The Rahbani Brothers Biography
Part 1: Early Childhood and Education:|
In 1923, Assy was born to Hanna Rahbani in Antelias, a small town north of Beirut. Two years later Mansour was born. At that time the town was still surrounded by forests in one of which there was a small cafe called
In those times, artistic signs were becoming evident in Assy. People used to say he's growing up to become a poet. Mansour on the other hand was extremely obese, and wasn't doing any good in school. Other kids feared and avoided him. But for Assy's sake, some befriended him. He was thought to become a bully of some sort
The Rahbani Brothers went to a lot of schools. Abreen Nuns School, Antelias School which was run by Farid Abou Fadel, and then a school run by Kamal Mekrzel as well as Elmadrasa Elyasou'eia in Bekfia. Mansour used to escape school and spend the day in the forests and at the end of the school day, he would walk home with the other kids. His mother found about his absences and sometimes she personally walked him to school, but he found ways to escape. If he was to remain inside the school, he would cry for whatever reason to be let out. One time, the teacher asked Assy and Mansour what they wanted to be when they grow up. Assy said that he wanted to become a jeweler like what his father once was, Mansour said he wanted to be a crocodile.
In 1932 Hanna sold the cafe to who later would become Mansour's father in law. He was planning to buy some trucks and start a delivery business, when a friend of his told him about a nice summer cafe near Dohour Elshouayer in Elyanabieh region in Shoya where Hanna's family originally came from. He liked the idea, rented the place and called it Elmenaybeh Cafe. And after a while, he rented a place in Antelias and made it into a small restaurant which he worked in during the winter while keeping Elmenaybeh Cafe as a summer business. At that time Assy and Mansour were old enough to help in the work in the summer cafe. There was were they learned to fish, explore the surroundings and mingle with the mountain nature of Elmenaybeh. All this later reflected on their artistic approaches in their stories. They also starting reading classic poetry, learning what they understood, and developing their own. Assy wrote a number of poems in both classic and colloquial Arabic which he used to recite on Mansour who remembers were very funny. In school, Mansour wasn't good at subjects like mathematics, but he liked literature far more than any other. And when he was twelve years old, he subscribed in a magazine called 'Elmakshoof' which was maintained by Fouad Hebayesh. He also, along with Assy, subscribed in many other magazines including 'Elreyad' which was edited by Farid Abou Fadel, the Antelias school headmaster. He encouraged the brothers to read more and they did start to read more into literature, philosophy and international theater by the likes of Dostoyevsky and Shakespeare.
All the early literature nurturing paid off in 1937 when Assy published his own magazine and called it 'Elhershaya'. He wrote it all in his handwriting and it contained many sections from poetry to stories and articles. He used to read its contents to his family members and friends as well as provide some issues . He also used to tease Mansour, one time he wrote 'The locust planes attacked Mansour who was stationed in the bed port and rained him with Malaria bombs.' Not long Mansour started his own magazine which he called 'Alaghani'.