Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hannibal's “Malek Rama Lakhouma”: The Tall Handsome Prince

The excerpts below are taken from the book “Hannibal Alkhas: Selected Works of Poetry” which was type set and published by Mr. Marcel Josephson in San Jose, CA in 2010 and is available from website.

The poem “Malek Rama Lakhouma” (The Tall Handsome Prince) is currently being used for the creation of a musical by Mr. Edwin Elieh. Mr. Josephson continues his role as a consultant to Mr. Elieh on language matters. He has also provided a full translation of the poem which will be used by the Mesopotamian Night team during the production of the musical.

We would also like to thank Ms. Anna Alkhas for giving us the permission to use the poem in the creation of this musical.

In the context of this magnificent fairy tale, a reasonable translation for the term “Malek Rama Lakhouma”, the main character of the tale would be “The Tall Handsome Prince”. This tale is about envy, wicked-thinking, conspiracy, deception, viciousness, and finally the triumph of good over evil. It is the tale of three unfortunate sisters sitting down for weaving in their poor cabin; one wishing to become a queen to weave a tie for pants that every woman and her husband can use to wrap their pants, one wishing to become a queen to cook a noodle dish that whoever ate from it would admire the good taste of it, and the third wishing to give birth to a warrior to become a king. In our language words the tie for a pair of pants (tekta) and the noodles (rekta) rhyme so nicely that with Hannibal’s immaculate creativity give an amusing opening to this poem.

It so happens that the king was passing by and overhears the conversation of three sisters. He marries the third sister and hires the other two to do the weaving and the cooking in the palace. King was at war and had to leave right after the marriage ceremony. It comes the time that his wife gives birth to a healthy boy. She sends a message to her husband to share the good news but the message was intercepted by her two sisters and her mother-in-law. They re-wrote the message stating that the newborn was a monster. First he got disappointed and wanted to have the newborn’s life terminated but he soon changed his mind and sent a message asking newborn to be saved until king’s return. The conspirators intoxicated the messenger and changed the content of the king’s message to read “get rid of the newborn and the mother; leave them to the sea”.

The newborn and mother were put in a basket and left afloat on the sea. The basket finally beaches at an island where the boy has grown into a young man. The islanders ask him to become their prince. Upon beaching at the island, in search for food in the woods, he rescues a pigeon that was just about to be killed by an eagle. To return the favor, the pigeon would grant him any wish he asked for. Many ships originally from the land where his father ruled would pass by his island and he would ask the sailors to anchor and he would host them very generously.

Upon their sail away he would feel homesick missing his father. Each time the pigeon would convert him to an insect so that he could travel unnoticed with sailors to his father’s land to see him. Each time the sailors would report to king how greatly they were treated by the prince of the neighboring island. They would also describe the magnificent developments they would witness on the island and would notify the king that the prince has extended an invitation to the king to visit the island.

The envious two aunts and the grandmother, each time would undervalue the developments on the island by saying that they have heard of something even more miraculous in other lands. The prince as an insect would sting one of the three envious conspirators each time. The sailors of the next ship would describe the actual occurrence of what conspirators had mentioned they had heard. And each time another conspirator would get stung.

At last, the king decides to visit the prince where he comes face-to-face with his wife and the entire plot is revealed. This imaginative work has many repetitions such as many ships pass by and many sailors get treated so highly; and yet, each repetition has its own uniqueness showing progression and continuous improvement of environmental conditions influenced by man. Except in the beginning where some of the most inferior inclinations of human being are demonstrated, the rest of the poem illustrates hope, development, and advancement. At the climax of this constructive trend, it is very remarkable to see how skillfully Hannibal brings Gilgamesh on the scene within the setting of this entirely fictional work.

This work also very brilliantly reveals a son’s desire to see his father who has been away from him for a long time. In my view, the main character of this tale and Hannibal share same feelings in regards to being away from father.

About Marcel Josephson (Bet-Yousef)

Born in Abadan (Iran), Marcel grew up and completed his high-school education in Urmie (Iran). He earned his bachelors degree in mechanical engineering from Sahrif (formerly Arya-Mehr) University of Technology in Tehran (Iran) following which he attended the military service. After working for 10 years in Iran, the last eight years for NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) in Ahwaz, Marcel immigrated to Canada. He lived in Toronto for six years, immigrated to US in 1993, and settled in San Jose, CA. Marcel earned his masters degree in engineering management from Santa Clara University. He works in Silicon Valley in high-technology sector and is a registered professional engineer in Province of Ontario (Canada) and state of California.

From young age, Marcel was involved with Assyrian community and organizations. He was an active member and served on the executive boards of Society of Assyrian College Student, Society of Assyrian College Graduates, Assyrian Association of Ahwaz. Marcel was also the chairman of the Education Committee of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose 2006-2010.

Marcel developed a passionate love for our mother language and Assyrian literature from young age. In recent years this passion has produced many publications. Marcel created multiple on-line books and other teaching material with exceptional accuracy and quality so that any fellow Assyrian anywhere in the world can conveniently print and use the material to learn or teach our beloved mother language. This material is available from Assyrian American Association of San Jose's website. He also published a booklet of two poems by our prominent artist, the late Hannibal Alkhas (1930-2010). The most significant publication that Marcel has so far had is the "Selected Works of Poetry" of Hannibal Alkhas. This book was published some eight months before the passing of Hannibal and had greatly pleased the artist.

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