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The Backwards Genie

The  Backwards  Genie
Alladin sat beside the oasis one sunny Saharan day. 'Allah be praised,' he said to himself, 'thanks to my genie, I have everything a man could wish for-a palace for a home, treasure chests overflowing with gold mohurs (coins), a fleet of the best Bactrians and a loving family. I should be happy.' He sighed.

The  Backwards  Genie

Vidya   Pradhan


Alladin sat beside the oasis one sunny Saharan day.  'Allah be  praised,' he  said  to  himself,  'thanks  to  my  genie,  I  have everything   a  man   could   wish   for-a  palace   for   a  home, treasure  chests  overflowing with gold  mohurs (coins),  a fleet of the best Bactrians and a loving family.  I  should be happy.' He  sighed.

A   small   dark   puddle   appeared   near   his   feet.   Alladin brushed   the   sand   aside   and   discovered...a   black   hole? No,  it  was  only  a  cylinder  of onyx,  so  dull  it  seemed  to  be sucking  up  the  light  from  around  it.

'Hmm,  if  I  polished  it  up  a  little,  it  would  look  good  on my...let  me  see...  Would  it  be  356th  or...aah,  my  357th  in the  curio  cabinet?'

He   pulled   a  corner   of  his   silk  robe   and  began   to   rub the  cylinder.

Phweesh!  A  small  wisp  of  smoke  emerged  from  the  top of  the  cylinder.  "Not  another  genie,   I  suppose.   I  must  be some   kind   of   a   genie   magnet!"   said   Alladin,    shaking his  head.

The  wisp  turned  into  a  tiny  creature  with  pointed  ears and beady  eyes.  It had impossibly long nails  on impossibly small   fingers   and   was   dressed   in   a   flowered   shirt   and a  tutu.

"Nope,"  it  squeaked,  "I  am  not  a  genie,  I  am  an  eineg." 

"A  what?"

"An  eineg,   of  course,   e-i-n-e-g!   Don't  tell  me  you  have never  heard  of  an  eineg?"

"Well,  can't  say  I  have."  Alladin  scratched  his  head. 

"I knew those genies were getting away with  all the  glory!"

The eineg hopped on one foot and pulled its ears.  It looked very  cross.

"And what  do  einegs  do?"  asked Alladin.  He was not  sure he  would   have   space   in   his  underground   vault   for   any more  treasure  chests.

"Why,  take  away  wishes,  of  course!"


"It  is  very  simple,  really,"  said  the  creature,  stroking  its chin,   "you  tell  me  three  things  that  you  have   and  I  will take them  away!  And,  sorry,  they have to be things that you like.  No  use  telling me  to  remove  that  exasperating itch  or that worrisome  wart."

Alladin  began  to  laugh.   "And  you  wonder  why  you  are not more popular!  Begone...!  Back to your cylinder...  Shooo!" 

"No, you can't shoo me,  retsam.  I have got to stay with you till   you   finish   your   wishes   or   your   wishes   finish   you! Ha!   Ha!"

Alladin threw the  cylinder back on  the  sand  and  called for his  camel  to  return  home.  He  was  still  trying  to  figure  out what  'retsam' meant when...

"Pssst...decided  yet?"

Alladin  looked   around  wildly.   The  voice   seemed   to   be coming  from  inside  his  head.  "Who  is  that?"

"It  is  me,  eineg,  of course,  retsam.  Well,  I  have  decided to  stay  in  here  till you  make  up  your  mind  about  finishing your  wishes.  Less  scary  for  the  general  public.  Right?"

"You  mean  you  are  going  to  stay  in  there  till..."

"Yes,  retsam,"  squeaked  the  voice  in  his  head.

After  dimmer  that  night  Alladin  sat  down  in  front  of  the entertainment center  and  tried to  concentrate  on the  antics of the jugglers  and  the  clowns.  But  instead  of the  popular number  sung by the famous Velma of the Veils,  all he  could hear was one word drumming in his  ears,  "Decide!  decide!" 

By  the   next  morning,   Alladin   had   forgotten   about  the squeak in his head.  He went for a leisurely camel ride about his  estates  in  the  morning,  had  lunch  at  the  Magic  Lamp Tavern   with   his   friends   and   in   the   afternoon   went   for a  swim.

When he returned home,  his wife was in tears.

"The   children   won't   get   away   from   the   entertainment center,"   she  lamented.   "They  have  been  watching  Mirza Monkey and his Marvellous Magic all day.  Our son's teacher thinks   he   would   be   better   off  staying   home   instead   of wasting  his  time  in  school."

"Nonsense,"  said Alladin robustly,  "I paid for that school." 

But he was worried.  He pulled  and tugged,  wheedled  and cajoled,  but  the  children  were  glued  to  the  stage.   'I  wish we had never got that entertainment center in the first place,' he  said  to  himself.

Poof!   The   entertainment   center   vanished   in   a   puff of  smoke.

"One down,  two to go,  retsam,"  said the voice in his head.

The  children  began  to  cry.

"How  about  a  family  ride  on  the  magic  carpet  to  go  get some   honeyed  figs,"   said  Alladin   quickly  to   distract  the children.  Later,  they  all  sat  down  and  played  Snakes  and Ladders  with  real  gold  coins.

