Caught by the Eccentric Pirates with Gentle heart
SINDBAD Story Series 2 Part 1
The huge bungalow of Sindbaad was packed by his friends, relatives and other important people of the city. They had just finished the dinner and were chewing scented betel nuts.
“Now Friends, listen to another tale of my journeys.” Sindbaad said. “This tale is much different than the earlier tales as it tells that even the people considered as most wily and heartless, can sometimes offer some valuable teachings. It also shows that even such stone-hearted people can house human emotions. “
“It had been 3 months that I had been living a peaceful life with my family. The wealth acquired during the precious journey wasn’t yet exhausted. Though Initially I enjoyed living with family, now I was eager to start another journey. Responding to my cravings I contacted some sailors of my city and came to know that the next week a group of merchants were scheduled to leave for a trip to a tiny island. The island was famous for a variety of lifestyle items like perfumes, apparels, etc. The idea was to purchase huge quantities of lifestyle items there and sell the same in retail quantity to earn a good profit. So I joined the group and went to the island. The sea journey was safe and the weather was fine. The island was not too far. So, we soon reached the island named “Amneria”. It was a small island and soon we were in the main market.
It was a huge market. The traders from different countries flocked it. One of the best feature of the market was that unlike other markets they had seen before that market was highly organized. Each shop was of the same size and there were separate, straight rows allocated to each different commodity. The spice market housed many spice shops selling spices of different countries while the perfume shop captivated the people with its intoxicating fragrances. I noticed that each market had two section. While the outer section was meant for the retail buyers there was a gate towards the end of the street. Inside the gate there were huge shops that sold items in the bulk. Not everyone was allowed to enter the gate. Only the traders and shop owners can enter inside.
They were not small buyers some used to purchase 500 cartons while others were purchasing in units of shiploads like 1 shipload or 2 shiploads etc. There were traders from different countries: India, China, Middle East, etc. We went to a huge fragrance shop. The shop was like no other. It was really huge, just like an entire city. There were so many items that standing at the entrance I could not see the opposite side of the shop. Another unique thing was that the shop had many small sections with the placard mentioning different country from where the perfumes for that section had been procured. Each perfume had a distinct fragrance, some were so strong that a single drop can make the entire body fragrant while others were so subtle that you could hardly know if someone had applied that perfume till you come very near to him. Of all the items that we had purchased these perfumes seemed to be the most promising and highly profitable if we sold it back in our city. Being a political capital our city was inhabited by aristocrats, diplomats and other high profile ministers who would not mind spending lavishly on lifestyle items like apparels, decorative crafts and perfumes. They were highly interested in buying the unique items of foreign countries. I was sure that even if we brought 5-6 shiploads of the perfumes we would have been able to sell all. So we all traders decided to go for a very huge quantity so that we can get the price benefit.
After a thorough discussion we decided to order 2 complete shiploads of perfumes that we would divide among themselves in equal quantity. Now the question was to decide the specific fragrances that could sell easily. I was highly interested in the perfumes from India and France. The Indian perfumes had a certain subtle, delicate character that could easily be sold to women and girls while the French perfumes had a long lasting, lingering effect, a kind of perfume mostly loved by rich people of refined taste. Suddenly we saw the people in the shop running frantically. Before we could understand something a deep, hoarse voice invaded our ears, “Stop!”
I saw in the direction of the voice I was stunned. He was a huge figure with a large straw hat. I could not see his face clearly because he was standing quite far. However, I could still see his delicately styled fresh beard and highly embellished attire. He was wearing several thick gold chains that glittered even in the daylight. Soon the whispers started and we learned that they were pirates. Pirates were the most dangerous creatures to encounter at an island. And if you are an expat trader carrying lots of fortune, you could freeze to the bone at the very sight of pirates. Our case was no different.
