The Husband and the Parrot

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Text Scripts

The Story of the Parrot of Ferukh Beg

The parrot replied, 

In a certain country was a merchant, named Ferukh Beg, in whose house was a sagacious parrot. This merchant, having occasion to travel, gave in charge to the parrot all his goods and chattels, and also his wife. After which he set out on his journey, in order to trade in different countries and continued absent some time, transacting his commercial concerns.

Shortly after his departure, his wife became acquainted and enamoured with a young Moghul. Every night she introduced this young Moghul into her house; they slept in one bed and continued together in the same apartment till morning. The parrot saw these proceedings and overheard all their conversation; however, he was as secret as if he had neither seen nor heard.

At the expiration of a year and a half, the merchant returned home and inquired of the parrot all the particulars concerning his household. The parrot informed the merchant of all the affairs of his house but did not tell any circumstances concerning the woman because it would have occasioned a separation between man and wife. At the expiration of a fortnight, the merchant was greatly astonished to hear from the tongue of a stranger all the circumstances regarding his wife and the young Moghul, according to what the sages have said – that musk and love cannot be concealed.

In short the merchant was enraged at his wife, reproved, and punished her.

The wife naturally suspected the parrot of having discovered to her husband all her pranks and, thus believing the parrot her enemy, she took an opportunity at midnight of plucking off the bird’s feathers and, flinging him out of doors, called out to the male and female slaves of the family that a cat had carried away the parrot.

The woman concluded in her own mind that the parrot was dead but, although he had been greatly injured by the fall, still some life remained, and at the expiration of an hour the parrot’s body recovered a little strength and power of motion.

Near the place was a burying-ground, whither the parrot repaired and remained some days in the hollow part of a tomb. He fasted all day and came out of the hole at night and, as travellers were used to alight in this burying-ground and there eat their victuals, during the night the parrot picked up their leavings, and then, taking a drink of water, returned into his hole in the morning. After some time, all the parrot’s feathers having begun to grow again, he was able to fly a short distance, just from one tomb to another, and then perching himself, and he ate such seeds as he could discover.

Early in the morning after that night on which the parrot departed, the merchant got out of bed and came to the cage, when, seeing that the parrot was not in it, he cried out aloud and threw his turban on the ground, being greatly troubled in mind. He was so enraged at his wife that he separated her from his bed and board and, giving no credit to her protestations, drove her out of his house.

The wife thought to herself, “As I am repudiated by my husband, all the people of the town will speak ill of me; therefore, it is most adviseable for me to repair to the burying-ground adjoining to the house and expire for want of food and sleep.” Summarily she went to the burying-ground and fasted one day.

At night the parrot called out from his hole, “Woman! Shave all the hair off your head and body with a razor and remain forty days in the burying-ground without food, when I will pardon all the sins you have committed during the whole course of your life and will make peace between you and your husband.”

The woman was astonished at hearing this voice and thought to herself, “Certainly there is in the burying-ground the tomb of some pious, just and upright man who will absolve me from my sins and restore peace and concord between me and my husband.”

Then, under this persuasion, she shaved all the hair off her head and body and continued some time longer in the burying-ground.

One day the parrot came out of the hole or tomb before described and said, “Woman! Thou, without my having committed any fault, pluckedst out my feathers and afflicted me grievously. It is well thou hast executed what my stars had ordained. However, I have eaten your salt and, from that consideration, will act well and friendly by you because I am the purchased parrot of your lord, and thou art my lady. I spoke the words which came to you from the hole in the tomb; namely, that I will unite you to your husband. Be assured of my fidelity, and that I am not a back-biter, that I should have told your faults to your husband, but, on the contrary, I have preserved my allegiance to your bread and salt. Behold, even now I am going to your husband and will reconcile him to you.”

The parrot, having spoken these words, went to his master’s house and, standing before him, made obeisance, imploring for him the blessing of long life and increase of riches.

The master asked, “Who art thou, and whence do you come?”

Then recollecting the bird, he said, “Where have you been for some time past and in what man’s house have you dwelt? Tell me every item of your story.”

The bird answered, “I am your old parrot, whom a cat took out of the cage and imprisoned in her belly.”

The master asked, “How was you restored to life again?”

The parrot replied, “You drove from your house your innocent wife, who thereupon retired to the cemetery, and, after she had fasted forty days with great grief and lamentation, the Almighty, in commiseration of her condition, restored me to life, and said, ‘O parrot! Go to this woman’s husband and make peace between them; be thou even an evidence in this cause.”

The bird’s master felt the force of the relation. The sum of the story is this: he departed from his house and, having mounted a horse, came to his wife and said, “Alas, my love! I have persecuted you, without your having committed any fault, but now pardon my transgression.”

Then he brought his wife home, and from that time they lived together in perfect harmony and good understanding, in the full enjoyment of love and delight.

Miemun’s parrot thus finished the tale of the merchant’s parrot and said to Khojisteh, “Arise quickly and go to the prince that your promise may not be broken and violated. If, which God forbid! your husband gets intelligence hereof, I am ready to establish peace and friendship, like the merchant’s parrot.”

Khqjisteh, delighted at these words, was ready to go to the prince but, at that instant, the dawn beginning to appear, she postponed her departure. As Khojisteh had kept awake all night to hear the story, she now retired and reposed herself on her bed.

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