A Daughter of Isis: The Early Life of Nawal El Saadawi: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi
Nawal El Saadawi
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This is the first volume of the autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, giving an emotionally shattering, but wonderfully lyrical, portrait of her childhood in a remote Egyptian village -- the childhood that produced the freedom fighter. She describes vividly the culture of the place and time into which she was born and also her intuitive -- and inspiring -- desire to transcend the restrictions forced upon her because of her gender. From the very start, escaping the grasp of possible marriage at the age of ten, we see how she moulded her own creative power into a weapon and how the use of words became an act of rebellion against injustice, leading first to her career as a medical doctor and ultimately to her iconic status as a novelist and political activist.
paper. I made my younger sister talk. I made my sisters speak up despite all the people around us who were forcing silence on their voices. I made the silent child within me express herself through the characters I put down in black ink on the sheets of paper. I was a silent child. I looked around me with eyes full of wonder. What is it that dazzled my eyes since the day I was born? To me the world seemed a magic world. It was unreal. Behind the magic world hid a real one and I had to find it.
never stop making these tests, and did not believe everything my mother told me. I had never seen her read the Qur’an, and she did not know the stories that my father told us about the prophets. In addition she did not pray five times a day. All she did was to fast for the month of Ramadan. The Eid Al-Sagheer (small feast) came after the month of Ramadan. I enjoyed the small feast much more than I did the big one. There was no slaughtering of lambs, no sacrifice, no Godly tests. Instead there
behind the counter. One day when I went into the shop he said to me, ‘You know, I am your brother Tala’at’s classmate’, but I did not answer and left without saying a word to him. My mother had told me never to speak to boys I did not know. The father Shoukeir became one of the richest traders in Menouf. He kept adding one millime to the other until he accumulated millions, or so my father said. The people of Menouf and of Al‑Menoufeya province in general were known for their thriftiness, and the
king. Ismail Effendi had told us that it was God who made some people rich and others poor, and so it appeared to me that God must love Miss Hamer and the English people much more than he did Sittil Hajja and all the Muslims, since the English were rich and the Muslims were poor. 13 Dreaming of Pianos A mongst my classmates was a girl who came from a family named Shakankiri. During the festival of the Eid she climbed onto a donkey cart and when the children started to sing she joined in. A
big Persian carpet in the drawing-room was pulled out on to the verandah and hung over the balustrade in the sunshine, then the last speck of dust was beaten out of it with a bamboo beater wielded in turn by my mother and the other women of the family. Under the blows, the carpet kept scraping against the stone of the balustrade, emitting a repeated sound that resembled the moaning of someone undergoing torture. This Persian carpet accompanied my mother in life from the night of her wedding to