FORTY-SEVEN -- [The Amir tries again to leave Qaf, and again is unwillingly reunited with Asman Pari.]

Now, before I come back to their dastan,/1/ I will tell a few sentences of the dastan of the Sahib-qiran, the World-conqueror.  Leaving the fort of Garden of Iram, he wandered like a madman in the wilderness for forty days.  Disgusted by those people’s bad faith, he went off entirely alone.  On the forty-first day, he came to his senses.  He saw that there was a fort before him, but its gate was shut, and Devs stood all around it, entrenched there to besiege the gate.  The Amir gave one battle-cry so forcefully that even the fort trembled; most of the Devs’ eardrums burst, and those Devs who were standing right before him fled at once.

The chief of the Devs’ army, seeing the Amir, recognized him; coming face-to-face with him, he said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, you’ve destroyed the whole garden of Qaf, you’ve done very terrible mischief.  I recognize you very clearly, I know the truth about you very well.  Today you’ve come into my power--now you won’t escape alive!”  With these words, he struck a blow with his cypress-tree staff at the Amir’s head.  The Amir blocked the blow, and struck one sword-blow that slashed off half his head, half his neck, and one arm.  He fell to the ground.  His army, seeing the Amir’s prowess, ran off.

In the fort lived the Cow-foot race; their king, whose name was Tulu’, came out of the fort.  Embracing the Amir, he led him with extreme honor and reverence into the fort, and with great pomp and dignity he feasted the Amir with much hospitality and respect.  The Amir, after the feast was over, asked him, “Can you take me to the World, can you release me from the confusion and distress of my wanderings?”  Tulu’ said, “Why couldn’t I take you?  But Asman Pari has had it proclaimed that anyone who takes you to the World will receive severe torment at her hands.  But I am willing to accept even this risk, if you will accept my daughter in marriage.”

The Amir said, “God forbid!  I don’t agree to any marriage!  I don’t find the people of this land very pleasing.”  Tulu’ replied, “If you will not marry my daughter, there is a beast called *Rukh which is my enemy--please kill it, please pull out this thorn from my heart.  If you fulfill even one of these two conditions, then I’ll take you to the World, I’ll assume the burden of Asman Pari’s bad opinion of me.”  The Amir said, “I accept the second condition.  Where is this beast who is your enemy?  Come along and show it to me.”  Tulu’ sent his men along with the Amir:  “Point out that beast from a distance, and show it to him; tell him its traits very clearly.”

The Sahib-qiran, going with them, saw a white hillock, and asked, “What house is this, what great and elegant lord’s dwelling is this?”  His companions said, “This is not a hillock--this is the egg of that beast which is the enemy of King Tulu’, and the fear of which keeps him in utter distress.  It seems that it’s gone off somewhere just now, to look for food.”  The Amir went and settled down near the egg, so that when the beast came, he could perhaps devise some means of catching it.  When the beast arrived and sat on its egg, sitting with wings spread to cover it, the Amir said to himself, “This is a very large and powerful beast; it will be hard to capture it.  And it must certainly go toward the World sometimes--it must fly everywhere at its pleasure.  Well then, let me seize its foot and give a battle-cry.  It will be frightened and fly away from here; it will go toward the World, by means of it I’ll be able to reach the World.”

Adopting this plan, the Amir seized its foot, and raised a battle-cry so forcefully that the beast was frightened and flew away.  But when it reached the middle of the Green River, it stabbed the Amir’s hand so hard with its beak that the Amir’s hand grew weak, and the beast’s foot slipped out of his grasp; the thread of his hope snapped in two.  The Amir was on the verge of falling into the river, when Khvajahs Khizr and Elias, catching the Amir in their arms, laid him down on dry land, so that he could be at ease and not suffer any hardship.  But the Amir was unconscious from the shock.

Now please hear about Asman Pari.  One day she said to ‘Abdur Rahman, “Look and see where the Amir is and how he is--has he arrived in the World, or is he within our land?”  ‘Abdur Rahman, drawing the divining-diagram and writing down the answers, told her, “The Amir arrived at the fort of the Cow-feet, and Devs had surrounded Tulu’ Cowfoot.  The Amir, killing the Devs, saved Tulu’’s life; with the Amir’s help he was freed from a great perplexity.  He feasted the Amir, and gave him every kind of comfort.  The Amir charged Tulu’ to take him to the World.  Tulu’ did not agree to his request; mentioning the proclamation you had made, he said, ‘I will only take the risk if you marry my daughter, bring her into your own family, make her your wife.’  The Amir recoiled and said, ‘God forbid!  I cannot do this, I cannot marry her and be ensnared in a disaster.’  Then Tulu’ said, ‘If you won’t marry her, the beast Rukh is my enemy--please kill it, remove this fear from my heart, and I will take you to the World, I will certainly do this task for you.’  The Amir said, ‘Take me to this beast, show me its dwelling.’  So he had the Amir taken to that beast.  The Amir, for his part, reflected, ‘It won’t be strange if this beast goes toward the World!’  Seizing its foot, he gave a battle-cry and hung on.  When it flew away from there, it reached the Green River and then wounded the Amir’s hand, freed its foot, and dropped the Amir downwards.  The Amir fell.”

