Saturday 28 August 2021

By the Light of the Crescent Moon

Finished August 26
By the Light of the Crescent Moon by Ailsa Keppie

This memoir is one that is sometimes uncomfortable to read as Ailsa gives up her autonomy and even her identity to the man she falls in love with. Her story is an extreme version of one many women have, where they try to become what someone else expects them to be, and lose themselves in the process. The author didn't feel loved growing up, and her need for love was thus easily exploited by a handsome man who focused on her, telling her how lucky she was to be chosen by him. She gives us some idea of her life before meeting him, showing that she had explored her sexuality to some extent, but hadn't had a real relationship before Said. Ailsa was a successful circus performer, skilled in her trade, and with other entertainment related skills as well. 
Once they started living together, she made the decision to become Muslim, and this decision process isn't explained here, but her main story begins after she has converted and started to dress in more conservative Muslim clothing, and stop contact with most of her previous friends. Seeing how she became isolated and found new friends and acquaintances in the same situation as herself and grew ever more conservative in her dress and activities really exemplified her desire to please her now husband. 
Her visit to her family in Nova Scotia shortly after becoming married described her husband's charm and the persona he presented publicly, different from the one he sometimes showed her. Said comes across as a selfish and self-centered man, focused on his own needs and pleasures. He changes Ailsa's name to a Moroccan one that is similar and she complies, he celebrates her moves to more intense religious behaviours as rewards for himself, he refuses to help her with looking after the house or with the children they have as he wants her not to become dependent in case he must go away to work, but he doesn't provide for her financially or emotionally. He is a taker, not a partner. 
Ailsa knows there is something wrong with their relationship even as she submits to him more and more, and it is only when he suggests a way for her to get out of her situation (although no help in doing it) that she breaks free.
This is a story of a dysfunctional relationship by a woman whose lack of self esteem allowed her to fall further and further away from her true self. There are glimmers from time to time as she makes a connection or takes an action, but it is a long time before she can connect with her own wants and needs again. 
At times this book was difficult to read as Ailsa abased herself, but it was satisfying to see her finally recognize that this relationship was not one of love at all and find a way out for herself. I hope she finds strength in her self as she moves into the future without becoming dependent again.

No comments:

Post a Comment