When Malik, with Iskandar and the soldiers returned to us about a month
later, Amin and I went to meet him, happy and relieved for the evident
success of his expedition. Amin embraced his son with emotion then asked
"Are you happy now, my son?"
"Yes, father. But now you have to allow me to escort Iskandar to a safe
"As you desire. But before that you must rest a little: you all were put
to the test, and you are tired and dirty from the journey. At this point
there is no hurry, is there?"
Malik looked at the boy with questioning eyes.
Iskandar then, with hesitant voice, said: "If you do not mind, prince, I
really would like to rest a little..."
"You may rest as you like, of course." Malik answered.
So we all went back to the Palace together. We escorted them to their
rooms. Iskandar was led back to his previous room. He was going in, when
he turned to me and said:
"Visir, I need to talk to you... Would you be so kind to grant me a
little of your time?"
I nodded and followed him into his room. Iskandar locked the door, and
asked me in a very low voice:
"We can talk here without being heard, is that right?"
"Yes, of course..."
"What I am going to say to you must remain a secret between you and I,
can you swear that?"
"Yes, I swear."
Iskandar sat on the side of his bed and waved me to sit near him. Then,
in a subdued voice, said:
"Malik is really in love with me. He searched for me so far across the
land, he engaged in battle with the bandits losing two men and risking
his own life..."
"Are you amazed?"
"Very much so! But there is something else that astounds me even more.
You see, when I was taken prisoner I thought: if I had agreed to make
love with Malik, I would now be treated as a prince and not again as a
chained slave. Not only does Malik have a splendid body and a strong
personality, but he is sweet and kind. I, with my thirst for freedom,
have fallen from the frying pan into the fire. This thought strengthened
me when the Shaikh Hamid bought me and decided to have me gelded to use
me as an eunuch in his harem. I was chained waiting for the gelder and I
felt all was lost, when Malik appeared in front of me to tell me of my
freedom. He caressed my nakedness with his hand. It was the first time
he had touched me and never a caress was more sweet. His eyes were full
of love and never a look was more pleasurable. If in that moment he had
said he wanted me, I would have given myself to him with real joy. But
what I felt in that moment was nothing but the fruit of relief, of the
gratitude I was feeling toward him. Then he said to me to be patient a
little more: he would pay my price and I would be free. He went out of
the room where I was in chains and spoke with the Shaikh. He did not
imagine I could hear everything... I know you love him, so I think I am
not betraying him if I tell you what I heard... The price he accepted to
pay to obtain my freedom is unbelievable and made me understand to what
point Malik loves me, how much he is in love with me. He accepted to...
to be taken by a slave, in front of the Shaikh's eyes! And this, that
already seems to me unbelievable, not to have me for himself but to give
me the freedom he had promised to me! Do you understand? Now, you see,
my problem is just this: I cannot say I am in love with him, even if now
I see him with completely different eyes. But the mysterious and
extraordinary strength of his love has... conquered me. Now I feel I
must be his, it can be no other way. And I like the thought of being
loved by Malik and I would like to learn to love him the way he
deserves. Now I feel I am completely his slave, I want to be his slave.
I want to be able to give him the happiness he had hoped to find in me.
But I can not lie to him by telling him that I love him, not yet at
least, that would be dishonest. But he, I know very well, will never
accept my body if I do not give him also my love. What can I do?"
I had listened with full attention, without interrupting him.
When he fell silent, I said: "Iskandar, in your opinion, what is love?"
"It is wanting the other solely and exclusively for oneself. It is to be
jealous. I do not feel that for Malik..."
"Silly boy! How wrong you are. That is not love, that is possession,
perhaps desire... No. Love is to give yourself completely to the other
person, to be ready to do anything for the other's happiness. To be
ready to give up everything. Do you understand me? To lose your life, to
renounce your honour if required, just to know that the other is happy.
This is what Malik did for you. Once you said to me that the freedom is
your most valuable possession. Now you are planning to renounce your
freedom to make Malik happy. Therefore you love him. Be at peace, when
two persons love each other like Malik loves you and you love him,
neither loses his freedom. Go as soon as you can to Malik, tell him you
love him... and live happily together!"
