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I had a dream that I was wandering through the deserted cemetery of al-Imam 1 among the tombstones and graves on a moonlit, wonderful night, illuminated by the brilliance of the heavenly bodies, even if you collect pearls in a necklace, even if you count small grains of sand. I contemplated the tombs and stones, and talked to myself about the immense pride of man, about his pursuit of unparalleled glory, about how great are his claims and unbridled desires, how much he thinks about himself, forgetting about the fate that was prepared for him. The proud man lifts up his nose to the heavens, shows off what he has collected and accumulated, but when the hour of death comes and he buries his nose in the grave, his pride and glory are already crushed by the tombstone. So I wandered and pondered, circled the cemetery and remembered, and the dry earth reminded me of the words of the wise Abu-l - ' Ala.:

 Tread carefully on the cover of the earth,
for beneath it are the ashes of the people who have passed here before us. 
 No matter how many years have passed, it is not appropriate for descendants
not to honor the memory of their ancestors, who lay down in the ground. 
 Go slowly, if you can, without touching the ground
, and respect the ashes of Your servants who have fallen asleep in the dust. 

A wave of remorse swept over me, and I slowed my pace at one of the graves. It occurred to me that among the many who had been laid to rest here, some young beauties had found a home. Once upon a time their lips were the qibla3 lovers, for the sweetness of their kiss someone was ready to exchange the waters of Kausar 4 grace. Now their ashes and bones were mixed with the sand and stones of the graveyard.

The beauties of those cheeks were envied by roses and drops of dew dropped from the petals like tears. Hearts flared at the sight of those cheeks, and a mole looked like a cardamom seed or a drop of heavenly moisture in the crown of an anemone. The modesty of youth graced them. But time knew no pity, and they became, by the decree of fate, the dust of the earth.

And the eyes of the beautiful women who caught the lashes of great kings in the net and turned the shepherds of the nations into obedient children! They seduced Marut and Harut 5 in Babylon, to whom the one who dictated his laws to others submitted , and with a crown in his hand and his head sweating with timidity, he begged for mercy, as a beggar with a bag begs for alms. And now these eyes are covered with the earth of the grave, as if they had never had a charming power.

And the magnificent raven-colored hair, which delighted the heart and eyes with its brilliance , was mowed down by the hand of time, and death wove a grave shroud out of it.

And their breasts, like silver balls decorated with bits of coral, or icy mounds topped with pomegranate seeds, turned into feeding troughs for grave worms as the days passed.

 How many people saved their cheeks from a kiss 
 cheeks were not spared from the captivity of the grave, 
 And the necks for which the weight of the necklaces was too heavy, 
 they carry the entire weight of the earth. 

Among the skulls and bones are the remains of mighty kings who forced many countries to submit and tried to match the stars. The lords who were sometimes merciful, sometimes cruelly executed, who decided the fate of the world with pen and sword, who enslaved the bodies and souls of their subjects, those whom poets sang like suns and moons, became equal to those who were enslaved, and today the great and small are indistinguishable.

 For death, everyone is equal, both the poor and the rich,
and the striving upward, and the failed, 

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And the young man is a hero, and the maiden a bride, Chosroes

 in his palace, the spider in his net. 
 All will fall to the ground, death is relentless,
and the best will finish his way in its clutches. 
 And every hearse is like a sinking ship, 
 throws new dust into the sea of death. 

I was lost in my own thoughts and reflections, remembering the wise edification and teachings, thinking about the vicissitudes of fate and the miracles of predestination, about the mysteries and riddles of the resurrection, when suddenly I felt a terrible shaking of the earth behind me, which threw me into fright and perplexity. I turned in my terror, and saw one of the graves open and a man of great stature, full of strength, with a proud head, noble and majestic in appearance, come out of it. I nearly lost my mind from fright, like Musa on the day when Rock 7 split. And when he came to, and the fear overcame him, he ran as fast as he could. And I heard him calling me, and I saw him coming toward me. I stopped, obeying the order and fearing evil on his part. A conversation broke out between us in which Turkish and Arabic were mixed.

Dead man: What is your name, man, who are you and what brings you here?

