FORTY-SIX -- [Mihr Nigar runs
away in anger and has various adventures, until ‘Amar placates her and
brings her back.]
Please hear about Mihr Nigar. By morning
she had gone a hundred miles. It happened that King Ilyas, an infidel
and worshiper of Lat, passed by that way, with a falcon on his wrist.
Mihr Nigar, going behind a tree-trunk, concealed herself from his gaze.
He saw from a distance that a veiled figure had taken shelter behind a
tree at his approach. Coming near, he asked, “You there--who are
you, and where are you from? What is your name, and why have you
come into this forest?” Mihr Nigar said, “I’m a traveler. The
revolving of the heavens has brought me here, fate has placed me in this
distress.” The king said, “Will you enter my service?” She
answered, “I am not in need of employment.”
From her voice, the king suspected that it
might be a woman. When he reached out his hand and drew back the
veil from her face, he saw that it was an utterly beautiful woman:
if the sun were to look her in the eye, it would be dazzled, it would be
unable to bear the sight of her. At once he helped her down from
her horse and placed her in a palanquin, he reassured her very much.
Taking her to his palace, he provided every kind of luxury, and did everything
to please her. When he wanted to approach her, and to lay hands upon
her, Mihr Nigar said, “Beware! If you take one step forward, you’ll
suffer a great injury at my hands!” The king, fearful, went off to
his own house. He was very miserable and angry: “Alas, that
I should have such a Pari in my hands, and she should escape untouched!”
It happened that that same day *Khvajah Nihal
the merchant--who in former times had been a companion of Naushervan’s,
and had held Mihr Nigar as a child in his lap, and had made much profit
through this connection--presented himself, with gifts and rarities, in
the service of that king. Seeing the king downcast, he asked the
cause of his unhappiness, he inquired about his low spirits. The
king told him the secret of his heart, he disclosed his hidden feelings:
“I’ve found a Pari in the forest, but she doesn’t accept me, she doesn’t
favor me, and I am pining for her!” Khvajah Nihal said, “If I can
see her, I’ll recite a spell and make her willing; in one moment I’ll make
her obedient to you.” The king at once took Khvajah Nihal with him
and showed him the house from a distance: “She’s in that house.”
When Khvajah Nihal looked through a crack
in the door, he recognized her, and impulsively called her by name.
Mihr Nigar too recognized Khvajah Nihal; she opened the door and told him
to come inside. The Khvajah, after learning her circumstances, quietly
reassured the princess, and advised her, “Don’t worry at all. I’ll
get you out of here and take you away, I’ll rescue you from the hands of
this evil-hearted boor.” Having comforted the princess, he went to
the king, and petitioned, “Let the guards be ordered to allow me access
to that woman at any hour of the day or night, with no hindrance.
Through your ascendant fortune, two days from now I will make her willing,
I will make her favorably inclined to you.” The king, pleased, gave
him a robe of honor, and gratified him with many gifts.
The Khvajah, when he left the king’s presence,
went and looked in the horse-traders’ stables in the city. Finally,
choosing two swift and strong horses, he bought them, and brought them
to the door of the house in which Mihr Nigar was living. And that
same night he mounted the princess on one, and himself mounted the other,
and left the city; they rode the whole night. In the morning, the
king summoned the Khvajah. He did not find him at his camping-place.
In the meantime, the guards came and informed him, “That woman whom Your
Excellency kept in the house is not to be seen; the house lies empty.
We are very much surprised that she has gotten out.” The king realized
that Khvajah Nihal had taken her and run off. At once, taking a fierce
army, he set off in pursuit.
At about noon, the princess, seeing a cloud
of dust, said to Khvajah Nihal, “Oh Khvajah, give your horse his head!
Look, the king has arrived, that shameless wretch has come!” The
Khvajah began looking at the cloud of dust. But Mihr Nigar rode into
the depths of the forest, to be hidden from that worthless one’s gaze,
so that he wouldn’t capture her. In the meantime, the king and his
retinue reached the Khvajah. Khvajah Nihal stood rooted to the spot,
in shock. The king killed him, he took his revenge on him; and he
began to search for Mihr Nigar. But Mihr Nigar’s trail, like that
of the ‘anqa, was not to be found, although he took a good deal of trouble
searching for her. He searched and searched until, losing hope, he
had no choice but to go home.
Mihr Nigar, by the next day, had gone a number
of days’ journey away from there. She was faint with hunger--when
just then she saw a melon-field. Then she felt comforted. She
asked the melon-farmer for a cantaloupe. He brought a number of cantaloupes
and placed them before her. Mihr Nigar began to eat the cantaloupes,
and recovered her strength. She was so hungry that she ate them all.
And that despicable bastard, who couldn’t have been less than ninety years
old, began saying to Mihr Nigar, “Oh sweetheart, if you’ll stay with me,
I’ll keep you in wonderful style, I’ll give you whatever you ask for!”
