October 31, 2015
The author, Joyce Zonana, recounts, that prior to her finding of belly dancing at the age of twenty five, she observed Arabic music only through her mother’s ears, perceiving nothing but a discord of empty sound. Joyce’s mother was a subordinate in the house that she ran so well, to the will of her widowed mother-in-law-Nonna. The lady who, with the exception of five years between Zonana’s parents’ migration from Cairo and hers, Nonna had lived with Joyce’s parents since their wedding day in 1945, until placing her in a nursing home, in 1975. Consequently, Zonana will never know what came first: her mother’s disgust for Middle Eastern music or her battle with Nonna. Her grandmother’s music came to signify all that her mother detested. Furthermore, Nonna loved Arabic music, playing it daily in spite of her daughter in law’s recognizable dislike of it. The Arabic words were inconceivable to Zonana, sounding jarring and strange; but for Nonna, trapped in her memories, these were the echoes of home. As Nonna listened, she would reiterate the Arabic words and hum the tunes, beginning to rock, sigh, cry, driving herself into an outburst of pain. Everything that Nonna had left behind-her country, her family, her youth, and her bliss added to her incomprehensible, continual, encircling sorrow. Ultimately, for numerous years, the sound of Arabic music provoked an instant, instinctual response: Joyce’s stomach clenched and grew stiff with distress. In conclusion, when Zonana stepped into that dance studio in San Francisco, she was already stirring with a new freedom: she began to take up again the body Nonna had so fiercely controlled (Zonana 621-622).
I believe Nonna’s music is more harmful to her rather than helpful, because it keeps Nonna trapped in a dark place filled with sadness reminding her of all the grief and sorrow she’s felt over the years. To begin with, the author...