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The Women’s Swimming Pool Hanan Al-Shaykh (Modern/ Lebanon)

research paper

more yourself idea(that is what my teacher wanted)

more than 4000words like you did the thesis it is very help for me

Surname 1
The Women’s Swimming Pool
Thesis Statement : through the use the story of The Women’s Swimming Pool to show
family, religion and surrounding are seen to have an impact on the decisions and choices that a
person makes in life, especially for a female in the Islamic society.
“The Women’s Swimming Pool is a short story that was written by Hanan Al-Shaykh,
who is a Lebanese author. The author talked about a young girl who is Shi’ite, and her
grandmother. Both of them strated off their journey with the intention of going to Beirut, with
the aim of fulfilling the girl’s wish to swim in the ocean. This would be her first time and it
meant a lot to her and to her grandmother. The experience however brought out major
differences between the girl and her grandmother. She was also faced with the difference of her
traditional home town and Beirut, which was a modern city. Through the story, Hanan AlShaykh portrays the daily struggles that Islamic women face. She describes the great anxiety that
the small girl faced when she was accomplishing her wish of visiting the ocean for the first time.
The story revolves around the clash of the religious and secular worlds and it focuses on how the
young girl is stuck between the two worlds.
The thesis statement of the short story is that family and culture are huge determinants in
a person’s life. The young girl faced a lot of difficulties when she was growing up, because she
was stuck in two different worlds. On one hand, she wanted to live a normal life like every other
girl, but on the other hand, she was stuck in how she is supposed to behave as a young Muslim.
Her grandmother was not supportive of her dreams. Instead, she was always demolishing her
dreams, discouraging her, brainwashing her and instilling fear on her. She would force her down
a path that is not recommendable for a young girl. She inflicted a lot of negativity on the girl and
this is exhibited in page 1168 where the grandmother stated that, “All this trouble is that devil
Surname 2
Sumayya’s fault” (1168). The grandmother keeps blaming the girl’s friends and she sees that the
her visit to the ocean or the swimming pool is against the religion. The girl starts doubting her
dreams because of all the fears inflicted on her grandmother. The doubt for her dreams
strengthened when they reached Beirut and her grandmother’s words controlled her because she
would always associate modernity with the secular world.
This paper will expound on the thesis of the paper, and the different aspects of the paper
which include; the setting, the culture, religion and the aspect of family.
Annotated Bibliography
This section of the paper explains how different articles and books are important in bringing out
the above three aspects that are in relation with the thesis developed from the paper.
Al-Shaykh, H. Women of sand and myrrh. A&C Black (2010).
This is the main reading used in the paper. The story is mixed with fictional and
nonfictional stories. It features a Muslim girl who comes from a strict Islamic background. Her
dream had always been going to the Beirut and to swim in the ocean. The author of the book
states that the grandmother had always been against swimming because she felt that it was not in
line with the Islamic teachings. The setting of the narrative under study is in Southern Lebanon,
but the village has not been specified. The book exhibits this by indicating the various areas
around South Lebanon that have been used in the narrative.
This book is also useful in the study because it presents the aspect of culture. The Quran
states that women have equal obligations to men, when it comes to the religious obligations. The
role of women is exhibited throughout the book, through the introduction of the Shi’ite Muslim
religion. There are some contradictions however, like the fact that the Quran does not order
Surname 3
women to wear hijabs. Instead, it requires that men and women should dress modestly. Despite
the men and women having equal religious obligations, it is evident from the narrative that
women are more oppressed by the Islamic rules. For example, the grandmother stated that the
girl’s father and mother would not be happy if they saw her swimming. This shows that the girl
could not live like every other young girl in the region because she had been held captive by the
Islamic rules and laws.
The last aspect that this paper focuses on is on is that of family. Family is the basic unit
of the society and it plays a huge role in shaping a person’s life. This book is an important
reference because it provides details of how family had an impact in shaping the life of the
young girl. She always lived under the expectations of her family members, starting from her
parents to her grandmother. She was an orphan, but her grandmother would always tell to act in a
way that would make her late parents to be proud. The girl however feels different from her
grandmother, despite them being tied with blood. The girl has the wishes and dreams of living a
different life from the one her grandmother lived. In the end however, she makes the decision of
staying with her grandmother and accepting that she is an Islamic female and she has to live by
how the Islamic rules state. At times, family means everything to some people because it helps
them with identifying who they really are. In this case, this book is important because it shows
how the young girl valued family because it gave the identity, especially in a situation where she
was confused because she was stuck between different worlds.
