The Adventures of Yarosah

by Sohail Dahdal

Long time ago, way back in history before books were written and cars were invented, life was more exciting and adventures were an every day occurrence, just venturing to the other side of the mountain would take days on end and bring the joy of seeing the unseen.

Yarosah was a princess living in that magical time. She lived in a small village hidden away from the world, protected from one side by a mountain, and the other side by the sea. Yarosah had the purest heart and a smile that penetrated deep into the hearts of everyone she met. Love was abundant, and so it should have been, for our princess was more than worthy of that love, her beauty enchanted strangers and friends alike, her smile brought happiness to all.

Yarosah loved to love and be loved, her favorite place, the garden of Edon, a garden full of Jasmine, little ponds with little ducks, and hundreds of happy singing birds in golden cages. How much did she love listening to the birds singing and how much did she not wish for anything else in the world.

Or did she?

Yarosah would never expect what was to happen next….

One day, like any other day, Yarosah was walking in the garden when she heard a bird singing not like she has ever heard before, it sang beautifully… but… it sang sadly, this made our princes feel strange, she was feeling something she’d never felt before, she was feeling sad. The sadness made our princess intrigued for she has never experienced such emotion before, salty drops of liquid rolled down her cheeks, silent tears, “so this is crying”, our princess thought, “funny that salty taste!”

From that day onward, Yarosah was on a quest? What? She didn’t know, but even thought she hadn’t heard the bird sing his sad tune again, she had the tune in her head, and tears would flow as soon as she thought of the tune, sometimes she would catch her self staring into the sky, tears in her eyes, even without thinking of the sad music.

It was the salty taste of tears that made Yarosah think about the sea, her heart was aching, restless. The village, the palace, the mountain all seemed too small. It was as if the sad tunes were a cue for our princess to look inwards, then feel the tears, then taste the salt, then think of the sea.

“Oh the sea, what is out there, what lies beneath the sea, and what lay ahead behind the horizon?” our princess was getting more restless by the day, no longer did she smile to strangers, no longer did she sing, but that sad tune.

Her father, the king of Dunia, was getting worried and consulted with the wisest of his men.

First his famous doctor and potion mixer suggested,  “Yarosah is sick she must have a heart ache and therefore she needs Gindo honey… If your majesty sends me on an expedition I will be more than honored to risk my life and find the honey”, and even though the Gindo kingdom was not a safe place to venture to, and the king had no ruling in that area, he decided to follow the advice of his trusted doctor and send an expedition to the deep forest on the edge of the Gindo kingdom.

Weeks past and yet no news of the honey or the witch doctor… as for Yarosah… by now she was even more sad knowing that everybody was concerned for her. Yes, she had tried to smile but she found it impossible to do so, for she had never learned how to smile, on the account of when she did smile – before – it was natural and from a place she can no longer find in her own self.

One day as our princess was being bathed with the help of her 12 maids – all beautiful with beautiful voices – singing as they bathed her with the most delicious milks and flowers. She thinking, they singing, suddenly the sound of the hornet was announcing and important event.

For it happened that the doctor has returned with the Gindo honey, not only that but he had managed to bring a new treatment, a cactus drink that was said to bring a smile to even the king’s treasurer – a man so serous that it was said he was never seen to smile.

Excited and grateful, the king ordered for the honey be taken to his daughter’s room immediately – in fact he would do so himself. And for the doctor, if the treatment works he will be rewarded, or else.

Yarosah, obedient to her father, but not caring for what will happen, drank the honey, three spoons in total. The taste was that of mint and sugar… except it had a honey texture – not bad thought she. But what is the point of this… what next? More honey?

“Try this cactus drink my daughter”

Yarosah took the drink and threw it in the bathtub… something she had never done before – disobey her father and more over… be reckless.

“What is wrong with you my daughter, why did you do that? Why are you sad?”

“Father… if only I knew”, said Yarosah as she ran into her chamber, her 12 maids in tow.

