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 Category:  Young Adult Fiction
  Posted: October 4, 2015      Views: 448
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Aussie is a wheel - chair person with a passion for poems and short stories about Australia. She likes to express herself through both mediums. She is an an artist who likes to paint in all mediums. Writing has become an outlet for her as she is ext - more...

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Chapter 14 of the book Stories of the Dreamtime
Star- crossed lovers entwined forever
"The Desert Rose" by Aussie

A mattress of bruised cloud hung low over the purple mountains; tribal lands of the Dari people in the Kimberly region of Australia.

The young people of the Dari tribe sat at the feet of their elder; listening to the stories of the Dreamtime.

Jabiru, a man so named because he had spindly legs, just like the Jabiru (bird.) He spoke to the children, and young folk sitting in the red dust at his feet. He was telling them the story of the star-crossed lovers who were forbidden to be together because of their family ties. Of how the couple finally found eternal love.

"Long time ago, camel men came to this country. Dey were from a desert place called Afghanistan," his leathery face lit up with a toothless grin as he tried his best to pronounce that difficult word.

"Many, many camels and Afghani drivers came. The camels could go for days in da desert without water. Dey carried heavy loads for da white people.

"What's a camel, Jabiru?" One of the youngest looked at the old man with a quizzical smile.

"Er, well, dey be big beasts with long necks and two humps, sometimes one hump." Jabiru knew what was coming next, and so, he produced a stick and drew a camel in the red dust for all the children to see and understand what he was talking about.

"What's in da camel's hump?" A skinny teenager asked.

"Dey carry all da water for da journey. Camel can go five days, sometimes twelve days without water." Jabiru explained.

"Dey built a camel station so dey could change over camels for rest after long journey. Dey also built a place to pray to der God called Allah. Dis place for praying was called a Mosque. Dey all sit on pretty mats on da floor. Chanting and bending, chanting and bending. Us black fella's not allowed in dat place.

"Who dat Allah fella'?" A child asked politely.

"Well, he same fella as our Baiame, Great Spirit, maker of all living things. Methinks he would have sore ears from all that chanting and shouting!"

"Do dey sit on bark like us?" The children were so curious.

"No, dey sit on stuff called car, car,, him woven like our baskets in pretty colours. Him made out of dat sheep wool wot come off dat beast. White fella keep dat sheep for meat and use da wool for da cold weather. Now you be quiet," sighed Jabiru.

"No more questions about dem people. Jabiru gettin' tired and need to finish da story of da girl, Leila and da young fella' Majnun."

"Now, those two children dey first meet when dey were little children in , just like you. Dey go to school together in Afghanistan; play games, and as da time went on, dey fell in love. Dat girl, Leila, she come from family with lots of tings. Her people very rich. Dat boy, Majnun, he not so good, had nothin' to give to her. But, he love dat girl so much and ask her parent's could he marry her."

"Dat rich family dey get real angry and send him away. Dey said he poor boy and he never come to see Leila again. Well, Leila she upset girl, she loved dat good fella. Her family dey try, and try to change her mind, dey even get spirit man called magician. Dat no work, den day get magician to mix potions for dat lovely Leila; still nothing worked to change her mind, she was Majnun's soul mate," Jabiru cuddled up against the ghost gum and in seconds he was snoring.

"Hey!" Wake up and tell us the rest of the story!" The children shook Jabiru.

"Or right, mine tin kit dis old man headin' for da sky soon," he yawned and started the story again.

"Da young people were kept apart at da camel camp. Dey manage to meet in secret place under da most beautiful, Desert Rose tree."

"Den dey get sprung by da elders and dey send dat boy back to his country."

"After many moons, he come back a rich man from dat place. Dat Leila she still wait for him. Still no wedding, Leila come from another tribe. Just like we are today; no marry other tribes, stick with our own people."

The children's faces were serious as they took in the story; they wanted a good ending to the couples plight.

"Now, dem people hunted Majnun away, told him to be a priest man in da Mosque. He refused and made plans to wait for his love for as long as it took. She told him she would send him food at the Mosque. So he served the people like a slave."

"In secret, she bundled up food and sent her servant. He took dat food to da Mosque. A bad priest took da food, he be a big, fat priest. Dat fat man he eat da food instead of giving it to Majnun."

"As time went by, Majnun, he shrunk from hunger, looked like a dead man. He skinny as a post," Jabiru covered his toothless mouth as he thought about the post, he couldn't stop giggling, started the children off and they all laughed aloud.

"Leila took a chance and went to the Mosque, she asked the head priest about Majnun and was told he wasn't part of the worshipers. She was frantic and went lookin' and callin' for dat beautiful boy."

"Another priest told her that the fat man ate Majnun's food," she was aghast.

A young girl asked Jabiru where was that Majnun? He yawned and stood up on his skinny legs. Thinking to himself if he didn't finish the story he would never visit his ancestors. Jabiru stirred on his legs and bade the children walk with him to the river nearby. He was trying to keep himself awake in the noonday sun.

"Or right, she look for long time and never find her love," he spun a flat stone, skipping it across the river where a flock of Jabiru-birds waded and fed.
"Anything to keep awake. Dem birds so pretty, dey be my spirit people," he mumbled to himself.

"Majnun lay down between the roots of the Desert Rose tree; he died there. Dat beautiful tree felt sorry for da boy and Majnun was ab... abs, absorbed into dat tree, I tink dey call it, into da tree. He was alive because the tree nurtured him and he still wondered why Leila never came with food to keep him alive?"

"One day many moons later, Leila was out walking and she heard her named called. Looking around her, there was nobody to see. She had never married and still thought of her Majnun. Looking at the beautiful Desert Rose, she saw the face of her beloved."

"Leila, come to me," Majnun called to her.

"Majnun waited for her, she was full of joy to see his face in the tree. She lay down between the roots and she too was ab...sorbed into the tree. Entwined together in their love forever. Dat is da story of how da Desert Rose Tree cared enough to bring da lovers together." Jabiru tottered towards his gunya to sleep forever.

When you see the twisted limbs of the Desert Rose, even the small ones, remember the star-crossed lovers entwined forever.

The book continues with The Song Bird. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Australian aboriginal 'English' dialect. Star-crossed lovers live in the roots of the Desert Rose Tree, entwined forever. The Desert Rose has twisted roots and loves a dry climate. It can grow to thirty foot in the right climate.
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