by David Gore

What child hasn't heard the story of Aladdin and how he found his fabulous lamp?  Yet few know the story of his two daughters Hasnah and Rohana, fraternal twins and so of the same age.  When they were sixteen, Aladdin created two hidden caves full of gold and jewels, one for each daughter.  Soon after that, his lamp was stolen, and Aladdin went off in search of it, leaving his family behind.
In those days most people were poor, and Hasnah took great delight in parading through the city in fine clothes and sparkling jewels.  People would stare, and because she was so rich would follow her in hopes of favors.  Hasnah liked the attention, and surrounded herself with admirers.
Rohana did not care for attention, or the envy of people who knew she was rich.  So each day while Hasnah was displaying her jewels, Rohana went into the city disguised in plain clothes so that she could talk to people as just an ordinary young woman.  Yet Rohana was glad to be rich, because she had a dream.  She wanted to become a doctor.  In those days, it was hard for a woman to become a doctor, because the schools would not let women in to study medicine.  But with her money, she hired tutors to teach her privately.  In the beginning, she studied at home.  Later she disguised herself as a young man and went out with her teachers to the homes of the sick.  After several years of this, her teachers admitted she knew as much as they did, and she began to go about the city on her own to heal those who could not afford the better-known doctors.
In her work among the poor, Rohana was frustrated by the conditions under which she had to practice medicine.  Often a patient would gradually weaken in spite of Rohana's best efforts, simply because the food the patient ate was rotten or the bed was dirty and damp.  So Rohana used her great wealth to build the first hospital the world had ever seen.  Other doctors saw the value of what she had built, and came to work and study with her.  Soon Rohana's hospital was famous throughout the land, and she no longer had to pretend to be a man in order to treat patients.  She was very happy, doing what she wanted to do.
Hasnah meanwhile continued to crave attention and to use her wealth to this end.  One day she heard there was a new shipment of expensive oriental silks for sale in the bazaar.  She was afraid some other woman would buy them before she got there, and so she decided to take a short cut.  The short cut led through narrow dark alleys, and she began to doubt the wisdom of taking that route when the crowds around her disappeared and she found herself alone in the darkest and most evil-looking part of the city.  Suddenly someone grabbed her from behind and put a long gleaming knife to her throat.
"Your jewels or your life!" hissed the robber.
Now Hasnah regretted her habit of wearing jewels everywhere she went.  There was, however, no question but that she should do as the thief demanded.  "Take them!" she said, as she pulled off her necklace and bracelet.
The robber looked her over, then fixed his beady eyes on her hand.  "What about that one?"
Hasnah looked down at the ring on her finger with its bulging diamond.  For fear of misplacing it, she had worn the ring for years without even once taking it off. "Oh, all right." she sighed regretfully.  Hasnah pulled at it, but it was stuck and wouldn't come off.  "I can't get it off!" she cried indignantly.
The robber looked around furtively, then grabbed her finger.  "Let me help," he snarled.  He brought up his long knife and cut off her finger with a quick jerk.  He grabbed the ring, dropped the finger to the ground and ran off into the shadows.
Hasnah cried out and dropped to her knees in shock and pain, staring with horror at the stump where her finger had been.  A well-dressed young man who had heard her cry ran over to her.  She looked up to him, then moaned in despair, "My finger!"
The young man, who was a student doctor at Rohana's hospital, said under his breath,"We must first stop the bleeding."  He tore a strip of white linen off his fine shirt, and pressed it over the wound.  Then he carefully picked up the severed finger and led Hasnah through the streets to the hospital.  There her sister Rohana cleaned the stump and painstakingly sewed the finger back on, taking care to connect the blood vessels and tendon. 
"I'm not sure this will work," said Rohana matter-of-factly, "but if we have done a good job of cleaning the wound, there is some chance you will be able to keep your finger."
Hasnah's finger healed, though she lost her sense of touch in it.  After that she was careful where she wore her jewelry.  Though Hasnah did not have her sister's skill in medicine, she used much of her wealth to build hospitals in other cities.  And so in the end Hasnah came to be as respected for her generosity as was Rohana.  But Rohana had more fun, because she was able to do good with her own hands, whereas Hasnah could only pay others to do good.

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