Rostam Nameh 13d:Sohrab

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Roj Hormazd Mah Shehrevar, 1384 Yz.

Some months later, Tahmina gave birth to an exceptional boy. In all respects he was like Rostam, but with the added spiritual splendour and radiance of his mother’s superior Athravan characteristics. He was named Sohrab. By the time he was three, Sohrab had graduated to playing with weapons and enjoying all kinds of athletic activities. By the time he was ten, there was none in the kingdom of Samangan who could stand up to his physical strength as well as exceptional brilliance with all kinds of weapons. The special powers of Vir, Hosh and Kherad (spiritual bravery, consciousness and divine intellect) began to be manifest in him even as he was just ten. His young blood surged with martial valour and his young, but untrained, mind began to wander into areas where it should not have ventured.

As he grew up, Tahmina told Sohrab all about his father, his exploits, his services to Iran and his great lineage. One of the most famous couplets of Firdausi are spoken through Tahmina as she described her husband to Sohrab:

“Jehan afrin ta jehan afrid, savari chun Rostam nayamad padid”

“In this world, created by the Creator, no better rider has been born than the world champion Rostam.”

As Tahmina spoke more about Rostam, a wayward thought began to impregnate itself in the mind of Sohrab. As he heard about the battles between Iran and Turan, about the great services which Rostam had given to the Kyanian Kings, Sohrab, in his immature and untrained mind asked one question: ‘Why should not my father be the King of Iran and Turan, rather than Kai Kaus and Afrasiab? If I and my fther got together, we could first defeat Afrasiab, and then easily defeat Iran. How I would love to see the Crown of Iran and Turan on the head of Rostam!’

Readers of Frashogard, there is nothing more dangerous than a wayward thought planted in an uncontrolled mind. Like a wound, it festers and spreads its horrid septic nature to other parts of the body. At such times, the right guidance and training from a learned adept is the most important saviour. Old Zaal had the Simorgh to help him, Rostam had the Simorgh and Zaal to guide him, but Sohrab had just Tahmina. Even though she was of the most advanced spiritual stature, Tahmina’s guidance and education was blinkered by her maternal instincts towards her son, who was the only person she had close to her.

What was the most serious blunder committed by Tahmina? She did not inform Rostam about the exceptional growth and progress of Sohrab. Why? She was afraid, that if Rostam got news of the physical strength and stature of the ten year old Sohrab, he would call him to Zabulistan to undertake further training from him and his aged grandfather. Then Tahmina would be all alone. Not wanting to loose her only child, Tahmina’s maternal instincts triumphed over her sense of duty towards her husband and the whole empire. But in her maternal protection, Tahmina inadvertently laid the foundation for the death of her own son.

Now the spies of Afrasiab were all around. Soon they gave news of the birth and growth of an exceptional boy in Samangan to the wicked King. With his cunning nature and many hidden resources, Afrasiab found out the secret that Sohrab was the son of Rostam. He realized immediately, that if father and son came together, it would be the end for him and Turan. Using his great craftiness and guile, Afrasiab slowly began to get close to Sohrab by plying him with good horses, weapons, gifts and soldiers. Tahmina warned Sohrab of the cunning nature of Afrasiab and his history as the main trouble-causer between Iran and Turan. But Sohrab’s immature mind thought that it would be a good ploy to play along with Afrasiab and use his help to overthrow Kai Kaus. Once Kai Kaus was gone, Sohrab thought, he and Rostam would defeat Afrasiab and the crown of Iran and Turan would be placed on the head of Rostam! Ah! The foolish exuberance and innocence of youth!

As Sohrab entered the services of Afrasiab, at the tender age of 14, the crafty King was overjoyed. Leaving aside several battle hardened veterans, Afrasiab appointed Sohrab as the commander of the army. Confident that this time victory would surely be his, Afrasiab gave the orders to mobilize the army and begin the march towards the borders of Iran and Turan. Soon war would start.

As the one million strong army of Turan, under the command of the fourteen year old Sohrab began its move to the borders of Iran, it had to pass through many places. One such place was the fortress of Sapeed, under the protection of a very old Iranian noble named Gazdahm. Gazdahm had two children, a son called Goshtahm and a daughter called Gordafrid. Gordafrid was marrid to Hazeer, an Iranian noble descended from the illustrious family of Keshvad. Due to the advanced age of Gazdahm, the Fort of Sapeed was now looked after by Goshtahm and Hazeer.

When the Turanian army passed by the fortress, a challenge ensued and Hazeer descended from the fortress to give fight to the Turanians. Sohrab challenged Hazeer and the two entered into a very long and fiercely fought duel using different weapons. Ultimately, Hazeer lost the battle and was captured by Sohrab. Seeing this, Gordafrid, donned her brother’s clothing and armour and descended from the fortress to give fight to Sohrab. Her fury at her husband being captured by Sohrab as well as her innate warrior talents meant that she gave a very tough fight to Sohrab. But Sohrab was way too powerful for her and with one hand, he lifted Gordafrid from her horse’s saddle to fling her to the ground. At this moment her helmet got dislodged and fell down and Gordafrid’s long tresses got displayed.

Sohrab realized with a shock that he had been fighting a woman and felt very ashamed. At the same time, his young blood was very much aroused at the sight of the beautiful Gordafrid and his heart went soft for her. Taking advantage of Sohrab’s folly, Gordarfrid managed to set herself free and escaped back to the fortress. Once inside, she climbed the walls and called out to Sohrab to tell him how he had been fooled.

[to be continued…]

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram