Yesterday Stella and I were running errands and I mentioned that Gahgee (what she calls my dad) was going to baby-sit because D. and I were going to a party. She got all teary and said that she didn’t want us to go and didn’t want Gahgee to come over. And then she said, “Are you guys leaving straightaway?”
Straightaway? Where the hell did she get that? She sounded so grown-up, and oddly, so British.
I’m thinking of it now because I miss the little bug. She’s spending the night at D.’s dad’s and step-mom’s house, and I’m really feeling lonely for her. It’s weird because she would be asleep if she were home, and it’s not as if I’ve never been away from her. She used to spend the night at my mom’s occasionally, but that was before she began sleeping through the night (which was, seriously, only two months ago). And usually when she slept there it was because D. and I were going out and were going to be late. (We can get really crazy.) Those nights away from her carried with them great benefits: night out, good sleep.
But D. and I weren’t going out tonight. He had to coach, so I drove home to our empty house by myself feeling sad. I actually didn’t know what to do with myself, so I plugged myself into the IPod and went for a run. I don’t usually run with music, but I cannot get enough of the Tsotsi soundtrack. It’s fabulous. I *love* Zola. (Hip hop in a language other than English can be so, so good.)
Anyway, I know Stella will have fun at her grandparent’s house because her cousins are sleeping over, as well, and I’m sure that at this very moment (2 hours past her normal bedtime) she is screaming and jumping around due to consuming way too much candy.
Missing her this much, though, reminds me the novel I just finished: Leila Aboulela’s The Translator. It’s about Sammar, a Sudanese widow working in Aberdeen, translating for Rae, a secular Islamic scholar. Sammar and Rae begin to fall in love, and as they get to know each other, they reveal their complicated pasts.
After Sammar’s husband was killed in a car accident, Sammar returned to Khartoum, and ended up leaving her two-year-old son, Amir, with her mother-in-law. She returned to Aberdeen to work on her own, paralyzed by grief for her dead husband. She admits wishing her son had died rather than her husband, and didn’t feel capable of loving him for a long time. I thought this was so interesting, such a different reaction than I imagine I would have (especially in the face of my current pining for Stella), but I do love when an author can make me experience the world in a new and different way.
Aboulela is very talented. Her prose is elegant, and the pace with which the story unfolds is just right. I love this line from a scene in which Sammar is sitting in a conservatory during the Scotland winter: “Tropical plants cramped in the damp warmth and orange fish in running water. Whistling bird flying indoors, the grey sky irrelevant above the glass ceiling.” As a Minnesotan, I can totally relate to this. I love to go to the Como Conservatory in January and walk among blooming orchids, breathing in the earth and plants.
This was her first novel, and I think this fact shows in some places—the ending, a heavy-handedness about her belief in the superiority of Islam, and some of the literary devices she uses—but still, I liked the book. It made me think, which is always good, and I do believe she is a talented writer. So, check it out. Her second novel, Minaret, is already on my bookshelf, and I am looking forward to reading more of her work.
Okay, I’m off to sleep now, and hope I won’t wake up in the middle of the night worry about the little bug.