Adonis Diaries

“Once upon a time, there was a King…” by Atiq Rahimi

Posted on: October 3, 2009

“Once upon a time, there was a King…” 

What else?  If not a king, then a queen, or a chivalrous knight, or a young beautiful princess, anyone that strikes the imagination of the common people who never have seen secretive “noble” individuals.

There are no new stories to invent: they were all told by the many cultures that we don’t know the languages and had never read their stories. The most enduring stories, through the ages, are the most common ones. Do not invent stories; just tell it.

Once upon a time, there was a King.  The astrologer warned the King that all his children must be males or he will lose the kingdom.

The first child was a girl and she was executed.  The second child was a girl and did not survive the day.  The third child was a girl, and it was becoming such a habit that control got lax and the mother got to see, hold, and feed her daughter.

This time around it was out of the question that this girl dies. The Queen bribed the executioner to save the child and fled the castle with the kid and a few servants.

The King tracked the Queen down. In his journey, he had to conquer other kingdoms, burn, and maim.  One tiny kingdom resisted and the Queen refused to meet and negotiate with the invading King. The Queen of the steadfast territory was ready to burn her kingdom and to fight to the last willing men.

The daughter of the Queen finally decided to meet with the King, spent the night with him, and saved her Kingdom.

The Queen was beside herself and suspected the worst in the generosity of this cruel King.

“What do you think was the end of this story?” said grand mom to the listening grandchildren. The kids wanted an ending to the story but grandmother refused to offer any: that was a mystery. No one had a satisfactory happy ending.

As she married, Safiya told her old father-in-law the story and asked him what the ending was. He replied “I did not even know the story. Anyway, it could not be but a tragedy since incest was consummated.

The next day, the old man relented and told Safiya that there could be an alternative happy ending; in general, for one happy event there are two tragic events. 

The ending should be decided on who must be happy the daughter, the Queen, or the King.

Should the moral Queen die? (What morality is there in the destruction of an entire population?)

Should the law enforcer of a King die? (What kinds of laws are so lawful to execute the supposed “traitors” for a King’s personal satisfaction?)  Should the daughter die in order to let her parents live “happily”?

We try hard to find a happy ending at the detriment of our own, because morality and customs decided that parents, relative, and community take precedent to our happiness.

In Greek tragedies everyone dies; in Shakespeare’s tragedies everyone dies or goes mad.

There is lack of imagination on the outcomes of the ending and people still flip the last page to know how the story ends.

It is so easy to let everyone die so that custom, tradition, ignorance, and censure win.  And yet, all these stupid tragedies are considered work of art for the ages.

No wonder society did not progressed at the same pace as sciences: stories fundamentally lack courageous alternatives that defy acceptable “common sense” outcomes.

Note 1: This story, with minor alterations, is taken from “Stone of Patience” (Syngue sabour) by the Iranian Atiq Rahimi.

Note 2: I won’t let this post ends without a joke.

An Afghani army recruit is asked by the sergeant “what are you carrying on your shoulder Ahmad?” The soldier replied “This is my rifle.”  The sergeant screams “This is your mother’s honor Ahmad, your sister, and your wife.”

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2009
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