Gökarıksel, Banu, and Ellen McLarney. “Introduction: Muslim women, consumer
capitalism, and the Islamic culture industry.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 6.3
(2010): 1-18.
Surname 4
This study is essential in the study because it aims at explaining the aspect of Islamic
culture and the religious roles of the Muslim women. The narrative aims at analyzing the aspect
of culture that has been exhibited in the narrative, which is the Islamic culture. The reference
entails an analysis of the cultures in the Islamic women in the Middle East and how they live
their lives as well respond to certain requirements. The journal also offers an indepth perception
of the Islamic culture by focusing on the consumer capitalism, the Islamic culture and the
Muslim women. The little girl and her grandmother can be likened to the women from the
Middle East. It also depicts the different things that Muslim women cannot do because they are
prohibited by culture and the religious teachings. This journal is important in the research
because it helps the researcher in understanding the Muslim’s ways of life and what is expected
of them. This makes it easier to analyze the short narration since it is based on the Islamic
culture.
Bekker, Marrie HJ, et al. “Reconstructing hymens or constructing sexual inequality?
Service provision to Islamic young women coping with the demand to be a virgin.” Journal
of Community & Applied Social Psychology 6.5 (1996): 329-334.
In terms of culture, the narration shows how the Islamic culture shows in inequality in
terms of gender. This article offers an entailed discussion of how Islamic poses gender inequality
and how it affects the Muslim women. This will be an important article in the research because it
will help in the development of the theme of culture and religion, which is an essential part of the
research.
Shahidian, Hammed. Women in Iran: gender politics in the Islamic Republic. No. 197.
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.
Surname 5
This article is important in the research because it shows women who have been able to
overcome the limitations of religion and the restrictions that the society has put on them. They
have been able to follow their dreams, unlike the young girl who decided to stick to her family.
Not everyone is willing to let go of their dreams and follow the rules of their families and the
regulations of their cultures. For a long time, Muslim women were not allowed to join politics.
The women fought for their rights and they were finally allowed to participate in politics.
Despite it being legal, it is not that easy for a Muslim women to maneuver all the cultural
judgments and make it to the top. This article provides a counter argument that it is possible for a
Muslim woman to overcome all the troubles and limitations set by the society and emerge as
successful business people or politicians or leaders.
Ibtasam, Samia, et al. “” My cousin bought the phone for me. I never go to mobile shops.”
The Role of Family in Women’s Technological Inclusion in Islamic Culture.” Proceedings
of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 3.CSCW (2019): 1-33.
This reading offers a great basis to the study because it shows how the Muslim women
were not allowed to embrace modernity and technology. This reading is relevant to the study
because it supports the grandmother’s idea that modernity is a sin and it goes against from the
religious teachings. It helps in understanding the grandmother’s view. The journal is also
important because it explains how the family is a great influencer in a Muslim’s life. It also
shows how women used to embrace technology in the past, and the perception of the family in
the technological advancements and how the Islamic religion embraces technology and
modernity. This will help in understanding the technology and modernity from the young girl’s
viewpoint and from the grandmother’s viewpoint.
Ali, Rohmad. “The Role of the Family in Internalizing Islamic Values.” (2019).
Surname 6
One of the major themes of the story is family. This article talks about the role of family
in the internalization of the Islamic values. This article is an important part of the research
because it will help in understanding the normal ways that a traditionally Islamic family would
influence the values of a person’s values. In the story, the grandmother was always telling the
young girl to behave in a way that would please her parents and her too. In this case, it is clear
that the family has a huge role to play in the determination of a person’s values. The small girl
chose to grow as her family values stated and she decided to abandon her dreams because they
were not in accordance with the family teachings.
An-Na’im, Abdullahi, ed. Islamic family law in a changing world: A global resource book.
Vol. 2. Zed Books, 2002.
The family is a major theme that has been exhibited in the narrative. The relationship
between development, technological advances, modernity and family has been shown in the
story. The book had stated that the grandmother felt that modernity was secular and it was
driving the girl away from the religion. The girl was supposed to choose between modernity and
her family values and this shows how the Islamic families have been affected by the changing
world.
36
br. 799062bod origysia
bH,100 CM
2001, 10, 1912)
hilor untul’ HANAN AL-SHAYKH
odgebnis
od blir orror on the
an
mow doen
Olivia
til 190
Sisi ni nini on buona
af met
bH
SHT 0 aloqa
BU EPS Ä‘i
SVR Terowo
ebanese writer Hanan Al-Shaykh
women in the Arab world. Her feminist
explores the conflicts between tra- of rebellion against the restrictive
critique of Arab culture shares much
with that of Nawal El-Saadawi, but the
born 1945
HH2
logo
nobnathan
baba Grossa loja wa
Biblia
to write short stories in part as an act
influences of her father and brothers.
