FORTY-EIGHT -- [The Amir frees the captives of the Dungeon of Solomon, and is helped by Asifa Basafa to escape from Asman Pari.]
     Hamzah began to enter the various chambers of the Wonders of Solomon.  In the first he experienced a whole life:  marrying a beautiful woman, having sons, bringing them up for seven years, then casually diving into a pool to retrieve his wife’s earring and returning with a terrible shock to the present--to find that only three hours had passed.  Other chambers offered other dreamlike and nightmarish experiences with beautiful women and Devs.
In short, in thirty-nine days the Amir entered thirty-nine chambers, and greatly entertained himself with seeing their marvels and wonders.  On the fortieth day, he said to Salasil Pari, “Open this fortieth chamber, so I can enter it also, and enjoy its wonders.”  She said, “I cannot open this door, I cannot possibly undertake it.  This is the Dungeon of Solomon.”  The Amir insisted.  She replied, “I don’t have the key to it.”  The Amir snatched the keys from her hand, opened the chamber, and went in.  Salasil Pari ran to tell Asman Pari that the Amir had opened and entered the fortieth chamber too, paying no heed to her refusal.

The narrator writes that when the Amir entered the fortieth chamber, he saw that thousands of Devs, Jinns, and Parizads were imprisoned in it.  They all came and made obeisance to the Amir and petitioned, “Oh Earthquake of Qaf, please release us from this captivity, please have this much compassion on our condition!”  The Amir said, “How did you know that I am the Earthquake of Qaf?”  They said, “Oh Amir, in this dungeon there are many people imprisoned by Hazrat Solomon, and the captives here are never released as long as they live!  One time Hazrat Solomon said, ‘The Earthquake of Qaf will come here and release the captives from this prison.  He is a son of Adam who will come to Qaf.’  So we realized that you are the Earthquake of Qaf.  Thus, for the Lord’s sake, please release us from this captivity, earn the merit of freeing us prisoners!”

The Amir took pity on them all.  Cutting their shackles, he freed them all from this confinement.  Each one fell at the Amir’s feet, then took leave and set out for his own house.  Suddenly from one side the sound of a horse’s hooves fell on the Amir’s ear.  When he turned his gaze to that side, and went in that direction, he saw that a colt, unbroken, rose-colored, was wandering there.  From head to foot he looked as pretty as a picture, he was extremely handsome and had a beautiful gait.  Almost four hundred rosettes appeared on his body, looking altogether elegant and fine, and each rosette seemed to bloom like a thousand roses.

When the Amir saw the colt he was very pleased; the colt too, seeing the Amir, began neighing and prancing.  Running up to the Amir, he kicked out at the Amir’s foot.  Although the Amir was wearing armor under his clothing, he still felt a good deal of pain.  The Amir grew angry at receiving such a blow from the colt’s hoof.  He ran after him.  The colt ran off, and entered a house.  The Amir followed him, he didn’t hesitate for a moment.  The house was quite dark.  The Amir, taking the Night-glowing Pearl in his hand, went on by its light.

He had gone a little way, when a voice fell on his ear.  Someone said, “Oh my master, I am in a very oppressed condition now--come quickly and release me, rescue us from this misery!”  When the Amir went forward, he saw that Lanisah and Arna’is sat weeping and lamenting, in great distress and suffering.  The Amir said, “Wait a minute--a colt kicked me, and ran away.  I’ll kill him and then free you.”  Arna’is and Lanisah petitioned, “Oh Sahib-qiran, he is our son.  He did not know who you were.  Please pardon the fault he committed, and consider all of us your obedient servants.”

The Amir, when he heard this, was surprised, and asked, “You are a Dev and your wife is a Pari--how does it happen that your child is a horse?  Tell me about this in detail, inform me of the facts concerning it.”  They told him all the circumstances,/1/ and said, “We have named him *Ashqar.”  Arna’is, calling Ashqar, made him fall at the Amir’s feet, and made the Amir pardon his fault.  The Amir freed them all from bondage, he did them this kindness.  And he commanded, “You sit here, I’ll go and have a look at what’s ahead; I’ll go see some more wonders of this place, then come back.”

