Mernissi seemed to have a happy childhood. Shespok

tyue fondly of many of the memories she shared in Dreams of Trespass. Thishappiness was threatened though, by the more liberal women that lived on theterrace. In their quest for women’s liberation, Mernissi’s freedom wasjepardized. One of the things Merniss spoke most fondly of was the amount offreedom the children had. Since they saw everything the women on the terracedid, the children had a lot of leverage, which Mernissi speaks of in chapter18, American Cigarettes: Grownups committed worse crimesthan fooling around inolive jars, such as chewing gum, putting on red fingernail polish, and smokingcigarettes, although theses last two took place rarely, given the dificullty ofattaining such foreign items in the furst place…Since we children could havegotten any of the adult criminals in trouble with Father,Uncle, and Llala Maniif we described what we saw, we were treatted with exceptional indulgence, andenjoyed an unusually comfortalbe position on the terrace. No grown up couldboss us around without us threatening to realiate by informing the authorities.And indeed, the authorities relied heavily on us when they suspected somethingfishy was going on, for they belived that “children tell the truth.”All the trespassers, therfore, gaveus VIP treatment, showering us with cookies,roasted almonds, and sfinge (doughnuts), and never forgetting to hand us ourtea before every one else.(175-8) This power over the adult women was in dangerof disolving with the more liberal women pushing for more freedom. If the womensuccede in getting more freedoms then they are liberated from the blackamilingchildren. But this in turn takes the freedom from the children who needed thewomen to keep getting what they want. Mernissi and the other children of theterrace needed the adult women to commit “crimes”, and without themthey would have had the “VIP treatment” they were used to having. Itwould have been a rude awakening for Mernissi and Samir to not to have theluxurious treatment, but It would also be better for them not to blackmailtheir mothers and aunts. Children should not be aloud to manipulate thesituation to always get their way. Another one of the things Mernissi seemed toenjoy alot from her childhood was the time she spent with her divorced aunt,Habiba. Since her divorce Aunt Habiba has lived at the Mernissi household, andhas served as the designated story teller. Upstairs was also the place to gofor storytelling. You would climb the hundreds of glazed stepps that led allthe way up to the third and top floor of the house, and the terrace which laybefore it all whitewhashed, spacious and enviting. That was where Aunt Habibahad her room, small and quite empty. (17) She knew how to talk in the night. Withwords alone she could put us onto a large ship sailing from Aden to theMaldives, or take us to an island where the birds spoke like human beings.Riding on her words we traveled past Sind and Hind (India), leaving muslimterritory behind, living dangerously, and making friends with Christians andJews, who shared their strange foods with us and watched us do our prayers,while we watch them do theirs. Sometimes we traveled so far that no gods werefound, only sun- and fire-worshipers, but even they seemed friendly whenintroduced by Aunt Habiba. Her tails amde me long to become an adult and anexpert storyteller myself. I wanted to learn how to talk in the night.(19) Thetimes Mernissi spent up stairs with Aunt Habiba were some of her favoritetimes. It gave her a chance to explore without having to leave the terrace.Without the traditional family structure that they have in their family AuntHabiba would have not lived at the Mernissi house. Being of a rebelious nature,if it were socially permissible, like some of the more liberal women wouldlike, including Aunt Habiba, she would be out on her own, exploring the worldand living her stories. Going to the movies was also one of the things from herchildhood Mernissi loved. One of the things that made it so exciting was therarety of any of the women getting to go. The young men of the house wentfrequently which made it even harder for Mernissi and the rest of the women andchildren. Only when a film was a big hit, and the entire population of Fezturned out to see it, were the Mernissi women allowed to go too(116)….Andgoing to the movies was a thrill, from begining to end(117)….Once in thecinema, the whole harem would sit in two rows having tickets for four,in orderto leave the row in front, as well as the one behind unoccupied. We did notwant some mischievous, irreverent cinema-goer to take advantage of the darknessand pinch one of the ladieswhile she was engrossed in the movie plot.(122) Thewhole reason the movies were so exciting was that just going was a hugeproduction requiring hours of preparation, followed by a large processionthrough the street. If the act of going to the movies were to have becomeacceptable, like the way Mother and Chama campaigned for, it would have soonlost the magic and excitement that it held for Mernissi. It would make the tripcommon place. There wouldn’t be any freedoms lost,as with the balckmail on theterrace, but freedom gained, the only loss being the way it had been sospecial. Mernissi’s companion throughout her childhood was her cousin Samir.She spends most of her time whith him since the two of them are the same age,and beacuse they are best of friends, until Mernissi “grows up”. Shelooks up to him for his skills in rebelion. One of my weekly pleasures was toadmire Samir as he staged his mutinies against the grownups, and I felt that ifI only kept following him that nothing bad could happen to me(8)…And then wewould scream when it was time for bed , and the most spoiled of my cousins,like Samir, would roll on the floor, and shout that they did not feel sleepy,not at all.(18) Samir and Mernissi don’t stay friends though. As they begin to”grow up” they start to grow apart, when the differences between menand women begin efecting thier lives more and more. They argue over Mernissi’snew infatuation with becoming a ghazala, how men have more rights than women,and the amount of play time they have together. Finally one day, our conflictreached a crisis point, and Samir summoned an emergency meeting on theforbidden terrace, where he explained to me that if I kept dropping out for twodays in a row to take part in the grownup’s beauty treatments, and attend ourterrace sessions with smelly oily masks allover my face and hair, he was goingto look for another games partner.(220) This tension caused Mernissi alot ofworry in how to handle her conflict with Samir, when he tells her that what shethinks is incredibly important, he find to be trivial. Finaly he gives her anultimatum “You have to choose now. I can’t go on being lonely for two daysat a time with no one to play with.”(220) She then quickly replies”Skin first! Samir.” “With those fatal words which were to bringabout big changes in my life, I proceeded down the shakey laundry poles. Samirheld them for me without a word. Once down, I held them for him, and he sliddown in silence. We stood facing each other for a while, and then shook handswith a great deal of solemnity, just as we had seen Father and Uncle do…Thenwe parted in awesome silence.”(221) Mernissi and Samir’s friendship is notso much threatened by the liberal women of the Mernissi household, but hinderedby the lack of it. If there had been a little more of a push from the liberalstowards the two children not to let their differences seperate them, then theywould have had an easier time saying close friends. Many of Mernissi’s fondmemories of childhood were jepardized by a great deal by the liberal women ather home. Through all the struggle she still has a happy childhood.


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