The story of Calimaax and Cawrala is famous throughout Somalia, like any other great story for its great poems. It has been mentioned in many songs, plays and books – even though the latest film in the name of Cali & Cawrala has discredited the name and the story. Below is a little part of the history of Calimaax and Cawrala…
The first encounter between Cali-Maax and Cawrala occurred on a vessel that was transporting them from Eden to Maydh (some say Laasqoray). Calimaax was a resident of Laasqoray while Cawrala was from Xiis (and Maydh). During that time both these cities were of great importance to the to trade and transportation due to their locality and ports. When the vessel capsized, majority of the passengers drowned with it, except for the few who could swim to safety. Cali-maax was a good swimmer and when he spotted Cawrala struggling to stay afloat, he rescued her and swam with her ashore and they both departed on reaching ground.
Some time later, Cali-max received a letter from Cawrala. But he was unlearned and could not read or write, so he took the letter to his Soddog (father in law) and sought his assistance. During that time there was no Somali script and the language primarily spoken was Arabic (and, to a lesser degree, English). His Soddog glanced at the letter and upon reading it and acknowledging the amount of love expressed by Cawrala for the man whom his daughter was married to, the Soddog felt quite uncomfortable in explaining the content of the letter to his son-in-law. “I am not familiar with this script, Cali. Take it to him (his son), for he is more knowledgeable than I am”
Cali made his way to his Seedi (his wife’s brother) and asked him to read the letter for him. His Seedi, who was sitting in a gathering of the clan elders, took the letter from him and upon observing the what his father saw he asked Cali, “did you show this letter to anyone else?”
“Yes,” replied Cali, ” I showed it to your father and he said he couldn’t understand this script and suggested that I should bring it to you.”
His Seedi then read out the contents of the letter in front of the throng of his clansmen that surrounded him. Having been humiliated in front of his wife’s clansmen, cali vowed never to let anyone read anything to him again and from there on embarked on a long journey to gain knowledge and understanding of scripts. At that time Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan (whom the British called Mad Mullah) was running Qur’anic schools, so Cali joined the Sayyid’s school and later became a man of great knowledge.
The thing about this great story between Cali and Cawrala is that, unlike the typical love stories compiled into volumes of books, it had no happy ending and Cali-maax was at the time a married man with children. Cawrala was not aware of this of course, and loved him dearly as her letter reveals. Calimaax on the other hand was content with his family and children and went to seek knowledge. But when Cawrala died during his absense and he heard about her death, Cali-maax was devastated and related a Gabay (poem) in response.
I would love to read the entire Gabays between Cali and Cawrala, so if anyone has them please let me know. They have since then been mentioned in numerous books and have been the subject of many songs and poems. Their poetry, due to its value, has also been included in the school literatures. The best compilation of the story, however, comes from the great writer Faarax M. J. Cawl in his book Aqoondarro waa U nacab jacayl
(Ignorance is the enemy of love, translated by B.W. Andrzejewski)
Here is Cawrala’s letter. The letter was of course written in Arabic but was later translated in Somali. Unfortunately, translating is hard for me, as in finding the equivalent words in English, and would also discredit the poem so i will leave it as it is. Unless anyone can perform a good translating job. She said:
Calimaax sidii johoradeed, yaanan kuu jamane,
Jannadii sidaad tahay, yaanan jawda kugu hayne,
Dabadeed aan kala Jeensanee, mar ila soo joogso.
Magaalada Cadmeed maalintaan, casar ka soo dhoofnay,
Waxaan ahay middaad caawintood, cudud ku taageertay,
Waxaan ahay mid kuu cabatayo,. caashiaq dhibayaaye.
War cilmigiyo haasaawihii, lagu caweynaayey,
Waxaan ahay codkaad tiri miduu, cudur geyeysiiyey,
Waxaan ahay mid kuu cabatayoo caashaq dhibayaaye
Baddoo caratay mayeygaad ogayd, calool xumaantiisa,
Waxaan ahay cadraddaad siddoo, calaf u laabnaaye,
Waxaan ahay mid kuu cabatayoo caashaq dhibayaaye,
Waxaan ahay cirkoo hooray, iyo caadka oo kale?e,
Waxaan ahay casaan raaca iyo, midab casaawiira,
Waxaan ahay canabkii ka baxay, Calihi doognaaye,
Waxaan ahay carfoon iyo udgoon, iyo cadarki Baariise,
Waxaan ahay mid kuu cabatayoo, caashaq dhibayaaye.
Waxaan ahay midaan cunin cuntada, calafka sooreede,
Waxaan ahay mid cadanyootayoo, cidihi dayrsheene,
Waxaan ahay mid caynkaaga iyo, caaqil mehershaaye,
Casarkii haddaan weel la culay, caano kugu siiyo,
Cishihii haddaan sarar cusba leh, kugu cashaysiiyo,
Oo waa caafimaad rage haddaan, cagaha kuu duu go,
Asaadan caloosha igu hayn, Caligaan calmadow yeelkaaye.
Ogoobey haddaan dayaxu jirin, dirir ma nuureene,
Ogoobey haddaan daaqu bixin, duunyo ma foofteene,
Ogoobey haddaad diiddo, waan degel baxaayaaye,
Oo hal iga dardaarana Caliyoow, debinta maan saaro,
War diifta aan qabo hadday, digasho ii raacdo,
Waynoo daartii aakhiro, iyadaan cidina deyneyne.
thanks to Sanaaghome