Feed on

Woman at Point Zero

“I held her eyes in mine, took her hand in mine. The feeling of our hands touching was strange, sudden. It was a feeling that made my body tremble with a deep distant pleasure, more distant than the age of my remembered life, deeper than the consciousness I had carried with me throughout. I could feel it somewhere, like a part of my being which had been born with me when I was born, but had not grown with me when I had grown, like a part of my being that I had once known, but left behind when I was born. A cloudy awareness of something that could have been, and yet was never lived.” (Saadawi 38)

So many different desires are being awakened in Firdaus in this moment. For one, a sexual desire; before now, Firdaus has been sexually abused and objectified repeatedly by her uncle, her only experience with intimacy being nonconsensual acts. Here, she is able to experience it in a different way for the very first time. There is compassion between the two of them—Firdaus and Miss Iqbal understand one another and care for one another, with each wishing to ease the other’s pain. Their connection is loving and gentle; with this mutual fondness, Firdaus is able to experience a very pure kind of desire in which nothing is being taken from her, in which she only gives what she chooses to give of herself. Her pleasure arises from a bond that is honest, in which nothing is being demanded of her.

A deeper desire might be the desire for a mother figure. Firdaus has never truly experienced a mother’s love or protection. With Miss Iqbal, she is able to feel wanted, loved, protected. She is able to feel truly seen for the first time in her life as a woman worthy of love and respect.

A third option is the desire to be free from her worldly pain. She talks of a deep desire that has been with her since before her birth, “something that could have been, and yet was never lived.” This could be a sense of hope at all the possibilities of life, and how diminished that hope can become once the hardships of life begin to appear. In Miss Iqbal, perhaps she sees what her life might have been like, if she had not become Firdaus. What is the life of this woman like? Is it better or worse than her own? If Firdaus has been born as another, where would she be now?

Comments are closed.