A collection of Pashtun stories from Loy Afghanistan

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ningola and Begum Jan

In Kabul there lived a king of the Peryan who had seven daughters and his wife was desperate for a son, any Malang that would come to their door would never go empty handed, but was always asked to pray for a male child for the mistress of the house.

One day a very old Malang stopped here and the mistress of the house emptied her heart to him and the old man blessed her and said that a son would be born to her soon and he would be a very handsome and intelligent boy, but his life would be a sad one, did she still wish to have a son. The excited peray said yes she would definitely have a son, for in her heart she knew she would protect him from all evil and misfortune and sadness. The Malang said that she would have to name the boy Ningola.

A year to the day the queen gave birth to a son whom she promptly named Ningola and as the Malang had promised, he got to grow into a handsome intelligent young peray. His sisters doted on him and it seemed that there were no worries or sadness anywhere in his life. Of all his sisters he loved his youngest sister most and she lived just to see him happy.

Ningola had a thirst for knowledge that would not be quenched with all the tutors his father provided and through his youngest sister he petitioned the king again and again, till he relented and let Ningola leave the palace.

Ningola with a faithful companion that his father had stipulated go every where with him, traveled far and wide and sat at the feet of the great masters of his time until he exhausted all their knowledge and then he set off to learn what humans knew. It was while he was hopping from one teacher to another that he ended up in the village of Begum Jan in Aboha, Swat.

Begum Jan's father was the Khan of the village and people came from far and wide to see the beautiful girl whose beauty was praised in many a song. Next door to Begum Jan's house lived her uncle and his son to whom she had been promised from birth. A few houses down from them was a Jummat, where an imam Mullah Badar led the prayers and Hadith and recitation of the Quran. He was also a learned scholar of the magic arts. Many people came to consult him when they thought they or someone in their family was possessed by a peray.

It was common practice in those days for boys and girls get their primary education from the mullah, and those without one in their village would send their boys to a neighboring Mullah to learn the basics of religion. If the boys came from a village that was a days walk, or more, they would stay in the Jummat and only go home once a month or every two months etc. The local people would send food to the Jummat for the boys that lived there. When Ningola, showed up at the Jummat with another boy, and they started learning, he was welcomed just like all the others.

Ningola was a fast learner and soon became a favorite of Mullah Badar. Begum Jan who had been the star pupil till then took an instant dislike to the boy, and they were soon in a bitter competition to be the most learned of Mullah Badar’s students.

One day when Ningola did better than Begum Jan, he could not help but rub it in and in retaliation, Begum Jan who had regularly brought food for the whole Jummat taunted him that he was such a cheapskate that in all this time he had not once contributed to the meals for the kids. Ningola smiled and that night he served a feast at the Jummat that no one had ever seen the likes of. There were all kinds of birds, served in all kind of sauces, there were fruits no one had ever seen and there was so much food that the whole village ate and yet there was lots left over. Everyone said that never had they tasted a meal like this, and Begum Jan out of anger stopped coming to the Jummat

Strangely instead of being happy that she had left, Ningola found himself missing her, and the place seemed boring and empty with out her. He missed her sharp mind and quick tongue. He decided he would have to see her. Since a male could not visit the inside sanctuary of someone’s house, Ningola had to turn back into his invisible peray form. Thus he would go to her when everyone was sleeping and he would enter her dreams and through her dreams he made way into her heart. Begum Jan was never truly aware of what was happening, but that she now had a soft spot in her heart for her former rival.

Unseen to Begum Jan and her family Ningola would enter the house and watch her, but soon this was not enough and he made love to her while she slept. This love resulted in Begum Jan getting with child and she grew paler everyday, her alarmed parents called for Mullah Badar and told him about her, and swore that she had never left the house and neither had anyone else ever come to the house.

Mullah Badar, who had been tipped off by Ningola's feast, knew who the culprit was and he ordered Begum Jan to be married off to her cousin as soon as possible. Mullah Badar marked the house with spells that would not let Ningola enter, and in his absence Begum Jan pined for him too.

Mullah Badar tried to mark Ningola into a circle, but Ningola had studied under him and knew how to unmark each circle. This went on for awhile, and both tested their strength against each other.

His companion was worried, but Ningola assured him that he was as good as any human and could unmark any circle put around him. As the fight grew more aggressive unknown to Ningola his companion went to his father and informed him. His sisters came as fast as they could and watched their brother fight each binding spell put on him. When a very aggressive spell made Ningola loose his balance, his youngest sister cried out, causing Ningola to loose his concentration and look up at his family watching, these few seconds gave Mullah Badar enough time to further close the circle and force Ningola into a kooza.

His sisters wailed and begged him to set their brother free. They promised him jewels and riches beyond his imagination and when that failed they offered him themselves, but Mullah Badar always refused. They promised they would take away their brother and he would never be seen in these parts again, but to Mullah Badar this had become a personal insult that a student of his would dare challenge him and insult his hospitality.

Mullah Badar threw the kooza into the fire while Ningola's helpless sisters shrieked and pulled their hair. They swore vengeance and said that they would not leave till they avenged their brother's death.

Mullah Badar took great precaution and covered himself with protective spells, but these spells could only protect him if he was clean and had performed ablutions. One very cold night Mullah Badar hesitated before performing ablutions, and the sisters fury descended on him. It is said that he begged for them to relent and they reminded how much they had begged him to spare their brother. The people of the village found him the next day and gave him a burial, but the sisters opened the grave and hung him from the very rafters of the Jummat he had taught in for years.

The people buried him again, only to find him hanging form the rafters again. This happened for a while, but then the extreme decay caused them to stop and finally tiring of it they took his remains to Ayeen Kamar in Paray and left him there. The sisters took Begum Jan's child from the cradle and left never to be seen again, and some say that she pined for her lover and her child till her death, while others say that she gave birth to twins and that the sisters let her keep one, and that is why the people of Aboha are so beautiful, because they have peryan blood in them.

To this day if one visits Ayeen Kamar you can hear the rattling od Mullah Badars bones and no one dares go there alone during the day, and never at night. After a visit even people who have never heard of Ningola or Mullah Badar get the shivers and say that they felt a strange sense of forboding there.

Thanks to this story we have a saying in Swat

Da Mullah Badar pa awdasa ki werta gurzam,

when they try to explain how they tiptoe around someone who they do not wish to anger or make aware of their presence.

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