Sep 23, 2005

Never Say Allah is Deaf

Perhaps, a line in a solilquy has become a measure of what's in store here. The line is in a play I've written for the drama club. A new faculty member has joined the club with the conviction, I find out, that he is going to take it over. I am told nothing. I find out from the actors.

The play is about a harraq who comes home after two years working in a factory abroad to visit his family. The family is in disarray and his sister is determined to leave the country. At one point she forecasts the life she sees if she doesn't leave. It's a plea by a distraught woman. Here is an excerpt....

" You will marry some man and you will not care about him, not really — in the end, you will marry for security, not love. That’s your master. After all, what silly dream is that? And if you are not submissive enough, you’ll feel your husband’s distance right away. Or, if he’s like one of these nerds, forever in love with their mother, he’ll want you to put on make up and wear forbidden clothes, like the whores he’s always known. Saving your virginity will have been for nothing. All that worry for nothing. For that one, your virginity is merely a reminder of what you can never be and he can never have. But whoever this man is, maybe he is like every other one, if you are not obedient — if you don’t have his lunch ready just the way he likes it, or if you forgot the bread, he will beat you — with his hand or his mind, and after a while it will get worse, he will ignore you, and eventually you’ll give up, you’ll let your body go, and after a few years he will find someone else and divorce you. There wasn’t anything you could have done, but you’ll brood anyway, and all the new laws won’t change a thing. You’ll be left with nothing except your children, and no one will want you, and then you will be just another divorced woman living the years away in a small apartment in one of those broken down buildings on the other side of town. The closest you’ll get to love will be a song on the radio and the masseuse’s hands in the hammam. You will be bitter and survive on gossip and the hope your children will not leave you. But in the end they will. And you will be alone. You’ll become as warm and loving as a stick. And Allah will be deaf to your prayers, because you did nothing to help yourself. All you did was dream and complain. Dream and complain. And you know what? Your whole joy in life will be to go to dinner with your family, most of them you don’t even like, and it will be too painful even to think about what might have been, the other life you might have tasted.... And when the harrags return in August, with their fancy cars and their European girl friends, and their arrogance, you will know it’s all a masque, you’ll resent them, like everyone else, you’ll think, ‘how pathetic, how you dare you come back like this’, but at the same time, you’ll envy them, you’ll look at them secretly, and it will be torture to see it. "

It's the line, "Allah will be deaf to your prayers," that draws the faculty member's ire. This man is a tall, slender man with exceptionally long fingers. He stops the actors as soon as he hears it. Can't be he said. We need to change this line. We can't say this. Why is that? the actors and I ask. He explains that Allah can never have a human vice, a human failing.

Oh what an argument ensued (to be continued...)

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