Salaamatee is for Sharing

Wavespell Red Nurturing Moon
Blue Resonant Eagle


“Badshaah Salaamat sighed. He had exhausted the delights his grounds had to offer him ever since his health had been restored. Completely rejuvenated, he had walked the gardens and smelled every flower that grew on shrub, tree, vine, why he had got down on his knees to inhale the fragrance of dandelions. Those common weeds scoffed at by the physicians had filled his heart with their honey sweetness, brightened his eyes with their jolly yellow hue. From delicate lilac blossoms to the nectar of spicebush flowers, wild rose and cultivated rose to the unrelated tuberose, he had breathed in perfumes both sweet and also pungent, such as the bitter mustard and spicy watercress, the slight stink of nightshade. Besides the olfactory explorations, he had enjoyed his newfound discovery that sunlight did not harm him by spending many a day walking in broad daylight, sometimes running, or flying kites from atop an open expanse of hilltop. It had all been most exhilarating and his heart sang with happiness, but this day as he did his darshan at sunrise, he sighed.

This sigh carried on the slight breeze that fluttered by and blew about, mingling with the air, mingling with other sighs before returning: some were sighs of lament, others were sighs of longing and yearning, but there were many sighs of glee, joy, satisfaction, and triumph. Badshaah Salaamat breathed all these sighs in, and suddenly, out of nowhere he had an idea! He would travel past his realm and adventure beyond the gates! Yes, he would set out with nothing but a few coins and the clothes on his back, and as for his realm, why he would leave it in the hands of his most competent and trusted Vizir, that excellent fellow who truly enjoyed administration! Oh Badshaah Salaamat was giddy with anticipation as he completed his morning darshan and rushed off inside, summoning his Vizir to attend to him and be advised of his plan.

Sultan Badshaah did not give himself much time to prepare, his eagerness was such that it propelled him forward with great force into hurried implementation. With a few quick words to his Vizir in his bedchambers, where he dressed in a manner he imagined befitting adventure, and a pouch of coins tucked into his belt, Sultan Badshaah Salaamat was off and away.”

Bibi paused to sip from a glass that held water upon which plum blossoms floated. She had set a pitcher of water out earlier in the morning and the flavor of plum blossoms had infused the water, giving it an uplifting taste. While Azizeh waited for Bibi to continue she leaned over the stone wall to the pond and watched the goldfish dart about in the water. She imagined their sparkling bodies turn into sequined gowns, step out of the water and dance with her on webbed feet before they grew wings and flew . . . .

“So,” the sound of Bibi’s voice picking up the tale brought her back from her reverie, and Azizeh leaned against the stone wall and shut her eyes to listen once more.

“So, Sultan Badshaah thus set out into the worlds beyond his realms and had many adventures you may be certain. I’ll now tell you one of them, listen closely for this tale begins one evening, in a city not far from the one we live in, yes you and I. Hmm, yes, Saloo, as he was now called, had been travelling for numerous years and he went about with as little baggage as he had begun with. His pouch of coins was gone but he had picked up skills along the way and had no difficulty exchanging his time and work for a meal and shelter. Indeed, you must remember that he had been blessed with Salaamatee, and so he was somehow always in good health and his needs always provided for that his health remain soundly maintained. He had perceived that somehow somewhere someway a door to just what he needed always opened and gave him exactly that which was required for his wellbeing and sustenance, and so he was always grateful and at ease, lacking any worry or concern for he trusted completely, after years of observing the responsive nature of the world, that he was entirely supported and cared for by the universe, so splendid to be sure!

One evening in a new city, he had beheld a sight that amazed his eyes. The city had pleasure gardens with seven bridges; each bridge with forty lights that led to the gardens across the river. These gardens had open gates that were fashioned from sculpted living trees that reached out, as though linked arm-to-arm, finger to finger, along the rivers edge to form a boundary with seven openings where the bridges came across. Such was the nature of the architecture and positioning of these bridges that the forty lights shone on the waters below each bridge, creating a brilliant reflection of illumination from above that rippled with the gates and trees in a mesmerizing dance. To stand upon one bridge and walk to the middle and look at the arched bridges up and downstream was to be in the midst of an enchanting and dazzling sight. Saloo decided this would be where he did his darshan in the city while he visited it, for wherever he went, every morning and evening, he did his darshan no matter what.

