Scream of a Butterfly

2 commentsArtists,Photography

The bride escapes her own wed­ding.

Before you read this, please make sure these Arabic let­ters فراشه appear. If they don’t, then let me know because in that case Layal’s beau­ti­ful words will just look like gib­ber­ish.

The weeks pri­or to my trip to India, I col­lab­o­rat­ed with Layal El Ghazirie on her debut book صرخة فراشه (Scream of a Butterfly). In her col­lec­tion of 25 short sto­ries, para­bles, and anec­dotes, the promis­ing young Lebanese author writes about mar­riage from the point of view of a 21 year old girl liv­ing in a soci­ety that, when it comes to the issue, suf­fers a cri­sis of iden­ti­ty. Layal looks at the many con­tra­dic­to­ry facets of the cul­ture of courtship and mar­riage like a child inspect­ing a strange object — by grip­ping it gen­tly, then  slow­ly turn­ing it around, eye­ing it up close, then from a dis­tance.

Caught in an emo­tion­al whirl­wind.

Like all good lit­er­a­ture, the book main­tains a high­ly per­son­al and very spe­cif­ic voice, but in doing so achieves the for­tu­nate para­dox of speak­ing to all of us. This is a brief excerpt from one of the sto­ries, writ­ten almost entire­ly in the sec­ond per­son. If you don’t read Arabic, I’ll attempt to para­phrase in my much more pedes­tri­an and clunky English: Basically the pas­sage advis­es the sin­gle girl against being pres­sured into a love­less rela­tion­ship, even if that means remain­ing alone.

فحينما تتزوجي رجلاً غريب عنك سيبقى دائماً غريب، وتستيقظي بجانب غريب طوال حياتك. فالعاهرة تشارك سريرها كل يوم غريب مختلف وسيغدو الفارق الوحيد بينكما أنك اخترت أن تشاركي سريرك غريب واحد.

وأنا من بنات جنسي اخترت أن أنام في سريري وحيدة حتى لو لآخر يوم من عمري ولن أعيش أبداً في وهم نظرية والدتي وحتى لو تزوجت رجلاً أعشقه حتى الممات وهو يحبني أقل من ذلك فسأشكر ربّي في كل مرة أستيقظ لأراه جانبي غافٍ في أحلامه وأعيش أنا حلمي بجانبه.

فلا يا أمي، سامحيني لن أتزوج رجلاً يحبني وأنا لا أفعل.

لن أبادل ولائه بخيانة في أحلامي.

لن أكون ناكرة له أنام تحت سقفه وأشعر أن جدرانه تخنقني.

لا يا أمي، لن أصبح زانية في سريري. فالحب هو نفس يضعه الخالق فينا، هو ما يبعثه الله لنا، دون أن نطلبه أو نستطيع التحكم به. الحب هذا هو ما سيربطني بزوجي يا أمّاه وليس نصيحتك.

My involve­ment came with Layal’s idea to alter­nate the 25 sto­ries with a series of pho­tos that tell a 26th sto­ry of their own. The images are word­less, but the­mat­i­cal­ly relat­ed to the oth­er sto­ries. As a result, Layal, my won­der­ful part­ner @sooly_kobayashi, and I approached this sto­ry like we would a film told in stills.

In fact, our one-day set pro­ceed­ed almost exact­ly like a film shoot, with loca­tion pro­vid­ed by a bor­rowed house in Sawfar, wardrobe designed by Layal (who, as a media major at UPA, has some expe­ri­ence her­self), and cast and crew com­posed of friends and fam­i­ly. We used up all the sun­light and even some moon­light. In the end, we were as jit­tery as a but­ter­fly on a chilly evening, but as hap­py as a girl on her wed­ding day.

Layal holds a book sign­ing on May 22nd. • Learn more at صرخة فراشه Facebook group.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

SOOLY May 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm

It was a pleasure working and learning from you partner!

*leaving Ataturk in 3hours!*

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Meedo May 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Finally! x

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