When translating Journey of a Musk Rose into English, I did my best to preserve the richness and lyricism inherent in the writing style of Doctor Dahesh—key to capturing nuances that can only be appreciated when read in the original Arabic version.
This truly amazing story was originally published in Strange Tales and Wondrous Legends Part II.
It is worthwhile to mention that on January 21, 1979, at 8 o'clock in the morning, Beirut local time, Doctor Dahesh wrote the following in the beginning lines of his introduction to this book:
"The stories in which I have mentioned incidences of reincarnation are not imaginary."
Journey of a Musk Rose
by Doctor Dahesh
Translation from Arabic and Artwork by Mario Henri Chakkour, AIA
The First Day of my Strange Journey
I am a musk rose that fell from the hand of a beautiful and tender young woman who was breathing my fragrant scent while standing close to her young betrothed aboard a ship sailing for America. No sooner than I fell than the young woman moaned and said to her betrothed:
“This is an evil omen. Last night, I dreamed that the ship was sunk by a violent storm and I saw myself drowned in the ill-tempered waters, and you were embracing me. And when I awoke, the matter haunted me, and I became agitated, and fear enveloped me with its dreadful horrors. And when the rose slipped from my hand I became pessimistic… and I am afraid, dear beloved, of this journey. If only we can leave this ship before her departure.”
Her betrothed answered her:
“Unburden yourself my beloved, for your dream is a hodgepodge of worthless dreams. A person dreams of many things. And if every human interpreted his or her dream according to what he or she imagines, then life would become an unbearable heavy load. Besides, they just lifted the anchor and the ship is beginning to move towards the open sea. Given this situation, we cannot leave her, otherwise I would have fulfilled your wish that I consider sacred.
“So rest assured, oh dearer to me than my own soul, and enough clinging to deceitful illusions. And on this occasion I remind you of the great saying that goes like this:
And death will come to you even if you are in fortified castles.”
Therefore, no human being can escape from the net of death if his or her hour comes.
And when the ship moved, it was my turn, the rose, to flow over the surface of the sea, away from the ship that carries the passengers, among whom where the two betrothed lovers Hector the brave and Doris the beautiful.
My course was dictated by the waves that were toying with me. One moment, they were throwing me forward, while another they were pulling me backwards; sometimes, I would find myself shoved to the right, while at others, to the left.
And my cruising lasted for hours on-end without my seeing other than the water and the sky…
The sun began to set. Little by little, darkness began to spread its cloak over the mighty ocean… and it did not delay in invading the skies with its tumultuous armies, and pitch-blackness reigned supreme, for it was totally dark, and the only sound that could be heard was that of the thrashing of the mighty waves in the stillness of the awe-inspiring night.
The waves were carrying me: no sooner than I was at their peak that they descended me to the surface of the splendidly grand ocean of limitless expanse.
And the stars that were spread in the firmament were igniting with their scintillating glow, and I was mesmerized by their wondrous glitter, and so I gazed at these luminous planets all the while glorifying their creator and maker and designer.
And the gentle breeze was tempering the climate—it was springtime—and tickling me with a delicateness with which I was happy.
And suddenly, a fish with a rectangular body passed near me, and close to it, a fish with a larger body — however, of the same species. So I knew that they were a male and a female. Therefore, they were lovers.
And the female came near and drew me in with her mouth, and I submerged, and she tried to devour me, however and suddenly, she let go of me as there was an oblong thorn in my stalk that she got pricked with, so she opted to flee and her lover was behind her, so I thanked God for escaping from a terrible fate.
And I continued on my way in this black night, and nothing but water and sky. Then a school of fish passed by… and I heard one fish speaking to another, saying to it:
“You have betrayed me; I saw you today courting someone other than me, so get ready for the punishment I will bring down upon you.”
And he attacked her, and his assault was brutal, so she tried to escape, but he overwhelmed her, and he kept bumping her with his body with great force and fury, she tumbled then drew her last breath, and the fish were swarming around her and devouring her. And my astonishment was great when I witnessed her killer participating with the school of fish in devouring her. So I said to myself:
“How strange! Fish do what humans do, and I was totally ignorant of this matter.”