Mihr Nigar was astonished: “What is this buffoon jabbering about?”
When she had eaten her fill of the cantaloupes
and felt her hunger assuaged, she asked him, “Don’t you have any family?”
He replied, “I have ten sons and eleven daughters and a wife.” Mihr
Nigar said, “When you already have a wife, how can I stay with you, how
could I be happy here?” The old bastard replied, “I’ll divorce her,
for your sake I’ll make her live separately.” Mihr Nigar said, “All
right, go and divorce her; I’ll sit here and wait for you.” That
simpleton went to divorce his wife, and Mihr Nigar, leaving the price of
his cantaloupes, mounted her horse and went on.
When the old melon-farmer, having divorced
his wife, returned to the melon-field, he found no Mihr Nigar. He
began to shriek, “Oh Pari, alas Pari, where have you gone? You’ve
left me miserable!” His wife, bringing the landlord along to the
field to make her husband see reason, came and found him saying “Oh Pari,
alas Pari!” and weeping. They all concluded that his mind was clouded,
that the Jinns had possessed him./1/
As Mihr Nigar traveled on from there, evening
found her in a jungle. Wherever she looked, she saw beasts of prey
like the tiger, the cheetah, the hyena, the wolf, the bison, the rhinoceros,
the bear, the langur, and the monkey, which devour everything they find.
Leaving her horse, she climbed a tree and settled herself in its branches.
In the morning a tiger appeared, killed Mihr Nigar’s horse, and went
back where it had come from. Mihr Nigar, climbing down from the tree,
tied the horse’s saddle to the tree. She felt very sad at the loss
of her horse, and set out from there on foot.
In the evening she came to a very large artificial
pond, just beyond some fields near a village. Next to the pond she
saw a splendid big tree. The princess climbed into the tree and settled
herself there. In the morning, the village headman, wanting to bathe,
sent his maidservant to bring water from the pond. The maidservant
saw Mihr Nigar’s face reflected in the pond, and thought it was the image
of her own. With great conceit, she took the empty pots and went
back to the house. The headman asked, “Have you brought the water?”
She replied, “Ha! As beautiful and radiant as I am, am I to carry
water? Am I to do chores for you like a maidservant?” The headman,
beating her quite sufficiently with his shoe, said, “Go, you whore, bring
water at once--and don’t dawdle even a moment! For I want to bathe,
I’m tired of feeling dirty, I’ll have a good bath!”
Again she took the pot and went to the pond.
Mihr Nigar was still there, and again she saw Mihr Nigar’s reflection and
was extremely excited. Without bringing water, she went back to the
house, and repeated just what she had said before. Again the headman
punished her and sent her back to bring the water. The third time
too, she saw Mihr Nigar’s reflection, and went back to the house with an
empty pot; she was so overcome with pride that she had lost all regard
for everyone else. Mihr Nigar realized that if the girl returned
to the pond once more, there would be mischief afoot, some new danger would
surely come about. Climbing down from the tree, she set out, with
no particular direction in mind.
When the maidservant again spoke in such a
way to her master, he, having no choice, showed her a mirror and said,
“Look at your face, you bitch! Is this what you’re so proud of?”
When she looked in the mirror, she saw a repulsive face. Then, after
thinking hard, she replied, “Come to the pond and look at my face in the
water, and see whether I’m telling the truth or not!” Grudgingly,
the landlord, taking some more men along, went with her to the pond.
Although she saw that her face, in the water too, was just as she had seen
it in the mirror, she shamelessly kept on saying, “With such beauty and
radiance I won’t carry water, I absolutely won’t do such a lowly task!”
People said that perhaps some Pari had disturbed her mind,/2/
and she ought to be given treatment.
Mihr Nigar, who had climbed down from that
tree and gone on, arrived the next day at the abode of a faqir. That
faqir was the chief of a group of four hundred, he was the headman of a
large number. Seeing Mihr Nigar, he inquired about her. Mihr
Nigar said, “I am a weaver’s daughter. My father married a second
time in his old age, and my stepmother threw me out. So I wander,
wretched and homeless, troubled and distressed by my stepmother’s harshness
and lack of affection.” The faqir was quite soft-hearted. Hearing
Mihr Nigar’s story, he replied, “I adopt you as my child, I take you as
my own daughter! I like your good manners. Share out the alms
among the faqirs, do this task every day.” He entrusted all the management
of the house to her, he gave her entire authority over the whole household.
Mihr Nigar, offering thanks to God, began to live there; night and day
she gave thanks for the faqir’s kindness and affection.
