and if loundja didn't have a prince? |  al kawthar


 

For those of you who do not know who Loundja is, I will try to give you a small summary about her.

Loundja is a character very known in the fairy tales of North Africa, especially in the Kabyle culture of Algeria. She was known for her beauty, her courage, her intelligence, but more than ever for being the Ogress' daughter. In the tales, Loundja was the obsession of all the young people of the country, more particularly the sons of Kings. All wanted Loundja for their wife, for the reasons that I have quoted above. Unfortunately, all those who have tried to capture her have paid with their lives, which made the obsession to capture Loundja even stronger. Beware to whomever tried to capture Loundja, not only did Loundja have a ferocious mother, but she also had a father and seven brothers even more ferocious. They knew all about Loundja's popularity and protected her by all means, even killing any of the young men who dared to approach Loundja.

Now that you have an idea of who Loundja is, I will tell you a story that was passed from generation to generation but for those of you who know this history, you will be surprised of the twist I decided to give has the history of Loundja, The Ogress' Daughter.

Machaho!
Tellem Chaho! [1]

Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived 3aziz, the king's son who loved hunting, music, and beauty. 3aziz rarely dealt with the kingdom's affairs which he found bothersome and without interest in his life. He only attended those events his father, the king forced him to attend. What the Prince liked was as I already said hunting and the long rides in the forest. Every time 3aziz left for his long strides in the forest the villagers were to get out of his way, because his impetuous horse crossed the streets of the city without concern of the passers by or the obstacles.

On one of such days, 3aziz left for one of his long hunting trips in the forest, he was riding his horse so fast that he almost hit an old woman.

"Move out of my way, you old woman!" Shouted 3aziz

Raising from the ground the old woman answered back at 3aziz "You failed to crush me because you are the King's son. What would you do if you were Loundja's husband?"

The prince at once turned back with his horse returned to the palace, and faking an illness, he was confined to bed. The king called the most famous doctors of the land who used all the remedies they knew of but in vain, 3aziz refused to leave his bed.
Unable to find neither the cause of his disease nor its remedy, they proposed to the king to consult the doctors of other countries.

"Useless!" The Prince shouted. "They will not be more skilful than you."
"We exhausted all our knowledge of science."
"It is that science cannot do anything for my disease. Only one person is able to cure me."
"Who?" asked the Queen.
"The old witch of the city" answered the prince.

At once the king gave the order to bring back the witch to him. As soon as she was in front of them, the prince announced that nothing was wrong with him but he wanted to know in which place of the world Loundja the Ogress' daughter lived.


"Loundja lives in the village of Ogres in the next country."
"I will go now to get her" The Prince shouted.
"Make no blunder with ogres my prince." The old witch warned the prince.

The prince immediately declared himself cured. He asked his father the authorization to leave for a long voyage, packed bags full with coins of gold and of money on two camels, mounted his horse and headed towards the direction the witch had indicated to him.

After a day's voyage, the prince decides to rest. But as he was about to set-up camp, 3aziz saw a movement coming from one of the camels. He seized his sword and advanced with prudence.


"Get out of there whoever you are!" 3aziz shouted

As he did not receive any answer, the prince approached the camel and raised his sword to strike.


"3aziz, do not strike! It is me 3aziza!"
"3aziza!!! What are you doing here?" The Prince exclaimed in seeing his sister.
"I wanted to accompany you but I knew that you were going to refuse." Answered 3aziza
"Why did you follow me then?"
"To help you capture Loundja. Did you thing you could do it without me?"

Admitting that his sister was right, the prince asked her to join him at the camp and it is thus that 3aziza accompanied her brother 3aziz on his great adventure.

You will surely ask why 3aziz would accept the company of sister. Well for the only reason that 3aziza was more shrewd than him and more intelligent. He knew that she was going to be very essential to him during this adventure.

After a few weeks, the two adventurers found themselves in the country where Loundja and her family lived. The prince decided to go around in this strange country and ask how to go to Loundja's house.

"3aziz! Wait!" 3aziza shouted. "If you start to ask questions you will draw attention and the Ogres will be alerted."
"How do you suggest we find her then?" asked 3aziz
"I will take care of it."

If I get your attention for one moment I would like to explain that the fact that 3aziza is very intelligent and shrewd is not my invention. In all of the popular tales heroines were described as such.

While 3aziz rested from the long journey, 3aziza decided to find Loundja and to convince her to marry her brother. She easily found the Ogres' house and decided to hide for the night and to wait. In the morning, 3aziza watched as the father Ogre, the Ogress and their seven sons left the house. She waited until they were all out of sight before going to the house to talk to Loundja. When she found herself face to face with Loundja, 3aziza found it hard to take in her beauty. It is true that 3aziza heard of Loundja's beauty but she had never imagined it will be such.


