Abu Nuwas and the Wily Young Man
Abu Nuwas loved to reminisce. When I was still young, he told us one day, I fell head over heels for a youth of Basrah, and I was possessed with burning desire to make love to him. One time I ran into him on the Mirbad, where the philosophers were wont to gather. I begged him to look with favor on my passion.
If that is truly your wish, said he, then first find us one of those foxy songstresses whos skilled at her trade, and get her to receive me. Just then a shapely young woman passed by, and he exclaimed, There! That one is precisely the condition of our meeting. Are you up for it? I jumped up and could not help putting my hand on the woman's arm. Immediately she started to scream and call for help. Right away a crowd gathered, so that we were surrounded on all sides. Hands were raised to seize me. The youth in the mean time had edged away, and I could see him not far off, trying to hold in his laughter. I had to resort to all the treasures of my cunning to get out of that bind.
Retold after the French version of Ahmad al-Tifashis The Delights of Hearts, tr. Rene Khawam.
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