This section of Maalouf’s Leo Africanus deals with the time period of July 28th, 1500 to July 16th, 1501. It is titled “The Year of the Raging Lions” and begins with Leo Africanus recalling his relationship with his sister Mariam. He discusses how he and his sister had become strangers over the course of their lives due to two long separations. They had become so estranged that their looks no longer conveyed any signs of concern for each other. Then in the early summer, Leo’s father made his son accompany him, along with Mariam and Warda on a tour of the countryside behind Fez. The purpose of this trip was for his father to acquire land to rent. Mariam and Leo fell behind the other two during the journey and had the first meaningful conversation between them for the first time in a long time. Mariam removed her veil and with a sad smile she asked Leo if his uncle cared for him as if he were his own son. She then asks Leo if he would love her children and visit her like his uncle did to him and Salma. Leo replies that his uncle did care for him and his mother, and he then told her that when she had children, he would care for them the same way as well as come to visit her and make sure she is happy. She then asks him why he never speaks to her anymore and doesn’t concern himself weather she is joyful or miserable. The two did not speak much after this but Leo began to fear for his sister and for the first time showed affection towards Mariam and believed something dangerous was awaiting her in the future.
What I found interesting in this section was when the lions attacked the hut the group bedded down in for the night. I could picture myself on top of that roof. My situation would be somewhat different in that it would be my mother and sister inside, but I can still imagine the situation. The lions began scratching at the door, trying to get to the smell of the women and their dinner for the night. The two men watched, but that was all that could be done. Muhammad made a vow to travel to Taghya and place an offering upon the tomb of wali Bu ‘Lzza, who was a saint famous for miracles involving lions. The lions then after two hours of activity stopped and left the hut alone. If I were on that roof, before I heard the sound of a door breaking and jumped to save my family, I would have defiantly said a prayer to God that if he made this stop I would build a church in his honor. It was interesting to see the connections between cultures. I would have reacted almost the same as Muhammad in this situation.
My question is do you think Mariam is on the road to trouble? Is this foreshadowing to an event that Leo is going to have to take care of for her?