When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

Homesick in Hyderabad

Composed by ʿAwaź bir ʿAlī Awaź al-Jidḥī’s uncle, who lived and worked in Hyderabad. Recited by ʿAwaź bir ʿAlī Awaź and recorded by Sam Liebhaber at ʿAwaź bir ʿAli ʿAwaź’s home in Qishn, January 2004.

1) hǧisk b-śer // ḫā hōh meṭḥaynI felt an illness // as though I were being crushed
2) we-ḥyōm ḏīmōh // b-res we-rźaynOn this very day // inside of me are fatigue and aching muscles
3) mhāfreḳ lā // wḳōne b-šaynI’m not getting better // perhaps that is not even possible
4) men eśśerḳawt // te ber tǧaynFrom the east // and as far as where the sun has set.
5) w-ḫezyū ḳlōb // menśē we-ṯḳaynMy heart, mind, and body refuse // to be cheerful and stay glad
6) led ribḫem lā // wet hēm fṭaynThey won’t quiet down // should they ever recall them…
7) we-ḥfaṭk ḥmōd // we-ḏ-heh meḥźaynGod Preserve Ḥmūd // and the others still in their mother’s lap,
8) kenḥōn er šeh // lehnēh memḥaynI wish I were with him // but I am busy.
9) heh senh dfēʾ // wet śī leḥḳaynHe’s the windward ridge that keeps [us] warm // if anything should come upon us,
10) we-wḳayt le-ǧrīw // we-ṣfēʾ we-rźaynIn times that have passed // days calm and content
11) hes wīke ḫrir // w-berš ḫelṭaynWhen he was with us // and we were all mixed together,
12) w-birt ālī // eśśett we-zzayn[Including] the daughter of ʿAlī // with her necklace and her beauty.
13) hīš hēt ḫeṣṣāt // w-ṣōyeb tśeynTo you, Birt ʿAlī, are distinctions // you see things correctly
14) w-ṣōye ǧyēd // tǧēr meḫṣaynYour inborn traits are good // and rise above [the rest]
15) teḏhōben wlē // menkel ǧenbeynThey merge all together // flowing from both sides [her mother and father]
16) tzehyen nawt // w-bōlī erġayn They beautify her, a blank slate // [traits inherited] from a noble people.
17) w-ʾeġlē men emesk // we-rhīt we-ġṣaynMore precious than musk // [from] a thicket of slender trees and branches,
18) ḥbōr šōfū // w-śitt be-ʾaynWhen it grows to completion // it attracts the eye.
19) ḫā heh le-meyyōn // we-ʾātōm yseynJust like a spring with water // flowing forth in a channel
20) en heh be-śrēt // we-ḥrīh ḏ-ḥīṭaynIf it is in the highlands // on the very top of mountain gardens
21) w-ḫeṭ meśśənī // w-keḏ yeśheynA line (of irrigation) seen from afar // by all who can appreciate it.
22) w-bāl hwē // leh ḳalb yṭaynThe one who desires [to be there] // his heart takes him away
23) w-sēr śreġ // hwēʾeh ybeynAnd behind the want // his desire [for it] builds up,
24) wle le-meǧrē // yeḥlūl we-yfeynOr [he goes] to the irrigated garden // and sits there, [often] returning
25) yḥazreh lā // wel heh mettəḳeynHe neglects his own land // and is no longer certain of it.
26) tē beź yehmūm // we-mnōw yeṯġaynEven some people are able [to reach it] // since the route is inscribed in their minds;
27) we-zmīhem enśē // we-wōbel ybeyn[God] gave them strong vision // to see exactly where the downpour falls
28) we-rṣayd leh ḳam // ḏ-kef ʾayneynBut [this garden] has high walls // it is merely for the eyes to see,
29) w-šettī l-ḥayd  // ṭerḥayn mḥerṣaynA property in the hand // [of an owner who] keeps it held tightly.
30) tē meyt ḏ-šeḳfūl // menśē ḏ-berḳaynUntil the time that the rain falls abundantly // and the lightning storms arrive
31) we-msōḳ-ḏe-nǧūm // men hel yeṯḫaynAnd stars have journeyed hither // from wherever they had settled
32) we-lḥaymer yǧeyn // dēk bāl ġaṭnaynThen the star Lḥaymar gathers [the clouds] // Lord of the Heavy Rain
33) w-alḥūt w-alnəḳā// w-bīt lebṭaynAnd the stars of Ḥūt and Nḳā // at the time of the barley crop.
34) w-śōreb āśōm // w-sāt yṭaynSometimes the clustered rain-stars // come around again,
35) w-ḥaymed ānēš // w-ǧīdh yehmaynḤaymad [Ḥmūd/Muḥammad] is like the rain-stars // his goodness exceeds the expectation.
36) wet śitt we-rḥāḳ // wle bġawt ʾaynEven when he travels far away // and disappears from sight.
37) bźāt ḏ-mešmūm // ġōlī meṯṯəmaynBundles of amber // expensive and valuable [Ḥmūd’s beloved]
38) seh līs ṭmāt // tekhōb ḫeṣṣeynEveryone is greedy for it // and it fetches a high price [the dowry]
39) yāmīles ṭbōb // led śī ṭerḥaynThey use it for medicine // and use every bit of it.
40) ʾamūr dwēl // led śī ṭarḥay[Ḥmūd] said: ‘The governments’ [the older kin of his beloved] // have bestowed nothing on us.'