Al-Shaykh attended a traditional
Muslim girls’ primary school and, later,
cosmopolitan Ahliyyah
School and the American College for
Girls in Cairo. After graduating, she
worked as a journalist for the magazine
al-Hasna (Beautiful Woman) and for
the journal al-Nahar (The Day), which
more
must make to assert their freedom in
Al-Shaykh’s fiction is more intimate,
focused less on government oppression
and more on the daily choices women
a social system that often constrains
them. By examining life through the published her earliest short stories.
innocent perspectives of girls and young Her first novel, Suicide of a Dead Man
women, the author provides social com-
mentary while concentrating on the
com .
(1970), relates a teenage girl’s affair
with a middle-aged man but, surpris-
human dimensions of the issues raised. ingly, from the man’s point of view. It
Born in southern Lebanon, Hanan brought comparisons to the work of
Al-Shaykh was raised in Beirut by her Naguib Mahfouz, particularly for its
strict Shiite family. Later, Al-Shaykh faithful representation of the spoken
would recall that her family’s tradi- language. As Al-Shaykh later explained,
tional religious practices seemed out of “My generation of Arab writers adopted
place in the cosmopolitan capital: “we a language between the classical and
lived in a street full of Beirutis. We the spoken dialect. The dialogue is, at
times, even colloquial and thus much
were from the south, we always felt
.
a
my father was
mad: he wore a shawl on
During the Lebanese Civil War
was
a con- to live in London a
to live in London and in Saudi Arabia,
where she wrote The Story of Zahra
like outsiders. The whole street thought closer to the way people really speak.”
his head and would wash the stairs of (1975-90), Al-Shaykh left the country
the whole building.” Her father
servative merchant, and her mother,
an illiterate homemaker, divorced when (1980). She released the novel at her
she was young, and Al-Shaykh began own expense, as no publisher in Lebanon
baldaner
doledad
that precede
sis
36
br. 799062bod origysia
bH,100 CM
2001, 10, 1912)
hilor untul’ HANAN AL-SHAYKH
odgebnis
od blir orror on the
an
mow doen
Olivia
til 190
Sisi ni nini on buona
af met
bH
SHT 0 aloqa
BU EPS Ä‘i
SVR Terowo
ebanese writer Hanan Al-Shaykh
women in the Arab world. Her feminist
explores the conflicts between tra- of rebellion against the restrictive
critique of Arab culture shares much
with that of Nawal El-Saadawi, but the
born 1945
HH2
logo
nobnathan
baba Grossa loja wa
Biblia
to write short stories in part as an act
influences of her father and brothers.
Al-Shaykh attended a traditional
Muslim girls’ primary school and, later,
cosmopolitan Ahliyyah
School and the American College for
Girls in Cairo. After graduating, she
worked as a journalist for the magazine
al-Hasna (Beautiful Woman) and for
the journal al-Nahar (The Day), which
more
must make to assert their freedom in
Al-Shaykh’s fiction is more intimate,
focused less on government oppression
and more on the daily choices women
a social system that often constrains
them. By examining life through the published her earliest short stories.
innocent perspectives of girls and young Her first novel, Suicide of a Dead Man
women, the author provides social com-
mentary while concentrating on the
com .
(1970), relates a teenage girl’s affair
with a middle-aged man but, surpris-
human dimensions of the issues raised. ingly, from the man’s point of view. It
Born in southern Lebanon, Hanan brought comparisons to the work of
Al-Shaykh was raised in Beirut by her Naguib Mahfouz, particularly for its
strict Shiite family. Later, Al-Shaykh faithful representation of the spoken
would recall that her family’s tradi- language. As Al-Shaykh later explained,
tional religious practices seemed out of “My generation of Arab writers adopted
place in the cosmopolitan capital: “we a language between the classical and
lived in a street full of Beirutis. We the spoken dialect. The dialogue is, at
times, even colloquial and thus much
were from the south, we always felt
.
a
my father was
mad: he wore a shawl on
During the Lebanese Civil War
was
a con- to live in London a
to live in London and in Saudi Arabia,
where she wrote The Story of Zahra
like outsiders. The whole street thought closer to the way people really speak.”
his head and would wash the stairs of (1975-90), Al-Shaykh left the country
the whole building.” Her father
servative merchant, and her mother,
an illiterate homemaker, divorced when (1980). She released the novel at her
she was young, and Al-Shaykh began own expense, as no publisher in Lebanon
baldaner
doledad
that precede
sis
ng the girl
on the path to become the woman who
writes stories of liberation and separat-
Women’s Swimming Pool
although it addresses none of these
controversial subjects, nonetheless
concerns the breaking of taboos. The ing here from the grandmother she loves
narrator, accustomed to having to but does not want to emulate.
