Goha, the legendary figure whose stories passed down through the centuries are nearly as numerous as the sands of the desert, has given rise to an unending controversy as old as Goha himself.

Is he Goha, the simpleton or Goha the wise man? You are the judge.

Old Farhan, Goha’s very rich neighbor, had cast his eyes on young Zumorrud, the poor potter’s daughter. Beautiful she was, beautiful and full of joy and laughter, graceful as the princely Saluki, with eyes more attractive than the gazelle’s and with long black hair, as shiny as the starry night. And old Farhan had approached her father and though that one had refused him his approval, once, twice and many more times, he had been forced at the end to give in, on the threat of being, otherwise, dispossessed of his small plot of land. And there was no more laughter in Zumorrud’s eyes; only sadness and tears. Goha touched by her plight went to old Farhan, reproved him but to no avail.

“I want a son, a beautiful son,” said Farhan, “to take over my business and to take care of my lands, and I shall marry Zumorrud to sire me such a son.”

“But Farhan,” said Goha, “you are too old to have children now.”

“What do you mean by too old?” snapped back Farhan. “Ismail was five years older than me when his wife gave him a son.”

“Yes, this is true,” said Goha, “but Ismail had a twenty-year-old, strong handsome neighbor, you fool.”

At these words, Farhan lost his temper and ordered Goha out of his house, swearing never to talk to him again.

And so, Farhan married Zumorrud and the years passed. One evening while Goha and his friends were enjoying themselves at the end of a very long day; someone mentioned the fact that old Farhan was, at last, having his wish come true and that Zumorrud had been seen already heavy with child.

“What do you say now, Goha?” asked one of his friends “So, Farhan was right and you were wrong, and soon he will have the son you said he would never beget.”

Goha did not answer but instead started telling them of one of his adventures.

“My friends, let me tell you of the time I was travelling to Mossul and had lost my way in the desert. There was I, without a mount, food nor weapon, with nothing but a gourd and a strong cane. I had been trying for days to reach civilization but instead was getting hopeless, lost and only a few precious drops of water left in my gourd. Every step was sheer torture. I kept falling, pulling myself painfully to my feet with the help of my cane, stumbling along a few steps before falling again. And the whole sequence went on repeating itself time after time. So often had I felt like lying down and giving up my struggles, but one’s life is so dear that though it was far more painful to stand and walk than to lie down and die, I kept on fighting step after step. Until having reached the top of another countless dune, I was overjoyed in seeing, not a long distance away, a few date trees and a pond of what seemed to me the most beautiful, attractive and coolest water I had ever seen.

So I stumbled and rolled and crawled the rest of the distance and was nearly at the pond when with a roar greater than that of the thunder, a great lion came bounding to the opposite bank. Seeing me, it stopped, shook its large head, waving its golden mane and growing sinisterly, as if challenging me slowly, majestically, step after step, all the time fixing me with those enormous yellow eyes. And there was I, too weak to move, too weary even to drop to the ground, then…”

“Then what Goha, then what?” cried the audience.

“Then as the lion crouched before springing at me, I raised my arm in a futile gesture of defense and aimed instinctively my cane at it. And with a terrifying roar, the lion rolled on the ground, thrashing madly and died.”

“What is this Goha?” cried his friends, “Thou want us to believe in a miracle of the lion dying at the sight of your cane?”

“Wait, wait, my friends,” said Goha, “let me finish my story before being made the target of your incredulity. I too, believe then, for a minute in a miracle, but just before I fell to the ground exhausted by too great a fright and weariness, I saw from behind a rock, a hunter who had been hiding there waiting for the lion, striding forward, holding the mighty bow that had sped its deadly arrow into the lion’s heart.”

In the silence that followed, Goha stood up and wishing his friends a happy night, retired but not before they heard him muttering: “And the old fool Farhan, he had no bow, not even a cane…”