So my dear doctor your medicine did no good, I will be dealing with you later but now I am despair. And with that he looked at his magician and uttered what he never thought himself would say.

“But my king… you want me to do the tricks of magic on your daughter!”

The king waved everybody away but the wizard, “So what can be done? I can’t accept sadness to be upon my most beloved, do what ever is needed.”

The wizard was silent, thinking, it took what felt like eternity for the king before our wizard said to the king, “My king your daughter is bored, she is in need of ecstasy. She is to be taken into another world, be shown pleasures not usually reserved for humans, she is to find happiness again like she has never found it before.”

Oh wind… do bring me scents from far, far away, Yarosah sat on her balcony, it was a crisp fresh night, she had her favorite silk shawl warped around her neck and it gave a sensation of being caressed and hugged… in the distant the sky was lit by a moon… not full but bright enough to reflect on the surface of the sea.

Somewhere else, the wizard busied himself preparing his magic potions. He had asked the king for some unspoken of material to be brought from the mountain tribes, the men there were well known of their magic, and unspeakable acts. The wizard – not without great fear of offending the king – had requested to go there by himself and fetch the material “So necessary for my potion to work my king, I, your humble servant, will go and fetch it myself.”

The next day, the wizard decorated with all sorts of feathers, his body painted in many strange colors, on his head, a huge hat that looked more like an animal than a hat, the wizard rode his donkey – his donkey was famous for it was an albino donkey with one ear. Yarosah thought it a ridiculous scene the donkey with the wizard on top, then the hat that looked more like an animal and on top of the hat sat the wizard’s beloved crow. The king following him telling him to be back by sunset for he could no longer bare the waiting… he waited too long… and now things were getting out of hand, he needed his normal life back, he needed to go back to attend to the business of being a king.

Mean while, Yarosah felt great love for her father and she was disappointed in herself for throwing the drink and well… for occupying her father’s time – along with everyone else’s in the village. All what I want is… “Oh… I wish I know what I want” deeply sighing as her father entered the room unnoticed “What is wrong my dear dearest daughter? Has any body hurt you? Have I not given you love?”

“Daddy you are wonderful, you are the gentlest off all men and I love you dearly. I wish, my father, I know what is wrong. I am sad… just sad… inside…. from a place I don’t know” and so our princess cried and wanted to hide her tears from her father. In fact she wanted to hide her sadness, her soul, her everything. She asked to be alone but she wished she could be hugged. No she needed to be alone, but she wished a thousand hugs. Silently she cried… those salty tears.

The wizard came back, he had a small leather pouch, in it some red seeds. There was five tiny red seeds, so small that when the king looked inside the pouch thought of it empty, sick joke it was, he thought “This is not a time for silly games Belato [the wizard’s name] where is the magic potion? We have no time to wait”

“My king these matters can not be hurried, these seeds are the most dangerous poison if handled the wrong way, give me the night to prepare the mix and at midnight the princess must drink it all… exactly at midnight my king”

“Hmmm, how are we to make her drink the potion?”

“Leave it to me my king, just make sure that the maids are not there and that I have access to her highness’s room. I need to be alone with her for an hour.”

The king was not happy about leaving his daughter alone with the wizard, but in his desperation he said “Ok, Belato, but I warn you if any harm happens to my daughter you will be killed, and so will your donkey and your crow”, the wizard loves his crow more than his own life, and the king knew that his daughter will be safe on account of that.

That night, exactly midnight, the wizard sneaked on the princess, sound asleep, so angelic, so beautiful, for a second he was tempted to take advantage of the situation but he was a wise man and knew better not to. Besides after the princess drinks the magic potion… she will be under his spell, and there will be plenty of time for that later. First he must earn the king’s trust.

