From Volume Six of the Tilism-e-Hoshruba
Translated by Shahnaz Aijazuddin
Mashal laughed softly and said, “You have nothing to fear now. I will go with you and make you victorious throughout the world. You have served me nourishment that has renewed my soul. However, my body is decayed even if my spirit is young. Find me a young body so that I can leave this ancient one.” Zaal came forward with folded hands and suggested, “Huzoor, the body of young boy whose blood you consumed is lying just outside. You can use it if you want. The Muslims will think you are a wine server.” Mashal approved of this idea and so Zaal brought the body of Khurshid into the hujra.
Mashal inspected the body and was particularly happy with Khurshid’s beautiful face. After Zaal had skilfully stitched the severed neck back onto the body and covered the wound with a dressing. Mashal addressed the King of Magic, “Afrasiyab, I am now changing my form. I leave this body after two hundred years. You must remember two things, first, you must provide me with a sharp wine and second, a comely young boy to serve it. I have been thirsty for a long time and you must assuage all my needs.” Mashal suddenly jumped off the cot, put his mouth on the corpse’s mouth, hiccupped three times and transferred his soul into the corpse. His desiccated old body fell in a heap as the young Khurshid Taj Buksh got up from the floor and declared, “I am Mashal Jadoo!”
A stunned Afrasiyab thought, “Truly, he can turn destiny around. Who can kill him?” Mashal had his old body cremated. He took Afrasiyab by the hand and went into the desert as Khurshid Taj Buksh. Afrasiyab’s soldiers breathed with relief as they saw him emerge with the young wine boy, as the heat of the desert was stifling. Afrasiyab led Mashal to his throne and the royal party left with the soldiers celebrating their departure from the Desert of Thorns.
Shahnaz Aijazuddin began her career writing columns for the Gulf News, The Frontier Post, Dawn and other papers. These articles were collated in the book Lost from View, published in 1994. She undertook the translation of the Tilism-e-Hoshruba from the highly Persianised Urdu text into English, published by the Penguin Press (India).
Ustad Allah Buksh’s work needs no introduction—this late, extremely renowned Pakistani artist painted scenes of rural life and subjects from Hindu and Persian mythology, rendered in his inimitable romantic, sometimes idyllic vocabulary. The painting above is housed at the Lahore Museum.