Ice cream, like the love of a good man, is hard to find, Moustafa Bayoumi states at the beginning of Lina’s story echoing Flannery O’ Connor.
‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’ is a very famous and controversial short story in which O’ Connor describes a car trip undertaken by a family that ends dramatically; every member of the family is in effect killed by an evilish man that stops the car and kills them one by one. In this sad story there’s anyway a redemption note: the grandmother, annoying and stupid at the beginning, finds her own conversion before being killed through a dialogue with the evil man.
Apparently, like Flannery O’ Connor’s story, this is a story of redemption.
Ice cream is a metaphore of Lina’s life.
Ice creams were forbidden in 1996 in Iraq, because of US sanctions: electricity was in short supply, sugar imports had dropped, and the regime found it easier to ban ice creams in order to avoid common people from complaining.
Lina, exiled from US in Iraq, her native country, craves one of the symbols of occidental civilization, without any possibility to get it.
Lina is in Iraq as her parents judged immoral her behavior.
Ice cream is soft and creamy, and lacks of a solid shape.
It changes unceasingly lick after lick. An ice cream is always different.
Also Lina’s life and her way to react to difficulties is always different.
Ice creams do not exist anymore in Iraq because of US’ sanctions. US’ sanctions killed more than war, Lina states at the end of the story: they weakened people.
US is the country where Lina grew up and where she craves to come back to. She desires to come back in the country that destroyed the place in which she was born.
It is very difficult in Lina’s story to assess a definitive point of view. She describes herself as in a romance, in a twirling of emotions, desires, inhibited desires. The story develop as a Mac Donald’s soft ice cream.
During the story, Lina’s life changes unceasingly. She changes city, boyfriend, work and University. She has not clear political believes – her friends are Americans, Arabs, Iraqis pro and against Saddam.
Everything changes, in Lina’s life, but it is only when her mother dies that she feels alone for the first time and realizes that nothing in her life is definitive – even if her mother could not accept any of her choices and sent her to Iraq.
Finally Lina finds out the romance of her life.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
Finally Lina finds him.
In the last glimpse, she’s pregnant, sitting in the couch next to her husband.
Her story seems to end up with the final romantic happy ending.
A story of redemption. The black ship is magically transformed in an happy bride.
Apparently everything is OK.
But – Bayoumi tells us –this story is also something else. It is a story about the personal is political, and about how politics can get very personal, too. It seems that politics will never abandon you, if you’re Iraqi.
Lina’s country doesn’t exist no more.
Her relatives moved away, and the places of her youth don’t exist any more.
When our daughter will grow up, we’ll send her to Syria, to save her from the temptations of United States, says Lina at the end, speaking the same words with her husband.
Telling us that now – perhaps – Lina is happy but that she hasn’t resolved yet the great enigma of her life:
Why what you crave the most is denied from those you love the most?