THIRTY-EIGHT -- [The Amir tries
in vain to return from the Realm of Qaf to the Realm of the World.]
Earlier it has already been narrated that
the Amir, after killing Kharpal and Kharchal, stayed six more months at
the king’s request, and was forced to remain there for some time longer.
One night the Amir, with Asman Pari, was asleep in the Pavilion of Solomon,
on a jewel-adorned bedstead. Suddenly in his dreams the Amir saw
Mihr Nigar: she had languished and grown thin as a twig, in the grief
of separation her body had wasted away and become thin and bent like the
new moon. All her beauty and radiance had gone; she looked like an
old woman. And she spoke, weeping, to the Amir, with rivers of tears
flowing from her wet eyes: “What is it, oh Father of Greatness?
What sin have I committed, how have I displeased you, that you burn me
in the fire of separation, while you enjoy yourself with Paris in the Realm
of Qaf! Alas, a thousand times alas! The earth is hard, the
sky far away, and man is oppressed in every way. If I had the power
I’d sink into the earth, or fly up to the sky, and free myself from this
The Amir cried out and suddenly awoke.
He saw that he was hopelessly removed from Mihr Nigar and the Realm of
the World. Helplessly he began to weep, loudly and uncontrollably,
and to drown himself in tears and sobs of sorrow. Hearing the Amir’s
weeping, Asman Pari awoke with a start, and asked the Amir, “Are you all
right? What grief has come over you, that you’re sobbing and distressing
yourself so much?” The Amir said, “How can I tell you of the wretchedness
I feel? I am so sick of life, I feel like destroying my life with
my own hands!” Then she replied, “Please at least say something!
Tell me about your grief.”
The Amir said, “Asman Pari, for the Lord’s
sake please send me at once to the Realm of the World--however it can be
done, please have me taken there! Just now in my dream I saw Mihr
Nigar in the most terrible state, I saw her utterly distraught with grief
at being parted from me.” Asman Pari asked, “Oh Father of Greatness,
who is Mihr Nigar? Do tell me about her, and explain all this fully
to me.” The Amir said, “She is the daughter of Naushervan, King of
the Seven Realms, and she’s my beloved. In beauty and radiance she
is peerless, and she’s my own true love to whom I’ve lost my heart.”
Asman Pari, hearing this, replied, “So now
I know! You have an attachment in another place, and you love some
daughter of Adam too! So why should you not clamor to go there, why
should you not eat your heart out in her absence? Listen, Amir, tell
the truth: is Mihr Nigar even more beautiful than I, is she so peerless
in loveliness, charm, airs, and graces that even when I’m with you you
pine to see her, and love her with a thousand loves?” From the Amir’s
mouth there burst out uncontrollably, “Even Mihr Nigar’s serving maids
are thousands of times more beautiful and charming than you!”
Asman Pari, hearing this, grew enraged and
said, “Oh Hamzah, you think me even lower than Mihr Nigar’s serving maids,
you’re so outrageous that you think her handmaidens better than me!
Well, we’ll see whether you ever get to the World while I’m alive, and
whether you ever escape from my clutches!” The Sahib-qiran was incensed,
after all--he replied, “If you stand in my way, then I’ll kill you and
pass on; come what may, I’ll get myself there!” Asman Pari answered
him, “Don’t go boasting that you’re the Sahib-qiran, and descended from
Hazrat Abraham the Prophet, and superior to me in birth and station!
If you’re the Sahib-qiran and of noble descent, I too am descended from
Hazrat Solomon, I’m the descendant of a most powerful and glorious Prophet.
I’m of high birth, I’m not in any way lower than you! When you seek
to kill me, I’ll kill you instead!”
This speech infuriated the Amir; he was very
much enraged by her insolent reply. Drawing his sword, he rushed
at Asman Pari. She too, drawing a dagger, flung herself at the Amir,
and raised her weapon to kill him. The Parizad ladies, running up,
came between them, pulled them both back, and separated them. Someone
went to tell the king about this, and informed him of the whole situation.
The king was very distressed when he heard this, and came running.
He spoke angrily to his daughter: “Oh you shameless one, do you set
yourself up against your husband? Have you no fear of God and the
Prophet? Aren’t you afraid even of me, or of your own ill repute?
Go, get out of my sight!”
Having scolded his daughter, he took the Amir
into his pavilion, and said, “Let morning come--please be patient for one
more night. Then I’ll send you off, and give you leave to go.”
