Small venomous snakes to be consumed without moderation
I wish… yes … you didn’t know what a landay is – I have a very small chance.
As far as I’m concerned, I had never heard of landays before this year – thanks to a poetry show on stage.
Be careful though: the subject is slippery and without being careful we could get bogged down in moral considerations so easy to put on other people’s heads – everything is so simple when you’re not concerned “in real life”.
So a landay is a very short form of poetry – traditional – that seems as old as haiku.
But this time, the land of origin of this poetry is the Pashtun lands: we are in Afghanistan.
Et…you know, this poetry is very special: it is the poetry of women. It is said from woman to woman – no man is allowed – however they hear, especially when they sing their poetry.
According to Pashtunwali, the code that has governed the lives of the people for centuries, women are the embodiment of Pat (modesty, spirit of sacrifice), Shegarra (kindness), Wafa (faithfulness), Toora (fighting spirit), Nang (honor) and Melmastia (hospitality).
It is very beautiful.
It’s a great honor.
but& more : it’s a huge burden that has weighed on the shoulders of these women for hundreds of years.
So, because it is inhumane to ask other humans to embody pure qualities without flaws, they started to compose landays.
The literal translation of this Pashtun word is: small poisonous snake.
It is also important to know that a single word will have several meanings – for us very different.
Thus the word meena means: love – or sexuality – or marriage, as if the three meanings were identical and interchangeable.
As for the form, it is simple – and seems to have been established in the 17th century.
To compose a landay, one has to imagine a distich (two verses) : one has 9 syllables, the other 13 – the syllables end with na and ma.
And that’s it.
Some themes are recurrent : war (jang), exile (beltoon), homeland (watan), mourning, suffering (gham), love (meena)
It must then be sung and accompanied by a drum that beats the measure – at least, as long as music is not forbidden.
Here are some examples of these landays that women compose and that are forbidden since Afghanistan became a torn and terrible country.
“In secret I burn, in secret I cry / I am the Pashtun woman who cannot reveal her love.”
“Give your hand my love and let’s go to the fields / To love each other or fall
together under the knife.”
“May God forbid you any pleasure on a journey / Since you left me asleep, unsatisfied.”
“Father you sold me to an old man / May God destroy your house; I was your daughter.”
“When sisters sit together, they always praise their brothers / When brothers sit together brothers sit together, they sell their sisters to others.”
“What will you be but a brave warrior / You who drank the milk of the Pashtun mother?”
“Come back covered in gunpowder or blood / but don’t come home whole, dishonor my bed.”
“Son, if you desert our war / I will curse to the milk of my breasts.”
“I have a flower in my hand that’s fading, / Don’t know who to give it to in this foreign land.”
“My darling, you are like America / To you the fault, to me the excuse.”
“Oh God, curse the German who invented the car / That takes my lover so far.”
“In my dream I am the president / When I wake up I am the world’s beggar.”
Of course, you will say to me – and you will be right: how did these poems come so far to us?
& of course, there is always a “little” great story in the arrival of these few words that must be told so that these little treasures keep their power.
If I were to present these poems on a stage – instead of throwing them out there, like the little things of poor unfortunate women in life – I would begin by telling the story of the arrival of these words in our countries.
Otherwise, they have no price, no meaning, no color.
I will tell the story of this man who, with his sister, with the great complicity of his sister, surprised all these poems in all the places of women of all the Afghan villages, during years and years – how he noted everything, with what passion, with what devotion and love for the women of his country who were like his sisters – how he criss-crossed the West so that these words see the day elsewhere and and and..
…. once these words will have taken, in our minds, the ochre and red colors of the Afghan lands, the pungent and strong scents, that they will have been, each one, perceived like so many small venomous snakes addressed to those who believe themselves strong…
then… we will be able to give voice to these landays coming from so far away.
I have to say – admit – that the show here is a monumental failure – except for a few students who were forced to come and three innocents, nobody took seats.
I feel sorry for the show – but I’m not surprised, everything was done to not attract the audience.
First, the title: I’m Screaming. & a woman.
And then ? another woman screaming ?, oh pfffff
I think people are tired of women’s problems.
I’m tired of women’s problems.
It’s so fashionable that the rope has broken from being worn out.
And yet … well, nobody believed me when I reported it last June. You see, it’s so fundamental, women’s issues. We have to talk about it. Of course people will come, they are so aware – the joke. Not a kitten on the horizon, nothing. No man or woman. Rien du tout.
The story of how these poems came to be there, I was able to slip it to the students – but frankly, what a shame that it was a man who was behind this “mad flight from women’s poetry” … don’t say that too much Barbara, please…
In a way, I’m satisfied – I was right, presented like they did, “poor women“, again like this, no one is interested.
And annoyed – talking in the desert is so useless.
Small venomous snakes to be consumed without moderation – there, it works better.
There I arouse the curiosity of the public.
Here we are no longer in the eternal victimization of women – besides, this word, Landay, it is these women who have erected it for their poetry, and here we insult them with our cheap pity.
There – I’m grumbling now – so I’ll shut up! & I like to eat little poisonous snakes, yes, if I want.