Hela Jenayah Tekali
QUESTING FOR THE ETHEREAL: HELA TEKALI’S ‘THE QUEST OF GOLDEN HOPE”
Hela Tekali is a Tunisian poet, with a mystical streak. She has authored .. books which speak volumes of her poetic talent and creative genius. She has often expressed her metaphysical leanings in her poetic outpourings and her passion has led her to the study of sciences and metaphysics and she believes that these two apparently contradictory branches of knowledge and experience have a meeting point in mysticism. Science tries to decode and decipher the mystery, so does metaphysics. In fact, human beings are always in a relentless passion to know themselves and unlock the mystery that surrounds and succors them.
Hela, whether she is writing poetry, or fiction, has at heart, the mystical experiences, for which she uses appropriate language which carries the burden of her ineffable experiences. We can easily call her the most blessed mystical poet from Tunisia, who carries the legacy of great mystical poets like Shams, Al-Hallaj, Rumi and Kahlil Gibran. What distinguishes Hela’s fictional works from general trending novels is her obsessive relationship with theology, and mysticism, and one can see in her novels, the characters have a strong theistic connections, and they are knee deep in religious commitment.
Hela’s quest in her works is towards existential spirituality. Her concerns bind her to the ground, yet she finds meaning in the flight, which is not the flight from social obligations, but the flight into the reality of existence, which concerns her the most. As a result, most of her works tend to be more spiritual and philosophical.
“The Quest Of Golden Hope” too represents an adventure into the depths of the soul to extract existential essence. The central character Hope is a fallen angel who is in the pursuit of regaining her ethereal glory. The quest passes through Egyptian, Indian and Greek mythologies. Hope, which represents human passion refuses to surrender and accept defeat, also stands for relentless human spirit which moves through continents of time and space, in its pursuit to evolve into a revelatory state of being. In a way, the human spirit symbolized by Hope begins its spiritual quest from Egypt where it was hypnotized and bewitched and it gains spiritual prowess. The spirit then passes through Greece, to pick the essentials of philosophy from Plato. From Greece, the spirit passes over to India, where it seeks illumination from the Ganges as well as Guru Granth Sahib. In this way, it is a holy sojourn, in the spirit of a pilgrimage, which includes the spiritual, the physical, the metaphysical as well as the mystical message of the different lands, blended into the heart of existence.
Each character quoted in the story whether it is a human being or an animal that Hope meets during her spiritual quest teaches her a human virtue such as compassion, love of others, loyalty, unconditional love. , the emancipation of the ego, dignity, etc. Dream is a metphorical construction, something as ethereal, as illusionary as hope. Dream too is conceived as an angel, and Hope’s only friend and confidante who accompanies her during her stay on earth, and brings her comfort, and comes to her rescue each time she encounters danger. Looking at this character from allegorical stance, hopes and dreams are the assets of disturbed human souls. They help to stabilize human spirit in times of great agitations. And this is what Dream does to Hope whenever she needs his assistance.
Hope falls in love with Anubis, a mythical character from ancient Egypt who symbolizes the God of Death, and who is responsible for the Mummification of the Pharaos, and life after death (the resurrection ). Hope finds herself hypnotized by Anubis, stripped naked and deprived of her spiritual prowess along the Nile River. She didn’t know if it was hypnosis or black magic. She strives not to take revenge against him but rather to regain her spiritual prowess in order to savor her return to paradise, and her heroic figure which will hardly be realized without the gift of sacrifice and the dangers she must encounter during her painful journey on earth to find back her wings, her halo, the Grace of God, and above all her dignity. It imparts the character of Hope a dignified halo and justifies all the soulful sufferings she goes through, as ordained by gods for purification of the soul.
In fact, Hope has a strong resemblance with the destiny of Hester Pryne in Nathaneil Hawthorne’s ‘A Scarlet Letter’ who when murdered with the arrow of Anubis, there was letter ‘Y’ in her bosom, which symbolized mercy, as the letter ‘A ‘ stood for Angel or Adultery. And she was hailed as a martyr in the end of the novel, and meets redemption.
Thank you dr Jernail Singh Anand for this extensive foreword to my novel
The novelist amply succeeds in her mission to underline the spiritual message that Maya is only an illusion, and Sufi love is not possible without sacrifice, as suggested by the episode of Sarwasti and the Indian peacock. Hela Tekali weaves various patterns of existence, so that it becomes a deft garment etched with spiritual tapestry. The philosophical and spiritual content of the novel, although weighs over the movement of the plot, yet imparts it spiritual elevation.
I congratuate Ms Hela Tekali who, in this novel, has presented to the readers a work of highly spiritualized fiction. The reading provides elevated experience which is the hall mark of good literature.
By: Dr. Jernail S. Anand