This is the arabic story for baby. In Baghdad, Shahbaz inherited as much wealth as his brothers, but he did not use it wisely. He was very polite and well-behaved and knew how to please people, but he wasted the money and had to beg for food and money.
He thought it would serve his purpose, if he made friends with servants of rich people. Then, he would get some money from them. He saw a mansion where a rich Barmecide lived. Barmecides were said to be generous, so he asked the servant at the gate for some alms.
The servant told him to go in and ask the master. Shahbaz walked through many richly furnished rooms, till he reached the one in which sat an old man with a flowing white beard. He welcomed Shahbaz politely and asked him why he had come.
Shabaz told him that he hoped to receive some alms from him, for he was very poor and lived by begging.
The old man sat up and said, “You are poor in Baghdad. I must help you!” He pretended to wash his hands, rubbing them together and said, “Wash your hands too.”
Shahbaz imitated him, rubbing his hands as if washing them. Then, he called to an imaginary servant to fetch food.
No servant or food arrived, but the Barmecide acted as if there were tasty dishes on the table and he served and ate them with relish.
Thoroughly puzzled, Shahbaz again imitated him, appreciating and eating the food that was not there! The Barmecide even gave him an imaginary glass of wine, which Shahbaz pretended to drink and enjoy!
In fact, he acted as if he was drunk and thumped the Barmecide on his back. He apologised immediately, saying, “It’s because of the wine that I am drunk!” The Barmecide burst out laughing at Shahbaz’s clevermess.
The Barmecide said, “I have always wanted a friend who understood my sense of humour! Now, I have found one!”
He called his servant and asked him to serve a lavish feast, a real one! Music was played while he ate. After that, he gave Shahbaz some of his own robes to wear.
Shahbaz was really treated like a dear friend and stayed on in the house of the Barmecide.
Shahbaz was trusted to look after his house and all his business matters. He too, served the Barmecide faithfully and became worthy of his trust.
Twenty years passed and the Barmecide, growing old, died. He had no family or children. So, his property was taken over by the King and once again Shahbaz found himself homeless on the streets! He did not want to go back to begging, so he joined a caravan that was going to Mecca.
The caravan that Shahbaz joined had to cover a long route, often through deserts to reach Mecca. The journey had many dangers, apart from the difficulty of travelling in the heat of the desert.
Unfortunately, the caravan met with one of the dangers on the way. Bedouin tribesmen roamed the desert and attacked the pilgrims, often holding them to ransom. They attacked the caravan and imprisoned Shahbaz, hoping to get some ransom in exchange for him.
They tortured him to find out more about him. But soon, they learnt that he had nothing and no relatives who would pay a single coin for him!
They were so disgusted that they put him on a camel and left him on top of a barren mountain to fend for himself as best as he could.
Poor Shahbaz would have died, if a caravan had not passed that way and carried him to Baghdad!