about, my
tobacco, towe
that were imp
My gaze r
moving away
up close to 1
front of her
sweat lay on
הר
ortus
on 11
baschine
The Women’s Swimming Pool

I am in the tent for threading the tobacco, amidst the mounds of tobacco
plants and the skewers. Cross-legged, I breathe in the green odor, threading
one leaf after another. I find myself dreaming and growing thirsty and dream
ing. I open the magazine: I devour the words and surreptitiously gaze at the
pictures. I am exasperated at being in the tent, then my exasperation turns to
sadness.
Thirsty, I rise to my feet. I hear Abu Ghalib say, “Where are you off to, little
lady?” I make my way to my grandmother, saying, “I’m thirsty.” I go out. I make
my way to the cistern, stumbling in the sandy ground. I see the greenish-blue
water. I stretch out my hand to its still surface, hot from the harsh sun. I
stretch out my hand and wipe it across my brow and face and neck, across my
chest. Before being able to savor its relative coldness, I hear my name and see
my grandmother standing in her black dress at the doorway of the tent. Aloud
I express the wish that someone else had called to me. We have become like an
OoWomas
nond
erteildacons senegro no
199d istrar IA bris de
1. Translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies.
North
sea? Don’t y
was worried
wouldn’t sed
to take us
“That devil
and left the
thing. I wer
The sea 1
time inside
open, the
with its sm
things, thi
mated and
One of
2. A town in
3. Shia Isla
practice tha
ng the girl
on the path to become the woman who
writes stories of liberation and separat-
Women’s Swimming Pool
although it addresses none of these
controversial subjects, nonetheless
concerns the breaking of taboos. The ing here from the grandmother she loves
narrator, accustomed to having to but does not want to emulate.
about, my
tobacco, towe
that were imp
My gaze r
moving away
up close to 1
front of her
sweat lay on
הר
ortus
on 11
baschine
The Women’s Swimming Pool

I am in the tent for threading the tobacco, amidst the mounds of tobacco
plants and the skewers. Cross-legged, I breathe in the green odor, threading
one leaf after another. I find myself dreaming and growing thirsty and dream
ing. I open the magazine: I devour the words and surreptitiously gaze at the
pictures. I am exasperated at being in the tent, then my exasperation turns to
sadness.
Thirsty, I rise to my feet. I hear Abu Ghalib say, “Where are you off to, little
lady?” I make my way to my grandmother, saying, “I’m thirsty.” I go out. I make
my way to the cistern, stumbling in the sandy ground. I see the greenish-blue
water. I stretch out my hand to its still surface, hot from the harsh sun. I
stretch out my hand and wipe it across my brow and face and neck, across my
chest. Before being able to savor its relative coldness, I hear my name and see
my grandmother standing in her black dress at the doorway of the tent. Aloud
I express the wish that someone else had called to me. We have become like an
OoWomas
nond
erteildacons senegro no
199d istrar IA bris de
1. Translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies.
North
sea? Don’t y
was worried
wouldn’t sed
to take us
“That devil
and left the
thing. I wer
The sea 1
time inside
open, the
with its sm
things, thi
mated and
One of
2. A town in
3. Shia Isla
practice tha
MING POOL 1 1079
ino
mind. What were its waters like? What color would they be now? If only this
week would pass in a flash, for I had at last
marble tombs that stretched along the high mountainside, while the houses of
upper
orange and its navel: my grandmother has welded me so close to her that the
ing this close union.id brugero
blusamad
village girls no longer dare to make friends with me, perhaps for fear of ruptur-
I returned to the tent, growing thirsty and dreaming, with the sea ever in my
go
down to Beirut and the sea, after my friend Sumayya had sworn that the swim-
ming pool she’d been at had been for women only does baldased
My grandmother sat on the edge of a jagged slab of stone, leaning on my
arm. Her hand was hot and rough. She sighed as she chased away a fly.
