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Layla and Majnun
Nizami Ganjavi

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NARRATOR (cont'd)
Qays was pampered by the entire tribe with the greatest love. Every drop of milk that he was fed carried messages of love and loyalty. Every morsel of food was infused with kindness and generosity. Qays grew up to be the jewel of the tribe.
Talented and kind. Beautiful and bright. The boy grew up and became a remarkable young man; beloved by all and the jewel of his father’s eye. Then the time came to send Qays to school—Maktab![2]

There they sat in orderly rows, many boys and also a few girls. They had come from far and wide, different tribes[3] united by the love of the arts and sciences. From the corner of his eyes, Qays noticed a rare beauty and smiled. She was from a different tribe, but everyone knew of her fine nature and good manners.
Her hair was black as layl, the night. And her name was Layla. She looked up at Qays, her doe eyes filled with appreciation for his kind smile. And from that moment, Qays lost his heart to Layla. Layla too sought out Qays every day. Love grew in both their hearts.
Their friends in class were focused on the art of algebra and chemistry. But Layla and Qays only cared about the art of love. Their classmates took dictation and learned grammar. But Qays and Layla wrote verses of affection and devotion. Everyone around them began to notice, and the word of their love spread across the land.
They tried to ignore each other in class, and to pretend that one’s voice had no impact on the other’s heart. But it was no use. Their adoration for each other was obvious. Every man and woman, young and old, in every tribe, near and far, was talking about them.
[2] Maktab. Arabic for "school."
[3] The Banu 'Amir was a large tribe, composed of various branches and subtribes.
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