"What are you doing here? Aren't you afraid of my parents and my brothers?" Said Loundja
"I came to persuade you to marry my brother"
"And who is your brother?"
"His name is 3aziz and he is the future king of our country."
"Why didn't he come himself?"
"He is afraid of your parents."
"And you? Aren't you afraid?" Asked Loundja very intrigued by the young woman who was standing in front of her.
"Of course I am afraid but my brother is very obsessed with the idea of having you as his wife."
"Your brother is either a deserving man or you must love him very much to take such a risk. I would follow you and marry your brother."

As the two women were leaving the house of the Ogres, the Ogress saw them and shouted at her daughter "Go my daughter, you have my blessings. But be wary of the black eagle, kidnapper of fiancées! Do not answer his call"

The two girls arrived at 3aziz's camp and hurried him to leave this strange country before the rest of the Ogres were aware of Loundja's disappearance.

In the tale, there wasn't a 3aziza, but when 3aziz and Loundja arrived at palace, the black eagle kidnapper of fiancées snatched Loundja and it was only after many difficulties that 3aziz succeeded to regain Loundja and they lived happily ever after.

But as I already said it to you, my version is different.

When they arrived at the palace, 3aziz announced his marriage to Loundja. But what he did not know was the fact that Loundja found him stupid and annoying. It was 3aziza whom she liked and with whom she shared her love for reading, riddles and humor.
As the day of the marriage was nearing, Loundja entrusted to 3aziza her thoughts and her fears.


"I cannot marry your brother 3aziza."
"Why? I thought that you were in love?"
"I do not like him 3aziza and I do not want to remain here."
"Will you follow me if I had a place where we can go?" Asked 3aziza.
Loundja did not know what to answer. Of course she did not want this marriage but where would they go? Who will accept them?
"I know a country which will receive us Loundja. A country where here are many women like us."
"Women like us?"
"Yes. Women who prefer being with each other"


Realizing that Loundja did not understand anything of what she was saying, 3aziza tried to explain to her that the feelings she had for her were not sisterly feelings. 3aziza explained to her that she wanted to be with her and was ready to do everything to achieve that goal.

It was with difficulty that 3aziza convinced Loundja to go with her. They left the royal palace in the night without much luggage and after a long voyage; Loundja and 3aziza arrived at their destination.

Upon their arrival 3aziza went towards a big house and Loundja was very surprised at the welcome they both received. The mistress of the house seemed to know 3aziza.


"Loundja say hello to my aunt Amina. She has lived here since her father, my grandfather, kicked her out of his palace."


The woman that 3aziza called aunt Amina did not look anything like a traditional aunt. She seemed very young to be an aunt and her clothes were too simple to be that of a princess.

"Approach so that I get a closer look at Loundja, daughter of the Ogress." Said Amina

I am sure that you all want to read that 3aziza and Loundja settled in this beautiful country and spent happy days together until it pleased God to put an end to their lives.....

Machaho!

Unfortunately like we all know, such an end is not often custom in societies like ours and that in the case of Loundja and 3aziza their life together will not be welcomed with open arms.
The life Loundja and 3aziza came to know was indeed very difficult. In spite of the fact that they lived in a country that accepted their way of life and were surrounded by friends, they both missed their countries. After they each lived in exile and though they were together, to find themselves rejected by their parents and their families was too strong for each one to bear.
3aziz, our young prince, was angry at his sister for stealing Loundja from him and he was angry at Loundja for rejecting him. He went looking or both of them. As you can imagine and as it is known in our societies the way of life that Loundja and 3aziza chose is often punished by death. In societies where the man is dominating, one can easily imagine the reaction of a man rejected; especially that he was not rejected for another man but for a woman.

< i>Today we are several of us living the way of life Loundja and 3aziza chose and we are scattered everywhere in the world. We all try very hard to live our lives as we want it but not one of us is truly happy because one is always in search of our family's acceptance

When I am told that when we live in a foreign country, away from our society and our taboos, we feel freer and happier, I try my best not to laugh. How can one say that we are free when we are uprooted? How can one say that we are happier when we constantly live in fear of being discovered?

How many of us find ourselves in conflict with ourselves, our society and especially with our religion? For those among us who are Muslim and uphold their faith, it is even more difficult to live this happy life in exile. One tries to find others like us to invent a new family but let's be honest, nothing will replace our true families.

How many of us find ourselves in conflict with ourselves, our society and especially with our religion? We are so convinced that our unhappy lives stem from our way of life that some of us decide to leave and to reinvent ourselves in our societies and we even get married believing that that will cure us, since we are very certain that we are afflicted by a disease. But we do forget the hurt that we will cause ourselves and our male companions who are unaware.

I would like to finish by saying to you that I have answers to all these sorrows but I have none and that distresses me.



[1] Machaho! Tellem Chaho! : Magical words that started every fairy tale told by grand-mothers to their grand-children.


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