One day, Prince Majnun, the son of King Dantal, went hunting with his friend, Husain Mahamat, in the wild. Unfortunately, they could only find birds and jackals. Disappointed, they decided to stop for a while in a country named Phalana.
Munsuk Raja, the king of Phalana, lived with his beautiful daughter, Laili. A night before Prince Majnun reached Phalana, God sent an angel disguised as a man to Laili. The angel informed her that God wished her to marry Prince Majnun. In the morning, Laili told her father about the dream. Munsuk Raja ignored her dream and went on with his work. However, Laili kept repeating, “Majnun, Majnun, Majnun. I want to marry Majnun.” She repeated the Prince’s name even in her sleep. When the Raja finally asked her who this Majnun fellow was, she told him that God wanted her to marry him.
Around that time, searching for hunting grounds, Prince Majnun and his friends reached Phalana. Out for a relaxing horseride, Princess Laili unknowingly followed the two men. Even while riding, she kept repeating Majnun’s name. Surprised to hear his name from a complete stranger in that faraway land, the Prince inquired who she was. The Princess immediately recognized the Prince, whom God wished her to marry.
Princess Laili immediately rode back to the palace and informed her father that Prince Majnun was on a visit to their country. Busy for the day, the King promised to meet the Prince the following day. Unfortunately, Majnun and his friend left Phalana that night.
Unable to believe this, Laili went looking for him. Repeating his name all the way, she wandered through the jungles and lost her way. For the next twelve years, she roamed around in search of Majnun.
One day, Laili met a fakir, an angel sent by God. The fakir enquired why she incessantly repeated Majnun’s name. The Princess told him that she wanted to marry the Prince. At this, the fakir informed her that she had traveled far away from the Prince’s country and may need to cross several rivers to get to his place. He also told her that when she reached River Bhagirathi, she will meet Rohu, a gigantic fish, and that only Rohu could take her to the Prince.
After traveling for a long, long time, the Princess finally got to River Bhagirathi. There, she found Rohu, whose open mouth appeared mammoth. The princess unknowingly slipped down the fish’s throat and entered his stomach. All this time, she kept chanting the Prince’s name. Disturbed by this nonstop chatter, the fish swam deep down the river. With Laili in his stomach, the agitated Rohu swam until he felt tired. Unable to figure out where the gabble came from, the fish asked the crow to look into his stomach and see if he could find anything in there. The crow flew down Rohu’s stomach to take a look. Back outside, the crow told the fish that he found a rakshas, or a demon, inside his stomach. Scared, the fish swam on aimlessly until he arrived in Prince Majnun’s country.
One day, a jackal came to drink water in the river. The fish asked the jackal to find out what was responsible for the discomfort in his stomach. The jackal jumped in to check, but came back trembling with fear. He told Rohu that a demon inhabited his stomach. Overcome by fear, the jackal ran away from the fish. Rohu then ran into a huge snake. He asked the same favor of the snake. Just like the crow and the jackal, the snake also found Laili inside the fish’s stomach. He told Rohu that a demon was inside his stomach and that he needed to be brought out. Assuring Rohu that he would not die, the snake cut his stomach open and out came Laili.
Laili had spent anothe twelve years inside the fish’s stomach. By then, she had lost all her teeth and looked rather old and ugly. The snake carried her on his back and left her near Prince Majnun’s palace. The people around, who heard her crying “Majnun, Majnun”, took her to the Prince’s court. Laili narrated her story to the Prince, telling him how she had spent twenty-four years of her life and all her beauty looking for him.
Old Laili requested the Prince to pray to God so they could be young again and get married. The Prince complied. God asked the Prince to touch Laili’s clothes. When he did so, her clothes caught fire and the two lovers turned young.
After marrying her in a wonderful ceremony, Prince Majnun took Laili to Phalana to meet her father. After taking Munsuk Raja’s blessings, the couple came back to the Prince’s country and lived happily ever after.
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Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. Write to her at email@example.com to know more about her.