Now please hear about the ‘Ayyar and King
of ‘Ayyars. When he went out searching and searching for Mihr Nigar,
after many days he arrived in the city of that king who had taken Mihr
Nigar from the forest. Picking up the hints and rumors there, he
went on, and came upon the melon-farmer in his field: hearing “Oh
Pari, alas Pari!” on the farmer’s lips, he knew that it could only have
been she, her fate had brought her to all these places. From there
he reached the jungle where the tiger had killed her horse, and Mihr Nigar
had tied the saddle to a tree and passed on from there. ‘Amar untied
the saddle from the tree, and confided it to Zanbil. And from there
he arrived in the village where the headman’s crazed maidservant lived.
From there he reached the abode of the faqir
with many followers; after all his wanderings he found himself where he
wanted to be. From far off he saw that Mihr Nigar was sharing out
the alms among the faqirs. He too, taking on the appearance of an
old man, drew near. Mihr Nigar began to give him food as well.
The Khvajah, with tears in his eyes, said, “Oh Princess, I’m not a faqir,
I’m your slave ‘Amar. I repent of my offense. I’m your old
servant, and I’ve combed so many lands in search of you!” When the
princess saw ‘Amar, she flung her arms around him and began to weep.
The faqir, hearing the sound of weeping, came
running, saying, “My child, is everything all right? Why are you
weeping so bitterly?” Mihr Nigar replied, “Everything is fine.
This is my father!” The faqir began to reason with him: “Oh
my dear brother, is this how you should treat your daughter?” ‘Amar
replied, “What can I do, I’m penniless! How can I get her married,
where will I get all the property and goods?” The faqir gave ‘Amar
five hundred rupees and said, “Arrange her marriage quickly, gain the merit
of performing this task.” ‘Amar, taking the money and Mihr Nigar,
set out from there. While on the road, he deposited the rupees in
Zanbil. And making Mihr Nigar unconscious, he tied her into a bundle,
slung her onto his back, and headed for the fort, so that he could get
her into the fort quickly, and feel relieved.
Hurmuz and Faramarz too had been informed
by their ‘ayyars that in the night Mihr Nigar had come as far as their
camp, and had dressed as a man, mounted the guard-post horse, and gone
no one knew where. And ‘Amar had gone in search of her, and had set
out to find her. They took counsel together: “Except for this
mountain pass, there’s no other way of coming in; on the other side there
isn’t the scope to enter. Our ‘ayyars will wait in ambush.
When ‘Amar comes, and brings Mihr Nigar with him, we’ll snatch Mihr Nigar
away from him--we’ll never let her get into the fort! And if we can
overpower him, we’ll kill him too; and if we could capture him alive--what
words could be sufficient? From then on we’d always be safe from
Four hundred ‘ayyars hid themselves at the
foot of the mountain. Hurmuz and Faramarz posted ‘ayyars in relays
as runners, so that when ‘Amar arrived, and the ‘ayyars emerged from their
ambush to surround him, they themselves could at once be informed, and
could bring some picked men to the ‘ayyars’ aid, so that none of the ‘ayyars
should feel fearful or be put to flight. And they ordered the people
they planned to take with them, not to undress, and to have relays of fresh
horses available. Thus when ‘Amar, with the bundle slung on his back,
reached the mountain pass, four hundred ‘ayyars emerged from ambush and
surrounded him, they encircled him from all four sides and pressed him
‘Amar too seized his sword and shield, he
drew his well-tempered sword from its scabbard. Hurmuz and Faramarz
were informed that ‘Amar had been surrounded, they heard about his encirclement.
At once, with their chosen troops, they rushed at him. ‘Amar, seeing
the princes, was very frightened, and felt fearful at heart: “They
have so many men with them, there’s a great number of the enemy!
I’m alone, and loaded down as well; carrying this bundle makes me even
more helpless and vulnerable.” He began to pray.
In the space of a moment the Veiled One Dressed
in Orange, with forty thousand horsemen, arrived; at God’s command, he
came to ‘Amar’s aid. Killing Jahandar of Kabul and Jahangir of Kabul,
Zhopin’s brothers, he scattered Hurmuz and Faramarz’s whole party, and
put all their companions to confusion. Many infidels were killed;
only those who preferred flight over fighting survived, they escaped the
circle of the slain. Hurmuz and Faramarz, defeated, low in spirits,
mourning for Jahandar of Kabul and Jahangir of Kabul, went back to their
camp; they had suffered a great shock.
The Veiled One, escorting ‘Amar to his fort,
set out for his own dwelling. ‘Amar, entering the fort, brought Mihr
Nigar into her palace, and felt free of concern about her. Again
begging her forgiveness, he was pardoned for his fault; through attentive
service he made her forget all her grief and distress.
by Jinns is the cause of many forms of erratic behavior, according to an
Arab folk belief that goes back to pre-Islamic days.
do not possess people, but can disturb their minds by revealing themselves
in all their bewitching beauty.
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