In short, when morning came, the king seated the Amir on a throne, and
equipped him with the necessary provisions. And he commanded four
swift-flying Devs, “Take the Amir quickly to the Realm of the World; escort
News reached Asman Pari that the king had
sent the Amir off, and had permitted him to go to the World. At once
she took *Quraishah, the Amir’s daughter, in her arms, and went to him,
so that when he saw the little girl he would feel love for her. She
saw that the Amir had already mounted the throne. Weeping profusely,
she began to say, “Oh Sahib-qiran, if you don’t love me then you don’t,
so be it. But don’t you have any pity for this little girl either,
isn’t there any love in your heart for this child? For the Lord’s
sake, pardon my sin; from now on I’ll never talk back to you or show such
The Amir said, “I’m not angry at you, and
I do love the little girl. But it’s very necessary for me to go there;
for the time being I am going to the Realm of the World. I’ll tell
you the truth about my going: having promised to return in eighteen
days, I left my army there, and for this reason didn’t bring anyone with
me. Now so many years have passed, and they must be very troubled:
‘What has happened to the Amir, is he alive or dead?’ Besides, whenever
you call me, I’ll come, and convey myself here without hesitation.
And where’s the necessity for you to call me? You yourself, whenever
you feel like it, can come to me, and convey yourself to the World in the
space of a breath. Bring Quraishah with you too when you come.”
With these words, he said, “All right, farewell!” and had the Devs lift
up the throne, and set out; he left on the road toward home.
Asman Pari, going to her house, worked herself
into a bad state, and felt very sorrowful at the separation. It happened
that Salasil Parizad came by to see Asman Pari, and found her in an utterly
distraught condition. When he saw this he was grieved and asked,
“Why are you distraught, and why have you worked yourself into such a bad
state?” Asman Pari, weeping profusely, said, “Today the king has
sent Hamzah to the Realm of the World, and seen him off quite freely.
If you will be so kind as to go and threaten the Devs, and tell them to
abandon Hamzah in the Wilderness of Amazement, and not to take him to the
Realm of the World, then I’ll be extremely happy. If you won’t do
what I say, then I won’t eat or drink! If Hamzah asks why you’ve
come, tell him you’ve come to say goodbye, that your affectionate feelings
have brought you.”
Salasil obeyed Asman Pari’s order; he instructed
the Devs in just that way. The Devs consulted together: “If
we disregard Asman Pari’s order, and step outside the bounds of obedience
to her, it will be impossible for us to stay in Qaf, and through this disobedience
our whole clan will be dishonored and brought low. The best thing
is for us to abandon the Sahib-qiran in the Wilderness of Amazement, and
not act against Asman Pari’s order.” Having agreed on this policy,
in the evening they put the throne down near the Wilderness of Amazement,
and paused for a rest. The Amir said, “Why have you stopped here?”
They replied, “We’re starving! We’ll go hunting a bit, to find relief
from the pangs of hunger. When our stomachs are filled, then lifting
the throne again will not seem a heavy task.” The Amir said, “That’s
fine. You eat and drink something; I too will offer my prayer, and
fulfill my duty toward God.”
The Amir performed his ablutions in a stream,
and offered his prayer atop a hill. When he finished he sat down
on the throne and began waiting for the Devs to come and take up the throne.
He couldn’t see any sign of a Dev; looking out for them, he didn’t close
his eyes all night. When morning came, he offered his prayer, and
again began watching out for the Devs. In this way hours passed.
Then the Amir realized, “Beyond any doubt the Devs have abandoned me here
out of fear of Asman Pari, and gone on their way; they’ve gone off most
treacherously. However, I should resign myself to my fate:
I ought to proceed on foot, and finally somehow or other get through this
journey. It’s a famous saying, ‘Whatever happens to the sons of Adam
is sooner or later over.’”/1/
With these words, he stood up and went onward; placing his entire trust
in God, he set out to leave that fearful wilderness.
At midday he arrived in the desert, where
there wasn’t the least trace of a tree--to the extent that not even grass
grew, and water was completely unavailable. No living creature could
be seen; not to speak of men, it would have turned even a Dev’s blood to
water. Wherever one looked, sand dunes glistened like mercury.
The intense heat of the sun caused flames to leap up from the sand.
The desert wind blew so fiercely that if I were to describe it, the nib
of my pen would be blistered and the pages of the book would be scorched.
The sun’s heat made the desert almost equal to the sphere of fire.
The very wilderness itself called out “Help! I surrender!”
Every piece of equipment on the Amir’s body
grew so hot that merely touching it blistered his hand, merely saying its
name raised boils on his tongue. The Amir threw away his weapons
on the plain, he took the load off his shoulders. Thirst tormented
him so terribly that life almost left him--the bird of his soul was about
to take wing from its physical cage, fly to the land of Nothingness, and
nest in the branches of the #Tree of Paradise. In desperation, he
dug a little into one of the sand dunes. When he reached moist and
cool earth, he lay down with his chest pressed into it; so through his
chest he felt a bit of coolness, and his heart was comforted.
