Adonis Diaries

Rainbow over the Levant (continue 3)

Posted on: September 24, 2008

First love

Generally, males found Antoun imposing and handsome and females could not resist the confidence and manhood radiating from his presence.  If the first impression was not enough to capture an audience then his grave, clear and articulate voice could mesmerize the refractors into taking notice.   Antoun was sought after by many families who desired to wed him with their daughters but, as usual, he had eyes only on a special girl called Zeina the daughter of an upper hierarchical social status father. 

Barhoum Bey, Zeina’s father, would never allow this lower level gentleman to woo any of his girls. Consequently, when he was in his hometown during the extended holidays and the winter period, Antoun made it a duty to assiduously attend church on Sundays and every religious event so that he could steal a glimpse of Zeina wearing a new tunic on every occasion as if her mother was compensating for her inner coquettish temperament.  

Antoun even suffered the pain of Jesus during Great Friday kneeling for hours at each stage of Christ’s march to crucifixion; he was happiest the morning of Great Friday when all families swamped the hills and valleys very early in order to gather flowers in bundles and bring them to the alter so that the bundles could be sanctified and retaken on the next Sunday when Christ would be resurrected, every year on that Holy Day. On Thursday before Great Friday he would visit 12 churches with a group of friends and follow the same route as Zeina and her group and have his feet washed by the priest as Jesus had done to his 12 disciples. 

Cranky old ladies spread sarcastic tales of Antoun’s new found devotion which reached the ears of Barhoum’s wife, Set Shams.  Fearing that his standing in the community might be jeopardized, Barhoum Bey grudgingly debased his pride and indirectly sent word by one of his attendants to the lanky cock to stop his sickly machinations toward his daughter or he would confront his father. Thus, Antoun was spurned from his plan of eternal love and happiness; consequently, his devotion for Jesus, Mary, the Holy Ghost and the Saints waned drastically for a time.

It was about this period that Antoun experienced his first serious bout of anger and desolation.  For weeks sleep was anathema to his troubled and muddled mind and chaos ruled supreme in his previously contended spirit. Politics was starting to mean something tangible to him:  redress in justice and equal opportunities to a decent life for all residents were excellent starting stands. Until now, Antoun spent his free time with a bunch of solid and healthy males, going hunting, fishing, and physically competing during the religious events in the church square such as ringing the heavy bell, lifting a roller stone, dancing and singing. 

There were many rumors and stories in town and the environ about serious breaches to fair play such as humiliation inflicted on families, brides being defoliated by feudal lords before the wedding ceremonies, small girls sold out for small favors, little boys working as slaves from sun up to sun down for a dish of food but Antoun didn’t believe or care to attend to these rumors.  After his disastrous state of affairs Antoun had all the time in the world to listen carefully, question, and query and eventually to have firm opinions on many of these unjust happenings.  Rebellion swept away every cautious tendency in Antoun who decided to deliver love verses to Zeina in the old time tradition of rhetorical gathering and ceremonies. Antoun’s love verses were repeated by the listeners to other groups and so his beloved girl was hastily wed to a Lebanese nobleman from the entourage of the Viceroy of Tripoli a month after this jocose adventure.

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September 2008

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