41) śī ḏ-hemmeh nbeʾ // w-waṣf enkaynA bit of news // and a descriptions [of events] has reached us
42) we-lbōdem shīb // w-kel erźeynBecoming a wave // that spreads through every land [Other families are against the marriage as well]
43) ḳfōlū frēr // we-bnūd sūḳaynThey have blocked the double wings of the doors // and closed the markets
44) hes hēm yenwīl // w-šīhem āwaynBecause they can reach it // and have the means to do so. [Wealthier families prepare to compete for Ḥmūd’s beloved]
45) we-mrākeb nḳawf // w-tēsen heśḥaynThey have moved their ships // and filled them with cargo,
46) w-ġōlī fnōd // brek awźaynThey have kept what is precious for themselves // from among all the things that people covet. [They refuse all suitors from outside of the tribe]
47) yʾōlem ḥmīm // be-lyēd ḏ-yetġaynThey aim their rifles // on those who can break through obstacles
48) w-śī be-ryūl // b-bar yeṭʾaynOr they come on foot overland // and strike them by hand,
49) w-śī be-smeʾ // ṭyār yeśaynSometimes from the sky // bombing them with airplanes
50) yhayl meǧrē // brek ġīṭaynSteering their course // high in the cirrus clouds.
51) amōrem ḳdēm // w-ṭāf ḫeṭraynThey tell him: Go forward // and look around the boundaries between the tribes
52) dīḫawṣ we-brīt // w-ǧbēl ferṭaynAt Wadi Dīḫawṣ and Brīt // and the two mountains of Farṭayn
53) we-mḥawmel erśī // elbūd ḥeźnaynThe beasts of burden, all loaded // are halted there and have been settled in tight rows.
54) w-heḳfīd eǧzē // be-ṭbūl we-fḳaynTheir owners unload them // to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals
55) w-ṣawt ġlē // wet hēm rṭaynEach one lifted up his voice in beauty // so as to be trading words
56) we-ḫdūme ġyūǧ// yʾāmīl źabhaynThe men worked to make // an echo in the hearts of the others
57) w-āfūr ārūź // menbād ḥźayn‘To plough the land,’ // after she has left her mother’s lap.
58) heṣbāḥem enḫayl // wa-k-ǧēre ġźaynIn the morning [the land] grows // with date palms and ripened crops,
59) we-bnīw meṣnāt // b-ġamź ḏ-āynThey’ve built a large house there // all in the wink of an eye
60) mǧawles ybeyt // men ġeyr derfeynWith seven stories // not to mention a top floor open to the sky.
61) w-dūfe eylēf // we-ḫlūṣ werḳaynHe pays out thousands // and finishes off the paperwork
62) l-yeśtərūf // l-hɛ̄s yeśśeynTo raise his esteem in the eyes of others // just as he wishes to be seen.
63) w-ḏēd rebyeh // yeshōr we-yḳaynThe one who raised her // staying up at night and holding her in her lap
64) tźōṭ mardawf // we-ǧbēʾ ḏ-yehġaynTakes twice the gifts // more than what suffices,
65) w-ġayw rebźā // we-lyēh ḏ-yelḥaynAs do the brothers of her mother // and father and her near relations.
66) ḥmūd we-syēd // w-bīt yesreynḤmūd and Saʿīd // and the family of Yāsir
67) ʾamūr azyēm // ʾemēr heṭmeynThey said that they’ll think [about the proposed marriage] // if he has enticed them
68) beyn bāź mīḥōn // we-ḏ-ġadlem deynSince amongst them are ones who are needy // and those bearing debts,
69) w-ettōlī amūr // led hād tbeynSaying: “Afterwards // no one will come after us [looking for payment of their debts].
70) w-zēy er ġatlūb // we-ksūb erźeynHer people were convinced // and he earned their satisfaction,
71) w-bīt emdēd // ḏēk er yemḥaynBut Bīt Amdēd // are ones who like to put people through trouble
72) wet ber ḏe-ḥzōb //  we-wkawb śōṭeynWhen they band together // they enter into the flames together
73) ʾamōr ġreyb // be-mdōyem nkaynThey said: “A stranger // has come to us in our open squares,
74) mšerḳe lā // ʾamēr ġalṭaynHe’ll benefit by nothing // if he should commit any errors against us
75) hes heh w-heḳṣōh // w-ṭōr be-lḥaynUnless he relents // and changes his tune
76) w-ettōlī erdūd // w-red ewṭaynAnd afterwards withdraws his suit // and returns to his native land
77) men lektəlūf // w-leġdōl šaynInstead of burdening himself // and bearing the disgrace on his shoulders.
78) w-hebṣōr meksēr // w-ṣikk ṭarfeynHe can see that the narrows // are closed on either side
79) sūd ār ḏ-ġalḳet // men elḥayn w-elḥaynAnd that the dark, black sea // is shut now and forever;
80) yʾalyen mens // w-hād yehǧeynOne should haul [his ship] up // from the sea and take it to shelter.

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