Khul-Khaal, Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories

Khul-Khaal, Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories

Khul-Khaal, Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories

Khul-Khaal, Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories

Excerpt

In this book five contemporary Egyptian women, in age from their early twenties to mid-sixties and all of the mid- to lower socio- economic classes, tell their life stories. From birth and childhood to puberty, clitoridectomy, marriage, adult life, and children, we are allowed a generous glimpse, through these very personal accounts, into the details of five women's daily lives. We become acquainted with their families, share their thoughts, dreams, fears, tragedies, and disappointments, as well as getting a good dollop of folklore, superstition, manners and customs, and general information.

Dunya came to clean for me six days a week one year when I lived on a houseboat on the Nile in Cairo. I began to tape record her stories some months after she came to work. Before that time we had talked off and on informally. As she traveled, feather duster in hand, from cabin to cabin, she would stop to chat or to tell me about her neighbors and herself. Dunya was a talented raconteuse, and when she spoke I dropped everything to listen.

I felt I was being allowed a privileged peek into a society I knew almost nothing about and which I longed to understand, as much as I longed to become intimately acquainted with an Egypt I had left to go to the United States as a child some twenty-five years earlier.

As I speak fluent Cairene Arabic, Dunya and I communicated with ease. She shared her world with me and, in my own way, I reciprocated.

It was to round out some of the themes, such as growing up, love, marriage, family, and expectations, which ran through Dunya's tale, and which I suspected could nor be unique to her, that I began to speak in the same way with other men and women around me. They were by and large picked at random from among Egyptians I saw over a period of three years, 1976-79, mostly in the course of ordinary daily activities.

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