By: Tyler Soltis
Part 1: Summary of Maps
Maps takes place in the Ogaden, Africa, in the first half, and Mogadiscio,
Africa, the other half. The time Maps took place was the independence war
between Somalia and Ethiopia.
Maps started out with a baby boy being found by a woman, who just happened
to see in where he was lying in his dead mother’s arms. (The baby’s mother
died in child birth) The woman, whose name was Misra, took the baby and
brought him to her home. She was trying to figure out what she should do
with him. The baby boy’s mother was buried and Misra decided to adopt him.
She was the one who gave him his name, which was Askar. She found out
Askar’s father was killed in the war. Misra’s boyfriend, Aw-Adan, didn’t
like Askar because he thought his stare was “satanic.” Misra argued that it
looked “adult-like.” The first time Askar meets Uncle Qorrax, he showed his
discomfort by screaming until Misra took him back.
When Askar becomes old enough to attend school, Uncle Qorrax decides to
enroll him with the same teacher his kids had. The teacher turned out to be
Aw-Adan. Almost every day Aw-Adan beat Askar, and Askar begins thinking he
should kill him. He told Misra this, and she said to quit being vengeful.
The war continued, and most of the men in the Ogaden enlist, including
Aw-Adan eventually returns, and things go back to the same way it was
before. One day Misra took Askar to meet her best friend, Karin. Askar
thought she was very kind to him. Askar thought of her as his grandmother.
Askar also meets his Uncle Hilaal, Misra’s brother, who was friendly. Not
being able to contain his displeasure any longer, Aw-Adan confronted Misra
and told her if she didn’t part with Askar, he would leave her. Misra
replied that she couldn’t part with him, that she was attached to him.
Aw-Adan left and Askar liked that. One day while Misra was preparing a
chicken for dinner, she suddenly closed her eyes and began talking in a
strange voice. She said, “To the traveler, the heat dwells in the distance
in the dilute forms of mirages and such-like hopes as may make the fatigued
voyager believe in the eternal nature of the state of things.” Her breathing
returned to normal and Karin asked what she meant by that. Misra said Askar
will travel to his Uncle Hilaal’s house and stay there. Apparently Misra was
a prophet. She also said she would eventually come, but she sensed death and
distress in the future. Askar left and he arrived in Mogadiscio, Uncle
Hilaal’s hometown. Hilaal’s wife, Salaado, welcomed him warmly, as did Uncle
Hilaal. Askar enjoyed how much larger Uncle Hilaal’s home was compared to
his and Misra’s. Salaado was Askar’s teacher, as well as his aunt. Uncle
Hilaal and Salaado’s ways confused Askar. Uncle Hilaal performed the chores
women in the Ogaden would. He cooked and cleaned the house. Salaado drove
the car and taught Askar.
One day while Askar was studying with Salaado, Uncle Hilaal came in with
grave news that there was a rumor Misra had betrayed her country and sold
secrets to the enemy. Askar had trouble trying to make himself believe this.
A couple of days after, he heard news that Misra had arrived in Mogadiscio.
They found her. Askar noticed Misra had shrunk in height. Uncle Hilaal asked
Misra what happened to her after she was accused of betraying her country.
She replied that some soldiers had set fire to her house. Askar inquired if
she was in it. She replied that she wasn’t. Uncle Hilaal questioned Misra if
anything else happened to her. Misra quietly answered she was raped. She
told them someone had sent a group of soldiers to her house to ambush her
and rape her. She was jumped on from all corners and raped by each soldier.
The next few days Misra acted like a small child. She held onto Askar’s hand
and followed him wherever he went. Askar talked to her as if she was a small
child, and she didn’t mind. Misra had to undergo an operation in which one
of her breasts was removed. Askar and Uncle Hilaal visited her frequently.
In the hospital, when she and Askar were alone, she told Askar who the
person was who accused her of selling secrets to the enemy. It was Aw-Adan.
Uncle Hilaal and Askar drove to the hospital the next evening to visit
Misra, and discovered she disappeared. Askar was very worried about this.
Uncle Hilaal and Salaado attempted to take his mind off of Misra by telling
him stories that included people leaving home and returning some time later
all right. Salaado wanted to report this to the police. Uncle Hilaal
disagreed. After waiting for 4 days, they received news about Misra. She was
murdered. Uncle Hilaal spilled the news to Askar that she was found
mutilated. Her heart had been dug out. Police suspected that the murderers
had performed a murdering ritual by cutting her heart out. Authorities
showed up at Uncle Hilaal’s and asked if all of them would come over to the
station for questioning. They agreed and Askar goes through many court
meetings, repeating the story of Misra.
I thought Maps was confusing. I thought the book was confusing
because the author seemed to change the point of view from second person to
first person to first person from chapter to chapter. If the book didn’t
change point of views, I would’ve probably enjoyed it much more. The
sequences of events stayed in order, unlike *A Long Way Gone*. A positive
thing I have to say is I enjoyed how descriptive the author was. *Maps* is
nowhere near as graphic as *A Long Way Gone*. I don’t strongly recommend