[Translated story] A Fable about the Fable

A beautiful Oriental tale retold by a Brazilian writer (and translated by myself).

Nubian guarding oriental palace doors.

Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! God is the greatest! God is the greatest!

When God created woman, he created also Fancy.

Thus, one day Truth decided to visit a great palace. And it had to be the very palace in which lived sultan Harun ar-Raschid.

She enfolded her fair figure in a clear and transparent veil, and knocked at the door of the palace in which lived the glorious lord of the Muslim lands. Seeing that beautiful woman, nearly naked, the chief of the guard asked her:

— Who are you?

— I am Truth! — answered she, in a firm voice. — I wish to speak to your lord and master, sultan Harun ar-Raschid, the Shaykh of Islam!

The chief of the guard, zealous for the security of the palace, hastened to bear the news to the grand vizier:

— Sir, — said he, bowing humbly — an unknown woman, almost naked, wants to speak to our sovereign, sultan Harun ar-Raschid, Prince of the Believers.

— What is she called?

— She is called Truth!

— Truth — exclaimed the grand vizier, suddenly taken by a great fear. — Truth wants to set foot in this palace? No! Never! What would become of me, what would become of us all, if Truth were to enter here? Our perdition, our disgrace! Tell her a naked, shameless woman cannot enter here!

The chief of the guard returned with the grand vizier’s message, and told Truth:

— You cannot enter, my daughter. Your nakedness would offend our Caliph. With this lewd appearance you can’t go into the presence of the Prince of the Believers, our glorious sultan Harun ar-Rashid. Go back, then, over Allah’s paths!

Seeing that she would not be able to fulfill her intent, very sad was Truth, and slowly did she draw away from the great palace of the magnanimous sultan Harun ar-Raschid, whose doors were closed to her diaphanous beauty.

But…

Allahur Akbar! Allahur Akbar! God is the greatest! God is the greatest!

When God created woman, he created also Obstinacy.

And Truth kept alive the purpose of visiting a great palace. And it had to be the very palace in which lived sultan Harun ar-Raschid.

She covered her lovely figure with a rough hide such as the shepherds wear, and again went and knocked at the door of the sumptuous palace in which lived the glorious lord of the Muslim lands.

Seeing that fair woman coarsely dressed in skins, the chief of the guard asked her:

— Who are you?

— I am Accusation! — answered she, in severe tones. — I wish to speak to your lord and master, sultan Harun ar-Rashid, Commander of the Faithful.

The chief of the guard, zealous of the safety of the palace, hastened to confer with the grand vizier.

— Sir — said he, bowing humbly, — an unknown woman, her body wrapped in rough skins, wishes to speak to our sovereign, sultan Harun ar-Rashid.

— What is she called?

— Accusation!

— Accusation? — repeated the grand vizier, in terror. — Accusation wants to enter this palace? No! Never! What would become of me, what would become of us all, if Accusation were to enter here? Our perdition, our disgrace! Tell her no, she cannot enter. Tell her a woman in the coarse dress of a shepherd cannot speak to the caliph, our lord and master!

The chief of the guard went back with the grand vizier’s interdiction, and told Truth:

— You cannot enter, my daughter. In those coarse garments, fitting to a rustic, poor Bedouin, you cannot speak to our lord and master, sultan Harun ar-Rashid. Go back, then, over Allah’s paths!

Seeing that she could not fulfill her intent, even sadder was Truth, and slowly drew away from the great palace of the powerful Harun ar-Rashid, whose cupola glittered in the last rays of the setting sun.

But…

Allahur Akbar! Allahur Akbar! God is the greatest! God is the greatest!

When God created woman, he created also Caprice.

And Truth was taken by a strong wish to visit a great palace. And it had to be the very palace in which lived sultan Harun ar-Rashid.

She dressed in the richest garments, donned jewels and adornments, enfolded her face in a diaphanous silk veil and knocked at the door of the palace in which lived the glorious lord of the Arabs.

Seeing that enchanting woman, beautiful as the fourth moon in the month of Ramadan, the chief of the guard asked her:

— Who are you?

— I am Fable — answered she, in gentle and melodious tones. — I wish to speak to your lord and master, generous sultan Harun ar-Rashid, Emir of the Arabs!

The chief of the guard, zealous for the security of the palace, hastened, beaming, to the grand vizier:

— Sir, — said he, bowing humbly — a beautiful and enchanting woman, dressed as a princess, requests an audience with our lord and master, sultan Harun ar-Rashid, Emir of the Believers.

— What is she called?

— She is called Fable!

— Fable! — exclaimed the grand vizier, full of joy. — Fable wants to enter this palace? Allah be praised! Let her enter! Welcome be the enchanting Fable: a hundred fair slaves will receive her with flowers and scents. I want Fable to be received in this palace as a true queen would!

And through the wide-open doors of the great palace of Baghdad, the fair pilgrim entered.

And thus it was, under the guise of Fable, that Truth was able to appear to the powerful caliph of Baghdad, sultan Harun ar-Rashid, Vicar of God and lord of the great Muslim empire.

*

From “Minha Vida Querida” by Malba Tahan. Editora Conquista, 1963.
Image: The Nubian Guard, by Ludwig Deutsch. Wikimedia Commons.

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