Quickly these bridges became his favorite place to do darshan and he enjoyed discovering where the sun and moon rose in relation to one another. On a particularly balmy evening, the full moon was rising in such a way that it appeared as a pearly orb emerging from an ocean of light in the rippling lit river, and Saloo stood admiring it after his darshan was complete. Indeed, he had along his travels discovered that all life forms were sentient, and sentience was not isolated to humans, as his Vizir had taught him. There was much, Saloo discovered, that his Vizir had either been wrong about or had no knowledge of, Saloo didn’t know which it was, but it did not bear much consequence as far as his discoveries went. So while he stood, he conversed with the moon, who he fondly called Qamar.

Red Cosmic Dragon

Across from the bridge where Saloo was doing darshan, there was a tea house. This particular city was known for its numerous tea houses, where people gathered to debate and converse, exchange poetic lines of verse, share the news from their travels, all while sipping small glasses of tea with sugar cubes tucked into the sides of their mouths. This was a city of poets and storytellers, diviners and prophets, architects and builders, indeed the pleasure gardens reflected more than light from their bridges upon the waters below. They were a reflection of the city’s pulse and heartbeat, its very living essence and what its inhabitants valued was shown in its creation. Walking the meandering paths and trails, it was a common sight to see dwellers out for an evening picnic, an afternoon congregation underneath the shade of a tree, where laughter filled the air or serious congress about the planetary positions over a game of chess. Sometimes there were more heated sounds, where people played games of chance with dice and cards and won and lost coin. Overall though, this was not a city that valued money but the exchange of artistry, artistic ideas, imagination; the common currency was the trading of thoughts and knowledge in all the forms that one can apply language to barter in. And frequently, it was around the hub of a picnic blanket or a tea house.

So, in a particular tea house across from the bridge, a tea shop owner watched Saloo do his darshan with growing alarm. This tea shop owner, Khairuddin, was not native to this city. He had moved here to set up shop and earn a pretty penny in coin. His was a mind made of sterner stuff, practical, organized, thoroughly empty of flights of fancy. He was a methodical man, who applied himself to methodically working matter and substance, turning it into coin. The conversations that occurred in his tea house were of little interests to him, he secretly found his customers to be a lazy lot of dreamers with little skill or use, but they paid up and made him rich, and for this he was thankful not to them, but to the Almighty whom he strictly and singularly worshipped as the source of his blessings. To Khairuddin’s eyes, Saloo appeared a madman muttering to himself on the bridge and at first he dismissed him as another nut in a city of nuts. But there was something compelling about Saloo, and Khairuddin couldn’t help but keep an eye on him and the longer he watched him, the more convinced he became that the young man was about to do himself harm. Many a tormented dreamer or raving lunatic had been known to fling himself off one of these bridges, and now Khairuddin wondered if he was witnessing the prelude to such an event. As he watched, he thought perhaps he should do something about it, after all, the Almighty had prohibited the taking of one’s own life, it was a sure sin, and how would Khairuddin account for himself at the gates of the afterlife if he stood by idly and did nothing but watch one of the Almighty’s own commit a sin? Khairuddin became convinced that he himself would be judged a sinner and this thought so alarmed him that he found his legs moving as though of their own accord to where Saloo was leaning over the bridge to see if he’d catch a glimpse of his own reflection.
Khairuddin thought the young man was about to jump off, and so he shouted, “Stop!” as he rushed over and grabbed Saloo by the arm. So surprised was Saloo, that he lost his footing and almost went flying off the bridge! Indeed he would have had Khairuddin not been grabbing his arm and pulling him back. Now Khairuddin found himself in an awkward situation, which he was unused to.