And I continued along the expanse of the majestic ocean, then I felt heavy sleep overcome me, so I surrendered to his overwhelming grip.
The Second Day of My Wondrous Journey
When I awoke, the sun was unfolding its sovereignty over the sea whose distances were outstretched. And I did not see any bird in the sky, and I did not see any patch of land—and as far as vision can stretch, the sea was the only thing I saw, it and it alone.
And my course persisted for hours and hours, with only the water and the sky to accompany my loneliness.
And I was, sometimes, watching various kinds of fish varying in size and shapes, and their big ones were devouring their small ones.
And in my vicinity, a very massive school of fish—estimated in the tens of thousands—passed by, and it was swimming at a great speed that astounded me.
And suddenly, a colossal whale appeared, and it was chasing them, so I knew the reason they were going so fast, as they were terrified from being chased by the mighty whale.
And he gaped his horrific mouth and devoured this great mass of fleeing fish, swallowing with it a stupendous amount of water. Then I saw a giant water fountain catapulted from two openings in the head of this whale, and the water was rising with force and fury upwards, and it was a waterfall of great flow. It kept the fish inside of it and tossed away the water for which it had no need. And I was awed by its terrifying immensity.
And it did not take me long to see another whale that had appeared in proximity to the mighty whale, and yet not as immense. So I knew that it was its female.
And I heard the whale conversing with her, saying to her:
”Are you still following my trail?! For wherever I go I find you in proximity to me.”
“It is as you say. Had it not been for my love for you, I would not have pursued you. For you are young of age and in the prime of your strengths. So how do I know you are not going to romance one other than me, and that leaves me in a state of utter madness.”
“Be rational, and be certain that I would never exchange you for another even if Poseidon ordered me in this matter, so be reassured.”
And darkness began to cast its mantle upon the area little by little, and I was moving aimlessly and subject to the desire of the moving waters, then nightfall marched in with its titanic armies, and the tenebrous gloom immersed the immense ocean. And suddenly, a dazzling light glowed in the sky, illuminating the sea as if the sun had risen!...
And this light which dispels darkness approached, then a moving body descended from space, then it fell with miraculous lightness and speed, and it turned out to be a just like a saucer with its perfect roundness. And its diameter was forty meters. And one could hear the light rumble of its engines, and the rumble was musical. And windows filled its circumference. And I saw through the glass of these windows men of the length of a lead pencil and their color was blue, and they were going and coming constantly.
And suddenly an orange light spread out, covering an area of the sea, then I saw regiments upon regiments of varying kinds of fish filling up this area covered with the orange light. And a metal canister, no less than thirty meters in length, round like a barrel, extended out. And the fish were being lifted towards this canister by an unseen and powerful force and an invisible hand, and they were crawling in this metallic canister, entering the hollow of the saucer that is perched on the water, until they reached the inside of the ship.
And I approached towards this saucer until I bumped against its edge ; that’s when I saw pencil-sized women and their color was blue, and their blueness was permeated with red stripes.
And they were discussing among themselves, so I sharpened my hearing, and this is what one of them was saying:
“The sea of the sons of the Earth does not resemble our sea, for any creature could walk over the surface of our sea without drowning, whereas in the case of their sea, no one can walk on it as death will be his or her lot.
And Borbalion, the Emperor of our planet—one whose word is obeyed — has ordered us to bring him a quantity of Earthly fish in order for him to see if they are able to survive in our Planet that is deeply entrenched in the unexplored domain of space.”
And her companion answered her:
“Our journey lasted for three light-years until we reached Planet Earth, and we need three years in order to return to our planet again, however, firstly, we must rove all of Japan and America and China and the Afghan territory, as well as Germany and Spain and Paris, so that we present to our great emperor our report about the state of the inhabitants of Earth and their tendencies, and how they build their homes, and the forms of transportation that they were able to invent, and what their maximum speed is. And so we are to present a thorough explication about the life of woman and man, and the knowledge humankind was able to attain, and how long the lifespan of the inhabitants of Earth extends to. Our information that we have obtained, and which our report has noted, confirms that however long the sons of the Earth live, their life span cannot exceed one hundred years, and even that is reached by only a rare number of the aged.
Life on our planet, however, extends to a thousand years, and that is in proportion to its system and the natural conditions present within it.”