When this sand too grew hot, he scratched
his way deeper in, and lay still. The sand dune, which now had no
support from underneath, slid down and collapsed from the force of the
wind. The Amir was trapped under the sand, so that he couldn’t escape
from the dune; every limb of his body became useless.
It happened that one day the king asked ‘Abdur
Rahman, “Tell me, how far has Hamzah traveled? He must have reached
the Realm of the World; he must have known the joy of seeing his near and
dear ones.” ‘Abdur Rahman, placing the board before him, threw the
divining-dice. He looked up the question in the appropriate table,
multiplied the figures together, put their product in the sixteen geomancy-boxes,
and drew the divining diagram. He found Hamzah trapped under the
sand; discovering this situation caused him much sorrow. With an
uncontrollable sigh he said, “Alas! Hamzah’s young life has been
cut off for nothing!”
Then he said to the king, “Now no one will
trust you. When things are like this, who will choose to obey you?
A man like Hamzah, who killed your enemies and in fact made you King of
Kings anew, and saved you from such bloodthirsty foes! You’ve done
an evil deed in sending him off for no reason to such an end!” The
king summoned the Devs whom he had sent to carry Hamzah on the throne,
and angrily asked them, “Where did you take Hamzah?” They replied,
“At Asman Pari’s order, we abandoned him in the Wilderness of Amazement.
If we had taken him to the World, by the princess’ order we would have
been killed, or banished from the land.”
The king turned red with rage; he was extremely
angry, and was very much grieved at hearing this news. Looking toward
Asman Pari, he said, “What is this mischief?” She replied, “I don’t
consent to have Hamzah sent to the World; I can’t be happy for a moment
in his absence. As for the rest, I’ll go myself to search for Hamzah
and bring him back--look, I’ll mount and be ready to set out!” The
king said, “Oh, no doubt, no doubt! How do you expect to find him
now? You’ll only take pains for nothing, with no benefit!”
With these words, the king himself mounted and prepared to leave.
He took Devs with him, and set out at once.
Entering the Wilderness of Amazement, he ordered
the Devs and Jinns and Paris, “You must search for Hamzah in this desert,
you must free him from wherever he is trapped. Whoever finds him
and brings him to me will receive jewelled wings, and will be given a high
place in my esteem.” As they searched, they found Hamzah’s weapons
lying here and there; they took these weapons and showed them to the king.
When the king saw the weapons, he was very much grieved, and felt most
sorrowful. Again he urged his people on in the search for Hamzah,
and commanded them to look most carefully. At length, they all came
back baffled--they had found no sign of him anywhere. Asman Pari
began to lament and weep, she began to scatter pearl-drops from her eyes.
By chance a Parizad passed by the dune under
which the Amir lay trapped, the sand in which he was buried. And
at that moment the power of God lifted up the sand from there, and flung
it in another direction, as if it arranged a way for the Amir to come out.
The Night-glowing Pearl of the Amir’s turban could be seen: there
was a clue visible under this dune. The Parizad, scraping away the
sand, saw that the Amir was lying unconscious with his eyes closed, with
no strength at all in his body, in bad condition. He called out,
“Here’s the Earthquake of Qaf! The great warrior is lying right here,
trapped in the sand!”
When his voice reached Shahpal’s ears, Shahpal
instantly ran, barefoot, to that hill. Removing the Amir from the
hill, he carried him in his arms and laid him down on his own throne.
He placed perfumes near his nose, and caused him to inhale various kinds
of sweet scents. Two hours later, when the Amir recovered consciousness,
he found himself in a strange situation: he was lying on a throne,
and the king was seated beside him, sitting there very sad and melancholy.
Gathering his strength, the Amir rose and said to King Shahpal, “What harm
did I ever do you, to cause you to punish me like this?” King Shahpal
said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, I swear by Hazrat Solomon, and by your life, that
I hadn’t the slightest hand in this, I never at all wanted you to be tormented.
You’ve done me many great kindnesses, all of us are your servants--as if
I would have even the smallest hand in this! Whatever was done, Asman
Pari did it; it was that fool who dealt you such a blow.”
In the midst of this, Asman Pari ran and fell
at the Amir’s feet, and repeatedly made the gesture of taking his misfortunes
onto herself. She said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, truly I’m a sinner, I’m
entirely guilty. This once, pardon my sin, and soften your heart
toward me! Come for a few days to the City of Gold to take your ease,
and give yourself some rest. For you have suffered a great blow,
you’ve endured too much pain. After six months I will definitely
send you to the World; I will certainly be faithful to this promise.”
The Amir said, “No one can have the slightest
confidence in your words and deeds.” Asman Pari swore an oath, and
invoked the name of Hazrat Solomon. She took the Amir to the City
of Gold. For six months Shahpal’s army stayed there also, until the
Amir could regain his strength and return to full health.
line of Persian verse has become a well-known proverb in both Persian and
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