“1964”: Aisha e la formazione ‘transculturale’. “1964” è il racconto che aprirebbe cronologicamente la raccolta. E’ autobiografico .
La Stratheden come moderna slaveship
Itwas full ofdisappointedreturningwould-be [sedicenti] Australiansettlers and hopefulIndianwould-beimmigrants and beneathmymother’s surfacefriendlinesstherewas a palpable air ofsuperiority. WewereEgyptianacademics come to England on a sabbaticalto do Post-DoctoralResearch. I wasn’t post-doctoral, butitstillwasn’t quite the thingto play with the Indianteenagers [...]”
“I wassummonedintomyparents’ room, where the letterlay on the desk. Itwasaddressedto me and hadbeenopened. Itneveroccurredto me toquestionthat. [...]
Myparentswere grave. Theyweredisapproving. Theyweresaddened. [...] ‘Youknowyou’re nottobe in touchwithhim?’ ‘Yes.’ Therewere no rows, just silent, saddisapproval. You’ve letus down. I neveransweredhisletter and heneverwroteagain – or ifhedid I everknewofit”
(HechmiTrabelsi, TransculturalWriting: AhdafSoueif's Aishaas a Case Study, Université de Tunis, 2003)
“‘Friends.’ The Vicarsuddenlyspoke. ‘In our city todaywefindincreasingnumbersof people who come tousfrom far places: fromalienraces, alienbeliefs. [...] Shouldanyperson in thiscongregationwishto join withus in the love ofJesus Christ, letthemraisetheirhandsnowwhile the eyesofeveryone are closed in prayer and I willseekthem out later and guide theminto the love ofOur Lord [...]
I feltexcessivelyconsciousofmyalienappereance, and particularlymyalienhair, as I waitedtobesought and guidedinto the love ofJesus Christ”
“I was a misfit [disadattata]: I had the mannersoffledgling [alle prime armi] Westernisedbourgeoisintellectual and the soul (though no onesuspectedityetbut me) of a Rocker.”
Myattempts at fading into the masseswereunsuccessful. During the first break I wastakento Susan, the ThirdForm leader
‘Whereyoufrom?’ Shewas light and pale withfreckles and redhair.
‘That’s wheretheyhavethosePharaos and crocodiles and things,’sheexplainedto the others. ‘D’you go toschool on a camel?’
As for brilliance, I could not have chosen an unluckier subject to excel in: English. The class would have forgiven me outstanding performance in science or sports, but English? And Mrs Braithwaite [...] ‘The Egyptian gets it every time. It takes someone from Africa, a foreigner, to teach you about your native language. You should be ashamed.’”
“Musicwasmagicto me and everydayas I walked home from the bus stop I wouldpeerthrough the net curtains at the juke box gleamingagainst the wall in the corner café. Itwas a dark, different world in there [...]
Oneday I pushed open the door. [...]
I was happy. When the songswereover I walked out and went home. I nevertoldanyoneaboutmyadventure.”
[...] They were all standing there, tapping their feet and hoping that the boys from Wandsworth would ask them to dance. And the boys were nervous, pretending they didn’t know what they were there for... [...] I knew now there was no hidden world, no secret society from which I was barred. There was just - nothing”
“Aisha! What’s the matter? Are you ill?’ she asked.
‘No,’ I said.
‘Well, what’s the matter? Why aren’t you at school?’
‘I’m not going to school any more.’
‘But why won’t you go to school?’
‘I don’t want to.’
‘It’s just not worth it.’
‘But you liked it so much-’
‘I hated it.’
‘What on earth will your father say?’
Una pausa culturale:tra ‘Est’ e ‘Ovest’, Aisha sceglie di prendersi cura della sua condizione di in-betweeness. E’ il primo passo verso il soggetto ‘transculturale’, attivamente ‘postcoloniale’, che sa abitare nel ‘fra’ senza perdersi; è semplicemente se stessa, con forza e determinazione.
[...] Everymorningmyparentswentto the University and mysister and brothertoschool. I woulddraw up myfather’s largearmchair in frontof the television, carry up some toast and butter, and watch the races. Or I wouldswitch on myPhonotrix and dream. Or read. The whole house wasmyterritoryfromnine in the morningtofive in the afternoon and I livedmy private life and wasimperviousto the cold, disapproving atmosphere thatpervaded the evenings. After a coupleofweekstheygave up.
Oneday I discovered a secret cache ofbookshidden in myparents’ bedroom. Fanny Hill, The Perfumed GardenofSheikhNefzawi and the Kama Sutra. Myrebellionhadpaid off in grand style. I spentmyfifteenthyear in a lotusdream,sunk in anarmchair, throbbingto the beat of the Stones, reading erotica. And I passedmyexam.”
Spiazzamento, ibridità narrativa, plurivocalità.
Doppia narrazione, doppio punto di vista degli eventi – lettere di Asya alla madre (dialogicità, relazionalità del sé nella rilessività, interrogazione sul mondo) vs. diario di Mandy (relazionalità differente, senza un referente umano diretto. Autoreferenzialità, distacco, riflessività).
Asya, doppio significato, ‘antitetico’ - ‘the CruelOne’, ‘shewhois full ofsorrow’ (parole di Mandy)
Mandy, forse da ‘mundane’, in opposizione ad Asya (spirituale, riservata, etc.). Descrizioni orientaliste?
“Saif has got himself a lean-looking one too. Female, of course. And American. Yes. I’m afraid the days of the Lady Caroline of the tiger shooting, coolie-whipping father are over...
She was dressed up like a Linchfield ad. A Country Casual outfit that he’d wanted me to buy back in 1975 .... She looked terribly lost inside all that. It didn’t suit her at all. Anyone could see he had only just bought it for her. Her name is Mandy. She’s the small-boned wiry NY type. Arty-looking with frizzed-out brown hair....”
“He’s terribly chic and he is in he is in a bearded phase. He looks like a gentleman sea-captain [...] and they, in their Bond Street outfit, looked like posh relatives come to give a poor student a treat [...]
... Like a mother I thought, she is not good enough for him, which she isn’t. She isn’t pretty enough and she doesn’t have that unawavering serenity which he needs ... I think she’s edgy and restless and won’t be happy with him and won’t make him happy. I also fear there must be some gold-digging element there because she’s so obviously on the make and he looks prosperous.””
Lo sguardo di Mandy sul mondo non si posa su esseri viventi o cose, ma, è il riflesso dell’inconsistenza del mondo e il segno della inevitabile autoreferenzialità umana. Distacco, saggezza o anaffettività? Dipende...dai punti di vista.
Incomprensione culturale, quasi uno ‘scontro’ di civiltà, mediato dall’apertura del femminile verso il femminile (“I don’t blameher”), dalla ‘sopportazione’ e dall’amore verso Saif.
“’I don’t understand anything. Are you both joking or what? ... So my son is crazy, he’s got an harmoured head [...] I know that but I also know he coud never do without you. Yes, I know there’s a woman: some low creature has pulled him for two or three weeks [...] I’m furious with him’”