‘Salima took things into her own hands. It was time for her daughter and granddaughter to return to the family home in al-Awafi. After all, a mother must recover in her family’s embrace. Every new mother knew the importance of the forty days following childbirth. Mayya would spend it in her mother’s home, under her mother’s watchful care.’- Celestial Bodies
Celestial Bodies narrates the story of a country that is seldom seen in the literary maps. The book’s key themes, though complex, is built around the pressures on three generations of an Omani family as a result of a social change. It follows the lives of three sisters who takes us through the lives in a less known community in the Arab world. The novel unravels the dark complexities of slavery which was made illegal in Oman in 1970. Lined with frames of reference from characters of a marginalised Omani society, the narrative takes us through history that connects the lives there which may look unfamiliar to others. Keeping that apart, the story focusses on the unpleasantly difficult situations that are present globally. It concretes the fact that humanity and the soul that keeps every human life moving is universal. Emotions at its purest form, like the one that enriches the above excerpt. Only a mother could display affection through thoughts that are gentle and compassionate.
Garnered with classic Arabic poetry, Celestial Bodies is an art in prose that opens out to tackle questions of time and mortality. It also impairs the stereotypes regarding Arab language and culture.