After a few moments of whispers and hushed voices, I came to know that these were French pirates, the most advanced and notorious ones. They were reputed to rob everything their victims possessed, including the clothes, to the last thread. A peculiar thing about them was that after robbing their victims they would take them all in their ship and leave them in a far jungle. The head of pirates issued an order in French and the interpreter interpreted it in local language. Everyone was told to make different, straight rows: staring from the entrance and going towards the exit, at the opposite end of the shop. We were given the time of 3 minutes and each additional second would have been detrimental for us. The pirates were known to respect the time and value each single moment. So without wasting time we formed different rows. Within 3 moments 5 different rows were formed. Then the chief pirate ordered five of his people to come and take from us whatever we possessed including our clothes. One person was asked to monitor whether the “order were executed perfectly” or not. Each of 5 people took 2 huge bags in their hands and started collecting the possessions of the traders. In one bag they collected all valuables included gold, silver etc. while in the other bag they collected the clothes of traders. To my amazement, the underwear and turbans were spared. The head pirate had a time piece that occupied most of his attention. He seemed to be very particular about time. Within 8 minutes we were completely robbed, quietly and quickly.
As soon as every trader was handed over his possession, I saw an enigmatic smile on the pirate’s face. He told something to the interpreter and we were told to sit down where we were. Then the interpreter told us that because we helped them to rob ourselves within 20 minutes, we all were rewarded with a complete day of rest before we were taken into the ship. Besides, we were allowed to enjoy the royal food especially prepared by the selected cooks of the head pirate. We were also allowed to talk in very small voices only when we were eating. From whatever I experienced I concluded 2 things about the head of pirates: he was extremely punctual to time and literally respected each single moment and secondly he was somewhat eccentric. First I thought about taking advantage of his eccentricity but then had to shelve the though as the actions of eccentric persons can never be predicted. So I started thinking of another more practical solution.
Soon it was mid day and we saw some well dressed waiters of French origin serving food to the traders. The food had a heavenly smell. To my astonishment the food was served in silver saucers and each vessel used to serve the food was made of silver. Even the spoons were made of pure silver. I saw that the traders first hesitated to sample a foreign food. But then partially forced by hunger and partially feared of offending their “eccentric host” they started eating. I could discern the joy on their face as they ate. They started tentatively and within moments they were eating like gluttons. I first thought of using the meal time for discussing with my trader companions about finding the way to free ourselves from the pirates. but as I sample the first bite of something that looked like a white bread on which some glittering yellow thick liquid was spread, I was amazed and amused. The taste was nothing like what I had tasted before. The white bread was well-textured and so delicately prepared that it almost melted in the mouth, while the glittering yellow spread on its top drooled down and touched your taste buds. Surprisingly no spices were used at all except a bit of salt but the taste was so delicious that I was almost captivated. To my pleasure I noticed that there were other food items too that were served one by one. Each food item had a distinctly different taste. I had never thought that a foreign food can be so delicious. However, It was after finishing the food that I noticed that I had wasted half an hour of the precious time that I could use to discuss plans with my trader companions. How fool I was!
However, we were allowed to talk during the night too. So when the food was offered before even started I talked to my trader companions. “What do you think, Hameer Khn?” I asked my companion who was sitting in the adjacent row. “Well I think,” Hameer said with gulping a sizable portion of the bread, “the bread tastes more if dipped in the brown stew that they have served now” He pointed to a huge bowl placed near the saucer. ” “He is not asking for the food you fool” this was the voice of Yasmeen. I was relieved that at least someone could understand the intention of my statement. “He is asking for this crunchy, silver toned snack. Worry not Sinbadd, I was also apprehended at first but as I tentatively sampled a tiny bite I was simply astonished. Nowhere in the entire Baghdad you can get such a delicious snack. It is a real treat for the taste bud, Sindbaad. What I am concerned about, though is this yellow colored sauce in the small bowl. It smells very nice but I remember that when I ate a similar sauce on my last trip to Persia it did some nasty things to my stomach.” I was so angry that if we were not being monitored I would have slapped these fools who were thinking about nothing but taste of the food. This is the last thing you can expect from a sensible trader who had been robbed. As the conversation started I other companions too joined and the main topic of the conversation was veered to taste of the French cuisine.
The next day in the morning we were asked to board the ship and within 20 minutes were inside it. The ship started and we all started feeling a deep seated fear in our heart. I was seated in the front row and I could see the open, vast sea that further disappointed me. We entered the island an affluent traders and leaving as poor people who needed to build the wealth from the scratch. However, I had a good amount of wealth at my home that was at least sufficient enough to provide for the monthly requirements of my family. But for building the wealth from a scratch I had to start from the scratch.
