Thursday, December 15, 2016

Meherin Roshanara writes

Arabian Nights

I am scared.

You will lust after me
Till the sheets are spread on the bed
With tales of jasmine flowers.
Even say you love me.
What will happen in the nights
When no tales remain.
Let me assume that you are not the one
To peep into your brother’s bedroom. 
Because I don't have enough stories with me to be 
A Sheherazad.
I am a Sheena, Swapna or Sarah.
Any name will fit me.
With five sovereigns
And two lakh Rupees and a bit of culinary skills
I dream of a marriage of fifty years.
I am one among the many women who are fed up
Writing their autobiographies in a one inch square
Of a matrimony column.

I am scared.

 --tr Ra Sh

 "Scheherazade" - Helbing Ferenc:
 Scheherazade -- Helbing Ferenc


  1. Scheherazade (meaning "of noble lineage"?) was the narrator of the "kitāb ʾalf layla wa-layla," (One Thousand and One Nights), the 1,001st wife of Shahryar (Šahryār, "server of the realm"), a "Sasanian king" ruling in "India and China" who had found out that his first wife was unfaithful to him, causing him to marry a new virgin each day and behead the previous day's wife to prevent that from ever happening again. In Sir Richard Burton's 1885 translation, she "had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred." On her wedding night she asked her husband if she could bid farewell to her Dunyazade; telling her a long story, she had to quit before it was finished since the night was over. So Shahryar spared her life for one day to allow her to finish it the next night, but she finished it and began a new one. She kept it up for 1,001 nights but then told him she had no more tales to tell him. By then he had fallen in love with her, so he made her his queen. The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across Asia and North Africa and had roots in ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Mesopotamian, Indian, Jewish, and Egyptian folklore and literature, including the Buddhist Jataka tales and the Hindu Panchatantra. The stories included fairy tales, historical anecdotes, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques, various forms of erotica, philosophical and theological discourse, and even a detailed description of human anatomy; the frame story probably came from a lost early 8th-century Pahlavi Persian work, "Hazār Afsān" (A Thousand Tales) which in turn relied partly on Indian elements; in Baghdad in the 9th or 10th century, Arabic contents were added, along with previously independent sagas and story cycles; then, in the the 13th and 14th centuries, a further layer was added in Syria and Egypt, many dealing with with sex and magic. Scheherazade had been referred to as "Shirazad" by the 10th-century Arab traveler Abu al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī al-Masʿūdī (in his world history "Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar" [Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems] he compared himself to one "who having found pearls of all kinds and colours and gathers them together into an ornament that its possessor guards with great care") and as "Shahrazad" (the person whose realm is free) by his contemporary Abu'l-Faraj Muhammad bin Is'hāq al-Nadim, the author of "Kitāb al-Fihrist," which he described as "an Index of the books of all nations ... on every branch of knowledge ... since the beginning of every science that has been invented down to the present epoch;" he referred to the "Hazār Afsān" as "a truly coarse book, without warmth in the telling." Her name was subsequently shortened to "Shahrzad" in Persian.

  2. Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, was an American comic book heroine who first appared in the UK in 1937. An orphan who grew up in the jungle, she possessed the ability to communicate with wild animals and was proficient in fighting with knives, spears, bows, and makeshift weapons. She was created by S. M. "Jerry" Iger, whose Universal Phoenix Features produced comics on demand for publishers and syndicates. The early comic books were tabloid-sized reprints of black-and-white newspaper comic strips that were beginning to add some original cartoons. Iger was one of the first packagers who hired freelancers to contribute material; one of his early contractees was Bob Kane (who would create Batman with Bill Finger in 1938), who then recruited his high school friend Will Eisner. The two cartoonists then formed Eisner & Iger and combined forces under the joint pseudonym "W. Morgan Thomas" to produce Sheena, until Eisner left in 1940 to develop develop "The Spirit" as a comic-book insert in the newspapers, which became noted for its experiments in content and form. Sheena's name was inspired by H. Rider Haggard's 1886 novel "She." Editors Press Service distributed the feature to Joshua B. Power's first issue of "Wags," and then she appeared in the US in every issue of Fiction House's "Jumbo Comics" (1938 -1953). She became the first female to have own title (18 issues between Spring 1942 and Winter 1952). After the comic failed, Fiction House continued to run a few prose adventures starring Sheena. Then she starred in a first-run syndicated television series that showed 26 episodes frome 1955 to 1956, starring model Irish McCalla. In 1977 she made a comeback in the Ramones song "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" on the band's third album, "Rocket to Russia." In 1984 Tanya Roberts reprised the role in Paul Aratow's "Sheena" for Columbia Pictures, which Marvel Comics then adapted. The character returned to comic books in brief appearances in "Jungle Comics" in 1988 and in London Night Studio's "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle" in 1998-1999, and returned to syndicated TV for 35 episodes in 2000-2002 with Gena Lee Nolin in the title role. In addition, the Bollywood film industry produced a string of uncredited Hindi versions of Sheena, beginning with "Tarzan Sundari" in 1983, "Africadalli Sheela" (1986), and "Jungle Ki Beti." (1988).

    "Swapna" is the Sanskrit word for the state of consciousness while dreaming. Along with "jagrat" (wakeful conscousness), "sushupti" (deep sleep in which no cognition occurs), and "turiya" (the transcendant pure consciousness), it is described in the "Chandogya Upanishad." Swapna was also an actress in Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam-language movies in the 1980s and 1990s. Her film debut was a self-titled movie in 1981 directed by Dasari Narayana Rao, a Telugu/Kannada remake of the 1964 Bollywood romance "Sangam" that explores love, friendship, and male bonding.