And she continued by saying:
“And you my sister know that if our cosmic vessel was to be hit with heavy damage for whatever reason, its commander would expose it to Marcridam and it would melt and fade away instantly along with whoever is on board, without leaving any trace confirming it ever existed.
So from this point of view, we are safe from discovery even if any human being were to see us — that is if we stopped our vessel on a piece of land — because the saucer would vaporize as soon as we are seen, because it would no longer be visible as the commander or his consort or any sailor exposes it to the ‘Fobormaran’ ray, and so it would disappear from view, and the onlooker would think that it climbed towards space at incredible speed, and the truth is as I have stated.
Furthermore I did not find any monumental invention on planet Earth as our amazing inventions, the speed of our vessel is that of the speed of light or three hundred thousand kilometers per second, whereas the greatest speed reached by the invention of humankind is forty thousand kilometers per hour , and for a few minutes only; and that is the cruise velocity of the space ship with which American explorers ascended to the Moon, and this speed is accomplished upon the return to Earth by the explorers after they leave the Moon, and while they wish to enter Earth’s atmosphere through the spatial aperture through which they enter the Earthly planet; and if they miss that aperture, they lose their way and wander in Space forever.
And now we shall go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order for us to present a report on the effects of the nuclear bomb that annihilated more than one hundred thousand persons in the year 1945.
And the day will come when we will reveal ourselves to the sons of the Earth, and at which time our emperor will order us to either colonize their Earth or to destroy it over their heads, for they are evil and dissolute and nothing can hold a candle to their immorality.
And I still remember that my grandfather had informed me about the event of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah after the news of their wickedness had reached our emperor’s grandfather—and he was an emperor as well—so he warned them to pull out from their wickedness or else he would kill them, and they did not heed.
Then he sent two envoys in a luminous ship and he annihilated them. And Lot the righteous had thought they were two angels, whereas they were none other than the emperor’s messengers, and they were from the line of giants. For giants on our planet rival the sons of planet Earth in height.”
And I, the rose, have watched more than fifteen astral men as they sat on small seats proportional to their bodies, and before them were numerous buttons they were pressing, and the saucer climbed and circled towards the peaks at an amazing speed, then to be hidden by the abysmal distances. So I knew that they were going to the two Japan cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Third Day of My Astounding Journey
My rising was late, as my waking the night before lasted long due to the flying saucer. And as soon as I awoke, I sent my sight towards the distances, perhaps I might see a tree or a bird, but to no avail, as I was still surrounded by the water and the sky.
And I kept moving with poise, and as per my daily habit, I was watching groups of different kinds of fish and marine animals, and nothing other than that.
And I went praying to my Creator, and I said:
“Oh my God my Creator and the Creator of all creations,
I am lost in a tumultuous ocean of infinite size,
I travel in it towards a direction unknown.
So after I was in an enchanting forest,
Next to a unique collection of dappled flowers,
I fell from the hand of the beautiful one into the sea,
Thus I am lonely and alone,
No friend and no companion
To talk to at night,
To lighten the loads of this earthly life.
So, Oh who created me from nothingness,
Return me again to nothingness,
Or let me reach the shore of safety,
And guard me with the fountain of your care that never sleeps."
And my lengthy advance persisted in the ocean whose end is unknown…
And the hours followed and they were erased…
Then a terrifying darkness surrounded me, and with its occupation began signs of a fierce storm, then the clouds proliferated, and thickened, and the rein of the wind was released, and thus it became insane and its madness was horrific.
Then a devastating storm swept the face of the sea, for its waves were dreadfully frightening!
The waves were like the towering mountains with shattering tyranny. Then the rains began to pour appallingly, and the sounds of the storm ascended and they roared as if a destructive earthquake. Then the skies glared with incessant lightning… And thunder was reverberating and rumbling with terror-inspiring intensity whose roaring would have torn the hearts of the titans out!
And the thunderbolts assaulted the titans of the waves, and then their wails shrieked loudly, and their laments ascended, and then the whales were terrified, and they took shelter at the deep depths, away from the atrocious fury of Nature that neither keeps nor relents.
And amidst this frightfully dangerous circumstance, faint lights — which approached with great difficulty — appeared to my eye. And then it was a big ship that was dancing from the fierceness of this devilish night’s terrors!
