© 2015 by Antonio Bernal. 

Ibn-Hassam's Treasure.-

The heat was oppressive in that city as if hell had there its own gateway. The bazaar was overflowing life and colour despite the heat haze. Women looked for fabrics for their dresses and men argued in front of trays filled with tea and dates. Buyers shouted and bargained everywhere and mothers scolded naughty children who kept trying to disappear behind the stalls.

 

The man in the hat was heading towards a beautiful minaret, which stood amongst all the mess. But before making it to the tower, he had to find  old Rachid and negotiate with him the price of a valuable ring. 

 

They told him it would be easy to find the old jeweller's stall but, in that colossal chaos, it seemed like an impossible task. He asked a young clothes merchant,  who said Rachid was at the end of the square, in one of the last stalls before the wall that surrounded that part of the city.

 

The man in the hat awkwardly crossed the bazaar jumping over and dodging the junk and rascals on his way. He was sweating by the time he arrived his destination. That part of the bazaar was quieter. Two old men played Tawla and drank very dark, and judging by its smell also too sugary, coffee The hat man greeted them and they invited him to sit and have a drink. He respectfully took a seat between the two elder men and poured some of the black drink, patiently waiting until they finished the game to find out which of them was the man he sought.

 

After a few minutes, the two men finished the game and looked at the stranger, then the man in the hat introduced himself and asked which of them was Rachid. The eldest of both nodded and asked what he wanted. The man in the hat asked for the ring and the old man began to speak of trinkets and relics as he looked around. 

 

After making sure that nobody was watching, he took a small, carved wooden box and showed it the man in the hat. In exchange, our hat friend gave him some old scrolls  he had promised as payment. 

Then they started a heated argument over the price of the ring, which ended when the man in the hat added a Sumerian sword and a Mesopotamian ceremonial tablet to seal the deal. The old jeweller was a true negotiator, but the man in the hat was happy with the transaction. 

 

The man in the hat left the bazaar hat and went to one of the restaurants of the city, where he sat down and ordered something to eat. It had been hours since he had something to eat but he didn't realise until that moment.  He opened the box and looked at the ring. Finally! Now he could go to the dungeons of Ibn-Hassam's palace and find out if the story he heard so many times as a child was true.

Sometime in the 13th century, someone hid the palace treasure in those dungeons, next to the original works of Ibn-Sofos, one of the greatest  unknown philosophers of the Middle Ages, and next to it the only existing copy of the Second Book of the Poetics of Aristotle, which Umberto Eco mentioned in The name of the rose and everyone believed  was lost.

 

He was nervous, like a little child on Christmas Eve. He, and nobody else, was the one who, after so many centuries, would open those old and rusty iron doors.

 

And there he was, in front of the gate. He fit the ring on the relief on the wall and the gears started moving frame. The doors opened and ...

 

There was nothing! Absolutely nothing. The man in the hat was speechless with surprise. What had happened?

 

 

 

Esther A P Ruinervo.-