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A thirteenth century fairy tale …

13th Century Fairytale, illustrated by

13th century fairy tale illustrated by

Long, long ago, there lived a ruler in the (not so 😉 ) faraway kingdom of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

As a strong and wise ruler, he had everything that any man could ever want in his life, everything that is except for a child.

So one day, this king decided to adopt a child. However, he did not want just any child. Being a wise ruler, he wanted to adopt the most honest child he could find in the land.

There upon, he asked for all the children in the land to be brought before him. And to each child, he gave a seed. He told them that only the child who honestly worked hard at planting the given seed and grew the most beautiful flower will be adopted as his ward.

Many children in the land became very busy planting and soon buds began to appear in their flower pots. All except for one tiny child, who started crying because he could not see anything grow from his flower pot.

This child had been working very hard planting and watering the seed but nothing grew in his pot.

His mother wiped his tears gently away and told him to try again by putting it into another bigger pot. He tried again and again but to no avail.

Soon the king summoned all the children to bring their plants before him. All the children proudly showed him their beautiful and splendid flowers. All save the little boy, who was now sobbing very hard.

The king asked the boy why he was crying. The little boy trembled in fear, thinking he had failed in his task. He told the king fearfully that he had tried many times. He had also replanted the seed in different pots but  it still wouldn’t grow.

Smiling and holding the tiny hand of the little boy, the king led him gently to the front of the waiting crowd. He announced to them that this would be the chosen child. Everyone gasped in surprise and wondered.

The king explained that all the seeds given were cooked seeds and therefore could not have grown into plants and bear flowers. Thus, he had chosen the little boy  as the child he wanted to adopt.

All in the land wondered and rejoiced for having such a wise ruler. As for the little boy…. . Well, he grew up to be another wise and strong ruler.  Perhaps another story then…..

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. – Dwight D Eisenhower

Ps- This story was passed down from generations to generations since 13th century and was recently written in the local language. Hope you enjoy my translation of this old tale. Wishing all a great week ahead. 🙂

A Tale of Romeo & Juliet ……

Emina by Alex Šantić

Emina by Alex Šantić

Many centuries ago, it was a tradition for men to go for a turkish bath from time to time. This was where men would gather in a relaxed ambience to exchange small talk. This area was called Hamam.

Then, one young man who was returning from the Hamam, passed by the garden of the city imam (Muslim Pastor), saw the daughter of the imam. Struck by her beauty, he wrote a poem which later made him a famous poet.

Here is my humble translation of the poem, hope you like it.

At dusk, while returning from the warmth of the Hamam,

I passed by the garden of the old city Imam.

There in the garden, Under the shade of the jasmine tree,

A pitcher in her hand stood beautiful Emina.


What Beauty! I could swear by Imam!

That even the sultan would not be embarrass to have her as his wife.

The way she moved with the gentle sway of her shoulders,

Not even the Hodja’s (Muslim Holy man) amulet could save me.

I salaamed her agreeably despite by my faith. (For the young man was a Christian but he greeted in her faith, which is Muslim.)

She didn’t want to hear me, the beautiful Emina.

Instead, down the garden She went,

With her silver pitcher to scoop out water for the blossoms.

Breeze blew down the tree onto her lovely shoulders,

Unravelling her braided plait;

Causing the hyacinth scent from her washed hair to waft gently by

And struck me suddenly with a sense of dizziness and giddiness.

I swear to God I almost fell,

But still Emina went about impervious.

Only to look at me with askance. (For it was not done for young man to behave so forward with young ladies,)

Uncaring that I could expire from my tumultuous feelings for her.

This young man who later on became a famous poet because of this poem was called Aleksa Šantić

So if you passed by the streets of Mostar. You can see the statue of him and the statue of Emina too.

Because of the diversity of religions in Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is not unknown for young people to fall in love with one who is from different religion. However, in those times, it was sadly not encouraged to marry outside faith.

The Classic Fable of The Dragonflies ……

Konjic Town

A long, long time ago, there was a village, full of farmers who became very wealthy as the soil in the midst was very rich. Only one farmer, living at the edge of the village, who owned a very small cottage on a tiny piece of land was very poor. This farmer and his family, though poor was known to be the kindest and the most generous family in this area,  whilst the others were of very stingy and greedy nature  and were busy accumulating wealth for themselves.

Old traveller woman looking for a place to rest. Illustrated by

Old traveller woman looking for a place to rest.
Illustrated by

One day,  a lone wayfarer on a skinny and tired looking horse came to this very village, asking for food and shelter for the night. Door after door, the old traveller woman was turned away until finally she came to the very last one on the outskirts of this village.

It was the poor farmer’s house. The farmer and his family shared with her everything that they had, though they had barely enough for themselves.

The next morning as the old lady turned to leave, she told them : “Take your family far away from here and pack all your belongings onto your donkey. Only when you see a river with many dragonflies, it will be a sign that it is safe for you to stop. There will be a huge flood coming and it will drown this entire village. Hurry, for you do not have much time. Do not stop or turn back.”

Having said that, the old lady suddenly transformed into a beautiful fairy and the horse that she was riding on sprouted huge wings. Then the fairy riding on the winged horse quickly flew away.

The poor farmer was not sure what to believe but his worried wife urged him to do as the fairy had bade them to do.

As they travelled away, they heard huge gushing sound of waves and cries of help. They remembered that the fairy had warned them not to stop or turn back so they hurried on. For two to three days they travelled till they saw the river that was full of dragonflies.

Fairy riding a dragonfly, illustrated by

Fairy riding a dragonfly, illustrated by

With much relief, they stopped and settled there. Because the land that they settled in was full of rich soil, the farmer and his family soon had bountiful of whatever they planted and became very rich. The land that they settled down was named Vilin Konjic, translated literary word by word, ” Vilin” is fairy and the word ” Konjic” means horse. For it was a belief long time ago that fairies rode on dragonflies as if they were their horses.

As time goes by, the name was shortened to just one word, that is, “Konjic”. So that is how this town came to have this name.

There are many versions of how this town was named. One was that it was named after the horse which brought the farmer and his family. But I kind of prefer this version as you and I know that dragonflies are always good indicators of a healthy environment. Hope you like this version. 😉

Till today, this idyllic town is called Konjic, well known for rafting activities, fly fishing and wood carving artisans. The river that was mentioned was of course the river Netreva and the area where the flooding supposedly occurred is known currently as Boracko Jezero, now a beautiful lake in the northern part of Herzegovina.


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