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Rustum and Sohrab is a tragic story from Persia. Rustum is a Persian hero and one of the favourites of King Kaikoos. Sohrab is the son of Rustum and Tanimeh, Rustum and Sohrab never meet in their lifetime until on the battlefield. Though Sohrab knows that he is Rustum’s son, Rustum hides his identity during the battle. He tragically doesn’t know that he has a son and stabs Sohrab to death.
Rustum– a great Persian soldier
Sohrab– Rustum and Tamineh’s son
Kaikoos– the king of Persia
Tamineh– a Tartar princess
Long ago there lived in Persia a great soldier called Rustum who was called ‘The Shield of Persia’. The enemies who tried to invade the country fled in fear when they heard his war cry, ‘Rustum”. Kaikoos, the King of Persia said that Persia was safe as long as they had Rustum.
Rustum fell in love and married a Tartar princess called Tanimeh. But he was soon called back to his country. He had to leave his wife behind. He gave her a precious stone and told her to tie it to their child’s arm when it was born.
Tamineh gave birth to a son, but she did not want Rustum to take him away, so she sent word to him that she had a daughter. Tanimeh named her son Sohrab. He grew into a brave and handsome boy. He was unmatched in his swordsmanship.
One day a young warrior challenged Sohrab to single combat. He asked to know about Sohrab’s parentage before the fight because he did not fight anyone of low birth. Sohrab pleaded his mother to tell him who his father was. She finally told him that his father was the great Rustum.
At the very sound of Rustum’s name Sohrab’s opponent lost courage and withdrew his challenge. Sohrab told his mother he was going to search for his father. She told him that the precious stone on his arm was given by his father, so Rustum would know who Sohrab was if he showed it to him. Sohrab’s purpose was not only to find his father but also to make him King of Persia, because Kaikoos was an unpopular ruler.
Sohrab Invades Persia
When Sohrab crossed into Persia, Kaikoos sent his army to fight the invader. But the King’s generals were no match for Sohrab. They thought the only one who could match him was Rustum. Sohrab sent message that he would spare the Persian army if their champion would fight with him in single combat.
The King sent for Rustum at once and told him to go fight him. Rustum had grown old and had to take care of his aged father too, so he did not want to go. But the King had not been able to find a younger champion, so Rustum had to go. He decided to go as a plain soldier wearing plain armour because he didn’t want anyone to know that old Rustum had to be called to fight a beardless boy.
So Rustum rode to the battlefield. The Persians told him that this youth’s might was like his own. Rustum wished, with a longing heart, that the Tartar youth had been his own son. Rustum went up to Sohrab and told him to leave the Tartar army, come to Persia and be as a son to him. Hearing the mighty voice of Rustum, Sohrab thought that it was perhaps his father’s. He approached him and eagerly asked if he was Rustum. But Rustum withheld the truth.
So, a great fight occurred between the two. The two armies stood on two sides and watched the fight. They fought for three days. Rustum finally shouted his war cry, ‘Rustum’ as he rushed at Sohrab. When Sohrab heard that cry, he was unnerved for a moment and dropped his shield. Rustum’s sword pierced his side and he sank to the ground. Sohrab looked up and cried, “Rustum!”
Sohrab told him that the mighty Rustum, his father, would avenge his death. Rustum saw the stone tied to his son’s arm. A sharp pain pierced his heart. He gathered his son in his arms and cried that he was his father.
Sohrab looked at his father’s face and told him to be comforted that they had found each other. He told Rustum to carry him to his home and bury him there, so that people who passed by would say that Sohrab, the mighty Rustum’s son, whom his great father did in ignorance kill, lay there.
The tragic tale of Rustum and Sohrab shows us how misunderstandings lead to great tragedies. Rustum and Sohrab do not know each other, and Rustum is not even aware that he has a son. This ultimately leads to Sohrab dying at his father’s hands. They do not realise their mistakes until it is too late. Therefore, we must avoid misunderstandings at all costs.