What is my grandmother gazing at? There was nothing in front of us but the
asphalt road, which, despite the sun’s rays, gave off no light, and the white
Nabatieh? looked like deserted Crusader castles, their alleyways empty,
their windows of iron. Our house likewise seemed to be groaning in its soli-
tude, shaded by the fig tree. The washing line stirs with the wind above the
tomb of my grandfather, the celebrated religious scholar, in the courtyard of
the house. What is my grandmother staring at? Or does someone who is wait-
ing not stare? q endisdadinhib Wniebowa Joel
Hari
Turning her face toward me, she said, “Child, what will we do if the bus doesn’t
come?” Her face, engraved in my mind, seemed overcast, also her half-closed
and the blue tattoo mark on her chin.? I didn’t answer her for fear I’d
I talked. This time I averted my gaze from the white tombs; moving my foot away
from my grandmother’s leg clothed in thick black stockings, I began to walk
about, my gaze directed to the other side where lay the extensive fields of green
tobacco, towering and gently swaying, their leaves glinting under the sun, leaves
that were imprinted on my brain, their marks still showing on my hands. alion
My gaze reached out behind the thousands of plants, then beyond them,
moving away till it arrived at the tent where the tobacco was threaded. I came
up close to my grandmother, who was still sitting in her place, still gazing in
front of her. As I drew close to her, I heard her give a sigh. A sprinkling of
sweat lay on the pouches under her eyes. “Child, what do you want with the
sea? Don’t you know that the sea puts a spell on people?” I didn’t answer her: I
was worried that the morning would pass, that noonday would pass, and that I
wouldn’t see the green bus come to a stop by the stone my grandmother sat on,
to take us to the sea, to Beirut. Again I heard my grandmother mumbling.
“That devil Sumayya …) I pleaded with her to stop, and my thoughts rose up
eyes
cry
if
Wh.bishoda sught
and left the stone upon which my grandmother sat, the rough road, left every-
The sea had always been my obsession, ever since I had seen it for the first
thing. I went back to my dreams, to the sea.
aware of
time inside a colored ball; with its blue color it was like a magic lantern, wide
open, the surface of its water unrippled unless you tilted the piece of glass,
mated and amused me. The more I gazed at it, the cooler I felt its waters to be,
things, this ball, which I had found in the parlor, was the sole thing that ani-
Islam and that is prohibited by Sunni Islam.
Blue tattoos on the face and hands are a
marker for a generation of aging women.
2. A town in southern Lebanon.
practice that preceded the introduction of
3. Shia Islam allows tattooing, a cultural
1080I HANAN AL-SHAY!
and the more they invited me to bathe in them; they knew that I had been born
29
amidst dust and mud and the stench of tobacco.rs
If only the green bus would come along and I shifted my bag from one
hand to the other. I heard my grandmother wail
, “Child, bring up a stone and
sit down. Put down the bag and don’t worry.” My distress increased, and I was
no longer able to stop it turning into tears that flowed freely down my face,
veiling it from the road. I stretched up to wipe them with my sleeve; in this
heat I still had to wear that dress with long sleeves, that head covering over
my
braids, despite the hot wind that set the tobacco plants and the sparse poplars
swaying. Thank God I had resisted her and refused to wear my stockings
. I
gave a deep sigh as I heard the bus’s horn from afar. Fearful and anxious, I
shouted at my grandmother as I helped her to her feet, turning round to make
sure that my bag was still in my hand and my grandmother’s hand in the
other. The bus came to a stop and the conductor helped my grandmother on.
When I saw myself alongside her and the stone on its own, I tightened my grip
on my bag in which lay Sumayya’s bathing costume, a sleeveless dress, and
my
money. muodossloda zwolgila batdala editoris
I noticed as the bus slowly made its way along the road that my anxiety was
still there, that it was in fact increasing: Why didn’t the bus pass by all these
trees and fallow land like lightning? Why was it crawling along? My anxiety was
still there and increased till it predominated over my other sensations, my nau-
sea and curiosity.od wens inbibinirated
nirlo en tro la
culdadi
How would we find our way to the sea? Would we see it as soon as we arrived
in Beirut? Was it at the other end of it? Would the bus stop in the district of
Zeytouna, at the door of the women’s swimming pool? Why, I wondered, was
it called Zeytouna?—were there olive trees there? I leaned toward my grand-
mother and her silent face and long nose that almost met up with her mouth.
Thinking that I wanted a piece of cane sugar, she put her hand to her bosom to
take out a small twist of cloth. Impatiently I asked her if she was sure that
Maryam at-Taweela knew Zeytouna, to which she answered, her mouth suck-
ing at the cane sugar and making a noise with her tongue, “God will look after
everything.” Then she broke the silence by saying. “All this trouble is that devil
Sumayya’s fault—it was she who told you she’d seen with her own eyes the
swimming pool just for women and not for men.” “Yes, Grandma,” I answered
her. She said, “Swear by your mother’s grave.” I thought to myself absently:
edge her daughter’s death
“Why only my mother’s grave? What about my father? Or did she only acknowl-
.?” “By my mother’s grave, it’s for women.” She
inclined her head and still munching the cane sugar and making a noise with
her tongue, she said, “If any man were to see you, you’d be done for, and so
your
mother and father and your grandfather, the religious scholar-
and I’d be done for more than anyone because it’s I who agreed to this and
i lo stid On
would
helped you.” on bolon
1935
I would have liked to say to her, “They’ve all gone, they’ve all died,
we have to be afraid of?” But I knew what she meant: that she was
So what do
frightened
they wouldn’t go to heaven.
