Mangaluru, June 27, 2018: Mayor Baskar Moily released the oldest known ’Love story of Mangalore’ here at St Aloysius College hall on Tuesday, June 26. The initiative of a writer, scholar and lover of Mangaluru history brought to light his rare research with the release of an interesting English/Kannada book let, titled ‘L affaire - Ashu & Yiju of Mangalore,’. This literary work based on a romantic documented story which is recorded to have taken place in Mangaluru during 12th century AD.
Authored by Dr G Shreekumar Menon, Registrar, Yenepoya Deemed-to-be-University and well known academic in the city for his writings in various publications and crusade against narcotic substances. This booklet highlights the vital aspects of the life and romantic love affair of Jewish trader Abraham Ben Yiju, of Tunisian origin and a Nair woman ’Aashu’ the only name cited, from Malabar region, that took place on the shores of Mangaluru.
Speaking about the work, Dr Menon said that Yiju landed in Mangaluru in 1132 AD for spice trade. He came encountered ’Aashu’, who was perhaps a captive at a household in Mangaluru during the rule of Alupa ruler Alupendra. Yiju paid the price and had Ashu released and marryied 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. The fate of Aashu after Yiju’s departture is unknown. Yiju passed away on August 11, 1156, he explained.
Letters by Yiju said to be in the custody of his daughter and deposited as per Jewish practice were found in Cairo Genizah, the Egyptian Synagogue attic. The release/marriage certificate of Yiju and Aashu ( Known as Deed of Manumission) is among these letters. The documents were latter found preserved in Russia. Authors like Rabbi Mark Glickman and Amitav Ghosh have authored books based on the available documents, Dr Menon said. he cited several references in a power point presentation which authenticate the factual affair.
Menon stated that the marriage of Yiju and Aashu completes 888 years in 2020 and requested the Mayor to consider the erection of a suitablea memorial to this historically documented and interesting ancient episode. ’Mangalore Today’ made this expose possible with needed support.
Yenpoya University Dean, Dr B H Shripathi Rao, St Aloysius College Principal Rev Pravin Martis, Author Bharathi Shevgoor and actor Sahil Rai were present for the release with a wide cross section of local history buffs and academics. .