Belato approached the princess ever so slowly and produced a white cloth soaked with a drug to stop the princess from waking up. He now needed to push the potion down the princess mouth without choking her and it will all be done, the princess will wakeup under his spell. Smiling he will ask her, love he will demand from her. She is his forever, and one day he will become the king… [Oh, king Belato, sounds much better than Belato, the wizard]

In the morning, Belato was presently available in the king’s Diwan. Too excited for his conquest, he had spent a sleepless night, he waited there at sunrise, he waited for the palace to be awake and for the king to be awake… more importantly he waited with great anticipation for the princess to be awake… his forever.

What our wizard didn’t know was that the princess had already been awaken with a terrible nightmare, just after he left her room at midnight, sick, she lay in bed all night. The magic potion had been upset by the dream and so it became a terrible poison. As a result the princess was sick for many weeks. The felt king guilty for trusting the wizard and would have punished him, but the wizard was on the run, him, his donkey, and the crow – it is said he has joined the mountain tribes and vowed never to be back to the wretched village.

By now the king has lost all hope and was himself sinking into depression. The head priest, who was a wise man, very old, very frail, but known to be the wisest of all, had always come to the rescue when he was most needed. He knew something had to be done for the king was neglecting his duties and this posed a risk, so clear a risk that other neighboring kings might decide to take advantage of the situation. For all surrounding kingdoms had heard of the misfortune of the king and the sadness of the prettiest princess of all the kingdoms.

“Your majesty, I worry about the affairs of our kingdom and as a high priest I must worn you that we need to get back to the business of ruling, your princess will recover in her own time my king… but if we get attacked… she will be taken a prisoner… a slave… and you will be killed, you MUST get back to your duties my king.”

“I know your holiness, I know”, sighed the king, “what am I to do if my heart is broken like I never have felt, how can I be a king, if I have no heart for anything… nothing but sorrow?”

“My king let me speak to your daughter.”

The king could see no harm in the high priest talking to his daughter. It was now a matter for the gods to deal with, the only thing he could do is to pray.

The high priest in his wisdom thought the princess must need some love, a different kind of love than the fatherly love.

“My daughter, your father will loose his kingdom if you don’t help us”

The priest’s words made Yarosah so worried, “what can I do? I’ll do anything to help my father.”

“You must marry, you need to find happiness, you need a prince to help your father.”

Yarosah had no wish to get married – nor did she have anyone in mind. “I will do anything for my father but I have no one wanting to marry me.” The priest smiled – a little bit slyly thought Yarosah. “Don’t worry my daughter, leave that to me and your father.”

The priest feeling very proud of himself hurried to the king  “your majesty I have found a cure for your daughter.”

“What… what… don’t let me wait any longer… what can I do?”

“You must marry our princess.”

“But she is too young to be married and no one is worthy of her.”

“My king I have a plan.”

“Do tell… do tell… I am all ears… hurry up for god’s sake… I can bear it no longer.”

“Ok, my king, the gods have told me that your princess is in need of love – and not just your majesty’s love – but that of a prince that could become your heir.  You must announce that who ever brings the smile back to our princess will be her future husband… and the future king of Dunia Kingdom”

The king kneeled and kissed the priests hand.  Our priest, wise as he is, allowed the king to kneel so all his followers could see the respect the king had for him but he pulled his hand away just in time to show respect for the king – and so the search began.

Princes, Kings, rich merchants, and even clowns, all came from far, far away places trying to win the princess’s heart. Many strangers came by daily and the princess was polite to every single one of them but never did she smile… and so the search continued and the legend grew.

Many dreamt of making the princess smile and marring her. Many failed.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that Yarosah was also anxious to get married and end this whole ridiculous saga.

She must smile. She must marry and make her father happy, god knows she tried her best to smile, she even asked her maids to teach her to fake a smile but her mouth would only heed to the orders of her restless heart. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t smile, even when sometimes she fancied the guy asking for her hand.

One day a young gypsy man came wanting her hand, gypsies were the scum of the earth at those times… the villagers laughed at him, the priest announced that he was not eligible for he followed no god and could never be the king. The king was sure his daughter would never accept a gypsy and, fair as he was, he saw no reason why this young man not try make his daughter smile.

