Ahmed-Border Passage-ch5-Harem.pdf - ~REM -~-=-= =-=:.:.=.:...

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~REM____________________________Lookingoutontothegarden,thetreesthat I had !wednowgone,felledtomakewayforthemarqueesputupforthenight'scelebratiom,Icriedand cried.Icried formytrees,Icriedformychildhood,Isaw inthebarrengardenbeforemeapict11reofthelife Im11stnowlive,bereftofeverythingIhadlovedand ofeverythingcompanionabletome.Httda Shaarawi (1889-1945),Memoirsofan Egyptian FeministIKNOWMYfather's dateofbirth, November 13, 1889,butnot mymother's. Hers fellinearly May, perhapsthefifth. The year was1909. Mymothersometimes said it wasthefifth when I pressed heras a child,butusuallyshejustsaid May, early May. Why didn'tsheknow? I've sometimes wondered.Coulditbethatthey recordedthedateaccording totheIslamic calendarandnobody got around tofig-uring itoutin thisothercalendar? Theymusthavehadbirthcertifi~catesinthose days; otherwise, how wasitFatherknew his birth date?Orcoulditbethatthey kept records in Alexandria, wherehewasborn,butnot inthesmall country town whereshecameintotheworld?At any rate, it wasatBenisweif,onhergrandfather's estate,thatmymotherfirst sawtheli~htofday.ShegrewuppartlyinCairo,inthehousethatI knew,andpartly onherfather's estate in al-Fayyurn,the rich1fertile oasis ahundredmilesorso southwestofCairo. Aplaceoffruit treesandorange-blossom scents anda verandaand roofgardenthatI also remember. Nearby was BirketQarun,a vast graylake, its edges dense with reeds, reedsthatwere alive with the shuffleand stirofbirds-ducksandwaterfowl.By the time mymotherwas a child, change forwomenwas well
94LeilaAhmedunderwayinEgypt.Women'smagazineswereflourishing, feministswere writing newspapercolumns,andFrench, British, andAmericanschools for girlshadopenedandwereattendedbythedaughtersofthewell-to-do.Whenshe wasanadolescent, Egyptwonpartial in-dependencefromtheBritish,andin1924a newgovernment,madeupofthe country'smodernizingintellectuals,cameinto office, Egypt'sfirst electedgovernment.Althoughstill lockedinbattlewiththe Brit-ishforfullindependence,thenewgovernmentbeganatoncetoeffectchangesinthe areasunderitscontrol.Immediatelyitopenedmoreschools,andsoon also amodernuniversitynamedafterKingFuad.Almostfromthe start,itadmittedwomen.Thewomenleadingthe wayineducationwere fromtheambi-tious, progressive,broadmiddle class, my father's class. Mymotherdidnotbelongtothis class. Among peopleofherclass, formal edu-cation,whetherformenorwomen, wasnotamatterofimportance.Theywerenot,though, whoiiy isolated fromthechanges afoot;mymotherandhersisterswerea11senttotheMeredeOieu, aschoolrunbyFrenchnuns.ButMother,the eldest, was withdrawn fromtheschool attheage of twelve andthereafterh ad privatetutorsathome.

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Term
Spring
Professor
Pattridge
Tags
The Bible, A Border Passage, grandfather, Leila Ahmed

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