You may recognise several aspects of this story, but you’ll be surprised by some of the disturbing twists:
There was once a young girl called Fatima who lived with her stepmother. As in all Cinderella stories, she was constantly mistreated and in charge of all the cooking and housework. One day, she was given 7 fish to clean in the springs for their dinner. She began her work but to her surprise one of the fish slipped from her fingers and began to talk. ‘Please, let me go and I’ll make you rich’. Fatima was frightened by the fish but even more so at the prospect of being punished if she returned home with one fish missing. ‘Please let me go and I’ll make you rich’, the fish pleaded once again. Fatima was conflicted but finally let the fish go. That evening, her stepmother discovered that one fish was missing and was not happy. She punished Fatima severely and made her go to bed with no dinner.
A few days later, the family received the news that the Prince was looking for a wife. Fatima’s stepmother quickly got her daughter ready and left for the Palace leaving her hidden away at home – as she always did when suitors came over. Fatima left to the beach and called out in frustration: ‘oh fish, you promised me riches if I let you go’. The fish emerged from the water in the shape of a beautiful mermaid. She took a look at Fatima and transformed her ragged clothes into a stunning dress. Fatima was now ready for the ball but she was warned to return home before the clock strikes midnight. The Prince fell in love with her instantly but Fatima was soon rushing to get home. In her rush, she left behind a shoe that was discovered by the guards as they ran after her. The Prince then decided to marry whomever the shoe belonged to.
One day, the Prince’s servants came knocking at the door of Fatima’s household. The stepmother quickly hid Fatima in a tandoor oven, closed its opening with a mill grinder hidden under some Palm tree leaves. Her sister tried on the shoe but it didn’t fit her. Just as the servants began to leave, a rooster began to call out: ‘my darning Fatima, is trapped in the tandoor covered in a mill and Palm leaves’. Despite the stepmother’s attempt to scare the rooster away, the servants were soon pulling a dirtied Fatima out of the tandoor. The shoe was a perfect fit, the prince was informed and the marriage preparations began soon after.
The stepmother was asked what dowry she wanted for Fatima, to which she replied, a bag of salt and a bag of ash. The night before Fatima was to leave to the Palace, she mixed the salt and ash and forced Fatima to eat it all in the hopes that it would upset her stomach (and the Prince). Fatima paid one last visit to the magical fish who tore open her stomach and cleaned it out before filling it with gold coins and putting her into a new dress. That night, after wedding the Prince, her stomach hurt and she left to go to the toilet. The Prince listened to the sound of coins falling and quickly asked her to ‘finish her business’ in his lap, where he collected all the gold that came out of her.
The next day, the stepmother left to the Palace hoping to hear some bad news about Fatima but was surprised to hear that she was happy and had defecated gold. Soon, a greedy suitor who heard this news proposed to her stepsister hoping for the same result. Before their wedding night, her mum fed her salt and ash and she was soon complaining about her stomach. Her new husband asked her to defecate on his lap directly and was shocked and angered to find pungent feces all over him. Unlike Fatima, she did not defecate gold. In his frustration he murdered her and cooked her. The next day the stepmother left to visit her daughter and could not find her. Her husband called his mother in law and showed her the pot of boiling flesh on the stove that was her daughter.