The gypsy, asked to be alone with the princess in the jasmine garden, “just for one hour.” This, he was allowed after much debate between the king and the priest, a debate that was interrupted by Yarosah accepting to see the young man in the Jasmine garden. This surprised her father for she has never been back to the garden since that incident, and he immediately granted the young man a one-hour audience.

Yarosah herself was surprised that she had wanted to go back to the garden, but this young man had brought with him… something that she could not understand, in his eyes… she saw the sea…

In the garden the young man sat on the ground and asked the princess to do the same… first she refused then accepted when he promised her stories from far away, she slowly sat down, taking care not to let him notice her great anticipation. The gypsy was perceptive, he had read in Yarosah’s eyes the desire to be far away, the salty tears, and the sea. And so he told her many… many stories… stories that made her heart even more restless.

The king was watching from a secret window in the tower and was surprised to see his daughter’s eyes come back to life. Smile she did not, but there was change, that was apparent – and even spoken when the princess begged her father that the gypsy man come back the next day to tell her more stories. Her father said yes, surprised by his daughter’s interest in this man, and a bit worried that she might fall in love with him.

Many weeks passed, and every day the gypsy man [his name he would not tell] told our princess stories that both intrigued her and made her more restless. One day, he produced a flute from his bag, he played a very happy tune. So happy the princess felt, that she wanted to dance. “Do you know this is what we play when we loose a friend”, the gypsy said when he stopped playing. Yarosah thought of this funny and sad, funny that they play a happy tune when loosing a friend, and sad that she could not imagine what loss meant – she had never lost anyone, well her mum, but she was too little then. First tears came to her eyes remembering her mum, then she smiled. Yes, she smiled… for she was happy that she would think of her mum while listening to such music… she was feeling free… free of many things that was holding her a prisoner, things that she didn’t even know existed in her and now that they are gone. She felt like floating.

Her father, having witnessed that episode from his secret window, was so excited that he almost fell from the tower. He ran to his Diwan to announce that the gypsy man is to become the new king. This news worried the priest greatly – and later worried the king too – feeling that he overreacted.

But there was no need to worry, for the gypsy man after he finished playing his music, had planted a kiss on Yarosah’s lips and said that the sea was calling him. He must go. Yarosah was still in her own world, she looked at the gypsy man and smiled again.

The king, relieved that the gypsy is leaving, asked him “how did you make my daughter smile?”

“I didn’t make her smile, your daughter had been smiling from the inside all along… smiles that are restless… the best kind of smiles… I only showed her that she was not alone. Now I must go.”

“How can I repay you”, asked the king.

“I have no need for anything, but perhaps some food for the next few days. Oh… I have one more request.”

“You are a modest man and you have my respect, your orders are my commands,” the king said, touched by this man’s simplicity.

“Your daughter, she needs to go to far away places… set her free.”

“But– ”

By now the gypsy had turned away and left the king pondering what had been said. How could he let go of his daughter? His only love after he lost his wife. No he can’t do it.

He walked in the jasmine garden feeling conflicted. He can’t loose his daughter. He looked at the birds in their golden cages… so beautiful, the jasmine garden… so beautiful, what more could his daughter want?

Not so many minutes passed when one of his daughter’s maids came running to say that the princess was no where to be found!

Yarosah had hid in the gypsy’s boat without him knowing. Once he was at sea, she announced herself. She had not expected him to be so angry with her, but he could see that she had unknowingly put his life in danger – and hers too.

“I travel alone, I will drop you off at the next port.”

“Fine, I don’t care. I only want to travel. I knew you wouldn’t take me if I told you I was coming so hiding was the only way. I need to travel, I can’t stay in the palace all my life.”

“What is it you are travelling for, my princess?”

“What is it YOU are travelling for?”

“Me, I have no choice, this is my life, I am a sea man.”

