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Sweetness in the Belly

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Aisha Alawi

on 16 March 2011

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Transcript of Sweetness in the Belly

sweetness in the belly characters culture theme plot Tertiary Aziz Nouria Amina Haile Selassie Dergue Great Abdal setting Harar, Ethiopia London, England Camilla Gibb Ethiopian man who Lilly falls in love with, but loses when she is forced to leave Harar, Ethiopia and seek exile in London ... “Aziz was one of millions. But he was my one.” (Gibb, 399)  idealistic half-Sudanese; not accepted in Harar as he is of mixed blood and darker than most Hararis Harari doctor poor; Oromo; widowed with 4 children... “‘Nouria’-the name of the poor Oromo woman with whom I lived in Harar.” (Gibb, 32)  woman who took in Lilly, and provided her with a place to live(although reluctantly at first) while Lilly was staying in Harar, Ethiopia 1. Introduction 2. Inciting
Incident 3. Rising
Action 4. CLIMAX! 5. Falling
Action 6. Denoument while travelling in Tanjier, Morroco, seeking blessings for their unborn baby, Lilly's parents were killed
and so, it was at age 8 that Lilly became orphaned with no relatives in England to go back to, Lilly remained in Morocco with the Great Abdal, a Sufi sheikh... “I had no relatives that I knew of, no England that I knew. The Great Abdal would be my teacher, my guide, my father both spiritual and mundane." (Gibb, 12) while in Morocco, The Great Abdal introduced Lilly to Islam and the Quran. Lilly became drawn to the ways of the religion; it instilled calm and hopeful feelings in her heart. she welcomed the lessons the Great Abdal would give her with open arms, as she had never before been given the oppurtunity to go to school...“My parents refused to subject me to what they referred to as the stifling confines of institutional life.” (Gibb, 166)
soon after, Lilly converted to Islam, and began living her life as a pious Muslim woman while looking through lists of refugees sent to their commnunity association organization from Rome, Lilly comes across the name of Aziz's closest friend from Ethiopia and contacts with
he directs her to an old Ethiopian man in London who may know of Aziz's whereabouts when Nouria gets her daughters circumcised and one ends up with a botched circumcision, the local doctor, Aziz comes to check it out
this leads Lilly to meet him, and automatically, she begins to fall for him while staying with Nouria, Lilly begins to learn the language of Harar and engross herself in the rich culture ...“I learned from listening, from being corrected when I attempted to interact, from sheer exposure and immersion, through the days come weeks come months of hearing little else, from the knowledge that I had no choice.” (Gibb, 67) just when Lilly and Aziz begin to embrace their love for each other, Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, is deposed by the Dergue and the two are torn apart
Lilly must seek exile in London, as her connections with the emperor make staying dangerous whille Aziz must stays in Ethiopia to pursue his revolutionary goals IN LONDON... Lilly finds work as a hospital staff nurse
one of Lilly colleagues, Dr, Robin Gupta, keeps pestering her in his attempt to get to know her better; when he finally admits to liking her, she replies that although she likes him as well, there is another whom she loves..."That is exactly why things with Robin have to end. My feelings for him only threaten to grow, while those for Aziz remain fixed." (Gibb, 351) Lilly finds out Aziz is dead Lilly goes into a state of shock, followed by denial, in which she throws a fit and begins freaking out
she eventually calms down, but overcome by sorrow, locks herself up in her council flat and isolates herself Lilly moves from her council flat in the beleaguered area of which she lived in since she arrived in London in 1974
 Lilly attempts to forget the past and embrace her new life in London Main Secondary Lilly Robin has an English father and
Irish mother; white it was normal for her to be left in the care of a random stranger; had an unstable childhood; ...“I was born in Yugoslavia, breast-fed in the Ukraine, weaned in Corsica, freed from nappies in Sicily and walking by the time we got to the Algarve.” (Gibb, 10) fancies Lilly... “’You look very beautiful,’ Robin says, grasping my arm as I attempt to breeze by.” (Gibb, 341) Indian man works alongside Lilly
in London hospital beleaguered housing estate racist against Ethiopians and other people of colour; prejudiced Islam practiced there is more orthodox streaming with refugees Cotton Garden Estate 1984-94 east of Arabia; east Africa ruled by emperor ANCIENT MUSLIM OUTPOST walled city; surrounded by qat and coffee shrubbed land; surrounded by fertile valley Lilly and her English parents lived like nomads, never staying too long in a single place for fear of putting down roots. Her father would often tell her..."'You put down roots and they'll start growing...It just makes the passage between places too hard. It's all about the journey. You don't want to spoil the journey by missing what you've left and worrying about where you're going.'"(Gibb, 10)...