I thought to myself, isn't this one of the two angels 8? His questions are the ones they ask. Lord, help me to pass the test and save me from a heavy punishment, what I have already experienced is enough. Then I turned to him and said:

Isa ibn Hisham: My name is Isa ibn Hisham, and I am a penman by profession. I also came here to learn lessons from visiting graves, which are more instructive to me than the sermons delivered from Minbari9.

Dead man: Where's your inkwell and notebook, Muallim10 Isa?

Isa ibn Hisham: I am not a scribe, and I do not write bills and stationery, but essays for those who like to read.

Dead man: Not bad. So, writer, go to my house and tell them to bring me my clothes and bring my horse Dahman.

Isa ibn Hisham: Where is your home, sir? I do not know him.

The dead man (contemptuously): Please tell me, what country are you from?" I see you are not an Egyptian, for there is not a man in this country who does not know the house of Ahmad al-Manikli Pasha, inspector of the Egyptian army.

Isa ibn Hisham: No, Pasha, I am a native Egyptian, and I do not know your house, because houses in Egypt are known not by the names of their owners, but by the names of streets and alleys and by numbers. Please tell me the street where your house stands, give me its number, and I'll go there at once and deliver everything you need."

Pasha (angrily): Are you out of your mind, a writer? What can be the numbers of houses? Only government decrees and army units have numbers. You'd better give me your abayato cover your nakedness and walk me to my house.

Isa ibn Hisham said: I gave him my abaya - it is known that only highwaymen rob passers-by, but it turned out that the inhabitants of graves do the same-he put it on himself with disgust and reluctance and said:

Pasha: Need will make you! We dressed ourselves in even worse rags, so as not to be recognized, and accompanied our late Lord Ibrahim Pasha, 12 when at night he went around the city to personally check the affairs of his subjects. But what do we do, how do we enter the city?

Isa ibn Hisham: What do you want to say?"

Pasha: Have you forgotten that it's the last third of the night, and no one will recognize me in this outfit at the gates of Cairo? And I do not know the night password. They won't open the gate for us!

Isa ibn Hisham: Just as you, sir, don't know about house numbers and have never heard of them, so I have no idea about the "night password".

Pasha (with a sneer): I told you you weren't from this country! Why don't you know that "password" is a word that is reported every night from Citadel 13 to all the guards and gate guards. No one can walk around the city at night without knowing this word, but he calls it in the ear of the guard, and he opens the gate. The password is secretly requested from the authorities by those who have things to do at night, and changes every night. Now it is the word "lentils", then "vegetables", then "pigeons", then "chickens" and the like 14.

Isa ibn Hisham: Now I see: you're not the Egyptian. After all, everyone knows that these words are the names of dishes, and not permits for night walking. But dawn is just around the corner, and we won't need these words or any other.

Pasha: I'm relying on you.

Isa ibn Hisham said: So we set out, and the pasha told me many things about himself, about the wars and other events he had witnessed or heard of, and about the deeds of Muhammad Ali and the bravery of his son Ibrahim.

We continued walking until we reached the square in front of the citadel in broad daylight. Here the pasha paused, calmed down, and respectfully recited Surah al-Fatiha 16 at the mausoleum of Muhammad ' Ali. Then, turning to the citadel, he said solemnly in his own Turkish language::

"Oh, the source of benefits and the place of death of the leaders of the arrogant Mamluks17 Oh, the stronghold of power and the state, the cradle of greatness and strength, the stronghold of glory and the refuge of those in need of protection and salvation, the guarantee of the fulfillment of wishes and requests, the home of the intrepid hero and the resting place of the great ruler. O fortress, how many you have freed and bound by mercy, and how many you have humiliated by robbing them of their swords, you have combined strength with generosity, giving some life and some destruction."

Isa ibn Hisham said: Then Pasha turned to me and said: "Let us hasten to the house, and there I will put on my dress, gird on my sword, and mount my horse, so that I may return to the citadel and kiss the floor of the present great benefactor."


We left the square and set off again. Suddenly a driver with his donkey blocked our path. The scoundrel trained the animal to block the way of passers-by and not let them pass. No matter which way we went, the donkey was in front of us, and the driver screamed until he was hoarse and grabbed my companion by the skirts.

Mahout (pasha): Sit down, effendi, don't deprive me of my job, I've been following you for two hours.