Asman Pari, hearing this speech, wept very much.  And she sent Quraishah, with a fierce army, against the fort of the Cow-feet.  She said, “What kind of worthless creatures are the Cow-feet anyway?  Don’t leave even an animal alive in that city; let everyone fall beneath the sword!”  She herself went toward the Green River.  But seeing Hazrats Khizr and Elias, out of shame she did not come before them; she stayed hidden from their gaze.

In any case, the Amir regained consciousness.  He complained to Hazrats Khizr and Elias about Asman Pari.  They said, “Oh Amir, many days have passed, only a few remain.  This is not the time for uneasiness, this is not the time for grieving!  Asman Pari too has come here--but seeing us, she turned back in shame; she didn’t show her face to us, she didn’t come before us.”  The Amir petitioned, “Oh Hazrat, please take me to the fort of the Cow-feet, please do me this much of a favor, so I can take my revenge on that vexatious beast, and subdue it.”  Hazrat Khizr took the Amir to the fort of the Cow-feet; he did as the Amir asked.  The Amir saw that the whole city was deserted, the settlement was empty; not even a bird was to be seen.  The Amir asked Hazrat Khizr, “Oh Hazrat, where have the inhabitants of the city gone?  I don’t see even one person!  This desolation oppresses my heart.”  Khvajah Khizr said, “All the things that have happened to you recently, Asman Pari learned about from ‘Abdur Rahman.  She sent Quraishah to lay waste this city, she slaughtered the people in it with great thoroughness, every last one.”  With these words, Hazrat Khizr disappeared from there, and the Amir stayed alone in the city for three days.  On the fourth day, he set out for the wilderness.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
Wandering in the wilderness, Hamzah came upon an extraordinary sight:  a fort that looked exactly like Ctesiphon, but was empty and desolate.  A Dev appeared and told Hamzah he had built it, and had brought a couple of humans to live in it, but wanted more.  He suggested that Hamzah become its king.  But Hamzah identified himself as the Earthquake of Qaf, and the Dev attacked him.  After a fight, Hamzah killed the Dev. 

After killing him, the Amir entered a verandah.  There he found two boys, attractive and beautiful, sitting loaded with jewelry and ornaments.  The Amir asked, “Who are you?”  They replied, “We’re the sons of a merchant.  Our father is dead.  The Dev whose house this is seized us and brought us here, that tyrant involved us in this distress.  Please tell us, who are you?”  The Amir said, “They call me the Power of God, the Sword of God, the Power of the Beneficent One, the Earthquake of Qaf, the Younger Solomon; for courage and hardihood I am thought by everyone to be unique in this age.  I have come from the World and killed all the Devs of Qaf.  I have also just killed the Dev who seized you and brought you here, I’ve taken my revenge on that vexatious creature too.  Now take heart:  I’ll take you to the World, I’ll do that much for you.”

Then the boys fell at the Amir’s feet, and were delighted.  The Sahib-qiran asked, “What are your names?”  One replied, “They call me *Khvajah Ashob,” and the other said, “My name is *Khvajah Bahlol.”  The Amir said, “If God Most High wills, when we reach the World I will make one of you my vazir, I’ll give him a high position; and I’ll make the other a minister.”  They replied, “When we reach the World alive, then we can be vazir and minister!  We know that we’ll never get free, we’ll die in this distress.”  The Amir comforted them both, and reassured them very much:  “If the Lord wills, we’ll soon get to the Earth, we’ll get out of this disaster.”  With these words, he took them along and left the fort.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .
On the fifth day, on a riverbank they saw a large and splendid ship.  Goods were being loaded into it.  Drawing near, the Amir asked the stevedores, “Whose is this ship, and where is it going, in which city will it anchor?”  They replied, “This is the ship of Sa’id the Merchant, and it’s going to the World--that’s its destination, it will anchor there.”  The Amir said, “We three persons are also going to the World.  Whatever rate you ask, we too will pay, and take passage in the ship, and thank you for your kindness.”  The people said, “We do not have authority.  Please speak to the master of the ship, and obtain his permission for your passage.”

The Amir, seeking out Khvajah Sa’id, said, “We too are going to the World, we too are bound in the same direction.  Whatever rate you fix, we are ready to pay.”  Khvajah Sa’id treated them very courteously, and said to the Amir, “The price is, that you marry my daughter.”  The Amir recoiled:  “This cannot be--I refuse to marry!  I feel a distaste for this deed.”  The Amir rose and went away; the merchant’s speech did not please him at all.  But the two boys said to the merchant, “If you arrange marriages for us as well, then we will make the Amir agree.  We take this upon ourselves.”  The merchant said, “I agree.”

