Stories & Tales
Jamil and Jamila

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Jamila who lived with her grandparents ever since her parents died. Jamila's grandmother loved her very much but was always so worried Jamila would come to harm that she would not let her out to play with the other children in the village. The years went by a Jamila grew into an intelligent and beautiful young woman and became engaged to her cousin Jamil. In the same village that Jamila lived in were six girls. They were neither as intelligent nor as beautiful as she was and were very jealous of her because she was already engaged to be married while they had not yet had any suitors. They thought Jamila was a snob because she had never played with them or gone with them to the forest to gather firewood. One day the six envious girls went to Jamila's grandmother to ask if she would allow Jamila to go with them, just this once, to the woods.


"She will soon be married," they said, "and she will not want to go with us after that."
"I'll have to ask her grandfather first," said Jamila's grandmother.


"Let the girl go with them," said the grandfather, "they'll look after her well, I am sure."


So, Jamila went to the forest with her six scheming companions and collected firewood.


On the way home later that day, the girls stopped by a tall palm tree. The tree was covered with dates, some red and ripe for eating, and others still hard and green.


"Look at this beautiful palm tree," said one girl. "The dates on it look so delicious. I wish I could climb it and gather some fruit to eat."


The other girls stood by her under the tree and looked longingly at the juicy dates.


"I can climb the tree," said Jamila. "I've had plenty of practice climbing the palm at the back of our house. I'll get the dates for you."
Jamila clambered up the tree and began to pick the fruit and throw it down to her companions. The girls filled their own baskets with ripe dates and put the hard, unripe ones in Jamila's basket.


Once on their way home again, they passed a very deep well that had dark, shining water at the bottom of it.
"This is a Wishing Well," said one of the sly six. "Any girl who throws her jewelry in it and makes a wish will have a long life and a happy marriage."
The others jumped up with excitement: "How wonderful! Let's throw our finery into this well."
The six girls took off their necklaces and rings, bracelets and anklets, and pretended to toss them down the well. They hid their jewelry in their dresses and threw rocks into the well instead. But poor Jamila believed them, threw in all her finery and made a wish for love and happiness ever after.

As they were making their way home, once again one of the girls said, "I feel tired and hungry. Let's stop and eat our dates." 


When Jamila took the dates out of her basket, she found they were all still unripe and impossible to bite into. She realized what her companions had done.


"Why have you given me all the hard dates," she said angrily. "I'm the one who climbed the tree. You should have left the best ones for me."


"But Jamila, you have a date palm at the back of your house, and we never get the chance to eat dates like you do."


Jamila just shook her head and walked on.


Soon the sun began to set over the horizon. One of the girls suddenly said: "Let's put our jewelry back on..."


Jamila could not believe her eyes as she watched them take out their bangles and necklaces and all their finery and put it on. She was very angry.


"You wicked girls. Why are you being so mean to me?" she shouted at them. "You tricked me into throwing my jewelry down the well."


"But you are rich, Jamila," and Jamil is bound to buy you plenty more jewelry once you are married." Then they turned to one another and laughed aloud.


Why don't you go back to the well and bring it all back?" suggested one of the wicked six knowing that an evil Ghoul visited that same well every evening and would turn any intruder into a monster just like himself! However, poor Jamila did not know about the Ghoul and decide to go back and try to find her jewelry.

Night had begun to fall as Jamila tried and tried to reach for her jewels at the bottom of the well. She was beginning to feel frightened when she heard a strange voice nearby. She turned around and gasped with shock. In front of her was the biggest and meanest creature she had ever seen.


"Oh, Mr. Ghoul," she pleaded, "please don't eat me."


The Ghoul roared as he spoke: "What are you doing here, young woman?"


"I...I dropped my jewelry into this well."


"Do you want me to get it for you?"


"Yes, please," replied Jamila. "I can't go home without it. I'd be the laughing stock of the village if people find out the girls were able to fool me."

The Ghoul looked Jamila straight in the eye and said, "If I get your precious jewels back you will have to do something for me in return."

"What is it you want me to do, Mr. Ghoul?"


"You must come with me tomorrow for a ride on my horse."


Jamila smiled at the monster and said, "Oh, but I love riding. This is so kind of you Mr. Ghoul."


The Ghoul drank all the water in the well and reached for Jamila's finery.


"Where do you live?" he asked as he handed it back to her.


"In the next village," answered Jamila, and she put her necklaces and bangles and rings back on with relief.


The Ghoul broke off a large leaf of a nearby palm and gave it to Jamila. "Put this on the roof of your house so that I shall know where you live," he said. "I'll come to take you on my black stallion just before sunset tomorrow." Before she walked away he added: "Jamila, I shall come disguised as a handsome prince."


"I'll be waiting for you," said Jamila and she ran all the way home.


The next day the Ghoul arrived at Jamila's house on a beautiful black horse.


"Jamila ... Jamila," he sang out her name.


When Jamila, careful not to waken her grandparents, slipped out of the house, she was surprised to see a handsome young prince instead of the ugly old Ghoul. She climbed up onto the horse and the two rode off into the sunset.

That evening, Jamil went around the village inviting family and friends to his wedding. When he finally got to Jamila's house, she was not there.
"Where is Jamila?" he asked the grandmother.


