The Enchanted Bird
A Folktale from Iraq
One day in the city of Baghdad lived a king called Calif. Calif was handsome, kind, and above all, generous. He treated all people with respect. The citizens loved Calif because he was a generous king.
Calif had a brother, Omar. Omar was jealous. He wanted to be king. Omar went to a sorcerer and said, “If you make me king, I will pay you in gold.” The sorcerer accepted and planned a trick.
One day, an old man approached Calif. It was the sorcerer in disguise. The man said, “Please buy this box. It costs only one coin.” “No! This box is so beautiful,” said the generous Calif. “Please accept two gold coins.” Prince Omar watched Calif take the magic box. “Ha!” thought Omar, “Generous kings do not last.”
That night, Calif sat in his room and he was curious. Slowly, he opened the box. Inside he saw a strange word, “Calasavair.” Calif was confused. What does that mean?
Confused, Calif said the word aloud: “Calasavair.” Suddenly, a strong “WHOOSH” was heard. He flew in the air. His arms became a bird’s wings. He had feathers. He had a bird’s beak. He opened his beak and yelled “Help!” “Caw Caw” was the sound to people around him.
“Help! Guards!” “Caw Caw!” The guards ran in. “Go away, bird!” they cried.
Calif was flying rapidly. He could not control his sadness. He cried and yelled “Help!” “Caw! Caw!”
He flew and flew. He came to a family crying. “King Omar is terrible! His taxes, his cruelty. How will we survive?” they said sadly.
Calif was helpless as a bird. Days passed and Calif grew sadder and sadder. One day, Calif heard crying. It was a pretty little bird. Her heart was as blue as her feathers.
“What is wrong, little bird?” said Calif.
“I was once a princess. I am just a bird now,” said the little bird.
“A princess?” said Calif. “How are you a bird now?”
She said, “A terrible sorcerer transformed me into a bird. He wanted me to marry him. I refused to marry that terrible man. He has no kindness and no generosity in his heart.” The bird started crying again.
Calif was sad for the pretty bird and said, “You can stay with me. I can protect you. My name is Calif.”
“My name is Calasavair,” said the pretty bird. Calif was enchanted by the beautiful bird.
“Calasavair,” repeated Calif tenderly.
Immediately, there was a “whooosh” – like a tornado. Feathers went flying. The two birds transformed back into people.
The beautiful princess Calasavair and the handsome king Calif looked at each other. They were in love.
“Your name! Calasavair, your name set me free!” said Calif. “Beautiful Calasavair, please marry me.” Princess Calasavair smiled and said yes.
The people cried “Hurrah! The king is back!” They celebrated for they loved King Calif. Calif showed the people his new love, Princess Calasavair.
“But you must execute your brother, Omar! He was terrible to the people! He committed treason,” cried some in the crowd.
The guards brought Omar in chains. “Omar,” said Calif, “Your terrible acts are treason. Go! Never return! You will not make my people suffer again!”
“You won’t execute me?” said Omar, surprised.
“Generosity always wins,” said Calif.
Calif turned to his beautiful princess and smiled. They were married the next day and lived happily ever after.