"I do not have the courage, after all he had to suffer for my fault,
after the humiliation he had to endure because of me."
"Listen, if you really want his happiness, take a good bath, put on your
best clothes, knock at his door and offer him your love. Tell him you
want to be his, only his, forever. Do not put obstacles in the way of
love. It is the most sublime thing a man can experience in his life.
Hurry up, do not waste any more time. Get yourself ready and go to see
"Yes... I thank you, Nadim. I did the right thing by talking with you,
you really are a wise man."
I went out happy. Finally Malik had found the person to love and to be
loved by. I was walking along the corridor thinking about it when a
servant caught me and said that Malik was looking for me. I immediately
went to his room, postponing the meeting I planned to have with Amin to
give him the good news.
Malik wore just light trousers and I could not help but admire his
beautiful features, seductive and manly. As soon as we were alone, he
narrated to me in detail all that had happened, included the humiliation
he had to endure being used by a slave and, worse, in front of the
Shaikh's eyes. He concluded:
"But I would suffer it all again gladly, for I love Iskandar, even
though I know I will lose him. Am I not a fool?"
"No, my friend. Simply you understand what it means to love. The trial
to which you were submitted is not humiliating, believe me. On the
contrary, it makes you a real noble, more than your birth. Because you
were able to put in the right order the values of life: first love, and
only after that, pride. And you have learnt from this difficult
experience. Remain this way, my sweet friend, and never be ashamed of
what you do for love. I thank you for having honoured me with your
confidence, telling me of these matters. I must leave you now, Malik...
Be proud of yourself. Your sacrifice will bear fruit..." I said and,
without saying more, I left him.
Just in time: Iskandar was arriving. I saw him knock at Malik's door,
enter, and I went away satisfied, looking for Amin.
Malik, when he heard the knocking, thought it was me again and simply
said to enter. When he saw Iskandar instead, he immediately stood up
with emotion. The boy had stopped on the threshold.
"Come in, enter..."
"Malik, I have to talk with you..."
The two youths remained for some moments standing in front of each
other, gazing into each other's eyes, in silence. Then Iskandar, with a
voice full of emotion, said:
"Malik, I do not want to go back to my land. I want to remain here...
"Here? With me?"
"Yes, if you still want me..."
"If I want you?" Malik repeated, looking at him rather unbelieving, then
asked with a hesitant voice: "What made you change your mind?"
"You, your behavior, your love..."
"You mean you... you accept my love?"
"I mean I hope to be able to love you, I want to learn to love you, if
you will help me. I mean that all that happened made me understand that
perhaps I need the love you offer me. I mean I want to be yours, as you
want me, I feel I belong to you. You said to me that I am free: well I
freely accept being yours. Do with me what you will and I will be
"But... you do not want to go back to your land, to your people?"
"No, I want to be yours, if you still want me. My land is where you are.
I want to be your faithful slave."
"In your land you are a prince..."
"No... I lied," he said blushing. "In my land I am just a sailor, not a
prince. My father is a sailor, as was also my grandfather. Now you know:
I do not deserve any special consideration, any privileges. But, I pray
you, keep me as your slave, do not sell me..."
"Sell you? Never! I love you, Iskandar."
"Even now that you know I lied to you?"
"I have never been in love with a prince, Iskandar, but with you. And if
you want to remain at my side, you will not be a slave, but a peer. I
need your love, Iskandar, not just your body. Slaves? I can have as many
as I want, like Monge or little sweet Jamal. Also servants, like Jussuf
or handsome Majid. And also loyal subjects like Abdel or Kemal. But not
one of them is the sovereign of my heart, not one of them is the oasis
of my soul, not one of them is the lord of my body. You, you only are my
beloved and I want you to be my lover."
"I would like to learn to love you as you desire, as you deserve, as you
love me. Will you help me, Malik?"
"You really want this?"
"With all my soul!" Iskandar said and slowly and shyly reached out his
hand, brushing the strong bare chest of Malik with a light caress.
His hand trembled, he made a step toward the other and knelt in front of
him. He undid the loose trousers lowering them to his ankles, so
revealing his splendid nudity. He caressed his beautiful manly member
and leaned to kiss him with sweet dedication. Malik quivered in emotion.