The Amir went on ahead.  He saw a house with two female Parizads in it.  Their hair was bound up, and they were hanging upside down, striking their foreheads in their misery.  The Amir, taking pity on them, released them too.  Going on, he saw that Raihan Pari and Qamar Chahrah,/2/ whom he had married, were sitting with their feet in shackles, they were sitting there extremely sorrowful and downcast.  When the Amir saw them, his eyes filled with tears.  They too, seeing the Amir, began to weep, they began to cry their hearts out.  The Amir, taking them along, taking Arna’is and Lanisah with him as well, came out of the chamber.

That night he slept with Raihan Pari and Qamar Chahrah in Asman Pari’s bed, he possessed and enjoyed them both.  By the power of the Lord, both became pregnant that night.  The narrator writes that the son who will be born to Raihan Pari will be named Pearl the Pearl-robed and the name of Qamar Chahrah’s son will be Qamarzad.  The dastan of both those princes will be written in the section called Bala Bakhtar/3/; it will be described in its proper place.  In short, in the morning the Amir said farewell to both the Parizads, and they went to their homes.

The Amir said to Arna’is, “Now, can you take me to the World?”  He replied, “I am at your service.”  The Amir, taking the two boys, seated himself on the throne, and Arna’is and Lanisah, lifting the throne to their shoulders, soared up until they looked like glowing stars in the sky.  When about four hours remained in the day, they came down by a riverbank.  The Amir saw a dazzling, shining building, very strange and agreeable in its design.  He went inside it, and admired every door and wall, for he had never seen such charm in any house, he had never seen a building of such elegance.  He discovered that this was the Mirror-palace of Hazrat Solomon.  It is famous because in the evening the house by itself glows so brilliantly that if hundreds of thousands of lamps were lighted, they would not be as bright.  When four hours remained in the night, the Amir, taking the boys, went to sleep.  And Arna’is too, taking Lanisah, went to sleep in a chamber.  But Ashqar went out to enjoy the forest; it pleased him to wander in the forest, it didn’t suit him to sleep in that house.

Now please hear a few sentences of the dastan of Asman Pari.  When she had completed her father’s fortieth-day ceremony, she gave the kings and lords of the realms of Qaf leave to depart, she gave them all rewards and robes of honor according to their rank, and she herself too set out for Garden of Iram.  Salasil Pari saluted her on the way, and submitted, “The Earthquake of Qaf released the prisoners in the Dungeon of Solomon, he freed all the captives from confinement.”  Asman Pari said, “He did well.  Hazrat Solomon’s words have come true; what the Hazrat predicted has come to pass.”  Salasil Pari said, “He released Arna’is and Lanisah as well, he showed so much favor to them as well.”  She replied, “Well, it’s all right.”

Salasil Pari said, “He released Raihan Pari and Qamar Chahrah as well.”  Asman Pari replied, “He did badly.  He ought not to have freed my rivals.”  She asked, “Then what happened?”  Salasil Pari said, “Only this much occurred while I was there; I don’t know what happened afterwards.”  As they were speaking, another Pari came and reported,  “The Sahib-qiran took Raihan Pari and Qamar Chahrah to sleep with him for the whole night in your bed.  They both enjoyed themselves very much.  And in the morning, he said farewell to them and mounted a throne.  Lanisah and Arna’is, taking him up, set out for the World.”
Hearing this, Asman Pari was furious, and said, “I myself wanted to give the Sahib-qiran leave to go.  But why did he have to sleep with my co-wives in my bed?  Perhaps he wanted to make me jealous!  Just wait and see what I do to the Sahib-qiran in revenge for this, what disasters and calamities I bring down on his head!”  With these words, she mounted a throne and, with a fierce army, set out in search of the Sahib-qiran.  As she went along, when she came to the Mirror-palace she was informed that the Sahib-qiran was in it.  As fate would have it, she first entered the chamber where Arna’is and Lanisah were sleeping.  Drawing her sword, with one blow she separated both their heads from their bodies; murdering them, she vented her spleen on them.

Having slain them both, she went into the other chamber and raised that same bloodstained sword above the Amir’s head.  Quraishah, who was with her, snatched the sword away from her and said, “What can I do?  I’m restrained by the fact that you’re my mother!  Otherwise I’d slash you open right now with a dagger and let your guts fall out in a heap, I’d make sure you were through with life!  Do you have the gall--not just while I’m alive, but while I’m right before you!--to raise a hand against my father, and think to murder him?”  Asman Pari controlled herself.  Writing a note, she placed it on the Sahib-qiran’s bed and went straight back to Garden of Iram; she didn’t stay with the Amir for even a day.