1919m 915m boaume beson
the doorway Otheten
had called
called to me. We
1080I HANAN AL-SHAY!
and the more they invited me to bathe in them; they knew that I had been born
29
amidst dust and mud and the stench of tobacco.rs
If only the green bus would come along and I shifted my bag from one
hand to the other. I heard my grandmother wail
, “Child, bring up a stone and
sit down. Put down the bag and don’t worry.” My distress increased, and I was
no longer able to stop it turning into tears that flowed freely down my face,
veiling it from the road. I stretched up to wipe them with my sleeve; in this
heat I still had to wear that dress with long sleeves, that head covering over
my
braids, despite the hot wind that set the tobacco plants and the sparse poplars
swaying. Thank God I had resisted her and refused to wear my stockings
. I
gave a deep sigh as I heard the bus’s horn from afar. Fearful and anxious, I
shouted at my grandmother as I helped her to her feet, turning round to make
sure that my bag was still in my hand and my grandmother’s hand in the
other. The bus came to a stop and the conductor helped my grandmother on.
When I saw myself alongside her and the stone on its own, I tightened my grip
on my bag in which lay Sumayya’s bathing costume, a sleeveless dress, and
my
money. muodossloda zwolgila batdala editoris
I noticed as the bus slowly made its way along the road that my anxiety was
still there, that it was in fact increasing: Why didn’t the bus pass by all these
trees and fallow land like lightning? Why was it crawling along? My anxiety was
still there and increased till it predominated over my other sensations, my nau-
sea and curiosity.od wens inbibinirated
nirlo en tro la
culdadi
How would we find our way to the sea? Would we see it as soon as we arrived
in Beirut? Was it at the other end of it? Would the bus stop in the district of
Zeytouna, at the door of the women’s swimming pool? Why, I wondered, was
it called Zeytouna?—were there olive trees there? I leaned toward my grand-
mother and her silent face and long nose that almost met up with her mouth.
Thinking that I wanted a piece of cane sugar, she put her hand to her bosom to
take out a small twist of cloth. Impatiently I asked her if she was sure that
Maryam at-Taweela knew Zeytouna, to which she answered, her mouth suck-
ing at the cane sugar and making a noise with her tongue, “God will look after
everything.” Then she broke the silence by saying. “All this trouble is that devil
Sumayya’s fault—it was she who told you she’d seen with her own eyes the
swimming pool just for women and not for men.” “Yes, Grandma,” I answered
her. She said, “Swear by your mother’s grave.” I thought to myself absently:
edge her daughter’s death
“Why only my mother’s grave? What about my father? Or did she only acknowl-
.?” “By my mother’s grave, it’s for women.” She
inclined her head and still munching the cane sugar and making a noise with
her tongue, she said, “If any man were to see you, you’d be done for, and so
your
mother and father and your grandfather, the religious scholar-
and I’d be done for more than anyone because it’s I who agreed to this and
i lo stid On
would
helped you.” on bolon
1935
I would have liked to say to her, “They’ve all gone, they’ve all died,
we have to be afraid of?” But I knew what she meant: that she was
So what do
frightened
they wouldn’t go to heaven.
1919m 915m boaume beson
the doorway Otheten
had called
called to me. We
THE WOMEN’S SWIMMING POOL
1 1081
I began to sweat, and my heart again contracted as Beirut came into view
revolving
dle of the pavement, eating and drinking; the trams; the roasting chickens
+
I was
regretted having come to Beirut, perhaps because I was accompanied by my
abouts of the district of Khandaq al-Ghamiq? where Maryam at-Taweela lived.
with its lofty buildings carborearing beople were sitting
onena the girls hair
,
on spits. Ah, these dresses for sale in the windows, would anyone be
the yellow races outside of books; the Martyrs monument; Riad Solh Square.
found actually to wear them.I see
a Japanese man, the first-ever member of
wringing wet with sweat and my heart pounded-it was as though I
grandmother
. It was soon all too evident that we were outsiders to the capital.
