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Rdah Umm Zayed, Doomed from Birth


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(Arabic/Tunisia)

Rdah Umm Zayed is a woman cursed from the outset of her life.

A childless king prays for a child. An angel appears, telling him to choose between a daughter with a misfortune but who survives, and a son with a misfortune who dies. A daughter is born, and the king builds a glass palace for her so that she might avoid misfortunes. She grows up in the glass palace. One day, she taps on the floor, it breaks open, and for the first time she sees people other than her parents and the maid. She hears a woman singing and invites her to the palace. The woman is amazed at the daughter's beauty, and tells her that she needs musk oil to perfume her hair. The princess falls ill, and tells her father that she wants musk oil. The father is angry and suspicious, fearing that this is the beginning of her misfortune. The queen tells him to get the oil. Hmid al-Hilali learns of this beautiful woman and seeks her. He is told that hell is at the end of the path he has chosen, but he persists. He gets nearer Tunis, and the perfume is now stronger. A woman shows him the way to the glass palace. The maid tells Rdah of the handsome knight, and Rdah asks him how he can aspire to a tree he can never climb. But they spend three nights together; she gives him her necklace and sends him to her father. But he first goes to his own land and asks his cousin to see the king on his behalf. He goes to his wife, who is bitter and says they must go their separate ways. The king receives the cousin, learns of what has happened, and orders his daughter thrown out in rags. Rdah is abused by the two men sent by the cousin of Hmid al-Hilali; she becomes sick because of the heat of the sun, is dying, and the men say to let her die. She dies, and the cousin finds a new bride and veils her. But Hmid al-Hilali will not accept her; he sighs and dies.

Subjects: Religion.


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