Sharif was going to be eight years
old. The next day was his birthday and he was going to ask his father, the
Sultan, for something very special. That night, as he sat on the big
pillow next to the table, eating supper with his family, Sharif said,
"Papa, I want a monkey for my birthday!"
"A monkey?" his papa replied. "That
is a most unusual request. Do you know how much work a monkey can be?"
"Not much at all, Papa. Iíll feed it
bananas and almonds and let it play in the trees," Sharif smiled.
Sharif and his family lived in a
large palace, surrounded by beautiful gardens and ponds. There were plenty
of trees for a monkey to play in. "All right, Sharif. I will get a monkey
for your birthday. Perhaps your mama can have some clothes made for him,"
Papa said, winking at Mama.
The next morning Sharif woke up with
the sun. He ran into the garden. The flowers were opening their petals and
the birds were beginning to sing. "Whereís my monkey?" he shouted,
searching behind every bush and waking everyone in the palace up.
"Here it is, Sharif," his papa
yawned. He came out of the palace carrying a small monkey in his arms.
"His name is Hassan. Your mama had these bright red baggy pants, a yellow
and red striped vest, and yellow turban made for him." He began to laugh,
"Take care of him and feed him well." Papa went back to bed, leaving his
son and the monkey in the garden.
The Sultan had no sooner left than
Hassan jumped out of Sharifís arms and ran into the rose garden. He
started pulling all the petals off the beautiful, fragrant flowers. "No!
No! Hassan, no! Those are Mamaís favorite flowers. Donít touch the yellow
roses." Hassan ignored Sharif and tore the yellow roses to pieces. The
grass around the flower garden was soon covered with the velvety petals.
"Mamaís going to be angry." He grabbed the monkeyís tail and picked him
"Letís go into the orchard and find
you a banana. There are many trees to climb," Sharif said. When the monkey
saw the banana palms he wiggled out of Sharifís grasp. Instead of climbing
them, Hassan ran into the melon patch. "No! No! Hassan, no! You can eat
the bananas, but not the melons." He tried to catch Hassan but he was too
quick for the boy. The monkey pulled one of the melons off the vine and
threw it at Sharif. It burst open and splattered all over his clothes.
Melons began exploding on the side of the white marble palace, making a
thick, sticky mess. Orange cantaloupes, green honeydews, and red
watermelons splattered on every wall, gate, and tower. Hassan threw a
casaba at one of the swans that was gliding across a pond. Yellow fruit
stuck to the beautiful birdís feathers. It honked and flew away. Sharif
watched in horror as the monkey threw a melon at Khalil, the Sultanís
favorite tiger. The tiger began to roar angrily and tried to grab the
monkey with its sharp claws. Sharif could barely see its orange and black
stripes from all the melon on its fur.
Sharif finally was able to grab hold
of Hassanís long tail. He picked him up and held him tightly. "Khalil will
eat you for breakfast if he catches you. Donít do that again. Letís go
inside the palace. It is safer for you."
As they entered the beautiful
palace, Sharif saw Ahmed, his servant. He explained to him about the mess
Hassan had made with the melons and roses. Ahmed bowed and went outside to
clean it up before the Sultan saw what Hassan had done.
Sharif put the monkey down on the
mosaic-covered floor. It was polished and sparkled like diamonds. Hassan
didnít waste a momentís time. He darted across the slippery floor and ran
into the Treasury. "No! No! Hassan, no!" shouted Sharif. He was too late.
Hassan had lifted the lid of one of the huge wooden chests sitting on the
floor. Red rubies, green emeralds, blue sapphires, and sparkling diamonds
went flying through the air as the monkey tossed them about. They bounced
all over the room. Some rolled under the furniture and others rolled onto
the Persian carpets.
"Not Papaís jewels," Sharif gulped.
He got down on his hands and knees and tried to pick them up, but Hassan
kept throwing them quicker than he could grab them. Sharif chased the
monkey around the room and nearly caught him, but he jumped onto the
chandalier. Hassan started swinging back and forth. "No! No! Hassan, no!
That is very fragile and made of the finest glass from Venice. Come down!"
Sharif stood helpless, watching the
monkey destroy the palace. He knocked over a huge glass jar filled with
gold coins. They spread across the floor like lava oozing from a volcano.
He ran into the kitchen and pulled all the copper pots off their hangers.
They clanged and bounced across the floor. Sharif had to put his hands
over his ears when Hassan began to bang them together.
The monkey ran into the bath and
turned the taps on. Water came gushing out and ran all over the floor.
Soon puddles covered the tiles. "Sharif! What is going on here!" shouted
the Sultan. He stood with his arms on his waist. "Youíve had the monkey
two hours and it has nearly destroyed the palace, inside and out, angered
Khalil, my tiger, ruined your mamaís rose garden, and splattered every
wall with melons. Do you know how much work it will take to clean this
Ahmed snuck up behind Hassan and
grabbed him with a large net. The monkey screeched angrily and tried to
escape. "The monkey is going back where it came from; back to where it
belongs - in the jungle!" his papa said.
Sharif knew he was right. Hassan was
too wild to live in the Sultanís palace. Ahmed took the monkey away.
Sharif went outside and sat next to the pond. His feet dangled in the
water. Bright orange koi swam back and forth, hoping that the boy would
toss them a crumb of bread, but he was feeling too sad to do that.
"Sharif! Come inside!" his papa
shouted. Sharif walked into the palace, his face gloomy and head hanging
low. "Since it is still your birthday, I bought you a different gift. It
is much better than the monkey. I know you will like it. It is over there,
in that box."
Sharifís eyes sparkled and he ran
over to the wooden box. "A tiger cub!" he laughed, picking the tiny animal
up. "Its claws are sharp!"
"His claws will become even more
sharp and he will grow up to be a great tiger, like my Khalil. Ahmed will
help you train him. Weíll keep him with Khalil and you can visit him every
day," Papa said.
Sharif was delighted. "Iíll name him
"Raad is fitting for a tiger. Go
with Ahmed and take Raad with you," the Sultan said.
Khalil welcomed the cub and helped
teach him the tigerís way of doing things. Ahmed and Sharif went to visit
every day and taught him to do tricks. "You were a much better birthday
present than a monkey," Sharif said, hugging the cub.
"Yes, and he doesnít throw melons or
destroy your mamaís rose garden," Ahmed laughed.