TWENTY-NINE -- [‘Amar persuades
Zhopin that the Amir is dead.]
Now please hear about Hurmuz and Faramarz.
When they were defeated by the Veiled One and fled, they ran twenty-four
miles before they stopped to take a breath, they didn’t pause to rest even
a moment. On Bakhtyarak’s advice, they wrote telling the whole matter
to the king: “The #revolving of the heavens has brought down such
a calamity upon us--the whole army was caught in a great disaster!”
Naushervan sent off, with a renowned champion,
treasure and tents and pavilions for his sons. He wrote to them in
a note, “This treasure and these tents are being sent off to you, and very
soon a fierce army will be reaching you. Be careful, and don’t by
any means cease to pursue ‘Amar; don’t turn aside from encountering him.”
Hurmuz and Faramarz, seeing the contents of the note, were reassured.
Collecting the looted, beaten, runaway soldiers, they again camped before
the fort with a body of forty thousand horsemen.
Now please hear about the army of Islam.
When no more provisions remained in the fort, everyone said to ‘Adi, “The
food is all gone, it’s as if we too are finished! What remains won’t
feed us for more than four days--then everyone will die of hunger!
It’s proper to inform Khvajah ‘Amar right now; some solution for this problem
is very urgently necessary.” ‘Adi said, “All of you come with me,
and tell him all about it. If I go alone to tell him, he won’t believe
me: he’ll think me a liar and suspect that I have some personal interest
in the matter! This idea will enter his heart, and there will be
ill-will between him and me for no reason.”
The whole army together went with ‘Adi to
‘Amar, and informed him that the food was finished, and told him that the
inhabitants of the fort were worried, and said, “Please either have the
gate of the fort opened, so that we can attack the enemy and die fighting,
or arrange for food, so that we won’t die clawing the earth with hunger,
and waste our lives for nothing.” ‘Amar said, “My children,
there is still food here for four days. All of you calmly remain
in your proper places; keep your hearts firm with trust in God’s grace.
I have sown the seeds, I’ve spent a lot of wealth in cultivating them--the
harvest is about to be ready, in a few days there will be a storehouse
full of grain.” The soldiers returned to their places full of confidence;
they trusted ‘Amar’s word and rejoiced in their hearts.
But ‘Amar dived into the ocean of thought.
After a moment such a satisfactory piece of ‘ayyari occurred to him that
he happily lifted his head; the scheme that had entered his heart caused
him to rejoice greatly. So putting his troops on the alert, he left
the fort and went into a mountain valley. Placing his hand on Zanbil,
he requested a miracle. From it he received this strange phenomenon:
he immediately became forty yards in stature, and a lustrous white beard
a foot long appeared around his face--this kind of extraordinary appearance
became manifest. Walking along on high wooden sandals, with a tiger-skin
sack tucked under his arm, he began looking around like a stranger at Hurmuz’s
camp and fort, and mumbling extraordinary things.
By chance, *Katarah of Kabul the ‘ayyar, who
was Zhopin’s nephew, came by that way. Seeing ‘Amar’s appearance
and stature, he was petrified with astonishment--he turned pale with extreme
fear and awe, for he had never seen a man of such an appearance.
Trembling and fearful, he approached and courteously saluted him and showed
him great reverence and respect; with folded hands he asked, “Where have
you come from, sir, for what purpose have you come this way, and why do
you stare repeatedly at the camp and fort? You are staring wildly
‘Amar said, “Who are you to ask, and what
do you mean by asking? What is your name?” He replied, “I am
the chief of Hurmuz’s ‘ayyars, and the nephew of Naushervan’s son-in-law/1/;
I’m known as Katarah of Kabul, and I’m greatly honored by Naushervan’s
favor.” ‘Amar said, “Sa’d of the #Dark Regions is my name, and I
have an important task to perform. I’m the younger brother of Alexander
of the Dark Regions, King of the Dark Regions. A man named Hamzah
had gone to the aid of Shahpal, King of Kings of the Realm of Qaf.
This man showed great hardihood, but when he confronted a Dev named ‘Ifrit--well,
one was a Dev and the other a son of Adam! With just one blow his
bones were shattered.
“Shahpal, putting his bones in a leather bag,
sent them to my brother, saying ‘Your border is nearer the border of the
sons of Adam--you can easily accomplish this task. Send this bag
through somebody to Naushervan, so he can have these bones buried in a
cemetery of the sons of Adam. Lift this burden from my neck.’
For a time my brother waited, thinking that if any son of Adam passed by
that way, he could send the bag through him to Naushervan, and complete
this good deed. When for some time no son of Adam passed by that
way, my brother ordered, ‘You go yourself, deliver the bag, and earn the
religious merit for it.’ So I’m looking to see if this is the fort
of Ctesiphon, and the camp of Hamzah, or not. I’m perplexed, and
I’ve been wandering around for many days.”
