Arabian Coffee with Chocolate MintsA special brew for the easily embarrassed
Arabian CoffeeWhat happened earlier
Just the smell of freshly brewed coffee can give some people already a warm and comforting feeling. To me, a non-coffee drinker for years, that same smell creates a rather different reaction. In fact, my reaction to the smell of coffee is quite similar as my reaction to the strong fragrances my little doggy sometimes releases.
Without warning the air in a room can suddenly become very heavy with the soundless farts of my sweet little doggy. Then, when people start to leave, she will look at me with these surprised and innocent eyes, while I would just like to sink through the floor and hide my scarlet red face. But my little doggy isn't embarrassed at all. And
most likely, for something as natural as breaking wind she is probably right.
We, people get embarrassed over the simplest things. And somebody who knows all too well the red-hot burning fire of shame is a man named Abu Hasan. This is the tale of Abu Hasan.
An Arabian Adventurefrom
The Book of A Thousand Nights and A Night
The Tale of Abu HasanTranslated by Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890) *
Illustrated by Jef Franssen
In the City Kaukaban of Al-Yaman there was a man of the Fazli tribe who had left Badawi life, and become a townsman for many years. He was a merchant of the most opulent merchants. His wife had deceased when both were young and his friends were instant with him to marry again, ever quoting the words of the poet:
Go, gossip! re-wed thee, for Prime draws near:
A wife is an almanac - good for the year.
So being weary of contention, Abu Hasan entered into negotiations with the old women who procure matches, and married a maid like Canopus when he hangs over the seas of Al-Hind.
He made high festival therefore, bidding to the wedding-banquet kith and kin, Olema and Fakirs; friends and foes and all his acquaintances of that countryside. The whole house was thrown open to feasting. There were rices of five several colours and sherbets of as many more and kids stuffed with walnuts, almonds and pistachios and a camel colt roasted whole.
So they ate and drank and made mirth and merriment. And the bride was displayed in her seven dresses and one more, to the women, who could not take their eyes off her.
At last, the bridegroom was summoned to the chamber where she sat enthroned. He rose slowly and with dignity from his divan. But in doing so, for that he was over full of meat and drink, lo and behold!, he let fly a fart, great and terrible. Thereupon each guest turned to his neighbour and talked aloud and made as though he had heard nothing, fearing for his life.
But a consuming fire was lit in Abu Hasan's heart. He pretended a call of nature and in lieu of seeking the bride-chamber, he went down to the house court and saddled his mare. He rode-off, weeping bitterly, through the shadow of the night.
In time he reached Lahej where he found a ship ready to sail for India. He shipped on board and made Calicut of Malabar. Here he met with many Arabs, especially Hazramis, who recommended him to the king. This king (who was a Kafir) trusted him and advanced him to the captainship of his bodyguard.
He remained ten years in all solace and delight of life. At the end of which time he was seized with homesickness. The longing to behold his native land was that of a lover pining for his beloved. And he came near to die of yearning desire.
But his appointed day had not dawned. So, after taking the first bath of health, he left the king without leave, and in due course landed at Makalla of Hazramut. Here he donned the rags of a religious. And keeping his name and case secret, he fared for Kaukaban a foot; enduring a thousand hardships of hunger, thirst and fatigue; and braving a thousand dangers from the lion, the snake and the Ghul.
When he drew near his old home, he looked down upon it from the hills with brimming eyes, and said in himself: "Haply they might know thee; so I will wander about the outskirts, and listen to the folk. Allah grant that my case be not remembered by them!"
He listened carefully for seven nights and seven days. Till it so chanced that, as he was sitting at the door of a hut, he heard the voice of a young girl saying: "O my mother, tell me the day when I was born. For one of my companions is about to take an omen for me." And the mother answered: " You were born, O my daughter, on the very night when Abu Hasan farted."
Now the listener no sooner heard these words than he rose up from the bench, and fled away saying to himself: "Verily, your fart has become a date, which shall last for ever and ever. Even as the poet said:
As long as palms shall shift the flower;
As long as palms shall sift the flour.
And he ceased not travelling and voyaging and returned to India. There he abode in self-exile till he died. And the mercy of Allah be upon him!
~ The End ~
Two Chocolate MintsLittle afterthoughts & what happened next
When I told this tale to an old friend of mine he started laughing the minute I finished the story and said: "So it is better if you don't fart in public". And that, of course, is one message this story could be giving you.
The story is filled with all kinds of symbols that probably hide a whole load of hidden messages. But for me the value and the message of this story is simple.
Abu Hasan lived in total misery. Not because others where laughing at him or because they were causing him all kind of trouble. No, none of that! Only because of his own shame did he make his own life a living hell.
So, whenever I feel embarrassed or ashamed and would like to run away as far as I can, I think of this tale. And it will remind me that running away and hiding behind clever disguises will only bring utter and utter misery.
And so, I try to stay true to myself and keep on doing the things I do. Even, if there is a little doggy to my side whose penetrating but soundless farts make everybody rush away. But after all, I do and still love her so!
And that's why I changed her diet till I had a lovely sweet smelling little doggy who hardly ever farts. Except, of course, if we have company.
Brigitte Franssen, 2010
* Book of Tales' in house writer and poet took the liberty of slight updating the language and making a few minor modifications to make the tale easier to read. No changes were made however that affected the story in itself.
© Brigitte Franssen 2010