I noticed that the pirates were people of refined culture and possessed handsome features. Each pirate had a French cut beard style and sported straw hat with wide brim. I also noticed that they were blonde and had brown hair. Never ever could I think that pirates can be so disciplined and reserved. The other thing I admired was their adherence to punctuality and respect for time. To my displeasure
We were informed that because of unfavorable weather the journey was delayed and we needed to halt at the nearest island for at least one day. The island was uninhabited but had many old buildings. The pirates took possession of a huge mansion where we all stayed. The island was very cold and had so much moisture in the air that I could not breathe properly. Soon I heard the incessant sneezing issuing from a particular direction. Someone was sneezing continuously without any break. As I went into the direction I saw that it was the head of pirates. I learned that he was allergic to certain weather conditions. Everyone was frightened. The head could not live in those conditions and if they wanted to leave the island it could have been more detrimental. Understandably the open ambiance could have even more pronounced effects on him. He was still sneezing.
As I was not standing very far, I also started sneezing and to save myself from this dangerous infection I used the long end of my turban to cover my face. In fact I was trained in tailoring work when I was a child. But I employed my skill for my personal use only. So I had fashioned the long end of my turban to include a portion of very fine netting intended to allow easy breathing while filter the impurities of air. The surroundings of this portion were decorated with beautiful blue colored thread embroidery. Likewise I had also used intricate embroidery to embellish the portions that covered both cheeks. As I wrapped my headgear and acted to move behind someone held my wrist tightly. I was fraught with fear as I could see all the people standing in fine rows except me. I was annoyed at my unwarranted curiosity that compelled me to act hastily and ignore the decorum that was so dear to these pirates. As I saw behind I noticed the head of pirates gesturing me to come to him. He had forcefully covered his mouth and nostrils with his hand to stop sneezing. He managed to tell his people to take off my headgear and put across his face the same way I was wearing. The order was promptly followed and as soon as nose of the head was covered he stopped sneezing. He told something to his interpreter and I learned he was thanking me for helping him out. I was then told to go and join the front row of traders which I did. The whole day passed but weather could not return to the normal. This was perhaps the first time I was praying that the weather should not be normal again. Spending time in this uninhibited island with cultured pirates of well refined manners was one thing and being left in the jungles of unknown territories and struggling for survival was a completely different thing something that I never wished to happen. The whole day passed quiet peacefully.
The next day head’s health again deteriorated. He started coughing incessantly. He was literally coughing his lungs out and could not even talk. I also noticed one more thing. The two groups of pirates were apparently quarrelling with each other. Though I did not know their language I understood that the pirates were divided. Some pirates wanted to take benefit of their head’s condition and conspiring to run away with the entire loot. But some loyal followers of the head caught them. Now the two groups were fighting. It further affected the head pirate’s condition and he was immediately taken to the upper room with many followers surrounding him while even more followers guarded the staircase.
“Why don’t we join the rebels and run away from here” Yasmeen asked me. “But how could you believe these pirates who are not even loyal even to their head they served so long?” I asked in disbelief. “I think this is the best opportunity” It was the husky voice of Raja Khan ” Right now the two groups are divided in almost equal proportion but If we will join the rebels the rebels would have an upper hand and we can run away. Besides they desperately need some more people to join them so that they could be able to run away from here. So we could help them to run away and in lieu of that ask them to free us up.” “See, I can never believe disloyal people. If they have been disloyal to their own chief, how can you trust them even if they agree to free you up if you help them” “But then we will be in a better condition as the strength of pirates would be divided. Anyways, it is much better than facing the uninhibited formidable jungle.” Pasha Khan too opposed my statement.