Then he stooped toward Iskandar, made him stand up, and started to
undress him finding with pleasure that the boy was already fully
aroused. He traced his figure with hands quivering with pleasure and
joy, then drew the boy to him and passionately kissed him on the mouth.
Iskandar at once answered with the same passion. Their eyes met and were
"How beautiful you are, Malik!"
"It is you that makes me beautiful."
"Take me, Malik, please. I want to be yours, I want to feel you in me.
Take me, now, here, immediately, please..." he murmured, his voice
hoarse and lay down offering himself to the young prince.
Malik, trembling with emotion, circled his waist and with delicate
determination entered him.
Iskandar, panting lightly, urged him on: "Yes, I am yours. Come in, let
me feel it all... Aaah, how good... Go on, fill me, let me feel how much
you desire me..."
"Yes, my loved one, I am entering you. Do you feel me? Do you like it?"
"And after, I want to feel you in me, and you too will fill me with your
strong virility, and you will spray my insides with your precious
seed... You too will make me yours and when a part of you is at last
inside me, we will be really united. Oh, how much I love you, Iskandar!"
"Are you happy?"
"Yes, I am!"
"I too love you, Malik. Truly. And I want to love you every day even
The two, lost in a symphony of the most intense emotions, finally
physically united, made love for hours, unhurriedly, untired, often
exchanging their position and roles, each intoxicated by the other,
forgetful of everything but their love. On Malik's wide and soft bed
they dedicated themselves to each other with a deep happiness. The
energy and enthusiasm of their youth was expressed in that ecstatic
union, so that they seemed unable to demonstrate to each other
sufficiently their mutual desire.
Iskandar murmured to Malik: "Never abandon me, please, I belong to you,
"But I am yours, my love."
When at last I saw them together again, they both were as if
transformed. They were so beautiful, and what now united them was almost
tangible. A radiant Malik, as soon as he saw me, asked:
"Where is my father? I have to tell him that Iskandar and I are now one.
"Be happy, my boys. And may Allah bless and protect you as he blessed
and protected the love between Amin and I. I am deeply glad for you
While I was saying these words, Amin reached us and immediately Malik
shared with him his joy. His father embraced him tight, then embraced
Iskandar and said to him:
"As long as you and Malik love each other, you will be to me and to
Nadim as a son. I want a great feast to be held to celebrate this
happiest of days!"
All through the feast the two boys were radiant and had eyes only for
each other. There was a deep rivalry each to attend to the other. At one
point I heard Malik saying to Iskandar:
"... because all I have is yours, I told you..."
"But you have duties to carry out with your wives. And I do not want to
ask you not to meet your other lovers any more. I understand when you
say that I am the most important for you, and I am grateful. But that
does not means the the others no longer exist!"
"I agree. But what now appeals to me is just what I can share with you."
I intervened in curiosity and asked them what they were discussing. Amin
also approached. So Malik explained:
"I said to my lover that my wives and lovers will be also his own, or I
will renounce them."
"But... Slaves are one thing, but at least for the free people you must
see if they agree to share their pleasure with Iskandar..." Amin
Malik quietly smiled: "That is true, father. But if they do not agree,
they will no longer be with me. And also, if Iskandar is not interested
in some of them, I too will no more be interested in them. Father, there
is another thing I am thinking about. All the children that are borne by
my women, I do not want them to be only mine, but also of my beloved...
That is, I mean, I do not want it to be possible to say they are born
from his or my seed. So we will unite on the same day with the same
Amin and I laughed and his father said to him, in a good natured way:
"It will be easily determined! You are so physically different, you are
dark and he is blond...Do you not think you are exaggerating just a
"Not at all. Moreover is it not said: the children of the European
slaves of the shaikh Muhammar are not so easily and clearly
distinguished from the children of the other concubines or wives. It
does not seem so strange to me what I am saying, if it is true that
Iskandar and I love each other above all other things," Malik said in a
voice both serious and passionate.
So I said: "It is a possible solution... Why does Iskandar seem not to
"It does not seems fair to me that Malik's life should be so changed
because of me..."
