Friday, January 06, 2012

Quotes for Friday from Mariama Ba's So Long a Letter

One does not fix appointments with fate. Fate grasps whom it wants, when it wants. [1]

Again, I think: heart massage, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, ridiculous weapons against the divine will. [2]

Standing upright, her eyes meeting my disapproving look, she mutters between teeth reddened by cola nuts: 'Lady, death is just as beautiful as life has been' [8]

Each profession, intellectual or manual, deserves consideration, whether it requires painful physical or manual dexterity, wide knowledge or the patience of an ant. Ours, like that of the doctor, does not allow for any mistake. You don't joke with life, and life is both body and mind. To warp a soul is as much a sacrilege as murder. [23/24]

You don't burn the tree which bears the fruit. [32]

The play of destiny remains impenetrable. The cowries that a female neighbour throws on a fan in front of me do not fill me with optimism, neither when they remain face upwards, showing the black hollow that signifies laughter, nor when the grouping of their whites seem to say that 'the man in the double trousers' is coming towards me. [42]

A woman is like a ball; once a ball is thrown, no one can predict where it will bounce. You have no control over where it rolls, and even less over who gets it. Often it is grabbed by an unexpected hand ... [42]

Whereas a woman draws from the passing years the force of her devotion, despite the ageing of her companion, a man, on the other hand, restricts his field of tenderness. His egoistic eye looks over his partner's shoulder. He compares what he had with what he no long has, what he has with what he could have. [42]

To overcome distress when it sits upon you demands strong will. When one thinks that with each passing second  one's life is shortened, one must profit intensely from this second; it is the sum of all the lost or harvested seconds that makes for a wasted or a successful life. Brace oneself to check despair and get it into proportion! A nervous breakdown waits around the corner for anyone who lets himself wallow in distress. Little by little, it takes over your whole being. [43]

Friendship has splendours that love knows not. It grows stronger when crossed, whereas obstacles kill love. Friendship resists time, which wearies and severs couples. It has heights unknown to love. [56]

Aggression and condescension in a woman arouse contempt and hatred for her husband. If she is gracious, even without appealing to any ideology, she can summon support for any action. In a word, a man's success depends on feminine support. [59]

You don't fell the tree whose shade protects you. You water it. You watch over it. [69]

You can feed your stomach as well as you please; it will still provide for itself without your knowing. [81]

One is a mother to lighten the darkness. One is a mother to shield when lightning streaks the night, when thunder shakes the earth, when mud bogs one down. One is a mother in order to love without beginning or end. [87]

The success of the family is born of a couple's harmony, as the harmony of multiple instruments creates a pleasant symphony. [94]

The nation is made up of all the families, rich or poor, united or separated, aware unaware. The success of a nation therefore depends inevitably on the family. [94]


  1. Brilliant, the insights from within a ladies' heart.

  2. Number one was my best. So Long a Letter was a good read.

  3. One of the best texts I've ever read in my life albeit a total downer. So beautiful and probably more poignantly so in french.


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