Pasha (to the driver): Why are you so shameless as to make me sit on a donkey when I don't want to and didn't call you?! Is it proper for someone like me, who is used to riding a fast horse, to trot on a roaring donkey?

Mahout: Don't refuse, you waved to me as you walked down al-Imam Street and talked to your companion. After that, many people called me, but I didn't even know what to do.

page 73

I didn't look back at them, I followed you. Sit down or pay me what you're supposed to."

Pasha (pushing the mahout aside with his hand): Get out, you impudent fellow, if I had a gun with me, I would kill you.

Mahout (defiantly): Think before you speak! Either pay me, or come with me to the police station and see what punishment awaits you there for threatening to kill me.

Pasha (to Isa ibn Hisham): I'm surprised at how patient you are with this impudent, loose-lipped fellah19. Come on, give him a good kick out of me so he'll calm down and get rid of me.

Isa ibn Hisham: It is impossible, because there is law and authority!

Pasha: What's wrong with you? Are you a coward? The fear took your breath away! What are you afraid of when you're with me? I didn't expect this from you!

Mahout (contemptuously): I beg your pardon! Who are you and who am I?! Yes, we live in a time of freedom, everyone is equal among themselves, and there is no difference between the driver and the emir!

Pasha (to Isa ibn Hisham): Woe to you! Either hit him or I'll kill him.

Isa ibn Hisham: I won't hit anyone, and you won't kill anyone while I'm with you. Know that if we commit a "misdemeanor" or a "misdemeanor" or a "crime", then punishment will inevitably follow. So don't be surprised at my patience. Remember what al-Khidr said to Musa, peace be upon him: "You won't be able to stand it with me. And how will you endure what you have no knowledge of?"21 The best way to get rid of this impudent guy's arrogance is to give him some money and he'll get rid of us. And I pray to Allah that he will bring us safely to your house.

Pasha: Don't give that yapping dog a dime 22! I told you to hit him." If you don't, I'll have to beat him up myself to give him some sense." A fellah's skin is only good when it is stripped off.

Isa ibn Hisham said: The Pasha seized the driver by the neck and began to beat him. The driver yelled at the top of his lungs, " Police! Police!". I tried to save him from being beaten and prayed to Allah for help on this ill-fated day. I told the pasha that all this would end badly, reminding him that all his slaves were equal before Allah. But my words only inflamed the pasha, and his face became distorted, his eyes bulged from their sockets, his lips tightened, his nostrils flared, and his brow furrowed. I was afraid that if he was mad with anger, he would beat me too. To avoid this, I said to him, " It is not appropriate for a man of your rank to do this. Your noble hand must not touch this stuff." These words calmed him down a little. I turned to the driver, slipped a few dirhams into his hand without Pasha noticing, and told him to leave. But the scoundrel screamed even louder, calling for the police.

Pasha (to Isa ibn Hisham): I told you that the only way to fix a fellah is to beat it! Didn't you know that the surest way for him to avert trouble is to appeal to the sheikhs and saints? But tell me, who is the "police" he calls the new saint?

Isa ibn Hisham: Yes, sort of. The police are a force that embodies power.

Pasha: I don't understand the meaning of these words, explain to me thoroughly what the police are.

Isa ibn Hisham: They're armed servants, just to make it clear to you.

Pasha: Well, where are these "servants", why don't they hear the call? Let them come and deal with this villain.

Mahout: Police! The police!

Pasha (to Isa ibn Hisham): Go ahead and call the armed servants.

Isa ibn Hisham said: I thought, why should I call the police, God forbid they should interfere? A policeman was standing not far from us, but he didn't respond to the call. I told Pasha: "There's a policeman in front of us, but it's useless to shout and call him. He's busy selling fruit and vegetables, as you can see." The driver also noticed the policeman and ran towards him, followed by the spectators who had gathered around us. The policeman was standing with a red handkerchief full of all the food he had gathered that morning from the market vendors at his "station." He dealt with the owner of the shop, ordered him to remove the sugar cane stalks laid out on the outside. In his other hand, he held a reed stalk and waved it in front of the merchant's face like a spear. At the same time, he amused the child sitting on his mother's shoulder, and made him laugh. At last he came towards us with a handkerchief in one hand and a stalk in the other.