as a result, Lilly's childhood was quite an unstable one living in Morroco, Lilly befriended Hussein; he became a brother to her Lilly arrives in Harar with Hussein and because of the connections her guardian in Morocco had, Stays with the emperor for the first few weeks
Lilly and Hussein are separated when Hussein is taken in by Harar's respected and wealthy sheikh, and Lilly, because of the fact that she is a "white" woman, is placed in the care of Nouria, a poor Oromo widow who accepts Lilly with unmasked reluctance ... “Nouria and her four children crawled into a single foam mattress that covered the dirt floor against one wall; I wrapped myself in a blanket she reluctantly tossed my way against the opposite.” ( 55, Gibb) Lilly is called upon to deliver Amina’s baby and the two become friends during the 40 day period in which Amina stays with Lilly for ulma
soon, it is as though they are co-wives, sharing the responsibilities of cooking, taking care of Amina’s two children, completing chores, and running errands... although they lack the common tie of a husband For seven years, Lilly struggles, living life as a white Muslim refugee. Lilly lives a lonesome life of isolation there, as any contact with the ones she left behind in Ethiopia could endanger them... "whomever I might address could be indicted, if not specifically for their connection with me then more generally for their association with the West." (Gibb, 17) in 1984, many Ethiopian refugees arrive in London as the Dergue in Ethiopia begins terrorizing people; killing, imprisoning, and torturing its citizens
in response to this stream of refugees, Lilly and Amina start a community association organization in London to reunite refugees with loved ones; their work isn't totally selfless though, Amina is trying to locate her husband, and Lilly, her lover Aziz Aziz and Lilly bump into each other again; Aziz invites Lilly to attend a bercha at his uncle's house, to which she is surprised...“I was taken aback: men and women did not sit for berchas together.” (Gibb, 112)
this starts a series of secret visits between Lilly and Aziz... if discovered it could mean trouble for them both as it is much against their culture and faith...“The desire to remain in his company overwhelmed common sense; I would pick up my good Muslim self on the way home.” (Gibb, 218) Lilly embarks on her journey to London, leaving her love behind, with nothing but a tiny black and white picture he removed from his hospital ID card, to remind her of him with the help of Amina, Robin, and MAny others, Lilly finally comes out of hiding and attempts to move on
Lilly opens up to Robin and decides to give him a chance has ashen blonde hair, which she dyes deep red while in Harar addicted to smoking independant; confident; bold; not afraid to take a stand ... “‘You fight for what you believe in. That is something beautiful and rare.’”(Gibb, 219) stuck in the past; reluctant to move on ...“Part of me still remains in the old world, unwilling to let go, while Amina is ‘moving with the times.’” (Gibb, 241) INJERA: flat and spongy kind of Ethiopian bread, similar to a pancake, with a somewhat bitter taste; made with teff
Teff is a dark, tiny and round grain that grows in the Ethiopian highlands
WAT: spicy stew made with meat and vegetables
meat is usually lamb, beef, chicken, or fish as very few people, if any, eat pork in Ethiopia
vegetables usually consist of chickpeas, lentils, and potatoes minimal mosques and places which attend to the Ethiopians cultural needs
mild/slightly hot summers, (60-80 degrees fahrenheit); rainy winters galabayas skullcaps
WOMEN TRADITIONS one Almighty God bright, vibrant, colourful clothing colourful headscarves sarongs
(casual, leisure clothes) cuisine made up of various foods adopted from outside cultures(i.e. Sudanese, Indian, Arab) female circumcision...“this is the greatest occasion in a girl’s life- next to marriage of course” ...“no one would dare marry an uncircumcised girl, a sharmuta, a girl wild with heat” (Gibb, 78) BERCHA: social gathering held every Saturday...“Berchas were how all Hararis and Oromo in the city took their leisure, from the time they were adolescents until the time they were toothless and mashing their qat leaves with a pestle.” burn incense regularly for prayers/ special events and rituals great sin for man to be alone with a woman (unless the two are married) as it is believed their third companion will always be the devil
