My mother used to tell me a story which her father would tell her. My grandfather was Iranian (half Azerbaidjani, haf Turkmenistani), and this may be a Sufi tale…
When Noah was gathering all the animals onto his Ark, and old woman came to see him. “I beg you, Noah, don’t let me drown in the Flood,” she said. “Let me come with you on the Ark.”
So Noah promised that, once all the animals were on the vessel, he would go and knock on the old woman’s door.
Only he forgot.
Once the rain began to pelt down, the waters started to rise and the Ark was carried into the seas, he felt the pangs of guilt about the old woman.
Forty days and forty nights later, once the waters subsided and the Ark stood firm on Mount Ararat, and Noah let his family and the animals ashore, he remembered the old woman and strolled in the direction of her house.
There it still stood.
Surprised that it had not been swept away by the flood, Noah gingerly knocked on the door, which was quickly flung open. “Oh, so we’re ready to go!” the old woman said, smiling.
Noah was astounded. “But – but… How come you’re still here? There have been forty days and forty nights of rain, and a universal Flood!”
The old woman gave him a quizzical look. “Well, I did hear some noise outside but I figured it couldn’t be anything dangerous because I knew you would come and pick me up, so no harm could befall me.”