The Thief of Gulistan
In the heart of the Sahara Desert, there was a quiet kingdom named Gulistan. The natives of Gulistan were rich traders, craftsmen, potters and date traders. The people of Gulistan were very cordial but, in contrast to them was Murad, the Sultan of Gulistan. He was a very ill-tempered ruler. He would announce severe punishments even for petty crimes. The people of Gulistan would dread meeting the Sultan.
The locals would resolve the issues mutually and in good faith. Who would want to face the wrath of a tyrant king? But if a stranger was found guilty, then God save him!
It was the weekly market day in Gulistan and the rich traders from far and away had come to sell their produce. The locals too, were selling their produce. There were makeshift stalls erected of livestock, dates, porcelain pots, grains, pulses, flavoured sherbets (a cool drink of sweet diluted fruit juices) and fragrant perfumes. As the day progressed, the market became crowded. The place was swelling with buyers.
In this crowd, there was a thief snooping around. His name was Shamsher. He appeared to be a very smart thief. He took a few rounds in the market and decided to start his work. Shamsher went to the dates stall and started enquiring about the rates of the heaps of dates displayed. He gave an impression to the stall owner that he wanted to place a bulk order. But smart as he was, with extreme care, he managed to steal a big heap of dates when the trader was busy talking to the other customers. He walked away from the stall in a lightning speed and saw the perfume stall just a few steps away. There he smelled the fragrant perfumes and decided to pick the most exotic ones. In the wink of an eye, he stole three bottles of perfumes too! After walking furthermore, Shamsher was nervous of being caught anytime and decided to quickly to exit the market place. Suddenly he heard someone shouting, “There he goes, hold him tight! He is a thief he has stolen my bunch of dates.” The alert crowd immediately surrounded him and then nabbed Shamsher. The Vazir (minister) was on his daily round and heard the chaos. After hearing the crowd complaining, he arrested Shamsher and decided to present him in the court. Shamsher begged the people to return his stolen booty as he knew the wrath of the Sultan was terrible. But neither the people not the minister spared him.
Shamsher was dragged in the courtroom. Murad looked at him with contempt. The Sultan asked the dates seller and the perfume vendor to present their case. With great fear they presented their case. The poor vendors did not want to step into the court but the Vazir did not give them a second chance to present their case. He was too hasty to nab Shamsher. Murad announced death penalty to Shamsher and the entire court was numb. A death penalty for theft! This was too harsh. But Shamsher, was equally witty and decided to act fast. He unleashed himself from the tight grip of the soldiers and prostrated on the floor of the court. He cried loudly and tried to divert the attention of people in the court. Slowly, he slid his pet mouse near the foot of the Sultan. The Sultan suddenly felt a small nibbling on his veil and he was shocked to see a mouse at his feet. He was almost freaked to see a teeny animal squirm around his feet. He yelled and ran helter-skelter seeing the mouse and pleaded his soldiers to catch the rodent. All, the ministers and the soldiers got into action and ran helter-skelter to catch the wriggling mouse . Ultimately after causing so much chaos and menace the mouse returned to Shamsher. He picked up his pet and put it in his bag. Furious Murad ordered his soldiers to hold Shamsher and decided to behead him right in front of the court. He drew out his sword from the scabbard and placed it on the neck of Shamsher. But the witty lad very politely said, “Your majesty, you can behead me but you will lose your son forever.” Hearing this, Murad lowered his sword and his anger evaporated. He stopped there itself and in utter astonishment stared at Shamsher. With a closer look of the young convict, he noticed that the young man was wearing the amulet which he had given to his wife on Shamsher’s birth. The amulet proved that this thief was his prince.
Suddenly, bitter memories flashed in Murad’s mind. Many years ago, in a fit of anger, he had thrown his wife Fatima and baby Shamsher out of the palace for a silly mistake of his begum. He was totally ignorant that his young kid was watching him. His wife went away from him and decided to teach her ruthless husband a lesson.
As years passed, Shamsher grew up to become a young handsome lad and started mingling around the villagers where he stayed. The ruthless behaviour of the Sultan was very much discussed in the nearby villages. But, when Shamsher grew of an understanding age, his mother told him of his lineage. Shamsher decided to avenge the insult of his mother and pledged to change his father’s etiquette. He visited Gulistan umpteen times to understand the market place and understand the behaviour of the locals. He also saw his father once addressing a crowd during the auspicious festival of Ramzan-id.  When he was confident, he decided to execute his plan of posing as a thief. He narrated this entire story in the court. The people present in the court started discussing and started silently shaming the Sultan. Murad felt very remorseful . He remembered that he was so lonely all these years and always felt that he was a big culprit to ill-treat his wife. Due to rude behaviour, his kingdom never considered him as their sultan and they would solve disputes on their own. He realised this the hard way. The Sultan turned his back, dropped the sword and walked towards the throne. He walked a few steps and then turned back and walked towards Shamsher. He held his sons’ hand and announced, “I hereby declare Shamsher, my rightful son as the next heir to the throne and I apologize to my people for all wrong doings and atrocities inflicted on all of you. I step down as the Sultan only to hand over the kingdom to my deserving son.” Shamsher was happy that he was successful in his mission. He hugged Murad and they both were lauded by the people present in the court.
It was time to get the begum back to her rightful kingdom. Hence, Shamsher along with Murad visited the village where his mother Fatima was eagerly waiting for her son to come safe. She found not only her son alive but was happy to see her husband who was a changed man now. They got her back with pomp and splendour. Thus, Murad, Fatima and Shamsher happily lived ever after. Gulistan was a happy place now.
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