Please allow me to introduce the story of Lubya to all of you. Lubya is
a village in Northern Palestine from which many Palestinians in Lebanon originate and is the object of a humorous and undocumented piece of Palestinian folklore. Lubya was said to be the hometown of Abu Bakr al-Lubyani, a prominent Muslim scholar of the fifteenth century who taught Islamic religious sciences in Damascus. While I was in Lebanon, I spent a great deal of time with friends who originated from Lubya and, through them, I was given insight into the the intricacies of camp life, the daily struggles facing the inhabitants there and, most important to this email, was told about the "story of Lubya". Lubya, unlike other Palestinian villages, was not known for its beauty and what set it apart from other villages in its area was the ingeniunity of its people and their legendary folkloric narratives. Upon encountering a family from Lubya in the refugee camps of Lebanon, one is struck by the wealth of oral traditions they narrate particularly those describing their village, the struggle for Palestine, and their longing to return to Lubya. One particular story that stands out in my mind is the narrative which explains how the five main families of Lubya received their names. This story was related to me on numerous occasions by a friend from the Nahr el Bared Refugee camp who prefers to remain anonymous. I found the story to be quite interesting and thought others would find it equally ntriguing, if not humorous. Below is my rendition of the "Story of Lubya" based on the narratives I heard from exiled villagers in the Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp in Tripoli. Enjoy.
THE STORY OF LUBYA: The village of Lubya is nestled snugly on a rocky hill about 20 kilometers from Tiberias. Although the village economy was based on agriculture, the scarcity of water in the village made farming, at times, a burdensome affair. According to legend, it was a custom for the women of Lubya to leave the village every morning in long convoys in order to walk 2-3 kilometers to the neighboring village of Hittin where they would fill large earthenware jars with the day's supply of water. On one fateful afternoon, while the caravan of women was returning from Hittin, one of the women began to feel faint and straggled behind the rest of the convoy. Coincidentally, at the same time, a young Palestinian horseman who was returning from an exhausting journey to Jerusalem happened to stumble across the lonely woman as she straggled towards Lubya with an earthenware jug on her head . Exhausted and thirsty, the man rode his horse towards the young woman and gruffly demanded that she give him water to drink. At a time when public interactions between males and females was considered anathema, the woman was particularly cautious to avoid being seen conversing with this stranger and, in an effort to lose him, began to walk home as rapidly as she could without spilling the water that was, until this point, balanced on her head. The quintessential chauvinist, the horseman would not be deterred by
what he perceived as the woman's insubordination. He followed her on
horseback and demanded, yet again, that she give him water to quench his thirst. The woman ignored the horseman and continued to trek home at lightning speed. Seeing that there was no hope of convincing the woman to give him water, the obstinate horseman, rode next to the woman, grabbed the jar from atop her head, took a long swig from it, placed it back on her head, shouted "Yislamo ya Ocht!" (thank you sister!), and rode off into the sunset.
Upon returning to Lubya that afternoon, the woman immediately informed her male relatives of what had transpired that morning and they-- feeling that her honor and the sanctity of the family had been undermined--set out to find the insolent perpetrator. After investigating, it was discovered that the horseman was from a certain family that lived on the northern edge of Lubya. The woman's male relatives gathered their weapons, mounted their horses and rode in the direction of the horseman's home. Amidst their excitement, the woman's relatives had forgotten that it was Friday afternoon which meant that most of the villagers were in the mosque for prayer services. They found the
perpetrators home empty but this only strengthened their resolve and so they sped towards the mosque and, much to their satisfaction, they found that the prayer services were over and the only people left loitering outside the mosque was the horseman and his four friends. The woman's family, brandishing guns and swords, dismounted their horses and prepared to attack.
Upon seeing the woman's family, each member of the horseman's entourage reacted differently and, based on their reaction, they acquired names which are still in use today. The first to notice the woman's family was a young groom who, being so fear-stricken, ran to the nearest wall and jumped over it. His progenitors came to be known as the "Abu Haight" family (Mr. Wall family). The second villager, equally terrified, ran and hid underneath a pile of wheat near the village entrance and his progenitors came to be known as "Al-Kamh" family (The "Wheat" family ..note: shortly after this "fateful" incident, the "al-kamh" family fled to the neighboring village of Safouriya where they constitute a large proportion of that village's present-day population). The third villager, ran out of the village and never returned. His immediate relatives came to be known as the "Tafash" family (the Runaway family). The fourth villager also fled but settled in the neighboring village of Jaounee and built himself a splendid villa and his family in Lubya would, as a result of this, eternally be known as the "Amareya" family (the Builder's family). Finally, the horseman, in an effort to mollify the rage of the woman's relatives, fell to his knees, repented, and his descendants came to be known as, yes, you guessed it, the "Toubeh" family (the family of repentance)!
The five families of Lubya are as follows:
1. Dar Abu Haight (the "wall")
2. Dar Toubeh (repentance)
3. Dar Amer (the builder)
4. Dar Tafash (The Runaway)
5. Dar Kmeh (The wheat) -originally from Lubya but later settled in