When morning came, Ashqar, returning from the forest and finding his mother and father dead, began weeping and sobbing loudly.  At the sound of his weeping, the Amir’s eyes opened.  He saw that Arna’is and Lanisah both lay headless, these innocent ones lay murdered on the ground.  He lamented very much.  And he consoled Ashqar, “No one has any power against what is fated.  No one has the power to breathe a word against God’s order.  If I can discover their murderer, I’ll kill him at once; I’ll certainly avenge your mother and father.  So don’t weep.  Take me for your mother and father.  I will care for you like a son, I’ll never cause you any kind of grief.”

Afterwards he noticed a note lying on the bed.  In it was written, “This time I myself wanted to send you to the World, to fulfill my promise.  But it seems that you are destined to breathe the air of Qaf for the present--and the future!  Two offenses of yours have displeased me very much.  One was sleeping with my co-wives in my bed; the other was running off from me and resolving to go to the World.  In revenge for the first offense, I wanted to kill you too like Arna’is and Lanisah, and not delay for a moment.  But Quraishah prevented me--she was ready to fight with me in your defense, she snatched the sword from my hand and behaved very insolently to me.  As a punishment for the second offense, I killed Arna’is and Lanisah, and thus took my revenge upon them.  Now let’s see how you’ll get to the World, and how you’ll manage to escape from Qaf--who will take you, who will dare to bring the words of such an offer to his lips!”

The Amir, having read this letter, was stunned.  Causing Arna’is and Lanisah to be properly buried, he stayed there for seven days, he remained extremely downcast with grief for them both.  On the eight day, he said, with tears in his eyes, “Now how will I get to the World?  I’ll never possibly escape from Asman Pari’s clutches!  It seems that I’m destined to wander here in Qaf itself, and die within its borders.”  Ashqar, hearing this, said to the Amir, “Why are you sorrowful?  I will take you to the World, I won’t have the least fear of Asman Pari!  Please mount on my back, and get ready to leave.”  The Amir said, “What can I do with those two boys, how can I leave them here?”  He replied, “Please mount them on my back also.”  The Amir made two baskets and seated the two boys in them, and hung them one on each side like stirrups.  And he himself mounted on his back.

Ashqar, bearing the Amir, flew off from there.  They say that in the course of the day Ashqar covered a thousand leagues; in the space of a breath he conveyed himself to his chosen destination.  In short, Ashqar flew over the waters.  When he reached dry land, he set foot on the earth, and planted his foot there.  When he ran on, the wind was left behind him, the wind applauded the swiftness of his flight.  When four hours remained in the day, he arrived in the foot-hills of the Mountain of Light.  The Amir, taking the boys, dismounted.  They saw that Hazrats Khizr and Elias were coming down from the mountain, and heading in their direction.  The Amir ran to kiss their feet, and petitioned, “Oh Hazrats, Asman Pari has made my life wretched!  I’m sick of staying in this land!”

They said, “Oh Amir, don’t be upset.  This time you will assuredly go to the World, you will have the comfort of seeing your near and dear ones. Come along--our revered mother, whose name is Bibi *Asifa Basafa, has sent for you to bid you farewell.  She feels compassion for your plight.”  The Amir, with the two boys, went up the mountain.  He saw a dome, with rays of light, which illuminated every corner of the mountain, streaming down into it from the sky.  When he went into the dome, he found a venerable old lady, whose face was full of light, sitting on a prayer-carpet, with a rosary in her hand, absorbed in the worship of God.  He felt the greatest awe for her in his heart.  The Amir respectfully saluted her.

Bibi Asifa, clasping his head to her breast, said, “Oh son, I’ve been longing very much to see you.  It’s well that you’ve come here, and shown me the auspicious radiance of your face.  Now, through the Lord’s grace, you will soon reach the World.”  With these words, she gave him a noose a yard and a quarter long, and commanded, “Give this noose to ‘Amar from me, and tell him that this noose was made by my own hands, he should keep it with him carefully.  It will be of great use to him, it will show him great marvels.  When he wishes, this noose will bind a Dev, it will help him in every task.  And when he recites the praises of the Prophet and blows the words over the noose, it will become a thousand yards long.”  After that she commanded, “Tonight you must be my guest.”  The Amir said, “To attend upon Your Grace is an honor for me.”

