Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Palestine Nights

   Reaching the kitchen, I finally appreciated the situation my curiosity had put me in. Whatever happened outside, if anyone found me outside my bedroom, their immediate assumption would be that I had been with Aisha. They’d make mincemeat of me, let alone the consequences for Aisha. The Jordanians still have honour killings, the families of girls who’ve disgraced them closing ranks to protect the brother or father who kills her in a rage. What would they do with me, the lone Brit somewhere in the country between two of the most infamous flashpoints in the West Bank? I stood in the dark kitchen, the moonlight shining through the window casting cold bars of light across the wall. I was sweating so much I had to wipe my forehead.
Olives, Page 174

I’ve had readers wondering how Paul could ever have got close enough to Aisha to have a relationship with her, which always puzzles me. It’s by no means easy for him, early on he gets a ‘hands off my sister’ talk from Daoud and yet it’s reasonably clear that the women in the family approve of Paul more than Daoud does. Aisha’s grandmother Mariam comes down on Paul’s side too, yet Paul is acutely conscious of the cultural issues at play. Warned early on by his friend Lars, the man who lives upstairs, about the jealousy of Arab men, Paul knows that his situation, when he goes walkabout in Palestine at midnight, is a fraught one.

And yet Paul is driven by curiosity, trying to get to the bottom of whether Aisha and her family are somehow involved in terrorist activities. He suspects, but he dare not believe the woman he’s falling in love with could indeed be involved. He’s torn, his suspicions constantly being pushed by Gerald Lynch and yet his feelings for Aisha leading him to doubt what he’s hearing.

Pulled this way and that, torn by his loyalties, Paul has to make the right decisions if he’s to make it through.

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