Yesterday I Was Here

Yesterday I Was Here

Author: Zainab Hifni

Publishing House: Nawfal

Publication Year: 2020

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 191

“Yesterday I Was Here,” by acclaimed Saudi author Zainab Hifni, weaves a poignant tale about the complexities of grief and identity. Set along Florida’s Atlantic coast, this novel introduces us to Jasmine, a young woman grappling with her mother Miriam’s death. This pivotal moment propels Jasmine into uncovering her mother’s obscured past and her own true identity.

The novel, employing an omniscient narrator, meticulously unravels the layers of Miriam’s life, hinting at buried secrets. A crucial twist occurs when Jasmine finds her mother’s diary, revealing startling truths about their family. Here, Jasmine discovers her mother’s real name is Hayat, and hers is Fathia, not Jasmine. This revelation thrusts Jasmine into a whirlwind of confusion and turmoil.

Journey of Identity: From the Sands of Jeddah to the Shores of Self-Discovery

Transitioning to Saudi Arabia, Jasmine confronts fundamental truths about her heritage and identity. She navigates through the loss of her mother and fragmented memories, finding both confusion and clarity. Hifni masterfully captures the characters’ emotional spectrum, illustrating how love and hatred intertwine. The story delves into Hayat’s past in Jeddah, her unreciprocated love for neighbor Tariq, and jealousy towards her sister Yusra, Tariq’s fiancée.

Hayat’s complex emotions intensify when her wish for Yusra’s demise becomes a tragic reality. Yusra’s death from illness leaves Hayat with a tumultuous mix of guilt and relief. Nevertheless, Tariq’s unwavering love for Yusra drives Hayat to desperate actions, culminating in her escape to America and a new identity.

“Yesterday I Was Here” explores identity transformation and the challenges of completely severing ties with one’s past. Hayat becomes Miriam Parker in America, but this doesn’t erase her history; it complicates her identity further. The novel juxtaposes Eastern and Western cultural and social norms, prompting reflection on individual choices and their impacts.

Hifni portrays Jasmine’s struggle with her newfound identity and quest for truth with deep empathy. As Jasmine delves into her mother’s diary, she encounters a history of love, betrayal, and secrets, leading her to redefine her life. This discovery inspires Jasmine to embrace the harsh realities of Africa and the Middle East. Her evolution from bewilderment to understanding, and her decision to confront global challenges, lie at the heart of Hifni’s narrative, offering insightful commentary on the ripple effects of personal decisions.

Read More About Zainab Hifni

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