Sunday, November 30, 2014

Further Entanglements

Happily, parliamentary elections in Tunisia (October 26th) went smoothly and the outcome was not disastrous. "Nida Tunis" (the Call for Tunisia), which groups the major center and leftist parties, won 86 seats out of 217, while the religious part won 69. Although "Nida Tunis" does not have a majority, it appears that they will be able to work with other small parties to form a government.

The first round for the presidential elections on November 23rd went relatively smoothly as well. However, the results were rather surprising. While the "Nida Tunis" candidate, Beji Caïd-Sebsi, garnered slightly over 39%, the current president, Moncef Marzouki, managed to get 33% of the votes. As the pre-election polls had shown him at less than 2%, one can only conclude that the religious party threw their weight behind him since they did not have a candidate in the running. 

The run-off elections would be December 14th, if nobody contested the results of the first round. However, Marzouki registered 7 complaints at the last minute of the 3-day filing limit in a bid to buy time (sore looser). This now has to go to court. Elections will be no later than December 28th.

In the meantime, the country sinks into limbo as there is no real governmental authority in this transition period. The school where I teach reflects the state of the country--it feels like we're on the edge of chaos. I can't remember having such a difficult teaching job. And yet, students and teachers keep plugging along with a certain amount of courage...

Sometimes I wonder if my work isn't a direct reflection of my distressed environment. I have coveted a jeans bag for a long time and so made one from a tall stack of old jeans that I can't bear to throw out. I love working on the soft blue and white of the old fabric. I stitch from the top and only catch the upper threads, so the denim is not tedious to work.
It's looking like Tunisia's future--entangled. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Memory in Memory

A couple of days ago, it was my Tunisian sister-in-law's birthday. Affectionately called Tata (diminutive for "aunt" in French), she lived right next door and had received the Final Invitation to Eternity the week before. So for the last couple of weeks, I have been engulfed in Tunisian funeral rites and receiving family and friends coming to express their condolences. My daughter managed to fly in from the States in time (funerals are within 24 hours in the Muslim world) and we said a last goodbye to Tata with the support of cousins, nieces, nephews, and family friends.

While helping to put things in order, I came across a watercolor that I did for her in 1988 for her birthday. We had little people hanging around then so playful ideas, like teddy bears, appeared. The painting was at the bottom of a sack, and a bit worn with yellowed, spotted paper. I cut it out, spatter painted a new background, glued it on, and sent her a happy birthday message in a prayer.

May she be granted peace and may her birthday celebration bring her joy in the Beyond. 

In loving memory of Tata (November 1945-November 2014).