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Monday, April 12, 2010

Desert Flower

Last night my husband and I saw Desert Flower, a film made from the autobiography of Waris Dire, a Somalian woman who was a top model and is a renowned activist against the ancestral practice of excision in some African cultures. I don't know if this film is visible in the U.S., if it has already come out or not. I encourage you and your other halves to go see it. It is not a Walt Disney film at all, and will wrench your gut sometimes.
You will leave some feathers in it, as we say in French. You COULD emerge from this film a changed person. Who knows ?

Reducing Waris's story to a petition against excision would be regretful.
Because Waris is an extraordinary flesh and blood person. She WILL NOT let herself be reduced.
Here is a woman who as a child fled across the Somalian desert, alone, on foot, traveling countless miles without food, without shoes to reach Mogadischiu (spelling ??) in order to escape an arranged marriage with a sixty year old toothless neighbor.
Who, through good fortune (...) becomes a slave in the Somalian embassy in London, and manages to avoid being sent home when the embassy closes.
Waris has exceptional intelligence and exceptional will. She knows how to be a reed AND an oak. Both.
She knows how to reach out to the people around her. To ASK for help.
And the people she meets cannot help but be affected by her grace.
Her beautiful smile. Her... innocence.
Chance (or God ?) is looking out for Waris.
The people she rubs up against can SEE how beautiful, how graceful, how exceptional she is.
And they want to help her. Even if she is dirty, uneducated, can barely speak a word of English. Even if she is black.
A miracle, Waris. She transforms (almost) everyone she touches. (That's what GRACE does. It transforms (almost)everyone you touch. And you too.)

I wept all the way through the film.
I... weep when beautiful things happen. I cannot help it.
Seeing how beautiful human beings can be makes me weep with wonder.
I did not weep so much at the "sad", "sordid" events in Waris's life. They were trying, and they made ME sad FOR Waris, but they did not manage to touch me the same way.

It was evident to me that Waris, as someone SO extraordinary would not remain content with the life of a top model, and that she would need to find a larger sense for her life.
It looks like she has found it.
She is the first person to have spoken publicly about excision in Africa.
The excerpts from her U.N. speech on the problem reveal how tactful, how compassionate how... resistant to reduction her view on the question is.
And how personally implicated she is.

Some ramblings...
What does it MEAN to be a woman ?
Am I a woman because I have ? between my legs ?
Is Waris a woman because she DOESN'T have ? between her legs ?
Why do WE mutilate our nature ? given bodies ?
Why.. DON'T we mutilate them ?
I wept in the film for myself. For feeling that being human, since the frontal cortex started mushrooming, means proving that we are DIFFERENT from the dumb animals.
Why do we do this ?
Why do we NEED to do this ?
I think I will NEVER be resigned to this...
Call it.. my PERSONAL revolt...


Edwardo said...

It sounds like something I should endeavor to see. As does this: Flipper front and center.

Debra said...

Thanks for the link, Edwardo.
I will try to see the film (if it makes it here... documentaries don't always make it here...)
I checked out the comments on the trailer...
What's to say ?
Why do people get all angry about the Japanese ?
A while ago I wrote a post about Nodame Cantabile, a Japanese TV series which is probably the most intelligent, beautiful show I have ever seen about redeeming young people through (classical) music.
Some time when you're feeling down, download the Nodame series. It will give you... hope.
And it's Japanese...
As I say.. we're all in this together.
For worse or for better.
Thanks for your comment.

Dr John said...

Thanks for inspiring me to post Debra. The movie sounds deeply moving and very powerful.

Debra said...

Thanks for YOUR link, Doctor John, and your comment.

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