“Come, come with me to the tea house,” he said, “I am Khairuddin, owner of that tea house over there and I have a proposition for you.”

“Well met Khairuddin, I am Saloo,” came the reply from Sultaan Badshaah Salaamatee, his eyes twinkling with merriment, as he had discovered he thoroughly enjoyed unexpected twists in his travels of just this sort!

This is how Saloo and Khairuddin found themselves opposite each other sipping tea while Khairuddin laid forth his proposition without any ado.

“Young man, I have been searching for someone to manage a new tea house for me,” began Khairuddin, “And you seem to be a fellow who may be in need of work, so I offer you my tea house to manage for a year and should it succeed and prosper then I offer you my daughter, Khaatoon Waheeda, in marriage as well.”

If Saloo was surprised, Khairuddin was even more surprised when the words came out of his mouth. They had not been part of any plan of his, but as soon as he heard himself speak them, he congratulated himself on killing two birds with one stone . . . he’d saved himself from sinning by saving this young man from sinning and should his tea house do well, he’d get his daughter off his hands at the same time. She had long been a heavy burden around his neck, and the obstacle in his path of remarrying; for there were many women willing to marry a wealthy widower but not one with a young daughter as austere and dour as Waheeda.

Perhaps it was the moon, that beauty full Qamar, who did it or perhaps Saloo was tired of wandering at the time, but he agreed. He imagined a man as enterprising and willing to roll with risk as Khairuddin would have a daughter as inspired and fired with initiative as himself. It wouldn’t be until the year was over, during which time Saloo had managed the new tea house into a successful and prosperous lively place where he thoroughly enjoyed mingling with his patrons, that he would meet Khaatoon Waheeda at their marriage ceremony. He had been imagining this mysterious lady all year and Saloo, being a man given to much fancy, had dreamed their future together to be one of cheer and adventure and spirit. They would do darshan together and he chuckled at how she would respond when she discovered he was a Sultaan and she a Sultaanah! They would return to his realm and he would show her the gardens and Meera and and . . . then he found himself face to face with his unveiled bride and the sight of her face halted him in his tracks. For nowhere had he seen such a countenance of such severity, a visage of strictness tight and narrow. Where was the full-lipped round-cheeked glowing eyed lady he’d dreamed of? The playful adventuress who was to be his companion and mate in all things? Perhaps he would tickle it out of her? Over the year Saloo had rarely met with Khairuddin for anything other than accounting and tea house reports, and now he wondered what manner of man he was, really. But the marriage contract had been signed and if his bride was a bit stiff, Saloo shrugged and wrote it off as bridal nerves, besides here he was again blessed with work and a home and now a bride and possibly children. So Saloo was content and the years rolled by and by and by.

If Khaatoon Waheeda had a funny bone, Saloo never found it, but they had two children together; a boy and a girl, with whom Saloo played much when he was not at the tea house with his customers. He enjoyed their company over Khaatoon Waheeda’s, and as the years rolled by he began to wonder whether he’d imagined he was ever a Sultaan Badshaah, for when he had related his origins to his wife, she had given him a sharp look and told him to come to his senses, she wouldn’t tolerate such ravings in her home but she would pray for him, and that was that. Her father had told her how he had saved Saloo from certain death and Khaatoon Waheeda was to do her part by giving him something to live for, she being part of the Almighty’s plan for Saloo’s redemption. If Khairuddin was a strict adherent of the tenets of their religion, Khaatoon Waheeda was twelve times more so, and she swore she would be sure to keep her husband and their children in line with moral law as she understood it and their home free from sin of any kind. Thus it was a joyless home where secrets thrived, for the daughter was like her father, a merry soul with a penchant for talking with the moon and the river and poetry and prose. Their son was content to draw the people at the tea house, make portraits and sketches, and paint; and Saloo was privy to their interests and inclinations. Often they met in the gardens across from the bridge, away from their mother’s tight leash, where they would have rousing debates and share poetry and news.

