By Nawal El Saadawi
This is the 1st quantity of the autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, giving an emotionally shattering, yet splendidly lyrical, portrait of her early life in a distant Egyptian village -- the early life that produced the liberty fighter. She describes vividly the tradition of where and time into which she was once born and likewise her intuitive -- and encouraging -- wish to go beyond the constraints pressured upon her as a result of her gender. From the very begin, escaping the clutch of attainable marriage on the age of ten, we see how she moulded her personal inventive strength right into a weapon and the way using phrases turned an act of uprising opposed to injustice, prime first to her profession as a physician and eventually to her iconic prestige as a novelist and political activist.
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Additional resources for A Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, 2nd ed.
You see, daughter of my son, girls have seven lives, like cats. But boys are not like girls. They have airy souls that fly away easily, and people give them the evil eye, and hang a charm around their necks. Poor thing, this child, the apple of my eye was so skinny and ate so little, not like those greedy girls. I used to hide food for him in a hole inside the wall, bring him milk straight from the tit of the buffalo, and fill a plate with cream for him. At dawn, before the sun came out, I woke up the girls and we Arabic slang for clitoris.
The mother of the newborn child shut her eyes and curled up around herself like an embryo, pressing the soft flesh of her white thighs over the open bleeding cleft. Her arms did not stretch out to enfold me, to hold me to her breast. She left me to shiver by her side wrapped in an old rag so tight around my belly and chest that I almost suffocated, and went into a kind of daze, a feverish state where the pain and bleeding took her back to her wedding night. She advanced to the beat of drums, at a slow, heavy pace, her feet stumbling over the high tapering heels of her shoes, catching into the tail of the long wedding gown with its cascades of folds and frills.
The first child was one year older than me, and they called him the eldest brother. I was the second, the eldest daughter who carried her mother in her arms when she lay on her deathbed, held her up to her breast and fed her. None of the males ever carried her in his arms, or held her close to his chest. I glimpse myself in the mirror, and wonder at how the years have fled by so that here I am feeding my mother instead of her feeding me. In the mirror I see the spoon in my hand come close to her mouth.
A Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, 2nd ed. by Nawal El Saadawi