5. Tale of Ghanim bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall o’ Love

Ghanim bin Ayyub goes, after his father’s death, to Baghdad to sell things. At a funeral he wants to go home early because of robbers. But finding the city-gates closed he returns to a tomb where he hides in a date-tree when seeing three figures coming his way. Three slaves appear with a chest. They bring th chest into the tomb and tell each other how they have become eunuchs.

When the slaves are gone Ghanim opens the chest and finds a lady in it. He brings her home and they fall in love. She eventually tells him she is of the Caliph and was put in the chest by Lady Zubaydah. The Caliph finding out Kut al-Kulub (which is her name) is at Ghanim’s place sends for her. Ghanim escapes, but loses all his property. Fatigued and famished he is taken into the house of a syndic. His mother and sister and Kut find him there. The Caliph having heard the true story of Kut al-Kulub unites Kut and Ghanim and marries Fitnah, Ghanim’s sister, himself.

Ghanim bin Ayyub is the son of a wealthy merchant who, after his death, left a large sum of money. Ghanim still wants to complete his father’s merchant journey towards Baghdad. When he reaches the city he sells his things, but a year later he finds the gate to the bazar shut. One of the merchants has died and everybody goes to the funeral. Ghanim also goes but he doesn’t want to stay for the night at the burial place because he is a stranger and they get often robbed for money. When he returns to the city he finds the city-gates closed, he returns to the burial ground and goes to an open tomb to stay for the night. When he sees light coming his way he closes the door and hides in a date-tree.

The strangers are three slaves with a chest. They find the gate closed but one of them saw somebody climb a date-tree. They decide that one of them climbs the gate and open it from the inside. They do so and bring the chest into the tomb. Here they rest and decide to tell each other the story of how they become eunuchs.

[Now follows the Tale of the First Eunuch, Bukhayt]

[Now follows the Tale of the Second Eunuch, Kafur]

When the slaves are gone Ghanim digs up the chest and finds a woman in it drugged with Bhang. When she wakes she screams about harems and tombs. He hids the woman back into the chest and hires a mule to bring her to his home. They have a good time and Ghanim asks for a kiss on which she replies he is only allowed when she is drunk and dead to the world. He keeps carressing her, but she says although she loves him, she is not his. She also promises him she will tell her story some time. One night Ghanim wants to lie with her and she says she will tell the story. She shows him her trouser-string has the golden words embroidered: “I am yours, and you are mine, o cousin of the apostle!”. The cousin of the apostle is the Caliph,. She says she is one of the Commander of the Faithful concubines Kut al-Kulub, and therefore cannot be his. She tells that one day when the Caliph was out the jealous Lady Zubaydah asks a slave-girl to put the Bhang into Kut’s nostrils. She was put into the chest and brought to the tomb. The following days Kut becomes more obessive of Ghanim, but he, now knowing the true origin of the concubine, sets different beds to sleep in.

The Lady Zubaydah meanwhile lets a carpenter create a wooden statue and it is buried in her palace. She and her servants dress in black as in mourning. When the Caliph arrives he hears of the sad news and wants to see the body of Kut al-Kulub. He is shown the tomb but declines to see the body. When two handmaids are at the seeming sleeping Caliph’s head and feet he overhears them talking of the deed of Zabaydah and that Kut al-Kulub is at the home of Ghanim. The angered Caliph sends his Wazir Ja’afar with servants to bring Ghanim to the palace. Kut is aware of the coming peril and disguises Ghanim. He gets out but she is brought to the Caliph and put into a dark chamber.

When Ghanim’s house is set to be plundered they find his mother and sister at a tomb. They raised it because they haven’t heard from Ghanim for over a year now. Ghanim visits a mosque. He sinks to the floor of famine and fatigue. The people bring him by camel to the gate of Baghdad. Here he is found by the syndic of the bazar who takes him into home because he wants to vouchsafe his place in Paradise.

Kut in the meantime cries about Ghanim and how honourable he was. The Caliph hears her and she is allowed to find him. She gives alms in Ghanim’s name to the different faiths to pray and merchants to give to strangers. One on these is the syndic who has Ghanim at home. He asks Kut to come to his place to have a look at his stranger. Kut does not recognise the famished Ghanim and leaves the house. The merchant one day brings the mother and sister to Kut al-Kulub. She finds out they are family of Ghanim. When the mother and sister are dressed they again go to the syndic’s house. Here the mother and sister recognise Ghanim and Kut now also sees the true identity of Ghanim. When Kut goes back she tells the Caliph the whole story and the Caliph sends for Ghanim. Kut goes earlier and warns Ghanim to make sure he is well-dressed. The Caliph gives Ghanim Kut al-Kulub and a palace, the Caliph will get Fitnah, Ghanim’s sister, so both Ghanim and the Caliph marry.

From: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 02

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