Saturday, April 19, 2008

Confessions of a Gambler: a novel

Just the title and cover art--aren't you already hooked? I spotted it a few months ago on the new book shelf, and I finally checked it out last week. Quite good.

Abeeda is a Muslim mother living in South Africa. Left by her husband years ago when she was pregnant with her fourth son, she has since learned to be tough, using her sharp wits and her culinary skills in order to support her family. Now that her children are grown, she has started to venture outside the domestic sphere and she soon ends up at the local casino. As her youngest son battles AIDS and Abeeda's sister struggles with breast cancer, Abeeda escapes into her gambling. Deeper and deeper into debt she gets until she has even borrowed from her household maid.
Chapters in the book are devoted to the earlier history of Abeeda's greatest love and loss of her life, and the whole package is wrapped together in a tight plotline that reads quickly without becoming sloppy or cliched.

It was developed into a movie last year with the author working both as the screenwriter and actress. Apparently the project was a letdown, which is unfortunate. As I was reading this, I could imagine it playing out well on the big screen.


Titianlibrarian said...

p. 68-69 "Men, I can tell you, are different from women. They can promise undying love, they can tell you they can't live a moment without you, but you die tomorrow--three months later they're married to someone else. I don't know how they get it right in their heads, but I know two men who've done that. They can't deal with sitting alone at the breakfast table or creeping alone into bed. After the hundred nights, the imam sommer came one time and performed the nikkah, and they picked up their lives and carried on.

Women don't do this. They've got this huge lay-by of love that's got to be very carefully laid to rest. They nurture the past. Women light candles and listen to music to help them cry. They talk to a friend. They're not in a rush to get over it. They go through all five stages of grief, and a few more, until their hearts are still again. A woman's sorrow is a last act of loyalty, an expression of love for the man who once shared her life.

But women are fools also. They give too much of themselves, and hold nothing in reserve. They believe entirely in this human being who's promised a lifetime of happiness. When the human being fails, they look at his failings and not at their own desperate need to be loved. They find out for the first time that no one can love them until they've done the job themselves. That's not to say that I have no longings. Many, many times I wished my life had been otherwise. I love men and love being in their company; I just don't want to be contracted to one again."

Titianlibrarian said...

p. 179-180 "Don't confuse what I'm telling you with religion, Abeeda. Religion is for feeling comfortable with your circumstances, to accept the hardships in your life. What you have to do is tap into your soul. Sometimes we ask God for help, and don't like the help that comes. Be still and find the source of your pain, feel where it is in your body. Focus on it, make friends with it. Articulate the sound of your pain. Maybe a single word, or a scream. Then let go of it. You can do it in the shower when the water's rushing over you, or into a pillow. But let go of this energy and give it back. Take back your power, Abeeda. This is an old pain. That's why it hurts so much. When you peel back the layers and find your centre, you'll see that this need that you have to be loved, is the need to love yourself."