started living happily as husband and wife. But it was a great pain to me that I had to hide in the royal palace. My wife understood my sorrow without telling me and when she told this to Zubeida one day she gave fifty thousand asharfis to live in my separate house. My wife gave me ten thousand asharfi and said that buy some good house in the city so that we can live there.
I bought a nice house in the city and decorated it with valuables and also bought some slaves and slaves. We both started living happily. But after some time my wife got sick and died. I married again, after a few days that woman also died. Then I got married for the third time but my third wife also got married. I thought that this house itself is wretched, one should not live in it. Apart from this, I was also saddened by the death of three consecutive wives. That’s why I sold the house and went out for business in the country and abroad. First went to Persia, from there reached Samarkand and from there I have come here.
Saying this the grain merchant asked the emperor how the story was. That said, it is better than the story of Christian, but does not reach the story of the hunchback. Now the Jewish Hakim begins the story.