Thimble Prick

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Today this fable stands to point out that those who are guilty will stand out amidst a crowd with their guilt even if they do not leave clues or commit mistakes. They are always suspecting others know and their suspicion gives them away with reactions not actions.

 
 
Once upon Iraq’s golden Abbasid era, a wise Khalifa called Al-Mansour received an alarming  letter from Louai the head of merchants of Baghdad. He informed Al-Mansour about the constant thefts happening in broad daylight in Souk Al-Safafeer and the merchants final ultimatum of moving out from the Souk should the thefts continue. Known for his wisdom and firmness but also as the fox of the Abbasid’s, he was determined to catch the thieves involved by himself.
 
The next morning, he went to the chambers of Dina, his eldest daughter and said:
Would you like to join me on a hunt as I join you shopping? 
 
Still half asleep, the princess opened her eyes and said: “How is it the emerald of Baghdad could hardly leave your palace’s walls for shopping and yet you are inviting her to join you hunting?
 
Realizing that the princess was still angry for not being allowed to go stargazing like she used to do as a child; he said: “I’ll make you a deal. You take me shopping and I’ll take you hunting and stargazing. How’s that my emerald?
“Yes! When are we going?” she asked as she jumped out of bed. 
“Right now, but you must borrow Nazira’s cape and clothing” said the Khalifa
 
Nazira was Dina’s chambermaid and a commoner who grew up on a farm.  A moment of silence fell on the room, but Dina was decided to join her father and said: “Alright, I will change into Nazira’s clothing this instant”.
 
“Meet me in the back of the courtyard behind the seventh gate. I have one condition though  and that is you won’t talk or ask any questions for the entire journey until we reach our destination.” said the Khalifa
 
“That I can manage. Meet you in a bit behind the seventh gate” said the challenged princess with one raised eyebrow.
 
The two met at the gates and the Khalifa helped Dina get on her mare. Both had their faces covered with the Khimar (a cloth veil). 
“Keep looking forward as I talk and just listen to what I have to say. Today, I am your chaperon and we are going to shop for you bridal cloth and henna. You will just point to what you want and I will do the bargaining” said the Khalifa.
 
Upon arriving at Souk Al-Safafeer, the Khalifa had the mare sit on its knees so that Dina can dismount. They left the mare in the care of one of the Souk’s Mawali.
 
Having not been beyond the castle’s walls since age twelve, the princess was so taken by the Souk’s environment from merchandise, the people, and noise that she didn’t notice being bumped by a man who was running. 
 
“Keep your eyes open, and try not to let people push you away from me” said the wise Khalifa. The princess was pissed but couldn’t say a word for her father winked at her to just along. She followed her father into a huge tent where fabulous silks and threads were on display. The place was full of women shopping for bridal cloth. There were people bumping them and stepping on her foot every now and then but she kept it together. She was quite mesmerized by the many shiny fabrics, bead accessories and copper ware that were all over.
 
All was well, until the princess saw a very fancy fan made of ostrich feathers lined with peacock feathers sewed together with golden threads to fit in a casing made from deer horns and ivory engravings. “Father, can we buy one of these. They are so pretty” she whispered. 
 
The Khalifa looked around to see if anyone heard what she said, and raised one eyebrow as the sweat rolled from his forehead. 
 
Now the princess was frightened for she knew she had committed a big mistake by talking. 
 
But before the two could lock eyes and have a silent argument by looks, a lady came by and said: These feathers are exquisite and you can stitch them together with thin silk and thread using one of our exclusive Armenian golden thimbles. I can talk to Rawi my brother he will give you a discount”. 
 
“Thank you Madam, I will check with my Lady if that’s what she wants” said the Khalifa
 
 It was then that she asked her father to buy her an ostrich feather and a golden thimble. 
 
“We have a tailor and you can just choose the cloth” said the Khalifa
 
“I am aware father, but I want to try using a needle and maybe improve my embroidery” said the princess who again forgot about her father’s instructions.
 
Seeing his daughter interested for the first time in something that was ladylike made him happy. So he bought the items for her and she put them in her small basket. Just when they were about to step out another man stepped on her foot while other one grabbed her basket so hard and ran with it as she fell. The princess shouted in pain from her fall and the entire market stood still for a couple minutes. The vendor and his wife asked the princess if she was alright and she nodded. All was about to go back to normal when three ladies starting shouting one after the other: “someone took my purse, someone stole my necklace, someone  stole my silk scarf… help us please”….The crowd went wild and everybody began running in different directions that many were trampled and stepped on. Fearing for his daughter’s safety, the Khalifa took off his hood exposing his turban and unloosened his cape revealing his medallion. Everybody froze and began to kneel. 
 
Amidst the kneeling crowd, a brave lady in her late forties called out to the Khalifa:
“Aren’t you going to at least have the guards blow horns and chase that thief? This is what happens to us commoners on a daily basis while you live safe behind your walls.”
 
A guard tried to hit her on her lower back with the base of spear to make her bow but she pushed him away. Amazed by her audacity, the Khalifa gave a sign to let the woman speak. 
 
“We are being robbed of our money, goods, and accessories on a daily basis here. We just want the place to be safe for us to get our things and go home with what we earned honestly.” said the woman.
But what the women didn’t know was that upon taking his cape and hood off the guards were already closing the market from all its four corners and eight gates not letting anyone out. The archers on the rooftops had taken their places. Another Mawla took a hunting horn and blew signaling for the market crowd from vendors and buyers to fall in line. Meanwhile the other Mawali directed the men in the market to fall in lines and the women in another set of lines. They all stood there for a deadening thirty minutes in the sun in silence until the Khalifa signaled them all to sit on the ground of the souk.
 
Then Khalifa took his position on the podium and said, among you stands the mastermind for the thefts going on and his accessories. I will not be doing any searches but instead I will call on them and they will come forward. If they do, I will pardon them and their only punishment shall be to be banished from the city and the souk for ten years. However, if I will be the one to catch them, they shall be beheaded. 
 
Everybody felt relieved that the silence ended and that soon the culprits will be caught. The princess who was confused came closer to her dad and whispered “ But father, did you see who did it? Do you know their names or how they look like? How do you intend to do that?”.
 
The wise Khalifa smiled at his princess and said: “Watch and learn my child”.
 
The one with ostrich feathers on his head please stand up. And just before the Khalifa could add another word seven men stood up from their places amongst the people sitting in the crowd. The guards came forward and grabbed them, bringing them forward to the podium. 
 
The crowd sighed in awe and surprise because none of them were wearing ostrich feathers or carrying any baskets or even wearing clothing that had pockets to conceal the stolen goods. But as they approached the podium while being shoved by the guards forward from their arms, they started dropping the stolen goods amongst them were the princess’ golden thimble. The thieves had concealed the goods under their armpits and in their undergarments.
 
Pleased with his scheme and the precision of his guards, the Khalifa cleared his throat and addressed his people once more: “ili tahit bato msaleh ib tinaaro”. For those of us who do not speak Arabic it translates as “the one with a thimble under his armpit, shall be pricked by it”.
 
Today this fable stands  to point out that those who are guilty will stand out amidst a crowd with their guilt even if they do not leave clues or commit mistakes. They are always suspecting others know and their suspicion gives them away with reactions not actions.
 
 


Submitted: October 18, 2020

© Copyright 2020 pasithea chan. All rights reserved.

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