Author: Dina Al- Hidiq Zebib
With her debut novella, Dina Al- Hidiq Zebib tackles the emotionally loaded and delicate subject of marital dynamics where unfortunately a couple inflict pain upon one another without really realizing what is happening to them. Crossroads is a probing and evocative examination of how love can go astray, a story that no doubt elicits a sensation of familiarity, however, its retelling can link and sustain us if we pay heed to the message delivered.
The general theme of the narrative is summed up in the Foreword where the author informs her readers that she has chosen to write about “a young woman's touching experience in life where crossroads she had come across diverted her direction to a course she had never considered to choose.” She further goes onto explain that by listening to her heart, this young woman was able to seek the truth thus “allowing her to salvage what she already had, and channel her life path along the route she found the most fulfilling.”
The narrative is wonderfully written and the author shows a great deal of sensitivity crafting her two principal characters, Sara and her husband Hani. Early in the story we learn that Sara originally came from Lebanon and during the time of its civil war she and her family had moved to Istanbul, Turkey. Although she had been reluctant to return to Lebanon, upon the advice and encouragement of her loving grandmother, she decides to take the plunge and return to her country of birth and make a new life for herself. Not long after her arrival in Lebanon she accepts employment with the Lebanese Cultural Center and it is at a friend's 2000' New Year's Eve party where she meets Hani. The couple are immediately attracted to each other and eventually marry. However, as is the case in many marriages, the honeymoon begins to stumble when their first child comes along. Sara must now figure out her role at home? How will she navigate her marriage? How will Hani handle it and will he be supportive of her? Will the couple realize that they have a serious problem and will they openly communicate with each other? Psychologists refer to these difficulties as marital stressors and very often they inevitably challenge or threaten a marriage. In fact, as is the case of Sara and Hani, they did cause a great deal of tension and discord fueling bitterness as well as their drifting apart. There were constant fights, arguments, shouting, as well as insults and unfortunately no one was around to calm them down.
To better understand herself Sara refers to ancient myths including that of Jason, the ancient Greek leader of the Argonauts who was escaping from Talos' rocks, when his wife, Medea the sorceress, casts a spell on him, blurring his vision. His weaker foot slipped and he fell which caused his end. Reflecting on this myth, Sara acknowledges that it is a representation of real-life events that communicate invaluable lessons. Moreover, could this same story relate to her and was it possible that her life of love, confidence, peace and happiness be bruised beyond repair?
In an unflinching study of the complex relationship between a husband and wife, Al- Hidiq Zebib provides her readers with characters that appear real because she has revealed their flaws. In addition, she conveys insights into the love and dependence that tie couples together and on the other hand the challenges and abandonment that can isolate their relationship.