“Me, I have no choice too… I have tasted the sea…  the sea from within… my salty tears told me I must go.”

He smiled and said not much after…

Meanwhile, back in the kingdom, the princess’s departure was big news and her father ordered an expedition to look for her and the gypsy man. He thought, they ran away together, and he was angry. The gypsy had abused his trust.

After few days at sea the royal guards found the gypsy man sailing alone. He told them of how Yarosah hid in his boat and then after he had changed his mind and accepted her to travel with him, intending on returning her to her father, she had ran away from him when they landed at the next port.

Yarosah was following no path. She traveled, listening to stories, meeting people, smiling to strangers. Her travel tales were told many years later. Of this young girl, dressed in a man’s clothes, enchanting who ever came across her path.

One day – many, many moons after her departure from the safety of her father and friends – when our princess was in the forests of Malu, a small island famous for its giant mango trees, she heard it, it was distinct and clear, that sad tune, the same tune she had in her head. This time it was not in her head… but a bird… was it the same bird? Tears flew freely from her eyes, she thought of her father, her jasmine garden, her beautiful maids – more friends than maids – it has been three years now. She missed them so dearly, even the wizard with his white donkey, the farmers, the women of the village, she missed them all.

She sat under a mango tree and let her tears flow so freely…

She must have fallen asleep, for she was awaken by a gentle tap on her shoulder, an old man dressed in a dark grey gulabiah, very unusual in this part of the land for everybody here dress so colorfully, he looked like a desert man on an island.

“What is wrong my child, why are you here?”

“ I was crying and I must’ve fallen asleep… where am I?”

“Why were you crying…?”

“I never know why I cry… I miss my people.”

“So go and see them.”

“But I ran away.”

“Why did you run away?”

“Because of my salty tears… they made me think of the sea.”

The old man smiled and gave Yarosah a small rock. It was a shiny rock, not a diamond but looked more like a crystal ”This is made of salt. It is the sea but my dear so are your tears.”

“But tears make me sad.”

“Sad is good… restless is also good… when you get to my age you’ll understand… but for now go back to your people… as long as you know you are free to go whenever you want, then your tears of sadness will no longer make you restless, the sea will always be there for you. Life is like a river that eventually ends up in the ocean, the journey is ever more exciting. Go and be with your people… but be free.”

The king was frail and sick, and he had given up hope of finding his daughter, so when he saw her standing there in front of him… smiling… only looking older… wiser… and dressed as a boy… he thought “I must be dreaming.”

“Hello my beloved father.”

“My daughter you are back!”

“I had never left, my dear father, my heart has always been here and now I am back to be with you and my people.”

The princess’s return was the big news for many years to come… she smiled a lot these days… but she no longer stayed in the palace watching from her balcony… she was in village… visited the farms, the market, and the port. She paid attention to everything around her. The love she had to the people was also helping Yarosah to be the judge in any dispute, her words were accepted by both feuding parties and she became the loved princess and the judge, she was slowly earning the people’s respect.

This did not go unnoticed by her father. One day he called his daughter and asked everyone to leave them alone “My daughter I have become so frail… and it is time I pass my ruling to a younger wiser generation, you are my daughter, but more important you are loved by all, as of this day, the Dunia kingdom will be ruled by a queen… not a king”

And so princess Yarosah became Queen Yarosah…

The tears came as often as the smiles. The smiles reminded our queen of the gypsy man, the old man, love, and happiness. The tears carried the taste of the sea, of far away places, and reminded Yarosah of love, the love of life, and her freedom. The salty tears were the oceans within, and she felt freedom in that knowledge. She was happy.

This is how we came to know of the legend of Yarosah, later told in many different tongues, but always brought a smile to the storyteller and the listeners alike.

Queen Yarosah is the queen of love. Yarosah is part of the sea, her tears told of a restless hearts… of love… of passion… of sadness… of happiness – of life.

more Complex Fairy Tales

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