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  • Writer's pictureAnca

The Red Lantern

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

In a time long forgotten, nestled in the heart of Marrakesh, there lived a humble and kind-hearted sweet seller named Kadour. Despite his unending efforts, Kadour could not seem to catch a break, and with each passing day, his pockets grew emptier and his spirit waned.

a caravan of camels
Camel caravan

Faced with the burden of his misfortunes, Kadour made the brave decision to leave his home in search of a new beginning. Armed with nothing but a small lantern crafted from tin and adorned with radiant red glass, he began his journey towards the unknown.

Over the course of several days, Kadour traversed treacherous terrain, relying solely on the generosity of the Berber people to survive. Eventually, he stumbled upon a verdant valley, where he glimpsed a magnificent city rising up from the earth.

The inhabitants of the city were taken aback by Kadour's foreign tongue, as no outsiders had ever ventured there before. Nonetheless, they welcomed the sweet seller with open arms and ushered him into the home of the gracious Pasha.

For three days, Kadour reveled in the lavish hospitality of his host. However, as his departure approached, Kadour was plagued by a sense of unease. He knew he could not leave without offering a token of his gratitude, and so he presented the Pasha with his precious lantern.

At first, the Pasha appeared perplexed by the simple gift, and silence lingered in the air. Kadour's heart sank as he feared he had committed an offense. But to his astonishment, the Pasha's face soon lit up with wonder as he marveled at the red glass of the lantern. It was an object of pure enchantment, one that he had never before laid eyes upon.

Grateful for Kadour's generosity, the Pasha was filled with an unsettling sense of obligation. How could he possibly repay such a priceless gift? Though his treasury overflowed with gold, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, he knew they could never match the value of Kadour's offering. Nevertheless, he bestowed upon the sweet seller twelve camel loads of his riches, hoping that it would suffice.

Upon returning to Marrakesh, Kadour purchased a splendid garden, blooming with almond, orange, and lemon trees. The fragrant air was thick with the scent of jasmine, and the burbling of a nearby stream was punctuated by the lilting songs of nightingales. In the centre of the garden, Kadour built a grand mansion, where he lived out the rest of his days as a contented and prosperous man.

Kadour also had a brother who went by the name of Said. Kadour, a simple and humble man, was once poor, and his wealthy brother, Said, turned a blind eye to his plight. But when Kadour's fortunes changed overnight, Said could not resist the temptation to learn of his brother's newfound wealth.

When Kadour revealed the tale of the magnificent city and the Pasha who offered riches in exchange for a simple lantern, Said's eyes widened with greed. He gathered all the treasures he could find, sold his home, and set out on a perilous journey through the treacherous Atlas mountains.

However, fate was not on his side, for vicious bandits roamed the mountains, and they showed no mercy to Said. They robbed him of his precious cargo and left him to die under the shadow of an argan tree. When he came to, Said was as poor as his brother had once been, but he did not give up on his quest for wealth.

As he approached the magnificent city, Said was filled with regret for his lost treasures. But fate had a different plan for him, for the Pasha was captivated by the brass watch that Said offered as a gift. The Pasha had never seen such a marvel, and he valued it far more than any of the jewels in his treasury. And so, he offered the only treasure that he deemed worthy of such a gift, the red lantern.

Said's journey was not yet over, but with the red lantern in his possession, the bandits did not trouble him. And as he returned to Marrakesh, he pondered the mysteries of fate and how it can bring riches and misfortunes alike.

This story is adapted from the collection of stories put together by Richard Hamilton, “The Last Storytellers”. 


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