"You do not change me at all, my loved one! And about changing my life,
it was radically changed the first time I saw you, changed in a
stupendous way, thanks to you, now that I know that you too love me. So
I leave the choice to you: or both of us, or just us."
Then Amin said to Iskandar: "This proposition of Malik could be a good
solution. I did not want anybody else at my side other than Nadim and
this created some problems. You see, the position of two men loving each
other, in our society, confronts them with not a few problems. Not so
much the sexual intercourse between two men: this is diffused enough,
notwithstanding that our ulama and mullah say it is not allowed. Sexual
intercourse between soldiers, and not just in war time, or between an
adult and a boy, or for us powerful people even an harem of slave boys,
is something rather common. But when there is a strong, real love, the
problems arise. People seem not to understand it, not to admit it. So
you have to find your own solution, my boys, and then defend it with all
the means at your disposal. But the real problem is not what the others
might say, if you are prudent. Women and what happens inside the closed
doors of the harem can easily remain a secret, and usually servants and
friends do not constitute a serious problem. The important thing is that
the solution you find can give full satisfaction to both of you and does
not hurt anyone. Now, the solution suggested by Malik, even if very
different from the one Nadim and I chose, seems to me sensible."
Iskandar said: "But I remain the sole arbiter of the situation! Malik,
before I answer your proposition, tell me: I feel sure about your love
for me but you, to what point can you feel sure of my love?"
"Totally. You gave up a return to your homeland, for me. You gave
yourself to me."
"But if one day I change my mind? If at some time in the future I wish
to leave you?"
"I would feel terrible, but I would do nothing to prevent you from doing
so. I hope and trust that you are at my side forever with love, or it
would be better for us to part now."
"Today I feel certain I want to be yours forever, but sometimes a man's
"Unhappily, I too could change. I can only hope and pray this will never
happen. Man is really a man until all his being is in harmony. But if
his heart goes mad, he is no more a man. It happens, some times. Who can
say it will never happen? But you cannot live in fear of a vague
possibility. So it is better not to think of that and to try to live in
the best possible way... Did I answer your question, Iskandar?"
"Yes, Malik, thank you. I hope I never become mad, to use your term. And
meanwhile I want to live in full harmony with you. So I will share what
is yours to the last, as you wish. I too want to be one unique thing
with you. Cut a man in half and you just have a corpse. I do not want to
be cut away from you."
So the two youths shared everything, down to the smallest things. The
wives and the harem women did not create any problem, neither did their
friends or the servants. The two youths shared their clothes, their
food, every smallest experience and their happiness was so evident that
even a blind man could see it! Iskandar asked to be circumcised and
embraced the true faith. Amin, after that, decided to proclaim Iskandar
co-heir to the throne with Malik, as his son requested. The Council
initially was perplexed, divided. But Amin was unyielding and in the end
the Council accepted this decision.
After the ceremony, when alone with me, Amin said: "I have been thinking
very much about our two boys and about us two. Iskandar will one day be
shaikh together with Malik. But you are just my Great Visir. Without
wanting it, I had been unfair to you, my sweet love, but I want to
remedy it immediately. I will send a proclamation to all our territories
informing that you are Shaikh with me. It is the right thing to do."
"No, please, Amin, leave things as they are. People are already
astounded having two co-heirs, and will never understand this change.
There is really no difference, and we know that. But to the others it
will seem strange. Some will think you are my puppet, that I have aims I
do not have..."
"Who cares about what the people think? I feel this to be fair, allow me
to do it."
"If to you it is important, my beloved, I will not oppose you. But I
want you to know that for me nothing changes, be I shaikh or slave,
unless I have your love."
"Good. Tomorrow it will be announced that this shaikhdom has two
shaikhs, just as it has two heirs. History will talk about us..."
I here close this manuscript. I commenced it with a dedication to my
Lord. I close it dedicating it to our two heirs.
This is the story of a little dreamer, a donkey breede
that became shaikh
This is the story of a powerful Shaikh that for love shared his throne.
This is the story of the power of love,
that does not know, nor care, for barriers of age or sex, race or social origins,
because love is a gift from Allah:
be always praised His Name, His Power, and all His Gifts.
Nadim ibn Jussuf el Saum