The Fisherman and the Jinni

A folktale as told by
Issa Ally

In the past there was a fisherman.  This guy, he went to the sea everyday and everyday he got only one fish – that’s all – one fish only.  He would cut this one fish up into four sections.  One section, he’d sell to buy food.  One section, he’d sell to buy fuel for his lamp.  One section, he’d sell to get money to buy sour soup for his kids.  The last section, he’d use as seasoning, to give his foods flavour.  This way – every day, it was this way.  He went and he returned.  He cut the fish up and got the different things.  This way, every day.

Until one day.  He went out fishing this day.  He threw out his fishing line and hook.  He hooked a bottle.  He pulled and pulled it.  He reeled it in until it was right next to his ngalawa [a small outrigger canoe]. He said “Tdooouv, I thought that I had a huge fish, but - oh - look here - oh - it’s only a bottle.  This thing is only a bottle.  OK, I’ll take it home I guess; I can put things in it.  Or maybe I can sell it to get a little bit of money to buy some fuel for the lamp”.  He fished and fished but he didn’t get any fish this day.  He returned.

He got to the shore and cleaned-cleaned his ngalawa.  He took-took out his oars.  He scooped-scooped out the water from inside of the ngalawa.  He opened-opened the bottle.  Out of it came a completely huge jinni.  Completely huge!  Huge!  Tall! – this guy.  This Jinni said “Al ham de lai, I’ve gotten food.  I’m so hungry.  Today I have finally gotten food to eat.  I’ve gotten a human to eat”.  This fisherman told him, “Oh no, no you haven’t gotten food to eat.  I’m not food.  I found you.  I saved you.  I got you out of the ocean and then out of the bottle and now you are going to eat me.  Oh no, you’re not going to do me like that”.

I’m going to eat you” said the jinni.

Don’t eat me”.

I’m going to eat you”.

Don’t eat me”.

I’m going to eat you.  I want to eat you, you fisherman you.  I want to eat you right now”.

Don’t eat me”.

Oh no, don’t play with me, I’m hungry, I’m going to eat you now”.

Don’t eat me.  I saved you from this bottle.  Now you can travel the world.  This is your fate.  Now you can do anything and not be stuck in a bottle”.

Yes that is my fate, but before that my fate is to eat you”.

Wait for a minute”.

I’ll eat you”.

OK, fine, let’s go and talk to three people.  If they all say that you should eat me then, OK, you will eat me.  What can I do, you’re a jinni and I’m a human.  Please?

They agreed.  They went.  “Let’s go”.  They left.  The first person they met was a coconut tree.

Hey coconut tree”.

Salaam aleykum”.

Aleykum salaam”.



Hey fisherman you’ve got a guest.  Where is he from”.

He’s from the ocean.  I brought him out of the bottle.  I brought him to dry land but now he wants to eat me.  He says that it is necessary that he eat me.  We are asking three people.  So I see that you are a nice person Mr Coconut tree.  What is your answer?

This tree, he said “Ala!, Mr Jinni.  Yes, you should eat this guy.  These humans are not people.  He steals my coconuts and makes things with me.  He makes roofing.  He makes brooms.  He makes mats.  He uses me like this.  Then after I give him these things he picks up rocks and throws them at me, he cuts me down, he kills me.  He’ll keep doing it until there are none of me left on the world.  Until I am gone from the whole world.  It’s better that you eat him”.

Do you hear that human?  Do you hear?  Have you heard?  Come here so I can eat you”.

Not yet, we still have two people.  Just wait.  After them then you will be able to eat me if they say to eat me”.

They went until over there.  They met that cow.



Where are you going,” asked the cow.

We are coming to talk to you.  I saved this jinni.   I brought him to dry land and now he says that he is going to eat me.  We have come to get your opinion,” said the human.

He wants to eat you?

Yes he wants to eat me”.

Great idea Mr Jinni,” said the cow, “Good!  Yes!  You should eat him.  Eat this human here.  Because this human is not a person.  I am a cow but I am a person.  These humans are not people.  This guy is bad.  He takes my milk – he drinks it.  I carry his things but he slaughters me and eats my meat.  He takes my skin too.  He skins me and wears me.  Then he hits me.  He is not good.  You should eat him.  Eat him; yes.

Do you hear?  Have you heard?  Come here.  I’ll eat you,” said the jinni.

No, wait.  There’s still one more”.

OK, but I’m hungry.  I’m going to eat you soon.  Don’t play games with me.  Don’t make a game of me”.

They left.  They ran into Abu Nuwasi.  He was a rabbit.  The fisherman talked to him: “This guy, I saved him from the ocean, and then I saved him from the bottle.  I freed him but now he says that he’s gonna eat me.  He was in this bottle”.

This bottle here, this small bottle?” Abu Nuwasi asked.

Yes this bottle.  And so I told him ‘let’s go to three people and if they say to eat me, then eat me’ and so far all of the people, the coconut tree and the cow, have said to eat me.  So now, if you say to eat me, then he will eat me, I will be his food.  I won’t argue.  OK, if you say that he should eat me then OK, I’ll be eaten”.

Abu Nuwasi sat for a little while and thought.  He said, “Yes, eat him.  Yes indeed.  He isn’t even nice to me.  I’m a human like him.  He kills me.  Yes, eat him.  I’ve seen this guy hurt dogs.  I’ve seen him tell lies and hurt people.  I’ve seen him do all kinds of bad things.  Those humans are not people.  Eat him.  But first give me a rope to tie him up”.

They tied him up.  This guy couldn’t move.  They tied him up with rope.  Abu Nuwasi had this bottle.  He said, “OK, so now he’s ready to eat.  But first, just wait for a little while.  You, Jinni, you are huge.  You are really tall.  Can you really fit in here, in this bottle?


No way.  I don’t believe you.  You are deceiving me.  It’s not true.  No.  Maybe you are lying.  Can you really do it?  No wait a minute.  Maybe you shouldn’t eat him.  Maybe you are lying.  OK, if you can really fit inside of this bottle then I will agree and you can eat him.  But if you try to get in and can’t then you must stop this business and let him go”.

Fine.  I’ll show you.  I’ll get in there.”  He stuffed his leg in the bottle.  He stuffed this leg in.  He stuffed that leg in.  He stuffed his stomach in.  He stuffed his arms in.  He was all the way in the bottle except for his head without a problem.  The jinni told him, “see, I haven’t deceived you”.

I still don’t believe you completely,” said Abu Nuwasi.

OK, you’ll see,” and the jinni did it.  He did this.  He squeezed his head completely into the bottle, even his hair – you see – you see - POP! – Abu Nuwasi shut the bottle.  The Jinni couldn’t get out.  He twisted the top on.  They threw the bottle back into the sea.  Abu Numasi and this fisherman went home to eat dinner.  Abu Nuwasi said “You’ve gotten good luck, because, me, I’ve helped you; now stop doing all of those bad things and hitting and hurting and killing OK”.  The next day the fisherman went back out fishing as usual.  He went back to work.

The story ends there.  If you liked it, then we are together.

If not, then I am alone.