A Spaceship of Tenderness to the Moon
Can just a brief conversation give a great deal of info about a couple, a family, society and in general a community? Yes! This made sense to me once I finished reading the short story, “A Spaceship of Tenderness to the Moon” by Layla Baalbaki. A bite-size story exuding with complex emotions! Another short story from The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories by Women.
Dawn has started seeping into their bed, yet they haven’t slept a wink! The husband climbs out of the bed, naked, to take a look at the city outside. Knowing well that he’s up to something important, the wife asks him if he saw the sea and the cypress trees. While she’s still lingering with the scenery and melting in thoughts, he shoots it, ‘Why do you refuse to have children?”
Her heart is heavy and tears well up her eyes. Yet, she holds herself together and snubs his question by giving absent-minded answers. Persistent, as if to resolve this issue today, he pours out his fury. Her thoughts take her straightaway to the incident and she looks at her right hand. She inquires if her blood is still dripping from it hot. He rebukes her for being mad enough to have done so and gets to the point that after all that misery and triumph, she is refusing to become pregnant.
The feeling that he couldn’t build his family pricks him hard. But all that eats up her mind at the moment is the night before: I was upset by the speed with which he got to sleep, and by my being left alone and awake at his side. He ignores that. He hardly remembers such a thing and faintly says, “In this age people don’t die of love’. She couldn’t take that he doesn’t believe her being madly in love with him and hence concludes: only the woman who is unsatisfied with her man eagerly demands a child so that she can withdraw, enjoy being with her child and so be freed.
The conversation heats up and she knows he’s changing it into an attack on her to win the battle. So she finally opens up about her fear in having a child: how can I bear the thought that in the future he will leave me and go off in a rocket to settle on the moon? The whole argument takes on a different turn from her passionate and ardent love for him to the anxiety of a mother in her. From there she goes on until he decides to take on that unlooked-for verdict!
It might seem simple or even silly as being just a conversation between a married couple on having a child but, trust me, it’s a deep dive into the woman⏤ and her stern stance towards relationship and the ensuing commitment. I felt the story too short to write on, but a whole lot of experiences and emotions were waiting in just some four to five pages away! Layla Baalbaki’s writing has always been a western-influenced voice against the female Arab conditions.
Layla Baalbaki (1936)
Layla Baalbaki, a name one could never fail to come across while getting to know Arab women writing. A Lebanese novelist, journalist and feminist, she’s been creating her own identity in the Arab and World literature, primarily focusing on female issues. Her work I Live (1958) opened new vistas in Arab feminism at the time, though she was charged with obscenity and immorality for discussing ‘women taboos’.
I’ve always wanted to put my reading experience into writing—venting out. With the fecund digital and social space, I’ve decided now the right time to plunge into my ambitious desire of getting to know as many women writers across the world, through their works, regardless of their geographic and ethnic existence. Yet, I’m against the idea of branding my blog as feminist as I choose to read on them purely for the writers’ purport and their ardent works.
I’d like you to be a part of my reading journey and get to know along with me the women writers who’ve been silently transfiguring their areas of interest.