Police officer (to the crowd): What's with all the shouting so early in the morning? Why all the shouting and confusion? No police force will be enough for you!

Mahout: Save me, Mr. Sergeant, this man beat me up and won't give me back what he earned. You know I always stand in this very spot, and I never quarrel or quarrel with anyone.

Pasha: Take this scoundrel to prison and keep him there until I give you my orders.

Policeman (to the driver): Where did this man Morsi hire you?

Mahout: Near al-Imam.

Pasha (to the policeman): Why aren't you following my orders? Get him to jail now.

Policeman (laughing): You seem to be one of those lunatics who congregate near al-Imam. Come with me to the police station, you look like your pockets are empty and you don't have anything to pay for it."

Isa ibn Hisham said: The policeman grabbed the pasha by the arm and dragged him, and the latter was almost speechless with amazement and did not know what to do. The police officer left a handkerchief with fruit and other food at the person to whom the driver entrusted his donkey. My friend Pasha trudged along, pulled by the hand of a policeman, followed by the driver, and then the whole crowd. When they reached the police station and climbed the stairs, the teamster started yelling again at the top of his lungs. One of the soldiers attached to the station gave him a slap on the head to shut up - God forbid, he would wake up the assistant, who was in a deep sleep. We went into the sergeant Major's office for the inquest. The sergeant-major was eating his breakfast with a quill behind his ear, and he had taken off his tarbush, kicked off his boots, and unbuttoned his uniform. There were two fellahs standing next to him, I think his relatives, who saw firsthand how adroitly he commanded everything and everything in the capital of the state, the main city of the country, how he could arrest anyone, whoever he was, and shake the soul out of him. The sergeant-major turned us out of the office, so as not to disturb our food, and we waited in the corridor. The exhausted pasha tried to lean against the wall, but his arm slipped and he fell right on top of a soldier who was sweeping the floor. The soldier burst out in a rage, ran into the office, and told the sergeant-major that the accused, whom the mahout was complaining about, had attacked him in the course of his official duties and hit him with his whole body. The sergeant-major ordered the accused to be brought in and called the clerk to draw up two reports: one on the offense, the other on the crime-

page 74

steps. He himself dictated, according to the prescribed form, a text from which I did not understand a word. After the police officer who brought us gave evidence in favor of the driver, and the sergeant-major himself testified to the fact that the accused attacked his subordinate, who was "on duty", he stamped both protocols and ordered the accused to be taken to the prison and an indictment drawn up. The plaintiff soldier grabbed my companion by the arm and dragged him into the cell, showering him with blows. Pasha was still in a state of confusion and bewilderment, and when he came out of his stupor, he turned to me and said:

Pasha: I don't understand anything anymore, what is this-the Day of Judgment? Or a bad dream? Or was God so angry with me that He sent me this great humiliation?

Isa ibn Hisham: You will have to put up with it and be patient until we get out of this mess.

Isa ibn Hisham said: When we found ourselves before the clerk who was drafting the indictment, Pasha asked if he was entitled to a surety. I offered myself as a guarantor, but they refused, saying that I needed confirmation from the sheikh of quarter24. I'm at a loss as to where I can find the sheikh of the quarter right now. One of the soldiers whispered in my ear: "Go outside, you will find the sheikh of the quarter near the door, give him ten kirsha25, and he will confirm your guarantee. The soldier went with me, pointed out the sheikh of the quarter, and helped me negotiate a fee for the service. Then he left me and joined the other soldiers, who used their fists to stop the mouths of the complainers whose wailing and lamentations disturbed the peaceful sleep of Mr. Assistant. Suddenly they stopped beating and ran away in a flash, as if someone had threatened them from heaven, and the one who had dealt the most ferocious blows to the servants of Allah rushed into the room where the assistant was sleeping, kicked open the door and began to shake the sleeper mercilessly. The assistant woke up in fear, and was informed that an inspector was seen approaching him at the entrance to the station. The assistant hurriedly threw on his uniform and ran to meet him. When he saw the inspector, he snapped to attention. Unfortunately, when he put the tarbush on his head, he did not turn the brush to the right, as it should, and the brush hung down on his forehead. Besides, he hadn't shaved yet, and his cheeks were covered with stubble. The inspector got angry, reprimanded him, and, entering the room, began to write an order to impose a penalty on the assistant for violating the " established form of clothing."

