Transmogrified: ‘My Humps’

In Fiction, Writing on April 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Let’s start with a definition (for readers of yesterday’s post, not usually the best way to start):

verb (transitive)
To change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform

For writing students (or maybe only to students of a certain Professor Randy Nelson at Davidson College) a transmogrification is also a writing exercise where you take a piece of writing, maybe a poem or a newspaper clipping or some song lyrics, and rewrite it in a completely different and unexpected form.

This afternoon I re-discovered one of my own attempts, from the aforementioned writing class, and thought it might make a good post for today (after all, it’s Friday, and no sort of day for anything too heavy).

What follows is a transmogrification of a certain song (not so topical, but hopefully still recognizable), written in the style of a Tale from the Arabian Nights.


The Tale of the Lovely Lady’s Hump

A Bedouin caravan snaked its way across the vast Arabian Desert beneath a blazing sun.  A princess, with all her worldly goods in a large trunk brought behind, sat at the front atop a proud camel accompanied by her father, the Caliph, and his most trusted Wazirs: Dolzi al-Gabani, Fendi al- Nadani and Karan.  The three of them were brothers, and each had an affinity for the beautiful princess.  But one day a fourth competitor for her affections came across the dunes, solitary and stern.

“What have you got, princess,” the man inquired, “in that trunk?”

“All my worldly possessions, peasant,” she replied coolly.  The man, by comparison, carried few things with him aside from the ascetic robes upon his back, for he was a deeply pious Muslim.

“Ah, but the goods of this world, fair princess, are as nothing compared with Allah. They are junk.  We Sufi’s practice, as the righteous must, the renunciation of all worldly materials and pleasures.  You, our ruler, should be the most righteous of all.  So I ask you once more:  why have you got all that junk, that junk inside your trunk?”

At this the princess motioned patiently at her three companions, and said:

“I drive these brothers crazy, Dolzi al-Gabani, Fendi al-Nadani and Karan, because of this camel that I ride.  One day several years ago it wandered into a cave while I rode, half asleep from the heat.  In the cave there was a genii named Drama that bade me dance with him. Genii are very clever, however, and this was a mere trick, for as soon as I complied he laid hands upon the hump of this my camel and told me that he had placed my heart inside.  ‘My hump!’ I cried insensibly, for I felt it had become a part of me (my soul, after all, remains inside to this day).  ‘What does this mean, oh genii,’ I asked, to which he replied that so long as I live I will be true only to him, and no other man may have my heart, or I will perish”.

At this the ascetic was intrigued and felt for the first time a worldly longing.  He did not relish materials, this was true, but the princess was very beautiful and he longed to make her his own.  He reached out toward the camel, but his hand was slapped away.

“You may look but you cannot touch it!” Shouted the princess.  “If you touch it, it will bring Drama, and you do not want to face Drama.”

“No, no.  No Drama,” said the ascetic thoughtfully.  And so they rode on for a while, as the sun sank, and the horizon and the dunes faded from yellow to blue.  But as night came the ascetic had lost all power to resist; he was love drunk for the hump that held the princess’ heart.  So when she had fallen asleep, and the Caliph and Wazirs slept as well, he crept slowly to the camel’s side where it crouched in the sand.  He reached out slowly toward the hump, but before he laid a hand on it, he was seized and pulled back by a giant creature with fierce eyes and savage strength. It was the genii, Drama.

“I will make you scream!” he called.  “My lovely lady’s hump? How dare you think to supplant one such as I?”   And the genii buried the ascetic there in the sand, and he died for his transgression.

This is the tale of the lovely lady’s hump, but for an even more wondrous tale, let me tell you

The Tale of Elephunk


So there you have it — now it’s your turn. Or if you have an idea for another transmogrification, let me know, and I might just write it up for next week!


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