Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Week Five Reading Notes Part A - Tales of a Parrot

Source Story: Tales of a Parrot by Ziya'al-Din Nakhshabi (1801).

  • "Miemun and Khojisteh"
    • A great prince longs for a son and is finally blessed with one, whom he names Miemun and marries to a beautiful woman named Khojisteh. The two of them are incredibly close. Miemun finds a parrot in the marketplace and buys it after it gives him good business advice foretelling which spice will be in the greatest demand and earning him a good deal of money. Miemun also buys another bird, called a mina.
  • "Khojisteh and the Parrot"
    • Miemun leaves for a long time on a business trip, and while he is gone a prince from another country catches Khojisteh's eye and tells her that he will present her with a ring if she will come to his house at night for four hours. She plans to do so, but asks the mina bird first, who is a female. The mina bird tells her this would be a heinous action and she shouldn't do it, so Khojisteh kills the bird. Then she turns to the parrot, who realizes that if he rejects the idea he will also be killed, so he distracts her with a story.
  • "The Parrot of Ferukh Beg"
    • The parrot tells her a story about a merchant who leaves his wife and house in the charge of his own parrot. His wife cheats on him and when he finds out from a neighbor, assumes the parrot told him and tries to kill the bird. He survives, though, and helps her to make peace with her husband, pretending that God sent him back from heaven to convince him of her fidelity. And so Khojisteh spends the whole night listening to the story and doesn't have time to go to the prince.
  • "Goldsmith, Carpenter, Taylor, and Hermit"
    • Again, the parrot distracts her from going with a story. The story tells of the four men mentioned above who, in tandem, create a woman out of wood, gold, clothing, and prayers, then argue about who gets to marry her. Three other men claim she belongs to them, so the matter is taken to a Decision Tree, which opens for her and swallows her up, given that she was made out of wood. Again, Khojisteh doesn't have time to go to the prince.
  • "The King of Kinoje and His Daughter"
    • Same thing with parrot and Khojisteh. The story is of a derveish who wishes to wed a princess. The rajah says he may have the girl if he can produce an elephant load of gold, which the royroyan generously donates. So the rajah requires the head of the royroyan in return for the girl. Again, the royroyan acquiesces, going willingly with the derveish and offering up his head. The rajah is moved by the royroyan's generosity and offers the daughter to him to give to the derveish in marriage.
  • "The Fowler, the Parrot, and Her Young Ones"
    • Same thing. The story is of a parrot who is captured by a fowler but tricks him out of capturing her young, planning to escape him and return to them later. She gets him to sell her to the sick king, telling him that she is a trained doctor. She half-heals the king then tricks him into letting her go, whereupon she flies away to her young and never returns.
  • "The Merchant and His Wife"
    • Same thing. The story is of a man who travels a long time for work while his wife cheats on him at home. He returns home to find he can't get into his house, so he lodges elsewhere and sends a procuress to find a beautiful woman for him to sleep with. It so happens that she sends his own wife, who claims she came because she knew he was there and has neglected her. They make peace.
  • "The Old Lion and the Cat"
    • Same thing. The story is of a lion who keeps getting woken up at night by mice, so he hires a cat to keep watch and scare the mice away. The cat doesn't kill them so as not to lose her job, but one day she has her kitten keep watch while she is away, and the kitten kills them all. The cat loses her job.
  • "The Commander of the Frogs, and the Snake"
    • Same thing. The story is of a well full of frogs who have a ruler named Shapoor. Shapoor is not a good ruler, so they elect a new one and he leaves, seeking assistance from a snake. He gets the snake to eat all the frogs in the well as revenge, then tricks the snake into letting him go.
  • "Four Rich Persons Who Became Poor"
    • Same thing. The story is of four rich friends who become poor and go to a philosopher for help. He puts a magical ball on each of their heads which is to fall when they reach their destiny, and they are to dig where it falls. The first man finds a copper mine and offers to share, but the other three keep going. The same when the second man finds a silver mine and the third finds a gold mine; the fourth man keeps going. He finds an iron mine and is dissatisfied, so he tries to find his friends again and join them, but cannot, nor can he find the philosopher.
  • "Besheer and a Woman Named Chunder"
    • Same thing. A man named Besheer sleeps with a married woman named Chunder, so her husband takes her far away. Besheer goes with his Arab friend to see her, and the Arab pretends to be Chunder with her face covered so Besheer and Chunder can spend the night together. He takes a massive beating from her husband, which makes her feel bad, but he sleeps with her sister without telling her.
Image of a parrot by Angie Toh from NeedPix

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