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Book Review by Ifedinma Dimbo - The Consequences of Love, By Sulaiman Addonia (Vintage)

Last update - Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 13:15 By Metro Éireann

Freedom – the meaning of this word seems to have brought many a society to its knees in recent times. Ideally people want to be able to make their own decisions, to live as they choose. In reality, this is usually not the case ¬– in some societies more than others.

So when you find yourself trapped in a society where most, if not all, ways of life are prescribed, and any contrariness is severely punished, even by death, it becomes a different ball game altogether.
Sulaimann Addonia leads us into Saudi Arabian society through the eyes of 18-year-old Naser, a young Eritrean immigrant. He lives a bleak life making ends meet with a dreary car-wash job.
It is summer, and his friends have fled Jeddah for cooler places, so he spends his free time writing to his mother in Eritrea, and longing to meet a woman.
Then one day, a black-clad woman drops a piece of paper at his feet, instructing him to follow her pink shoes. Naser’s life suddenly blooms into colour, but it’s the same colour that nearly ends his life.
Through Naser’s eyes we see an arid social landscape where the evil nature of domination is played to its ultimate degree.
It’s a place where women are likened to the Devil incarnate whose sole purpose on earth is to torment men and lead them astray – as a result, they are “locked away”, and when seen at all are no more than a shadow of moving darkness.
Even then, any man found looking in their direction would be dealt with by the religious police, who keep watch through the “shaded windows of their government jeeps”. So it would seem that the men are not as free, either. All this strictness is based on the laws of Wahhibism practiced in the state.
The question, then, is what is really going on?
I don’t know that I am in a position to answer that, but I must observe here that the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic faith, had a wife who was a prosperous trader, and you do not achieve such heights by skulking in the dark.
 It becomes even more of a bitter pill to swallow when you note the high level of hypocrisy and corruption at play. I can’t help but surmise that moral hegemony in the hands of any one person can never portend anything good.
The language of Addonia’s text is simple, the issues pursued compelling, but I must say that the imagery evoked is not as powerful as one would expect from a young narrator. However, the book is worth reading so that we can take note of how another world lives.

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