Posted by: koolwine | March 2, 2019

Bahrain: In the Country


Country Focus: Bahrain

In the Country: Stories
By Mia Alvar
Published by Knopf, 2015.
349 pgs.

Genre: Short stories

World Lit Up Rating:

(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and 5 books = lit up)

Mia Alvar

Quote:

Outside the walls of Luz Salonga’s house, beyond the fence around her yard, past her street and the gate to our compound, lay the oil fields and refinery that employed most of our husbands. We lived and worked in Bahrain at the pleasure of a people who mystified us. Everything we knew about the Arabs one day could by voided by what we learned in the next. Luz Salonga, the most religious one of us, admired their devotion. “I see them kneeling by the highway all times of day,” said, “while I can barely sell the kids on bedtime prayers.” But the Arabs that Fe Zaldivar knew worshiped only sports cars and gold jewelry, mansions and shopping trips to London. To Dulce deLumen, who worked in an emergency room, Arab meant incompetent and backward. “The best of their doctors couldn’t heal a paper cut, ” she said. But Rosario Ledesma didn’t think a country could get this rich, and have all of Asia at its feet, without some special brand of intelligence. Every morning Vilma Bustamante passed their marble palaces in Saar. Every afternoon Paz Evora drove by crumbling concrete village in A’ali. It didn’t matter that our own community had its kings and hobos, geniuses and fools, heathens and believers; this didn’t keep us from wanting a more perfect knowledge of our hosts, a clearer definition. We’d arrived on their island like the itinerant father in the fairy tale about a beauty and a beast, our houses fully furnished by some unseen master. Would he reveal himself to be a prince or a monster? We decided early to behave ourselves rather than find out. In their shops and on their streets, we wore hems no higher than the knee, sleeves no shorter than the elbow, necklines that would please a nun. We lived like villagers at the foot of a volcano, hoping never to offend the gods who governed our harvest and our wealth.

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