The Woman Trouble-Maker

Once there was an old woman who boasted to the devil that she could do better than he. You, she said to the devil, only cause trouble, but I can cause trouble and patch it up again if I want to.

How"s that? said the devi1.

I"ll do it and then I"ll tell you all about it.

The old woman went to a cloth merchant to buy some cloth. As she was looking at this kind of cloth and that, she kept crying and saying, May Allah not grant your wishes! Cursed be your fate! Yes¬terday you were nothing, ya mother!

The merchant said, Aunt, what is the matter with you?

She said, I have a son who is a rascal. Every day he loves another woman, and he has ruined me with the presents he gives them. Now he insists that I must buy him a dress length of silk to take to his sweetheart and I"ve come to buy it for him.

She bought a piece of silk, and, as she took it, the ash from her cigarette fell on it and burnt a little hole. Into the tar with it, she cried in exasperation.

What now, aunt?

Into the tar with it! May she be bitten by a dog, Allah willing, so that she"ll never wear it. She counted out the money for the cloth, took the bundle and went away.

When the old woman left the market she went straight to the house of the cloth merchant from whom she had just bought the cloth. She rapped on the door, knock, knock, knock. The wife of the merchant opened the door, but she didn"t know the old woman who said, Aunt, I sacrifice myself for you, please give me your water jar. I want to go to the toilet and I want to pray.

The wife of the merchant let the old woman come in, and she said, Where do you pray? Where is the prayer rug?

Upstairs, said the merchant"s wife. She took the old woman up¬stairs and got out the prayer rug. Then she went downstairs again to cook. She had been married only six or seven months and she was alone in the house.

The old woman prayed and then she put ~e prayer rug back in its place under the mattress, and she put the piece of cloth beside it and went downstairs.

Ha aunt, what shall I give you now?

May Allah give you his blessings. I have prayed.

When the cloth merchant came borne his wife said. Ha Haji, shall I dish up the food?

No, he said, let me pray first. Where is the prayer rug?

Lift up the mattress. It is under the mattress. She was busy heat¬ing the fat for the rice.

Her husband lifted up the comer of the mattress and what should he see but the piece of cloth that he had sold the woman. It was lying right beside the prayer rug. He was sure it was the same piece because it had a hole in it burned by cigarette ash. The merchant went out of his mind. He rushed out of the room shouting.

O Wife!
Yes, she answered.

Put on your aba and get out. Tomorrow I will divorce you. No, right now I"ll divorce you.
But, what...

Don"t stand there. Either I"ll kill you or I"ll kill myself. Get out of the house right now.

She saw that her husband was in a wild state of mind. In fact his eyes were starting out of his head and he was raving. She picked up her aba and ran out of the house in her bare feet. She was in a daze when she got home. Her mother, her father, and her sisters said, Well, what is the matter?

She said, The matter is like this and this. They worried, - the father, the mother and the sisters, - all night long. What was the mat¬ter? Had he really gone mad?

When morning came the father got up to look into the affair. From a distance he saw that the merchant was sitting in his shop. Soon the old woman appeared and she said, 0 father, I am going to die. That son of mine is going to kill me. Give me the sister of the dress length that I bought yesterday.

Why, aunt, you took it yesterday and gave it to your son.

She said, O father, my troubles have made me lose my mind. I have sold three houses and my son has spent all the money on prosti¬tutes and when I came to buy the cloth I hadn"t prayed. And from the morning until now I have been going around knocking on doors try¬ing to find which house I entered yesterday to pray, and I can"t re¬member where it is, and my son stands and tells me I am lying and that J never bought the cloth. I tell him, 0 father, give me a chance. Wait a few days until I remember and go around the streets and alleys and find out where I went in to pray. I went into a house and there a woman, a daughter of goodness, was busy cooking. I prayed and stuffed the cloth under the mattress with ~e prayer rug. I"ve become that absent minded, I didn"t know what I was doing.

The merchant replied, Aunt, may Allah be not pleased with you. You went to my house and I have a wife whom I married six months ago. Yesterday I was about to kill her or kill myself. I sent her out of the house in such a hurry that she took only her aba for fear that I should kill her or kill myself. She ran out of the house bare-footed and I am sitting here depressed by the thought that my wife, whom I married and spent money on, has become the prostitute of your son. This is all on account of the cloth you bought from me. What did you do to me?

O father. O father, may my face be black! I sacrifice myself for you.

The merchant took the old woman to his house, opened the door, gave her the dress length, and then he went to his wife"s home. He went in and greeted her family and said to his wife, Get up and come home with me.

What was the matter, O father? Till morning we didn"t sleep. The mother was ill, and the father and sisters were wrecks. The wife was faint with grief.

I"ll tell you later. It was something that just happened, he said.

The old woman went to the devil and said, Look. I made trouble and I cured the trouble, too. You aren"t like me. You only destroy. Just the other day, when there was a wedding at so-and-so"s house, you went and threw a flower into the irrigation ditch and a little child tried to reach the flower and fell in. He choked and drowned in the water and the wedding became a funeral. You only destroy, but I destroy and afterwards I build.