Tales of a Parrot: Miemun and Khojisteh

This opening story provides the "frametale" for the collection of stories known as the Tutinama, "Tales of a Parrot." In this opening story, you will meet the parrot who, for night after night, will tell stories to his owner, Khojisteh, attempting to persuade her to refrain from committing adultery. You will find out what happens to the parrot and to Khojisteh in the last story of this unit! First, however, you will read here about Khojisteh, her husband Miemun, and how they came to acquire the parrot and also a "sharuk," or mynah bird.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Tales of a Parrot unit. Story source: The Tooti Nameh or Tales of a Parrot, by Ziya'al-Din Nakhshabi (1801).

Miemun and Khojisteh

One of the princes of former times, whose name was Ahmed Sultaun, possessed much riches and effects, with a numerous army, so that one hundred thousand horses, fifteen hundred chains of elephants, and nine hundred strings of camels of burden stood ready at his gate. But he had no children, neither son nor daughter. He therefore continually visited the worshippers of God, to engage their intercession in his favour, and day and night, morning and evening, was himself offering up prayers for a son.

After some time had passed in this manner, the Creator of heaven and earth bestowed on the aforesaid king a son, of beautiful form, his countenance resplendent as the sun, and his forehead resembling the moon. His father called him Miemun, or auspicious, and married him to a wife, whose body was fair as the silver moon, and her countenance enlivening as the sun. The name of this lady was Khojisteh, or prosperous.

Between Miemun and Khojisteh there was such excessive intimacy, friendship, and affection that every day, from evening till morning, they were inseparable; they slept in one place and always sat together.

One day Miemun rode in a palkee to take a view of the market-place, where he beheld a person standing with a parrot-cage in his hand. Miemun said to the parrot-seller, "Tell me what is the price of this bird?"

The parrot-seller answered, "The price of it is the sum of a thousand huns."

Miemun replied, "The person who could give so large a sum of money for a handful of feathers, and a cat's morsel, must be an ignorant blockhead."

To this, the parrot-seller was unable to give an answer. At that interval, the parrot thought thus to itself, "If this rich man does not purchase me, his refusal will occasion evil and misfortune, for it is only by associating with great and intelligent minds that the understanding can be improved."

Then the parrot thus rejoined: "Oh beauteous youth, endowed with riches, and master of every accomplishment! Although I appear in your sight nothing but a handful of feathers, yet, through the power of wisdom and knowledge, I can soar above the sky, and the eloquent are struck with wonder and are astonished on listening to my sweet discourses. The meanest art that I possess is that any action of past time, or to come, I know at present: the business of tomorrow I am acquainted with today. Now, for instance the caravans of Cabul will come to this city and buy all the spikenard that is in it. Do you purchase all the spikenard in the place, hoard it up, and sell it after the arrival of these travelling merchants, from which traffic you will derive considerable advantage."

Miemun, having heard, understood and approved the words of the parrot, gave the owner a thousand huns, the price of the bird and, having bought it, carried it to his own house. He sent for all the spikenard in the city and asked the sellers the price thereof.

The spikenard dealers said, "The price of the whole is ten thousand huns."

In the same hour he paid the aforesaid sum from his own treasury and purchased the spikenard, which he stored up in one of his palaces.

The third day, according as the parrot had predicted, the people of the caravan of Cabul arrived and made great search amongst the merchants and traders but could nowhere find out any spikenard because Miemun had bought the whole of that article in the city. The people of the caravan came into the presence of Miemun and, having bought the spikenard for the sum of fifty thousand huns, set out for their own city.

At length Miemun was much pleased and delighted with the conversation of the parrot, and bought another bird called a sharuk, or mina, with the view that, by placing it in company with the parrot, the mind of the latter might be freed from the irksomeness of solitude, according to the saying of the sages: "Kind fly with kind, pigeon with pigeon, hawk with hawk." The intention of Miemun in placing the sharuk along with the parrot was that these birds might be mutually pleased with the company of each other.

(700 words)

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