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.
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."
"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...
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!"
"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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