Once again my body absorbed all the sweat and allowed my heart to flee its
I find myself treading on a pavement on which for long years I have
dreamed of walking; I hear sounds that have been engraved on my imagination;
and everything I see I have seen in daydreams at school or in the tobacco-
threading tent. Perhaps I shouldn’t say that I was regretting it, for after this I
would never forget Beirut. We begin walking and losing our way in a Beirut
that never ends, that leads nowhere. We begin asking and walking and losing
our way, and my going to the sea seems an impossibility; the sea is fleeing from
me. My grandmother comes to a stop and leans against a lamppost, or against
the litter bin attached to it, and against my shoulders, and puffs and blows. I
have the feeling that we shall never find Maryam at-Taweela’s house. A man
we had stopped to ask the way walks with us. When we knock at the door and
no one opens to us, I become convinced that my bathing in the sea is no longer
possible. The sweat pours off me, my throat contracts. A woman’s voice brings
me back to my senses as I drown in a lake of anxiety, sadness, and fear; then it
drowns me once again. It was not Maryam at-Taweela but her neighbor who is
asking us to wait at her place. We go down the steps to the neighbor’s outdoor
stone bench, and my grandmother sits down by the door but gets to her feet
again when the woman entreats her to sit in the cane chair. Then she asks to
be excused while she finishes washing down the steps. While she is cursing the
heat of Beirut in the summer, I notice the tin containers lined up side by side
containing red and green peppers. We have a long wait, and I begin to weep
inwardly as I stare at the containers. od od di binala
blod od
I wouldn’t be seeing the sea today, perhaps not for years, but the thought
must persuade my grandmother to come to Beirut with Sumayya. Perhaps I
fear and sadness. A woman’s voice again brought me back
to my senses:
of its waters would not leave me, would not be erased from my dreams. I
should not have mentioned the swimming pool in front of her. I wouldn’t be
was Maryam at-Taweela, who had stretched out her long neck and had kissed
isn’t she?’ and she swore by the Imam that we must have lunch with her,
me, while she asked my grandmother: ‘She’s the child of your late daughter,
8
amb
by SH
bne od
bH Til 7009.sebrero 2009 om 100%
Yom
qebulib biru bog
m.
7. A well-to-do neighborhood in West Beirut.
8. The Imam Ali (ca. 600-661), cousin and
founder of the Shia branch of Islam.
don
memorates Lebanese nationalists who opposed son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and
6. One of the main squares in Beirut’s com-
mercial district; the Martyrs’ monument com-
Ottoman rule in the early 20th century.
1082
1
a
doing so before we had protested, feeling perhaps that I would do so. When
she stood up and took the primus stove from under her bed and brought out
potatoes and tomatoes and bits of meat, I had feelings of nausea, then of
frustration. I nudged my grandmother, who leant over and whispered “What
your
my tears were all stored up waiting for a signal from my heartbeats to fall. My
is it, dear?” at which Maryam at-Taweela turned and asked “What does
grandmother said with embarrassment, “She wants to go to the sea, to the
women’s swimming pool—that devil Sumayya put it into her head.” To my
amazement Maryam at-Taweela said loudly, “And why not? Right now ali
Mousa, our neighbor, will be coming and he’ll take you, he’s got a
Maryam at-Taweela began peeling the potatoes at a low table in the middle
of the room and my grandmother asked, “Where’s Ali Mousa from? Where
car”–and
But heogio
100
does he live?”
doid
I can’t wait, I shan’t eat, I shan’t drink. I want to go now, now. I remained
seated, crying inwardly because I was born in the South, because there’s no
escape for me from the South, and I go on rubbing my fingers and gnawing at
my nails. Again I begin to sweat: I shan’t eat, I shan’t drink, I shan’t reply to
Maryam at-Taweela. It was as though I was taking vengeance on my grand-
mother for some wrong she did not know about. My patience vanished. I stood
up and said to my grandmother before I should burst out sobbing, “Come
along, Grandma, get up, and let’s go.” I helped her to her feet, and Maryam
at-Taweela asked in bewilderment what had suddenly come over me. I went
on dragging my grandmother out to the street so that I might stop the first
taxi.ol
tirsd yamshi
boshin
od Tau
su bado
Only moments passed before the driver shut off his engine and said, “Zey-
touna.” I looked about me but saw no sea. As I gave him a lira I asked him,
“Where’s the women’s swimming pool?” He shrugged his shoulders. We got
out of the car with difficulty, as was always the case with my grandmother. To
my astonishment the driver returned, stretching out his head in concern at us.