will be tempted to do forbidden things LANGUAGE after beauty, domestic skills (i.e. cooking), and virtuousness, being able to make baskets out of straw makeS a bride more attractive ...“‘Even an ugly girl can become beautiful if she makes baskets well enough!’” ( Gibb, 134) QAT: bitter green leaves that act as a stimulant ..."Even the best qat leaves were bitter and had to be chewed for hours.” (Gibb, 95)
chewed to feel higher up/ closer to god; have more energy to praise god ...“Qat leads one through animation into mirqana, a mood of quiet reflection.” (Gibb, 120) Harari Berbere: spice mixture used in Ethiopian cuisine Several words are of Arabic, or to a lesser extent, Italian origin; was Originally written in the Arabic script most of its speakers are multilingual in Amharic and/or Oromo (HARARI) HOLIDAYS/
CELEBRATIONS EID-UL-FITR: biggest celebration in Islam; marks end of Ramadan RAMADAN: the holy month of fasting
muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn till dusk
intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality •dont leave you alone when you were sick, but entertain you and refuse to leave your side ulma: period of 40 days that take place after giving birth, in which mother and newborn rest while other women attend to them (relatives and friends) faith healers and readers come first ... doctors are a last resort THE EVIL EYE: curse that can befall one due to one’s wishing ill on them
one can become posesses by the jinn ECONOMIC WELL-BEING limited supply of food difficult to earn living undeveloped: having inadequate equipment in facilities, such as hospitals qat and coffee are the basis of their economy Islam practiced isn’t orthodox; greatly influenced by Ethiopian culture and tradition consists of 99 mosques holy city of saints and scholars founded by arabs in the ninth century two types of people
Oromo: poor; lower class; work for Harari
Harari: more well-off; upper class discriminate against those of darker complexities, those of mixed blood, those not from Harar, foreigners “farenjis” SOCIETY (1970-74) only rich could afford to send kids to school
males were the ones who usually attended as families required the girls to stay home and help out SOCIETY RELIGION council flats people rarely marry for love; they simply marry into a good Harari family as they believe the heart will lead them astray
MARRIAGE BEFORE LOVE father must approve of marriage; mothers provide daughters with the candidates love faith LIFE IN EXILE without marriage, Harari fathers don’t recognize children as their own
paternity IS thought of in high regards; it can be one's liberation, death sentence, legitimacy, or lack thereof in the world
“‘We have this pride in the fact that we are a country that was never colonized, but what people don’t want to admit is that we live under a colonial regime of our own making.’” (Gibb, 289) Hararis hate tears or any such display of weakness disaster begins to spread all around:
there is drought and in the absence of water, people become parsimonious and mean; prices of food and fabric soar; protests are held; many civil servants go on strike; soldiers set foot in Harar for the first time; commission begin taking in people accused of disloyalty to emperor, and ridding the country from so-called corruption all of North Africa finds itself in the midst of political turmoil...“It was not just Morocco but all of North Africa that was on fire. Borders and whole populations were in flux as people, in the absence of a colonial enemy, turned weapons on each other and themselves.” (Gibb, 55)
to seek refuge, sixteen year old Lilly is sent to Harar, Ethiopia, along with Hussein ...“Our beloved sheikh suggested that perhaps it was time for Hussein and me to make the journey to Harar. And then suggestion became insistence. Suddenly it became now rather than when,...as much a flight as a pilgrimage.” (Gibb 47) GEOGRAPHY IN eUROPE; central and southern part of the island of Great Britain GEOGRAPHY ECONOMIC WELL-BEING ENGLAND borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west quite developed, in contrast to Harar, Ethiopia many job oppurtunities BELIEFS “God sometimes puts us in alien and difficult situations, and in time, the adversity of our situation may be revealed to be a blessing in disguise. It occurs to me that I should remind myself of this more often.” (Gibb, 268) “I