I could not stop them but declared that I was not involved in their plan. Dilawar dared to gesture a rebel pirate and with the help of gestures he expressed his which to help them. The rebel looked at his face and went to another person that was presumably the head of rebel pirates. After thinking for some time he nodded and loudly issued an order. within no time all the captives joined the rebel pirates and a fierce fight commended. I could see the huge iron weapons searing the flesh persons fighting on both sides. There was blood all around. The traders who had pale faces till yesterday sported the bravery , power and fighting techniques I could not believe. As I saw around I realized that I was the only person to be left while all others were fighting. The fight continued for 30 minutes and I saw many rebel pirates quietly taking away the huge bags containing the loot, probably to the ship while the fight was on. After they transported 5 such bags, they informed the head of rebels and each rebel pirate, along with the captive traders started leaving the scene and heading to the ship. At this point the condition of head of pirate was further deteriorated and all the pirates were immediately asked to attend to him. Taking the advantage the last 5 rebel pirates left the scene and went to the ship. Here I was, alone and surrounded by pirates.
I was chagrined and annoyed at my own foolishness. If I would have agreed to my companions I could have been freed. As I was thinking these things someone called me upstairs. As I went there I noticed that the head was talking to his interpreter. I was told that the head needed medicine to cure cough or cold. I had brought the medicines with me. But the all the bags were already carried away by the rebel pirates. I also told them the same thing. To my astonishment I saw a pirate brining a huge sack. It was the same sack that contained the clothes. My clothes were taken out and checked. Inside one of my pockets a small round box was found. It was the potion to cure the intense cold. But it needed to be heated and mixed with boiling water before administering to a person. One of the pirates took out the bag containing their daily needs and lighted fire. I was also given water that I boiled immediately. Once prepared I administered the potion to the head pirate in the prescribed way and within 30 minutes his condition improved. I administered the same to him several times and by the end of the day the head pirate was able enough to walk without difficulty. I was rewarded with the sumptuous food and drinks. By the evening of next day he started talking too. I also told them about the foods that can aggravated the situation. I also had good knowledge about medicines and health. I offered to prepare the prescribed food for him. I was allowed and seemingly the head pirate also enjoyed the taste of the food prepared by me. I also told him not to take bath for at least 3 days in order to get permanent relief. The head obeyed all the rules and within a week he was alright.
The weather too was fine. But the biggest question was how to get out from there. I was living like a king there and no one troubled me. But soon I started feeling homesick. I had already spend 23 days there in that uninhibited island. One day I was told that within a week we will leave and pleased by my kind, helpful attitude towards him, the Head of pirates wanted to send me to my country. “But how can you say with certainty that we will leave this week? You do not even have a ship?” I asked in disbelief. “Actually the head of pirates is no small thing, he know telepathy and can communicate with his companions even at a distance of seven seas. He already told them to send him a ship and within a week it should reach here. The ship really arrived on the 4th day and we finally left. I was stunned when I ventured to ask them that their entire loot had been taken away by the rebel pirates. So from where these same bags conjured up? Does the head of pirates also know some black magic that he brought back the items of loot.
Upon this the interpreter laughed loudly and told me that the head of pirates used to changed the bags of loot with the help of his proximate, loyal followers. So upon his instructions the loot was taken out from the bags and transferred to the huge trunks. The empty bags were then filled with stones that were covered with a thin layer of valuables. So the bags that rebel pirates had carried away contained stones covered with a very thin layer of valuables and jeweler. I was amazed at the skills and intelligence of the head of pirates.
Well, after the lunch during mid day we all left. As promised I was taken to the shores of my country. Before I could leave The head of pirates gestured to call me near him. As I went. he embraced me immediately and tightly, that was the only expression of emotion that he showed during the entire period I observed him. I too embraced him and as I parted I could notice tears of gratitude dripping down his cheeks. I was respectfully taken to the shore by two of his people. One of them has a small trunk in his hands. He told me that the small trunk was full of pearls, gems and jewelries that would make my entire life comfortable. I thanked them and went to my house.
To my greatest surprise the entire trunk was filled to the bring with the pure white pearls, exquisite gems, emeralds and lots of jewelry. I sold half of the jewelry in the market and kept the remaining portion in my trunk so that it can provide for my rainy days. Still I was able to make a huge wealth from the half portion of jewelry that I sold. I brought a huge bungalow near the sea and made a huge bedroom with many windows. Now I could see the huge ships sailing through the sea and the beautiful sea birds used to visit the compound of my mansion. Every day I prayed for those cultured pirates and hoped that one day the will leave the life of pirates and gain respectful jobs in the society that would be more suitable for they refined nature.