I’ve been writing short, folkloric-feeling or fairy-tale-ish stories for a book I’m working on. The stories are Arab-inspired, people-centered, and hopefully, tell their own tale, even within the context of the larger story.
Here’s one story I wrote. Only problem is, I know I wrote it, but it reminds me of a story I heard or read growing up. But I CAN’T FIND THE STORY. I’m hoping it’s deja vu only, and I’m not stealing someone else’s work. It may be an old Persian fairy tale.
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU RECOGNIZE THIS STORY.
If you don’t recognize it, tell me what you think of it.
THE OLD MAN AND THE PEARL TREE
The pearl tree stood alone in the center of a poor man’s garden.
It dropped iridescent pearls every morning, but if the man got too close, branches whipped out to slap him. Pearls at his feet, and not one to sell in the markets.
Still, the man tried every so often to snatch just one pearl. But each effort left him with a welt across the face and a gash on his arm.
One day, the man grew so angry he decided to cut down the tree. He took an axe to its roots, dashed them into pieces, and gathered the pearls. One basket, two, then three were filled with the pearls.
The tree lay in ruin, however, its once proud trunk a stump in the garden. Its branches lay scattered about, hacked into pieces.
The man smiled to himself, thinking of all the riches he would buy. New teeth to replace the ones he sold for a bit of coin to buy his food. New shoes to protect his rough bare feet from being cut on stones along the road. A new house, with a roof that didn’t leak. And, most of all, a wife. A beautiful one, to be dressed in jewels and dresses fit for a rani.
But when the man checked on his baskets later in the day, he found nothing but ash. He pulled at his thin hair, ripping it out in clumps.
And in the midst of his bawling, a knock sounded at his door.
He snatched the door open, finding the kingdom’s prince standing at his door.
“I have heard tales of a magic tree that drops pearls instead of leaves. Do you know of this tree?”
“Why do you ask”, said the man.
“I wish to plant it in my own gardens. I will pay handsomely for it.”
The old man glanced behind the prince, at the severed pieces of the pearl tree.
“You did this?” the prince said, following the man’s gaze.
The man nodded, tears welling up in his eyes.
“Stupid, stupid man,” the prince said. “Do you know what you’ve done? That tree, those pearls, they are the dead. The souls of our dead. Without that tree, the dead cannot pass to the next life. They will become ghouls, wandering the earth, wreaking havoc on it.”
And just as the man hacked at the tree, the prince’s soldiers cut down the man. They gathered the pieces of the tree, hoping upon hope that there was some magic in the world that could heal it.
Copyright (C) 2020 by Rania Hanna