And the alarm bells were ringing incessantly, hoping that any ship would pass and rush to its aid and transport its passengers — whose hearts have been torn out — away from the tyranny of this storm that was looming with great severity.
And oh the horror that ensued! A mighty thunderbolt fell upon the ship, breaking apart its rudders as if it were a children’s toy! And the shrieks of terror were louder than the sound of the storm, and they overshadowed the torrential rains that were falling, and they tyrannized the snarling of the unremitting thunderbolts. It is the sound of the disconsolate ship’s passengers as they send out distress calls in the hope of being rescued.
Then… Then the rebellious waves swallowed them and then they were at the depths of the ocean whose gluttony cannot be satiated by anything.
The Fourth Day of My Bewildering Journey
I was not able to sleep at all, for the catastrophe of the sinking of the ship and the death of all its passengers shook me! The blow killed them already, and the destinies stormed through them, and then they were in the depth of the ocean — cheap sustenance for the fishes. Oh how deplorable their fate was!
And tens of corpses floated, and among them girls at the age of blossoms, and boys in the prime of youth, all of them ... eyes closed, already motionless immediately after the storm subsided, and the rains ceased from pouring, and the flash of lightning disappeared, and the thunderbolts were stricken with muteness, and the rebellion of the tyrannical waves calmed.
The fury of Nature was appeased after she gave those wretches to drink from the cup of death. And it would appear that she targeted them — judging by the calming of her wrath after she destroyed them, and she took their souls, and she annihilated their existence.
And I watched a group of beautiful mermaids, and they were swimming with agility, and they went near where floating bodies of the dead were situated.
And each nymph began to view the youths, then caress with her fingers the bodies of those sleeping the eternal sleep.
And the most beautiful sea-maiden, with the fairest face of all, approached and scrutinized the face of a young man who did not yet cross twenty springs, and who was wrapping the body of a young woman of his age in his arms.
And it would appear that he was her betrothed, because the ring was on his ring finger.
And she began to lament him and then she said:
"Oh handsome boy,
Your beauty has captivated me,
And your youth has enthralled me.
Death has suddenly sniped you,
And then you were quiet with no movement within you,
After you were energetic and filled with life,
And aspirations populated your bosom,
As your heart was beating with the love of your beautiful girl.
You have vowed to die together,
And you held her by the waist before your soul left your body,
And this holding by the waist proves your devotion to loving your enshrouded lover.
Oh how my heart warms for a youth who withers,
And Goodness is murdered by merciless Death!
God has united both your souls in his Paradise whose charms and delights are eternal."
And the water-maiden shed hot tears for this youth and his male and female companions, and the mermaids joined her in her great grief and agony over this terrible disaster.
And it was not long before she saw me, and she rushed and grabbed me, and stuck me in her long hair. Then she held the youth and his betrothed in her tender hands and she said to the nymphs:
"I shall descend with these two to my coral palace and place them in a coral hollow, clad with moist herbs and breathtaking sea flowers, for all I know they will one day reincarnate into a mermaid — and her matching lover as well, in his upcoming reincarnation."
And in the depths of the sea, there in the palace of the ruler of the beautiful nymphs, the two betrothed were laid to rest, then the nymph reached out with her hand and removed me from her beautiful hair, and she set me in Doris' hair, whose eyes of paradise were shut by death. And right then and there, I was engulfed with powerful sadness that shook my being at its very core violently, and then I transformed into a wilted, then a dried-up rose. For my leaves dried-up out of sorrow and torment over Doris, this breathtakingly beautiful tender young woman of bewitching charms, Doris who death has enfolded and taken away, she had breathed my perfume and sniffed my fragrant scent, when she was standing close to her betrothed upon the ship's deck, and I was in the time of my flowering and the prime of my springtime.
And here I am perched on the pinnacle of her head, now, a second time, after my time has passed and my leaves have wilted, and my veins have dried-up, and the days of my spring have vanished, and merciless death has cradled me, just as he has cradled Doris the playful tender young woman who is laid to rest next to her young departed betrothed, as she sleeps the eternal sleep of death.
Beirut, 9:20 on the night of February 2, 1979