Kamal Naqvi

Hi.. My name is Kamal and I live in Hobart.

Playing hockey, riding my bike and generally messing around with my friends are some of the things I like to do. As well, I enjoy reading books, playing video games and talking in Urdu with my father. Last year I missed the last few months of school in Hobart. I spent that time, as well as the summer holidays, overseas in India living in the town where my father had originally come from.

When I came back from India I had dinner at my friends Ali?s place. I told him and his cousin about India. One of the stories was a special One about the Scorpion Garden.

They liked that story and Ali asked me to tell Pete, my best friend. Although Pete has never been to India, he reckoned the story was a pretty good one. Then, on the first day of school this year everyone, including the teacher, asked, “What did you do during the holidays?” The teacher didn?t want me to just talk about my story. She suggested I should write it. So I did, and that?s when I discovered another side of ME.

You Know what a Scorpion is?

Do you know what a scorpion is? Its a nasty insect, belonging to the spider family. It has a long tail with a sting on the end. It?s a poisonous sting- maybe deadly; always painful. Scorpions are easily provoked. I wouldn?t tread on one with bare feet if I were you – or pick up one, for that matter. When I was India I had an unusual Scorpion experience, and I?d like to tell you about it.

In northern India, in a town called Amroha where my father originally came from is a large garden with high stone wall around it. For most people the wall is too high to climb over. The Garden is called “Dargah” which means “Graveyard of Saints”. My father says the dargah is sacred to his family, and so he often took my sisters and me there.

Before going inside the dargah, we bought sweets for Nias (that?s a prayer and an offering of food, which brings you good fortune). We took off our shoes because it is a sacred place, and wearing shoes inside is forbidden. Also, walking without shoes is a sign being humble. There was a man on duty to mind the shoes while we were in the dargah.

When we entered the dargah we went to a grave. The grave was that of a religious person who decreed that in his place of burial no animal or insect would ever bite or sting. We placed the sweets on the grave and we recited a prayer.

To my horror, Dad then asked one of the men to find Scorpion so I could hold it. they found one under a rock and put it on my arm. I felt like an enormous ant crawling up and down. It was an eerie feeling. But … it didn?t sting me! It didn?t even look like wanting to sting. I?m glad it didn?t!

But …. Why didn?t the Scorpion sting me with its venomous and vicious tail? That what i want to know.

No scorpion or snakes inside the dargah (and there used to be lots of snakes, including cobras), have stung or bitten for over 600 years. The man looking after the dargah told me the true story of why this is so.

Many hundreds of years ago, there was a man whose name was Nasir-Uddin Shah living in the town of Amroha (where the dargah is). He wa a holy man, and the people thought of him as a saint. He was said to be a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

Well everything was going along just fine in Amroha 600 years ago and Nasir-Uddin Shah was doing a lot of good deeds, until one day, another holy man “Shah Wilayat” came to live and he was said to be even closer descendant to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) than Nasir-Uddin Shah, and this made him more holy.

Now, Nasir-Uddin Shah was quite upset about the arrival of this new holy man in the town, and he wanted him to go away. But he could not really just go and tell him that, so he decided to give him a hint that one holy man in town is enough: in fact, in this town there was definitely no room for another one. So, he took a clay bowl and filled it with water right to the brim. Then he got his servant to carry it, very carefully, and present it to Shah Wilayat.

Nasir-Uddin Shah thought that as holy men are very sensitive, Shah Wilayat would certainly understand what he meant. He waited impatiently for his servant to return and report that Shah Wilayat had packed up and left the town. After some time, to his surprise, he saw his servant returning to him, still carefully carrying the same bowl of water.

Then he saw that on the surface of the water floated a single, beautiful white rose. Nasir-Uddin Shah immediately understood the message from Shah Wilayat but there was nothing he could do about it. He was very angry and made a curse that when Shah Wilayat died, his dargah grave and graveyard would be infested with vile and venomous scorpions.

However, when Shah Wilayat heard of the curse, instead of being afraid, he was glad. He knew he could not stop the curse, but he could add to it, and by doing so could make his memory live in the town forever. He sent a message back to Nasir-Uddin Shah that scorpions within the dargah would never sting. Nor would snakes bite.

When Shah Wilayat died, a high wall was built around his dargah, and as Nasir-Uddin Shah had foretold, the area become infested with the largest of scorpions. But as Shah Wilayat had predicted, the scorpions refused to lift their tails and sting.

Even now, 600 years later, there are lots of scorpions in that area. Inside the dargah of Shah Wilayat you can pick them up and put them on your bare skin and hold them in your hand. BUT…. walk one step with them outside the dargah and WATCH OUT!

People have actually taken proven “stingers” from other areas of India, and even from other part of the world to the dargah. Once inside they always become passive, but outside again they revert to their usual stinging ways.

The Scorpion story is not the only strange thing about this dargah. other unexplained things happen there. On the site of Nasir-Uddin Shah?s grave, one can often see many donkeys standing quietly. People say that Shah Wilayat made a curse on Nasir Uddin Shah that donkeys would always come to his graveside. That happens, but the strange thing is that in the area around the tomb, they never, never foul the ground. That is very unusual for donkeys; they don’t usually show such respect!

In the dargah there is a strange tree with many curly branches. People say that the tree marks the grave of Shah Wilayat?s daughter, and that its branches grew from the strands of her hair. I don?t know what to think, but I?ve never seen a tree like that before. One of my sisters thinks it just grew like that but my other sister says it is the hair.

I often think about that Scorpion Garden and wonder why I didn?t get stung. But I can never quite come up with the answer and I don?t ever would even if I became an entomologist, and anthropologist or geologist, because many of them have already tried and failed.

I guess I?ll have to accept the fact that it is one of those mystical, mythical and magical things that people are not able to explain.

I think is has to something to do with religion. A lot of things I did in India had to do with religion.

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