"I don't know. I woke up earlier and she had gone," answered the old woman.
Jamil waited up all night for Jamila, but she did not come home.

The next day Jamil began his search for Jamila. He rode his horse all around the village, asking people if they had seen her. Finally, he came across an old man who said. "Yes, I saw her. She was riding on a beautiful black horse behind a young prince."


Jamil vowed that he would not return home until he had found Jamila. He traveled everywhere asking if anyone had seen a beautiful young girl riding behind a prince on a black stallion, but no one was able to help him.


One day as he sat resting under a palm tree after months and months of searching, Jamil thought to himself, "I can't go on anymore. I don't think I shall ever be able to find Jamila."


Suddenly a wizened old woman appeared before him.


"Who is Jamila?" she asked, "Why don't you tell me about her."


"She is a very kind and beautiful young woman," he replied. Then he began to tell the old woman about Jamila and his desperate quest.


"The man who took her was disguised as a prince," the old woman said. "He is really a Ghoul and is able to turn himself into anything he wants. Listen, a year ago this Ghoul took a beautiful young girl and imprisoned her in his house up there. Can you see it?" The old woman pointed toward a distant hill where a castle stood half hidden by the forest. Jamil nodded and waited for her to continue.


"As they rode by, I noticed the girl had a small birth mark under her right eye."


Jamil jumped up,” That’s her! That's my Jamila," he cried.


"The Ghoul stays awake for thirty days. In three days' time he will begin his monthly sleep. Now, listen carefully young man. The Ghoul has put Jamila under a spell. She is sleeping now and when she wakes, she will turn into a Ghoul just like him. You must go to her and cut her nails and hair to stop this happening. You must save her before it is too late. As soon as she sees you she will waken form the spell and you'll be able to return home together."


"But how can I be sure that the Ghoul will be asleep when I get there?" asked Jamil.


"While he is awake the Ghoul doesn't stop eating, and you'll be able to see the smoke rising from the kitchen chimney," the old woman reassured Jamil. "You will see no smoke when he is asleep, and you'll hear his loud snoring."


"But the Ghoul might wake up and catch us. Then what do we do?"


"Once the Ghoul is asleep he won't wake up unless his dogs start to bark. You'll have to kill the dog before he alerts his master." The old woman put her arm around Jamil. "But don't worry. I shall give you three magical things to help you on your mission."


She opened the sack she had been carrying on her back and gave Jamil a piece of wood, a pebble and a small bottle filled with clear water.


"If the Ghoul chases after you throw this piece of wood in his path. After that, throw the pebble and finally the water. Then you must ride away with your love as fast as your horse will carry you."


Jamil thanked the old woman for her help and promised to follow her advice.

Three days later, Jamil rode his horse to the top of the hill, and before got to the castle gate he heard a loud and terrifying noise that sounded like distant thunder. the he remembered the old woman's words. He looked up towards the kitchen chimney but there was no smoke rising from it so he knew that the awful sound must be the Ghoul snoring. Jamil slipped quietly through the gate of the castle and started going from room to room until he found the Ghoul sleeping in one room and Jamila in the one next door. He went up to her and cut her hair and fingernails. She opened her eyes and cried,"Jamil've finally come to save me!"
Jamil was so happy to see Jamila that he forget all about the Ghoul's dog. When the two got on the horse and started to ride away the dog saw them and woke his master with his barking.

As they rode on Jamil said, "Jamila, keep looking behind you and if you see anything let me know."


Soon Jamila cried out, "I can see something black coming towards us in the distance. It’s moving very fast."


Jamil spurred his horse on and pleaded, "Go as fast as the wind."


After some time Jamil asked again, "Can you see something now?"


"Oh, Jamil," said Jamila, "I can see the Ghoul riding after us and his dog is running alongside."


Jamil threw the piece of wood behind him and it immediately turned into a thick forest. The Ghoul rode into the forest and began to cut the trees down with his sword. He made a path for himself and rode on after Jamil and Jamila.


"Can you see anything now?" asked Jamil.


"Yes," Jamila replied. "I see the Ghoul and his dog chasing after us with the speed of an arrow.


Jamil threw the pebble behind him and it turned into a high wall between them and the Ghoul.


When the Ghoul and his dog reached the wall they found it was too high to jump over so they began to pull it apart, stone by stone, until they had made a hole big enough for them to go through.


"Is there anyone chasing us now?" Jamil asked Jamila for the third time.


"I see the Ghoul and his dog running towards us like the wind."


Jamil opened the bottle and threw the water behind him and suddenly there was a mighty ocean between them and the Ghoul.


When the Ghoul got to the ocean, he said, "If I can't get across the water the I shall drink it all to the last drop." And he and his dog began to drink.


They drank and drank and the more they drank the higher and mightier the waves became. their stomachs grew bigger and bigger and suddenly there were two loud explosions... the Ghoul and his dog had simply exploded!

Jamil and Jamila returned safely home. When they told everyone what the wicked girls had done to Jamila the six were banished to another village. As they grew older, their ugliness inside them began to show in their faces until they really were a dreadful sight to see.


As for Jamila, she married Jamil and they lived happily ever after.