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 devouring grief.”

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 him there.”

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 disrespect!”

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.

/1/ This line of Persian verse has become a well-known proverb in both Persian and Urdu.

== on to Chapter 39 ==

 -- Amir Hamzah index page -- fwp's main page --