Folktales of Kashmir. In the summer of 2018, I was in Srinagar, Kashmir. During a curfew, I had an idea, to record my grandmother narrating folktales of Kashmir, that I grew up listening to…and sleeping to. While she was spinning the Pashmina wool, that she has been making for all her life, she started narrating the tale of a wood cutter and Prophet Sulaiman.

This is my favourite folk tale, while growing up in Kashmir.

The story basically goes like this. A poor woodcutter was selling firewood in the city. King Solomon who bought his stuff, gave him a pearl, taking pity on his condition. The woodcutter hid it in his turban, which was later snatched by a giant eagle. Sad, that he couldn’t feed his family, he again starts selling firewood, that he brought from the forest. Solomon again takes pity at him, and gives him another pearl. While walking home, he falls asleep, and the Arab bandits steal the pearl from him. Heartbroken, the woodcutter again goes home empty-handed. He again goes to the forest, and sells firewood in the city. The generous Solomon takes pity on him again, and gives him a third pearl. This time, he holds it in his hand, tightly. While crossing a bridge, the pearl falls off from his hand into the river. He goes home again, empty-handed.

Heartbroken, his wife tells him to buy fish from the market. A fish-seller gives him a wish, and he takes it home. When his wife, cuts open the fish, she finds the pearl, that he had dropped into the river.

My grandmother is at-least 80 years old, she has always been financially independent by selling the Pashmina wool that she spins. And with that, she has also given birth to a storyteller inside of me.