Stories & Tales
The Mermaid and the Fisherman

Once upon a time, the children gathered around their father and said, “Father, what are you going to buy for us on the feast day?”


“I want a dress,” said Souad. “And I want a pair of shoes,” said Alya. “As for me, I want a coat,” said Jamil.


The father kept silent with a tear streaming down his face, because he was a poor fisherman who couldn’t get his children what they wanted.


He felt sad, and when he slept that night, he dreamed that he caught a mermaid, cut a curl of her golden hair, then sold it and received enough money to buy some clothes and sweets for his children.


At dawn, he went out in his small boat and threw his net into the sea. After a while, he pulled it. It was so heavy that he said to himself: “It must be a big fish.”


The fisherman was disappointed when he saw a large glass bottle inside the net. He was about to throw it back into the sea when he heard a voice coming from within it, and he decided to open it.


A giant appeared amidst heavy smoke. The fisherman was scared, but the giant smiled and said: “Don’t be afraid, kind fisherman, I have been locked in this bottle for a thousand years, and you have freed me. You can ask me for anything you want, I would be glad to grant your wish."


“I want a mermaid,” replied the fisherman.


The giant said: “It’s easy, ride my back and I’ll take you to the mermaids’ islands. I will fly above the sea sometimes, and dive into the sea at other times, but make sure not to talk during the trip, because if you do, you would fall into the sea and drown.”


During the trip, the fisherman saw all kinds of sea animals, whales, dolphins, sharks, and colorful fishes. He said to himself: “If I just could catch any of these creatures, I could sell it and become rich.”


At that moment, the earth shook and he was about to fall into the water.


“Don’t be afraid, just hold on to me,” said the giant.


The fisherman also saw sea snakes and a big turtle that approached and offered him a ride on her back, but the fisherman didn’t speak any word because he remembered what the giant had told him.


A group of dolphins swam along with the giant and the fisherman and asked the fisherman to play with them, but he wouldn’t say any word for fear of falling into the sea. He saw the starfish and coral and an octopus and an eel. Suddenly the octopus curled his tentacles around the fisherman"s leg, and he pushed and kicked in silence till he was able to shake it off.


Meanwhile, the giant went up from the depth of the sea and out above the water.


At that moment, the fisherman heard singing from faraway, and when he looked around to see where the voices were coming form, he saw several small islands within reach.


The giant said: “We are at the mermaids’ islands. Go and look for the mermaid. I will turn into a palm tree wait for you. Just let me know when you are ready to leave."


The fisherman walked on the seashore in search of a mermaid.


Suddenly, he saw a beautiful girl coming out of the sea with long golden hair down to her waist.


When he saw that she had fins instead of legs, he ran towards her and caught her from the hair. “You will not escape from me, mermaid,” said the fisherman.


The mermaid cried out in pain and shouted to him: "What do you want from me?"


“Don"t be afraid, I don"t want to hurt you,” said the fisherman. “I just want a lock of your golden hair."


The mermaid cried and begged him not to cut her hair, for it was the secret of her beauty.


In the meanwhile, all the other mermaids heard the commotion and surfaced nearby, led by their queen. They surrounded the fisherman, who was terrified to see so many sea creatures appear out of nowhere. The queen said: “Don’t be afraid, fisherman. Just tell me why are you holding my daughter by her hair?”


The fisherman told her that he was poor and wanted to sell the golden hair, so that he could buy some clothes and sweets for his children on the feast day.


The queen asked him to leave her daughter’s hair saying: “Go back to your work, for your work is your golden treasure. On the day of the feast, look carefully in your net. And now please return to your home on the land.


The fisherman and the giant swam back to shore. Early in the morning on the day of the feast, the fisherman went out to sea in his boat. He cast his net, and a little later pulled it back in. In the net he saw not only an abundance of fish, but also a large beautiful jewel. From that day on, every feast day, twice a year, the fisherman would cast out his net and when he pulled it in, there was a gift form the mermaid queen.


He was able to buy food and clothing for his children, and to send them to school.


And so every day he went out to sea, he thanked the mermaids and their queen for the kindness they showed him.