“Jump in,” he said, and we got in. He took us round and round, stopping once
at a petrol station and then by a newspaper seller, asking about the women’s
swimming pool and nobody knowing where it was. Once again he dropped us
in the middle of Zeytouna Street. Ward noorgebot
Then, behind the hotels and the beautiful buildings and the date palms, I
saw the sea. It was like a blue line of quicksilver: it was as though pieces of
silver paper were resting on it. The sea that was in front of me was more beau-
tiful than it had been in the glass ball. I didn’t know how to get close to it, how
to touch it. Cement lay between us. We began inquiring about the where-
abouts of the swimming pool, but no one knew. The sea remains without
waves, a blue line. I feel frustrated. Perhaps this swimming pool is some secret
known only to the girls of the South. I began asking every person I saw. I tried
to choke back my tears; I let go of my grandmother’s hand as though wishing to
10
me instead of
reproach her, to punish her for having insisted on accompanying
Sumayya. Poor me. Poor Grandma. Poor Beirut. Had my dreams come to an
end in the middle of the street? I clasp my bag and my grandmother’s hand,
with the sea in front of me, separating her from me. My stubbornness and
vexation impel me to ask and go on asking. I approached a man leaning against
mm
hos y or ni linnamon
MEN’S SWIMMING POOL 1 1083
to
a
a bus, and to my surprise he pointed to an opening between two shops. I hur-
ried back to my grandmother, who was supporting herself against a lamppost,
I asked her to wait for me while I made sure. I went through the opening but
tell her I’d found it. When I saw with what difficulty she attempted to walk,
didn’t see the sea. All I saw was a fat woman with bare shoulders sitting behind
table. Hesitating, I stood and looked at her, not daring to step forward. My
enthusiasm had vanished, taking with it my courage. “Yes,” said the woman. I
came forward and asked her, “Is the women’s swimming pool here?” She nod-
ded her head and said, “The entrance fee is a lira.” I asked her if it was possible
course.” There was contempt in the way she looked at me: Was it my southern
for my grandmother to wait for me here and she stared at me and said, “Of
accent or my long-sleeved dress? I had disregarded my grandmother and had
taken off my head shawl and hidden it in my bag. I handed her a lira and could
important thing was that I’d arrived, that I would be tasting the salty spray of
TOT
waters.
hear the sounds of women and children and still I did not see the sea. At the
end of the portico were steps; which I was certain led to the roofed-in sea. The
its waters. I wouldn’t be seeing the waves; never mind, I’d be bathing in its
050
awless
issued from my
I found myself saying to the woman, or rather to myself because no sound
throat, “I’ll bring my grandmother.” Going out through the
opening and still clasping my bag to my chest, I saw my grandmother standing
and looking up at the sky. I called to her, but she was reciting to herself under
her breath as she continued to look upward: she was praying, right there in the
street, praying on the pavement at the door of the swimming pool. She had
spread out a paper bag and had stretched out her hands to the sky. I walked off
in another direction and stopped looking at her. I would have liked to persuade
myself that she had nothing to do with me, that I didn’t know her. How,
though? She’s my grandmother whom I’ve dragged with my entreaties from the
tobacco-threading tent, from the jagged slab of stone, from the winds of the
South; I have crammed her into the bus and been lost with her in the streets as
we searched for Maryam at-Taweela’s house. And now here were the two of us
standing at the door of the swimming pool, and she, having heard the call to
prayers, had prostrated herself in prayer. She was destroying what lay in my
bag, blocking the road between me and the sea. I felt sorry for her, for her
knees that knelt on the cruelly hard pavement, for her tattooed hands that lay
on the dirt. I looked at her again and saw the passers-by staring at her. For the
first time her black dress looked shabby to me. I felt how far removed we were
from these passers-by, from this street, this city, this sea. I approached her,
and she again put her weight on my hand. 13 ASAPO
Delibes onders for moderate
selai ir stede vinurog 9 ni 219113o 1992 oj oirlo o oso onlw sms
w bolnice. 26 zebravitons lo sebi -Erro
Motriousb modi tot til 75od s
bool bossd-le sierl bris nila ilgi! 19vinu brewoH te dellgni borbusz 1102
gribubai conguparoo 9Vibout29b o inobute ni gvis a ora 91911w viie
torolier) soolo to groa duiw De lo slor or borimske vilengvin
insani bris ni condolom blido Homos ziedi azotem rol.191sodi
9. The Islamic call to prayer, heard five times a day in Muslim countries but ignored by secular
residents of some large cities like Beirut.
975H thuoc grb ni emozolol or lo diod 920 ebam bidanto lenoit
1982
19151 10:19
15
photin bozor
112289
Foll

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