In the morning, when the Amir had offered his prayers, Hazrat Khizr said, “Amir, this horse must be shod; otherwise, he will not be able to cross the Desert of Qaf, he will not be able to pass through that bloodthirsty wasteland.”  With these words, he cut off part of Ashqar’s wings and made the shoes from them, and drove in nails to hold them.  The Amir asked, “Hazrat, how long can these feather-shoes last--how can they be secure?”  Hazrat Khizr said, “As long as you live they won’t break, and they won’t come off his feet.  When the horseshoe falls from his fourth foot, then you will know that the cup of your life is full, and it is time for you to go from this world to the world of Nothingness.”  Giving the Amir a saddle, he said, “Put this saddle on his back.  Alexander spent the tribute of the Seven Realms to have this saddle made.”  The Amir, girding the saddle on Ashqar, prepared to leave; he thanked Hazrat Khizr for his favor.

Now I will say a few sentences about the affairs of Asman Pari, I’ll inform you about her.  When Asman Pari left the Mirror-palace of Solomon and went back to Garden of Iram, it was some days later that, putting on red clothing, she seated herself on the throne and questioned ‘Abdur Rahman, “Tell me a bit about Hamzah--how is he and where is he, is he sad or happy?  The Khvajah, practicing geomancy, said, “The Amir has arrived at the Mountain of Light, and Bibi Asifa Basafa, the mother of Hazrat Khizr, is about to send him off to the World, she is about to convey him to his country.”

Hearing this, Asman Pari grew red with anger; this grievance made her life a burden to her.  She replied, “Bibi Asifa Basafa, who is my subject, seeks to send my husband to the World without my leave, she seeks to do this deed against my wish!  Indeed!  Bring me a conveyance!”  A palanquin appeared and presented itself.  Immediately she mounted it and, arriving like the wind, surrounded the Mountain of Light; with an army of Devs she besieged the mountain.  Drawing her sword, she went before Bibi Asifa Basafa and said, “Well, Bibi, have no regard for me, that you have resolved to send my husband to his country?  You don’t know that my anger is quickly aroused!”

Bibi Asifa Basafa, hearing her rude words, said, “Oh you wretch, what nonsense are you jabbering?  What do you amount to, and what can you do against me?  May fire burn in your body, for you have no fear of the Lord, and you talk to me like this!”  The moment Bibi Asifa Basafa said this, flames sprang out of Asman Pari’s body as though her whole body were a fireplace; she began to burn and repent.

‘Abdur Rahman ran and said to Quraishah, “Now in a few minutes Asman Pari will burn to ashes!  Go quick and plead with the Amir, fall at his feet, so he will ask Asifa Basafa to pardon her offense, so he will take pity on you and persuade her!”  Quraishah ran and fell at the Amir’s feet and said, “Oh dear father, for the Lord’s sake, pardon mother her offense!”  The Amir rose and interceded for her with Bibi Asifa Basafa, he adjured the Bibi to pardon her offense.  Granting the Amir’s request, the Bibi sprinkled the water from her religious ablutions over Asman Pari.  Instantly the fire went out, she was saved from burning.  Asman Pari fainted and fell to the ground.  The Parizads laid her on a throne and took her away to Garden of Iram.

The Bibi kept the Amir as her guest that night as well.  In the morning, she said to Hazrat Khizr, “Go and see the Amir safely across the Bloodthirsty River, do as I say at once.”  The Amir, saluting the Bibi, suspended the boys in the baskets; in this way he carried them with him.  And he himself mounted and set off with Hazrat Khizr.  After they had gone about thirty miles, a river appeared.  Hazrat Khizr said, “Oh Amir, this is the Bloodthirsty River.  All of you close your eyes, you must not by any means look at the turbulence and tumult of the water.”  The Amir and the boys closed their eyes.  Hazrat Khizr went seven steps onward and commanded, “Now open your eyes.”  When the Amir opened his eyes, he saw that the river was flowing behind his back, and Hazrat Khizr had vanished.

