THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER
with them there was a strange creature: it had a head and a tail and two big, long ears.
The king, pointing at the creature, asked: “What is that?” The head wise man replied proudly: “This is our invention. We have named it: Ass.”
Then he asked the king to climb onto the ass’s back. The king mounted the creature as the head wise man said: “When you want it to walk, say ‘Ha’. When you want it to stop, say ‘Hish’.”
The king yelled: “Ha, ha.” The ass walked. Then the king yelled: “Hish.” The ass stopped. The king was absolutely delighted, and he decided that he would give the wise men the reward they had earned. But then the ass startled the king: it opened its mouth and let out an awful, long-drawn-out “hee-haw”. The king was not pleased. He demanded: “What is that sound?”
The head wise man replied: “He proclaims in his own tongue ‘Long live the king!’” Well, this pleased the king who gave the wise men lots of gold.
The King Who Defeated the Sun
The king wiped his sweaty brow. Angry, he looked at the sun and complained: “What is this cursed heat?” His vizier replied: “The summer sun, my liege, is responsible.”
The king felt then that he hated the sun, whatever the season, and he yelled: “What good is this sun?”
The vizier replied: “The winter sun gives warmth to the poor
158 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015