The   next   morning  Alladin   woke   up   early   and   headed for  his  camel  stables.   His  stable  manager  came  running to   him.   "A   th...thousand   apologies,   master,"   said   the nervous man,  "but the camels  are refusing to work today."

Alladin walked  over  to  his  favourite  camel  and  tugged  at its reins.  "Get up, you flat-footed,  furry-eared,  noisy beast," he  yelled.

"Brrmph!"   went   the   camel   as   it   spit   gooey   glob   in Alladin's  face.

"These   camels   cost   me   a   treasure   chest   full   of  gold coins  in   dates   and  oats   every  day  and  I  can't  get  a  ride when  I  want  one?"  Alladin  howled  as  his  servants  rushed over  with  towels  and  scented  water.  "I  never  wish  to  see these  bad-tempered,   obstinate,   spitting,   kicking,   greedy hogs.. .er.. .camels again!"

Swoosh!   His   stables  were  empty!   All  that  was  left  was a  little  swirl  of  sand  creating  a  miniature  cyclone  on  the desert  floor.

"Not bad  indeed!"  said  the  eineg,  peeking  out  of Alladin's ear.   "One   more   wish   and   I   will   be   back   inside   the   old black  cylinder."

"Oh,   no!"   cried  Alladin,   "how  am  I   going  to   get  to  the bazaar  now?"  he  walked  back  sadly  to  his  castle.

"Here  is your  shopping list,  dear,"  said his wife,  handing him  a  slip  of papyrus  that  read:

46  loaves  of bread

78  pounds  of prime  goat  rib

-    156  pounds  of oatmeal

-   300  pounds  of  dates

-   765  toothpicks

"Well,  remove the oatmeal and dates, we won't need those anymore,"  said  Alladin  sadly,  "but  who  eats  all  the  rest?" He  was  outraged.

"Don't   forget,"   replied   his   wife   soothingly,   "we   have 50  servants,  who have  50  servants  of theirs,  not to mention the  laundry  maids  and  the  kitchen  maids  and  the  camel drivers  and the  flag bearers  and  the fan wavers  and  the..."

"I  get  it,  I  get  it,"  said  Alladin.

He  called  38  of  his  servants  and  set  off  for  the  bazaar. Colourful   stalls   sold   carpets   and   many   goodies.   Street vendors   fried   pastries   and   grilled   meat.   "Mmmm,   they

smell delicious,"  said Alladin,  "I wonder why I never noticed them  before?"

"Maybe  because you  were  high  up  on  one  of your  smelly humps   of  lard,"   squeaked   the   eineg,   from   his  perch   on Alladin's  head.

The   entourage   settled  at  a  coffee   shop.   "Aaah,   this  is life!"  He  looked  up  from  his  cup  of  coffee  and  saw  all  his servants  clustered  around  him,  looking  at  him  hopefully. "Coffee  for  everybody,"  he  announced  grandly.

"Thank  you,  master!"

 "Humble  thanks!"

"You  are  the  kindest  master!"  the  servants  chorused.

On  the  way  home,  the  servants  set up  a noisy  squabble. "I  get  to  walk  behind  the  master!"

"Out  of  my  way,  I  was  working  for  him  when  you  were an  infant  in  a  soggy  diaper!"

Crash!  Thud!  Alladin  looked  around  to  see  his  servants rolling on  the  road,  wrestling.  He  raised  his  eyes  skyward. "Do  I  really  need  these  bickering  bunch  of baboons?"

"Are  you  ready  for  your  third  wish?"   asked   the   eineg, peering  out  of Alladin's  pocket.

Well,   I   can   always   hire   them   again,'  thought  Alladin. Aloud  he  said,  "Yes!  I  wish  I  did  not  have  any  servants."

Shwhoomp!   Alladin   stood   alone   on   the   desert   road surrounded  by  piles  of meat,  bread  and  other  groceries.

'Maybe  I  should  have waited  till  they  carried  all  the  stuff 9 home.  How am I going to cart all this stuff?' thought Alladin.

He  picked  up  a  loaf  and  a  bag  of  goat  meat  and  set  off towards   home.   His   head   felt  lighter   now  that   the   eineg had  vanished.  But where  was  his  palace?  All  he  could  see was  a tiny  hut  in  the middle  of the  desert.  He  hurried  over to  it.  His  wife  and  the  kids  came  rushing  out.  "Everything has  gone!"  she  cried.

The   kids   clapped   their   hands   and   danced   around. "Magic,  magic!  We  want  more!"

"You  really  did  not  think  you  could just  buy  some  more stuff with your piles  of gold,  did you?"  said  a familiar voice.

"No  gold,  no  shopping.  Bye-bye!"

Well,   that   is   the   end   of  this   story.   But   don't   feel   too sad   for   Alladin.   He   still   has   his   magic   carpet   for   rides around   the   town   and   his   magic   ring   for   emergency cash.   His   children   now   regularly   win   the   state   spelling bees   (only  gold-plated  ones)   and  Alladin's  daily  walks  to the  bazaar  have  restored  his  boyish  good  looks.   He  still pokes  around  the  oasis  once  in  a  while  to   see  if  he  can

find  the   cylinder.   He  knows   a  few  of  his  rich   ex-friends who  could  do  with  eineg's  help!


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