Friday, February 17, 2006

Places in the Heart : Part II

continued from here .

....Scene two, we have an unaffected lawyer of Arab origin in his bachelor house talking to his pet hamster. With flashback he starts to tell us about how he got to America like many others in his quest for the ‘land of all dreams’. Bakr (or Baker as the Americas call him ) fought in the 67 war with Israel and came back to Egypt a broken man, it took the October war of 73 which ended positively for Egypt to strengthen him out. But he was disillusioned and sought better pastures in America.

He was a lawyer in Egypt prior to going to war, so he tells us of his struggle in the states to work and finance his law studies for the bar exam there to be able to practice in the US.He speaks of his great love and devotion for America his adopted country which has opened her arms to him and in which he has finally healed. He is settled, and has married a lovely American (white woman) – Tracy whom he met on campus, and they had a beautiful daughter – Leila.

Hmmm but here the idyllic story is broken, Tracy’s ex-boyfriend whom she had dumped when he was drafted to Vietnam and whom she had subsequently been told was dead turns out to be alive… So what does Tracy do. Tracy informs Bakr that her ex-boyfriend Mark is back and she would like to have some time from their marriage off to go live and be with Mark because she thinks she still loves him , she wants to ‘test’ if Mark is still in her system and is she over him or not. Now I think that any sane man or woman regardless of being married or not will agree that what Tracy is asking for is not reasonable, right ?

Would you let your husband go live with his ex and be intimate with her in every way possible? I would call that adultery whether a man or a woman does it. In the West people are disgusted by Muslims’ polygamy (which is at least a legal relationship sanctioned by God ) so how could they stand for such a request ?
This woman basically wants to go have her fling with her ex and keep the security of being married if the ex does not work out. Having her cake and eating it in a way!

So of course what is a red blooded man going to do? being an Arab has nothing to do with it in my opinion but maybe adds more to the drama because of the special attitude of Arabs and Muslims towards the honour of their women.
Anyway Bakr gives Tracy an ultimatum, but she does not heed his warning, she dumps him and Leila ( a toddler) and goes with her boyfriend. After she leaves him the court sympathizes and he gets a divorce and custody of Leila. Tracy is even happy to sign the papers giving up her rights to the baby.
The years pass, Bakr is now a US lawyer and active member of the American society , loved and respected in his neighborhood, we are shown how he has brought up his daughter who loves him very much. But hey now this is too good right ? we can’t have that …

Meanwhile dear Tracy is gradually disillusioned with Mark who had returned from Vietnam with post traumatic stress syndrome , full of anger and resentment. He has become a woman beater, a drunkard and a bum and she has picked up his destructive alcoholism. One beating too many and she leaves Mark for Bakr asking to be his wife again. Bakr of course is livid and tells her that it is too late as he has gotten over her love and is settled now. She tells Bakr she wants to take Leila then and he says no since she has given up her custody right. She warns him ‘I will fight you in court and get my daughter from you. I will tell the judge/jury that you want to take Leila, an American back to your filthy Arab and Muslim country and dress her in a veil and prevent her from her freedom and keep her in the house and raise her as backward Arab girl.

Now let us remember the context in which this threat has been issued : following the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979), the image of Muslims in the world had been shaken over the years, and the American public had an especially deep grievance with this memory because of the storming of the US embassy and the gruesome episode of the hostage taking that followed. Later on in the 90s movies such as ‘Not without my daughter’ came striking a raw nerve in the collective western psyche. So anyway Bakr weasels out and gives in to Tracy’s blackmail he gives her the daughter and she slaps him with a court order that he should not approach them within a certain distance and gives him very strict visitation rights.

Bakr goes on with his life, constantly nagged and blackmailed for money by Tracy every time her various boyfriends dump her , all under the excuse that she needs it for Leila. With this background the years pass , but Bakr is a petty crimes lawyer a bit obscure he deals mostly with immigrants or the less fortunate slices of society. But he has quite a following among these people who ask him to run for Mayor of the city in the summer of 2001. So he takes his election campaign seriously and starts working on it.
Meanwhile the local papers are full of a story about the Arab Muslim Egyptian woman who killed her American husband, this is Lina from the opening scene if you recall ….

To my Arab readers here are interesting links about the series ,

one, lyrics , google.


Mohamed said...

Come on highlander, not again, quickly please :).
Do you also know the name of the writer?

highlander said...

Mohamed , check the links in the post they have all the info :).

Mohamed said...