Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Modern Layla and Majnun - Part I

Layla sits dreaming of her lost love
Layla and Majnun is based on the true stories of the Bedouin poet Qays ibn al-Mulawwah ibn Muzahim and Layla bint Mahdi ibn Sa'd. The story tells of a 7th century A.D young poet called Qays, who falls in love with a girl born in a rich family from the same tribe.  In his poems he proclaimed his love for her and asked her father for her hand. Even though Qays and Layla had grown up together, and they both loved each other dearly, the father refused since Qays wasn't wealthy enough. Soon after Layla is given to another man in marriage, whom took her to the area of today's Iraq, got ill and eventually died.

The name Layla means "night" in arabic, which some people believe to mean that the couple in secrecy continued their relationship. The name Majnun means "a crazy person", which became his name after he went mad for being refused to marry Layla.

Qays left his tribe to wonder the desert as a wild man and became known as Majnun. He was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 AD, near an unknown woman's grave. Three verses of poetry was carvedon a rock close to the grave. According to the Persian Nezami's version of the story, Layla and Majnun meets for the last time before their deaths. Both have fainted and Majnun's elderly messenger attemptsto revive Layla while wild animals protect the couple from unwelcomed intruders. 

Here's my adaption of my own story of Layla and Majnun:

The merciless heat of the Sudanese summer was coming to an end when the woman sat in a bumby raksha on her way through the dusty gravel roads to her first day at work. She was going to be a consultant for a small organization that were removing land mines from the country side. Her main task was going to be to teach English to the local staff in the main office. Among the locals was a man. His eyes were constantly glowing, and when he was smiling, he did it with his whole face. The woman was a khawadja, a westerner, and the man was a Sudanese arab.

The friendship was soon to arrive, and after came the relationship. Despite cultural and religious differences they managed to make the difficulties to challanges to be overcome. Love had showed her pretty face.

The woman's family, who was in Sweden, were not too happy about the relationship. They were worried about his religion. Many westerners have prejudices about arabs and her family was no exceptions. They thought that in case of a marriage, he would force her to become a muslim, kidnap their children and bring them back to Sudan, that he would beat her and abuse her in other ways. His family was cautious too. The woman had to endure a long list of questions about her values and plans for the future. The questioning though, lead to the woman being accepted by the family and the relationship could now be official.

The man went to a mission in Darfur, a huge area in the south-western parts of the country that is known for war, conflicts, rapes, burning of entire villages, huge refugee camps, death, misery and kidnapping... The man, who was there on mission for a different organization, was kidnapped with his collegue by rebels, accused of working for the government. All connection with the man was broken and no one heard from him in almost two weeks. The woman was inconsolable. Her eyes were constantly filled with tears and the horror and worry that she felt was indescribable. 

The UN had finally managed to negotiate with the rebels to free them. A few days later the man arrived back in the capital. Without respect of the prohibition of showing affection in public, the man and woman threw themselves in each others arms, kissed and cried of joy and relief. An engagement was settled and the man's family threw them a combined welcome home and engagement party. A few days later the woman had to leave her beloved fiancé and return to Sweden.

To be continued...


Gundala Wejasena said...

Its the good story that I like it. We can compare it with Romeo and Yuliet.

Anonymous said...

Hi you might like this poem of Majnun-and-Layla