Sinbad the Sailor is a fictional mariner and the hero of a story-cycle of Middle Eastern origin. He is described as a man from Baghdad during the early Abbasid Caliphate (8th and 9th centuries CE). In the course of seven voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia, he has fantastic adventures in magical realms, encountering monsters and witnessing supernatural phenomena.
In this extract, the rich Sindbad describes his first voyage to the poor Sindbad (porter).
My father was a rich merchant. When he died, I was still young. He left behind a big wealth. However, I was an inexperienced thoughtless youth and spent all his wealth foolishly.
I returned to my senses only after the loss of all the wealth. I decided to sail for the Persian Gulf with some goods. Our group sailed from one country to another, selling the goods. One day, when we were on board, we saw a beautiful small green island. Just to have some fun, we all got down on that green patch. We were hungry and so we decided to cook some food there. As soon as we lit the fire for cooking, we got a jerk. The island was trembling. It was no island. It was the back of a huge animal, which got disturbed when the fire was lit on his back. We were terrified when we realized this. Everyone jumped into the sea to save his life. Most of them boarded the ship. But a few were not so fortunate. Before they could climb up, the captain started the ship hurriedly leaving behind a few sailors who were still struggling in the sea for their life. I was one among those strugglers. Fortunately, I caught hold of a big piece of wood floating nearby and held on to it.
I was being tossed by the powerful sea waves but I held on to the wood and kept floating for a long time. At last, I was thrown on an island. I was very tired and extremely hungry. But on the island, there was nothing to eat except a few herbs. Due to the continuous struggle in the seawater, my limbs became stiff and refused to move. I somehow managed to crawl to get a few herbs. I ate them and quenched my thirst from a spring on the island.
As I walked further in this strange land, I met a man. The man asked me where I had come from and who I was. I poured out my misfortune to him. The man felt pity when he heard my sad story. He took me inside a cave. There were a number of men present. They were all slaves of the king of the island. Those men were kind. They served me good food and drink and treated me well.
Later on, they produced me in front of the king, Mihrjan, who was the ruler of the island. I narrated my tale of suffering and hardship to the king. The king was a noble and kind person. He sympathized with me and appointed me as an officer on the spot.
Soon, I became friendly with the people on the island. There were a number of other small islands nearby.These islands were under King Mihrjan, too. During my stay, I witnessed a number of remarkable sights. The seawater around the islands contained huge and terrible fishes. A few were hundred times bigger than the largest ship. Once I saw a fish that had a head like a bull. I witnessed many unimaginable wonders.
Ships from different parts of the world visited this small island kingdom’s port regularly. Every day I would ask the visiting sailors about my city Baghdad, but no one knew about my city. I longed to go back home.
One day, when I was standing on the port, I saw a ship approaching the port. It was the same ship, which had sailed further after leaving me behind, struggling in the sea. When the captain of the ship saw me, he was greatly surprised to find me alive. He and the other crew members hugged me with happiness. The captain handed over my goods to me, which had been left on the ship.
Among my goods, I chose a few valuable items and presented those to the kind king. In return, the king also gave me expensive presents. The ship stayed on the island for a few days. Meanwhile, I did good business and earned a lot of money.
When it was time to leave, I went to meet the king. I thanked the king for his kindnesses and all the favours he had done to me.The king again gave me many valuable farewell gifts. Finally I returned to my city Baghdad as a rich man.
Sindbad completed the tale of his first voyage. The poor porter Sindbad was listening to the amazing tale of Sindbad with all wonder. Sindbad the sailor then bade good bye to the poor porter and asked him to come the next day to hear the tale of his new voyage. But before leaving, he presented Sindbad a purse full of gold coins. The unexpected riches overjoyed Sindbad the porter. He thanked his rich host and went home.
Listen to the lesson "Sindbad-My First Voyage":
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-1 English Standard-7. Sindbad-My First Voyage (pp. 97-104). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.