Archive for February 14th, 2010

Humphead Wrasse


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Ash’ab, a Medinite went into the service of Caliph Osman and he saw the manner in which the Caliph lived. The palace was grand as the courtiers who came and went. His head was turned by all what he saw and heard. He saw the grandees of the realm gave presents to curry favor.  He thought it was a fine custom to receive gifts from another.  One day he was put on duty at the gate. Caliph Osman had plenty of work to catch up. Hence he was instructed to keep out all unwanted callers.
‘Use your head, Ash’ab,’ warned the head of the watch and ward, ‘a time waster you know in the way he keeps his hand in his pockets, and by his abstract air’.
‘What shall I do?’
‘Send him off as quickly as you can,’ advised the head.
He didn’t have to wait long before the Pasha from Egypt came demanding entry. Ash’ab wanted to know what business he has to waste the time of his master.
Pasha could not believe the impertinence of the fellow. He, who had sat carousing with the Caliph was being questioned by a mere nobody! But he had no time to waste. Swallowing his pride he put his hand into the folds of his tunic and gave him a couple of golden dinars.
Ash’ab was glad to receive the gold. He let him pass through.  The Pasha rushed to the Caliph to share a piece of news that the Caliph could put to use. The Caliph was so delighted and rewarded Ash’ab saying,,’You were wise to let the Pasha in with no delay. You used your head and it served my purpose well.’
Caliph Osman declared that Ash’ab was free to do what he would.’ Thus Ash’ab was given a free hand.
Whenever a grandee put his hand Ash’ab was sure to approach him and wait. The grandee, seeing the expectant look of Ash’ab had to please him. After all he was the favorite of the Caliph. Thus he gave whatever piece of gold he had to the fellow.
More he received more grew the greed of Ash’ab.
One evening he saw a funeral he followed it and he expected to inherit by it. Days later he saw a bridal procession from far and he dressed himself in the finest robes, all of which he had collected from others and stood at the gate of his house. He was hoping the procession was heading towards his house. ‘I could do with one more bride that came my way.’
Such greed cannot be hid for long. Caliph came to hear of it and he called the Medianite one morning. He said his name had become a synonym for greed. He scolded him for it. In the end he asked if he could name one who was greedier than he.
He replied,’Yes, master. One sheep I kept on my terrace roof, once, seeing a rainbow mistook it for a rope of hay.’ With a sad face he added,’Sadly it jumped to seize it and broke its neck. I lost it for nothing!’

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