From the author
This story is especially close to me. The mountain I am writing about, Cerro de Espiritu Santo, is just my neighbour and I see it every day from my garden. You can climb to the top and on your way you notice the ruins of the town that more than five centuries ago was located on the mountainside. Then you really feel the atmosphere of the past. Just like the presence of Abul and his family.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Abul Hajr, who lived in a white, mountainside house. He had black eyes, brown face and a big and sensitive heart. He loved his parents very much and always willingly supported them in all their duties.
Every single morning he was helping his mother and grandmother to bring water from the river. To do that, he had to climb down to the foot of the mountain, but he never complained. He knew perfectly well that women did not have enough strength to fill the large, clay jugs with water, or to attach them to the back of a donkey. Despite he was only twelve, he bravely carried enormous loads, just to relieve his mother and grandmother. And when Abul and his family were climbing back the stony road to the rock-built house, the townspeople were stopping and greeting them with respect. Everyone admired the kindness of the boy because instead of playing with his peers, he only wanted to help adults.
When the water was brought to the house, Abul ran down to the pasture again, this time to help his father with the sheep. The little boy always had for him a piece of freshly baked bread and some milk, which mother prepared daily for her husband. Sometimes, on his way down, he picked a few sweet figs from a nearby tree, and later he and his father were eating them with great appetite. The parent was always looking at his son with pride and love. He never had to reprimand the boy, because thanks to his extraordinary wisdom and maturity, he was always doing the right things.. At the end of the day, just after the herd of sheep had returned to the place of night rest, he grabbed Abul’s head in his large, tired hands and kissed him tenderly. For the boy, this silent sign of affection was always the most valuable culmination of the day.
When he and his father were climbing the way back home and the red light of the setting sun was gently embracing their faces, the boy felt really happy. He knew very well that in a few moments his mother would welcome them with a wide smile and a hearty meal on the table. Then, after a family dinner, they would sit together in front of the house, and the father would play on the old quitra the most beautiful melody of Andalusia.
But that evening it was different.
The ground suddenly started to shake, and big stones were felling under Abul’s and his father’s feet. For a while they were still able to hold each other’s hands, but soon the earth moved again and the thick dust covered the bloody rays of the sunset sun. The houses were falling into small pieces and covering the crack of the mountain. As well as the life of the city of Bayra.
The night has come.
However, the next morning the sun rose and began its journey again. The sky was still blue and the birds were singing with joy. But for Abul nothing was the same anymore. He survived, but his family members, just like other inhabitants of the white city, were absorbed by the mountain. The boy was saved by strange, but friendly people. Thanks to them, he found his new home, outside the walls of the destroyed by the earthquake town.
But how it is possible to live without your city? How you can find your own identity without a place you belong to? The survivors did not wait long with making decision of rebuilding it. However, choosing the right place was quite a problem. The attempts of finding the perfect location took many days and were unsuccessful. Finally, it was decided to rely on fate and build a new city in a spot where the furthest arrow would reach. The best archers of the area had to take a part in this special challenge.
The following day the archers gathered on the ruins of the old town to decide finally, where they would build the future city. And then little Abul appeared in front of them. He asked the archers politely to allow him having one single shot. If the shot turned out to be the furthest, the boy would be given the right to give a name to the new settlement. The soldiers did not have to think for a long time. The good heart of the boy was widely known . As a result of a great respect towards young Abul, they decided to give him a chance. He even received a traditional bow and a hand carved arrow from them.
And when the boy stretched his bow, a miracle happened.
Abul’s arrow, guided by the soul of his father, flew far to the other end of the pasture. No adult archer managed to repeat the boy’s feat.
Since then, in the place where the arrow hit, there has been the Andalusian city called Vera.
And this is an unusual city, because it is named after the mother of the little hero. His goodness turned out to be of enormous power. The power that was even greater than the destructive forces of nature.
Did this story really happen? We will never know that. We know, however, that the earthquake actually destroyed Bayra in 1518, and a modern Vera was built in place of it. We also know that on the top of the mountain, where the town once was located, there is now a white statue of Espiritu Santo. And it has a great importance for residents of the town.
But was Abul Hajr, whose name means ‘The one who does Good’, the real hero of this legend? I believe so.
Just as I believe in the wonderful power of kindness and love.