The boys said to the Amir, “Dear Power of God, why don’t you marry?  You will not only reach the World, and get a woman for free, but also enjoy so many kinds of pleasures!”  The Amir said, “I am not willing to marry, I absolutely won’t take a step along that road!”  The boys replied, “Dear Power of God, you will have to marry!  Your refusal will count for nothing; we see that it will only cause you grief.”  The Amir said, “Am I to marry under pressure from you, and ensnare myself in difficulties?”  The boys said, “Certainly you must marry under pressure from us!”  The Amir burst out laughing at this conversation, and said, “All right, if you insist like this, then I’ll marry; I will not cause you any kind of disappointment.”

The boys joyfully ran to the merchant, and reported the conversation, and said, “There, sir, we made him agree, we made him give us a firm promise about it.  Now please marry him to your daughter, arrange for the wedding festivities.”  The merchant instantly married the Amir to his daughter, and married the boys to the daughters of some other person; he brought this task to a successful conclusion.  In the morning, when the Amir looked, Asman Pari was sleeping beside him, and that merchant was ‘Abdur Rahman!  It was a strange affair, a novel situation.  Since the Amir, in a rage, had divorced Asman Pari, ‘Abdur Rahman had used this scheme to make the Amir marry Asman Pari a second time, and thus made her permissible to him according to religious law.

Asman Pari, falling at the Amir’s feet, began beseeching and imploring him, and showing utter submissiveness.  And ‘Abdur Rahman too touched the Amir’s feet, he behaved with great humility:  “Whatever offenses have been committed up to today, please pardon them--please don’t think any more about the past!  If from now on any offense should occur, don’t pardon it:  please give whatever sort of punishment you wish.”  Asman Pari also spoke:  “Oh Amir, in truth I will send you now to the World, I swear that now I won’t commit any fault.”  Having no choice, the Amir, together with those two boys, went along with Asman Pari to Garden of Iram.  Asman Pari celebrated with festivities for six months.

Then the Amir again said one day to Asman Pari, “Oh Asman Pari, now send me off to the World!  For I’m very tired of staying here, I have suffered very much at the separation from my near and dear ones.”  Asman Pari replied, “Oh Amir, if God Most High wills, I’ll send you off tomorrow morning.  But please tell me if you’ll come here again sometime, if you’ll let us see your face again sometime.”  The Amir said, “Oh Queen of Qaf, just as here I long for Mihr Nigar, there I’ll long for you; my heart will be eager to see you.”  Asman Pari was very pleased with this answer of the Amir’s.

In the morning, seating herself on the royal throne, she summoned those four Devs who had always borne the Amir, and first gave them a reward.  Then she sent for a large throne, and had gifts from Qaf placed on it, and said to the Amir, “In the name of God, please mount, please prepare to leave.”  The Amir was just about to mount the throne, when suddenly there was a turmoil and commotion in the distance, a tumult like Doomsday broke out.  They saw that four hundred Jinns and Devs, who remained in attendance to serve Shahpal, were coming, rending their garments, with dust on their heads, sobbing bitterly; they were constantly flinging dust onto their heads.

Asman Pari, seeing their condition, took fright; darkness spread before her eyes.  She asked, “Is everything all right?”  They submitted, “The king has set forth from this transitory world to the land of eternity, he has departed for the heights of Paradise.”  Asman Pari, the moment she heard this news, fell from the throne, and worked herself into a bad state.  All of Garden of Iram became a house of mourning; the noise and tumult were like Doomsday.  All, great and small, dressed in black; they wept and wept until they fainted.

Asman Pari, with hands submissively folded, said to the Amir, “Oh Amir, where you have stayed for seventeen years, please stay for forty days more, for my sake please endure the grief of separation from your near and dear ones for a few days more, so that I can go and bury Shahpal’s body in the City of Gold, and convey him to this ancient cemetery.  I will mourn him for forty days, and grieve over his death.  When I come back from there, I’ll send you off, I’ll allow you to depart from here.”  The Sahib-qiran said, “All right, go; I’ll stay here, I’ll do as you say.”

Asman Pari said, “I don’t want you to become sad and go off somewhere, and cause me to grieve once again over your absence!  I will leave *Salasil Pari with you when I go.  If you are restless, you can take the keys from her and enjoy the Forty Wonders of Solomon, so you won’t feel bored or inclined to be uneasy.”  With these words, she took Shahpal’s body with her and set out for the City of Gold.

/1/ That is, the story of ‘Amar, Mihr Nigar, and their companions. 

== on to Chapter 48 ==

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