Katarah, hearing this, was overjoyed:
it was as if the light of his desire had been lit. He said, “Your
Honor, this is the camp of Naushervan’s son-in-law and sons. Please
come along, I’ll take you to them, and introduce you to them.” He
replied, “What could be better? ‘What does a blind man want?
Two eyes!’” Katarah, with great happiness, brought him to Zhopin,
and told Zhopin the whole story. Zhopin, seating ‘Amar with great
reverence and respect in a jewel-adorned chair, inquired about his well-being,
and pleased him with his courtesy and graciousness. ‘Amar repeated
all that he had said to Katarah.
Zhopin, showing him great hospitality, said,
“Where is that bag? Please give it to me, and accept a receipt for
it from me. I’ll send the bag very securely to the king, and write
all the circumstances in detail and submit them in the king’s service.”
‘Amar took a serpent-skin bag from his sack, confided it to Zhopin, and
thus passed on the burden of his trust to him. ‘Amar said, “You’ve
taken a great load off my mind! I’m very grateful, and have been
extremely pleased to meet you. Well, may the Lord protect you; now
I’ll take my leave.”
Zhopin urged him very much, “Please remain
for some days as a guest, rest yourself from the fatigue of the road, and
be gracious to us! You must certainly delight the princes too with
your radiant beauty! We wish to show you every respect.” Nevertheless,
‘Amar did not agree. Returning to his own fort, he took on his true
form, and became his real self again. The officers of the army asked
about food. He gave them this answer: “Brothers, today I have
just returned from scattering the seeds. In two or three days you
can all go and reap the harvest, and take your ease in comfort.”
Please hear about Zhopin. Taking that
bag, he showed it to Hurmuz and Faramarz, told them all about Sa’d of Zulmat’s
visit and his strange aspect, and informed them of his appearance and the
whole situation. Hurmuz and Faramarz, hearing of Hamzah’s fate, were
so overjoyed that they could hardly contain themselves. But Bakhtyarak
laughed and replied, “I see ‘Amar’s ‘ayyari in this; this trickery strikes
me as just in his style! May Lat and Manat not make me speak falsely,
may they make my judgment correct. The people in the fort have no
food, and ‘Amar is distracted with worry. So he has invented this
scheme for stocking the fort with food; he has taken advantage of your
gullibility. Because if in truth Hamzah had been killed, the Parizads
would have come and informed ‘Amar, they would certainly have told him
about Hamzah’s fate. And this creature was forty yards tall.
If ‘Amar wants, he can miraculously become a thousand yards in stature.
Whatever kind of appearance he wants, he can assume.”
Zhopin said, “On this bag are the seals of
four hundred kings of Qaf--why should we consider them unreliable, and
accept your foolish opinion without proof?” Bakhtyarak answered,
“It’s up to you, but I don’t believe that his information is accurate or
his words trustworthy.” Zhopin said, “In any case we should keep
silent, and say nothing about this matter. I’ll send for news of
the fort, and verify how things are there.” With these words, he
urged the ‘ayyars to bring word about the fort, and to make great efforts
to discover how ‘Amar and the officers of the army were behaving:
whether they were cheerful, or had heard the news of Hamzah’s death and
were absorbed in grief and lamentation.
Please hear about ‘Amar. From that same
day he had stopped the sounding of the drum, and had maintained a kind
of silence in the fort. Zhopin’s ‘ayyars prowled around the fort
for three days, and found absolutely none of the former hustle and bustle,
they didn’t see the people of the fort showing good cheer. On the
fourth day they went and said to Zhopin, “There’s complete silence in the
fort: in three days and nights we didn’t hear the drum beaten even
once, we didn’t see that anyone was cheerful. Formerly, the drum
used to be beaten in the fort at all five prayer-times, everyone was cheerful
and looked entirely carefree.” Bakhtyarak, when he heard this, said,
“If this is the situation, then it’s surely not without cause: one
or another bad event has happened, without a doubt Hamzah has died in Qaf.”
Hurmuz and Faramarz and Bakhtyarak and Zhopin and the officers of the army
were delighted; all anxiety vanished from their hearts.
And as for what ‘Amar did, that night at midnight
he told his whole army, “All of you call out the Amir’s name, weep and
lament loudly, express grief.” Cries of ‘Alas, Sahib-qiran!’ and
‘Oh woe, Sahib-qiran!’ were raised. Hurmuz and Faramarz and Zhopin
and Bakhtyarak had their ears open. When they heard this they all
were filled with joy. When they heard the fort-dwellers’ wailing
and lamentation, they were so happy they couldn’t contain themselves.
They had the drum of celebration sounded, and from the least to the greatest,
all were convinced of the Amir’s death.
is presumably given this title by Katarah in anticipation of his expected
marriage with Mihr Nigar.
== on to Chapter