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There was a poor man named Bouqoudja who had seven children. He was a nchaioui who smoked kif day and night. His habit was to go fishing at Achaqar on the Atlantic coast, at the place where there is a cave. Outside the entrance there is a hole in the rocks where the fishermen get fresh water.
One night when he was fishing Bouqoudja went to the hole to get some water, and he set down a large candle on the rocks. His head was full of kif, and after drinking he went away, leaving the candle burning. The following morning when he returned, it was still burning. He went into the cave and sat down in the dark.
A family arrived at Achaqar to spend the day on the beach, and they came upon the water-hole with the lighted candle beside it. Oh, an altar they cried. Then they looked into the cave and saw the man sitting in the darkness inside. He was smoking kif, but they did not notice that. They said nothing, in order not to disturb him, and went back to leave some coins beside the candle. These were for the saint who they thought was living in the cave. When Bouqoudja came out he saw the money. He put it into his pouch and went fishing.
That night he had good luck there at Achaqar. A he caught each fish he tossed it up onto the rocks so that it fell near the water-hole beside the cave. The fish splattered drops of blood onto the rocks. At dawn he left the beach and went back to the town to sell the fish. He did the marketing for his family and went home.
What do you think? he said to his wife. And he told her how he had found the money by the water-hole. He decided to buy an oil lamp and put it there, instead of a candle. When he returned to Achaqar, he discovered a hen with its throat cut, lying on the rocks. People had come and found the spots of blood there, and said to each other: Aha! They bring chickens here to sacrifice!
They began to carry fowl and kill them by the water-hole. Each time they came they left money lying there on the rocks. Sometimes they left a whole chicken with its throat cut, or even a live one tied by its leg. There was so much to eat that Bouqoudja no longer fished. He began to wear a white turban. Then he bought a white djellaba and a white tchamir. And he let his beard grow long. He whitewashed the rocks all around the water hole, and spent all his time in the cave.
One day a man and a woman came to see him. Sidi, they said, we have a son who is very sick. We'd like you to look at him, and write out some words for him.
Bouqoudja took a bottle and washed it thoroughly. He filled it with the water and from the whole, and said to them: Give the child a spoonful of this three times a day. The people handed him a blessing of money and went away. At home they gave the boy the water as Bouqoudja had instructed. The boy got well, and they came back to see the saint.
Here's the boy. He's well. Hamdoullah! And now we want to give you a baraka.
He thanked them and they went away.
A khalifa who had heard of the shrine of Sidi Bouqoudja came to visit it, bringing his soldiers with him. They prepared a feast there on the rocks, and the khalifa went to the cave to talk with the saint.
Bouqoudja was sitting in the darkest part of the cave. The kif smoke was very strong.
What are you doing in here? demanded the khalifa, sniffing. Where's the saint?
Bouqoudja did not reply, and the khalifa went out of the cave, and left nothing on the rocks for the saint.
One night not long afterwards the khalifa was asleep. In his dream he saw the man who had been sitting in the cave, and the man looked at him sternly and said: Give me what is mine.
But what is yours? asked the khalifa.
The man did not reply.
The khalifa awoke with a start, and was not able to get to sleep again that night. The next day he decided to send some soldiers to Achaqar to fetch Sidi Bouqoudja.
When they brought Bouqoudja before him, the khalifa first begged his pardon. I didn't recognise you, he said. I'm going to give you what is yours.
And he handed Bouqoudja a great sum of money. Sidi Bouqoudja took it and said: Bismillah. The soldiers went back with him to the cave and left him.
Then Bouqoudja went to the town to see his wife. Allah has helped me, he told her. The khalifa has given me a fortune. Now we must move to Tetuan.
They went to Tetuan, where Bouqoudja bought an entire quarter containing twelve houses. He and his family moved in t the largest one. The other eleven houses he rented to people with no money. If they were able to pay rent, he took it. If they could not, he let them stay anyway. And often he took them food. The money the khalifa had given him provided Bouqoudja's chance to become a true saint.
When sick people asked to be cured, he was able to help them with the words of Allah, because he was now a saint. To the people who came to see him he was much greater than any doctor. He used to say to them: Have faith, and you can sleep with snakes. And they still go to the water-hole, even though Sidi Bouqoudja has been dead for many years, and they light candles and leave food and money for him still.
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