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Jun 05, 2019 23:59:16

"The Harem Within"

by @zainabmirza | 279 words | 🐣 | 32💌

Zainab Mirza

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Today I started reading Black Milk: On the Conflicting Demands of Writing, Creativity, and Motherhood by best-selling Turkish writer Elif Shafak. The book is a memoir detailing Shafak's struggles with postpartum depression after the birth of her first child. I'm only about 50 pages in but I'm really enjoying it, partly because she draws on the experiences of other female writers in a patriarchal society.  

But what really pulled me in is an intriguing confession Shafak made right on the first page, that she has a "harem within," where four Thumbelina-sized women lived, each with a personality, voice, and opinion of her own, that are in constant conflict with the others. One is spiritually-inclined, one a practical person, another a cynic, and the fourth is a workaholic. She even went as far as naming them all; the spiritual one for instance is called Dame Dervish (of course). I love this! I love that she actually named them! She described each of their habits, clothes, where they lived, and what they ate. The writing captivated me and I would probably have finished the book today if we didn't have guests coming over for Eid. 

It's made me think of the voices within me that are sometimes at odds with me. Like the 'realist'. Or the 'dreamer'. Or the 'writer'. I'm tempted to do some serious introspection and identify what kind of women these voices belong to, and where they come from. It would serve as na exercise for reflection or possible inspiration for a short story, if nothing else. Or just a chance to poke around the harem within and get better acquainted with the women who've taken up residence there.



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