Khaled and Djaida (From The Romance of Antar)
Moharib and Zahir were two brothers, by the same father and mother; the Arabians call them “germane”. Both were eminent for their courage and daring. But Moharib was chief of the clan, and Zahir was his minister, subject to his authority, giving him counsel and advice. It happened that a violent dispute and quarrel arose between them. Zahir retired to his tent, sorrowing and not knowing what to do. “What is the matter with you?” demanded his wife. “Why are you troubled? What has happened? Has anyone displeased or insulted you—the greatest of Arabian chiefs?”
“What am I to do?” said Zahir; “he who has injured me is one I cannot lay hands on, or wrong; my companion in private, my brother in the world. Oh, if it had been any other, I would have shown him what kind of man he was at odds with, and made an example of him before the chiefs of our people!” “Leave him in the enjoyment of his possessions,” cried his wife, and, to persuade her husband to do this, she recited verses from a contemporary poet, dissuading a man from accepting an insult even from his parents.
Zahir accepted the advice of his wife. He made preparations for departure, took down his tents, loaded his camels, and started off to-wards the camp of the Saad clan, with whom he was allied. Neverthe-less, he felt a pang at separating himself from his brother—and thus he spoke: “On starting a journey which takes me from you, I shall seem a thousand years on the way, each year carrying me a thousand leagues.
. . . Even though the favors you heap upon me be worth a thousand Egypts, and each Egypt had a thousand Niles, they would all be des-pised. I shall be happy with little so long as I am far from you. In my absence, I shall recite this verse, which is worth more than a necklace of fine pearls: ‘When a man is insulted on the soil of his clan, there is nothing to do but to leave it; you, who have so wickedly injured me, ere long shall feel the power of the beneficent divinity, for he is your judge and mine, unchangeable and everlasting.’”
Zahir proceeded on his journey, until he reached the Saad tribe, and dismounted from his horse. He was cordially welcomed and pressed to dwell among them. His wife was soon to become a mother, and he said to her: “If a son be given us, he will be welcome; but if it be a daughter, conceal her sex, and allow people to think we have a boy, so that my brother may have no reason to crow over us.”
When her time came Zahir’s wife brought forth a daughter. They agreed that her name should be Djaida, but that in public she should be known asc Djonder, that people might think her a boy. In order to promote this belief, they feasted and entertained early and late for many days.