Short Story #20. Haywards Heath (Aminatta Forna)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the ace of diamonds.

Story: Haywards Heath, by Aminatta Forna (from The Granta Book of the African Short Story)

Comments: One of the first stories I read for this challenge, The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro, has Alzheimer’s disease as its topic.  So does Haywards Heath.  In this story, two medical students, Rosie and Attila, have an affair during their college days in England, but when they graduate Attila goes back to his own (unnamed) African country, despite Rosie’s pleas that he stay.  They both pursue their careers.  Many years later, he returns to England to track her down.  At the hospital where she worked he is told that she has taken early retirement – but she is in a home, suffering from Alzheimer’s.  He visits her.  She does not recognise him, though when he says his name she tells him she has a friend of that name who is coming to see her soon.  Attila comes back for another visit to Rosie in the home some time later.  There is an afternoon dancing session taking place, and Rosie is dancing with a young African care attendant whom Attila has noticed on a previous visit.  Rosie gazes at the care attendant and calls him “Attila”.

Aminatta Forna’s father was from Sierra Leone, her mother from Scotland.  She was born in Glasgow and brought up in Sierra Leone.  She lives now in the UK.  The issue of race, or colour, is an integral part of this story, but Forna does not labour the point.  It speaks for itself.  The whole story is in a rather understated, less-is-more style, which I liked very much.

I had already mentioned Forna’s Ancestor Stones as a possible read for the 2014 Africa Reading Challenge; having read this story I think it will definitely be on my list.

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3 thoughts on “Short Story #20. Haywards Heath (Aminatta Forna)

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 22 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

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