Halima’s Paradise is set in the Moroccan community of Holland. It is a community where God proposes, man disposes, and the women have to be obedient.
Although Halima is a born artist, she is not allowed to become a singer by her father. In his eyes and in the rules of their culture, that would be the same as allowing her to become a courtesan. When she falls in love with Hassan, she hopes that getting married will free her from the suffocating rules of her father and give her freedom to do what she wants. But on their wedding night, Hassan begs her to sing only to him in the privacy of their home. He can’t stand the idea of Halima being watched on a stage by the piercing eyes of strange men. Out of love for him, she makes him this promise.
The crown on their love would be the birth of a son, but Halima gives birth to a girl, Malika. After ten years of trying, there is still no son, and Malika remains their only child. The tension this causes not only affects their marriage, but their daughter as well, who feels the sting of her father’s disappointment at her not being a boy.
The women of Halima’s world turn to black magic to gain control over the conditions that rule their lives; the spirit of Aischa Kendischa represents the power and wildness of a woman that cannot be tamed. It is to Aischa Kendischa that Halima turns when Hassan brings another woman into their home as his second wife in hopes she will bear him his long-desired son. Halima tries curses and spells, and endures humiliation and suffering as she tries to come to terms with her new role. In the end, Halima reclaims her voice and realizes that the paradise she seeks for herself and Malika lies elsewhere.
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