The narrator writes that the Amir traveled on, stage by stage, for forty days.  On the forty-first day, he reached the Green River./4/  He saw that it was a remarkable kind of river, immeasurably wide, so that there was no sign of its other bank; it was so frightening, that no one could bear to stand on its bank.  The Amir went along the riverbank.  On the tenth day, a fort could be seen; reaching it, they stopped for a little while.  The Amir began to inspect the fort from below.  That city belonged to the Cow-heads.  One of them saw the Amir and recognized him, and informed his king.

That king was named Samrat Cow-head.  Hearing that the Earthquake of Qaf had come, he was very happy.  Coming out of the fort, he touched the dust of the Amir’s footsteps to his eyes.  Everyone treated the Amir with extreme honor; taking him into the fort, they showed him great hospitality, and celebrated for a number of days.  The Amir said to Samrat Shah, “Can you convey us across that river?”  He replied, “If you will marry my daughter, whose name is Arvanah, then why not?  I will convey you across the river, and carry out your order.”  The Amir refused.

But the boys said to Samrat Shah, “Prepare for the marriage, we will make the Amir agree; we will insist in this matter.”  The king prepared for the marriage according to their custom, and ordered his officers to collect the necessary items.  The boys persuaded the Amir to go through with the marriage, they delighted the king with this outcome.  That night, when the Amir lay down next to Arvanah, she wanted to embrace the Amir and kiss him, to give herself joy.  The Amir slapped her so hard on the mouth, that her front teeth were knocked out.  Weeping, she went to her father, very sad and downcast, and told him the whole story.

He sent for the two boys and asked, “Why has the Earthquake of Qaf done this mischief, why did he strike my daughter?”  The boys said, “It’s the custom of our country to knock out the bride’s teeth on the first night, so that the night will be memorable.  And we sons of Adam only sleep with our brides for the first time in the middle of a river, and not in any other situation.”  Since the king was of the Dev race, he believed that it must be true.  At once he ordered a boat and placed his daughter in it, and prepared all the supplies necessary for a river trip.  And he said to the boys, “Inform the Amir, so that he too may enter the boat.”

Both boys, delighted, went to the Amir, and recounted all these matters to him, and reported all the conversation that had taken place, and said, “Please come along and enter the boat!”  The Amir, hearing the boys’ words, laughed out loud, and went with them and entered the boat.  When they were on the river, Arvanah wished to sleep with the Amir, she told him this longing of her heart.  The Amir bound her hands and threw her in the river, he drowned the poor thing in the river of suffering.  And he said to the captain, “Take us across quickly!  Otherwise I won’t leave one of you alive, I’ll break all your heads!”  The captain, out of fear, hoisted four or five sails on the mast and took them across at once, he did as the Amir had said.

The Amir, taking the boys, got out on the bank.  Seating himself on the wolf-skin, the Amir pulled out the bread-bun of Khizr; he himself ate, and he fed Khvajahs Ashob and Bahlol as well, and relieved them of hunger, and went on from there.  The next day, when they felt hungry, the Amir said, “Now I’m fed up with eating and eating that bread-bun!  I can’t help but crave something spicy to eat, I want to cook something flavorful!”  Just as he was saying this, a deer emerged nearby.  The Amir killed it and made kabobs.  He himself ate some, and he fed both the boys as well.  And he rested in that place, atop a boulder.  He stayed there for the whole night.  In the morning he rose and mounted as usual, and set out.

/1/ Arna’is was in the form of a horse when he impregnated Lanisah.  It was a strange-looking horse that resembled a wild buffalo [ek gho;Raa arnaa bhai;Nse se mushaabah], and it ravished her without her consent before her marriage to Arna’is.  From this union the colt Ashqar was born.
/2/ Qamar Chahrah [qamar chahrah], “Moon-faced,” makes only this one appearance in the text.  We hear nothing about her either before or since this reference.
/3/ Bala bakhtar [baalaa baa;xtar], the “(Book of the) Upper West,” is one of the volumes of the Long Version.  But neither Pearl the Pearl-robed [dur-e durdar posh] nor Qamarzad [qamarzaad], “Son of the Moon,” appears in it.
/4/ The name of the Green River [daryaa-e a;x.zar] comes from the same root as [;xi.zr], “green,” and is thus reminiscent of Khizr.

== on to Chapter 49 ==

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