  3. In the Book of Genesis and other writings, Sarai ("my princess") was the first wife and half-sister of Abram and the mother of Yitshak (Isaac), but God changed her name to Sarah ("noblewoman") as part of a covenant after Hagar bore Abram his first son, Yishmael, and changed Abram's name to Abraham ("a father of many nations"). They were the children of Terah, the ninth in descent from Noah, though they had different mothers. Terah took them and their nephew Lot from their native Ur, in order to travel to the land of Canaan, the son of Noah's son Ham, who was cursed with perpetual slavery because of Ham's irreverence. They settled in a place named Haran, named for Terah's deceased son, until 205-year-old Terah died. Then Abram, 75, Sarai, about 65, and Lot resumed their journey to Shechem in Canaan. Because of a famine, they went to Egypt, where the pharaoh took Sarai into his household and gave her Goshen, and gave Abram livestock and servants, causing God to inflict the royal family with plagues. Abram had told her to claim that she was his sister, but when the pharaoh learned she was actually his wife he expelled them from Egypt after presenting Hagar to Sarah, saying: "It is better that my daughter should be a slave in the house of such a woman than mistress in another house."

  4. After they had dwelt in Cannan a decade, God told Abram that his descendants would occupy all the lands of various tribes, even though he had no children yet. So Sarai offered him her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, who fled after her mistreatment by Sarai due to Hagar's pregnancy. An angel told Hagar to return and that her son, whom she should name Yishmael ("God has hearkened"), would be "a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." When Yishmael was 13, God changed Abram's and Sarai's names, told them that, even though Agrahm was 100 and Sarah 90, they would have a new son, to be named Yitshak ("[He] will laugh"), through whom Abraham would establish his covenant, and that Yishmel would also be blessed: "twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." Then Abraham, Yishmael, and all of the males in Abraham's household were circumcised as the sign of the covenant. They then settled at Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, and once again Abraham claimed Sarah was his sister. King Abimelech, like the pharaoh, had Sarah brought to him, but God appeared in a dream and warned him that she was a married woman and must be returned to her husband or be destroyed with his entire household. Then he made the women in the king's household infertile. When Abimelech confronted Abraham and asked why he had brought such great guilt upon his kingdom, Abraham told him he did not think there was any fear of God in that place and that, as in Egypt, he was afraid that he would be slain so his widow would be free. Abimelech gave him livestock, servants, and a thousand pieces of silver and allowed him to settle wherever he pleased. Abraham then prayed for Abimelech and his household to free them of God's curse.

  5. When Abraham celebrated Yitshak's weaning, Sarah gave milk to all the babies present in order to prove that Yitshak was not a foundling.But she also demanded that Hagar and Yishmael be expelled, "for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son." Abraham gave them bread and water and sent them away. They were soon starving in the the wilderness of Beer-sheba, but an angel showed them a well. Eventually they settled in the Desert of Paran, where Yishmael became an archer. Hagar found him an Egyptian wife, and their sons became chiefs of lands between Assyria and Egypt. His second son Kedar became the ancestor of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, and his daughter became the wife of Esav (Esau, "Hairy" or "Rough"), Yitshak's oldest son; Esav's twin brother was Yaacov ("Heel-holder, supplanter"). Esav was the ancestor of the Arabs, but God would change Yaacov's name to Iśrāʾēl ("Triumphant with God"); he would trick his blind father into cheating Esav of his inheritance and would be the father of Joseph and the twelve tribes of Israel. When Sarah was 127, God told Abraham to sacrifice Yitshak as a sign of obedience. Either she died from grief at the news, not knowing that God was merely testing her husband and that her son was alive, or Satan, disguised as an old man, told her that Yitshak had been sacrificed. She comforted herself with the thought that the sacrifice had been offered at God's command and started for Hebron to join her husband. Satan reappeared and told her the truth, and she died of joy. Abraham buried her in the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs (the Cave of Machpelah), the Jews' 2nd holiest site (after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). Christians and Muslims maintain that the site is also the burial place of Abraham, Yitchak and his wife Rebekah, and their son Iśrāʾēl and wife Leah. According to the "Genesis Rabbah," during her lifetime her house was always hospitably open, the dough was miraculously increased, a light burned from Saturday evening to Saturday evening, and a pillar of cloud rested upon the entrance to her tent. Abraham later married again and had six more sons, but on his death at 175, Yitshak receives "all Abraham's goods" and the other sons only "gifts."

  6. A lakh is s unit in the Indian numbering system equal to 100,000. In the Indian convention of digit grouping, it is written as "1,00,000." For example, in India 150,000 rupees becomes 1.5 lakh rupees, written as ₹1,50,000 or INR 1,50,000. In this system of numeration 100 lakh is called one crore and is equal to 10 million. In colloquial Urdu, especially in Karachi, the word "peti" ("suitcase") is used to denote one lakh rupees, since at one time, when the largest denomination of currency was the 100 rupee note, one lakh rupees would fill a small suitcase. In the international precious metals marke, one lakh equals 100,000 troy ounces (3,100 kg) of a precious metal such as gold or silver. The word have derived from Pali "lakkha" or the Sanskrit "laksha" (mark, target, gambling stake).

  7. "Let me assume that you are not the one
    To peep into your brother’s bedroom."
    Shahryar's war against infidelity began when he discovered his brother's wife engaged in adultery, and then he learned about his own wife's unfaithfulness.



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