When the pasha heard that the beating and shouting had suddenly ceased, and saw how frightened the soldiers were, and how the assistant began to make a fuss, he asked me who this man was, whose arrival had caused such a commotion. I explained to him that this was an inspector who had come to the station to check and investigate "cases", deal with complaints from complainants and bring all measures taken in accordance with law and order. The Pasha said, " Well, let us go in and tell him about the insults we have suffered." We entered the office and found the inspector writing his order. He turned to us and asked us what our business was. And when we started telling our story, I ordered one of the soldiers to lead us out of the office. He put the written order in his pocket and left quickly, not bothering to do anything other than check the assistant's uniform. After he left, the beatings, shouting and noise in all the premises of the station resumed with even greater force than before his arrival. One of the beaten men, unable to bear the pain, shouted that he would complain to the prosecutor's office about what was happening in the station. The soldier went to the assistant to tell him these words. I put my ear to the door and heard the assistant talking to himself: "What a vile service, damn it! What just do not have to endure for the sake of retirement! Thank God, although this inspector is a foreigner and not an Arab, he does not know the language well and is not versed in work, so he only checked my tarbush and my stubble. If an Arab came, he would get involved in all the cases and see all the violations and deviations from the "rules".

Then he turned to the soldier and listened to what the man who had decided to complain to the prosecutor's office said. At this point, he became completely upset and angry, and ordered all the accused to be locked up for twenty-four hours, including Pasha. I went into the office and asked the assistant to release Pasha on my bail. He refused and added with a frown:"It's better to stay at the police station until tomorrow, until all the circumstances are clarified, and then we will take him to the prosecutor's office." And Pasha went to the prison.

Translated from the Arabic by Doctor of Philology V. N. KIRPICHEYKO

1 Al-Imam Cemetery - the cemetery of Imam al-Shafi'i (767-974), the founder of Shafi'i Islam, was located on the south-eastern outskirts of Cairo.

2 Abu-l - ' Alaal-Ma'arri (973-1058) was a great Arabic poet.

Qibla 3 - the side (Mecca) that a Muslim faces during prayer.

Kausar 4 is a paradise river whose water is sweeter than honey.

Marut 5 and Harut are angels who were sent to earth to supervise the morality of people and sinned because they could not resist the beauty of women, for which they were stripped of their wings and imprisoned in an underground prison in Babylon.

Khosroi is the title of the ancient Persian kings.

Day 7, when the rock split - an allusion to the "miracle of Moses": from the rock that Moses split with his rod, water flowed (Bibl. - Koranic).

8 Two angels (Munkar and Nakir) - angels interrogating the deceased in the grave.

Minbar 9-pulpit in the mosque where the preacher stands.

Muallim 10-master, teacher.

Abaya 11-raincoat type outerwear.

12 Ibrahim Pasha (1789-1848), son of Muhammad ' Ali, was an army commander.

13 Citadel-a fortress in Cairo (built by Sultan Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi in the XII century), where the ruler's court was located.

14 A reminiscence of the Arabian Nights: "Simsim, open the door! "(Simsim-Arab, sesame).

15 Muhammad ' Ali - Turkish governor (wali), de facto independent ruler of Egypt (1803-1849), founder of the dynasty that ruled until 1952.

Al-Fatiha 16 (Opening) is the first surah of the Qur'an.

17 On March 1, 1911, Muhammad ' Ali invited about 500 Mamluk emirs to the citadel and killed them as they were leaving it and found themselves trapped between the inner and outer gates.

Shurta -18 city guard, police. The author uses both Arabic and common European names.

Fellah -19 (Arabic) peasant, (zd.) Egyptian from the common people.

Khidr 20-the Prophet, the patron saint of travelers, is mentioned in the Qur'an, unnamed, as a companion of Musa on his journey to the "confluence of the two seas".

21 Koran 18: 67 (translated by I. Y. Krachkovsky).

Dirham 22 is a silver coin that was in circulation in Egypt during the time of al-Muwaylihi.

Tarbush is a tall dark-red fez with a black silk tassel, a uniform headdress.

The sheikh of the quarter is the main representative of the administrative authority in the quarter.

Kirsch 25-piastre, small coin, one hundredth of a guinea (pound).


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