When he came of a certain age, Saloo gave his son a bag of coins and his blessings and the youth was off and away on adventures of his own. His mother disowned him and he saw her only once more while she lived, at his father’s funeral. While Khairuddin passed on a happy man for having saved a man from sin, Saloo passed on a happy man for having lived a full life with all its twists and turns. Khaatoon Waheeda then married her daughter to an older man in a different city and moved in with them, making life miserable for her daughter ever after. Over the years the daughter, one Khairunissa, had put away her poems and pens and papers to raise three children with her husband, who was a strict disciplinarian with stern inclinations and so the children they raised were streamlined and straight, never veering from what was deemed proper and correct; fear of the Almighty and love of the Almighty simultaneously drilled into them by their grandmother who was always near at hand.

Now I can tell from your fidgeting, Azizeh, you’re wondering why I tell you this tale:: it all begins with the realm of Sultaan Baadshaah Salaamat and that is where we return my love, for you see, the gift of Salaamatee that Saloo had been given, he forgot to share it with his people. And while he travelled and followed his heart’s desires, followed the wanderings of his feet on trails known and unknown, he forgot the people of his realm whom he had left in the hands of his Vizir. His Vizir had dealt the citizens of his realm many cruel blows over the years, to suit his own purposes, and Sultaan Baadshaah had abandoned them to the vices of the Vizir. He who had been their beloved Sultaan had delivered them into the hands of an amoral and cruel man and never returned to put things to right. And so, until someone of Sultaan Baadshaah Salaamatee’s blood or acquaintance clears the baggage of that debt, all his people forgotten and remembered will live lifetime after lifetime cycling through the opportunities for clearance. That is all. Now we shall eat some noon and paneer and pisteh, come joonam, it grows late and I’m a tired and hungry old lady. No? You don’t believe it ended this way? Well, then sit, and I’ll tell you how it really went . . . .

The truth is Saloo discovered Waheeda’s funny bone. He found it when he told her he was Sultaan Baadshaah of an entire realm and she a Sultaanaah. At first she thought him mad and gave him a sharp look and told him to hush and went to pray for him. While she prayed, something happened that had never happened before. She was visited by an angel who gave her a vision. In the vision she saw Sultaan Baadshaah Salaaamat on Meera venturing out into the fairgrounds around his palace. She saw him help up the old flower seller, she saw all that transpired that evening, and when the vision was over, she sat on her prayer mat and laughed and laughed as she had never laughed in her entire life. When she rose from her prayer mat she rolled it up and put it away and went to join her husband on the bridge where he always did his darshan. After that they strolled in the gardens and talked late into the night. She learned of his travels and how her father had been mistaken, he was never intending to jump of the bridge that evening or any other evening. She developed a fascination with plants and fire and began her own conversations with Qamar, that big full cheeked moon, and over the years her pinched face fleshed out and one day Saloo looked at her, and there she was, the lady he’d imagined his bride to be had become. They had two children, a boy and a girl, and they played with them and enjoyed them, encouraging and indulging their love for poetry and paint as they grew and developed. One day, when the children had come of a certain age, Saloo gathered them and his wife together and they began packing for a journey back to his realms. For Saloo had not forgotten his people. They bid Khairuddin farewell and received his blessings; this man once austere and stern had softened through years with Saloo and where once he had been happy to have saved himself and another from sin, he now rejoiced at having been saved himself by a saint from sins he had never perceived before. Khairuddin died a happy man and the patrons of his tea house all attended his funeral, for he had come to enjoy their conversations and lunatic ravings. He never remarried but died laughing.

Thus Baadshaah Salaamat returned to his realm, where it turned out his Vizir had been replaced by another person during his long absence. The Vizir was a cruel illtempered man and once their Sultaan had been gone long enough, his people said, enough, and rose up and removed the Vizir and reorganized the realm to the benefit of everyone, including the roses and dandelions and elephants. Sultaan Baadshaah was well received by his people and he and his Sultaanaah lived out their remaining days in this joyful festive kindom where their children thrived and prospered and self-rule reigned the realm. Now Azizeh, may we eat?”

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