Book on oldest known love story in Mangaluru released

Book on oldest known love story in Mangaluru released

‘L affaire,’ a literary work based on a love story which is known to have taken place in Mangaluru during 12th century AD, was released at St Aloysius College Auditorium in the city on Tuesday.

The book, written by Yenepoya Deemed-to-be-University Dean Dr G Shreekumar Menon, depicts the life of Jewish trader Abraham Ben Yiju, who had his origin in Tunisia and a Nair woman Aashu from Kannur in Malabar region.

Speaking about the work, Dr Menon said that Yiju landed in Mangaluru in 1132 AD for spice trade. He came across Aashu, who was a slave at a household in Mangaluru during the rule of Alupa ruler Alupendra. Yiju released Aashu by paying money to her owner and freed her from slavery by marrying her. Yiju also set up a brass factory in the region. They were blessed with three children. Among them, two passed away. Following clashes in Tunisia, Yiju was forced to leave Mangaluru, to his hometown. Whereabouts of Aashu after this incident are not known properly. Yiju passed away on August 11, 1156, he explained. 

Letters by Yiju were preserved by his daughter. The letters were found in Cairo Genizah, the Egyptian Synagogue attic. They were kept intact as Yiju had written the letters with a mention of God. According to Jewish tradition, any work that has God’s name inscribed in it, should not be torn away. The marriage certificate of Yiju and Aashu is among these letters. The documents are now preserved in Russia. Authors like Rabbi Mark Glickman and Amitav Ghosh have authored books based on the available documents, Dr Menon said.

Menon stated that the marriage of Yiju and Aashu completes 888 years in 2020 and requested the mayor to build a memorial for the couple.

Mayor Bhaskar K presided over the programme. Dean Dr B H Shripathi Rao, St Aloysius College Principal Fr Pravin Martis, Author Bharathi Shevgoor and actor Sahil Rai were present.