I had problems getting a hold of a book from Bahrain, but I finally found a used copy of Sarah A. Al Shafei’s Yummah. The book is about love, loss and forgiveness. It is written in such a beautiful yet simplistic way. Strangely enough Yummah is not a widely read book, but I think it should be. It’s an easy and fast read with an interesting context. Could once again be a marketing issue. While reading the book I kept on wondering what ‘Yummah’ meant, and luckily it was explained at the end of the book, otherwise it would have bothered me for some time.
Khadeeja, got married to a man she had never met, at the age of 12. The man turned out to be the love of her life. Life however did not turn out to be easy for her. Raising nine children on her own was no easy task. Luckily she had some family to help her out when times got hard. Her doll Layla was her confident and stayed with Khadeeja until the very end. Throughout the book the doll gave Khadeeja strength, courage and support in a way no human could.
Khadeeja was such a strong woman. She was born into a relatively wealthy and progressive family. Still, she experience loss after loss, had to be courageous most of the time, and innovative at other times. She was also naive when it came to her love for her husband. I have to say that I really admire how some people can forgive other people, and take them back into their lives with open arms, no questions asked.
There are many things I liked about Yummah. One is the progress regarding women and marriage. Khadeeja didn’t have a choice. She was 12 and did not really have a grasp of the situation; moving away from home to live with a stranger, not to mention getting pregnant at a young age. Khadeeja did not send her oldest daughter Aisha off to get married, and Aisha got a chance to have her say in if she was ready for marriage or not. Fatima, the second oldest, met a man and decided all by herself she’d met the one. Mariam got married to a neighbour, which was expected, since they had fallen for each other the first time they met. Dana, the youngest, told her mother she was getting married. Her husband-to-be turned out to be a British Christian. Quite the change in a relatively short time.
Quite often these books in English regarding life in the Middle East are about women and how they are either oppressed or princesses. This book gave a bit of a different point of view. I enjoyed reading about the life of some men as well. Life is not automatically easy for them either, and the men in the book experienced hard times and showed weakness.