A person’s trust is extremely delicate, it can be broken by a singular action. When one’s trust is broken, it is often difficult to repair. Being trustworthy is one of the most priceless and valuable assets a person can have. Sometimes even the people closest to you can be disloyal or do something to break your trust. This idea is shown in The Persian Carpet, an insightful short story written by Hanan Shaykh. The story begins with Maryam ― presumably the narrator’s aunt ― helping the protagonist and her sister sneak out of their house. They depart while their father is praying to go see their mother. After their parent’s divorce, their father had sworn he would not let the girls see their mother. On the way to her mother’s home, the protagonist contemplates how she will react when she finally sees her mother. At her mother’s house, she notices a Persian carpet. The loss of this specific carpet is the thing that commenced and eventually led to her parent’s separation. The Persian carpet was allegedly “stolen”. The main character realizes that her mother had deliberately blamed Ilya, a blind man who fixed chairs, of stealing the carpet and becomes furious.
In the story, The Persian Carpet, the narrator discovers what true betrayal feels like as she learns of her mother’s harsh actions. At the start of the narrative, the protagonist (whose name is not mentioned) is getting her hair plaited by Maryam to go see her mother. The narrator’s sister informs them that their father is still praying. This means that they are able to sneak out of their house with ease. The father forbids his children from ever seeing their mother because a few hours after the divorce “the news spread that she was going to marry a man she had been in love with before”. When the divorce was final, her mother did not try to hide her happiness and content about the separation. The smile on the mother’s face after the split insinuates how unhappy she was with her marriage. On the way to her mother’s house, the narrator she ponders the way she will act convinced that she will “be unable to throw” herself into her mother and “smother her with kisses”. Ironically, when she finally sees her mother she forgets about her apprehension towards her mother and finds herself “unable to wait”, the main character dashes forward and throws herself into her mother’s arms. She takes in “the unchanged smell” of her parent’s hair and finds that she had missed her mother deeply, regardless of her mother’s immediate departure. The main character enters her mom’s house with the hope that she will get to see her mother often. The protagonist’s feeling of delight and adoration for her mom comes to a halt when she recognizes a Persian carpet on the floor. This specific carpet was the carpet that “several months ago” everybody thought was stolen. She is appalled by the sight of it, hence the statement: “in confusion, I looked at the Persian carpet spread on the floor, then gave my mother a long look”. The protagonist’s gaze is fixed on the carpet, “trembling with burning rage” as she realizes what her mother has done. She remembers a time when she would lie on the carpet as she did her lessons.
The initial symbol of the carpet which was innocence, changes to betrayal. Before the divorce, her mother “would put mothballs on it and on top of the cupboard”. The narrator described the room without the carpet as “stark and depressing”. From that specific phrase, you can discern that the carpet is noticeably significant to the main character’s life. When it was autumn, her mother would carry all the carpets to the roof and lay them down flat. There she would “gather up the mothballs, most of which had dissolved from the summer’s heat humidity, then, having brushed them with a small broom, she’d leave them there”. The main character “would be filled with happiness as their bright colours once again brought the room back to life”. One day, her mother had gone outside and spread the carpet on the roof as per usual. She comes back empty-handed. The mother calls her previous husband and tells him what has happened and for the first time the storyteller sees her father’s “face flushed with anger”. His frustration indicates just how special (or maybe costly) the Persian carpet. It becomes apparent that the mother had purposefully hidden the carpet somewhere else knowing that the father would be enraged. The loss of the carpet started the divide between the parents and what eventually led to their divorce. To make matters worse, the girl’s mother did not stop there; she decided to blame Ilya, “an almost blind man who used to go round the houses of the quarter repairing cane chairs”. Everyone was startled at the accusation because it was unheard of Ilya to commit such a crime. Here we learn of the mother’s detestable behaviour. The main character’s perspective on her mother changes. At the beginning of the story, the girl was excited to see her mother and realizes how much she missed her mother deeply. She even wished that her mother “would come back” and live with them “despite the tender care shown” to her sister and her by Maryam and her father. However, the protagonist’s feelings towards her mother shifts from longing for her to thinking of her mother as a deceitful person and someone that is willing to do awful things to get what they want. When the narrator saw the carpet at her mother’s house her she felt utterly betrayed. The one horrible act that her mother had done was enough for the trust she had in her parent to be completely shattered.
As I pored over the story, I was able to distinguish a connection with the protagonist’s struggles and mine. I can relate to the narrator’s experience because I have also gone through a distressing betrayal that resulted in me finding it difficult to trust others. Almost two years ago, a former friend of mine did something that was so unlike who she was as a person that betrayed my trust in an instant. It was during the spring season and most of the students at my junior high school were off to participate at the track meet. My best friend, at the time, would also be participating in the meet. I was at the meet as well, however, I was not involved in any of the sports. Instead, I chose to help out as a volunteer. After the long first half of the track and field meet was over, I headed over to the bleachers to take a break. I found my friend and noticed that there was something off about her. She was not her usual hyper and joyous self, I quickly dismissed the thought, thinking she was most likely just nervous about doing well. A few minutes later I finally ask why she was acting so strange. It took a while for her to reply. Eventually, she confessed that she was currently in a relationship with the boy I liked. I instantly felt a mix of various emotions. At first, I didn’t believe the words I had heard because it was such a shock that my friend could do something so despicable and spiteful. I could not understand her actions or why she had done what she did. I felt hurt that my own best friend had betrayed me in such an unthinkable way. Then I felt angry, I was angry that she kept up a facade of her cheerful self for so long and had not shown a hint of remorse or guilt. The trust I had in her was broken instantaneously. It only took a statement of her disloyalty for me to instantly deem her untrustworthy.
In both the protagonist’s experiences and my own, our trust had been broken by someone that was primarily close to our heart. In the story, the narrator felt betrayed by her mother, but it was unclear whether she forgave her mother or not. Fortunately, in my situation, I was able to forgive my friend eventually and the issue was resolved. Through these two situations, I learned that life is definitely not always what we want it to be. Sometimes, the people closest to us are not always who they seem to be. Nevertheless, even though you have gone through circumstances that led you being betrayed, you can still count on those rare and extraordinary people that have shown that they are trustworthy multiple times, to help you through the stumbling blocks in life.
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