exist somewhere between what they know and what they fear.” (Gibb, 9) “My white face and white uniform give me the appearance of authority in this new world, though my experiences, as my neighbours quickly come to discover, are rooted in the old.” (Gibb, 9) “Faith has accompanied me over time and geography and upheaval” (Gibb, 12) "Harar became home, the place we came of age, fell in love, the place we were forced to flee." (Gibb, 27)  Ethiopian emeperor overthrows emperor and wreaks havoc all across Ethiopia... “The Dergue is charged with having killed, unlawfully arrested, imprisoned and tortured hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian citizens, abetting and using famine to kill hundreds of thousands more, creating an epidemic of displaced persons and a worldwide diaspora of refugees.” (Gibb, 399) vicious regime Lily’s guardian after her parents pass away... “I had no relatives that I knew of, no England that I knew. The Great Abdal would be my teacher, my guide, my father both spiritual and mundane.” (Gibb, 12) Sufi sheikh introduced Lilly to Islam and the Qur’an Moroccan nice, cheerful “One of the doctors often on duty in my ward. Tall and arrogant. Good looking and altogether too aware of it.” (Gibb, 147) “a young, tall, handsome man with butter-soft skin and bright teeth” (Gibb, 81) ... curly-haired practical; idealistic ...“I suspected he who preferred intellectual to spiritual reasoning wasn’t much for saints and their shrines.” (Gibb, 96) “This is not an easy place for an outsider, but you have this certainty about you, because of your faith, perhaps, and it has allowed you to fight for a place here.” (Gibb, 189) “I know from experience that you can remap a city like this, orient yourself in its strange geography, strew your own trails of breadcrumbs...- and diminish the alien power of the spaces in between. You can find your way.” (Gibb, 34-35) Lilly’s closest friend in London... “It is Amina’s hope that keeps me buoyed, keeps it bearable in those moments...” (Gibb, 30)

 makes effort to move on from what happened in the past ... “Amina is an anchor in this small but growing community... Amina is not a spectre in this landscape.” (Gibb, 35) Ethiopian refugee; has 3 children; daughter was delivered in a back alley by Lilly
 her and Lilly joke about being co-wives ... “We are like co-wives, though we lack the common tie of a husband.” (Gibb, 27) Harari Celebration busy market maintaining it, and living by one's own interpretation of it •"I would be absent and haunted for a long time while together they worked hard to fill the hollow and replace the horror with love and Islam...for me the two have always been one” (Gibb, 12) sacrificing all that one believes in to be with the one you love “The desire to remain in his company overwhelmed common sense; I would pick up my good Muslim self on the way home.” (Gibb, 218) “It was not worship. It was more that distraction Hussein had always warned about: earthly love.”(Gibb, 222) “Nothing in my life up to that point had ever interrupted my religious practice. But then no one had ever challenged it.” staying true to yourself and standing up for what you believe in fighting for one's respected place in society making the best out of current situations moving on, even if it means letting loved ones go persevering; never giving up hope sacrifice not clinging to the past facing new experiences head on, with confidence and determination having and then losing life's joys staying strong when walking the path alone PERSON VS. SOCIETY: LIlly struggles to find her place in both Harar, Ethiopia and London, England; she isn't accepted into either of the societies, in Harar due to her colour and background, and in London due to her faith, and so she must fight to fit in, adapt to the different lifestyles, and earn the societies' respect PERSON VS. SELF: always the pious Muslim, Lilly must choose between maintaining her faith and jeopardizing all the she believes in for the love of one man PERSON VS. PERSON: Lilly is forced to flee from Ethiopia by the Dergue as they become a threat to her safety, as well as to the ones she loves PERSON VS. ENVIRONMENT: Lilly and the other ethiopians must endure drought for a short period of about 2 months conflict MAJOR Aziz: "He is kuday, “my liver”, he is like rrata, a piece of meat stuck between my teeth." Aisha
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